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CHAP. I — Publication of Paul's Letters — Guj Mannering " Teny-ficd" 

Publication of the Antiquary — Publication of tbe First Tales of my Land- 
lord by Murray and Blackwood — Anecdotes by Mr Train— .Quarterly Review 
on the Tales — Building at Abbotsford begun, . . . 1616 

CHAP. IL — Seett aspires to be a Baron of tbe Excheqaer First attack of 

Cramp in the Stomach — Story of the Doom of Devorgoil— John Kemble s 

retirement from the Stage^Novel of Rob Roy projected Letter to Lord 

Monti^u on Hogg's Queen's Wake, &c., « . , . 1817. 

CHAP. in. — Excurrion to the Lennox, Glasgow, and Drumlanng—. Purchase 
of Toftfield — Lines written in Illness— Visits of Washington Irving Lady 
Byron, and Sir David Wiljtie — Concluiiion of Rob Roy, . 1817. 

CHAP. IV. — Rob Roy published — Negotiation concerning the Second Series of 
Tales of my Landlord — Commission to search for the Scottish Regalia, 1818. 

CHAP. V. — Commencement of the Biographer's acquaintance with Sir Walter 

Scott— Dinner at Mr Home Drummond's— Scott's Edinburgh Den Details 

of his Domestic Life in Castle Street<— His Sunday Dinners His Evening 

Drives, &c. — Dinnen at John Ballantyne's Villa — and at James Ballantyne's 
in St John Street, on the appearance of a New Novel — Anecdotes of the 
Ballantynes and of Constable, . • . . « , 1818. 

CHAP. VI — ^PttUieation of the Heart of Mid-Lothian— Tbe Biographer's first 
Visit at Abbotsford— Melrose Abbey— Dry burgh, &c. — Scott's Dinner to the 
SeUurkabiTe Yeomen, 1818. 

CHAP. VII — Declining Health of Charles Duke of Bncc]enck-.Letters on 
the Death of Queen Charlotte, &c — Extensive Sale of Copyrights to Con- 
stable and Co.— Scott receives and accepts the offer of a Baronetcy Rcb 

Roy played at Edinburgh— Letter from Jedediah Cleishbotham to Mr Charles 
Mackay, 1818-1819. 

CHAP. VIII.— ReeuRenee of Scott*8 IUness-*Death of the Jhke of Buc- 

deuch — Scott's Sufferings while dictating the Bride of Lammermoor Anec* 

dotes by James Ballantyne, &c. — Appearance of the Third Series of Tales 
of my Landlord, ....•.,, 1819. 

CHAP. IX. — Gradual Re^establishment of Scott's Health Ivanboe in pro- 

gres»_H» Son Walter joins tbe 18lb Regiment— Scott's Correspondence 
with his Son — Mtscellaneous Letters, , « , ^ 181 9. > 

CHAP. X.— Political Alarms — the Radicals — Levies of Volunteers Death 

of Scott's Mother, her Brother, and Sister — Publication of Ivanhoe, 1819. 

CHAP. XL— The Visionary — Scott's Saturday Excuraons to Abbotsford — 

A Sunday there in February— Constable— John Ballantyne, && Prince 

Gustavus Vasa — Proclamation of King George IV. Publication of the 

Monastery, 1820. 

CHAP. XII. — Scott revisits London — His Portrait by Laurence, and Bust 

by-Chantrey— Anecdotes by Allan Cunningham— His Baronetcy Gazetted 

Marriage (^ bis Daughter Sopbia^iTenderf of Honorary D^ees from Ox-> 
ford and Cambridge, » •••**, 1820. 


I. WAVERLEY NOVELS, 48 Vols. Small Octato. 
II. SCOTT'S POETRY, 12 Vols. Small Octavo, 
IIL SCOTT'S PROSE WORKS, 28 Vols. Small Qctato. 
AU done up in Cloth Boards, with gUt Back Titlet, 

IV. SELECT POETRY, 6 Vols. Small Octavo. 

V. THE SAME, 6 Vols. 24mo, Pocket Edition, 

VI. BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS, 4 Vols. Small Octavo, 

VII. LIFE OF NAPOLEON, 5 Vols. Small Octavo, 

Small Octavo. 

AU likewise done up in doth Boards, very handsomely, with gUt Back 2^2*9- 

—AND OTHER POEMS, 24mo (Pocket Size). 

All done up in Cloth, Silk, Roan, or Morocco^ 

X. HISTORY OF SCOTLAND (Tales of a Grandfather), 
School Copy, 2 Vols. 

To be had of L. A. Lewis, 15, Poultry, London^ 

AFTER QUENTIN DURWARD to the End, with all the 
Notes and New Introductions which have appeared in the 
New Edition, 16 Vols. ISmo (or Miniature Edition). 

THE SAME, 16 Vols. Octavo. 

9 Vols. ISmo. 

THE SAME, LI Vols. 12mo. 

THE SAME, 9 Vols. Octavo. 

These Continuations will enable many to complete their Sets in the above Series. 




For the Use of Schools. 

In Two Thick Vols, with a Coloured Map ; 10b. Bound. 

'* These Tales were written in the interral of other avoeetions, for the use of the 
young relatWe to whom they ire inscribed. They embrace at the same time aome ' 
I attempt at a general view of Scottish History, with a selection of Its more plctu- 

I resque and prominent points. Having been found useful to the young person for 

I whom I he t*ompilation was made, ihey are now given to the public, in the n>pe that 

I they may be a source of instruction for others. The coropiudon, though professing 

I to be only a collection of Tales* or Narratives from the Seutttsh Chronicles, will 

nevertheless be found to contain a general view of the Histury of that country, Ihrai 
the period when it bc^s to possess general interest."— abbotsfoad, Dec* I8S7. 


I. SCHLOSS HAINFELD; or, A Wintsk in Lowxa Sttkia. 3d 


** Captain Hall is one of our most popular, and deservedly popular writers ; and 
Schlott Hainfeld is one of his happiest eflrorts:— no proof of his success can be greater 
than the regret we felt at finding it contained in one volume. We look mrward 
to some other work from his pen :— «o acute an observer and so eloquent a narrator 
cannot fal to charm and engage his readers." — John Bull, lOth July. 

" A family picture and a family party ; wrought up with one of those touehing 
romances which belong to real life, and to real life alone.— We congratulate Captain 
Hall, equally on the good feeling and the spirit that he has thown."— Literary Qam 
getUt Itith June* 

•« This is a very singular, entertaining, and interesting volume.*'— 5pectotor, 95th 


Vols. 15s. 2d Edition. 


Vols. 15s. 2d Edition. 


Vols. 15s. 2d Edition. 

V. TRAVELS IN NORTH AMERICA. 3 Vols., L.1, lis. 6d. 3d 
Edition. And Volume of Etchings in 4to, lOs. 6d. 

STUARTVS NORTH AMERICA. 3d Edition. 2 Vols. L.l, Is. 



THE CObK'S ORACLE, a New Edition, 
Containing a Complete System of Cookery for Catholic Families. 


Being the Opinions of Napoleon delivered in the Council of State. 

By baron PELET (de la Lozere). * 

Teanslatep by captain BASIL HALL, R.N. 
ABsisted by the Author, who has contributed numerouB Explanatory Notes. 

" The tianslatioa ftom whidi we have (with an ooeaiional correctioD) made our 
otracts ia exceecUng well done in point of style and idiom.*'— Quori. Rev,, April, 1837* 

" At first sight it seems not a, little cnrious* that a work which contains so much that 
iftidiaraeteiistic* and in many respects quite new, respecting Napoleoo, should not have 
e»ited attention in France* and accordingly that (t should only be now, four years after 
date, that the book should be presented to us Ifor acceptance. But on rising from its 
perusal, we readily discover the reason of dus affected indifference of the French— for 
aflEbcted it must be--to a work so ftill of important and characteristic detail of th^ 
quondam sovereign. The truth is, it does not give a favourable impression of Bona- 
parte, tliough there is abundant internal evidence that the statements are strictly true, 
even without the assurance we have on this score from the high charactor of M. 
FdeL'*— JB&scifcwoe<f« Magaint»et April, 1837. 

*' Nothing whidi is calculated to throw light upon the conduct, character, or opinions 
of Bonaparte, can be otherwise regarded than as an important contribution to the history 
of the present times. The volume before us is peculiarly entitled to this distinction.*'— 
Edinburgh Saturday Post, 

*' This volume may be pronounced a valuable aeeesrion to the materials necessary to 
enable one fuUy to appredate the character of Napoleon.'*— iSpectotor. 

«« We win venture to assert that this b one of the most authentic records of the man 
that have yet been given to the world, simply because a considerable portion of the 
work consists of despatches, letters, and documents of Napoleon himself."— Edinftvrg'A 
Obicrver, iith March, 

** This volume has considerable claims on the public attention, as well on aceonnt 
of its own merits* as from the acknowledged competency both of the author and of the 
translator. Of Captain Basil Hall's ability for the task he has undertaken, it would be 
superfluous to spealu Much as has been written about Napoleon, we are quite sure 
that this volume will be perused by the English reader with an increase both of interest 
and information."— £iiin6iff^ Advertiser* 

** The gifted writer* who has acted in the present instance merely as a translator, haSf 
indeed, conferred a real and important benefit on the English public, by putting M. 
Pelet's volume in an English dress ; for while he has thus brought to light a good deal 
that is new to the people of this country* in the career, and espedally as regards the 
opinions of the extraordinary man* whose life, conversations* and speeches, form the 
theme of the work, he has also enabled us to become familiar with, perhaps, the most 
accurate, Aill, and intelligible exhibition that ever has come under our notice of Napo- 
leon's prindples and genius, as a politician, or a member of civil sodety,"— ilfonM/^ 
^RmMcr* ApriL 

** Amidst the countless works on the sayings and doings of Napoleon, we question if 
tiiere is one whidi throws so mudi light on his real <^uuracter, or reveals so much of his 
sentiments, as the volume before us. Its value lies in the record of his opinions de. 
livered in the Coundl of Stated on all the various sfibjects discussed there. We wish 
Captain Hall would employ his leJsme hn trsnslatfii^.a few more works of this descrip- 

«* The work is extremdy well translated by Captahi Hall, and will, we have no doubt, 
be acceptably received by the public^ as an •utfaentic record of events, and ot the 
opinions of one wlio may be said, at one time, to have commanded the destinies of the 
world, and whoie name will ever be oonsplouoos in its history.".P-E<7iii^ttrgA Courant, 
















The *' Flitdng" to Abbotsford— Plantations^ George Thorn- 
son — ^Rokeby and Triermain in progress — Excursion to 
Flodden — ^Bishop- Auckland — And Rokeby Park — Corres- 
pondence with Crabbe — Life of Patrick Carey, &c. — Pub- 
lication of Rokeby — And of the Bridal of Triermain — 

1812-1813, 1 

Affairs of John Ballantyne and Co. — Causes of their Derange- 
ment — Letters of Scott to his Partners — Negotiation for 
Relief with Messrs Constable — New Purchase of Land at 
Abbotsfoi^d — Embarrassments continued — John Ballan- 
tyne*s Expresses — Drumlanrig — Penrith, &c. — Scotfs 
Meeting with the Marquis of Abercom 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 Honours conferred on Scott — Question of Taxation 
on Literary Income — Letters to Mr Morritt — Mr Southey 
— Mr Richardson — Mr Crabbe — Miss BaiHie and Lo^^d 
Byron— 1813, 53 




Insanity of Henry Weber — Letters on the Abdication of Na- 
poleon, &c. — Publication of Scott's Life and Edition of 
Swift — Essays for the Supplement to the Encyclopasdia 
Britannica — Completion and Publication of Waverley — 

1814, 109 

Voyage to the Shefland Isles, &c. — Scott's Diary kept on 
Board the Lighthouse Yacht — July and August — 1814, 134 



Diary on Board the Lighthouse Yacht continued — The Ork- 
neys — Kirkwall — Hoy — The Standing Stones of Stennis, 
&c August, 1814, 184 


Diary continued — Stromness — Bessy Millie's Charm — Cape 
Wrath — Cave of Smowe — The Hebrides^-Scalpa, &c — 

1814, 203 

Diary continued — Isle of Harris — Monuments of the Chie& 
of Macleod — Isle of Skye — Dunvegan Castle — Loch Cor- 
riskin— Macallister's Caye— 1814, 222 

Diary continued — Cave of Egg — lona — Staffa — Dunstaffiiage 
— Dunluce Castle — Giant's Causeway — Isle of Arran, &c* 
—Diary concluded— Augusts-September, 1814, 239 

Letters 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 — Conten^toraneoos 
Criticisms on the Novel — Letters to Scott from Mr Morritt 
-—Mr Lewis — and Miss Maclean Clephane— Letter from 
James BaHantyne to AGss Edgeworth — 1814^ 278 



Progress of the Lord of the Isles — Correspondence with Mr 
Joseph Train — Kapid completion of the Lord of the 
Isles—" Six Weeks at Christmas"—" Refreshing the Ma- 
chine" — Publication of the Poem — And of Guy Mannering 
—Letters to Morritt — Teny — And John Ballantyne-^ 
Anecdotes by James Ballantyne — Visit to London — Meet- 
ing with Lord Byron — Dinners at Carlton House — 1814 — 

1815, 306 

Battle of Waterloo— Letter of Sir Charles Bell— Visit to the 
Continent — Waterloo — Letters from Brussels and Paris— 
Anecdotes of Scott at Paris — The Duke of Wellington — 
The Emperor Alexander — Blucher — Platoff — Patrty at Er- 
menonville, &c. — London — Partmg with Lord Byron — 
Scott's Birmingham Knife — Return to Abbotsford — Anec- 
dotes by Mr Skene and James Ballantyne — Notes on " The 
Field of Waterloo/'— 1815, 346 

Poem of the Field of Waterloo published — Revinon of Paul's 

Letters, &c. — Quarrel and Reconciliation with Hogg 

Football Match at Carterhaugh — Songs on the Banner of 
Buccleuch — Dinner at Bowhill — Design for a Piece of 
Plate to the Sutors of Selkirk — Letters to the Duke of 
Buccleuch— Joanna Baillie — And Mr Morritt-— i 1815^ 386 

The Durham Garland^ 40ft 










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 neighbour 
— for they lost, both in him and his wife, very generous 
protectors.' In such a place, among the few evils whiclr 
<;ounterbalance 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 



Mrell 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 

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 cele- 
brated Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. 
He was fond of female society in general ; but her lady- 
ship was a woman after his heart; well bom, and 
highly bred, but without the slightest tinge of the frivo- 
lities of modem 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 favourites ; and his answer con- 
tains, among other matters, a sketch of the " Forest* 

To the Big^ HsnBuraUe Lad^ Alvanley* 

** Ashesti^ 25tii Maj, 1812. 

** I waa honoured, my dear Lady Alvanley, by the 
kmd letter which you sent me with our friend Miss 
Smith, whose indents are, I hope, receiving at Edin- 
burgh the full meed of honourable applause which they 
so highly merit. It is very much against my will that 
I am forced to f^eak of them by report alone, for this 
being the t^m 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 

t^ <0« m^trntmrn r r* ** 


ttnall pvopertjr, about fire miles down die Twe^ which 
I purchased last yeir. The Beighboon have been nraeh 
dfijighted mdi the prooesskm of ny farmtare, in which 
Mi swoxds, bows, targets, and lances, srarfe a yery con- 
spicuons show. A baaaSky of turkeys was aeconoBodated 
within the hdmet af some preux chevalier of ancieBt 
Border £une; and the very cows, for aught I know^ 
were bearing banners and muskets. I assure your 
ladyship that this caiavao, attended by a daten of ragged 
rosy peasant dildren, earrying fishii^-vods and speais, 
and leading poneys^ greyhounds, and qyaniels, would, as 
it crossed the Tweed, have furnished no bad sabject toir 
the pencil, and really reminded me of one of the gypsey 
groupes of Callot upon their march. 

'« EcEnbwsh, 26di Maji^ 

^^ I have got here i^ length, and had the pleasure to 
hes0[ Miss Smith speak the Ode on the Paaeaons charm- 
ingly last night. It was her beadh;, and the house 
was tolerable, though not so good as she deserves, being 
a very good girl^ as weti as an excellent perfcmer. 

^^ I have read Lord Bynm with great pleasure, though 
{Measure is not quite the appropriate word. I should say 
admiration — ^mixed with regret, that the author shcndd 
have adopted such an unamiable sisanthropicai tone. 
< — The reconciliation with Holland-house is extremely 
edifying, and may teach young autiiors to be in no harry to 
exercise their satirical vein. I remember an Imnest old 
Presbyterian, who thought it right to speak with respect 
even of the devil himself since no one knew in what cor- 
ner he might one day want a friend. But Lord Byroa 
is young, and certainly has great genius, and has both 
time and capacity to make amends for his enois. I 
wonder if he will pardon the Edinburgh reviewers, who 
have read their recantation of their former strictures. 


^^ Mra 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 
Alvanleyj your much honoured 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 
tlays, and deliver the enclosed to my friend Miss Baillle, 
with whom, I flatter myself, you will be much pleased, 
;^s 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 favour* 

*^ Abbotsford was looking charming, when I was obliged 
4;o 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 
<!art-loads of the veriest trash in nature, besides dogs, 
pigfl,poneys, 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 
h prefix Percie^' and I hope future antiquaries will 
debate which hero of the house of Northumberland has 
left his bones in Teviotdale. * Believe me yours very 

Walter Scott." 

This was one of the busiest summers of Scott's busy 
Kfe. Till the 1 2th of July he was at his post in the 
Court of Session five days every week ; but every Satur- 
day evening found him at Abbotsford, to observe the 
progress his labourers had made within doors and with- 
out in his absence ; and on Monday night he returned to 
Edinburgh. Even before the Summer Session com- 
menced he appears to have made some advance in his 
Hokeby, 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;" 
tod his literary labours 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 parlour which had been hammered into any 
thing like habitalt>le condition, served at once for dining«i 
room, drawing-room, school-room, and study. A win- 
dow looking to the river was kept sacred to his desk ; an 
old bed-curtain was nailed up across the room close be-» 
hind his chair, and there, whenever the spade, the dibble, 
br the chisel (for he took his full share in all the work 
on hand) was laid aside, he pursued his poetical taskS) 

• The epitaph of this favourite greyhound may be seen Oil the 
edge of the bank, a little way below the house of Abbotsford. 


apparently undistinbed and nnaiuxiyed by the burouhicU 
ing confusicm of masons and earpesters, to say nothing 
of the lady's small talk, the children's babble among 
thansrives, or their repetition of their lessons* The 
tmlh no doabt was, that when at his desk he did little 
more, as far as regarded poetr^j 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 (Oct. 17), *^ adorning a patch 
of naked land with trees, ,>2it<tcm nepotitug wnhramy £ar 
I dudl aerwr live to enjoy their shade myself otherwise 
thim IB the recumbent posture of Tityms or Menaleas*" 
But he did live to see tAe Mckti deserve not only that 
name, but a nobler one ; and to idi with his own hand 
many a wdl-grown tree that he had planted th«re» 

Anotfaet plantatftoa of die same date» by his eastern 
boundary, was less sncoessfol. For this he had asked 
and received from his early friend, the Marchioness of 
Staffibnl, a supply of acoms from Trentham, and it was 
named in consequcatce Smtherland bower ; but the fiekU 
BMce, in the course of the ensuing winter^ contrived to 
root up and devour the whole of her ladyship's goodly 
bene£sctioiL. A third space had been s^ apart, and 
doiy ^wlosed, for the reception of some Spanish 
diestnats offered to him by an admirer established in 
merchandise at Seville; but that gentleman had not 
been a very knowii^ idly as to smdi Blatters, lor when 
Ae ^estmtta arrived, it tuxaed out that they had been 

Scott writes dius to Terry, in September^ while the 
Roxburgfae sale was still going on :-^ 

*^ I have ladled your assistance, my dear sir, for twenty 
whimsicalities this autumn. Abbotrford, as you will 

PLANTATIONS — 1812* 1 

leadily conceive, bas considerably clumged its hce since 
the auspices o£ Mother Retford were exchanged for ours* 
We have got np a good garden wall, complete stables in 
the baugh, according to Stark's plan, and the old fami- 
yard being enclosed with a wall, with some little pic- 
turesque additions in front, has much reliered the stu*- 
pendoiK height of the Doctor's bam. The new planta- 
tions have thriven amazingly well, the acorns are coming 
up fast, and Tom Purdie is the happiest and most conse- 
quential periM>n in the worhL My present woriic is build- 
ing up the wril with some debris from the Abbey* O. 
&r your assistance^ for I am afraid we shall make but a 
botched job of ity especially as ooor materials are of a 
very misoeUaneous complexion. The worst of all is, 
that while my trees grow and my fountsdn fills, my purse, 
in an inverse ratio, sinks to zero* This last ctrcm^ 
stance will, I £ear, make me a very poor guest at the 
literary entertainment your researches hold out for me. I 
should, howev^, Hke mudt to have the Treatise on 
Dreams, by the aatluRr of the New Jerusalem, which, as 
John Cuthbertson the smith said of the minister's ser- 
mon, must be nae»t woric The Loyal Poems by N. T» 
asne probably by poor Nabum Tate, who associated with 
Brady in vemifying the Psalms, and more hoaomably 
with Dryden in dbe second part of Absalom and Achi- 
tophel. I never saw them, however, but would gifve a 
guinea or thirty shillings for the collectioa. Our friend 
John BaUtttyae has, I learn, made a sudden sally to 
London, and doubtless you will ensb a cpiart with him 
ck a pottle pot ; he will satisfy your bookseller for 
^ The Dreamer,' or any other little pvrdiase you may 
recooBmend £» me.. Yea havepleased ICes Baillieinery 
much both in public and in society, and though not fas- 
tidious, she is not, I thinks particular]^ lavislt of applaitf e 
either way. A most valuable person is she^ and as wdrm- 


heatted as she is brilliant. — Mrs Scott and all ourlittle 
folks are well. I am relieved of the labour 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,* and never suppose either that you 
can be intrusive, or that I can be uninterested in what- 
ever concerns you. Yours, W. S." 

The tutor alluded to at the close of this letter 
was Mr George Thomson, son of the minister of Mel- 
rose, who, when the house afforded better accommoda- 
tion, was and continued for many years to be domesti- 
cated at Abbotsford. Scott had always a particular ten- 
derness towards persons afflicted with any bodily mis- 
fortune ; and Thomson, whose leg had been amputated 
in consequence of a rough casualty of his boyhood, had 
a special share in his favour from the high spirit with 
which he refused at the time to betray the name of the 
companion that had occasioned his mishap, and con- 
tinued ever afterwards to struggle against its disadvan- 
tages. 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, ac- 
cident has spoiled a capital lifeguardsman." His many 
oddities and eccentricities in no degree interfered with 
the refepect due to his amiable feelings, upright princi- 
pla0| and sound learning ; nor did Dominie Thamson at 
all quarrel in after times with the universal credence of 
the neighbourhood that he had furnished many features 
for the inimitable personage whose designation so nearly 

* An edition of the Britbh Dramatists had, I believe, been pro- 
jected by Mr Terry. 


resembled his own ; and if he has not yet '^ wagged his 
head" in a " pulpit o' his ain," he weU knows it has not 
been so for want of earnest and long-continued interces* 
sion on the part of the author of Guy Mannering. 

For many years Scott had accustomed himself to pro* 
ceed in the composition of poetry along with that of 
prose essays of various descriptions ; but it is a remark* 
able fact that he chose this period of perpetual noise and 
bustle, when he had not even a sunmier-house to him- 
self, for the new experiment of carrying on two poems 
at the same time — and this too without suspending the 
heavy labour 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 Regis- 
ter 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 cir- 
cles 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, exe- 
cuted in a different metre, and to be published anony- 
mously, in a small pocket volume, as nearly as possible 
on the Bame 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- 
humouredly entered into the scheme, undertaking to do 


nothing which should ejBfectually suppress the nodon of 
his having set himself up as a modest riyal 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 
BUich admired the opening of the first canto of Rokeby, 
Erskine adds, ^^ I shall request your accaucketir to send 
iDie your litik Dugald too as he gradually makes his pro-* 
gress. What I have seen is delightful. Tou are awaire 
how difficult it is to form any ojHnion of a work, the ge- 
nial plan c^ wUeh 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 dii^y to llie language^ and other such subor- 
£ttate matters. I shall be very much amused if the se- 
cret is kept and the knowing ones taken in. To prevent 
any discovery from your prose, what think you of putting 
down your ideas <tf what the pre&ce ought to contain, 
and allowing me to write it over ? And perhaps a quiz* 
ring review might be concocted.** 

This last hint was welcome i and among other parts 
ef the preface to Triermain which threw out " the 
knowing ones,'* certain Greek quotaticms interspersed 
in it are now accounted for. Scott, on his part, appears 
to have studiously interwoven into the piece alluinons 
to personal £eelings and experiences more aMn 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 Hs^old the Dauntless. 

The same post whi^ conveyed Williara Ersbine's 
letter above quoted, brought him an equally wise and 
kind one from Mr Morritt, in asiswer to a fresh appKea- 
tion for S€»ne rainule details about the scenery and local 
traditions of the Valley of Ae Tees. Scott had pro- 
to intend part c^ this autumn at Rokeby Park 


UiBsdLf ; but now, busied as be wss witb bis planting ope« 
zaIioDs at borne, and ocmtimially urged by BaUantyneto 
bare tbe poem ready for poblicatiim by Cbristmas, be 
'voold willingly baye trusted bis friend's knowledge in 
place of lus own observadon and researcb. Mr MorritI 
gare bim in rq>ly varioas particnlars, wbicb I need not 
bere repeat, but added, — ** I am really s<^ry, my dear 
Scott, at your abandonment of your kind intention of ▼!•« 
siting Rokd>y — and my jorrow is not quite selfisb — ^for 
seriously, I wisb you could bare cmne, if but (or a few 
days, in order, on the spot, to settle accurately in your 
mind tbe localities of the new poem, and all tbeir petty 
circamstances, of wbicb there are many that would give 
interest and (Hmanient to your descriptions. I am too 
much flattened by your proposal of insezibing tbe poem 
to me, iM^ to accept it with gratitude and pleasure. I 
i^all always feel your friendship as an honour — ^we all 
wisb our honours to be permanent — and yours p'omises 
mine at least a fair chance ofimmort^ty. I hope, 
however, you will not be obHged to write in a hurry on 
account of tbe impatience of yo»r booksellers. They 
are, I think, ill advised in tb^r proceeding, for surely 
the book will be the more likely to succeed from not 
being forced prematurely into ths critical world. Do not 
be persuaded to risk your established fame on this hazar- 
dous experiment. If you want a few hundreds indepen-» 
dent of these bookse&ers, your credit is so very good, now 
timt yoH bare got rid of your Old Man of the Sea, that 
it is no great merit to trust you, and I happen at this 
msrmeRt to have five or six for whi^ I have no sort of 
danand — so rather than be obl%ed to spur P^asus be- 
yond tbe powei: of pulling bim iq[> when he is going too 
fiat, do consult, your own judgment and set the mid-^ 
wives of the trade at defiance. Don't be scrupulous to 
the (fisadvantage of your mose, 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 suc- 
ceeded — 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 rec- 
tify 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 discount- 
ed : and he proceeded the week after to Rokeby, by 
the way of Flodden and Hexham, travelling on horse- 
back, his eldest boy and girl on their poneys, while Mrs 
Scott followed them in the carriage. Two little inci- 
dents 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 Flod- 
den to expound the field of battle to his young folks, 
he found that Marmion had, as might have been ex- 
pected, benefitted 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 p):o- 
posal, and assured mine host that nothing could be more 
{ippropriate than the portraiture of a foaming tankard, 
which already surmounted his door-way. " 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 cus* 

FLODDEN, 1812. 13 

torn." 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 l^.eye 
was imme^tely caught by the ^^ inscription " in black 
letter — 

*' Drink, weary pilgrim^ drink, and pray 
For the kind soul of Sibyl Grey," &c. 

" Well, my friend," said he, " what more woulcf you 
have ? You need but strike out one letter in the first 
of these Unes, and make your painter-man, the next time 
he comes this way, print between the jolly tankaid 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 
Gillies. " It happened at a small country town that 
Scott suddenly required medical advice for one of his 
servants, and, on enquiring if there was any doctor at 
the place, was told that there were two — one long esta- 
blished, and the other a new comer. The latter gen- 
tleman, 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 recognised a Scotch 
blacksmith, who had formerly practised, with tolerable 
success, as a veterinary operator in the neighbourhood 
of Ashestiel. — * How, in all the world ! ' exclaimed he, 

* can it be possible that this is John Lundie ? ' — * In 
troth is it, your honour — just o' thafs for himJ — 

* Well, but let us hear ; you were a Aor^e-doctor before ; 


now, it seems, you are la majt-dactor ; 1h>w do you get 
on ? ' — * Ou, just extraordinar' weel ; for your honour 
maun ken my praefice is rera sure and orthodox. I 
depend entirely upon twa Hw^tesJ — ^ And what may 
their names foe ? Perhaps it is a secret ? * — ^ Til tell 
your honour,' in a low tone ; * my twa simples are just 
laudamy and ccdamy I* — ' Simples with a vengeance V 
replied Scott. * But John, do you never happen to kill 
any of your patients ? '-.— * Kill ? Ou ay, may be sae I 
Whiles they die, and whiles no ; but it's the will o' Pro- 
vidence. Ony hoWf pour hanoury it toad be long before it 
makes up for F,lodden V '** 

It was also in the course of this expeditton diat Scott 
first made^ acquaintance with the late exeellent and 
venerable Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham. The 
travellers having reached Auckland over night, were 
seeing the public rooms oi the Castle at an early hour 
next morning, when the Bishop haj^ned, in passing 
through one of them, to catch a glimpse of Scott's per- 
son, and immediately recognising him, from the likeness 
of the engravings by this time multiplied, introduced 
himself to the party, and insisted upon acting as cicercme. 
After showing them the pictuTe-^;allery and so fosth, his 
Lordship invited them to join the morning service of the 
chapel, and ^hen that was over insisted on their remain* 
ing 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 Bish(^ ordered his horse, 
nor did Scott observe without admiration the proud cur- 
vetting of the animal on which his lordship proposed 
to accompany him during the next stage of his progress. 
** Why, yes, Mr Scott," said the gentie but high-spirited 
eld man, ^^ I still like to feel my horse under me." He 

• ReminisceiiceB of Sir Walter Scott, p. ^» 


was then in his 79th year, and snrviyed to the age of 
nmetj-twOi 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. 

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 JHfemo- 
randum : — ^* I had of course," he says, ^* had many pre- 
yious opportunities of testing the almost conscientious 
fidelity c^ his local descriptions *, but I could not help 
being singulariy struck with the lights which diis yisit 
&rew on that characteristic of his compositions. The 
mining after he arrived he said, * You have often giren 
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 quar- 
ries of BrigBal and the ruined Abbey of Egglestone. 
I obserred 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 ; 
hut I understood him when he replied, ^ that in nature 
herself no two scenes are exactly alike, and that who- 
ever copied truly what was before his eyes, would pos- 
sess 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 ims^ination, would soon find his own mind 
circumscribed, and contracted to a few favourite 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 tp 
confess, with the Knife-grinder, * Story ! God bless 
you I I have none to tell, sir ' — he would laugh, and 
say, * then let us make one — nothing so easy as to jnake 
a triadition.' " 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 com- 
position of the romance, — 

To J, B, S^ Morritt, Esq, 

" Abbotsford, 12tli 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, / did, at Carlisle^ engaged in the service of two 

OCTOBEB, 1812. 17 

distressed ladies, being ho 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 ftdl vigour, 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 ? * 
Tvhich 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 fidr one 
descend from the carriage with three half-bound volumes 
of a novel in her hand. Not having in my power to 
alleviate her woes, by offering her either a part or the 
whole of my own couch — * Transeatf' quoth I, * cum 
ccBteris erroribus* 

*' I am delighted with your Cumberland admirer,* 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 Mal- 
colm, 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 Lang- 
holm, and Burnfoot ; t with all manner of episodes about 

• This alluded to a ridiculous hunter of lions, who, being met by- 
Mr Morritt in the grounds at Rokeby, disclaimed all taste for pic- 
turesque beauties, but overwhelmed their owner with Homeric 
Greek ; of wHch he had told Scott. 

f ^2<n}/oo^ is the name of a farm-house on the Bucdeuch estate, not 
far from Langholm, where the late Sir John Malcolm and his distin- 
guished brothers were bom. Their grandfather had^ I belieye^ found 


Iskendiar Rustan, and Jalmiiie AimaJkraBtg* ' Do y<m 
know, that pctem of Ferdusi's must be beantifuL He 
xead me ioaaae very splezfedid extracts wbick he had 
himself translated. Sliould you meet him in Loxidcm, 
I hare given him charge to be acquainted with yoa, fot 
I am sure you will like each other. To be sure I know 
him littl^ but I Uke his firankoess and his sound ideas 
of morality and policy ; and I have observed, that when 
I luive had no great li]dng to persons «t the beginnmg, 
it has^ usually pleased Heaven, as Slender says, to de- 
crease it on Airtfaer acquaintance. Adieu, I must mount 
my horse. Our last j^^umey was so delightful that we 
have every temptation to repeat it. Pray give oar 
kind love to the kJy, and believe me erer yours, 

Walthb Scott." 

To the Same, 

'' Edmbtugfa, 29th Noyember, 1812. 

^ My dear MOTritt, 

" I have been, and stiU am, woikingTery hard, in 
hope& to face the pubUe 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 upoi) Bertram, and one 
or two blackguards whom he picks up in the slate quar- 
ries, than what I originally deigned. I am very 
desirous to have your opinion of the three first Cantos, 
for whic^ purpose, so soon as I can get them collected, 

re&ge ihete a&r lodeidng a good estate and an andent barcmetcy, 
in iLe q#Btr of 1715* A monmaeat to the gallant General's me- 
moKj baa reeendj been elected near the ipoi of kis bMi* 


I will send the akeets under eorer to Mr Freelu^y 
wiiose (Mumpotent frank will tnuMunit them to Bokebyy 
where, I presame, yott hare been long tinee comfiMrtably 

' So Ydk sinfl er?«ilookthe town of Toriu' 

^^ I trust yoo. will read it with some partiality, be- 
cause, if I have not been so saccesfifnl as I could wish 
in deserttiing your lovely and romantic glens, it has 
partly ariaen from my great anxiety to do it well, which 
is often atte^ed with the yery contrary effect. There 
are two or three soi^s, and particularly eoe in praise of 
Bxignal Banks, which I trust you will like — ^because, 
entre mmsy I like them myself. One of them is a little 
dashing banditti song, caUed and entitled Allen-ai-Dale. 
I think you will be able to judge for yourself in about 
a wedk. . Pray^ how shall I send you the eatiregooiej 
which will be too heary to trarel the same way with its 
g&dets — ^fbr the Carlisle coach is terribly inaccurate about 
parcels. I £ear I hare made oae blunder in mentloaing 
the brooks which flow into the Tees, I have nuule 
the Balder distinct from that which comes dewn Thors- 
gill — 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 foi* her little tour. 
We were delighted with ours, except in respect of its 
slKHrt duration, and Sophia aid Walter hcdd their heads 
very high among their untravelled companions;, from the 
predominance acquired by their visat to England* You 
are not p^haps aware of the polish which is supposed to 
be acquired by the moiEt transitory intercourse with 
your more refined side of the Tweed. There was an 
honest carter who once applied to me respecting ^ plan 
which he had formed of Weeding his son, a great booby 


of twenty, to the Church. As the best way of etadm^ 
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 unmanage- 
able length ; but, after all, is better than none, and my 
poor damsel was likely to go without one in my indeci- 

" 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 ieith 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 1 Mrs Scott and the little people siendlove 
to Mrs Morritt and you. Ever yours, 

Walter Scott." 

To the iSanie, 
''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 owne^. 
As I hope the whole will be printed off before Christ- 
mas, 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 

^ > DECEMBER, 1812. . 21 

ivith the story that they must stand. Denzil, for in* 
stance, is essential to me, though, as you say, not very 
interesting ; and I assure you that, generally speaking, 
tlie poeta loquitur has a bad effect in narrative ; and ^hen 
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^uite sensible that I have often 
(tarried the opposite custom too far ; but I am apt to im- 
pute 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 enquire ff 
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. Glo- 
rious 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 

Walter Scott. 

«f 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 twelve- 
month; 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 Hatch* 
ard, the puldisher of his ^^ Tales," forwarded a copy of 
the book to Scott as soon as it was ready ; and, the 
bookseller having c(»nmunicated to his author some 
flattering expresskms in Scott's letter of acknowledge 
menty Mr Crabbe addreased him as follows : — 

To Walter Seoit, Etf. Edinburgh. 

** Merston, Grantham, 13th October, 1812, 

** Mr Hatchard, judging rightly of the satisfaction 
it would afford me, has been so obliging as to communi- 
cate 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 pica- 
sure 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 iii^tose 
intervention I might obtain that honour ; but I am c(m- 
fined by duties near my home, and by sickness in it. It 
may be long before I be in town, and then no sudi 
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 pasrions and £eelh[^ 
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, pro- 
bably, 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 yonr ten thousands ; but this, 
though it calls to mind the passage, is no true compari- 
son with the related prowess of I>ayid and Saul, because 
I have no evil spirit to arise and trouble me on the occa- 
sion ; 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 widies for your health and hap- 
pinessy who am, with great esteem, and true rei^yect. 
Dear sir, your obedient servant, 

Geobgb Crabbb." 

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 wadsis, ^' exdono auctoris,** and 
there passed between them several lett&s, one or two of 
which I must quote. 

T6 WmUer Sboit, Eaq, Edmbur^ 
" Know yoo, sir, a gentlemaen in Edinburgh, A. 
Brunton (the Rev.), who dates St John Street, and 
who asks my assistance in furnishing hymns which have 
r^ticm to the Old or New Testaaskent — any thing 
which might s^it the purpose of those who are cooking 
\}f a book of Scotch Psalmody ? Who is Mr Brunton? 
What is his situation P If I could hdp one who needed 
help I would do it cheerfully — but have no great opi- 
nion of this undertaking. ••.«•••«•• 
With every good wish, yours sincerdy, 

GcRO. Crabbe." 

Scott's answer to this letter ez}«resses 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. 

To the Rev, George Crabhe, Musion, Grantham. 

^« My dear Sir, 

" I was favoured 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 
Jldinburgh, and I believe the work in which he has so- 
licited your assistance is one adopted by the General 
Assembly, or Convocation of the Kirk. I have no no- 
tion 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 
jAyself, 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 
aiiginentation of stipend to him and to his brethren, it 
would not, I conceive, be a very favourable time to can- 
vass 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 ain sure you can assist his purpose much 
more than any man alive. 

" I think those hjrmns which do not immediately re- 
call the warm and exalted language of the Bible are apt 
to be, however elegant, rather cold and flat for the pur- 


poses 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 modem Me- 
thodists have adopted, but merely that solemmty and 
peculiarity of diction, which at once puts the reader and 
liearer upon his guard as to the purpose of the poetry* 
To my Gothic ear, indeed, the Stabet MateVy the Dies 
JrcBy 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 clas- 
sical and fabulous deities.* This is, probably, all re- 
ferable to the association of ideas — that is, if the * asso- 
ciation 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 uni- 
versal solvent which may have succeeded to it in repu- 
tation. 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 io found any thing upon them, whe- 
ther they are favourable or otherwise ; for it is usually 
their principal object to display the abilities of the wri- 
ters 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." 

* See Life of Dryden, Scott's Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. 
i. p. 293, 




To Walter Scoit, JStq.^ MditUmrgk. 

**My dear Sir, 

^^ Law, then, is your profestton — I mean a profes- 
sion you give ycrar misd and time to — but how ^fag as 
a elerk f * 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 un- 
derstand — ^is not to be comprehended. I wait for eluei- . 
dation. Know you, dear sir, I have often thmight I i 
should love to read rqwrU — diat is, brief histories of 
extraordinary eases, with the judgm^its. If that is 
what is meant by reports, such reading must be pleasant, 
but, probably, I entertain wrong ideas, and eould not 
understand the books I think so engaging. Yet I con- 
clude there are Mstories qfccuesy and have often thought 
of consulting Hatchard whether he knew of such kind 
of reading, but hitherto I have rested in ignorance. . « • 
....... Yours truly, 

Oeorgb Crabbs.^' 

To i/te Bev. Gtorge CnAke. 

^* 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 Abbotsfbrd as well as in town ; and, to say 

' truth, the auxiliary copy arrived in good time, for my 
original one suffers as mudi by its general popukatty 

t 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 er moial» renders, I have often rasiarked, your 
works generally delightful to those whose youtib might 

•. ' 


reaaier Uiem insensible to the other beauties with which 
tfaejr abound. Th^e ore a sort of pictures— surely the 
most valuable, were it but for that reason — ^wUch strike 
the uninitiated as much as they do the connoisseuTy 
though the last alcme can render reason for his admira- 
tion. Indeed our old friend Horace knew what he was 
Baying* when he chose to address his ode, ' VirginUmM 
puerigque,* 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*-fl3dng critics at Button's. Afiker 
all, if a faultless poem could be produced, I am satis- 
fied it would tire the critics themselves, and annoy the 
whole reading world with the spleen. 

^^ You must be ddightfully situated in the Vale of 
Belvoir — a part of England for which I entertain a spe- 
cial kindness, for the sake of the gallant hero, Robin 
Hood, who, as probably you will readily guess, is no 
small favourite of mine; his indistinct ideas concerning 
the doctrine of mevm 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 spesJ&s highly. Our lord d the 
^ cairn and the scaur,' waste wilderness and hungry 
hills, for many a league around, is the Duke of Buo- 
clench, 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 apeu. They are both g^at ad- 
mirers of Mr Crabbe's poetry, and would be hxppj to 
know him, should he ever come to Scotland, and ven- 
ture into the Gothic halls of a Bordor 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 <5ommand, except when I am attending the 
Court, which seldom occupies more than two hours of 
the morning during sitting. I besides hold in comment 
dam 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 every thing 
handsome about me.' 

** I have often thought it is the most fortunate thing 
for bards like you and n^ to have an established pro- 
fession, and professional character, to render us inde- 
pendent of those worthy gentlemen, the retailers, or, as 
«ome 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 pro- ' 
per 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 appear- 
ances, the first thing I should do would be to inculcate 
upon him the duty of cultivating some honourable prd^ 
fession, 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 
^f ' 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."* 

The contrast of the two poets' epistolary styles is highly 
amufflng; 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 excep- 
tion 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 miscel- 
lany 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 he/ifteen. 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 

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


in the boyish author of Polydore he had discoyered 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 stan- 
zas, 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 g^ced upon the ruin'd pile 
A look of regal pride, * Saj, who art thou 

(His countenance bright'ning with a scornful smile. 
He sternly cried), * whose footsteps rash profane 
The wild romantic realm where I hare willed to reign ? * 

'' But ere to these proud words I could mejdy. 

How changed that scornful face to soft and mild I 
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 Toice fiunfliar to miae ear ; 
While many a fiuied dream ai earth awoke, 

Gomiected strangely with that unknown seer. 
Who aow stretch'd forth his arm, and on the sand 
A circle round me traced, as with magician's wand," &c. &c. 

Scott's own chief contribution .to this Yolame was 
a brief account of the Life and Poems (hitherto un- 
published) of Patrick Carey, whom he pronounces 
to ha^e he&i not only as stout a cavalier, but al- 
most as good a poet as his contemporary Lovelace. 


That Essaj was expanded, and prefixed to an edition of 
Carey's « Trivial Poems and Triolets," whidi Seott 
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 para^ 
graphs of his beautiful and highly characterisde intro- 
duction of this forgotten poet of the 1 7th century. 

** The present age bas been so distingaished for research into po- 
etical antiquities, that the discovery of an nnknown bard is, in cer- 
tain chosen literary circles, held as curious aa an aogmefitation of 
the number of fixed stars would be esteemed by astronomers. It is 
true, these ' blessed twinklers of the night' are so far remored from 
us, that they afford no more light than serves barely to evince their 
existence to the curious investigator; and in like manner the plea- 
sure derived firom the revival of an obscure poet is rather in pro- 
portion to the rarity of his volume than to its merit; yet this plea^ 
sure is not inconsistent with reason and principle. We know by 
every day's experience the pepujiar interest which the lapse of ages 
confers upon works of human art. The clumsy strength of the 
ancient casdes, which, when raw from the hand of the builder, in« 
ferred only the oppressive power of the barons who reared them, is 
now broken by partial ruin into proper subjects for tlie poet or the 
painter ; and, as Mason has beautifully described the change, 

, . ^Tiaw 
Hm tnoMwed ipto beauty napy a tower. 
Which, when it frowned with bU its inttfrnneota, 
TFas only terrible ^ 

•' The monastery, too, which was at^ist but aiaotasdc mowmmi 
of the superstitious devotioa of mooafchs, or of the puiple pride of 
fattened abbots, has gained, by the sileitf inftieiioe of aitfiquaiy, the 
power of impressing awe aad devotim. Enen the stains and 
weather-taints upon the battleraenbs <d audi hwUkigl add. )ike the 
scars of a veteran, to die affecting trnpreaiioK t 

* For ^e IwM •ehetuid what «aa hweh wben new, 
JLnA naw the stains are all of sober hv« ; 
The living stains which nature's hand aiono. 
Profuse of life, ponrs fortii upon the staiM»*{-^CM^ 


** If such is the effect of Time in adding interest to the labours 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 biblio- 
grapher and poetical antiquary ? The obscure poet, who is detect- 
ed 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 car- 
cases ; 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 recollec- 
tion of posterity, whose generous compassion overpays him for the 
injuries he sustained while in life. And thus freed from the opera- 
tion of all unfavourable 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 yre have regarded such a waste of labour ? 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 favourite, hue of our studies. Tiie Christian divine recollects 
the land of banishment and of refuge ; to the eyes of the historian's 
fiincy, they excite the shades of Pharaohs and of Ptolemies, of 
Cheops and Merops, and Sesostris drawn in triumph byhis 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 
undistinguishable 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 TMMj B^onei, thcragli Kewn most rongUjr, tliow 

The hand of man had once at leaet been there.' — WoRDnromTH; 

^ Similar combinations g^ve a great part of the delight we receive 
from andent poetry. In the rude song of the Scald, we regardless 
the strained imagery and extravagance of epithet, than the wfld 
impressions which it conveys of the daimtless resolution, savage 
superstition, rude festivity, and ceaseless depredation of the ancient 
Scandinavians. In the metrical romance, we pardon the long, tedi- 
ous, 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 lengtli 
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 fol- 
lowers to divert their thoughts from the desperate circumstances in 
which they were placed, afler 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 Ferum- 
bras? Or, on the contrary, would not the image of the dauntless 
hero, inflexible in defeat, beguiling the anxiety of his war-worn at- 
tendants by the lays of the minstrel, give to these rude lays them- 
selves an interest beyond Greek and Roman fame ? ** 

The year 1812 had the usual share of minor literary 
labours — such as contributions to the journals ; and be- 
ifore it closed, the Romance of Rokeby was finished. 
Though it had been long in hand, the MS. sent to the 
pripter 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 — ^fuU 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 liter- 
ary 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 Rckeby^^** Byron writes 
to Murray, on sedng it advertised, — •* Who the devil 
is* he ? No matter — ^he has good connexions, and will 
be well introduced.*** Such, I suppose, was the ge- 
neral feeling in London. I well remember, being in 
those days a young student at Oxford, how the book- 
sellers' 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 academies had 
bets depending on the issue of the struggle, which tiiey 
considered the elder favourite 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 vaca- 
tion. On the 9th and 10th of January, 1813, he thus 
addresses his friends at Sunninghill and Hampstead : — 

To George JEOu, Esq. 

" My dear Ellis, 

" I am sure you wHl place it to any thing rather 
than want of kindness, that I have been so long silent — 
so very long, indeed, that I am not quite sure whether 
the feult is on my side or yours — ^but, be it what it may, 
it can never, I am sure, be laid to forgetfiilness in either. 
This comes to train you on to the merciful reception of 
a Tale of the Civil Wars? not political, however, but 

* BTTon's Life and Woffcs, vol. n. p* l$9. 


mefely a pseudo-romanoe of pseudo-cliiyalry. I have 
converted a lusty buccanier 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 snuu^edj 
or grown to, like the son of Lancelot Gobbo» he might 
hare left us all as rich as Crcesus, besides having the 
pleasure of taking a fine primrose path himself, instead 
of squeezing himself through a tight gate and up a steep 
aseent, and leaving us the decent competence of an 
honest man's children. As to our more ancient pedi- 
gree, 1 should be loath to vouch for them. My grand- 
father was a horse-jockey and cattle-dealer, and made a 
fortune; my greaignuidfather, a Jacobit; ^ tiaitor 
(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 fix>m a hundred 
tenants ; fought duels ; cocked their hats, — and called 
themselves gentlemen. Tlien we come to the old Bor- 
der times, cattle-driving, halters, and so forth, for which, 
in the matter of honesty, very little I suppose can be 
said — ^at least in modem acceptation of the word. Upon 
the whole, I am inclined to think it is owing to the ear- 
lier part of this inauspicious generation that I uniformly 
find myself in the same scrape- in my fables, and ihat, in 
spite of the most obstinate determination to the contrary, 
the greatest rogue in my canvass alwa^i stands out as 
the most conspicuous and prominent figure. All this 
will be a riddle to you, unless you have received a cer- 
tain 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 
vigour of your fine old friends the Russians. By the 
XfOrd, sir ! it is most famous this campaign of theirs. I 
was not one of the very sanguine persons who antici- 
pated 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, ad- 
mit of such a force being accumulated upon any parti- 
cular point as may, by abandonment of other considera- 
tions, always ensure 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 him- 
self again in Germany, now that he has been plainly 
shown, both in Spain and Russia, that protracted stub- 
bom unaccommodating resistance will foil those grand 
exertions in the long run. All laud be to Lord Wel- 
lington, 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, 1 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 yours, 

W. Scott.'* 

" Abbotsford, 9thVan\mry, 1813." 


To Miu Joanna JBat'llie. 

** 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 Jbrth riffht, without troubling 
myself excessively about the developement of the plot 
and other critical matters — 

< But sliall 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 Cara- 
vaggio 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 read- 
ing, 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 
dyking against the river, and phmting 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 back-ground 
of copse, with pendant trees in front ; and I have only 
to beg a few years to see how my colours will come out 
of the canvass. 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 Robert- 
son (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 inter- 
est as if it was possible he could have seen the fruit come 
to maturity, and moralized on his own conduct, by oV 
serving that we act upon the same inconsistent motive 
throughout li&. It is well we do so for those that are 
to c(Hne 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." 

Tlie following letter lets us completely behind the 
scenes at the publication of Rokeby. The ^'horrid 
story" it alludes to was that of a young w<»nan found 
murdered on New Year's Day in the hi^way between 
Greta Bridge and Barnard Castle — a crime, the perpetra- 
tor of which was never discovered. The account' of a 
parallel atrocity in Galloway, and the mode of its cfetec- 
tion, will show the reader from what source Scott drew 
one of the most striking incidents in his Guy Manner- 

To J. JB, S, MmiU, Msq., JR^by Park. 

" EdiDbor^ 12th Januaiy, 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 Bd^eby 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 win call at Ballantyne's as I return firom this place, 
and close the letter*with such Dews as I can get about 
it there* The book has gone oiF 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 haye 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 whistie you here to-day. Bal- 
lantyne 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 faithfidly and honourably 

^^Your horrid story reminds me at one in Gailoway, 
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 miiade could have done it) to enlighten the under- 
standing of an old ram-headed sheriff, who was usually 
nick-named 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 viola- 
tion), it was pretty clear that her paramour had dcme 
the deed, and equally so that he must be a native of 
the district. The sh^iff caused the minister to adver- 
tise from the pulpit that the girl would be buried on a 
particular day, and that all persons in the neighbour- 
hood were invited to attend the funeral, to show their 
detestation a£ such an enormous crime, as well as to 


evince their own innocence. This was 6ur^ to bring 
the murderer to the funeral. Wh^n the people were 
assembled in the kirk, the doors were locked by the 
sheriff's order, and the shoes of all the men were exa- 
mined ; that of the murderer Avas detected by the mea- 
sure of the foot, tread, &c., 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 com- 
mitted this crime for no other reason that could be al- 
leged, 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 antici- 
pated, that your copy, being of royal size, requires 
some particular nicety in hot-pressing. It will be sent 
by fhe Carlisle nmil 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 a»- 
•sured 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 appre- 
ciated 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 pro- 
gress (September 2), " I hope the thing will do, chiefly 
because the'world will not expect from me d poem of 
which the interest turns upon character ; " and in an- 
other 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 
any thing, that the force in the Lay is thrown on style 
. — ^in Marmion, on description — and in the Lady of the 
Lake, on incident."* I suspect some of these distinc- 
tions may have been matters of after-thought ; 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 groupes he ever created. As it is, I question whe- 
ther even in his prose there is any thing more exqui- 
sitely 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 par- 
ticular interest attached to her. Writing to Miss Edge- 
worth five years after this time (10th March, 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 


* Several lett^rd 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 especiaHy the note on p. 800, 
from which it appears that the closing stanza was added, in defer- 
ence to Ba]lant3me and Erskine, though the author retained his 
own opinion that *Mt spoiled one effect without producing another." 


enough to induce me to go througli the rest/ 'bo I may 
truly say with Macbeth— 

' I am afraid to think of what Twe doii^*<. 
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 exist- 
ing 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." 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 favour, and of his chival- 
rous competitor, we have before us something more than 
** a mere shadow." 

In spite of these graceful characters, the inhnitable 
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 
Wycliff— 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 scat- 
tered throughout the whole composition, and of some 
detached images — that of the setting of the tropical 
sun,* for example — ^which were never surpassed by any 

• " My noontide, India may declare ; 
Lfike her fierce sun, I fired the air I 
Like him, to wood and cave bade fiy 
Her natives, from mine angry eye. 
And now, my race of terror nm^ 
Mine he the eve of tropic sun ! 
No pale gradations quench his ray^ 

soxBBT — 1813. 43 

poet ; in spite of all these merits, the immediale suc- 
cess of Rokeby was greatly inferior to that of the Lady 
of the Lake ; nor has it ever since been so mudi a bn 
yonrite with the public at large as any other of his 
poetical romances. He ascribes this fEdlure, in his in- 
troduction of 1830, partly to the radically unpoetieal cha- 
racter of the Soundheads ; but surely their character 
has its poetical side also, had his prejudices allowed him 
to enter upon its study with impartial%ympathy ; and I 
doubt not, Mr Morritt suggested the difficulty on this 
score, when the outline of the story was as yet undo* 
termined, from consideration rad&er of Ae poet's pecu- 
liar feelings, and powers as hitherto exhibited, than of 
the subject absolutely. Partly he blames the satiety of 
ihe public ear, which had had so much of his rhylium 
not only from himself, but horn dozens of mocking 
birds, male and female, all more or less apf^uded 
in their day, and now all equally foi^tten.* 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 negU- 
gence) the uniform octosyllabic couplets of the Lady of 

No twilight dews his wratb aJJsyi 

With disk like battk-tai^ led. 

He rushes to his hufning bed. 

Dyes the wide wave with bloody U^t, 

Then sinks at onoe~4ukl «U u miJ^V-^Cmio vi. 2K 

* <' Scott found peculiar &Tour aod imitation among the fair sex. 
There was Miss HaUbrd, and Miss MJtford* and Miss Francis ; 
but, with thegrealest respect be it spoken, none of his imitators 
did rtuai honow to the ori^&al except Hogg, the Ettrick Shep- 
herd, until the appearance of ' The Bridsd of Trieannain ' and • Ha- 
rold the Dauntless,' which, in the opinioii of some, equalled if not 
surpassed him; and, lo I after three or four yea^ ^bgj turned out 
to be the master's own compositions." — Byron, vol. xv., p. 96, - 


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 un- 
favourable influence on this occasion.* But the cause 
of failure which the Poet himself places last, was un- 
questionably the main one. The deeper and darker 
passion of Childe Harold, the audacity of its morbid 
voluptuousness, fed 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 Trier- 
main /^an passu with Rokeby. In answer, for exam- 
ple, to one of James Ballantyne's letters, urging acce- 
lerated 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." 

• See, for instance, the Epistle of Lady Corke— or that of Messrs 
Lackington, booksellers, to one of their dandy authors— 

" Should yo*i feel any touch o£ poetical glow 
WeVe 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 vnjf. 
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 Woburnr Abbey." &c. &c. 


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 se- 
cret, 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 
nloment believed the latter capable either of the inven- 
tion or the execution of this airy and fascinating ro- 
mance 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 imme- 
diately expressing his opinion either of Rokeby or of 
the Bridal of Triermain. The writer in the Quarterly 
Review 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 vigour to some of his productions, it equals or sur- 
passes them in elegance and beauty; that it is more 
uniformly tender, ^id 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 hav^ heard be- 
fore; but the sentiments, descriptions, and characters^ 


have qualities that are native and unborrowed." — Quar-- 
terly Review^ Jtdjfy 1813. 

If this writer was, as I suppose, Ellis, he probably eon- 
sidered it as a thing impossible that Scott should have en« 
gag^ed 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 sugges- 
tion, 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 
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 himselj^ as well 
as to his Mend, dictated many a remonstrance; and^ 
though he ultimately acquiesced in permitting another 
minor romance to be put forth m the same manner, he 
did so reluctantly, and was far from acting his part so 

well. _ _ _ 

Scott s&ys, in the Introduction to the Lord of the 
Isles, ^^ As Mr Erskine was more than sus^wcted of a 
taste for poetry, and' as I took care, ia several places, 
to mix something that might resemble (as far as was in 
my power) my friend's feeling and manner^ the train 
ei^y caught, and two large editions were scdd." Among 
llie passages to whidi he here alludes, are no doubt 
those in which the character of the minstrel Arthur is 
abaded with the eolourkigs of an almost effeminate 
gentleness^ Yet, in the midst of them, the ^^ mighty 
miasta^el" himself from tune to time, escapes ; as, for 


ins^suice, where the lover bids Lucy, in that exquisite 
picture of crossing a mountain stream, trust to hia 
" stalwart arm*' — 

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

Kor can I pass the compliment to Scott's own fair pa* 
troness, 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 favouring smile from fair Bucdeuch ;*' 

nor the hurst of genuine Bordeiism, — 

" Bewcasde now must keep the hold, 

Speir-Adam's steeds must bide in stall; 
Of Hartley- bum the bowmen bold 

Must only shoot from battled wall ; 
And Liddesdale may buckle spur, 

And Teviot now may belt tfie brand, 
Taras and Ewes keep nightly stir. 

And Eskdale foray Cumberlaiid. ' — 

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 suspi- 
don that, in one passage, which always seemed to me a 
blot upon the composition — ^that in which Arthur de- 
rides the military coxcombries of his rival — 

" Who comes in fordgn 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 certaiir 
ball, of August, 1797, at the Gilsland Spa-* 

Among the more prominent Erskinisms, are the eulo- 
gistic mention of Glasgow, the scene of Erskine's edu- 
cation; 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.f 

*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 play- 
ful veil, which perhaps adds as much of grace as it takes 
away of splendour. As Wordsworth says of the eclipse 
on the lake of Lugano — 


'Tis 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 Van- 

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 recon- 
cile us to contemptuous satire of the merest frivolities of 
modem 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, valour high, 
And wisdom soared beyond the sky. 
And beauty had such matchless beam 
As lights not now a lover's dream." 

* See antct vol. i., p. 266. 

t It is included in the Border Minstrelsy. Scott's Poetical 
Works, vol. i., p. 270. 


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 jea^ 
lousy — 

" 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 earUer period, that he should not be in Edin- 
burgh 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 Par- 
liament House, and bore all the buzz and tattle of friends 
and acquaintance with an air of good-humoured equani- 
mity, or rather total apparent indifference. The follow- 
ing letter, which contains some curious matter of more 
kinds than one, was written partly in town and partly in 
the country : — 

To MUs Joanna Baillie, Hantpstead, 

« Edinburgh, March 13th, 1813. 

" My dearest Friend, 

" The pinasters have arrived safe, and I can hardljr 
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 comer 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 
he acceptable at Carlton House in case I should be in 
Loiidcm, 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 oflFence, 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 cvnl to me, I certainly could not, as a 
gentleman, decline obeying any commiands she might 
give me to wait upon her, especially in her present ad- 
versity. So, though I do not affect to say I should be 
sorry to take an opportunity of peeping at the splendours 
of royalty, prudence and economy wiU 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 ia a great artbt. It is a 
pity he shows too much of his machinery. I wish he 
<30iuld be dottble^caped, as they say of watches ; — but the 
&ult 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 ac- 
quired 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 Sfe) last night; 
but he came not within a hundred miles of Cooke, whose 
terrible visage, and short, abrupt, and savage utterance, 
gave a reaHty almost to that extraor^nary scene in which 
he boasts of his own successful villany to a nobleman of 
worth and honour, of whose alliance he is ambitioiK. 
Cooke ccmtrived somehow to impress upon the audi^ice 
the idea of such a monster of enormity as had learned to 
jnque himself evad upon his own atrocious <^aracter. 
But Kemble was too handsome, too plau^ble,- and too 


smooth, to admit its being probable th^ be should be 
blind to the unfavourable impression which these extr&r« 
ordinary vaunts are likely to make on the person whom 
he is so aniious to conciliate. 

*' Abbotsford, 21st March.' 

^^ This letter, begun in Edinburgh, is to take wing 
from Abbotsford. John Winnos (now John Winnos li 
the sub-oracle of Abbotsford, the principal being Tom 
Purdie) — John Winnos pronounces that the pinaster seed 
ought to be raised at firi9t 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 com- 
plete Scrub) he solemnly excJijtnges 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 
£ffe ploughing, harrowing, and overseeing all my pre- 
mises; being a conq^ilete jad^-of-cdl-txades, from the 
carpenter to the shepherd, nothing comes strange to 
him ; Bfid being extremely honest, and somewhat of a 
humourist, 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 be- 
lieve the conseienee of many of our jog-trot countrymen 
would revolt at being made my instrument in sacrifidng* 
good o6m4and to the visions of Mr Price's theory. Mr 
Pmk^rton, the historian, has a play coming out at Edis- 
bmgh ; it is by no means bad poetry, yet I think it wili 
not be popular; the peojde come and go, and spei^'very 
notable things in good blank verse, but there is no very 
strong int^est excited : the plot also is cBsagreeable^ 
and liable to the objections (though in a less degree) 
which have jbeen urged i^ain^t the Mysterioi» Motber.r' 


it is to be acted on Wednesday ; I will let you know its 
fete. P., with whom I am in good habits, showed me 
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 bank note — 

■ • 

*• 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 hb 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." 

To the Lady Louisa Stuart, ^c, Sfc. ffc. BothtoeU Qxstle, 

" 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 favour to 
me, and also a sign that your own spirits are recovering 
their tone. Ladies are, I think, v-ery fortunate in having 
a resource in work at a time when the mind rejects in- 
tellectual 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 


isort of sedative, too mechanical to worry the mind by 
distracting it from the points on which its musings turn, 
yet ' gpradually assisting it in regaining steadiness and 
-composure ; for so curiously are our bodies and minda 
linked together, that the regular and constant employ- 
ment 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 pleas- 
ed with the lines on the guinea note, and if Lady Doug- 
las does not object I would willingly mention the cir- 
cumstance in the Edinburgh Annual Register. I think 
it will give the author gr^at 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.* 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 wonder- 
fully popular, about ten thousand copies having walked 
off already, in about three months, and the demand con- 
tinuing faster than it can be supplied. As to my imita- 
tor, the Knight of Triermain, I will endeavour to convey 
to Mr Gillies fpuisque Gillies il est) your Ladyship's 
very just strictures on the Introduction to the second 

• This murder, perpetrated in November, 1806^ remains a mystery 
in 1836. 


Canto. But if he takes the opinion of a hacked old 
Huthor like myself, he will content himself with avoiding 
such beyues in future, without attemptii^ to mend those 
which are already made. There is an ominous old pro- 
verb which says, confess and he 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 pros- 
pective, in which point of view I daresay 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 snowHStorm 
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 "'^ho 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 occupa- 
tions 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. 

WALTEa Scott." 









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 esta- 
blishment 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 prececfoig 
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 inconveniesoes 
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 any thing, or every 
thing, than be less than true men to the world." 

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 death-bed 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 re- 
ceived 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 deter- 
mined to dissolve the concern." He adds,^ — " This 
became a matter of less difficulty, because time had in a 
great measure worn away thfe differences between Mr 
Scott and Mr Constable, and Mr Hunter was now out 
of Constable's concern.* A peace, therefore, was speedily 
inade 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 com- 
plete exposure of the mismanagement of John Ballan- 
tyne*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 

• Mr Hunter died in March, 1812. 


Strong grounds of advantage. But I am persuaded 
nothing ultimately good can be expected from any con- 
nexion with that house, unless for those who have a 
mind to be hewers of wood wid 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 
iardly 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 suc- 
cess 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 tri- 
umphant sale — ^he had been disappointed. And mean 
while* the dii&culties 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 con- 
quer all his scruples. 

Mr Cadell, then Constable's partner, says in his Memo^ 
randuy — *' Prior to this time the reputation of John Bal- 
lantyne 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 rumours were realized to the 
full by an application which Messrs B. made to Mr Con- 
stable in May, 1813, foi: 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 J so much so, 
that a pledge was given, that if the terms asked were 
acceded to, John Ballantyne and Co. would endeavour 


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 

The most important of the requests which the labour- 
ing house made to Constable was, that he should forth- 
with take entirely to himself the stock, copyright, and 
future management of the Edinburgh Annual Register. 
Upon examining the state of this book, however, Con- 
stable found that the loss on it had never been less than 
L.IOOO per annum, and he therefore declined that matter 
for the present. He promised, however, to consider se- 
riously 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 Beau- 
mont and Fletcher — of an edition of Defoe'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 
L.700» The immediate accommodation thus received 
amounted to L.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 ^^ 


ToMrJijkii BoMcaUifnet care ofMessn JUmgman ^ Co*t London. 

«* Printing.^iffice^ May ISth, 1813. 

'* Dear JcinXf 

*^ After many qffs aad ans^ and as msjiy prof eia and 
contre-prqfets as the treaty of Amiens, I have at length 
concluded a treaty with Constable, in ^rhich I am sen- 
sible he has gained a great adrantage ; * but what could 
I do amidst the disorder and pressure of so many de- 
mands ? 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. Brewstert and Singerst 
are the only heavy things to which I have not given a 
blue eye. Had your news of Cadell's sale§ 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 

* •* These and after purchases of books from the stock of J. BaU 
lantyne 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 
ohtained,"^:^roiefrom Mr R, CadelL 

t Dr Brewster's edition of Ferguson's Astronomy, 2 vols. 8vo^ 
will) plates, 4to, Edin. 1811. 36s. 

X Dr Singers' General View of the County of Dumfries, 8vo. Edin. 
1812. 18s. 

§ A trade sale of Messrs Cadell and Bavies in the Strand 


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 speak- 
ing 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 good* 
ness of heart and integrity, and to the quickness and 
acuteqess 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 re- 
gard, 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. Mean time, 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. sr 

Three days afterwards, Scott resumes the subject as 
follows : — 

To Mr John Ballantyne, London* 

"Edinburgh, 21st May, 1813. 

" Dear John, 

" Let it never escape your recollection, that shut- 
ting 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 
L.2000 and upwards on the calendar against the busi- 
ness. 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 Jun6 ; 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 L.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 hencefor- 
ward — ^it is the sheet-anchor." 

The allusion in thh 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 connexion ; and these hints are all to the 
same effect. James was a man of lazy habits, and not a 
little addicted to the niore solid, and perhaps more dan- 
gerous, part of the indulgences of the table. One letter 
(dated Ashestiel 1810) will be a sufficient specimen ; — 

To Mr James JBcUlantyne, 
" My dear James, 

*^ I am very sorry for the state of your health, 
and should be still more so, were I hot certain that I 
can prescribe for you as well as any physician in Edin- 


burgli. You have naturally an atUetic constitudon and 
a hearty stomach, and these agree very ill -with a seden- 
tary life and the habits of indolence which it brings on. 
Your stomach thus gets weak, and from those com- 
plamts 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 
Ae blue devils. You must positively put yourself on a 
regimen as to eatmg, 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 
ain 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. .Ilencefortfa, 
Scott often repeated to his old friend, and occasionally 
scribbled by way of postsmpt to his notes on business — 

" When yon are craving. 

Remember the Raven.*' 

Sometimes the formula is varied to — 

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

Bis preacfaaients of Tegiilarity in book-keepnig to 
Johiiy and of abstinence from good cheer to Jaiaes Bal« 

. ** THB NAM£I«ESS 6LBN«" 63 

lantyne, were equally vain ; but on the other hand it 
must be allowed that they had some reason for displea* 
sure — (the more felt because they durst not, like him, 
express their feelings) — ^when they found that scarcely 
had these ^^hard skirmishes" tenninated in the bargain 
of May 18 th, before Scott was preparing fresh embar- 
rassments 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 
beiog already aware of this matter, and alleges his 
anxiety '^ to close at once with a very capricious per- 
son," 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 Name- 
less Glen." This copyright he then offered to dis- 
pose of to Constable for L.5000 ; adding, ^^ this 
is considerably less in prop<»rtion than I have already 
made on the share of Rokeby sold to yourself, and 
surely that is no unfidr admeasurement." A long 
correspondence ensued, in the course of which Scott 
mentions ^^ the Lord of the Isles/' as a title which 
had sugg^ted itself to him in place of *^ the Nameless 
Gl^a;'' but as the negotiation did not succeed, I 
may pass its details. The new property which Scott 
was so eager io acquire, was that hilly tract stretching 
£rwB the old Roman road near Turn-again towards 
the Cauldshiels Loch : a then desolate and naked moun- 
tain-mere, whidi he likens,^ in a letter of this summer 
(to Lady Louisa Stuart), to the Lake of the Genie 
and the Fisb^rman 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 an- 
cient armour, 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 Ab- 
botsford ; 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. 
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." * 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 

• The court of oflfices, built on the haugh at Abbotsford in 1812, 
included a house for the faithful coachman, Peter Matbieson., 
One of Scott's Cantabrigian friends, Mr W. S. Rose, gave the 
whole pile soon afterwards the name, which it retailed to the end, 
o£ Peter^ House. The loft at Peter-House continued to be occu- 
pied by occasional bachelor guests until the existing mansion waff 


books and old armour as usual, and adding to what youf 
old friend * Btims calls 

* A fouth of auld nick-nackets, 
Kusty aim caps and jingling jackets, 
Wad hand the Lothians three in tackets 

A towmont gude« 
And parritch-pats and auld saut-backets. 

Afore the flude.* " 

Notwithstanding all this, it must have been with a 
inost 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 
anxiousj and indeed humiliating distress; and give a 
most lively notion of the incurable recklessness of his 
younger partner. 

To Mr John Sallan(t/ne, 

'* 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. 

* Mrs Thomas Scott' had met Burns frequently in early life at 
Dumfries. Her brother, the late Mr David MacCuUoch, was a 
great favourite with the poet, and the best singer of his songs that I 
ever heard. 



These expresses, besides every other inconveniencey 
excite surprise in my family and in the neighbourhoods 
I know no justifiable occasion for them but the unex- 
pected return of a bill. I do not consider you as an- 
swerable 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 arrange- 
ments to obviate them if possible, 

" Of course if any thing 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, Dum- 
fries-shire. I shall set out for that place on Monday 
morning early. W. S." 

To JUr James Ballantr/ne. 

" 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 beccnnes 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." 


To Mr John Ballaniyjue* 

*• My good friend John, 

" The post brings me no letter from you, which I 


am much surprised st, as you must guppofe me aiudous 
to learn tliat your express arrired. 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 wiU be a business-like cor* 
respondent, and state your provisions for every week 
prospectively. I do not expect you to warrant themj 
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 tjie 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 A6k2 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 appre- 
hensions, instead of saying plainly there was a chance 
of your wanting L.350, when I would have sent you 
an order to be used conditionally. 

<^ All I desire is unlimited confidence and frequent cor- 
respondence, and that you will give me weekly at least 
the fullest anticipation of your resources, and the proba- 
bility 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 indivi- 
duals, which I cannot reckon at less than L.4000, will 
put us finally to rights ; and it will be a shame to founder 
within sight of harbour. The greatest risk we run is 
from such ill-considered despatches as those of Friday. 
Suppose that I had gone to Drumlanrig — suppose the 


poney 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 conse- 
quences (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 ; in- 
deed 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 pro- 
vide 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 smooth- 
ing 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 
any thing 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. There- 
fore, 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." 

DRCMLANRIG, JtTLT 3 1, 1813. 69 

Scott proceeded, accordingly, to join a gay and fes- 
tive circle, whom the Duke of Buccleuch had assembled 
about him on first taking possession of the magnificent 
Castle of Drumlanrig, in Nithsdale, the principal mes- 
suage of the dukedom of Queensberry, which had recently 
lapsed into his family. But, post equitem sedet eUra cura — 
another of John Ballantyne's unwelcome missives, ren- 
dered necessary by a neglect of precisely the same kind 
as before, reached him in the midst of this scene of re- 
joicing. On the 31st, he again writes : — 

To Mr John Baliantyne, Bookseller, Edinburgh, 

• " Drumlanrig, Friday. 

^* Dear John, 

** I enclose the order. Unfortunately, the Drum- 
laiirig 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 yon 
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 suflFer 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 diflSculty 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 f If you have no 
time to say that this comes safe to hand, I suppose James 
may favour me so far. Tours 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* 


The gi^ard is known to the Marquis, who has good-na- 
turedly promised to give him this letter with his own 
hand ; so it must reach you in time, though probably 
past five on Saturday." 

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

To Mir John BallarUyne, ' 

*• 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 fot 
these damned afiairs, 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 administratidn 
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 Bal- 
lantyne met him with such a statement a& in some mea^ 
sure relieved his mind. 

He then proceeded to fulfil his engagement with Lord 
Abercorn, whom he encountered travelling in a very 
peculiar style between Carlisle and Lox^own* The 
ladies of the family and the household occupied four or 
five carrTages, all drawn by the Marquis's own horses^ 
while ike noble Lord himsdf brought up the xear^ 

LON6TOWN, AUGUST, 1813. 71 

mounted on a small pony, but decorated over his riding 
dress with the ribbon and star of the Garter. On meet- 
ing the cavalcade, Scott turned with them, and he was 
not a little amused when they reached the village of 
JLongtown, 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 majov- 
domo and cook had arrived there at an early hour in the 
morning, and every thing was now arranged for his re- 
ception in the paltry little public-house, as nearly as pos- 
sible 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 entrees ; 
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 splendour, 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 Sardana- 
palus. I think it worth while to preserve this anecdote, 
which Scott delighted in telling, as perhaps the last re- 
lic 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 daya 
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 — 


To Mr John Bcdlantyne» 

« Penrith, Aug. 10, 1818, 
** Dear John, 

** I enclose you an order for L.350. I shall remain 
at Rokeby until Saturday or Sunday, and be at Abbots- 
jFord on Wednesday at latest. 

' *^ I hope the printing-office is going on well, I fear, 
from the state of accompts between the companies, re- 
strictions on the management and expense will be una^ 
voidable, which may trench upon James's comforts. I 
cannot observe hitherto that the printing-office is payijig 
off, but rather adding to its embarrassments; and it 
cannot be thought that I have either means or inclina* 
tion to support a losing concern at the rate of L.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, &c., 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 correspon- 
dence 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, thd Ballajitynes 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 consi- 


derilig 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, with- 
out farther delay, on at least L.4000 ; and I gather that, 
by way of inducing Constable himself to come forward 
with part at least of this supply, John Ballantyne agaia 
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 Edin* 
bmgb. The following letters need no comment : — 

To Mr John Ballanfyne^ 

«' Abbotsford^ Aug. la, 1818, 

" Dear John, 

" I am quite satisfied it is impossible for J. B, and 
Co. to continue business longer than is absolutely ne- 
cessary for the sale of stock, and extrication of their 
affairs. The fatal injury wMch their credit has sustain- 
ed, 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 
J[ames's interest. Whatever loss I may sustain will be^ 
preferable to the life I have lately led, when I seem sur- 
rounded 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 inimita-' 
ble collection of books, made by an amateur of this city > 
retiring from business.' I do not feel either health pr 
confidence in my own powers sufficient to authorize xa<^ 

VOL, III. 6 


to take a long price for a new poem, until t&ese affairs 

^ttll have been in some measure digested. This idea 

II^ heen long^ ronmi^ in my head, bat the late fitta- 

liftaes' whidk Lave attended this business hare quite 

decided my resolirtkm* IwiSwrite to James to-morrow, 

iemg at jmsrat annoyecl with a serere headach. Yours 


W. Scott/' 

We># I to trans<aibe all Ae letters to which these 
tipottbles gaye lise, I should fill a Tolume before I had 
reached the end ot uiother^ twelvemonth. The two 
next I shall quote are dated on the same day (the 24th 
August), which may, in consequence of the answer the 
secondl of them received, be set down as determining the 
crisis of 1813. 

<« Abbotslbr^ 24th August, l&tS. 

Shikar J«»e8» 

^ Mr Cionatable's advice is, as I have always found 
il^ wosmdf sens&le, and frioftdly-^and I shall be guided 
by it B«l I have no wealthy friend who would join 
in secuisly with me to sueb aa extent ; and to apply in 
quajoters wheare I might be vefiised, would ensure dis- 
dosure^. I conclude John has shown Ms C. 1^ stale of 
the affieirs ; if not, I would wish him to do^ so directly. 
If tbe pioposed aecoaunodaydoii could be granted to the 
SmkQik my. personally joining in the security, the whole 
xnatler wo^ be quite safe,, focr I have to receive in the 
ccKaxse of the winter some lasge sums from my fitther^s 
estate.* Besides whidi* I shall certainly be able to go 
tQ press m November witili a new poem; or,ifMrC<»»« 

* He probably alludes to the final settlement of accounts with the 


stable's additional security would please the bankeis 
better, I could ensure Mr C. ^;ain8t the ponbiHty of 
loss, b J assigning the copyrights, together with that oi 
the new poem, or even my library, in his relief. Infiiet, 

if he looks into the a&irs, he will I think see that there 

is no prospect o£ any eventual loss to the crediten^ 

though I may be a loser myKlf. My property here is 

unincumbered; so k my house in Castle Street; and I 

have no debts out of my own femily, exoeptiDga part of 

the price oi Abbotslbrd, which I am to retain for four 

years. So that, literally, I have no claims upon me 

imkss those arising out of this business ; and when it is 

mil.* T ioAA-> considered that my income is 

CJlerkship, L. 18001 , _ ^^^^ ^ ... 

^ above L.2000 a-year, even if the 

^erifiaoni, 300 

Mrs Scott, 200 

Interest, 100 

Somers, (say) 200 


printing-office pays nothing, I 
should hope no one can possibly 
be a los^ by me. I am sure I 
would strip myself to my shirt 
rather thsm it should be the case; 
and my only reason for wishing 
to stop the concern was to do <^pen justice to all per- 
sons. It must have been a hitter pill to me. I can 
more confidently expect some aH firom Mr Constable, 
or from X<oi^^man's house, because they can lock into 
tha concern and satisfy themselves how fittle chance 
there is of their being losers, which others cannot do* 
Perhaps between them they might manage to assist us 
wkh 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, 
m the most flattering terms. Were I my own man, as you 
call it, I w mid refuse this offer (with all gratitude) ; 
but, as I am situated^ L.300 of L*400 a^year is W>t to 
be sneezed at upon a point of poetical honour-— 4aid it 


makes Ine a better man to that extent. I have not yet 
•written, however. I will say little about Constable's 
handsome behaviour, but shall not forget it. It is need- 
less 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 super-: 
intended them, they have been winding up very fast, 
and we are now almost within sight of harbour. I will 
also own it was partly ill-humour 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 (ow- 
ing to particular circumstances) without incurring any 
very painful sense of obligation. On the 25th he says 
to John Ballantyne — ^^ 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 
L.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 Con- 
Stable will certainly assist us until the necessary writings 
are made out — I beg your pardon — I daresay I am 
very stupid ; but very often you don't consider that I 
tan't follow details which would be quite obvious to a 
man of business — ^for instance, you tell me daily, ' that 
if the stuns I count upon are fprthcoming, 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 L.4000 tvill 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." 

Haying explained to the Duke of Buccleuch the 
position in which he stood — obliged either to procure 
some guarantee which would enable him to raise L.4000, 
or to sell abruptly all his remaining interest in the copy- 
right of his works'; and repeated the statement of Us 
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 honour of your sanction to 
my credit as a good man for L.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 con- 
science and safety, and favour me with your answer ?— 
I have a very flattering oflFer 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, some- 
how or other — ^they and I should be well quizzed, — ^ 
yet that I should not mind. My real feeling of reluc- 
tance lies deeper — ^it is, that favoured as I have been 
by the public, I should be considered, with some jus- 
tice, I fear, as engrossing a petty emolument which 


BD^bt do real sendee to Bome poorer brother of die 
Muses. I shall be most aimous to have your Grace's 
advice on this subject There seems something churl- 
ish, and perhaps conceited^ in repelling a favour so 
handsomely offered on the part of the Sovereign's re-* 
pvesentative — and on the other hand, I feel mudi dis- 
posed to shake myself &ee 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 but of hiis senses* I will 
find some eiunise linr protracting my reply till I can 
have the advairtage of your Graoe's opinion ; and re- 
main, in the mean time, very truly 

Yonr obliged and gratefiil 

Wax.t£b Scott* 

^< P. S.^ — I tnat your Grace will not suppose me ca- 
pable of making such a request as the enclosed, upon 
any idle or unnecessary speculation; but, as I stand 
situated, it is a matter o£ 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 fyt my sinreties, on a hint of a new poem; but 
bankan do not like people in trade, and my. brains axe 
not ready to ^)in 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. 


** Drurolanrig Castle, August '28th^ 1613. 

^^ I received yesterday your letter of the 24tlu I 
shall \iith pleasure comply with your request of guaran^ 
teeing tiie L»4000. You must, howeyer, furnish m% 
with the form of a letter to this effect, as 1 am com- 
pletely ignorant <^ transactions of this nature. 

*' I am never willing to ojff^ advice, but when my 
opinion is asked by a fiiend 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 con- 
currence of the world, is stamped ridiculous, n There k 
no good reason why this should be so ; but to it is. 
Wtdttr ScoHj Poet LaureaUy ceases to be the Walter 
IScott of the Lay> Mannion, &c Any lliture poem of 
yours wotdd 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 
phuter. Your muse has hitherto been independent — 
don't put her into harness. We know how hghdy she 
trots along when left to her natural paces, but oo not 
try driving. I wotdd write frankly and openly to Hit 
Royal. Highness, but with respectfoL gratitude^ ibr he 
has paid you a compliment. . I would not fear to stale 
that you had hitherto written when in poetic mood, but 
feared to trammel yourself with a fixed periodical ezer« 
tion I and I cannot but conceive that His Royal High* 
ness, who has much taste, will at onoe see the many 
objections which you must have to his proposal, but 
which you cannot write. Only tbiaok of being ehatanted 
and redtatived by a parcel of hoaiie and ttq^^nking 
choristers on a birthday, for the e<fification of. the 
bishops, pagfts^ maidd of honour, and gentlemen-pen- 


gionersl Oh, horrible, thrice ht>rriblef Yours sin- 

BuCCLBtJCH, &c/' 

TThe 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 Chaniberlain, I shall 
transcribe both these documents. 

To Walter Scott, Esq,, Edinburgh, 

" Pavilion, Brighton, August 18, 1813. 

^' My dear sir, 

" Though I have never had the honour of being 
introduced to you, you have frequently been pleased to 
convey to me very kind and flattering messages,* and 
I trust, therefore, you will allow me, without any fur- 
ther ceremony, to say — That I took an early opportu- 
nity 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 con- 
ferred on you. The Prince replied, * that you had 
already been written to, and that if you wished it every 
thing 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 plea- 
l^ure to find that those sentiments of high approbation 

* The Royal librarian had forwarded to Scott presentation copies 
of his successiye publications — The Progress of Maritime Discoveiy 
—Falconer's Shipwreck, with a Life of the Author — Naufragia — 
A Life of Nelson, in two quarto yolumes, &c. &c. &c. 


which .my Royal Master had so often expressed towards 
you in private, were now so openly and honourably 
displayed in public. Have the goodness, dear sir, to 
receive this intrusive letter with your accustomed cour- 
tesy, and believe me, yours very sincerely, 

J. S. Clarke, 
* Librarian to H. R. H. the Prince Regent." 

To Walter Scott, Esq. Edinburgh, 

" 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 oflFer 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 honour to 
be, sir, your most obedient, .humble servant, 

Ingram Hertford.'* 

The following letters conclude this matter. 

To the Most Noble the Marquis of Hertford, -Sec. Sfc Ragley, 


« Abbotsford, 4th Sept. 
" My Lord, 

^^ I am this day honoured 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 honour of my life to 
have been the object of the good opinion impUed in 
your Lordship's recommei^dation, and in the gracious 


aoquiescenee of his Royal Higlmesft the Prince Regents 
I humbly trust I shall not forfeit sentiments so highly 
valued, although I find myself under the necessity of 
declining, with every acknowledgement of respect and 
gratitude, a situation above my des^ts, and offered to 
me in a manner so very flattering. The duties attached 
to the office of poet laureate are not indeed very for- 
midable, 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 ho- 
nourable principle expressed in your Lordship's letter, 
ought not, in justice to your Lordship, to his own repu- 
tation, but aboT>e all to his Royal Highness, to accept 
of the office, unless he were conscious of the power of 
filling it lespectably, and attaining to excellence in the 
execution of the tasks which it imposes. This confi* 
dence I am so far from possessing, that, on the contraiy, 
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 Highnesses 
administration, I am certain I should feel myself inade- 
quate 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 appoint- 
mente which seem iqpecially adapted for the provision 
of those whose lives have been dedicated exclusively to 
liteiatosre, and who too often derive from their labours 
xnore credit than emolument. 

:post x^UEXATssiup. 83 

^* 'NoUdng coold gire me greater paia ikwa being 
ihotigiit n&gxatefiil to Ids Royal Highness'B goodness, 
or iiisensible to the hiuuMiTabie distinction his vnde- 
served condescension has been pleased to bestow npon 
me* I have to trost to your Lordship's kindness for 
laying at die feet ci his Royal flSghaess, in the way 
most proper and respectful, my humble, gmtefol, and 
dudfiil thanks, with these reasons for declining a sitna* 
tion whidi, tliough erery way superior to my deserts, I 
should chiefly have v^ued as a mark of his Royal 
Highnesses approbation^ 

Far your Lordship's unmerited goodness, as well as 
for the trouble you have had upon this oocasiiMi, I can 
(mly oSer you my respectful thanlu^ and entreat that 
you will be pleased to befiere me, my Lord Marquis^ 
your Lordship's much obliged and mudi honouxed 
humble servant, 

Wajltse Scott.** 

To His Grace the JDuke o/Buccleuch, Sfc, DrwnUmrig Cadle, 

*' Abbot^bid,Sept. 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 
chil 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 res- 
pectful to the Lord Chamberlain, my reasons for de- 
clining the intended honour. My wife has made a copy 
of the last letter, which I enclose* for your Grace's per- 
usal — there is no occaidon 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 misre- 


presented. I certainly should never have survived the 
recitative described by your Grace — it is a part of the 
jstiquette 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 gentle- 
man-usher, or some such post ; 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. 

" 1 will send your Grace a copy of the letter of gua- 
rantee when I receive it from London. By an arrange- 
ment 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." 


To the Rev. J. S. Clarke, ^c. §fc, Sfc, Pavilion, Brighton. 

*' Abbotsford, 4th September, 1813. 
" Sir, 

" On my return to this cottage, after a shoit ex- 
cursion, 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 chur* 
lish 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-gene- 
rosity 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 re- 
presenting to his Royal Highness, with my most grate- 
ful, humble, and dutiful acknowledgements, the circum- 
stances which compel me to decline the honour which his 
undeserved favour has proposed for me. The poetical 
pieces I have hitherto composed have uniformly been the 
hasty production of impulses, which I must term fortu- 
nate, 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 hiff 
Royal Highness, by a fitting discharge of the duties of 
an oj£ce which requires stated and periodical exertion. 
And although I am conscious how much this difficulty 
is lessened under the government of his Royal High- 
ness, 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 commemora- 
tion 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 circum- 
stance which weighs deeply in my mind while forming 
my present resolution. I have already the honour 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 provi- 
sion of literary men, I might be justly censured as avail- 
ing myself of his Royal Highness's partiality to engross 
more than my share of the public revenue, to the preju-i 


dice ei competitors equally meritonous at least, and 
oiherwiae unprovided for ; axkd aa this eakulation will be 
loade by thousands who know that I hare reaped great 
advantages by the &yoiir of the pubtic» without being 
aware of the losses which it h&& been my nnsfortune to 
sustain, I may fsdrly -reckon that it will terminate even 
mcMre to my prejudice than if they had the means of 
judging accurately of my real circuB»tences« I have 
tiius i^, sir, frai^y exposed to yofu, lor his BoyaL 

induce me to dedbne an appointment offered in a man- 
ner so highly ealeukted to gratify, I will not say my 
vanity only, but my sincere feelings ei devoted attach- 
ment to the crown and coaistitution ci my country, and 
to the person of his Royal Highness, by whom its go- 
vernment has been so worthily admimstered. No con- 
sideration on earth would give me so much paia as the 
idea of my real feelings being nuaeanstrued on. this occa- 
sion, or that I fl^ould be su|^posed stu^d enough not to 
estimate the value of his Royal Highness's fiivour, or so 
ungrateful as not to fed it as I ought. And yo!ii will 
relieve me from great anxiety if you will have the good- 
ness to let me know if his Royal Highness is pleased to 
re<^ve £a.vourably my humUe and grate&l 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, air, yofur 
obliged humUe servant^ 

Wai^tba Scote.'* 

To Robert Sotdhe^i Esq,^ Kenoi^, 

'< AbboUfbxd^ 4tlL September, 1813. 

^^ My dear Soutfaey^ 

<< On my return here I found, to my no small sur- 
prise, a letter tendering me the laurel vacant by the 


death of the poetical Pjre* I hare declined the appoint- 
ment, as being incompetent to the task of ananal oom- 
mi»ft<Hratiofi ; but chiefly aa bdmg provided for in my 
professional department, and unwilling to incmr the cenh- 
%wce of engrossing the emolument attached to one of the 
few appointments which seems proper to be filled by a 
S}an of literatore who has no other views in life. Will 
you foigive me^ my dear friend^ if I own I had you in 
my recollection. . I have given Croker the hint, and 
odterwise endeavoured to throw the offioe into 3rour op* 
tion. I am uncertainif you will like it, for the laurel has 
eertainly been tarnished by some ef its wearers, and, as 
at present managed^ its duties are inconvenient, and 
somewhat liable to ridicule* But the latter matter m^ht 
be amended, as I think the Regent's good sense would 
lead him to lay aside these regular coBHUcnorations ; 
Ubd as to the former point, it has been worn by Dryden 
of old, and by Warton in modem days. If ymi quote 
my own refusal against me, I reply — ^first, I have been 
luckier than you in holding two offices not usually con- 
joined ; 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 mu<^ 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, 
pcobably but for a tune, the tide of popularity in my 
&vour. I have not time to add ten thousand other 
reasons, but I only wished to tell you how the matter 
was, and ta beg you to think befi»re you reject the of- 
fer which I flatter myself will be made to you. If I 
had not been, like Dogberry, a fellow with two gowns 
sdready, I should have jumped at it Hke a cock at a 
gooseberry. Ever yours most truly, 

Walteb Scott.'* 


Immediately after Mr Croker received Scott's letter 
here alluded to, Mr Southey was invited to accept the 
vacant laurel ; and, to the honour of the Prince Regent, 
when he signified that his acceptance must depend on 
the office being thenceforth so modified as to demand 
none of the old formal odes, leaving it to the poet-lau- 
reate to choose his own time for celebrating any great 
public event that might occur, his Royal Highness had 
the good sense and good taste at once to acquiesce in 
the propriety of this alteration. 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 
L.lOO a-year (instead of the L.300 or L.400 at which 
Scott rated them when he declined it), they formed no 
unacceptable addition to Mr Soiithey's income. Scott's 
answer to his brother poet's afiectionate and grateful 
letter on the conclusion of this afiiair, is as follows. 

• * 

To J?; Southey, Esq.y Kenvick, 


" Edinburgh, November 13, 1813. 
" I do not delay, my dear Southey, to say my gra- 
tulor. 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 L.400, or L.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 memo- 
rial might get some relief in this part of the appoint- 
ment—it should be at least L.lOO wet and L.lOO dry. 
When you have carried your point of discarding the 


ode, and my point of getting the sack, you will be ex- 
actly in the situation of Davy in the farce, who stipu- 
lates for more wages, less work, and the key of the 
ale-cellar. I was greatly delighted with the circum- 
stances of your inyestiture. 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 
about his revenges.' 

" 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 I 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 s^air of the laureateship, I 
have placed together such letters concerning it as ap- 
peared 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 12 th 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 endeavoursy more or less sues 
cessful) but in no case effectually so, to relieve the pres* 
sure on the bookselling firm by sales of its heavy stock 
to the great publishing houses of Edinburgh and Loiir- 
don. Whatever success these endeavours met with, 
appears to have been due either directly or indirectly to 
Mr Constable ; vrho did a great deal more than pnt- 
dence would have warranted, in taking on himself the 
results of its unhappy adventures, — and, by his saga^ 
clous 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 sym* 
pathy. ' ^^ I regret to learn," Scott writes to him on 
the 16th October, ^* that there is great danger of your 
exertions in our favour, which once promised so fairly, 
proving finally abortive, or at least being too tardy in 
their operation to work out our relief. If any thing 
more can be honourably and properly done to avoid a 
most unpleasant shock, I shall be mcwt willing to do it ; 
if not — God's will be done I 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 fe^r adversity. But these things we will talk over 
at meeting ; mean while 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 crutis between Sc^tt 
and his partners. The pil^ 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 milch-cow !" 

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 thdc 

joilN BALLAirrr^B ako CO* 91 

actual bmkruptcy^ with tlie addition that Seott was 
engaged as their surety to the ^ctetit of L.20»000, JoiumI 
its way to Mr Morritt about the beginning of No^ 
Timber* Thifi dear Mend wrote to him. In the u^OMfet 
anxiety, and made Uberal offers of assistance in case tho 
catastrophe might still be averted; but the term of 
Martbmas, ^wayB a critical one in SeoUand, had pass^ 
ed before this letter reached Edinburgh, and Scotf a 
answer wUl show symptmna of a dealing hofison. I 
think also there is one expression in it which cotdd 
hardly have &iled to convey to Mr Morritt that hift 
friend was involvedi more deeply l^n htt had ever ao« 
knowiedged, in the cimcems of the Mesita Ballantyne« 

7b J. B. S* Morritt, Esq., JRokedif Tmlu 

(« Edinbuzgh, 20fth November, 1818. 

<< I did not answer youif«.very hind letter, my dear 
Morritt, until I could put your friendly heart to Feat 
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 tibe last four months to inids:e 
their resource bahmce the denutnds upon thenl^ and I^' 
havii^ the price of Rokdby, and otlttr dkomes in their 
hands, hare had c<msiderable reason &f ajqprc^easion^ 
and no slight degree of plague and trouble* They 
have, however^ been io well supported, that I have got 
out of hot water upon thcdr aceovnt. They are wind* 
ing up their bookselling concern with great regularity^ 
and are to abide hereafter by the prinring*office, which, 
with its stock, fcc., wiU revert to lJiei(n &irly« 

^^ I have been able to redeem the oftprix^ ol my 
brain, and they are like to pay me like gratefol cMld« 
Ten. This matter has set me. a thinking about money 


mme seriously than ever I did in my life, and I hare 
b^^ by insuring my life for L.4000, to secure some 
ready cash to my £unily should I slip girths suddenly. 
I think my other property, library, &c., may be worth 
about L.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 certaiuly can be none to vex 
your kind and affectiimate heart on my account. I am 
young, with a la^^ official income, and if I lose ^y 
thing 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 I all real 
danger was yesterday put over-r-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 

Walter Scott." 

All these annoyances produced no change whatever 
in Scott's habits of literary industry. During these 
anxious months of September, October, and Novem- 
ber, he kept feeding James Ballantyne's press, from day 
to day, both with the annotated text of the closing vo- 
lumes of Swift's works, and with the MS. of his Life of 
the Dean. He had also proceeded to mature in his own 
^lind 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 
f ome fishing-tackle, his eye chanced to light once more 

AUTUMN, 1813. 93 


oii the Ashestiel fragment of Waverley. — He read over 
those introductory chapters — thought they had been un- 
dervalued — 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 g'uests with all his usual urbanity 
of attention. Yet I was not surprised to discover, among 
his hasty notes to the Ballantynes, several of tenour akin 
to the following specimens : — 

Sept 2d^l813. 

My temper is really worn to a hair's-breadtfa. 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 visiters; 

and their post has now been supplied by some people on 

real business." 

Again — 

" Monday Evening. 
" Oh James— oh James — Two Irish dames 

Oppress me very sore ; 
I groaning send one sheet I've penned — 
For hang them I there's no more.*' 

A scrap of nearly the same date to his brother Thomas 
may be intrpduced, 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 honour short, T. Scott ; by 
which abridgement 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 succour of L.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 imme- 
diate expenditure of his own family. All this, however, 
will not surprise the reader. 

Nor did his general correspondence suffer much inter- 
ruption ; 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. 

To IMiu Joanna BaiUie, ffampgiead* 

^ Abbot^ord, Sept. 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 Uterary reputation to 
maintain, to accept of an offer which obliged hun to 
produce a poetical exercise on a given theme twice 
a-year; and besides, as my loyalty to the royal femily 
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 lit^e 
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 abdish the foolish 
custom of the annual pdes^ which is a drudgery no 



peison of talent could ever unllingly encounter-— or come 
dear off from, if he waa bo raslu And ao, peace be 
with the laurel 

* Pro&ned by Gibber 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 Queensbeny, to the Duke of Bucdeuch. \ It 
is really a most magnificent pile, and when embosomed 
amid the wide forest scenery, of which I haye an infiuti* 
tine 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 place of the 
ftthers of the forest from whose stems they are springing. 
It will now I trust be in better hands, for the repara^ 
tion 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, bloom- 
ing, young and gay,' — ^have, during the last reign, been 
pining into rheumatisms and agues, in neglected po^ 

" 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 hy which its 
» tone and character aire 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 mag^nificent ; 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 ia 
almost impossible to draw your breath, when you recoL' 
lect that this, so many feet under ground, and totally 


la Bfrnsig (not resolutiansy by any meaas) ; and it will 
be an additional motive to witness your siseeess, and to 
find you as eomfoirtably establi^^d as your friends in 
Caatle Street earoiestly hope and trust you will be. 

^^ The suBdtter — an uncommon summer in beauty and 
serenity — has glided away from us at Abbotsford, amidst 
our usual petty cares and petty pleasures. The diil- 
dreiis' garden is in apple-pie order» our own completely 
^cropped and stocked, and all the trees flourishing like the 
f^en bay of the Psalmkt. I have been so busy about 
our domestie arrangemente^ that I hare not killed six 
hares this season. Besides, I have got a cargo of old 
Brmouif, sufficient to exdte a suspicion that I intend to 
jnouttt a squadron of cuirassiers. I only want a place 
for my armoury ; and, thank God, I can wait for that, 
these being no tim^ 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 archi^iects. O, Lcnrd! — biit what does it 
signify ? — Earth was bom to bear, and masi to pay (that 
is, lords, nabobs^ Glasgow traders, and those who have 
wherewithal) — so whereflMre grumble at great castles and 
oottages, with which the taste of the latter contrives to 
load the back of Mother Terra ? — I have nohobby-hor« 
sical commissions at present, imless if you meet the 
Voyages of Captain Richard, or Robert Falc<mer, in 
one vcdume — *cowheel, quoth Sand^o' — I mark them 
for my own. Mrs Seott, Sophia, Anne, and the boys, 
unite in kind remembrances. Ever yours truly, 

W. Scott." 

To the Bi^ Hon* Lord Byron, 4, Bemei Street, St Jbmei% Lonthih 

«' Abbotsfor^ 6th Nov. 1818. 
« My dear Lord, 

^^ I waa honoured with your Lordship's letter of 


tine 27t}i September, * and have ataeerdy to r^ret that 
there is snch a prospeet of your leaving Britain, ivithovt 
my achieving yonr personal aeqaakitanee. I heartily 
wish your Lordship had eome doivn to Scotland diia 
season, for I have never seen a finer, and yoa might have 
renewed all your old asBoeiaticms wUh Caledonia, and 
made such new mies as were likely to suit you. I dare 
promise you would have liked me well enough^fis I 
have many properties of a Turk — never trouble myadf 
about futurity — am as lazy as the day is long — del^ht 
in collecting silver^mounted pistols and ataghana, 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 main^ 
tain this part of my creed, I shsdl take care never to be 
connected with a court, but stick to the iffnoium pro m»- 

** The author of the Queen's Wake will be delighted 
with your approbation. He is a wonderful creature for 
his opportunities, which were &r inferior to those of the 
generality of Scottish peasants. Bums, for instance — 
(not that their extent of talents is to be compai^ finr 
an instant) — ^had an education not nrai^ wo?se than the 
sons of many gentlemen in Scotland. But poo» Hogg 
literally could neither read nor write till a very late 
period of his fife ; and when he first distingutehed Unself 
by his poetical talent, could neither spell nor write gram- 
mar. When I first knew him be used to send me has 
poetry, and was both indignant and horrified when I 
pointed (mt to him parallel pasenages in authors whom 

• The letter in question has not been preserved in Scott's coBee- 
tion of correspondence. This leaves some allusions in the aaswtr 


he had never read, but whom all the world would have 
sworn he had copied. An evil fate has hitherto, attend- 
ed 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 future. 

" 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 mo- 
ment 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 avo- 
cations, 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 musts. But Southey's ideas are all poeti- 
cal, and his whole soul dedicated to the pursuit of lite- 
rature. 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 
harpischord, 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 Ts and says he's, and all the 
minutiae of detail which might be proper in giving evi- 
dence before a court of justice. The truth is, I think 
poetry is most strildrig 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 honour 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 any thing 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 tlunk 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 Par- 
nassus — and invested with a post in the Edinburgh 
.Custom House. 

" What an awakening of dry bones seems to be tak- 
ing 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 presump- 
tion of prosperity and tempering the pressure of adver- 
sity. The apophthegm supplied by the Jewish sage was, 
I thinks admirably adapted for both purposes, being 


comprdiended in the words ^ And this ako shall pass 


" When your Lordship sees Rogers, will you remem- 
ber me kindly to him? I hope to be in London next 
springy and renew my acquaintance with my friends 
there. It will be an additional motive if I could flatter 
myself that jrour Lordship*s stay in the country will 
permit me the pleasure of waiting upon you. I am, with 
Biuch respect and regard, your Lordship's truly honour- 
td and obliged humble servant, 

Walter Scott. 

** I go to Edinburgh next week, multum gemensr 

To Miss Joanna BaiUief HampdetKL 

** Edinburgh, lOtk Dec. 1813. 

** Many thanks, my dear friend, for your kinfl token 
of remembrance, which I yesterday received. I ought 
to blush, if I had grace enough left, at my long and 
imgenerous 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 therd is not a day 
that I do not think of you and him, and one or two 
other fiiends in your southern land. I am very glad 
the whisky came safe : do not stint so laudable an ad- 
miration 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 I^IOO^MO worth of various commo- 
dities, which hftd been donnant in cellara and ware- 
houses, was sold the fifst day the news arrived, and 
Orange ribbons a&d Onmffe Boven was the order: 
of the day among all ranks. It ia a most rairaculoua 
revivification whidi it has been onr bte to witness. 
Though of a tolerably sanguine temper, I had £asrly 
adjourned all hopes and expectatitMis 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 &ee of tike waten, so that wd 
may look out from the ark of bux pireser^stion and he* 
hold the reappearance of the momtain cnests, and. oid, 
beloved, and well-known landmaiks, which wis had deem-> 
ed swallowed up for ever in the abyss : the dove with 
the olive branch would complete the ^niile, 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 pet^ogging en«^ 
terprise, after having been almost Emperor of tho 
World. I think he will drive things on, till the fickle 
and impatient people over wh<mi he rules get tired of 
him and shake him out of the saddle. Some eiivum* 
stances seem to intimate- his having become jealous of 
the Senate ; and indeed any thing like a lepresentatire 
body, however imperfectly eonirtructed, beooonesdangei^ 
ous to a tottering tyranny. The sword di^layed 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 

'^ I have had a strong temptation to go to the Con«- 
tinent 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 notwith- 
standing 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 cir- 
cumstance of war, which I have so often imagined, and 
sometimes attempted to embody in verse. Johnnie 
Richardson is a good, honourable, kind-hearted little 
fellow as lives in the world, with a pretty taste for poe- 
try, 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 neigh- 
bourhood, as he is an idolator 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, sin- 
cere.'* Terry, I hope, will get on well ; he is indus- 
trious, and zealous for the honour of his art. Ventidius 
must "have been an excellent part for him, hovering be- 
tween tragedy and comedy, which is precisely what will 
suit him. We have a woful 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 any thing 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 

• Scott's old friend^ Mr John Richardson, had shortly before 
this time taken a house in Miss Baillie's neighbourhoodj on Hamp- 
Btead Heath, 


her brilliant talents. I always write to yoa d la voleej 
and trust implicitly to your kindness and judgment upon 
all occasions where you may choose to communicate any 
part of my letters.* 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 Pindanis, when temple and tower 
Went to the ground/ 

Your pinasters are coming up gallantly in the nursery- 
bed at Abbotsford. I trust to pay the whole establish- 
ment a Christmas visit, which will be, as Robinson Cru- 
soe says of his glass of rum, ' to mine exceeding refresh- 
ment.' All Edinburgh have been on tiptoe to see Madame 
de Stael, but she is now not likely to honour 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 alto- 
gether, or nearly so, in the course of twelve years hence ; 
but the habit of learning is something in itself, even 
when the lessons are forgotten. 

^^ 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' 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 

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


Henry Hiilford had transmitted to Scott when 1l»e royal 
martyr's remains were discovered at Windsor, in April 
1813. Sir John Malcolm had giren 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 Remembek 
surrounding it in highly relieved black-letter. 

The poet's allusion to '' taxing men" may require an- 
other word of explanation. To add to his troubles 
during thisautumn 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 three last years. He demurred to 
this, and took the opinion of high authorities in Scotland, 
who confirmed him in his impression that the dUdm was be- 
yond the statute. The grounds of his resistance are thus 
briefly stated in one of his letters to his legal friend in 

To John Richardson f Esq., Fludyer Street, Westminster. 

" My dear Richardson, 

" I have owed you a letter this long time, but per- 
haps 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 Samud 
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 rea- 
sons : — 1st, It is a patent right, expected to produce an 
annual, or at least an incidental profit, during the cur- 
rency of many years ; and surely it was never contended 
that if a man sold a theatrical patent, or a patent for 


macliinery, property tax should be levied in the first place 
on tlie foil 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 woik 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 Gor<* 
don, that a Ikll 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 iar 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 re- 
ceived for the written book, any more than any rare printed 
book which a speculative bookseller might purchase with 
a view to re-publication ? 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, 
tH>nsider the demand as illegal. Believe me truly yours, 

Walter Scott." 

Mr Ridardson 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 s^eed 
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 labour. 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 hereafter. * 

In the beginning of December, the Town-Council 


of Edinburgh resolved to send a deputation to congrar* 
tulate 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 High- 
nesses command, as ^' the most elegant congratulation a 
sovereign ever received, or a subject offered."* 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 pre- 
senting 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 
eKultation 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 chaunted at that celebra- 
tion; — 

** O dread was the time and more dreadful the omen, 

When the brave on Marengo lay slaughtered in vain,**f Ifec. 

♦ Letter from the Right Hon. W. Dundas, dated 6th December, 

t See Scott's Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 309. Edition, 1884. 





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,andwas 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 exagge- 
rated 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 man- 
ners ; he had a fair, open countenance, in which the 
honesty and the enthusiasm of his nation were alike 
visible ; his demeanour 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 favourite 
with Scott and all the household ; and was invited to 
dine with them so frequently, chiefly because his Mend 
was aware that he had an unhappy propensity to drink- 
ing, and was anxious to keep him away from places 
where he might have been zoore 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 Im literary in- 

They had, however, parted kindly when Seott 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, continueil 
working at the Life of Swift. The light beginning to 
fidl, Scott threw himself badk 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 in- 
sulted 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 mis- 
taken, I think," said Scott, ^^ in your way of setting 
About this afiair — ^but no matter. It can, however, be 
no part of your object to annoy Mrs Scott and the chil- 
dren ; 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 betteri'' 


and laid tlie second pistol also on the table. Scott 
locked them both in his desk, and said, '^ I am glad you 
hare Mt the prc^priety of what I suggested — ^let me only 
request further that nothing may occur while we are at 
dinner to give my wife any susjAcion of what has been 
passing." Weber again assented, and Scott withdrew 
to his dressing-room, from which he immediately des- 
patched a message to one cf Weber's intimate compa^ 
aions, — and then dinner was served, and Weber joined 
the fannly circle as usual. He conducted himself with 
perfect composure, and every thing seemed to go on in 
the ordinary way, until whisky and hot water being pro- 
duced, Scott, instead of invitiog his guest to help him^ 
self, mixed two mediate tumblers of toddy, and handed 
one of th^Di 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 thi^ mom^at the friend wholiad 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 
iskslantly, 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 obHged 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 him- 
self to pay a visit in the North of £nglan<C he. there 
fiocm 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 asyhim at York. 

The reader will now appredate the gentle deli^cy of 
the foUawing letter :*— 


T« J. B. &, Jdtrritt, Eaq. Maikeim, GrtU BHdge. 

* E4fii;biir^fa, Ith Januarr, 1814a 

^ Many happy New-years to yoa and Mrs M<»Titt. 
^' Mt dear Morritt, 

'^ I hare postponed writing a long while, in hopes 
to send von the Life of Swift. But I have been de- 
layed by an odd accident. Poor Weber, whom yon 
may have heard me mention as a sort of grinder of 
mine, who assisted me in various ways, has £adlen 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 unfortu- 
nately he undertook a long walk through the Highlands 
of upwards of 2000 miles, and, I suppose, took pota- 
tions pottle deep to support him through the £aitigue. His 
mind became accordingly quite unsettled, and after some 
strange behaviour here, he was fortunately prevailed 
upon to go to * * * * who resides in Yorkshire. 
It is not unlikely, firom something that dropped horn 
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 16 
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 modem linguist, a tolerable draughtsman and an- 
tiquary, 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 de- 
prived 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, &c. were 
in his hands, and had to be new-modelled, &c. &c. 


" 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.* 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 Wini- 
fred Jenkins says) by their literary adviser, and pre- 
sented 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 Pro- 
vost 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 those potables. I hope you will 
soon see mine, t 

* The late Sir John Marjoribanks of Lees, Bart. 

t Tlie inscription for this tankard was penned by the late cele- 
brated Dr James Gregory, Professor of the Practice of Physic in the 
University of Edinburgh ;,and I therefore transcribe it. 


viRUK suMMi nrcxinx . 
scRirroRXBi xlzgantxm 









!!4 E^i or 

•^ Y,*«r rr:> fc j wj jg^ S^p^tii msd Walter, woe at a 
Ifv>f!i« w»tT oa Tw\Hf:ii N^^rit st DbJkeitii, wbcxe 
fSse l>tk^ Asi I>»fJK<» escertazBied dU EdSnburgli. I 
tiir*.i t^^T tKt^Y ^vASMii <tt aixLin^ ance Irat Aladdin's 
IsoKr* Ji:!>t tSi? r.tjuw rf Kirvxm Atntsdiid. I am nncer- 
t3Utt vLii ii£* vV dtt* ?crt!*jr- I ^»<Hid £mi go on the Cod- 
lUMttf lor tKrv^ <ir Rmot w^^fc;* it it be tiien safe Ibr non- 
ee«iKji;3iztc$« It" not* me will liare a memr meeting in 
Lonooeu arKk Hke Master Silence, 

« £&ty drwk, aod sake ^ood cheer. 
And Uuddk heaTen for tbe menj jesr.* 

I Kare mucli h> sav about Triennun. The fourth edi- 
tion t$ at pre$$, TTie Empres^Doirager of Russia has 
e3cprv>s5^l $\k1i an inten?st in it, that it will be ioscribed 
to her« in some di^i^rel sonnet or other, by the unknown 
author. This is funny enou^^h. Lore a thousand times 
to dear Airs Moiritt, 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 Hdden Buck, 
and the Nibehngen lAed, 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 contri- 
buted to this collection an account of the Eyrbiggia 
Saga, which has since been included in his Prose Ms- 
cellanies (Vol. V., edition 1834) ; but any one who ex- 
amines the share of the work which goes under Weber's 
name, will see that Scott had a considerable hand in 
that also. The rhjnoied versions from the Nibelungen 
Lied came, I can have no doubt, from his pen ; but he 
never reclaimed these, or any other similar benefactions, 


€>f whidli Iliare traced not a few; XM»r, liigUy eori^uB aad 
even beamtiful as many of diem are, ooidd they be intel* 
liglble, if separated fmat &e proae Barrative on whiok 
Weber embroidered them, in imitation of the style of 
Ellis's Specimens of Metrical Romamee. 

The following letters, on the fhst abdkataon vf Ni^ 
poleon, are too characteristic to be OBMtted here. I need 
not remJxkd the leader how greatly Scott had calmed hii 
opinions, and softened his feelings, respecting the career 
and fate of ike most e a ctraor d iiiary man of mat age, he- 
&i« he undertook to write his history. 

T0 J. B. S. Morrki, Esq., Portland Place, Lmtimu 

« Abbotsford, SOtli April, 1814. 

« < Joy — joy in London nowT — and in Edi&bvg^ 
moreover, my dear Morritt; for never did yoa or I -see, 
and never again shall we see, aceoDding to all hoBun pros- 
pects, a eottsummatiosi so truly gloriooa, aa now ixids fair 
to conclude this long and eventfal war. It is staitliag to 
thkik thai, but for the preternatural preBonii)iilion 4ttpd 
hardness of heart dii^dayed by tiie ardv*enemy of man* 
kind, we i^ould have had a hollow and oaimMNn truce 
with him, instead dT a gloriouB and stable peace widi the 
country over which he tyranmaed, 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 pos- 
session of his burning throne, that, it may be, notlnng 
short of his rejection of every fair and advantageous offer 
of peace could have driven them to those acts of resiifr- 
tance which remembrance of former convulsions had ren- 
dered so fearful to them. Thank God I it is done at 
last : and — although I rather grudge him even the 
mouthful of air which he may draw in the Ue of Elb» 


-—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 pre- 
ferred), 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-no- 
thing London bookseller, like John Dunton of yore, 
will venture to commit to the press his strange details 
uncastrated. I doubt that he has stamina to undertake 
such a labour ; 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 Rus- 
sia he may record as his three leading blunders — an 
awful lesson to sovereigns that morality is not so indif- 
ferent to politics as Machiavelians will assert. Mes 
nolunt diu male admimstrart. 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 gaily, and a venerable plantation of four year& old 
looks as bobbish as yours at the dairy by Greta «ide. 


Besides, I am arranging this cottage a Httle more con- 
veniently, 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 every thing handsome about you. You will 
not stipulate, of course, for many square feetl You 
would be surprised to hear how the Continent is awaken- 
ing 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 Bmpereur, The feeling of 
the French officers, of whom we have many in our 
vicinity, is very curious, and yet natural.* Many of 
them, companions of Buonaparte's victories, and who 
hitherto have marched with him from conquest to con- 
quest, disbelieve the change entirely. This i^ 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 ftiture 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 Sou they, in high spirits on the 
glorious news. What a pity this last battle t was fought. 
But I am glad the rascals were beaten once more. 
Ever yours, 

Walter Scott." 

• 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 them* 

t The battle of Thoulouse. 


To MoieH SoMey, Esq., JTcmaiek. 

« Ediabuigfa, I7tli JTuBe, 1814« 

" My dear Sonthey, 

^* I suspended writiBg to thsnk youfcr die Carmen 
Triuinphale — (a happy omen of whst you can do to 
immortalize our public story) — until the feverish mood 
of expectation and anxiety should be over. And lliea, 
as you truly say, there fcdlowed a stunning' soit of list* 
less astonislmient and complication of feding, which i£ 
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 strode with the 
descent of die vessel, nor wxdi its majestic sweep to its 
moorings, as witii the blank which was suddenly tasdt 
from the withdrawing so laige an object, and the pros* 
pect which was at once opened to the opposite side of 
the dock crowded with i^ectators. Buonapaite's £all 
strikes me something in the same way ; the huge bulk 
of his power, against which a thousand arms weve ham- 
mering, 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 apprehen- 
sions that the cs^ital of France would be defended to 
the last, I hazarded a prophecy that a battle would be 
fought on the heights of Mont Martre — (no great saga- 
city, 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 

LETTER TO 90CTHET— JtrmB, 1814. 119 

Senate "prodsdm the de1bronei»enl of Buofiaparte. 
Bttt I never thought nor imagined that he wouM 
haye ig^ven in as he has done, I always considered 
him as possessing the genius and talents of an East- 
ern conqueror ; and although I never supposed that he 
piossessed, allowing for some di^rence of education, 
l3re liberaMty of conduct and political views which were 
sometimes exhibited by old Hyder Ally, yet I did think 
he might hsiye ^wn the same resolved and <logged 
spirit of resc^ntion which induced Tippoo Saib to die 
manfully npon the breach of his capital dty with his 
sabre clenched in his haiid. But this is a poor devil, 
and cannot play the tyrant so rarely ns 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 
Mm for a shilling. One has really the same feelKng 
with refi^e^rt to Buonaparte, though if he go owt <si life 
after all in the Usual mainner, it will be the strongest 
proof of his own insignificance, iind the liberality «f t^ 
age we Kve 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 restor- 
ing all our conquests, it would be driving generosity 
into extravagance ; most of them have been coloniized 
with Britidhi 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, 
wham~-at the expense of a hard struggle, black eyes, 
and bruises — he has at length overpowered, knocked 
down, and by the wholesonofe discipline of a bull's pizzle 
and strait-jacket, brought to the handsome enjoy- 
ment 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 Mauri- 


tiu8 to nurse a homet-swann 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 enter- 

" 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 g^ven the 
rascals too good an opportunity to boast that they have 
got well off. An intimate friend of mine,* 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, pelt- 
ed 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 I ' 
What a scene has been going on thei^e ; 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 au- 
thor 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 

♦ Sir Adam Ferguson, who had been taken prisoner in the course 
of the Duke of WeUington's retreat from Burgos. 



called for in 1824. The Life of Swift has subsequently 
been included in the author's Miscellanies, and has ob- 
tained a very wide circulation. 

By his industrious enquiries, in which, as the preface 
gratefully acknowledges, he found many zealous assist- 
ants, especially among the Irish literati,* 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 gene- 
ral consent, distinguished his Dryden, " uniting," as 
the Edinburgh Review expresses it, " to the minute 
knowledge and patient research of the Malones and 
Chalmerses, a vigour of judgment, and a vivacity of 
style to which they had no pretensions." His biogra- 
phical narrative, introductory essays, and notes on Swift, 
show, indeed, an intimacy of acquaintance with the ob* 
scurest details of the political, social, and literary his- 
tory 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 
craJFt," 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 characterises Scott's 
JMemoir of the Dean of St Patrick's : — 

• 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, £sq.» 
and,the Rev. M. Berwick. 



" It is not eveij where extremely well written^ Id a literary point 
of view, but it is drawn up in substance with great intelligenoe, 
fiberality, and good feeling. It is quite fair and moderate in politics ; 
and perhaps rather too indulgent and tender towards individuals of 
jdl deteriptioni — mme full, at least, of kindness and yeneration for 
^euHs and social Tiituey than of indignation at baseness and profii- 
^cy. ^ 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 
alk)wanoe for the 

* Fears of the brave and follies of tlie wise,* 

which genius too often requires, and should therefore always be most 
forward to show. It is impossible, however, to avoid noticing tliat 
Mr Scott is by far too favourable 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 patronising generosity towards Jiis 
dependents, and of some 'attachment towards those who had long 
known and flattered him, his general demeanour, both in public and 
private life, appears to have been far from exemplary ; destitute of 
Xemper and magnanimity, and we will add, of principle, in the for- 
mer; and in the latter, of tenderness, fidelity, or compassion." — JSd- 
inburgh Review, voL xvii., p. 9. 

I have no desire to break a lance in this place in de- 
fence of the peisonal character of Swift. It does not 
appear to me that he stands at all distingui^ed among 
politicians (least of all, among the politicians of his time) 
for laxity of principle ; nor can I consent to charge his 
private demeanour 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 Patridc'sas on the whole an " exemplary character?" 
The biographer felt, whatever his critic may have 
thought on the subject, that a vein of morbid humour 
ran through Swift's whole existence, both mental and 


{Jiyrfoal, from the beginning. ^' He early adopted," 
Bays Scott, <^ the custom of observing his birth-day, as 
a tenn Jiot of joy but of sorrow, and of reading, when 
it imnuaQy recurred, the striking passage of Scripture 
in which Job laments and execrates the day iq>on which 
it was said in his father's house that a man-child was 
bom;" 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 fune- 
ral 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 splendour of his im- 
mortal 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 business-like style of Scott's biography, appears 
very just- — and I think the circumstance eminently cha- 
racteristic — ^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, ike first time I ever asked such a iMng of him," 
the bookseller said to me ;^^ and I assure you the result 
was no encouri^ement 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 »ich a cloud on the Dean, as 
materially died&ed, for a time, the popularity of his 
writings. Admirable as the paper is, in point of ability, 
I think Mr Constable may have considerably exagger- 
ated its effects ; but in those days it must have been 
difficult for him to form an impartial opinion upon such 
a qu^tion ; 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 ta interrupt his paternal pride in the coneernd 
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 Scot's 
Magazine, for February 1st, 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, MrErskine 
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. 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 
L.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 L.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 L.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 L.IOOO, I should have been 
staggered." John did not forget to hint this last cir- 
cumstance 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 him- 
self and the author. There was a considerable pause 
between the finishing of the first volume and the begin- 
ning of the second. Constable had, in 1812, acquired 
the copyright of the Encyclopaedia 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) — L.IOO. 

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 pub- 
lished on the 7 th of July ; and two days afterwards he 
thus writes : — 

To J. B, S. Morritt, Esq, M. P., London. 

" Edinburgh, 9th July, 1814. 
" My dear Morritt, . 

" I owe you many apologies for not sooner answer- 
ing 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 every thing 
that is valuable in morals and policy, which seems to 
have been the case in France since 1790.* The Duke 

• Mr Morritt had, in the spring of this year, been present at the 
first levee held at the Tuileries by Monsieur, (afterwards Charles X.), 


ef 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 

*' N0W9 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 youlii, 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 rum- 
maging the drawers of an old cabinet ; 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 humour, 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 difiicult to 
convict the guilty author, aldiough he is far from escap- 
ing suspicion* Jeffi*ey has oiB^ed to make oath that it 
is mine, and another great critic has tendered his affida- 
vit ex cantrario ; so tdiat these authorities have divided 

as representative of his brother Louis XYIIL Mr M. Iiad not been 
in Paris tUl that time since 1789. 


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 incog^ 
niio. Let me know your opinion about it. I should 
be most happy if I could think it would amuse a pain- 
ful 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 Suiface, who wafr embarrassed by 
getting himself too good a reputation ; for mamy things 
may please people well enough anonymously, which, if 
they have me in the titler-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 a following one), as to the time occu- 
pied in the composition of the second and lidrd volumes 
of Waverley, recalls to my memcury a trifling anecdote^ 
whichy as connected with a dear Mend of my youth, 
whom I have not seen for many yeai% sid may very 
probably never see again in this wcurld, 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 Honourable 
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, enjoy- 
ing the first flush of manhood, with little remembrance 
of the yesterday or care of the morrow. When my com- 
panion'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 w^ill 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 wc 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 
the sight of it when I am not at my books." — " Some 


WAVERLEY — JULY, 1814. 129 

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 two last 
Tolumes 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 

J, B, S, Morritt f Esq, M,P, Portland Place, London* 

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 bondjide com- 
missioners 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 p<Hnta of our tour, and 
sweep the sea of the Yankee prirateers, which some- 
times annoy our northern latitudes* I shall visit the 
Clephanes in their solitude — and let you know all that 
I see that is rare and ^itertaining, whidi^ 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 rathw 
more bustle and interest. I wished (with what success 
Heaven knows) to avoid the ordinary error of novel* 
writers, whose first volume is usually thdr best* But 
since it has served to amuse Mrs Morritt and you usque 
eb 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 recognised as 
such in Edinbui^h. The first edition of a thousand in-* 
stantly disappeared, and the bookseller informs me that 
the second, of double the quantity, will not supply the 
market for long. As I shall be very anxious to know 
how Mrs Morritt is, I hope to have a few Hnes 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, Stev^ison, 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 diat our royal &mily 
cannot be quiet and decent at least, if not correct and 
moral in their deportment.^ Old &rmer George's manly 
simplicity, modesty of expense, and domestic virtue. 

LETTEB TO Mil MOBRITT — JX7LT» 1814* 131 

saved this country at its most perilous orins ; for it is 
inconceivable the number of persons whom these quali- 
ties united in his behalf> who would have felt bat feebly 
the abstract duty of supporting a crown less worthily 

<' — I had just proceeded thus feur when your kind 
fitvouf of the 2l8t reached Abbotsford. Tam 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.* I am a bad hand at depicting a hero pro- 
perly 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-diivers 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 &mily 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 

* Count Borowloiki was a Polish dwarf^ who, after realizing some 
money'as an itinerant object of exhibition, settled, married, and 
died at Durham. He was a well-bred creature^ and mueh noticed 
by the clerjgy and other gentry of that city. Indeed, even when 
travelling the country as a show, he had always maiAtained 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. 


believe my tiffidavit 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 
iiifant 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 so- 
lemnity of walk and conduct may be expected. So, 
whatever I may do of this kind, I shall whistle it down 
the wind to prey on fortune. 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 ac- 
tually 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 hinderance of business. 

" I wish, for poor auld Scotland's sake, and for the 
Manes of Bruce and Wallace, and for the living com- 
fort of a very worthy and ingenious dissenting clergy- 
man, 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 L.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 comeatable sum than six. The 
poems themselves are great curiosities, both to the phi- 
lologist and antiquary ; and that of Bruce is invaluable, 
even to the historian. They have been hitherto wretch- 
edly edited. 


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

Walter Scott." 

«« P. S. — I do not see how my silence can be consi- 
dered 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 with- 
holding 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, every body know^ 
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 respon- 
sibility, and perhaps more frequently than I otherwise 
might do. 

w. sr 

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 secret : — 

" 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." 





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 dia- 
racter 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 Eng- 
land, 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 intelli- 
gence 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 com- 
panions, at one of the most interesting periods of his 
life, that I am persuaded every readei: VfiU 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 se- 
veral others for his romance of the Pirate. But the re- 
currence of these detached passages will not be com- 
plained of — expounded and illustrated as the reader will 
£nd them by the pexsonal details of the context. 

I have been often told by one of the oompcmioiis 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 gran- 
deur, to be in such an abstracted and excited mood, thai; 
they felt it would be the kindest and discreetest plan to 
leave him to himself. ^^ I often," said Lord Kinnedder, 
^^ on coming up firomihe cabin at night, found him pacing 
the deck rapidly, muttering to himself — and went to the 
forecastle, lest my presence should disturb him. I re- 
member that at Loch Coniskin, 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 tQ 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 beKeve 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 friend's. 

The poet's Diary, contained in five little paper book^* 
is as follows : — 


" VACATION 1814. 


Zembla, and the Lord knows where. 

" July 29tli, 1814. — Sailed from Leith about one 
o'clock on board the Lighthouse Yacht, conveying six 
g^s, and ten men, commanded by Mr Wilson. The 
company — Commissioners of the Northern Lights ; 
Robert Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanarkshire ; William Er- 
skine, SheriflF of Orkney and Zetland ; Adam Duff, 
Sheriff of Forfarshire. Non-commissioners — Ipse Ego ; 
Mr David Marjoribanks, son to John Maijoribanks, 
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 M^r 
Stevenson, the Surveyor- Viceroy over the commission- 
ers — a most gentlemanlike and modest man, and well 
known by his scientific skilL 

" Reached the Isle of May in the evening ; went a- 
shore, 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. Qucere — Might not the grate re- 
volve ? The isle had once a cell or two upon it. The 
vestiges of the chkpel are still visible. Mr Stevenson 
proposed demolishing the old tower, and I recommended 
ruinhigit a la picturesque — i. e. demolishing it partially. 
The island might be made a delightful residence for sea- 

" On board again in the evening : watched the pro- 
gress of the ship round Fifeness, and the revolving mo- 
tion of the now distant Bell-Rock light until the wind 


^ ^ 

DIARY — JULY, 1814. 137 

grew rough, and the landsmen sick. To bed at eleven, 
and slept sound. 

"30^A July. — Waked at six by the steward: sum- 
moned 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, 
tound 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 
6f 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 
)K>ttom, where the mason-work ceases to be solid, and 
admits of round apartments. The lowest is a store* 
bouse for the people's provisions, water, &c. ; above 
that a storehouse for the lights, of oil, &c. ; then the 
kitchen of the people, three in number; then theif 
sleeping-chamber; then the saloon or parlour, a neat 
little room ; above all, the lighthouse ; all communi- 
cating by oaken ladders, with brass rails, most hand- 
somely gund conveniently executed. Breakfasted in the 
parlour.* 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 I Landed and dined at Arbroath, 
where we were to take up Adam Duff. We visited the 
appointments of the lighthouse establishment — a hand- 
some tower, with two wings. These contain the lodg- 
ings 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, intrusted 

* On being requested while at breakfast to inscribe his name in 
the album of the tower, Scott penned immediately the lines *' Pharos 
Loquitur," which may be seen in the last edition of hb Poetical 
Works, Vol. X. p. 355. 



"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 
nith the lighthouse. As the keepers' families live 
Lere, they are apprised each morning by a signal that 
ail is welL If this signal be not made, a tender saild 
lor the rock directly. I visited the abbey church fojp 
the third time, the first being — eheu /* — 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 

"31^^ Jidy. — Waked at seven; vessel off Fowls- 
heugh and Dunnottar. Fair wind, and delightful day j, 
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 
j)rojecting point of rock to the east of the harbour of 
Fort-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. Dreadfiil, to be wrecked so near 
a large and populous town! The view of Old and 
New Aberdeen from the sea is quite beautiful. About 
soon, 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 tibie Earls 
of Errol, and was rented at L.500 a-year at the time. 
When these sands are past, the land is aU arable^ Not 
a tree to be seen ; nor a grazing cow, or sheep, or even 

^ • This is, without doubt^ an aHusion to some happy day's eicm> 
sion when his Jlrst love was of the party. 

BIARY JULY, 1814. 139 

a labour-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 Glenlivat, to re- 
duce Huntly and Enrol to obedience. Thefemily 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 pre- 
cipice that overhangs the ocean. What seems odd, 
there are no stairs down to the beach. Imprudence, or 
ill fortune as fetal as the sands of Belhelvie, ha* swal- 
lowed up the estate of Errol, excepting this dreary 
mansionhouse, and a ferm or two adjoining. We took 
to the boat, and running along the coast, had scwne de- 
Kghtful 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 wMch remain, where the 
softer parts have been washed away, a^ume the appear- 
ance of old Gothic ruins. There are open arches, 
■ towers, steeples, and so forth. One part of Ais scaur 
is called Dun Buy, being coloured yellow by the dung 
of the sea-fowls, who build there in the most surprising 
numbers. We caught three young gulls. But the most 
curiotis object was the celebrated Buller of Buchan, a 
huge rocky cauldron, into which the «ea rudies 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 dther 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 fidiing hamlet had 
sent out its inhabitants, who> gazing from tie brink, 
looked like sylphs looking down upon gnomes*. In tie 


side of the cauldron opens a deep black cavern. John- 
son says it might be a retreat from storms, which is 
nonsense. In a high gale the waves rush in with incre- 
dible violence* An old iisher said he had seen them 
flying over the natural wall of the buUer, 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 south* 
land. Naebody ever heard the name of the place ; but 
he had brought more guid out oV Peterhead than a' the 
Lords he had seen in Slains, and he had seen three.' 
About half-past fivfi 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 distin- 
guishing two steeples, and a good many masts. Mor- 
mounthill said to resemble a cof&n — 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 
^he wreck of the Doris merchant vessel came on shore, 
lost last year with a number of passengers for Shetland. 
We lie oflF all night. 

" Isi August. — Off Frasersburgh — 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 pic- 
turesque object from the sea. It was the baronial man- 
sion of the Frasers, now Lords Saltoun-^an old square 
tower with a minor fortification towards the landing- 

DIART AUGUST, 1814. 141 

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 Troup-head, and another bold cliff pro- 
montory projecting into the frith. Our gale soon failed, 
and we are now all but becalmed ; songs, ballads, recita- 
tions, backgammon, and picquet for the rest of the day. 
Noble sunset and moon rising ; we are now out of sight 
of land. 

" 2d Augmt. — At sea in the mouth of the Moray 
Frith. This day almost a blank — light baffling airs, 
which do us very little good, most of the landsmen sick, 
more or less ; picquet, 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, lik^ one of Sindbad'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 ves- 
sel ; hail Duff and the Udaller * in the after- cabin, but 
they are too sick to answer. Towards morning, calm 
(comparative), and a nap. 

** 3rf AugtisL — At sea as before ; no appearance of 
kind ; proposed that the Sheriff of Zetland do issue a medi- 
tationejugce 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 

• Erskine— sheriff of Shetland and Orkney. 


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 ent^r a channel about three- 
quarters of a mile broad, which forms the southern 
entrance to the harbour of Lerwick, where we cast 
anchor about half-past ten, and put Mr Tumbull on 

" 4^A August. — Harbour of Lerwick. Admire the ex- 
cellence of this harbour 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 com- 
panies of veterans. The Greenlandmen, of which nine 
fine vessels are lying in the harbour, add much to the 
liveliness of the scene. Mr Duncan, sheriff-substitute, 
came off to pay his respects to his principal ; he is mar- 
ried to a daughter of my early acquaintsince, Walter 
Scott of Scots-hall. We go ashore. Lerwick, a poor- 
looking place, the streets flagged instead of being cause- 
wayed, 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 Zet- 
land every year, and return them as they come back 
from the fishery. Each sailor may gain, from L.20 to 
L.30, which is paid by the merchants of Lerwick, who 
have agencies from the owners of the whalers in Eng- 
land. The whole return may be between L.25,000 
and L.d0,000. These Zetlanders, as diey 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 seasonal when they spend 


their wages in dancing and drinking. Erskine finds 
employment as Sheriff, for the neighbourhood of the 
fort enables him to make mainjbrte^ and secure a num- 
ber 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 harbour: 
the north entrance is not very good, but the south, capital. 
The water in the harbour is very deep, as frigates of the 
smaller class lie ahnost close to the shore. Take a walk 
with Captain M^Diarmid, a gentlemanlike and intelligent 
officer of the garrison; we visit a smaU fresh-water loch 
called Cleik'himrin ; 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 con- 
ceive what effectual purpose they could serve excepting 
a temporary refuge for the chief. — Leave Cleih-him^iny 
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 
among 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 lime-shell, marie, and algarmarina> 
manure could not be wanting. But there are several 
obstacles to improvement, chiefly the undivided state of 
the properties, which lie runHrig ; 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 ab- 
sent at the proper times of labour. Their ground is 
chiefly dug with the spade, and their ploughs are be- 
yond 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 
kail-yard 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 favour on 
the part of the proprietor, that their most exaggerated 
description of an avaricious person is one who would re- 
fuse 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 
Tormentily 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 com- 
monty 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-leg- 
ged creatures, of all colours, 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 re- 
turn, 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 I 
The wheel is horizontal, with the cogs turned diagon- 
ally to the water ; the beam stands upright, and is in- 
serted in a stone-quern of the old-fashioned construction. 
This simple machine is enclosed in a hovel about the 
size of a pig-stye, and there is the mill 1 * 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 Town- 
ship combining (which has not yet been attempted) 
could grant such a right upon principle, seems alto- 
gether uncertain. In the mean time the chief stress is 
laid upon occupance. I should have supposed upon 

* Here occurs a rude scratch of drawing. 


principle, that Lord Dundas, as superior, possessed the 
dominium emnens^ 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, oAly paying the Scati or Norwe^an 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. Return home 
and dine at Sinclair's, a decent inn — Captain M*Diar- 
mid and other gentlemen dine with us. — Sleep at the 
inn on a straw couch. 

" bth August, 1814. — Hazy disagreeable morning — 
Ershine trying the rioters^notwithstanding which a 
great deal of rioting still in the town. The Greenlan- 
ders, however, only quarrelled among themselves, and 
the 2^tland sailots seemed to exert themselves in keep- 
ing 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 <m board the Green- 
landers. The 2^tlanders are, however, so far provident^ 
that when they enter Ae navy they make liberal allow- 
ance of their pay for their wives and £imilies. ' Not less 
than L. 15,000 a-year has been lately paid by the Ad- 
miralty 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 aug- 
menting the stock of productive labour. 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 consump- 


tion of Zetland, arerages at sale pnce, L.209000 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, unif> 
less we allow for the habits contracted by the seamen in 
their foreign trips. Tea, in particular, is used by aU 
ranks, and porridge quite exploded. 

" We parade Lerwick, The most remarkable thing 
is that, the main street being flagged, and aU the others 
very narrow lanes descending the hill by steps, any 
thing like a cart of the ipost ordinary and rude construc- 
tion, 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 th^i 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 flou^ 
rishing 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 tike 
notables of the island, particularly Mr Mowat, a consi- 
derable proprietor, who claims acquaintance with me as 
the Mend of my father, and remembers me as a boy. 
The day dearing up. Duff and I walk with this good 
old gentleman to CleSk-fdm-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 cir- 
cuit seems to have been simply a bounding wall or 
bulwark. The second or interior defence contains lodge- 
ments 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 pro- 
ceeds a circular winding gallery, ascending in the form 
of an inclined plane, so as to gain the top by circling 
toimd like a cork-screw within the walls. This is en- 
lightened 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 gal- 
leries within the circiiit, 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 con- 
ceive how it could serve the purpose of communication. 
At any rate, the size fiilly justifies the tradition preva- 
lent 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. Cer- 
tainly 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 frag- 
ments 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 U8U-» 
ally passable, but at present overflooded.— Return and 
dine with Mr Duncan, Sheriff-substitute — are intro- 
duced to Dr Edmonstone, author of a Historv of Shet- 
land, who proposes to accompany us to-morrow to see 
the Cradle of Noss. I should have mentioned that Mr 
Stevenson sailed this nioming 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 cai^ 
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 togethei: 
with thongs. We sailed out at the southern inlet of the 
harbour, rounding successively the capes of the Hammer, 
Kirkubus, the Ving, and others, consisting of bold cliffs, 
hollowed into caverns, or divided into pillars and archer 
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* 
Bocks 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 his wildest cry/ 

Not lone, however, in one sense, for their nmnbers, 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. Iliis de- 
tached 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 himdred 
&thoms at least. The boatmen made Ught of the risk 
of crossing it, but it must be tremendous to a brain dis- 
posed to be giddy. Seen from beneath, a man in the 
basket would resemble a large crow or raven floating be- 
tween rock and rock. The purpose of this strange contri- 
vance is to give the tenant the benefit of putting a few 
sheep upon the Holm, the top of which is level, and af- 
fords good pasture. The animals are transported in the 
cradle by one at a time^ a shepherd holding them up6n 
his knees. The diiannel 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 sail- 
ors Hang-Cliff, fr<Hn its having a projecting appear- 


ance. Tbis 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 conjeetured 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 lime round 
some projecting cliff. The collecting sea^fbwl for th^r 
feathers was the object, and he might gain five or six 
dozen, worth eight or ten shillings, by such an adven- 
ture. Iliese huge precipices abound with caverns, many 
of which run much farther ihto the rock than any one 
has ventured to explwe. We entered (with much ha- 
zard to our boat) one called the Orkney-man's Harbour, 
because an Orkney vessel run in there some years sinee 
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 con- 
signed us to utter darkness if we had gone in &irther. 
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 terrible. 

*' After passing the Noup, the precipices become 
lower, and sink into a rocky shore with deep indenta- 
tions, called by the natives, Gios. Here we would fein 
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 tihe 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 qf 
the isle is fine smooth pasture, the best I have seen in 


these isles, sloping upwards to the verge of the tremen<^ 
dous 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 dij£culties of wanting 
the keys of our portmanteaus, &c., 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 mo- 
derate 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 got a shilling 
a-day, yet the labour of three of them does not exceed 
what one good hand in Berwickshire would do for 
2s. 6d. 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 Ca- 
ledonian taskmaster. .Besides, they find fault with his 
Ao, and ^6^, and wo^ when ploughing. ^ He speaks to 
the hor^e,' they say, * and they gang — and there's some- 
thing 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 pre- 
cious machine was in motion, it was dragged by four 
little bullocks yoked a-breast, and as many ponies har- 
nessed, or rather strung, to the plough by ropes and 
thongs of raw hide. 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 soirt of slit 
in the earth, which two women, who closed the proces- 
sion, 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 in- 
vented 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 

" 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 sud- 
denly would turn adriift perhaps twenty families, who 


now occupy small farms jm^o indivisOy cultivating by 
patches, or rundale and runrig, what part of the proper- 
ty 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 popxdation ; 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 se^ns to be, that the lar<- 
ger proprietors should gradually set the example of bet- 
ter 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 be- 
come 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 woilld 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 con- 
trary, would soon set them beyond the terrors of famine 
with which the islanders are at present occasionally vi- 
sited ; and, combined with fisheries, carried on not by 
farmers, but by real fishers, would amply supply theint- 
habitants, 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 
ii^^ftus of gradual improvement, and no humane person 


would ^ish them to drive it on too rapidly, to the dis- 
tress and perhaps destruction of the numerous tenants 
who have been bred under a different system. 

^^ I have gleaned something of the peculiar supersti- 
tions of the Zetlanders, which are Bumeroi» and potent* 
Witches, fairies, &c., are as numerous as ever they were 
in Teviotdale. The latter are called TrowSy probably 
from the Norwegian Dwarg (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 furies 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 cunnmg man or woman, 
who hangs about the neck a triangular stone in the shape 
of a heaxt, or conjures back the lost individual, by re- 
tiring 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 va- 
riety of shapes, from which he selects a portion, after 
due consideration, whidi is sewn into the shirt of the pa- 
tient. Sometimes no part of the lead suits the seer's 
£uicy« Then the operation is recommenced, until he 
obtains a fragment of such a configuration as suits his 


a mile made by Mr TumbuU. The land in tlie interipr 
much resembles the Peel-heights, near Ashestiel ; bat, 
as you approach the other side of the island, becomes 
better. Ting^all 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, in- 
dented 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 TumbuU 
is a Jedburgh man by birth, but a Zetlander by settle* 
ment 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-dikes; 
and he has sown grass, and has a hay-stack, and a second 
crop of clover, and may daim well-dressed fields of po« 
tatoes, barley, and oats. The people around him are ob- 
viously affected by his example^ He gave us an excellent 
discourse and remarkably good prayers, which are seldom 
the excellence of the Presbyterian worship. The con- 
gregation 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 
conehs 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 re- 


belled against his father, and fortified himself in 2^tland. 
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 after- 
wards, executed the perpetrators of the slaughter, though 
they had only fulfilled his own mandate. 

" We reach Scalloway, and visit the ruins of an old 
castle, composed of a double tower, or keep, with turrets 
at the comers. 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 ra* 
pacious 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 
bis trial one Zetland witness refused to say a word till he 
was assured that there was no chance of the Earl return- 
ing 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 furtoished to Earl Patrick 
by a Presbyterian divine, who slily couched under it 
an allusion to the evil practices by which the Eari had 
established his power. He perhaps trusted that the 


language might disguise the import from the Earl.* 
If so, the Scottish nobility are improved in literature, 
for the Duke of Gordon pointed out an error in the 


" Scalloway has a beautiful and very safe harbour, 
but as it is somewhat diflScult of access, from a compli- 
cation 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 
Ting-wald 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 Scotstar- 

* In his revijswal'of Pitcaim'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 labour, without either meat, drink, hire, or recompense 
of any kind. ' My father,' said Earl Patrick, * buQt 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 un- 
derstand that the oppression, rapacity, and cruelty by means of which 
the house arose, were what the clergyman reallypointed to in his re- 
commendation 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 j vd. xxiii. pp. 327, 329. 


vet. They are very clannish, marry much among them- 
selves, 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 neigh« 
bouring 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 harbour, 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 enquiries after the state of the Buccleuch 
family, in which they seemed to talte 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 Zet- 
landers 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 en-» , 
danger their boats. The object was described as re- 
sembling 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 

VOL. III. o 


it, as wliales are the intimate acquaintances of all Zet- 
land sailoTS. Whatever it was, it disappeared after a 
heavy gale of wind, which seems to favour 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 
2ietlander8 of the same opinion. Mr Tumbull, 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 i^ectator may have been deceived by the 
motion of the waves, joined to the force of imagination. 
This for the Duke of Buccleueh. 

** At Scalloway my curiosity was gratified by an ac- 
count 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 widi 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 champi<m as he is presented. They 
dien 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 
xegiet mudi that young Mr Scott was absent during 
iSbk visit ; he is described aa a leader and an enthuaast 

DIARY — ^LERWICK — 8TH AUGUST, :1814. 163 

in poetry. Probably I might have interested Max in 
preserving the cUinoe» by causing young persons to leant 
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 remnknt 
in the British dominions,* are repeatedly alluded to by 
their poets and historians. The introduction of the 
Seven Champions savours ot 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 Dane% 
and brought with them their war-danee or mvordrdance^ 
and a rude wooden cut of it is given. We resist the 
hospitality of our entertainers, and return to Lervrick 
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.R 
The bogs in Zetland as soft as those in Liddisdale. 
Get to Lerwick about ten at night. No yacht has 

<* %th AugtisL — 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 Twi^gers, which forms one arm of the southern 
entrance to the sound of Bressay. From the eminence 

* Mr W. S. Hose informs me that, when he was at school at 
Vnnchester, the morrifi-dancers th^re used to exhibit a sword-dance 
reseffiUiDg ikisA described at Camaeho*8 weddmg in Bon Quixote^ 
and Mr Monitt adds, that similar dances are even yet performed in 
the villages about Rokeby every Christmas* 


a delightful sea view, with several of thos6 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 con- 
tracted 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, keep- 
ing the weather-gage, struck, and sustained damage. 
The rock is visible at low water, and is still called the 
Unicom, from the name of Kirkaldy's vessel. Admire 
Mr Mowat's little farm, of about thirty acres, bought 
about twenty years since for L.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 whatr 
ever they are), called celts. The Zetlanders call them 
ihunderboUsy 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 1 

** Just as we were going to dinner, the yacht ap- 
peared, and Mr Stevenson landed. He gives a most 
favourable account of the isles to the northward, parti- 
cularly 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, Gilford, Scott, and so iforth. These are 
the chief proprietors. The Norwegian or Danish sur- 
names, though pf 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 every thing 
is moderate, and the style of living unexpensive. Against 
these conveniences are to be placed a total separation 
jfrom public life, news, and literature ; and a variable and 
inhospitable climate. Lerwick will suflfer most severely 
if the Fort is not occupied by some force or other ; for, 
between whisky 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 me- 
lancholy information, that that individual leg of mutton, 
being -the very sheet-anchor of his own entertainment, 
had been violently carried oflF from his kitchen, spit and 
all, by these honest gentlemen, who were now devouring 
it. Two others having carried off a sheep, were appre- 
hended> 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 honour, Tom ?' he added, appealing to 
his comrade. ^ By G — , Jack,' answered Tom, ' I be- 
lieve it was the very man I ' 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. 

*' 9tJi Augusty 18 14. — Waked at seven, and find the ves- 
sel has left Lerwick harbour, and is on the point of enter- 
ing 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 
sea-shore. 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 certaia 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 diis cu- 
rious 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 sis 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, di'* 
rectly one above another, with broad flat stones, serving 
for Untels; 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 descripticms : one consists of a winding ascent, not 
qmte an inclined plane, yet not by any means a regular 
stair; but the edges of the stones, being suffered to pro- 
ject irregularly, serve for rude steps — or a kind of as- 
sistance. 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 
diey 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 <hi the different 

" It is said by Torfaeus that this fort was repaired 
and strengthened by Erlind, who, having fordbly car- 
li^d off the mother of Harold Earl of the Orkneys, re^ 


solved 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 opera- 
tions the castle of Mousa possibly owes the upper and 
perpendicular, or rather overhanging, part of its eleva- 
tion, and also its rude staircase. In these two particu-^ 
lars it seems to differ from all other Picts* castles, which 
are ascended by an inclined plane, and generally, I be- 
lieve, 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 communi- 
cate 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 dif- 
ference of height between the exterior and interior war- 
rants his assertion. 

** We get on board, and in time, for the wind freshens, 
and becomes contratry. 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 pointj 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 
tliree heats, fairly distanced us. So we run into a road- 
stead, 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 lights 
house 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 ven{ 

VOL. HI. p 


to my excited feelings in amore simple way ; and sitting 
gently down on the steep green slope wUch led to the 
beach, I e'en slid down a few hundred feet, and found 
the ezerdse 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 
sav^ much effusion of Christian ink. Those slopes are 
corered with beautiful short herbage. At the foot of 
the ascent, and towards the isthmus, is the old house of 
Sumburghj^ 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 shug — a sure 
sign the passengers will not be so. 

" lO^A August^ 1814. — The omen was but too true— 
a terrible combustion on boards among plates, dishes, 
glasses, writing-desks, &c. &c.; not a wink of sleep. 
We weigh and stand out into that delightful current called 
Sumburgh'VOsty or rmt. 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, Ste- 
venson, qualmish. This is the only time that I have 
felt more than temporary inconvenience, but this morn- 
ing I have headach 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 mine5 
wha can contemplate without horror the situation of a 
vessel of an inferior description caught among these 


keadlands and reefs of rocks, iatbe long and dark winter 
nights of these regions. Accordingly, wrecks are fre- 
quent. It is proposed to have a light on Sumburgh- 
kead, which is the first land made by vessels coming 
from the eastward ; FitfaUhead is higher, bat is to the 
west, from which quarter few vessels come. 

^< We are now clear of Zetland, and aboat ten o'clodi: 
peach the Fair Isle ;* one of their boats comes ofl| a 
strange-looking thing without an entire plank in it, ex* 
cepting one on each side, upon the strength ot which 
the whole depends^ the rest being patched and joined. 
This tmmpery skiff the men manage with the most as- 
tonishing 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 ap- 
pearance, with long elf-locks, striped worsted caps, and 
shoes of raw hide — the fragility of their boat — and their 
extreme curiosity about us ahd our cutter, give them a 
title to be distinguished as fto^a^ex. 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 
vehide ; 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 inha« 
bited part of the island. This coast abounds with grand 
views of rocks and bays. One immense portion of rode 
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 precf{»ce all round, the nativet 
contrive to ascend the rock by a place which would make 
a goat .dkzy, and then drag the sheep up by ropes^ 

• This is a solitary island, lying about half-way between Orkney 
and Zelland. 


though they sometimes carry a sheep up on their shout 
ders. 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 id several 
hundred feet high, and is perforated below, by some ex« 
traordinary apertures, through which a boat might pass ; 
the light shines distinctly through these hideous chasms. 
Af(^r 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 harbour. Land, 
and breakfast, for which, till now, none of us felt inclin- 
ation. In front of the little harbour is the house of the 
tacksman, Mr Strong, and in view are three small as- 
semblages 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 ex- 
cellent 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. in-» 
spection ; when any ship appears that cannot answer his 
signals, he sends off to Lerwick and Kirkwall to give the 
iJarm. Rogers* 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 

* An American Commodore. 


^hich they occupy under him as subtenants, and culti- 
vate the isle in their own way, t. 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 gsound 
is possessed as common to all their cows and ponies* 
The islanders fish for Mr Strong at certain fixed rates, 
aAd 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 L.3000 a-year at the very leasts 
To be sure it would not be burdened with the popula- 
tion 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 m 
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 had-- 
docks from their lines, and other enormities. These 
people, being about half-way between Shetland and 
Orkney, have unfrequent connexion with either archi-r 
pelago, 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 press- 
ed 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, H 
point on which we could give little information. 

** The manners of these islanders seem primitive and 
simple, and they are sober, good-humoured, and friendly 
— hut 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 tre- 
mendous 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 school* 
master ; Marchie * 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 JRivas, per- 
haps from their being rifted or riven. They are exactly 
like the BuUer 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 
crojgs^man^ as these venturous climbers call themselves. 
1 sat for about an hour upon the verge, like the cormo- 
rants 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-^ 

* Mr Maijoribanks. 


for it must be conceived, that our numbers and appoint- 
ments 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 atten- 
dants.— Visit the capital town, a wretched assemblage 
of the basest huts, dirty without, and still dirtier with- 
in ; pigs, fowls, cows, men, women, and children, all 
living promiscuously under the sam^ 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 cen- 
sured it, they allowed it might be dangerous to the 
bairns ; but appeared unconscious of any other objec- 
tion. I cannot wonder they want meal, for assuredly 
they waste it. A great bowie or wooden vessel of por- 
ridge 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 plea- 
sure; 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, notwith- 
standing 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. 
Mariages 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 gchoolmaster 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 theii^ master interferes much 
with the favourite 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 four- 
teen 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 
labouring 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 honour of his death fur- 
nishes a balm to our sorrow. It, therefore, requires all 
the tacksman's authority to prevent a practice so preg- 
nant with danger. Like all other precarious and dan^ 
gerous employmei^ts, the occupation of the crags-men 
renders them unwilling to labour 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 cook-^ 
ery ashore, not to overburthen his hospitality. In this 
place, and perhaps in the very cottage now inhabited 

• r 


by Mr Strong, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Com- 
mander-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 psoudest peer 
of the proudest nation in Europe found himself depen- 
dent on the jealous and scanty charity of these secluded 
islanders, it is scarce possible not to reflect with com- 
passion on the change of situation from the palaces of 
Estremadura to the hamlet of the Fair Isle — 

' Dost thou tbink on thy deserts, son of Hodeirah ? 
Dost thou long for the gale of Arabia ? * 

" 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 Abbots- 
ford, however. About eight o'clock we take boat, amid 
the cheers of the inhabitants, whose minds, subdued by 
our splendour, had been secured by our munificence, 
which consisted in a moderate benefaction of whisky 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 honour, we 
hung out our colours, 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 favourable impression on the 
mind of the inhabitants of the Fair Isle. The tradition 
of the Fair Isle is unfavourable to those shipwrecked 


strangers, wlio 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 

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

<< nth AuffHstf 1814. — After a sound sleep to make 
amends for last night, we find, at awaldng, 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 establish* 
ment 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 marie, se^kns 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 

DIARY — SAND A* . 179 

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 thb coast were numerous before the erec- 
tion 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 savour of Flotsome and 
JetsofnCj 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 (». 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 establish- 
ed, the Commissioners, with laudable anxiety to extend 
its utility, had its description and bearings translated 
into Danish <ind 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 Spectra 
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 Lon- 
doner 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, beings no less than the carcasses 
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 impos- 
sible 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 (i 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 I We are standing for some 
creek or harbour, called Lingholm-bay, to lie to or an- - 
chor for the night ; for to pursue our course by night, 
and that a thick one, among these isles, and islets, and 
sandbanks, 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 combus- 
tion, when the lee-side and. bolt-sprit were constantly 
under water ; so our soup is poisoned with salt water— 
our cod and haddocks, which cost ninepence this bless- 
ed morning, and would have been worth a couple of 
guineas in London, are soused in their primitive ele- 
ment — the curry is undone — and all gone to the devil. 
We all apply ourselves to comfort our Lord High Ad- 
miral Hamilton, whose despair for himself and the pub-« 
lie might edify a patriot. His good humour — ^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, for- 
tunately restores his equilibrium. 

" Eight o^ clock. — Our supplemental dinner proved ex- 
cellent, and we have glided into an admirable road-stead 
or harbour, 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^ 


pine-fir bark or sawings of dea]. 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 bard to interdict it to them. What would a Lon- 
doner 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 carcasses 
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 impos- 
sible 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 


Bixty-five whales now lying within two or three miles of 
us were driven ashcgre by seven boats only. 

" Five <i clock. — We are out of the Roat (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 I We are standing for some 
creek or harbour, called Lingholm-bay, to lie to or an« 
chor for the night ; for to pursue our course by night, 
and that a thick one, among these isles, and islets, and 
sandbanks, is out of the question — clear moonlight might 
do. Our sea is now moderate. But oh, gods and men, 
what misfortimes have travellers to record I 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 combus- 
tion, when the lee-side and. bolt-sprit were constantly 
under water ; so our soup is poisoned with salt water-— 
our cod and haddocks, which cost ninepence this bless-» 
ed morning, and would have been worth a couple of 
guineas in London, are soused in their primitive ele- 
ment — the curry is undone — and all gone to the deviU 
We all apply ourselves to comfort our Lord High Ad- 
miral Hamilton, whose despair for himself and the pub-i 
lie might edify a patriot. His good humour — ^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, for- 
tunately restores his equilibrium. 

" Eight o^ clock. — Our supplemental dinner proved ex- 
cellent, and we have glided into an admirable road-stead 
or harbour, 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^ 



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 bard to interdict it to them. What would a Lon- 
doner 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 carcasses 
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 impos- 
sible 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 froxn 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 


Bixty-five whales now lying within two or three miles of 
us were driven ashcgre by seven boats only. 

" Five (i clock. — We are out of the Roat (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 harbour, called Lingholm-bay, to lie to or an- - 
chor for the night ; for to pursue our course by night, 
and that a thick one, among these isles, and islets, and 
sandbanks, 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 combus* 
tion, when the lee-side and. bolt-sprit were constantly 
under water ; so our soup is poisoned with salt water — 
our cod -and haddocks, which cost ninepence this blesft* 
ed morning, and would have been worth a couple of 
guineas in London, are soused in their primitive ele- 
ment — the curry is undone — and all gone to the devil. 
We all apply ourselves to comfort our Lord High Ad- 
miral Hamilton, whose despair for himself and the pub-t 
lie might edify a patriot. His good humour — ^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, for- 
tunately restores his equilibrium. 

" Eight o^ clock, — Our supplemental dinner proved ex- 
cellent, and we have glided into an admirable road-stead 
or harbour, called Lingholm-bay, formed by the small 
island of Lingholm embracing a small basin dividing 
that islet from th^ of Stronsay. Both, as 

well as Sanda, T vhich we have passed* 


are low, green, and sandy. I have seen nothing to-day 
worth marking, except the sportiag of a very large 
whale at some distance, and H.'s face at the news of 
the disaster in the cooWoom. 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 hail 
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 every 
thing by the French, and expected to have found Ler- 
wick 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 modera- 
tion, 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 rnslance 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 mer- 
chandise of gin and gingerbread for Zetland hose and 




" V2th 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 harbour. Farther up the town are seen 
some decent old-fashioned houses, and the Sheriff's in- 
terest 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 intelli- 
gence of his character and manner. After this visit the 
antiquities of the place, viz. : the Bishop's palace, the 
Earl of Orkney's castle, and the cathedral, all situated 
within a stonecast 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 

^t^k^^^ . 

DIAIIY — KIRKWALL, AUG. 12, 1814. 185 

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 fill 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 
re-edified in the sixteenth century. Fronting thi^ 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 ele- 
gant 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 consi^ 
derably 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 divi-f 
ded 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 drawingroom, and which has, 
Jike 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 di- 
mensions 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 modem arthitect, 
wishing to emulate the real Gothic architecture, aad 



apply it to the purposes of modern splendour^ might de- 
rive excellent hints from this room. The exterior or- 
jiamients 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 prevail- 
ing taste. Besides this castle and that of Scalloway, he 
added to or enlarged the old castle of Bressay, To ac- 
complish these objects, he oppressed the people with 
severities unheard-of even in that oppressive age, drew 
down on himself a shameful though deserved punish- 
ment, and left these dishonoured 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 Ro- 
nald, Earl of Orkney, nephew of the Saint. It is of 
great size, being 260 feet long, or thereabout, and sup- 
ported by twenty-eight Saxon pillars, of good work- 
manship. 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 mas- 
sive and gloomy than elegant, and many of the exterior 
ornaments, carving around the door-ways, &c., have 
been injured by time. We entered the cathedral, the 
whole of which is kept locked, swept, and in good or- 
der, although only the eastern end is used for divine 
worship. We walked some time in the nave and west- 




em end, which is left unoccupied, and has a v6ry 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 comer, with a hel* 
met 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 honour to thp kirk-^ession 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 sur- 
rounded with a carved screen of oak, rather elegant, and 
bears his arms and initials, and the motto I have no- 
ticed. He bears the royal arms without any mark of 
bastardy (his father was a natural son of James V.) 
quarterly, with a lymphad or gaUey, the ancient arms of 
the county. This circumstance was charged against 
him on his trial.* I imderstand the late Mr Gilbert 


• ** This noted oppressor was finaDj brought to trial, and beheaded 
at the Cross of Edinburgh [6th February, 1614.] It is said that th6 
King*s mood was considerably heated agiunst him by some iU<«hoseQ 
and worse written Latin inscriptions with which his father and him* 
self had been unlucky enough to decorate some of their insular pala« 
ces. In one of these> Earl Robert, the father, had given his own 
designation thus : — ' Orcadise Comes Reje Jacob! quinti filius.* In 
this case he was not, perhaps, guilty of any thing worse than bad 
Latin. But James VI. who had a keen nose for pu2zling out trea* 
son, 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 Bex, instead of the genitive Regis, had & treasonable sa« 
vour."— Scott's Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. xxiii. p. 232. 


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 bard to interdict it to them. What would a Lon- 
doner 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),~anda 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 carcasses 
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 impos- 
sible 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 ashcgre by seven boats only. 

" Five q*clock. — We are out of the Most (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 I We are standing for some 
creek or harbour, called Lingholm-bay, to lie to or an- - 
chor for the night ; for to pursue our course by night, 
and that a thick one, among these isles, and islets, and 
sandbanks, is out of the question — clear moonlight might 
do. Our sea is now moderate. But oh, gods and men, 
what misfortimes 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 combus- 
tion, when the lee-side and. bolt-sprit were constantly 
under water ; so our soup is poisoned with salt water— 
our cod and haddocks, which cost ninepence this bless-* 
ed morning, and would have been worth a couple of 
guineas in London, are soused in their primitive ele- 
ment — the curry is undone — and all gone to the devil. 
We all apply ourselves to comfort our Lord High Ad- 
miral Hamilton, whose despair for himself and the pub-« 
lie might edify a patriot. His good humour — ^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, for- 
tunately restores his equilibrium. 

" Eight o'clock. — Our supplemental dinner proved ex- 
cellent, and we have glided into an admirable road-stead 
or harbour, 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^ 


the Orkneys, and afford excellent shelter for small ves- 
sels. 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 bat- 
tling with this heavy current, and though with all her 
canvass 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 extremitv of Scot- 
land. The shores of Caithness rise bold and rocky be- 
fore 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 remark- 
able breaking tide called the Merry Men of Met/, whence 
Mackenzie takes the scenery of a poem — 

* Where the dancing men of Mey, 

Speed the current to the land.' ^ 

Here, according to his locality, the Caithness man wit- 
nessed the vision, in which was introduced the song 
translated by Gray, tmder the title of the Fatal Sisters. 
On this subject, Mr Baikie told me the following re- 
markable 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 Teferriug 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. 

BIART — ^AUG. 14, 1814. 191 

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- 
Islesmen disdain Orkney-men for eating dog-fish. Both 
islands have dangerous reefe 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 z.fl^cJie 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 em- 
brasure ; 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 seem9 excessively problematicaL Suppo- 


mg theiB impregnable, cnr nearly so, a ganiscm of fiNir- 
teen or fifteen men may be always blodEaded by a Teiy 
trifling number, while tbe enemy dispose (rf* all in the 
▼idnily at their fieassan. In the case of Long-Hope, 
far instance, a firigate might disembaik 100 men, take 
the fort in the rear, where it is nndrfended eren by a 
palisade, destroy the magazines, spike and dismount the 
onnon, carry off or cut out any Tessels 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 themselTes 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 num- 
bers; 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 Sun- 
day, 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 



** 1 5th 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 
Ronaldshaw, we attempt the Skerries. Notwithstand- 
ing 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 welh qf 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 impos- 
sible 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* is an island about 
60 acres, of fine short herbage, belonging to Lord Dun- 
das ; 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, &c. 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 iiperture in the middle of the 
isle — ^like the blowing of a whale in noise and appear-- 
ance. 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 sit- 

* '' A Skerrie means a flattish rock ^hich the sea does not over- 
flow." — Edm(mdsione*s View of the Zettands. 


ting oa the points of the crags after a good fish break- 
fast ; only made one good shot out of four. The light- 
house is too low, and on the old construction, yet it is 
of the last importance. The keeper is an old man-of- 
warVman^ 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 diffi- 
culty. 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 
favourable, crowd all sail, and get on at the rate of four- 
teen miles an hour. Soon reach our old anchorage at 
the Long- Hope, and passing, stand to the north-west- 
ward, up the sound of Hoy for Stromness. 

** I should have mentioned, that in going down the 
Pentland Firth 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 Oroat, for, he says, he cannot hear that 
any body ever saw him^ This reasoning would put 
down most facts of antiquity ; they gather shells on the 
Aote called Johnnie Groix^s buchies, but I cannot pro- 
cure any at present. I may also add, that the interpre- 
tation given to wells may apply to the Wells of Shin, in 
the fine ballad of Clerk Colvin ; such eddies in the 
romantic vicinity of Slains Castle would be a fine place 
for a mermaid. 

'^ Our wind fails us, and what is worse, becomes wes- 
terly ; 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 Kirk- 
wall Cathedral, with a strong gleam of sunshine upon it. 

DIARY— AUG. 15, 1814. 19& 

Gloomy weather begina to collect around us, particularly 
on the island of Hoy, which, coTered with gloom and 
tapour, 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 As- 
sembly; one charge he held particularly cheap, viz,, 
that of drunkenness. ^ Rererend Moderator,' said he, 
in reply, * I do drink, as other gentlemen do/ Thi§ 
Orphir of the north must not be confounded with the 
Ophir 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 bum 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 
mfanaging their boats, as well as in the general tone of 
urbanity and intelligence, are excelled by the less fa- 
voured Zetlanders. I observe they always crowd the» 
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 Ronaldshaw, an isle I regret we did not see. A 
missionary preacher came ashore .there a year or two 
since, but heisg a very little black-bearded unshaved 
man, the seniors of the isle suspected him of being an 
ancient Pecbt or Pict, and no caimy^ of course. The 
schoolmaster came down to entreat oor worthy Mr Ste- 
venson, 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 thrde 


nigbts' 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 
litUe — 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 recognised 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 kulj for 
* Yesj sir,* We creep slowly up Hoy Sound, working 
under the Pomona shore ; but there is no hope of reach- 
ing 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 nar- 
rowed, and (to the eye) blocked up by the interposition 
of the green and apparently fertile isle of Grsemsay, the 
property of Lord Armadale.* 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, 

^ The late Sir William Honeyman, Bart.—- a Judge of the Court 
of Session by the title of Lord Armadale. 

DIART — AUG. 16, 1814. 197 

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 sweet- 
hearts, 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 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 in- 
vested with vapour and mist. In the forepart of the 
day we executed very cleverly a task of considerable 
difficulty and even danger. 

" IQth 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 harbour of caU for the 
Davies* Straits whalers, as Lerwick is for the Green- 
landers. 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 
ppposite side of Stromness bay is protected by Hoy, and 
Gra^msay lies between them ; so' that the bay seems 
quite land-locked, and the contrast between the moun- 
tains of Hoy, the soft verdure of Grsemsay, and the 
swelling hill of Orphir on the mainland, has a beautiful 
eflFect. The day clears up, and Mr Rae, Lord Arma- 
dale'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 


Lanaikdure, of wMch coimty be is a nativ;e ; itrong 
hardy Gallof^ays, fit for labour or hacks. By this we 
pr<^ted, as Mr Kae mounted uft all, and we set off to 
visit the Standing Stones of Stenhouse or Stennis. 

'< At the upper end of the bay, about half way between 
Clestrom and Stromness, there extends a loeh of con- 
siderable size, of fresh water, but communicating with 
the sea by apertures left in a long bridge or causeway 
whidi divides them* After riding about two miles along 
this lake, we open another called the Loeh of Harray, 
of about the same dimensions, and communicating with 
Ahe ^wer lake, as the former does with the sea, by a 
•tream, 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, sur- 
rounded by a mound of earth. As the mound is discon- 
tinued, it does not seem that the circle was ever com- 
pleted. The flat or open part of the semicircle looks 
np a plain, where, at a distance, is seen a large tumulus* 
The highest pf these stones may be about sixteen or 
seventeen feet, and I think there are none so low as twelve 
fkeU At irregular distances are pointed out other im- 
hewn 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 
4^ solemnly attesting the deity, which the Scandinavians 
did by passing their head through a ring, — vide Eyr- 
biggia Saga. Several barrows are scattered around 
this strai^ge monument* Upon the opposite isthmus is 
a complete circLe, of ninety-five paces in diameter, sur- 
rounded 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 fonr tumuli, 
or mounds of earth, are regularly placed, two on each 

^^ Stonehenge excels these monuments, but I fancy 
they are otherwise unp^alleled in Britain. The idea 
that such circles were exclusively Druidiealis now justly 
exploded. The northern nations all used such erections 
to mark their places of n^eting, whether for religious 
purposes or civil policy ; and there is repeated nuention 
of them in the Sagas. See the Eyrbiggia Saga, for the 
establishment of the Helga-fels, or holy mount, where 
the people held their Comitia, and where sacrifices w^« 
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 
enquired 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 UimtduB^ called the HoUow of Tongue. 

^^ The hospitality of Mrs Rae detained us to an early 
dinner at Clestrom. About four o'clodk took our long- 
boat and rowed down the bay to visit the Dwarfie Stone 
of Hoy. We have all day been pleased with the roman- 
tic appearance of that island, for though the Hill of Hoy 
is not very high, perhaps about 1200 feet, yet rising pep- 


pendicularly (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 peatbogs. 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 Dwarfs Wife, is shorter, 
and rounded off, instead of being square at the comers. 
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 doubt- 
less 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 bar- 
rows, 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 
xneant 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* has 
cbnjectured. 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. Who- 
ever 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 clergy- 
man (Mr Hamilton) has procured some curious speci- 
mens 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 un watched, 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 9 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 

• History of the Orkney Islands^ by the Rev. George Barry, D.D. 
4to. Edinburgh : 1805. 


transpoTtattoa he himaelf witneased. Walking in iha 
fields, he heard the aqueakiog of a pig for ftome d»e» 
without being able to ditcero whence it proeeeded, until 
looking np, he beheld the onfortimate grunter in the 
talons of an eagle, who Boared away with him towardt 
the summit of Hoy. From this it may be conjectured, 
that the island is very thinly inhabited. In &ct( we only 
saw two or three little wigwams. After tea we walked • 
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 strong- 
ly up between Grsemsay and Hoy ; but, on turning the 
point of Grsemsay, the other branch of the same flood- 
tide carried us with great yelocity alongude 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 — TTie eggs on Zetland and 
Orkney are very indifferent, having an earthy taste and 
bemg very small. But the hogs are an excellent breed 
— queer wild-looking creatures, with heads like wild- 
boara, but making capital bacon." 

DIARY — 6TR0M NESS« 203 




" Off StrcmMss^ \1th August^ 1814. — Went on shore 
after breakfast, and found W. Erskine and Marjoribanks 
had been in this town all last night, without our hear- 
ing 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 metro- 
polis, 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 
favourable gale. She was a miserable figure ; upwards 
of ninety, she told us, and dried up like a mummy* A 
sort of clay-coloured cloak, folded over her head, corres* 
ponded in colour to her corpselike complexion* Fine 
light-blue eyes, and nose and chin that almost met, amd 
a ghastly expression of cunning, gave her -quite the effect 
of Hecate* She told us she remembered Gow t&e 


pirate, who was born near the House of Clestrom, and 
afterwards commenced buccanier. He came to his 
native country about 1725, with a snow which he com- 
manded, carried oflF 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 island- 
ers, 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 sur- 
prised with the amount of our donation, as every body 
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 ^olus himself, but if she is a special favourite 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 Bannock- 
burn, concerning which every part of Scotland has its 
peculiar traditions. The Orcadians say that a Norwe- 
gian 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 engage- 
ment, 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.* 

" The land in Orkney is, generally speaking, excel- 
lent, 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 pas- 
ture, 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 labour 
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 oD, 
and the bodies are a food as much valued here by the 
lower classes as it is contemned in 2ietland. We saw 

• 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 whicli the 
work contains were confined to those scenes which he visited."— 
Vol. i. p. 28, 





nineteen boats out at tliis work. But cod, tusk, ling, 
haddocks, ftc, 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 P 
It is the hardest chapter in Economicks ; and if I were 
an Orcadian laird, I feel I should shuffle on with the 
old useless creatures^ in contradiction to my better judg- 
ment. 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 perpen- 
dicular 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 clifl^ 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 Gra&msay, lying in 
the very throat of the passage, and two other islands 
covering the entrance to the harbour of Stromness.^ 
Grrsemsay is infamous for shipwrecks, and the chance oi 
these Godsends, as they were impiously called, is said 


gometimes to have doubled the value of die land. In 
Stromnese, I saw many of the sad relics of shipwrecked 
vessels applied to very odd purposeSy 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, &c. 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 lea-boom, has shortened sail, apparently 
to take us under her wing, which may not be altogether 
unnecessary in the latitude of Cape Wrath, where seve- 
ral vessels have been taken by Yankee-Doodle. The 
sloop-of-war looks as if she could bite hard, and is sup- 
posed 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. 

" 18/A August, 1814.— Bessy Millie's charm has failed 
lis* 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. Hamil- 
ton and Erskme keep their berths. DuiF and I sit upon 
deck, like two great bears, wrapt in watch-cloaks, the 
sea flying ovei* us every now and then. At length, after 
a sound buffeting with the rain, the doubling Cape 
Wrath with thb wind is renounced as i|npracticable, and 
we stand away for Lioch Eiibol, a lake running into the 
extensive country of Lord Reay. No i^kness; we 
begin to get hardy sailors in that particular.. The 
ground rises upon us very bold and mountainous, espe- 
cially a very high steep mountain, called Ben^y-Hofiey 


at the head of a lake called Loch Hope. The weather 
begins to mitigate as we get under the lea of the land. 
Loch Eribol opens, running up into a wild and barren 
scene of crs^s 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 oflF from Mr Anderson's house, a prin- 
cipal 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 pre- 
pared 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 proprieter 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 indi£ferent land, and to invite Mr Anderson to dine 
with us. Four o'clock, — John has just returned, suc- 
cessful in both commissions, and the evening concludes 

" I9th 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 ob- 
scured behind a craggy eminence. A little creek, wind- 
ing up behind the crag, and in front of the house, forms 
a small harbour, 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 occa- 
sionally, lest it should be said he could not have finished 
his task without their aid. An ample Highland break- 
fast of excellent new-taken herring, equal to those of 
Lochfine, fresh haddocks, fresh eggs, and fresh butter, 
not forgetting the bottle of whisky, 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 6f 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 apart- 
ment of the cavern opens under a tremendous rock, 
facing the creek, and occupies the full space of the 
ravine where we landed. Prom the top of the rock 
to the base of the cavern, as we afterwards disco- 
vered by plumb, is eighty feet, of which the height 
of the arch is .fifty- three feet ; the rest, being twenty- 
sev^n^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 sup- 
ported 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 

VOL. HI. 8 


]»ot aware of iU extraordinary height and extent, till I 
law our two friends, who had somewhat preceded us, 
leaving made the journey by land, appearing like pigmies 
among itB 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, B^ 
neath this hatch a brook finds its way out, forms a black 
deep pool before the Gothic archway, and then escapee 
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 twi« 
light space filled with dark-coloured 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 men-* 
tioned two travellers whose curiosity had led them 
ferther. We were resolved, however, to see the adr 


ventures of this new cave of Montesinos to an endt. 
Duff had already secured the use of a fisher's boat and 
its hands, our own log-boat being too heavy and lar 
too valuable to be ventured upon this Cocytos. Ac- 
cordingly 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 ciew 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 liiis 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 in-^ 
stant when the boat sloped inward to the cave, a High- 
lander threw himself into it with great boldness and 
dexterity, and, at the expense of some bruises, shared 
its precipitate fell into the waters under the earth. This 
dangerous exploit was to prevent the boat drifting away 
from us, but a cord at ite stern would h^ve hetn. a safer 
and surer expedient. 

^^ When OUT 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 twiUght, was derived Aoia 
two chasms in the roof of the vault, for that offered fay 
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 subter- 
ranean pond with water, finds its way out beneath the 
.ledge of rock that blocks its entrance. The other sky- 
light, if I may so term it, looks out at the clear blue 


sky. It is impossible for description to explain the im* 
pression 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 tempo- 
rary 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 wind- 


ing 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 birth-day diamonds under the 
glare of our lights. In some places these stalactites 
branch out into broad and curious ramifications, resem- 
bling 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 in- 
dicated 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 en- 
trance, 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 pro- 
pensities, 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 any thing to 
indicate a separate current of its own. Rounding this 
perilous hole, or gulf, upon the aforesaid alluvious sub^ 


stances, which formed its shores, we reached the extr^ 
imty of the cavem, which there ascends like a vent, or 
funnel, directly up a sloping precipice, but hideously 
black, and slippery from wet and sear-weeds. One of 
our sailors, a Zetkoider, 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 subter- 
ranean abysses, and at length returned, after ineffectually 
endeavouring to penetrate to the extremity of the Smowe 
cave ; but this must be either fabulous, or an exagger- 
ated account of such a journey as we performed. And 
under the latter supposition, it is a curious instance how 
little the people in the neighbourhood of this curiosity 
have cared to examine it* 

" In returning, we endeavoured to familiarize our- 
selves 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 colour, 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-humoured commodore, Hamil- 
ton, floated beneath the lower arch into the second 
cavern. His goodly countenance being illumined by a 
single candle, his recumbent posture, and the appeal? 


ance of a hard-favoured fellow guiding the boat» made 
him the very picture of Bibo, in the catch, when he 
wakeg in Charon'« boat, 

* When Bibo thought fit firom this world to retreat. 
As full of Champagne as »n e^*8 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 caye. We could 
see our dusky entrance^ into which daylight streamed 
£aint, 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 baun, and again enjoyed ourselves in tha 
large exterior cave* Our boat was hoisted with some 
diflBculty over the ledge, which appears the natural bar- 
rier 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 di&» 
charged 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 fistce of a dangerous 
precipice, where Erskine, to my great alarm, turned giddy, 
and declared he could not go farther* I clambered up 
without much difl&culty, 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 pre* 
cipitates itself down a chasm of the rock into the subtext* 


ranean 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 pros- 
pect 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 un- 
ceasing roar of the cataract which envelopes 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 Whiten 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 ven- 
ture very far, so we did not see the extremity of Fris- 
kin's Cavern, as it is called. We shot several cor- 
morants in the cave, the echoes roaring like thunder 
-at every discharge. We received, however, a proper 


rebuke from Hamilton, our commodore, for killing any- 
thing which was not fit for eating. It was in vain I 
assured him that the Zetlanders make excellent hare* 
soup out of these sea-fowL He will listen to no sub- 
ordinate 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. 

" 20rt August, 1814. — Sail by four in the morning,, 
and by half-past six, are o£f Cape Wrath. ' All hands 
ashore by seven, and no time allowed to breakfast, ex- 
cept 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 L.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 yahie of pasture is now understood here. Lord 
Reay's estate, containing 150,000 square acres, and 
measuring eighty miles by sixty, was, before commence- 
ment of the last leases, rented at L.1,200 a-year. It is 
now worth 1^5,000, and Mr Anderson says he may let 
it this ensuing year (when the leases expire) for about 
L.15,000« But then he must resolye to part with his 
people, for these rents can only be giren upon the sup- 
positiim that sheep are generally to be introduced on the 
l^operty. In an economical, and perhaps in a political 
point c£ view, it might be best that every part of a 
country were dedicated to that sort ^ occupation for 
which natinw has best fitted it. But to effect this reform 
ia the present instance, Lord Reay mus^ turn out seve- 
ral hundred families who have lived under him and his 
&dtters for m)any generations, and the swc^rds of whose 
&thars probably won the lands from which he is now 
expelling them. He is a good-natured man, I suppose, 
for Mr A. sajrs he is hesitating whether be shall not take 
a more modera/te rise (L.7O0O or L.8000), and keep his 
Highland tenantry. This last war (before the short 
peace), he levied a fine fencibie corps (die Reay fendU 
bles), and might have doubted their nuab^. WeaUh 
is fto dovbt strength in a eo«mtry, while all is quiet and 
governed by law, but on any altercation or internal com- 
motion, it ceases to be strength, and is only the means 
of tempting 4iie strong to plunder the possessoirs. Mudht 
may be said on both sides.* 

^* Cape Wraith n a striking poont, bodi from tike dig- 
nity ^its own appearance, sold from the maital assoeia^ 

* The whole of the immense district called Lord Bem/*» oouwbry^^ 
the hahitation as far hack as history reaches of the dan Mackay—- 
hM imssed, smce Sir W. Scott^ journal was written, into the haadl 
of Kbe aoMefinul^ofSatlKriBnd. 

H4Rr — AJCW.S9, 1614. MS 

tion <»f ka beisg tibe extreme cape «f Seotlsn^ -vriA 
reference to the nortk-west* Theie is ne Isnd ia Ae 
direct line between this p(»nt and Ammea. 1 8«w a pair 
of large ^eagles, aad if I h^ liad tbe lifle-gim BB%]it hwro 
had a sikot;^ for tbe birds, whea I first «aw Atfm, wemt 
perched en a reek "v^k^n aheut eoxtjr «r arrenty yavds^ 
Tl»y are, i attppose^Hltib distmbed hem, far Aey ii i eW ' 
ed no great akurm.^ Aftfsr llie CeiDnuanoDers and Mr 
Stevenson had exanuiied Ihe beadhmd, witk sefevenoe ta 
tbe site of a lighthouae^ lie Ktoolkd ^ <nir boat, aad 
came on board bet^weeaa ten «ad .el&mi» G»et the boat 
up upon dedk, and set eail for the Lewis with l%ht winds 
and a great swell of fide. P'ass a TCMky islet cidled 
Gousla. Here a fine veasel was lately wrecked ; all her 
efew periled but oae, who got upon the rocks from the 
boltsprit, and was afterwards brought off. Ia front of 
Cape Wrath are soBOte aogry breakers, called the Stofffs; 
.the rocks whidi occasion them are visible at low water. 
The country behind Cape Wrath swdls in high sweep* 
ing elevaticNQS, but without any ftetuseaque m digfiified 
mountainous scenery. But on sailing westward « few 
miles, particularly after doublii^ a headland called the 
Stour of Assint^ the coast a»mmes the true Highland 
cbaraetery being skirted with a suocessioii of picturesque 
mountains of every variety of hei^t and outline. "Hiese 
are the hiUs of Ross*ahire>-.*4i waste and thinly-peopled 
district at this extremity of the island. We would wft> 
lingly have .learned .the names of tiie most remarkaUe^ 
but they are only laid 4own in the db^rts l^ the cairt 
names given Uvem by siariners, fnm their ajqiesoraiiee^ 
as the Sugar-loaf, and so forth. Our breeze now iiw 
creases, and seems steadily favoioaUie, earrying us on 
with exhilarating rapidity, at the rale of ejght knots son 
hour, with the fomantic outliBe of &e mainkod und^ 
our lee-beam, and the dusky dbores of the Long Istand 


beginning to appear ahead. We remain on deck long 
after it is dark, watching the phosphoric effects occasion- 
ed, 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 
lizard haddock and to bed. Charming weather all day. 
**2\8t August^ 1814. — Last night went out like a 
lamb, but this morning came in like a lion, all roar and 
tumult. T The wind shifted and became ^squally; the 
xningled and confused tides that run among the Hebrideii 
got us among their eddies, and gave the cutter such con- 
cussions, 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 dis- 
consolate-looking islands, in a gale of wind and rain, 
guided only by the twinkling glimmer of the light on an 
island called Elian 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 harbour 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 
Stomoway ; but the people of the Lewis had taken arms 
to secure him, under an idea that he was coming to plun-* 
der the country. • And although his faithful attendant, 
Donald Macleod, induced them by fair words, to lay aside 

DIARY SCALP A — AUG. 21, 18 14, 221 

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. Th^ harbour 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 FJlan 
Glas. Hamilton and Erskine keep their beds, ha/ing 
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 
harbour of Scalpa is composed of a great number of lit-* 
tie 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." 






** 22d Amgnstj 1814. — Sailed early m the morning 
from Scsdpa Harbe^iir, in order to cross the Minch, or 
Ckainiel, for Dunvegan ; but the breeze being contrary, 
trc can only crec^ along the Harris shore, until we shall 
gain the advasitage of Uie tide. The east coast of Har- 
lisy as we BOW see it, is of a diaracter which sets human 
iodostry ttt ntl^r defiance, consisting dThigh sterile hills, 
covered entirely with stones, with a very slight sprinkling 
of stunted hesAer. Within, appear still higher peaks 
of iBOUBtaiii»^ I have never seen aay thing more un{m>- 
ykiouB, exceptiBg the southern side of Griban, on the 
shores of Lodwta-Gaoil, in the Isle of Mull. t. We sail 
along this desolate coast (which exhibits jho mark of 
human habitation) with the advantage of a pleasant day 
and a brisk, though not a favourable gale. Ttoo o* clock 
— Row ashore to see the little harbour and village of 
Rowdill) on the coast of Harris. There is a decent 
three-storied house, belonging to the laird, Mr Madeod 
of the Harris, 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 Highkuid laziness that I sup- 
pose she may float next century. ' The harbour is neat 
enough, but wants little more cover to the eastward. 


The greand,' ob landiiig, does not seem altogether m 
desolate as horn ib^ sea. In the fisnner point of view^ 
we OTeriook all the retirect glens and creyices whidb, by 
iBfinite address and labour, are lendaped capable of a 
little cuItiTation* But £ew aad evil are Ae patches so 
cultivated in Harris, as &r as we hare seem. Above the 
house is situated the ancient church of RowdiSL •' This 
pile was unfortunately burned down by accident some 
years since, by fire taking to a quantity of wood laid in 
for fitting it iqp. It is a buSdii^ in Ae fosm. of a crooSi 
with a rude tower at the eastern eaul> likesoi&e old Eng- 
lish chufdies* Upon diis tower are certain pieoes of 
sculpture, of a kind the last which one would hare ex- 
pected on a binlding dedicated to religious ' purposes. 
Some have lately fitUeB in a storm, but enough remains ta 
astonish us at the grossness of the ardiitect and the 

^* Within the church are two anctemt nu>numeats. 
The first, on the right hand of the pul]pit, presents the 
effigy of a warrior completely armed in plate armour, 
with his hand on his two-hanibd broadsword* His hel* 
met is peaked, with a gorget €a upp^ corslet which seems 
to be made of maiL His figure lies flat on the monu^ 
ment, and is in Bas relief of the natural siie. The arch 
whidi 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 va* 
riety of compartments, exhibiting the arms of the Mac^ 
leods, being a galley with the sails spread, a rude view 
of Dunvegan Castle, scmie saints and religious enbhaas, 
and a Latin inscription, of which our time, (or skill) was 
inadequate to decipher the first line ; but the others an- 
nounced the tenant of the monument to be Alexaander^ 
JiUu» Willielmi MacLeod^ de Dunvegan^ Anno DM 
xxccc jcxYiii, 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 armour 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 scull-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 
fihawl. This remarkable figure is bearded most tyran- 
nically, 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 
tave supported his head, but is now defacedj 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 imper- 
fect. He chanced to be a poor devil of an excise-oflicer 
who had lately made a seizure of a still upon a neigh^ 
bouring island, after a desperate resistance. Upon see- 
ing 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 Caesar, and begged us not to 
imdeceive 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 
trhich he found himself while exercising so obnoxious a 
duty in the midst of a fierce-tempered people, and at 


taany miles distance from any possible countenance or 
assistance. The village of Rowdill consists of Highland 
huts of the common construction, i,€, 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 stpne, seem- 
ingly the staff of a cross ; upon another the head of a 
cross, with a sculpture of the crucifixion. These monu- 
ments (which refer themselves to Catholic times of 
course) are popularly called. The Qroshlets — crosslets, or 
little crosses. 

^^ Get on board at five, and stand across the Sound 
for Skye with the ebb-tide in our favour. 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 si- 
tuated, 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 Bemera, 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 


HaiM — worse they eaimot be. Ummmbered islets snd 
holiBS, eadk of wldch has its name and its Mstory^ diet 
tbese lai^r isks, and are vidble in diis desr evening- as 
distinct Mid separate objects, lying lone aad qiiiet upon 
tbe fisiee of tike nndislinrbed and scarce*rippling sea. To 
our berdis at ten, after adiairiiy the scenery for s<nM 

** 2M Auffust, 1814 Wake under liie Castle of 

DuBvegan, m the Loch of Folliart* I had sent a card 
to the Laird of Macleod in the mormng, who came off 
before we were dressed, and carried us to his castle to 
breakfast. A part of Donvegan is rery old ; * its birth 
tradition notes not.' Another large tower was built by 
tiie same Alaster Macleod whose burial-place and monu- 
ment we saw yesterday at Rowdill. He had a Gaelic 
surname, i»gnifying the Hump-backed. Roderick More 
(knighted by James VI.) erected a long edifice combin- 
ing' these two ancient towers : and other pieces of build- 
ing, forming a square, were accomplished at different 
times. The whole castle occupies a precipitous mass 
of rock oyerhanging the lake, divided by two or three 
islands in that place, which form a snug little hs^bour 
under the walls. Hiere is a court-yard looking' out 
upon the sea, protected by a battery, i^ least a succes- 
sion 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 rode, and passed into this court- 
yard through a portal, but this is now demolished. You 
land under the castle, and, walking round, find yourself 
in front of it. This was origiaaliy iimccessiUe, for a 
brook coming down on the one side, a chasm of the 
rodcs on die other, and a £tch in front, made it imper- 
vious. But the' late Macleod built a bridge over the 
stream, and -dte present laird is executmg an entrance 
suitable to the diaracter of Has remarkabie fortaliee^ by 

PIART — 1H7KTSGAK — kver. 23> 1814. 227 

imfcing 8 portal between two adviaieed towera and an 
ottter ooHrt, from wiiieh be proposes to throw a draw- 
kid^ orer to the Ingfa rock in front of the castle. This, 
if well executed, cannot £gdl to have a good and charae* 
tmstie effect. We were most kindly and hospitably re* 
ceiyed by the chieftain, his lady, and his sister ;* the two 
last are pretty and accompKshed young women, a sort <ȣ 
persiMis whom we hare not seen for some time; and I 
was quite as much pleased with renewing my acqudnt* 
ance with them as with the sight of a good field of bar* 
ley just cut (the fkst harvest we have seen), not to men* 
tion an extensive young plantation and some middle* 
aged trees, though all had been strangers to mine eyes 
ednoe I left Leith. In the garden — or rather the orchard 
which was formerly the garden — ^is a pretty cascade, fi- 
vided 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 
co>old not walk far from ibe castle. Besides the as- 
sistance of the laird himself, who was most politely and 
easily attentive, we had that of an intelligent gentleman- 
like clergyman, Mr Suter, minister of Ealmore, to ex- 
plain the cartel-pays. Within the castle we saw a re* 
markable drinkmg-eup, with an inscription dated a.d. 
993, which I have described particularly elsewhere.t 
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-Ju»m of Rorie More^ holding about 
ti^«e pints English measure, an ox's hois tipped with 
silver, not nearly so large as Watt of Harden^s bugle. 
Tlie rest of the curiosities in the castle are chiefly ]bi- 

* MiBS Madeod, now lfi» Speaoer Bercttvd. , 

t See Note, Lord of tte Isles, Scott's Pocdeal Works, voi s. p^ 


dian, 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 men- 
tioned 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 ensured fertility — and lastly, 
it brought herring into the loch.* 

* The following passage from the last of Scott^s Letters on De« 
monology, (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 
(anie, voL i. p. 212.); 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 pos- 
session of it about the witching hour. Except, perhaps, some tapes- 
try 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 supersti- 
tion. An autumnal blast, sometimes clear, sometimes driving mist 
before it^ swept along the troubled billows of the lake, which it occa- 
sionally 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 Stomu 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 dis- 
tant scene was a view of that part of the QuiUen mountains which 


** 24ih August^ 1814. — This momiDg resist with diffi- 
culty 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 inconve- 
nience, 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 patronised by Mrs M. 
There are about twenty girls, who learn reading, wri- 
ting, and spinning; and being compelled to observe 
habits of cleanliness and neatness when at school, will 
probably be the meims 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 

are called, from their forai, Macleod's. Dining- Tables. The voice of 
an angry cascade, termed the Nurse of Rone 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 J hoped to make amends for some rough nights on ship« 
board, and where I slept accordingly without thinking of ghost or 
goblin, till I was called by my servant in the morning." 


plyin it cannot be refofied in similar instances, so that all 
calculations of expenses m sadi {^rations are at an end* 
The day being delightfully fair and warm, we walk i^ 
to the Churdi of Kilmore. In a oott^^ at no great 
distance, we heard the woBien singing as they lomdhtd 
the doth by rubbing it with their hands and feet, aaad 
screaDaing all the while in a sort of dborus* At a dhh 
tance, the sound was wild aikd sweet enough^ bttt rather 
discordant when you approached too near the perfbrmasfti 
In the churcfayadrd (otherwise not remarkable) was a 
pyramidical monument erected to the father of the cele* 
brated Simon, Lord Lo\rat, who was fostered at Dunvegan. 
It is now nearly roinous, and the inscripdon has fisdlen 
down. Return to the castle, take our lunchecm, and go 
aboardat three— MacleodacocnnpanyiiJgus in proper style 
with his piper. We take leave of the castle^ where we hare 
been so kindly entertained, with a saUite of seven guns. 
The chief returns ashore, with his piper playing ' the 
Macleods' gathering,' heard to advantage along the calm 
and placid loch, and dying as it retreated from us* 
. ^^ The towers of Dunvegan, with the hanaer which 
floated over them in hononr-of thdr guests, now showed 
to great advw^tage. Oaa tbe right were a sueeesflion of 
three remarkable hills, with round flat tops, popularly 
called Macleod's Dtning-Tables. Far bel^d these, -m 
the interior of the island, arise the much higher and more 
romantic mountsdns, called QuiUen, or Cuillin, a name 
which they have been said to owe to no less a person 
than Cttthnllin, or CudbulUii, celebrated by Osaian. I 
ought, I bdieve, to notice, that Macleod mid Mr SiHw 
have both liearda tacksman of Macleod's, called Grant, 
recite the celebrated Address to the Sun ; and another 
person, whom they named, repeat the deacxa|>tdo8i ctf 
CuchuUin's «ar. But aU agree as to the gross infidelitsr 
of Macpherson as a translator and editor. It ends m 

IDIABT — 8K1E« 231 

the eaqplanation of tbe Adrentupes in tlie Gave of Mon- 
tesinos, afforded to the Elnight of La Mancha, by the 
ape of Gines de Paflsamonte — some are true and waae 
are false* There is. little poetical tradition in this conn- 
try, yet there should be a great deal, ccHisideriBg how 
lately the bards and genealogists existed as a dastinct 
order. Maeleod's herediiarp piper is called MacCrim- 
mojn, but the present holder of the office has risen above 
his profession. He is an old man, a Ixeutenaflit in ^ 
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 main tains his minstrel privilege by 
putting on his bonnet so soon as he begins to play. 
Hiese MacCrimmons formerly kept a college in Skye 
for teaching the pipe-mu8ie» Macleod's present piper is 
of the name, but searcdy 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 contimie*to 
form a background to the wild landscape with theix 
variegated and peaked outline. We approach Dunve- 
gaA-head, a bold bluff cape, where the loch Joins the 
ocean. The weather, hitherto so beautiful that we had 
dined on deck en setgnewrs^ becomes overcast and hazy, 
with little or no wind. Laugh aaid lie down. 

^^ 25^A A%gu^ 1614. — Rise about eight o'clock, &e 
yacht gliding deli^tfully along the coast of Skye with 
a feorjwind and excellent day. On the oppMte 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 harbour, on the point of which we can discern tlie 


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 <iuillen, 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 past 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 informal 
tion. On manning our boat and rowing ashore, we 


observed a hurry among the inhabitants, owing to our 
being as usual suspected for hinges men^ although, 
Heaven knows, we have nothing to do with the revenue 
,but to spend the part of it corresponding to our equip- 
;axent. 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 farm-house, merely because the 
honest man seemed jealous of the honour of his owit 
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 neighbourhood to 
a very high cliff or mountain of precipitous granite ; 
otherwise, the sheet of waterdoes not equal even Cauld->- 
shiels Loch. Returned and re-embarked 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 seap-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 assem- 
bled hundreds of trouts 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 
pur absence. 

" Advancing up this huddling and riotous brook, 
we found ourselves in a most extraordinary scene; we 
yvere surrounded by hills of the boldest and most pre- 
cipitous character, and on the margin of a lake which 
seemed to have sustained the constant ravages of tor- 
rents froja these rude neighbours. The shores con- 
sisted of huge layers of naked granite, here and there 
intermixed with bogs, and heaps of gravel and sand mark^ 
ing the course of torrents, ' - Vegetation there was little 



or none, mud the momttsdns rose 80 perpeikficnlaiiy fram 
ike water^s ecLg^, that Borrowdale is a jest to them. We 
proceeded about one mile and a half up this deep, dark, 
and solitary lake, which b abo^ two miles kmg, haif 
a mile broad, and, as we learned, of exticme depdi. 
The rapour which enveloped die momitaiii ridges 
obliged us by assuming a thousand i^hapes, varying its 
T^s in all sort &£ forms, but sometimes clearing ^ al- 
togeth^. It is true it made us pay the penalty by some 
heavy and downright showers, from the £t«quency of 
whiid^ a Highland boy, whcmi we broi^ht from the 
fanoy told us the laike was populariy called the Water 
Kettle. The proper name is Loeh^ Comskin, from the 
deed conie or hollow in the mountains of Cuillin, which 
affords ^e basin for this wonderbd sheet of water. It 
is as exquisite as a salvage scene, as Lo(^ Katrine k as a 
scene of stem beauty. After having penetrated «o fistr 
as distinctly to observe the terminatkm of the lake, nnd^ 
an immense moumain whi<^ risesabruptly from the head 
of the waters, we returned, and often stopped to SKlnnre 
the ravages which storms must havo made m these re»- 
eesses when all human witnesses were driven to places 
of more shdter and security. Stones, or rather laig« 
massive fragments of rock €£ a composite kind, perfecdy 
different from the granite baxrieis of the lake, lay upon 
the rocky beach in the strangest and most precarious 
situations, as if aband^med by the torrents which had 
borne them down from above; some lay loose and 
tottering upon the Ie%es of the natiiral rock, with so 
little security that the slightest pudh moved them, lliough 
their weight exceeded many tons, l^ese deta<^d rocks 
-were chiefly what are called plum-puddingistones. Tliose 
which {bfrmed the shore were granito. Theopposite mAe 
of tibe lake seemed quite pa&iess, as a huge mountaifl, 
of the detached ridges of the Quillen, sinks in m 

profcMud aad almost pefpemdiealar precipice dews to the 
water. On the left Itand side, which we traversed, rose 
a higfcer and equally inaccessible mountain, the top of 
whidi seemed to contain the crater of an eri»iusted 
vcdcano. I nerer saw a spot «n which l^re was less 
appearance <^ regetvtien of any hind ; the eye rested on 
nothing but brown and naked crags,* and the rocks on 
which we walked by the side of the loch were as bare ag 
the pavement of Cheapside* There are oae or two spots 
of islets in the loch which seem to bear juniper, or some 
soch low bushy shmb. 

* * Rarefy human eye has known 
A scene so stem as that dread lake. 

With its dark. ledge of barr«n stone. 
Seems that pnmeval 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 OQtn^e stil. 
The wildest glen, b«t this, can show 
Some touch of Nature's genial glow ; 
On high Benmore green mosses grow. 
And heath-bells bud in deep Glencroe^ 

Afid eopse on CFuchan-BeB ; 
But hexe— -sd^Qvey around, htkofWf 

On mountain or in gleo^ 
Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plan<^ nor flower. 
Nor aught of vegetative power. 

The weary eye may ken ; 
For all is rocks at random thrown. 
Black waves, bare cxags, and banks of stsoiu 

As if wei-« her« denied 
The summer's sun, the spring's sweet dew. 
That clothe with many a varied hue 

The bleakest moontain-side.* 

Zronf ^thf Idei, Bf . 14» 


** Returned from our extraordinary walk and went on 
board. During dinner, our vessel quitted Loch Scavigi 
and having doubled its southern cape, opened the bay or 
salt-water Loch of Sleapin. There went again onshore 
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 pro- 
prietor, Mr Macallister of Strath Aird, finding that 
visiters 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 
enquiring 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 pro- 

^fc— — .ttaMfciMl— *—^— ■— — ifai^i^M I - m i.ii.».»ji— .M»a»M^-^i— — Jk-.^i^iM.^^-.»»^ <..—.„ . - «^ ._ ^ 


mises 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 ter- 
minated 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 dis- 
position of the stalactites. There is scarce a form or 
group that an active fitncy 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 dis- 
tinctions. 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 fraif, 
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 favour with John Peters, the steward, who prefer 
salt beef to fresh. To make amends, we never hear of 
sea-sickness, and the good-humour and harmony of the 
party continue uninterrupted. When we left the cave 
we carried off two grandsons of Mr Macallister's, re- 


maibbly fine boys ; and Erskine, who may be caSed 
Uami dss Enfiins, treated them most kindly, and showed 
them dSl the enriosities in the vessel, cansing even the 
guns to be fired for their amusement, besides filling their 
pockets with almonds and raisins. So that, with a hand- 
some 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 ont of the bay with little 
or no wind, for the opposite island of Egg." 

JE»AEr — CAVB OF HGG. 239 




'^ 26^A August^ 1814. — At seven this morning were in 
the Sound wliieh divides the Isle of Rom &^om that of 
£gg. Rum is rude, barren and nounladnatts ; Egg, 
although hilly and rocky,, and traversed by one remark* 
able ridge called Scuif-Egg, has^ in point of soil, a much 
more promising appearance. Southward of both lies 
Muick, or Mudc, a low and fertile island, and though 
the least, yet probably the most valuable of the three. 
Cav^ns being still the order of the day, w^e man the 
boat and row along the shore of Egg, in qiiest af that 
which was the memcnuble seene of a horrid feudal ven* 
geanoe. We had rounded more than hsM iSae island, ad* 
miring the entrance q£ manj a bold natiu^ cave wfaidi 
its rocks exhibit, but without Ending iJiat which we 
sought, until we procured a guide. This noted cave has 
a very narrow entrance, through which one can hardly 
creep en knees and hands. It rises steep and lofty 
within, and runs into the bowels of the rock to the depdl 
of 255 measured feeL The height at the entrance 
znay be about three feet, but rises to eighteen or twenty, 
and the breadth may vary m the saute 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 Mac- 
donalds of the Isle of Egg, a people dependent on Clan- 
ranald, had done some injury to th^ 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 ren- 
dered 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 ven- 
geance. He then kindled at the entrance of the cavern 
a huge fire, and maintained it until all within were de- 
stroyed 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 re-embarking, 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 run- 
ning 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 per- 
form the Romish service. A huge ledge of rock, almost 
half-way up one side of the vault, served for altar and ^ 
pulpit ; and the appearance of a priest and Highland con- 
gregation 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 
neighbours 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 re- 
venue . vessel who had seized all the stills, &c., in the 
neighbouring 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 journal. 

^^ 27 tk August, 1814— The wind, to which we re- 
signed 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 lo- 
comotive-— 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 morn- 

VOL. Ill, z 


been as yet inadequately performed, for the vast num* 
ber 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. lona 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 17th 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 
endeavoured to have raised some of these monuments. 
The celebrated ridges called Jomaire ndn Righrean^ or 
Graves of the Kangs, 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 viola- 
tion ; nor am I any sturdy believer in their being regu- 
larly ticketed off by inscripitions 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 doi^btless as powerful in their day, but now ui^ 

DIARY — lONA. 245 

known— ^ar^n^ quia vote sacro. A few weeks' labour of 
Shakspieare, an obscure player, has done more for the 
memory of Macbeth than all the g^fts/ wealth, and mo- 
numents of this cemetery of princes have been able to 
secure to the rest of its inhabitants. It also occurred to 
me in lona (as it has on many similar occasions) that 
the traditional recollections concerning the monks them- 
selves are wonderfully faint, contrasted with the beauti- 
ful 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, lona, 
&c. &c. &c., they can tell nothing but that such a race 
existed, and inhabited the stately ruins of these monas- 
teries. The quiet, slow, and uniform life of those re- 
cluse 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 thun- 
dering over rock and precipice, which, less deep and pro- 
found in itself, leaves on the minds of the terrified spec- 
tators those deep impressions of awe and wonder which 
are most readily handed down to posterity. 

^^ Among the various monuments exhibited at lona, 
is one where a Maclean lies in'the same grave with one 
of the Macfies or Macdu£Gies 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 per- 
haps 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 sup- 
posed ancestor of the Stewarts, called Paul Pearaon, 
or Paul the purse-bearer (treasure to the King of Scot- 
land), is said to lie under a stone near the Lords- of the 
jbles. Most of the monumaits engrayed by Pennant 
are still in the same stat6 of presieryation, as are the few 
ancient crosses which are leffc. What a sight lonamust 
have been, when 360 crosses, of the same size and beatt- 
tiful 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 sdy any thing concerning the antiquity of 
these ruins, but I conceive those of the nunnery 
and of the ReUig nan Oran, or Oran's chapel, are de- 
cidedly the most ancient. Upon the cathedral and build- 
ings attached to it, there are marks of repairs at differ- 
ent times, some of them of a late date, bdng obvioudy 
designed not to ^arge the buildings^ but to retrench 
them. We take a reluctant leave of lona, and go on 

*' The haze and dullness of the atmosphere seem to 
render it dubious if we can proceed, as we intend- 
ed, to Staffa to-day — for mist among these islands is 
rather unpleasant. Erskine reads prayers on dedt to 
all hands, and introduces a very apt allusion to our be* 
ing 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 
Serviee, composed by the Rev. Mr Brunton.* A plea* 
sore vessel lies under our lee from Belfast, with an Irish 

• The Rev. Alexander Brunton, D.D., now (18S0) Professor of 
Oriental Languages in the Uniyersity of Edinbnigfa. 

party rdated to Macniel of Colonsay. The basse is fiist 
d^enerating into downright rain, and ^t right heavy 
— ^iT'erifying the words of CoUms-* 

* And thither where beneath the ihowery west 
The mighty Kings of three fair reakss are laid.* 

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 Boosh- 
ala, we landed at a creek near the Cormorant's cave. 
The mist now returned so thick as to hide all view of 
lona, 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-hall^ as l^ey 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 
thimder. Here I gave up my research, and returned to 
my companions, who had not been more fortunate. As^ 
night was now fsEdling, we resolved to go aboard and 
postpone the adventure of the enchanted cavern until 
next day. The yacht came to an anchor with the pur- 
pose of remaining off the island all night, but the hard- 
ness of the ground, and the weather becoming squally, 
obliged us to return to our safer mooring at Y-Columb- 

** 29fA August^ 1814. — Night squally and raiiijr^ — 
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 columna 
placed in an oblique or sloping position. In this way. 


you land at once on the flat causeway, fonned 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 whidb 
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 pre- 
cipice, 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 be- 
tween the pillars, and resembling a sort of chasing of 
yellow or cream-coloured marble filling the interstices of 
the roof — the corresponding variety below, where the 
ocean rolls over a red, and in some places, a violet- 
coloured rock, the basis of the basaltic pillars — ^the 
dreadful noise of those august billows so well corres- 
ponding with the grandeur of the scene — are all circunb- 
stances 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 some- 
thing of the matter. It is, however, impossible to com- 
pare 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 

DIARY — STAFF A — 1 814. 249 

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 corres- 
pond. . 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. Stafia, 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 kind. 

" 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 purpose, 

* So thick was the mist on the ocean green» 
Nor cape nor headland could be seen.' 

It was late before we came to anchor in a small bay pre- 
sented 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 cart- 


roadj we resolred to trust to its guidaxiee, as we knew 
we must be near the house. We therefore went ashore 
with our servants, d la bonne aventure, under a drizzling 
rain. This was soon a matter of little consequence, for 
the neces»ty of crossing a. swollen brook wetted me con-* 
siderably, and Erskine, whose foot slipped, most com- 
pletely. 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 recolleetion of our unplea* 
sant voyage and journey. 

•* 30/ft Augtistf 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 as^ for one day only — but even 
this could not be, our time wearing short. Torloisk is 
finely situated upon the coast of Mull, feeing 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 ex- 
pense and patience on the part of the proprietors, with 
attention to planting in proper places at first, and in 
keeping up fences afterward, are awanting 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 Stafia- 



Macdonald i» just come to his house of Ulv« ; this is a 
sort of unpleasant dilemma^ for we cannot now go there 
without some neglect towards Mrs Maclean Clepfaane ; 
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. Howerer, 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 main- 
land. We had not long pursued our voyage before we 
found it was like to be a very alow 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 amus^nent 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 wind. 

" 3lst Auffusty 1814. — Went on deck between three 
and four in the morning, and found the vessel almost 
motionless in a calm sea, scarce three ndles advanced on 
her voyage. We had, however, rounded the north- 
western side of Mull, and were advandng between the 
north-eastern side and the rocky and wild shores of Ard^ 
namurchan 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 Ardnamurdian, a large old castle, called Min- 
gary . It appears to be surrounded with a very high waD, 
fonning a kind of polygon, in order to adapt itself to 


the angles of a precipice overhanging the sea, on wUch 
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 17th century. 
The whole, as seen with a spyglass, 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 ac- 
quired that name from a desperate battle fought between 
an ancient Lord of the Isles and his son. The latter 
was assisted by the McLeans of Mull, then in the pleni- 
tude of their power, but was defeated. This was a sea- 
f^g^t ; gallies being employed on each side. It has be- 
queathed a name to a famous pibroch. 

" Proceeding southward, we open the beautiful bay of 
Tobermory, or Mary's Well. The mouth of this fine na- 
tural 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 four- 
pence per foot ; and behind are huts, much superior to 
the ordinary sheds of the country, which pay only two- 
pence per foot. The town is all built upon a regular 
plan, laid down by the Society. The new part is rea- 
sonably clean, and the old not unreasonably dirty. We 
landed at an excellent quay, which is not yet finished. 

DIARY — AUGUST 31, 1814 — ^TOBERMORY. 253 

and found the little place looked thriving and active. 
The people were getting in their patches of com ; 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 dis- 
agreeable 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 eflFectually 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 Ardna- 
murchan mountains closing the scene to the north, almost 
justify the eulogium of Sacheverel, who, in 1688, de- 
clared the bay of Tobermory might equal any prospect 
in Italy. It is said that Sacheverel made some money 
by weighing up the treasures lost in the Florida, a vessel 
of the Spanish Armada, which was wrecked in the har- 
bour. He himself affirms, that though the use of diving- 
bells was at first successful, yet the attempt was after- 
wards disconcerted by bad weather. 

*' Tobermory takes its name from a spring dedicated 
to the Virgin, which was graced by a chatpel ; 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 Steven- 
son, whose judgment is unquestionable, thinks that the 
village should have been built on the island called Col- 
vay, and united to the continent by a key, or causeway, 
built along the southermost channel, which is very shal- 
low. By this means the people would have been much 
nearer the fishings, than retired into the depth of the bay. 


** About three o'clod: we get on board, and a biu^ 
and favourable breeze arises whicb carries us smoothly- 
down the Sound. We soon pass Alios, with its frag^ 
ment of a castle, behind which is the house of Mr Max- 
well (an odd name for this country), chamberlain to the 
Duke of Argyle, which reminds ma 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 ^de, pass the 
ruins of a small fortalice, called Donagail, situated as 
usual on a predpice overhanging the sea. The ^ woody 
Morven,' thoi]^h the quantity of shaggy diminutive 
copse, which springs up where it obtains any shelter, 
stUl shows that it must once have merited the epithet, 
is now, as visible from the Sound of Midi, a bare coun- 
try — of which the hills towards the sea have a slope 
much resembling those in Selkirkshire, and accordingly 
afford excellent pasture, and around several famir-houses 
well cultivated and improved fields. I think I observe 
considerable improvement in husbandry, even since I 
was here Ide&t i but there is a difference in coming from 
Oban and Cape Wrath. — Open Loch AUine, a beauti- 
ful salt-water lake, with a narrow outlet to the Sound. 
It is surrounded by round hills, sweetly firinged 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 every thing. 
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 
Ardtomish, to which the Lords of the Isles sununoned 
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 

DIARY — ^AUGUST 31, 1614. 255 

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, skirt- 
ing the bay on the western ride, partly elifiy, 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 white-washed 
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 tiU 
we open the Loch Liimhe, 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 du- 
bious. Had the canal been of more moderate depth, 
and the burdens imposed upon passing vessels less ex- 
pensive, 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 locks, &c. 
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 moun- 
tainous country. Ahead of us, in the mouth of Loch 
Linnbe, lies die low and fertile isle of Lismore, for- 
merly the appanage of the Bishops of ihe Isles, who, as 
usual, knew where to choose diurdb patrimony. The 
coast of the Mull, on the right hand of the Sound, has 
a black, ru^^d, and unimproved character. Above 
Seallister bay are symptoms of improvement. Moon- 


light 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 sound or sign of their shock, 
The waves roll over the Lady's rock.* 

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 ofiFended 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 bet- 
ing 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 morn- 
ing. 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 pro- 
minent. Walk on deck, admiring this romantic prospect 
until ten ; then below, and turn in. 

" 1^^ September y 1814. — Rise betwixt six and seven, 
and having discreetly secured our breakfast, take boat for 
the old castle, of Dunstaffnage, situated upon a promon- 
tory 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 

DIARY — SEPT. 1, 1814 DUKST4FFNAGE. 257 

Lismore, where a Catholic Bishop, Chisholm, has estab- 
lished a seminary of young men intended for priests, and 
what is a better thing, a valuable lime-work. Report 
i^aks 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, Dumfermiine, 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 as- 
signed as an appanage, the first possessor being a natural 
sou of an Earl of Argyle. The shell of the castle, for 
little more now remains, bears marks of extreme anti- 
quity. It is square in form, with round towers at three 
of the angles, and is situated upon a lofty precipice, care- 
fully 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 in- 
accessible. . 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 con- 
sumed by fire in 1 7 1 5. It is said that the nephew of the 
proprietor was the incendiary. We went into the apart- 
ments, and found they did not exceed the promise of the 
exterior ; but they admitted us to walk upon the battle- 
ments of the old castle, which displayed a most splendid 
prospect. Beneath', and far projected into the loch, were 

VOL. III. y 


seen die woods and houses of Campbdl of Lochnell, A 
little sttmmer4iDii8e, upon an emineDce, beloBg^g to th» 
wooded bank, resembles an ancient monum^it. On the 
sight, Loeh Btive^ after pouring itswaters lUie a furious 
eataract over a strait called Connell-ferry, comes between 
the castle and a round island belonging to its demesne^ 
and neariy 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 Beregfentumf once, it is said, a British capital 
eity ; and, as our informant told us, the largest market- 
town in Scotland. Of this splendour are no remains but 
a few trenches and excavations, which the distance did 
not allow us to examine. The . ancient maasonry of Dun- 
staflhage is mouldering fast under time and neglect. The 
foundations are banning to decay, and exhibit gapslie* 
tween the rock and the wall ; and the battlements are be^ 
come ruinous. The inner court is ^icumbered 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 die castle, gave symp* 
toms of decay in the family of Dunstafinage. We were 
told of some andent spurs and other curiosities preserved 
in the castle, but they were locked up. In the vicinity 
of the castle is a chapel which had onoe been elegant, 
but by the building up of windows, &c, 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, par^ 
tieularly, have gone throng bodi stages of destruction, 
having been first repaired by the building-up of the 
beautiful shafted windows, and th^i the roof being suf- 
fered to £ei11 in, they became ruins indeed, but without 

DIAR¥ — SfiPT. 1, 1814 — DUNOLLY. 259 

any touch of the picturesque farther than their massive 
walls and columns may ^ord. Near the chapel of Dun*^ 
staffiiage is a remaarkable echo* 

** Reimbarked, and rowing about a mile and a half or 
better along the shore of the lake, again landed under 
the ruin's of the old castle of DunoUy. This fortress, 
which,. Uke that of Dunstaffnage, forms a marked feature 
in this exquisite landscape, is situated on a bold and 
precipitous promontory overhanging the lake. The prin- 
cipal 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 fhigments of other buildings, over- " 
grown 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 modem 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 mo- 
derate fortune. 

** This very ancient family is descended from Somer- 
led. 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 Gumming, in revenge of lus slaughter at Dumfricis, 
took a vigorous part against Robert Bruce in his strug- 
gles to maintain the independence of Scotland. At length 


tbe King, turning his whole strength towards MacDou- - 
gaily encountered him at a pass near Loch Awe ; but the 
Highlanders, being possessed of the strong ground, com^ . 
pelled Bruce toretreat, and again gave him battle at Dairy, 
near Tynedrum, where he had concentrated his forces* 
Here he was again defeated, and the tradition of the 
MacDougdl 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 toge- 
ther 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 
someVhat 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 Camp- 
bell, the Knight of Loch Awe, and the Knight of 
Glenurchy, Sir 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 connexion with the obnoxious Mac- 
Dougall. But a large appanage was allowed him upon 
the Mainland, where he founded the family of Glen- 

" The family of MacDougall suffered farther reduc- 
tion 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 represen* 
tative of the family fled to France, and his soil (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-uagh, in Arisaig. Stuart of Appin sent in- 
formation 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 re- 
solved 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 horse- 
man 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 saluta- 
tions, to point out Loch-nan-uagh on that map^ Mac- 
Dougall 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 die 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 Dunstaff- 


" The modem house of Dimolly 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 po- 
litely insisted upon our accepting fruit and r^eshments. 
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 re- 
turned 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 
fEonily misfortune, obtained leave to visit his parents for 
the first time after many years' service, but had now re- 
turned 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 Tcbar nan Oally or the 
Well of the Stranger, where our sailors supplied them- 

DIARY — OBAK. 263 

selves wHbL excellent water, which has been rather a 
scarce artide with us, as it soon becomes past a lands* 
man's use on board ship. On the sea-shore^ about a 
quarter of a mile from the castle, is a huge fragment of 
the rock cslleA plumb^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 C3acA 
mm Co»; 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 desir* 
ous to see a treasure said to be deposited beneath it. 
Enjoyed a pleasant walk of a mile along tlie beach to 
Oban, a town of some consequence, built in a semicir- 
cular form, around a good harbour formed by the opposite 
isle of Kerrera, on which Mrs M. pointed out the plac% 
where Alexander IL died while, at the head of a power- 
ful armament, he meditated the reduction of the He- 
brides. — The field is still called Dalrry — ^the King's 

^^ 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 iii the place. Heard of an active and industrious 
man, who had set up a nursery of young trees, whidi 
ought to succeed, since at pr^ent, whoever wants 
plants must send to Glasgow ; and how much the plants 
suffer during a voyage of such length, any one may con- 
ceive. Go on board after a day delightful, for the sere-- 
nity and clearness of the weather, as well as for the objects 
we had visited. I forgot to say, that through Mr Mac- 
Dougall'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 cele- 
brated Giant's Causeway : and Captain Wilson receives 
directions accordingly. 

"2rf Sept. 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 break- 
fast beneath it in style. The breeze is gentle, and quite 
favourable. It has conducted us from the extreme cape 
of Mull, called the Black Head of Mull, into the Sound 
of Hay. 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 suc- 
cession 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 Hay we are now passing, 
strongly recalls to my mind poor John Leyden and his 
tale of the Mermaid and MacPhail of Colonsay.* Pro- 

" • See Minstrelsy of the Border— Scott's Poetical Works, vol. 
iV', pp. 285^06. 

DIARY — SEPt. 3, 1814. 265 

bably the name of tte hero should have been MacFie, 
for to the MacDuffies (by abridgement MacFies) Colon- 
say of old pertained. It is said the last of these Mac- 
Duffies 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 thift 
favourable breeze, we are compelled to leave unvisited. 
Colonsay now belongs to a gentleman named MacNiel. 
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, whick 
is terminated by Y-Columb-kill, also now visible. The 
shores of Loch Tiia and Ulva are in the blue distance, 
with the little archipelago which lies around Staffa. 
Still farther, the hills of Rum C^n just be distinguished 
from the blue sky. We are now arrived at the extreme 
point of Hay, termed, from the strong tides, the Runs^- 
of Hay. 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 Day, having now attained the 
western side of that island. 

"3J September, 1814. — In the morning early, we are 
oflF Innistulhan, an islet very like Inchkeith in size and 
appearance, and, like Inchkeith, displaying a lighthouse. 
Messrs Hamilton, DuflF, and Stevenson go ashore to 
visit the Irish lighthouse and compare notes. A fishing- 
boat comes ofiF with four or five stout lads, without neck- 
kerchiefs or hats, and the best of whose joint gar- 
ments 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 

VOL. Ilf. z 


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 Inni- 
showen, which covers the entrance of Lough Foyle, 
with the purpose of running up the loch to see London-^ 
derry, so celebrated for its siege in 1689* But short 
tacks and long tacks were in vain, and at dmner-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.' 

In the evening, backgammon and cards are in great, re- 
quest. 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 pilot. 

" 4:th September, 1814. — Waked in the morning with 
good hope of hearing service in Derry Cathedral, as we 
iad felt ourselves under weigh since daylight ; but these 
expectations vanished when, going on deck, we found 


ourselves only half-way up Lough Foyle, and at least 
ten miles from Deny. Very little wind, and that against 
us ; and the navigation both shoally and intricate. Call- 
ed 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 JEolus shifted his trumpet, 
and opposed our exit, as he had formerly been unfavour- 
able 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 favourable^ than this specimen of 
Ireland. — A beautiful variety of cultivated slopes, inter- 
mixed 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 vil- 
las and gentlemen's seats, good farm-houses, 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 cultiva- 
tion interrupted by impracticable patches, which have 
been necessarily abandoned. Come in view of Green 
Castle, a laige ruinous cattle, said to have belonged to 


the Macwilliamd. The remains are romantically situated 
upon a green bank sloping down to the sea^ and are 
partly coveted 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 modem fortification and bar- 
rack-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 pro- 
perty to Lord Donegal ; other possessors only having 
long leases, as 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-7-the gentlemen go ashore with him in the boat, in 
order to put foot on Irish land. I shall defer that plea- 
sure 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 harbour. 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 ex- 
ceeding 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 inte- 
rest.* She was, indeed, a rare example of the soundest 
good sense, and the most exquisite purity of moral feel* 

* Harriet, Duchess of Buccleuch, died Aug. 24, 1814. 


ing, united with the utmost grace and elegance of per- 
sonal 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 inex- 
pressibly 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 
aflSicted survivor and his family ! 

" 6th 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 night-mare. 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 Per- 
rot, 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 resem- 
bles Dunnottar, but is on a smaller scale. The ruins occu- 
py 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 domes- 
tic offices — and the vestiges of a chapel. Beyond the 
bridge are an outer and inner gateway, with their de- 
fences* The large gateway forms one angle of the square 


cndosaie of the fortresBy and at the other landward 
angle is baQt a laige round tower. There are vestiges 
of similar towers occapying the angles of the precipice 
oredianging the sdu These towers were connected by 
a curtain, on which artill^ seems to hare been mounted. 
Within this drcoit are the mins of an establishment of 
feudal grandeur <m the laige scale. The great hall, 
forming, it would seem, one dde of the inner court, is 
sixty paces long, lighted by windows which aj^^ear to 
hare been shafted with stone, bat are now mined. Ad- 
jacent are the great kitchen and ovens, with a variety of 
other buildings, bat 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 down- 
wards £nom 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 harbour, especially if 
they had, as is believed, a descent to die cave from within 
the castle. It is difficult to conceive the use of the aper- 
ture to the land, unless it was in some way enclosed and 
defended. Above the ruinous castle is a neat farm-house. 
jVIrs More, the good-wife, a Scoto-Hibemian, received us 
with kindness and hospitality which did honour to the na- 
tion of her birth, as well as of her origin, in a house whose 
cleanliness and neatness might have rivalled England. 
Her chum was put into inmiediate 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 there- 
fore to be a privateer, or armed smuggler. 

*' Return onboard for breakfast, and then againjiake boat 
for the Giant's Causeway — Shaving first shotted the guns, 
aad agreed on a signal, in case this alarming stranger 

DIARY — giant's CAUSEWAY. 271 

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 harbour. As I was tired, and had a violent 
headach, I did not land, but could easily see that the 
regularity of the columns was the same as at Sta£fa ; 
but that Island contains a much more extensive cuid 
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-grey 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 colouring. 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 basal- 
tic ranges present 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 squad- 
ron. 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 
neighbouring scenery will still maintain the reputation 
of Bengore Head. The people ascribe all these won- 
ders to Fin MacCoul, whom they couple with a Scot- 
tbh giant called Ben-an something or othier. 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 1 
alas I 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 neighbouring coast. At present it is 
under a long lease to a Mr Gage, who is said to main- 
tain 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 wbh ill to 
any one, * May Ireland he 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 

DIARY— SEPT. 6, 1814. 273 

is a small islet, 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. 

" 6^A September^ 1814. — Under the lighthouse at 
the Mull of Cantyre ; situated on a desolate spot 
among rocks, like a Chinese pagoda in Indian draw- 
ings. Duff and Stevenson go ashore at six. Hamil- 
ton 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 apprehen- 
sive 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 re-embark 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, mojinted 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 Iiinistruliul, at the back of Islay, and on the Lewis. 
Thejr 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 pro- 
ceed for Greenock. About four drop anchor oflF 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 imfavourable for the mouth of 
Clyde, we resolve to weigh anchor and go into Lamlash 


*' 1th September, 1814. — We had amply room to 
repent last night's resolution, for the wind, with its 
usual caprice, changed so soon as we had weighed an- 
chor, 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 moveables below, and the eternal 
^ ready abouty* which was repeated every ten minutes 
when the vessel was about to tack, with the lurch and 
clamour which succeeds, sleep was much out of the 
question. We are not now in the least sick, but want 
of sleep is imcomfortable, and I have no agreeable re- 
flections to amuse waking hours, excepting the hope of 
again rejoining my family. About six o'clock went on 
deck to see Landash 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 ex- 
tremely well. It is indented with two deep bays. That 
called Lamlash, being covered by an island with aa 
entrance at either end, makes a secure roadstead. The 


other bay, whicli 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 Dunbar- 
tonshire, rising above each other in gigantic succession. 
About noon, a favourable breath of wind enables us 
to enter the mouth of the Clyde, passing between the 
larger Cumbray and the extremity of Bute. As we ad- 
vance 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 firom 
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 
Jiouse 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 sea-shore. 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 Cuillin, 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 
Jlighland 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 Wil- 
son, I have been myself the cause of all this contradic- 
tory weather. * It is all,' says the Captain to Steven- 
son, * owing to the cave at the Isle of Egg,' — ^from 
which I had abstracted a skull. Under this odium I 
jnay labour yet longer, for assuredly the weather has 
been doggedly unfavourable. Night quiet and serene, 
but dead calm — a fine contrast to the pitching, rolling, 
and walloping of last night. 

" 8^A September. — Waked very much in the same 
situation — a dead calm, but the weather very serene. 
With much diflSculty, 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 steam-boat for Glasgow. 
We took leave of our little yacht under the repeated 

DIARY CONCLUDED — SEPT. 8, 1814. 27^ 

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 to- 
gether 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 conse- 
quence 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 re- 
warded* by some unexpected gratification calculated par- 
ticularly for his own amusement. Thus ends lAy 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 humour 
on board, and objects of animation and interest when 
we went ashore — 

* Sed fugit interea— fugit irrevocabile tempus.' 













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 every where the warm yet 
sagacious philanthropist — everywhere the courtesy, based 
on the unselfishness, of the thoroughbred gentleman ; — 
and surely never was the tenderness of a manly heart por- 
trayed 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 DunstaflFnage ; but, knowing how it would 
aflFect 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 over- 


Of tlie 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 of 
that noble measure 5 and the dancing anapaests of the 
second show that he could with equal facility have ri- 
valled the gay graces of Cotton, Anstey, or Moore. 
This epistle did not reach the Duke of Buccleuch until 
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 Troill. 

To hii Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, Sfc. 8fc, Sfc, 

** Lighthouse Yacht in the Sound of Lerwick, Zetland, 

8th August, 1814. 

** Health to the Chieftain from his clansman* true I 
From' her true minstrel health to fair Buccleuch I 
Health from the isles, where dewy Morning weaves 
Her chaplet with the tints that Twilight leayes ; 
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. 
Healtli 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. 

17^ UTM or Sim waltsr scott. 

Lims rx Tsssx wmoM zetlxnoandorkney — death of thb 








I QrwsTiOJg if mny sasn ever drew his own character 
more fully or snore pleasingly than Scott has done in 
the preceding diary of a sx weeks' pleasure royage. 
We have before us, according to the scene and occasioD, 
the poet, the antiqnary, the magistrate, the planter, 
and the agncultaxist ; hat erery where the warm yet 
so^acsoiis philanthropist — erery where the courtesy, based 
oo the unselfishnesSy of the thoroughbred gentleman ; — 
and surely nerer was the tenderness of a manly heart por^ 
trayed more touchingly than in the cl<mng pages* I 
ought to mention that Erskine received the news of the 
Duchess of Boccleuch's death on the day when the party 
Linded at Donstaffnage; 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 over- 


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 wo, 
And eyes the flags of Britain as they flow. 
Hard fate of war, which bade her terrors sway 
His destined course, aikd 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 blessed 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-7- 
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." 

** Postscriptum, 

« Kirkwall, Orkney, Aug. 13, 1814. 
** In respect that your grace has commissioned a Kraken, 
You will please be informed that they seldom are taken; 
VOL. III. • 2 A 


It is January two yeafs, the Zethnd folks say, 

Since they saw tlie 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 Fm 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 dcserre it, 

But springs, Fm inform'd, from the Scotts of Scotstaryet) ; * 

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 'twas sure a Uve 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 night*caps 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 Truffhess and Luffhess 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, 


* 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 ar- 
morial bearings are entirely different. 


But Wilson^ the wind> and the current said do. 

We have now got to Kirkwall, and needs I must stare 

When I think that in verse I have once called it fair i 

'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 'tis time to release you — good night to your Graces V* 

To His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, 8fc, 

** Glasgow, Sept 8, 1814. 
" My dear Lord Duke, 

" I take the earliest opportunity, after landing, to 
discharge a task so distressing to me, that I find reluct- 
ance 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 
oflFering a single word of consolation to his affliction. I 
learned the late calamitous news (which indeed no pre- 
paration could have greatly mitigated) quite unexpected- 
ly, 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 attach- 
ment 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 heart- 
felt gratitude by one in my own. But selfish regret and 
sorrow, while they claim a painful and unavailing as- 



cendance, 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 any 
thing. 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 in- 
stant, 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, 
•ifvhile 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 ho- 
noured 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 requh'e 
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 mo- 
ment when I was collecting some trifles that I thought 
might give satisfaction to the person whom I so highly 
honoured, 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 honour 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 pro- 
duce ; and to set that matter in its just light is essen- 
tial to the business of this narrative. But I am not 
ashamed to confess that I embrace with satisfaction 


the opportanity 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 drcles 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 up- 
holding, when they do uphold, the religious institu- 
tions of their country, merely because they have been 
taught to believe that thdr own hereditary privileges 
and possessions derive security from the prevalence of 
Christian maxims and feelings among the mass of the 

T^ n\tlitt iSM^ Esq., Pod Office, Greenock. 

*' Bowhill, Sept. 3, 1814. 

^^ My dew Sir, 

^^ II i« not wilh the view of distressing you with 
vxy grWfi*» in cxrder to relieve my own feelings, that I 
i^diUv^ you at this moment. But knowing your attach- 
meul 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 dr- 
cumotanccii 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 io 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 £unily, 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 com- 
forts, 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 every thing selfish. Endeavouring to the last 
to conceal her suffering, she evinced a fortitude, a resig- 
nation, a Christian courage, beyond all power of de- 
scription. 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 expecta*^ 
tion, 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 


4eath, 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 melan- 
choly 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 religion. 

" I will endeavour 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 conve- 
nience I shall he 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, 


To His Grace the Duke of Biiccleuch, ^c, ^c. ^c, 

«* Edinburgh, Ilth Sept. I8U. 

" My dear Lord Duke, 

" I received your letter (which had niissed 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 writ- 
ing 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 affect- 
ing 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 for- 
titude 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 sta- 
tion, 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 com- 
fort 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 constitu- 
tion 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 in- 
dulgence 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 I has 
been recalled by the Divine Will to another and a better- 

'* 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 circum- 
stances, give much pleasure, it will, I trust, impose no 

" Mrs Scott desires me to offier 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 

VOL. III. 2 b 


I am ever, with much and Affectionate respect, your 
Grace's truly faitiiM humble serrant, 

Walter Scott." 

To J. B. S, Mbrrilt, Esq., MP., Worthing. 

"Edinburgh, September 14, 1814. 

«' My dear Morritt, 

" * At the end of my tour on the 2^d August' ! ! ! 
Lord h^lp us I^-this comes of going to the Levant and 
the Hellespont, and your Euxine, and so forth. A poor 
deril who goes to Nova Zembla and Thule is treated as 
if he had been eraly walking as far as Barnard Castle or 
CauIdshiePfl Loch.* 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 


• Lord Byron writes to Mr Moore, August 8, 1614 : — " Oh I I 
have had the most amusing letter irom Ho^, the Bttriek 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 cir- 
^es 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 
saya, is goae to the Orkneys in a *gtie of wind, during which wind, 
he affirms, the said Scott lie is sure is not at his ease, to say the 
least of it. Lord I Lord I if these home-keeping. mtniti^ had 
crossed your Atlantic or my Mediterranean, and tasted a little open 
bwithig in a white squall— or a gale in * the Gut,' — or the Bay of 
BlBcayy 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 Bssay upon the I'iaissions*' begin- 
ning with simple adultery, and compounding it as they went alcng.** 
Life and Works, vol. Hi. 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," &c. 
Ibid. p. 98, 

LETTER TO MB MORRITT — ^SBPT. 14, 1814. 291 

tbe deatk of the beautiful, the kind, the affectionate, and 
generous Duchess of Buccleuoh 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 af- 
fable address eould give to those virtues by which sh^ 
was raised still higher than'by rank- As she always dis- 
tinguished me by her regard and confidence, and as I 
had many opportunities of seeing her in the active dis- 
charge of duties in which she rather resembled a d». 
scended 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 
fai^ station and commanding -fortune which so oftek 
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 diock, will add strength of con- 
stitution to support him in the stn^^e. He has writ- 
ten to me on the occasion in a style becoming a man 
and a Christian, subnaissiv^ to the will of God, and will- 
ing to avail himself of the consolations which remain 
among Im 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 con- 
temner 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 ^ave me reseon to think they 


loved me, and I returned their regard inith 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 recovery. 

** I will shortly mention the train of our voyage, re- 
serving particulars till another day. We sailed from 
Leith and skirted the Scottish coast, visiting the Buller 
of Buchan and olher remarkable objects — went to Shet- 
land — thence to Orkney — from thence round Cape 
Wrath to the Hebrideis, making descents every where, 
where there was any thing to be seen — thence to Lewis 
and the Long Island — ^to Skye — ^to lona — and so fortb^ 
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 Rich- 
ardson, the inventor (discoverer I would say) of the cele- 
brated fiorin grass resides. By the way, he is a chatter- 
ing charlatan, and his fiorin a mere humbug. But if he 
were Cicero, and his invention were potatoes, or any 
'thing 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 bom 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 Edin- 
burgh Review, which can cure the infected. Once more 
yours entirely, * 

Walter Scott." 

Before I pass from the event which made August 
18^14 so black a month in Scott's calendar, I may be*ex- 
cused 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 charac- 
teristic 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 Shep- 
herd, 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 : — 

To^r Grace the Ditches* of Buccleuch, Dalkeith Palace* Favoured 
by Metsrs Grieve and ScoU, hatters, Edinburgh,* 

'* Ettrickbank, March 17, 1814. 

" May it please your Grace, 

** I have often grieved you by my applications for 

* .Mr Gneve was a man of cultivated mind and generous disposi- 
tion, and a most kind and zealous friend of the Shepherd.. 


this and that. I am sensible of this, for I hare had 
many instances of your wishes to be of service to me^ 
cottld 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 be^ 
neficialy or what may prove th^ bane. I have again 
and again received of your Girace's private bounty, and 
though it made me love and respect you the more^ I was 
nevertheless grieved at iU It was never your Grace's 
money that I wanted, but the honour of your counte- 
nance ; indeed my heart could never yield to the hope 
of being patronised by any house save that of Buccleuch, 
whom I deemed bound to cherish every plant that in- 
dicated any thing out of the common, way on the Braes 
of Ettridc and Yarrow*. 

'^ I know you will be thinking that this long prelude 
is to end with a request. No, IMbdam! 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 unappropria^d. 
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 Aeir lives. 
A single line, from a certain very great and very beau- 
tiful lady, to a coiiain Mr Riddell, * would ensure that 
small pendicle to the bard at once. But she. will grant 
no such thing I I<appeal to your Grace if she ra not a 

* Major BiddeU, the Duke's Chambedaia at Brankeome Castlei 

m 1 


very bad lady that? I am your Grace's ever obliged 
and grateful 

James< Hoaa,. 
Thb Ettbxqk. Shepherd/' 

Though the X>uke of BuccleucH would not dismiss a 
poor tenant merely because Hogg called him *^ a mean 
feUow," he had told StQtt tiiat if he aould find an unap^ 
propriated <' pendicK" such as this- letter seferred. to, 
he would most willingly bestow it on the Shepherd. It 
so happened, that when. Scott paid his first visit at Bow'^ 
hill after the death of the Duchess, the Ettnck Shep^ 
herd was mentioned :. " My fiiend," 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 favourite Braes of Yar« 

As Scott passed through Edinburgh on his return 
from hi& voyage,, the negotiation a& to the Lord of the 
Isles, which had been- protracted through several months, 
was completed — Constable ag^reeing to give fifteen hun- 
dred guineas for one half of the oopyright, while the 
other moiety was neiained 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 o£ 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 
sucbas to render it doubly conivenient for the Poet lo 
have this matter settled on his aurival in Edinburgh-^ 
and it may also be supposed that the progress of Waverley 


during that interval had tended to put the chief patties 
in good humour with each other. 

In returning to Waverley, I must observe most dis- 
tinctly that nothing can be more unfounded than the 
statement which has of late years been frequently re- 
peated 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 occur- 
rence then unprecedented in the case of an anonymous 
novel, put forth, at what is called among publishers, 
tlie dead season. A second edition, of 2000 copies, was 
at least projected by the 24th of the same month, * — that 
appeared before the end of Aug^t, and it too had gone 
off so rapidly, that when Scott passed through Edin- 
burgh, on his way from the Hebrides, he found Con- 
stable 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 L.612 in four .months, 
with a certainty of making it L.IOOO before the year is 
out :" and, in fact,, owing to the diminished expense of 
advertisihg, the profits of this fourth edition were to each 
party L.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 al- 
ready reached 40,000 copies. Well might Constable 

* See letter to Mr Morritt^ ante, p. 129. 


regret that he had not ventured to offer L.IOOO for the 
whole copyright of Waverley I 

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 re- 
ceived, during the progress of Waverley, from his firist con- 
fidant. My good friend, James Ballantyne, in his death- 
bed memorandum^ says, — " When Mr Scott first ques- 
tioned me as to my hopes of him as a novelist, it some- 
how 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-Honour 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 
TuUy-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, 
Bums, by his poetry, had already attracted universal 
attention to every thing Scottish, and I confess I couldn'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 

The only other friends originally intrusted 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.- 


Tlie latter did not, as vre have seen, receive the bocdc 
until it was completed; but he anticipated,, before he 
olosed the first volume, the station which jmUic 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 
dxinking-bout at Lucky Mac-Leary's, for the characters 
of the Laird of Balmawhapple and the Baron of Brad- 
wardine : and no less for Davie Gellatly, whom I take 
to be a transcript of William Rose's motley followe^p, 
commonly yqlept Caliban. * 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 titlepi^ will at first gain it in diese 
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 sen- 
t^ntiousness of some of our female moralists, that I think 
it can't fidl to strike any body 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 knowliedge of 
nature it contains, and all the real humour, may be 
thrown away. Sir Everard, Mrs Rachael, ' and the 
Baron, are, I think, in the first rank of portraits finr na- 
ture and ehaxacter ; and I could dqK>Be to lii^ likeness 
in any court of taste. The bdlad of St Swithin, and 
scraps of old songs, were measures of danger, if you 
meant to continue your concealment ; but, in truths you 

* Of Dayid Hinves, Mr Rose*s faithful and affectionate attend- 
ant» here alluded to, the reader will find some notices hereafter ; 
for "when he appeared at Abbotsford in my time he seemed to be • 
considered by Scott, not in the light of an ordinary servant, but VOA 
thcfKend of his master, ^and consequently as his own friend too. 


LBTTERa ON WAVERLfiY 1814. 299 

wear your disguise something after the manner of Bot>- 
tom, the weaver ; and in spite of you die truth will soon 
peep out." And next day he resumes, — ** We have 
finished Waverley, and were I to tell you all my admi- 
ration, 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 confideni». 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, tiiat 
I must give it as it stands :— « 

To Waiier Scott, Esq,, Abbotrford, 

" The Albany, Aug. 17, 1814. 

" My dear Scott, 

^^ I return some books of yours which you lent me 
* sixty years since* — and I hope they will leach 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 i* so, pray tell 
him fbom me that I think it excellent ia- every respect, 
and that I believe every word of it. Ever yours, 

M. G. Lbwis." 

Anotiier friend (and he had, I think^ none more dear), 
the late Margaret Maclean Clephane of Torloisk, after- 
wards Marchioness of Northampton, writes thus from 
Kirkness, in KimosB-slure, on tiie llth October :_'' In 


this place I feel a sort of pleasure, not imallied 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 — fVaverley, The 
question that rises, it is perhaps improper to give utter- 
ance 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 fan«y 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 I Mr , who- 
ever 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 regi- 
ment : — " 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 
Iiad, with some other circumstances, has induced people 

' To lay the bantling at a certain door, 

Where laying store of faults, they'd fain heap more.* 

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 humour, 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 
L.500 ; and, to encourage you, you may, when you 
send the MS., draw on me for L.lOO, at fifty days' 
sight — so that your labours 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 hav^ never seen ; but if people will, upon their own 
judgment suppose so, and also on their own judg- 
ment give you L.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 paren- 
tage of Waverley : nor, although he abstained from 
commimicating the fact formally to most of them, did he 
ever affect any real concealment in the case of such per- 
sons ; nor, when any circumstance arose which rendered 
the withholding of direct confidence on the subject in- 
compatible 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 l)eyond 
the cirde 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 
leaders at gaze, and above all, to escape the annoyance 
of having productions, actu£illy known to be his, made 
the daily and hourly topics of discussion in his presence. 
Mr JelSrey 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 abridge- 
ment. The Quarterly was far less favourable in its ver- 
dict. 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 atrain of quibble, which shows as 
comf^te blindness to the essential interest of the narra- 
tive, as the critic betrays on the subject of the Scottish 
dialogue, which forms its liveliest ornament, when he pro- 
nounces that to be ^^ a dark diah^pe of Anglified Erse." 
With ,th]B remarkable exertion, die professional critses 
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 plaeed by the side c^ the very few real master- 
pieces ^f prose fiction. Loftier romanee was never 
blended with easier, quainter humour, by Cervantes 
himself. In his familiar delineations, he had combined 
the strength of Smollett with the native dLegance and 
unaffected pathos of Goldsmith ; in his daiker scenes, he 
had revived that real tragedy which appeared to han^e 
left <Kir stage with the age of Shakspeare ; and dewbents 

_ J 


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-minH cast in 
Nature's most felicitous mould. 

Scott, with the coniSciousness avowed long afterwards 
in his General PreiGeice that he should never in all like- 
lihood have thought of a Scotch novel had he not read 
Maria Edgeworth's exquisite jueces of Irish character, 
desired James Ballantyne to send her a copy of Waver- 
ley 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; 
and the following answer, not from Scott, but from Bal- 
lantyne — (who had kept a copy, now before me) — ^is not 
to be omitted : — 


To Miss JSdget&orth^JEdgeworihstoum^ IreUmd, 

"Edinbuigh, 11th NoTember, 1814. 

" Madam, 

" I am desi^d by l4ie Author of Waverley to ac- 
knowledge, in his «name, the honour you have done him 
by your most flattering approbaticm of his work — a dis- 
tinction which he receives as one of the highest that 
could be paid him, and which he woidd have been proud 
to have himself stated his saase o^ only that being im- 
personal^he thought it more respectful to require my 
assistance, than to write an anonymous letter. 

" 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 dhe 
intercourse that tack place betwixt us while (ihj^ wbrk^ 


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 suc- 
cess 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 naivete in Irish character and humour, in 
which the Scotch are certainly defective, and which 
could hardly fail, as he thought, to render his delinea- 
tions 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'ts 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 truCf 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 favourite than which is best. Mr Henry 
Mackenzie agrees with you in your objection to the re- 
semblance 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 in- 
tended; but I believe the characters of humour grew 


upoa 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 ex- 
pected ere long 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 g^ve 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 uni- 
formly polished and sustained. I have seen three Can- 
tos. It will consist of six. 

'* I have the honour to be, Madam, with the utmost 
admiration and respect. 

Your most obedient 

and most humble servant, 
? James Ballanttnb.^ 

VOL III. 2 c 






1814— 1815, 

By the 1 1th of November, thea, the Loido£ the Isles; 
had made great progress, and Scott had also authorized 
Bailafttyne to negotiate among the booksellers for the 
publication of a second novel But before I go further 
into these transactions, I must introduce the circum- 
stances of Scott's first connexion with an able and amia- 
ble man, whose services were of high importance to him, 
at this time and ever after, in the prosecution of his 
literary labours* Calling at Ballantyne's printing-office 
while Waverley was in the press, he happened to take 
up a proof-sheet of a volume, entitled ^^ Poems, with 
notes illustrative of traditions in Galloway and Ayrshire^ 
by Joseph Train, Supervisor of Excise at Newton 
Stewart." The sheet contained a ballad on an Ayrshire 
tradition, about a certain " Witch of Carrick," whose 
skill in the black art was, it seems, instrumental in the 
destruction of one of the scattered vessels of the Spanish 
Annada. The ballad begins : — 


*f Why gallops the palfrey with Lady Dunore ? 
Who drives away Turnberry's kine from the shore ? 
Go tell it in Parrick, and tell it in Kyle»- 
Although the proud Dons are now passing the Moil,* 

On this magic dew, 

That in fiuryland grew* 
Old Elcine de Aggart has taken in hand 
To wind up their lives ere they win to. our strand." 

Scott mimediately wrote to the author^ begging to be 
included in his list of subscribers for a dozen copies, and 
suggesting at the same time a verbal alteration in one 
of the stanzas of this ballad. Mr Train acknowledged 
his letter with gratitude, and the little book reached him 
just as he was about to embark in the Lighthouse yacfal:. 
He took it with him on has voyage, and on returning 
home again, wrote to Mr Train, expressing the gratifi'* 
cation he had received from several of his metrical pieces, 
.but still more from his notes, and requesting him, as laid 
seemed to be enthusiastic about traditions and legends^ 
to communicate any matters of that order eonneoted 
with Galloway which he might not himself think of 
turning to account ; ^^ for," said Seott, ^^ nothing istt^ 
rests me so much as local anecdotes ; and, as the appli- 
cations for charity usually conclude^ Hib smallest dosmf* 
tion will be thankfully accepted." 

Mr Train, in a little narrative with which he hm 
favoured me, says, that for some years before this timft 
he had been engaged, in alliance with a friend of his, 
Mr Denniston, in coUectiog materials for a History ojf 
Galloway ; they had circulated Ksts of queries among 
the clergy and parish schoolmasters,, and had thus, and 
by their own personal researches, accumulated " a great 
variety of the most excellent materials for that purpose;" 

• The MuH of Cantyre, 



but that, from the hour of his correspondence with 
Walter Scott, he " renounced every idea of authorship 
for himself," resolving, " that thenceforth his chief pur- 
suit should be collecting whatever he thought would be 
most interesting to Aim;" and that Mr Denniston was 
easily persuaded to acquiesce in the abandonment of their 
original design. " Upon receiving Mr Scott's letter*' 
(says Mr Train), " I became still more zealous in the 
pursuit of ancient lore, and being the first person who 
had attempted to collect old stories in that quarter with 
any view to publication, I became so noted, that even 
beggars, in the hope of reward, came frequently from 
afar to Newton-Stewart, to recite old ballads and relate 
old stories to me.'* Erelong, Mr Train visited Scott 
both at Edinburgh and at Abbotsford ; a true affection 
continued ever afterwards to be maintained between 
them ; and this generous ally was, as the prefaces to 
the Waverley Novels signify, one of the earliest confi • 
dants of that series of works, and certainly the most 
e£Scient of all the author's friends in furnishing him with 
materials for their composition. Nor did he confine 
jiimself to literary services ; whatever portable object of 
rantiquarian curiosity met his eye, this good man secured 
and treasured up with the same destination ; and if ever 
a catalogue of the museum at Abbotsford shall appear, 
no single contributor, most assuredly, will fill so large 
a space in it as Mr Train. 

• His first considerable communication, after he had 
formed the unselfish determination above-mentioned, 
consisted of a collection of anecdotes concerning the 
Galloway gypsies, and " a local story of an astrologer, 
who calling at a farm-house at the moment when the 
goodwife was in travail, had, it was said, predicted 
the future fortune of the child, almost in the words placed 
in the mouth of John M*Kinlay, in the Introduction to 


Guy Mannering." Scott told him, in reply, that the 
story of the astrologer reminded him of ^^ one he had 
heard in his youth ;" that is to say, as the Introduction 
explains, from this M^Kinlay ; but Mr Train has,, since 
his friend's death, recovered a rude Durham ballad, 
which, in fact, contains a great deal more of the main 
fable of Guy Mannering than either his own written, or 
M'Kinlay's oral edition of the Gallovidian anecdote had 
conveyed; and — possessing, as I do, numberless evi- 
dences of the haste with which Scott drew up his beau- 
tiful Prefaces and Introductions of 1829, 1830, and 
1831, — I am strongly inclined to think that he must in 
his boyhood have read the Durham Broadside or Chap* 
book itself-T-as well as heard the old serving-man's Scot- 
tish version of it* 

However this may have been, Scott's answer to Mr 
Train proceeded in these words : " I am now to solicit a 
favour, which I think your interest in Scottish antiqui- 
ties will induce you readily to comply with. I am very 
desirous to have some account of the present state of 
Tumberry Castle — whether any vestiges of it remain — 
what is the appearance of the ground — the names of the 
neighbouring places— and above all, what are the tra- 
ditions of the place (if any) concerning its memorable 
surprise by Bruce, upon his return from the coast of Ire- 
land, in the commencement of the brilliant part of his 
career. The purpose of this is to furnish some hints for 
notes to a work in which I ami now engaged, and I need 
not say I will have great pleasure in mentioning the 
source from which I derive my information. I have only 
to add, with the modest importunity of a lazy correspon- 
dent, that the sooner you oblige me with an answer (if 
you can assist me on the subject), the greater will the 
obligation be on me, who am already your obliged 
humble servant, W. Scott," 


The recurrence of the word Twrnherry in the ballad 
of Elcine de Aggart, had of course suggested this appli- 
cation, which was dated on the 7th of November. ^^ I 
had often," says Mr Train, " when a boy, climbed the 
brown hills, and trarersed the shores of Carrick^ but t 
could not sufficiently remember the exact places and dis- 
tances as to whixsh Mr Scott enquired ; so, immediately 
on receipt of his letter, I made ^ journey into Ayrshire 
to collect all the information I possibly could, and for- 
warded it to him OTi, the 18th of the same month." 
Among the particulars thus communicated, was the local 
superstition that on the anniversary of the night when 
Bruce landed at Tumberry from Arran, the same me- 
teoric gleam which had attended his voyage reappeared, 
unfailingly, in the same quarter of the- heavens. With 
this circumstaitce Scott was n^uck struck. <^ Your in- 
formation," he writes on the 22d November, ^< was par- 
ticujlarly interesting and acceptable, espeeially that which 
relates to the supposed preternatural appearsmce of the 
£re, &c., wMch I lH)pe to make some use of." What use 
hB did make of it, if any^ reader has- foi^otten, will be 
seen by reference to stanzas 7 — 17 of the 5th Canto of 
4;he Poem^ and the notes to the same Canto embody, 
with due acknowledgmjent, tibe more authentic results of 
Mr Train's pilgrimage to Canidc 

I shall recnr presently to this communication from 
Mr Tnun ; but must pause £9r a moment to introduce 
two letters, both written in the same week with Scott's 
request as to the localities of Tumberry. They both give 
ns amusing sketches of his buoyant spirits at this period 
of gigantic exertion ; and the first of them^ which re- 
lates chiefly to Maturin's Tragedy of Bertram, shows 
how he ,could still continue to steal time for attenlion 
to the affisom of brother authors loss enei^etic than hmv 
selt . . V 


To^ Daniel Terry ^ Esq» 

*• Abbotsford, November 10, 1814* 
'* My dear Terry, 

** I should have long since answered your kind let- 
ter by our friend Young, but he would tell yoa of my 
departure with our. trusty and well-beloved Erskine, on 
a sort of a voyage to Nova Zembla. Since my return, 
I have fallen under the tyrannical dominion of a certain 
Lord of the Isles. Those Lords were famous for oppres«« 
sion in the days of yore, and if I can judge by the post- 
humous despotism exercised over me, they have not im*» 
proved by their demise. The peine firte et dure is, yoa 
know, nothing in comparison to being obliged to grind 
verses ; and so devilish repulsive is my disposition, that 
I can never put any wheel into constant and regular mo- 
tion, till Ballantyne's devil claps in his proofe, like the 
hot cinder which you Bath folks used to clap in beside 
an unexperienced turnspit, as a hint to be expeditious in 
his duty. O long life to the old hermit of Prague, who 
never saw pen and ink — much happier in that negative 
circumstance than in his alliance with die niece of King 

*• To talk upon a bfither subject, I wish you saw 
Abbotsford, which begins this season to look th« whim«^ 
sical, gay, odd cabin that we had chalked out. I have 
been obliged to relinquish. Stark's plan, which was 
greatly too expensive. So I have made the old farm- 
house my corps de lo^»9 with scmie outlying places for 
kitchen, laundry, and two spare bed-rooms, which run 
along the east wall of the farm-court, not without somo 
picturesque effect* A perforated cross, the spoils of 
the old kbk (rf Galashiels, decorates an advanced door^ 
and looks very well. This little sly bit of sacrilege has 
given pur spare rooms the nkme of ike chapel. I eai4 
nestly invite yon to ^pew there, which y«oii will fiad as 


commodious for the purpose of a nap aft you have ever 
experienced when, under the guidance of old Mrs Smol- 
lett, you were led to St George's, Edinburgh. 

<* I have been recommending to John Kemble (I 
dare say without any chance of success) to peruse a MS. 
Tragedy of Maturin's, author of Montorio : it is one of 
those things which will either succeed greatly or be 
damned gloriously, for its merits are marked, deep, and 
striking, and its faults of a nature obnoxious to ridicule* 
He had our old friend Satan (none of your sneaking St 
John Street devils, but the archfiend himself) brought 
on the stage bodily. I believe I have exorcised the 
foul fiend — ^for, though in reading he was a most ter- 
rible fellow, I feared for his reception in public. The 
last act is ill contrived. He piddles (so to speak) 
through a cullender, and divides the whole horrors of 
the catastrophe (though God wot there are enough of 
them) into a kind of drippity-droppity of four or five 
scenes, instead of inundating the audience with them at 
once in the finale, with a grand * gardez Teau* With 
all this, which I should say had I written the thing 
myself, it is grand and powerful; the language most 
animated and poetical; and the characters sketched 
with a masterly enthusiasm* Many thanks for Captain 
Richard Falconer.* To your kindness I owe the two 

* " The Voyages^ Dangerous Adventures, and Imminent Escapes 
of Capt. Rich. Falconer. Containing the Laws, Customs, and 
Manners of the Indians in Amerioa ; his shipwrecks ; his marry- 
ing an Indian wife ; his narrow escape from the Island of Domi- 
nico, &c. Intermixed with the Voyages and Adventures of 
Thomas Randal, of Cork, Pilot; «with his Shipwreck in the 
Baltick, being the only man that escap'd. His being taken by^ the 
Indians of Virginia, &c. And an Account of his Death. The 
fourth Editum. London. Printed for J. Marshall, at the Bibl^ 
in Gracechurch Street. 17S4." 
. On the fly-leaf b the following note, in Scott's handwriting :— 



books in the world I most longed to see, not so much 
for. their intrinsic merits, as because they bring back 
with vivid associations the sentiments of my childhood 
— I might almost say infancy. Nothing ever disturbed 
my. feelings more than when, sitting by the old oalc 
table, my aunt, Lady Raeburn^ used to read the lamen- 
table catastrophe of the ship's departing without Captain 
Fsdconer, in consequence of the whole party making 
free with lime-punch on the eve of its being launched. 
This and Captain Bingfield,* I much wisnfed to read 
once more, and I owe the possession of both to your 
kindness. Every body that I see talks highly of your 
steady interest with the public, wherewith, as I never 
doubted of it, I am pleased but not surprised. We are 
just now leaving this for the winter : the children went 

** This book I read in early youth. I am ignorant whether it is 
altogether fictitious and written upon De Foe's plan, which it greatly 
resetnbles, or whether it is only an exaggerated account of the ad- 
ventures of a real person. It is very scarce, for, endeavouring tA 
add it to the other favourites of my infancy, I think I looked for 
it ten years to no purpose, and at last owed it to the active kindness 
of Mr Terry. . Yet Richard Falconer's adventures seem to have 
passed through several editions." . , • • 

• ** The Travels and Adventures of William Bingfield, Esq., 
containing, as surprizing a Fluctuation of Circumstances, both by 
Sea and Land, as ever befel one man. With An Accurate 
Account of the Shape, Nature, and Properties of that most furious,, 
and amazing Animal, the Dog- Bird. Printed from his own Manu*^ 
script. With a beautiful Frontispiece. 2 Vols. l2mo. Lon- 
don : — Printed for E. Withers, at the Seven Stars, in Fleet Street. 
1753." On the fly-leaf of the first volume Scott has written as 
follows :— " I read this scarce little Voj/age Imaginaire when 1 
was about ten years old, and long after sought for a copy without 
being able to find a person who would so much as acknowledge 
having heard of William Bingfield or his Dog-birds, until the inde- 
&tigable kindness of my friend Mr Terry, of the Hay Market, 
made me master of this copy. I am therefore induced to think the 
book is of yery rare occurrence." 

*V0L. III. 2d 


yesterday. Tom Purdie^ Finella, and the greyhounds, 
all in excellent health ; the latter have not been hunted 
this season 1 1 1 Can add nothing more to excite your 
admiration. Mrs Scott sends her kind compliments* 

W, Scott." 


The following, dated a day after, refers to some lines 
which Mr Morritt had sent him 6om Worthing. 

foJlRSL MorrUt, JBsq^ M.P., Watiking. 

** Abbotsfordy Nov. 1 1, 18 U. 

" My dear Morritt, 

*< I had your kind letter with the beautiful vetses. 
May the muse meet you often on the verge of the sea 
or among your own woods of Rokeby 1 May you have 
spirits to profit by her visits (and that implies all good 
wishes for the continuance of Mrs M.'s convalescence), 
and may I often, by the fruits of your inspiration, have 
my share of pleasure I My muse is a Tyranness, and not 
a Christian queen, and compels me to attend to longs 
and shotts, and I know not what, when, God wot, I had 
rather be planting evergreens by my new old fountain. 
You must know that, like the complaint of a fine young 
boy who was complimented by a stranger on his being a 
smart fellow, * I am sair halded down by the bubbly jack.' 
In other words, the turkey cock, at the head of a family 
of some forty or fifty infidels, lays waste all my shrubs. 
In vain I remonstrate with Charlotte upon these occa- 
sions ; she is in league with the hen-wife, the natural 
protectress of these pirates ; and I have only the inhu* 
man consolation that I may one day, like a cannibal, eat 
up my enemies. This is but dull fun, but what else 
have I to tell you about ? It would be worse if, like Jus- 
tice Shallow's Davy, I should consult you upon sowing 


down the headland with wheat* My literary tormentor 
Id a certain Lord of the Isles, famed for his tyranny of 
yore, and not unjustly. I am bothering some tale of 
him I have had long by me into a 8C»rt of romanoev I 
think you will like it : it is Scottified up to the teeth, 
and somehow I feel myself like the liberated chiefs of 
the Rolliad, ^ who boast their native philabeg restmred/ 
I believe the frolics one can cut in this loose garb are 
all set down by you Sassenachs to the real agility of the 
wearer, and not the brave, free, and independent cha- 
racter of his clothing. It is, in a word, the real High« 
land fling, and no one is supposed able to dance it but a 
native. I always thought that epithet of Gallia Brac^ 
cata implied subjugation, and was never surprised at 
Caesar's easy conquests, considering that his Labienus 
and all his merry men wore, as we say, bottomless breeks. 
Ever yours. 

Well might he describe himself as being hard at work 
with his I/ord of the Isles. .The date of Ballantyne's 
letter to Miss Edgeworth (November 1 1), in which he 
mentions the third Canto as completed ; that of the com- 
munication from Mr Train (November 18), on which so 
much of Canto fifth was grounded ; and that of a note 
from Scott to Ballantyne (December 16, 1814), announ- 
cing that he had sent the last stanza of the poem : these 
dates, taken together, afford conclusive evidence of the 
fiery rapidity with which the three last Cantos of the 
Lord of the Isles were composed. 

He writes, on the 25th December, to Constable that 
he " had corrected the last proo&, and was setting out 
for Abbotsfoid to refi-esh the machine.'' And in what 
did his refreshment of the machine consist ? Besides 
having written within this year the greater part) almost 


I believe the whole)— of the Life of Swift — Waverley — 
and the Lord of the Isles — he had given two essays to the 
Encyclopaedia Supplement, and published, with an Intro- 
duction and notes, one of the most curious pieces of family 
history ever produced to the world, on which he labour- 
ed with more than usual zeal and diligence, from his 
warm affection for the noble representative of its author. 
This inimitable " Memorieofthe Somervilles'^ came out in 
October ; and it was speedily followed by an annotated 
reprint of the strange old treatise, entitled " Rowland's 
letting off the humours of the blood in the head vein, 
1611." He had also kept up his private correspondence 
on a scale which I believe never to have been exempli- 
fied in the case of any other person who wrote conti- 
nually for the press — except, perhaps, Voltaire ; and, to 
say nothing of strictly professional duties, he had, as a 
vast heap of documents now before me proves, superin- 
teilded from day to day, except during his Hebridean 
voyage, the still perplexed concerns of the Ballantynes, 
with a watchful assiduity that might have done credit to 
the most diligent of tradesmen. The " machine" might 
truly require " refreshment." 

It was, as has been seen, on the 7th of November 
that Scott acknowledged the receipt of that communica- 
tion from Mr Train which included the story of the 
Galloway astrologer. There can be no doubt that this 
story r.ecalled to his mind, if not the Durham ballad, the 
similar but more detailed corruption of it which he had 
heard told by his! father's servant, John M'Kinlay, in 
the days of George's Square and Green Breeks, and 
which he has preserved in the introduction to Guy 
Mannering, as the groimdwork of that tale. It has 
been shown ^ that the three last Cantos of the Lord of 
the Isles were written between the 11th of November 
and the 25th of December ; and it is therefore scarcely to 


be supposed that any part of this novel had been penned 
before he thus talked of " refreshing the machine." It 
is quite certain that when James Ballantyne wrote to 
Miss Edgeworth on the 11th November, he could not 
have seen one page of Guy Mannering, since he in that 
letter announces that the new novel of his nameless 
friend would depict manners more ancient than those of 
1745. And yet it is equally certain that before the 
Lord of the Isles vf as published^ which took place on the 
18th of January, 1815, two volumes of Guy Mannering 
had been not only written and copied by an amanuensis, 
but printed. 

Scott thus writes to Morritt, in sending him his copy 
of the Lord of the Isles. 

To J, B. S, Morritt, Esq. M. P. Worthing. 

" Edinburgh, 19th January, 1815. 
** My dear Morritt, 

" I have been very foolishly putting off my writing 

until I should have time for a good long epistle ; and it 

is astonishing what a number of trifles have interfered 

to prevent my commencing on a great scale. - The last • 

of these has been rather of an extraordinary kind, for 

your little friend Walter has chose to make himself the 

town-talk, by taking w^hat seemed to be the small-pox, 

despite of vaccination in infancy, and inoculation with 

the variolous matter thereafter, which last I resorted to 

by way of making assurance double sure. The medical 

gentleman who attended him is of opinion that he has 

had the real small-pox, but it shall never be averred by 

me — for the catastrophe of Tom Thumb is enough to 

deter any thinking person from entering into a feud with 

the cows. Walter is quite well again, which was the 

principal matter I was interested in. We had very 

nearly been in a bad scrape, for I had fixed the Monday 


on wliich he sickened, to take him with me for the Christ- 
mas vacation to Abbotsford. It is probable that he 
would not have pleaded headach when there was such 
a party in view, especially as we were to shoot wild- 
ducks one day together at Cauldshiels Loch ; and what 
the consequence of such a journey might have been, 
God alone knows. 

*^ I am clear of the Lord of the Isles, and I trust you 
have your copy. It closes my poetic labours upon an 
extended scale : but I daresay I shall always be dab- 
bling in rhyme until the solve seneseentem* I have 
directed the copy to be sent to Portland Place. I want 
to shake myself free of Waverley, and accordingly ha^e 
made a considerable exertion to finish an odd little tale 
within such time as will mistify the public, I trust — ^un- 
less they suppose me to be Briareus. Two volumes are 
already printed, and the only persons in my confidence, 
W. Erskine, and Ballantyne, are of opinion that it is 
much more interesting than Waverley. It is a tale of 
private life, and only varied by the perilous exploits of 
smugglers and excisemen. The success of Waverley 
has given me a spare hundred or two, which I have 
resolved to spend in London this spring, bringing up 
Charlotte and Sophia with me. I do not forget my 
English friends — ^but I fear they will forget me, unless 
I show face now and then. My correspondence gra- 
dually drops, as must happen when people do not meet ; 
and I long to see Ellis, Heber, Gifford, and one or two 
more. I do not include Mrs Morritt and you, because 
we are much nearer neighbours, and within a whoop and 
a holla in comparison.' I think we should come up 
by sea, if I were not a little afraid of Charlotte being 
startled by the March winds — ^for our vacation begins 
1 2th March. 
" You will have heard of poor Caberfee's death? 


What a pity it is he should hsave outlived his promising 
young representative. His state waB truly pitiable — all 
his fine faculties lost in paralytic imbecility, and yet not 
so entirely so, but that he perceived his deprivation as 
in a glass darkly. Sometimes he was fretful and anxious 
because he did not see his son ; sometimes he ezpostu** 
lated and complained that his boy had been allowed to 
die without his seeing him ; and sometimes, in a less 
clouded state of intellect, he was sensible of, and lament* 
ed his loss in its full extent. These, indeed, are the 
* fears of the brave and follies of the ^se,' which sadden 
and humiliate the lingering hours of prolonged existence. 
Our friend Lady Hood will now be Caberfae herself. 
She has the spirit of a chieftainess in every drop of her 
blood, but there are few situations in which the cleverest 
women are so apt to be imposed upon as in the manage- 
ment of landed property, more especially of an Highland 
estate. I do fear the accomplishment of the prophecy, 
that when there should be a deaf Caber&e, the house 
was to fall,* 

• Francifi Lord Seafortb died 1 1th Januaiy, 181d, in his 60th year, 
having outlived four sons, all of high promise. His title died 
with him, and he was succeeded in his estates by his daughter^ Lady 
Hood, now the Hon* Mrs Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth. See some 
verses on Lord Seaforth's death, in Scott's Poetical Works, vol. viii. 
p. 392, Edit. 1834. The Celtic designation of the chief of the clan 
MacKenzie, Caberfae^ means Siaghead, the bearing of the faxnily. 
The prophecy which Scott alludes to in this letter, is also mentioned 
by Sir Humphry Davy in one of his Journals ; (see his Life, by 
Dr Davy, vol. ii., p. 72) — and it was, if the account be correct, a 
most extraordinary one, for it connected the fall of the house 
of Seaforth not only with the appearance of a deaf Caberfae^ but 
with the contemporaneous iq;>pearaDce of yarious different physical 
misfortunes m several of the other great Highland chiefs ; all of 
which are said — and were certainly believed both by Scott and Davy 
—to have actually occurred within the memory of the generation 
that has not yet passed away. Mr Morritt can testify thus far— 


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

" As for politics, I have thought little about them 
lately; the high and exciting interest is so completely 
subsided, that the wine is upon the lees. As for America, 
we have so managed as to give her the appearance of 
triumph, and what is worse, encouragement to resume 
the war upon a more favourable opportunity. It was 
our business to have ^ven them a fearful memento that 
the babe unborn should have remembered ; but, having 
missed this opportunity, I believe that this country 
would submit with great reluctance to continue a war, 
for which there is really no specific object. As for the 
continental monarchs, there is no guessing what the 
folly of Kings and Ministers may do ; but, God knows I 
would any of them look at home, enough is to be done 
which might strengthen and improve their dominions in 
a different manner than by mere extension. I trust 
Ministers will go out rather than be engaged in war 
again, upon any account. If France is wise (I have no 
fear that any superfluous feeling of humanity will stand 

that he *' heard the prophecy quoted in the Highlands at a time 
"when Lord Seaforth had two sons both alive and in good health— 
so that it certainly was not made apris coup/* 


in the way), she will send 10,000 of her most refractory 
troops to fight with Christophe and the yellow fever in 
the Island of St Domingo, and then I presume they may 
sit down in quiet at home. 

^' But my sheet grows to an end, and so does the 
pleading of the learned counsel, who is thumping the 
poor bar as I write. He hems twice. Forward, sweet 
Orator Higgins I — at least till I sign myself, dear Mor- 
ritt, yours most truly, 

Walter Scott."- 

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

I am sorry to have to add, that this severity of labour, 
like the repetition of it which had such deplorable effects 
at a later period of his life, was the result of his an- 
xiety to acquit himself of obligations arising out of his 
connexion with the commercial speculations of the Bal- 
lantynes. The approach of Christmas 1814 brought 
with it the prospect of such a recurrence of difficulties 
about the discount of John's bills, as to render it abso- 
lutely necessary that Scott should either apply again for 
assistance to his private friends, or task his literary 
powers with some such extravagant effort as has now 
been recorded. The great object, which was still to 
get rid of the heavy stock that had been accumulated 
before the storm of May 1813, at length determined the 
chief partner to break up, as soon as possible, the con- 


cem which his own sanguine rashness, and the gross 
irr^ularities of his mercurial lieutenant, had so lament- 
ably perplexed; but Constable, having already enabled the 
firm to avoid public exposure more than once, was not 
now, any more than when he made his contract for the 
Lord of the Isles, disposed to burden himself with an 
additional load of Weber's *^ Beaumont and Fletcher," 
and other almost as unsaleable books. While they were 
still in hopes of overcoming his scruples, it happened 
that a worthy firiend of Scott's, the late Mr Charles 
Erskine, his sheriff-substitute in Selkirkshire, had im- 
mediate occasion for a sum of money which he had some 
time before advanced, at Scott's personal request, to the 
firm of John Ballantyne and Company ; and, on receiv- 
ing his application, Scott wrote as follows :-^ 

To Mr John Bctttanii/ne, Bookseller, Edinburgh. 

" Abbotsford^ Oct. U, IdU. 
" Dear John, 

^' Charles Erskine wishes his money, as he has made 
a purchase of land. This is a new perplexity — ^for paid 
he must be forthwith — as his advance was friendly and 
confidential. I do not at this moment see how it is to 
be raised, but believe I shall find means. In the mean 
while, it will be necessary to propitiate the Leviathans 
of Paternoster-row. My idea is, that you or James 
should write to them to the following effect : — That a 
novel is offered you by the Author of Waverley ; that 
the author is desirous it should be out before Mr Scott's 
poem, or as soon thereafter as possible; and that 
having resolved, as they are aware, to relinquish pub- 
lishing, you only wish to avail yourselves of this offer 
to the extent of helping off some of your stock. I 
leave it to you to consider whether you should con- 


descend on any particular work to offer them as bread to 
their butter — or on any particular amount — as L.500. 
One thing must be provided, that Constable shares to 
the extent of the Scottish sale — ^they, howerer, ma- 
naging. My reason for letting them have this scent of 
roast meat is, in case it should be necessary for us to 
apply to them to renew bills in December. Yours, 

W. S." 

Upon receiving this letter, John Ballantyne sug- 
gested to Scott that he should be allowed to offer, not 
only the new hovel, but the next edition of Waverley, 
to Longman, Murray, or Blackwood — ^in the hope that 
the prospect of being let in to the profits of the already 
established favourite, would overcome effectually the 
hesitation of one or other of these houses about ven- 
turing on the encumbrance which Constable seemed to 
shrink from with such pertinacity ; but upon this inge- 
nious proposition Scott at once set his veto. ^^Dear 
John," he writes, (Oct. 17, 1814), "your expedients 
are all wretched, as &r as regards me. I never will 
give Constable, or any one, room to say I have broken 
my word with him in the slightest degree. If I lose 
every thing else, I will at least keep my honour un- 
blemished ; and I do hold myself bound in honour to 
offer him a Waverley, while he shall continue to com- 
ply with the conditions annexed. I intend the new 
novel to operate as something more permanent than a 
mere accommodation ; and if I can but be permitted to 
do so, I will print it before it is sold to any one, and 
then propose, first, to Constable and Longman, second, 
to Murray and Blackwood, to take the whole at such a 
rate as will give them one-half of the fair profits ; grant- 
ing acceptances which, upon an edition of 3000, which 
we shall be quite authorized to print, wiU amount to an 


immediate command of L.1500; and to this we may 
couple the condition, that they must take L.500 or 
L.600 of the old stock. I own I am not solicitous to 
deal with Constable alone, nor am I at all boimd to offer 
him the new novel on any terms ; but he, knowing of 
the intention, may expect to be treated with at least, 
although it is possible we may not deal. However, if 
Murray and Blackwood were to come forward with any 
handsome proposal as to the stock, I should certainly 
have no objection to James's giving the pledge of the 
Author of W. for his next work. You are like the 
crane in the fable, when you boast of not having got 
any thing from the business ; you may thank God that 
it did not bite your head off. Would to God I were at 
let-a^be for let-a^be; — ^but you have done your best, and 
so must I. . Yours truly, W. S." 

Both Mr Murray, and Longman's partner, Mr Rees, 
were in Scotland about this time; and the former at 
least paid Scott a visit at Abbotsford. Of course, how- 
ever, whatever propositions they may have made, were 
received by one or other of the Ballantynes. The 
result was, that the house of Longman undertook Guy 
Mannering on the terms dictated by Scott — namely, 
granting bills for L.1500, and relieving John Ballan- 
tyne and Company of stock to the extent of L.500 
more ; and Constable's first information of the transac- 
tion was from Messrs Longman themselves, when they, 
in compliance with Scott's wish as signified in the letter 
last quoted, offered him a share in the edition which 
they had purchased. With one or two exceptions, ori- 
ginating in circumstances nearly similar, the house of 
Constable published all the subsequent series of the 
Waverley Novels. 

I must not, however, forget that The Lord of the 


Ues was published a month before Gny Mannering. 
The poem was received with an interest much height* 
ened. by the recent and growing success of the myste- 
rious Waverley. Its appearance, so rapidly following 
that novel, and accompanied with the announcement of 
another prose tale, just about to be published, by the 
same hand, puzzled and confounded the mob of dulness.* 
The more sagacious few said to themselves — Scott is 
making one serious effort more in his old line, and by 
this it will be determined whether he does or does not 
altogether renounce that for his new one. 

The Edinburgh Review on the Lord of the Isles 
begins with- 

" Here is another genuine luzy of the Great Minstrel^ with all 
his characteristic Guilts, beauties, and irregularities. The same 
g^ow of colouring^the same energy of narration — the same ampli- 
tude of description are conspicuous — with the same still more cha- 
racteristic disdain of puny graces and small originalities — the true 
poetical hardihood, in the streugdi of which he urges on hb Pegasus 
fearlessly through dense and rare;, and aiming gallantly at the great 
ends of truth and effect, stoops but rardy to study the means by 
which they are to be attained ; avails himself without scruple oft 
common sentiments and common imag^ wherever they seem fitted 
for his purpose ; and is original by the very boldness of his borrow- 
ing, and impressive by his disregard of epigram and emphasis.*' 

The conclusion of the contemporaneous article in the 
Quarterly Review, is as follows ; 

*' The many beautifhl passages which we have extracted from 
the poem, combined with the brief remarks subjoined to each canto, 
win sufficiently show, that although the Lord of the Isles is not 
likely to add very much to the reputation of Mr Scott, yet this must 
be imputed rather to the greatness of his previous reputation, than 

* John Ballantyne put forth the following paiagr^h in the Soots 
Magazine of December, 1814 :— > 

** Mr Scotrs poem of the Lord of the Isles will appear early in 
January. The Author of Waverley is about to amuse the paUsB 
with a new novel, in three volumes, entitled Guy Mannerin^" 


to the absolute inferiontf of the poem itsel£ Unfortunately, its 
merits are merely incidental, while its defects are mixed up with the 
very elements of the poem. But it is not in the power of Mr. Scott 
to write with tameness ; be the subject what it wUl (and he could 
not easily have chosen one more impracticable), he impresses upon- 
whateTer scenes he descrft)es so much movement and activity, — ^lie 
infuses into his narratiye such a flow of life, and, if we may so ex- 
press ourselves, of animal spirits, that without satisfying the judg- 
ment, or moving the feelings, or elevating the mind, or even very 
greatly interesting the curiosity^ he is able to seize upon, and, as it 
were, exhilarate the imagination of his readers, in a manner which 
is often truly unaccountable. This quality Mr Scott possesses in 
an admirable degree ; and supposing that he had no other object in 
view than to convince the world of the great poetical powers with 
which he is gifted, the poem before us would be quite sufficient for 
his purpose. But this is of very infeiior importance to the public ; 
what they want is a good poem, and, as experience has shown, this 
can only be constructed upon a solid foundation of taste, and judg« 
ment, and meditation." 

These passages appear to me to condense the result 
of deliberate and candid reflection, and I have therefore 
quoted them. The most important remarks of either 
Essayist on the details of the plot and execution are an- 
nexed to the last edition of the- poem; and show such an 
exact coinddence of judgment in two masters of their 
calling, as had not hitherto been exemplified in the pro- 
fessional criticism of his metrical romances. The defects 
which both point out, are, I presume, but too complete- 
ly explained by the preceding statement of the rapidity 
with which this, the last of those great performances, 
had been thrown off; nor do I see that either Reyiewer 
has fidled to do sufficient justice to the beauties which 
redeem the imperfections of the Lord of the Isles ex- 
cept as regards the whole character of Bruce, its real 
hero, and the picture of the Battle of Bannockburn^ 
which, now that one can compare these works from some- 
thing like the same point of view, does not appear to 


me in the slightest particular inferior to the Flodden of 

This poem is now, I believe, about aspopular as Roke- 
by ; but it has never reached the same station in general 
favour with the Lay^ Marmion, or the Lady of the 
Lake. The first edition of 1600 copies in quarto, was, 
however, rapidly disposed of, and the separate editions 
in 8vO) which ensued before his poetical works were 
collected, amounted together to 12,250 copies. This, 
in the case of almost any other author, would have been 
splendid success; but as compared with what he had 
previously experienced, even in his Rokeby, and still 
more so, as compared with the enormous circulation at 
once attained by Lord Byron's early tales, which ;(¥ere 
then following each other in almost breathless succession, 
the falling off was decided. One evening, some days 
after the poem had been published, Scott requested 
James Ballantyne to caH on him, and the Printer found 
him alone in his library, working at the third volume of 
Guy Mannering. I give what follows, from BaUantyne's 
Memoranda: — *f * Well, James,' he said, • I have given 
you a week — ^what are people saying about the Lord of 
the Isles ?' I hesitated a little, after the Seushion of Gil 
Bias, but he speedily brought the matter to a point. 
^ Come,' he said, ^ speak out, my good fellow; what has 
put it into your head to be on so much ceremony with 
me em of & sudden P But, I see how it is, the result is 
given in one word — Disappointment' My silence ad- 
mitted his inference to the fullest extent. His counte- 
nance certainly did look rather blank for a few seconds ; 
in truth, he had been wholly unprepared for the event ; 
for it is a singular £akct that before the public, or rather 
the booksellers, had given their decision, he no more 
knew whether he had written well or ill, than whether 
a die thrown out of a box was to turn up a size or an 


ace. However, he instantly resumed his spirits, and 
expressed his wonder rather that his poetical popularity 
should have lasted so long, than that it should have now 
at last given way. At length, he said with perfect cheer- 
fulness, * Well, well, James, so be it — ^but you know we 
must not droop, for we can't afford to give over. Sincp 
one line has failed, we must just stick to something else :' 
— and so he dismissed me, and resumed his novel." 

Ballantyne concludes the anecdote in these words : — 
" He spoke thus, probably unaware of the undiscovered 
wonders then slumbering in his mind. Yet still he 
could not but have felt that the production . of a few 
poems was nothing in comparison of what must be in 
reserve for him, for he was at this time scarcely more 
than forty.* . An evening or two after, I called again on 
him, and found on the table a copy of the Giaour, which 
he seemed to have been reading. Having an enthusias- 
tic young lady in my house, I asked him if I might carry 
the book home with me, but chancing to glance on the 
autograph blazon, ' To the Monarch of Parnassus^ from 
one of his sutQects^ instantly retracted my request, and 
said I had not observed Lord Byron's inscription be- 
fore. * What inscription?' said he ; * O yes, I had 
forgot, but inscription or no inscription, you are equally 
welcome.' I again took it up, and he continued, ^ James, 
Byron hits the mark where I don't even pretend to fledge 
my arrow.* At this time he had never seen Byron, but 
I knew he meant soon to be in London, when, no doubt, 
the mighty consummation of the meeting of the two 
bards would be accomplished; and I .ventured to say that 
he must be looking forward to it with some interest. 
His countenance became fixed, and he answered im- 
pressively, * O, of course.' In* a minute or two after- 

* tie was not forty-four ti]l August, 1815. 


wards lie rose from his cliair, paced the room at a very 
rapid rate, which was his practice in certain moods of 
mind, then made a dead halt, and bursting into an ex- 
travaganza of laughter, * James,* cried he, * Til tell yoa 
what Byron should say to me when we are about to 
accost each other — 

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

** And then how germane would be my answer — 

** Art thou the still more famed Tom Thumb the small ?•' 

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

The whole of the scene strikes me as equally and de- 
lightfully characteristic ; I may add, hardly tnore so of 
Scott than of his printer ; for Ballantyne, with all his 
profound worship of his friend and benefactor, was in 
truth, even more than he, an undoubting acquiescer in 
" the decision of the public, or rather of the book- 
sellers ;" and among the many absurdities into which 
his reverence for the popedom of Paternoster Row led 
him, I never could but consider, with special astonish^ 
ment, the facility with which he seemed to have adopted 
the notion that the Byron of 1814 was really entitled to 
supplant Scott as a popular poet. Appreciating, as a man 
of his talents could hardly fail to do, the splendidly original 
glow and depth of Childe Harold, he always appeared to 
me quite blind to the fact, that in the Giaour, in the Bride 
of Abydos, in Parisina, and indeed, in all his early serious 
narratives, Byron owed at least half his success to clever, 
though perhaps unconscious imitation of Scott, and too 
trivial share of the rest to the lavish use of materials which 
Scott never employed, only because his genius was, 
from the beginning to the end of his career, under the 
guidance of high and chivalrous feelings of moral recti- 



ittde. . All tliis Lord Byron himself seems to have felt 
most completeiy— «s witness the whole sequence of his 
letters and diaries;* and I think I see many symptoms 
that both the decision of the million, and its index, *^ the 
deeision of the booksellers," tend the same way at pre- 
sent ; but my business is to record, as far as my means 
may permit, the growth and structure of ime great mind, 
and the effect which it produced upon the actual wit- 
nesses of its manifestations, not to obtrude the conjec- 
tures of a partial individual as to what rank posterity 
may assign it amongst or above contemporary rivals. 

The following letter was addressed to Lord Byron 
on the receipt of that copy of the Giaour to whidi Mr 
Ballantyne's Memorandum refers : I believe the in- 
scription to Scott first aiqpeared on the ninth edition of 
the poem. 

To the Right JJon, Lord Bt^on, London, 

<< My Lord, 

'^ I have long owed you my best thanks for the 
uncommon pleasure I had in perusing your high-spirited 
Turkish fragment But I should hardly have ventured 
to offer them, well-knowing how you must be over- 
whelmed by volunteer intrusions of approbation^— (which 
always look as if the writer valued his opinion at fully 

* E. G, ** If they want to depose Scott, I only wish they would not 
set me up as a competitor. I like the man<^4m4 admire his works 
to what Mr Braham calls Entusymusy., All such stuff can only 
veK him, and do me no good."— Byron (1813), toI. ii. p. 259. 

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




more than it may be worth) — unless I had to-day leara«* 
ed that I have an apology for entering upon the sub* 
ject, from your having so kindly sent me a copy of the 
poem. I did not receive it sooner, owing to my absence 
from Edinburgh, where it had been lying quietly at my 
house in Castle Street ; so that I must have seemed un* 
grateful, when, in truth, I was only modest. The last 
offence may be forgiven, as not common in a lawyer and 
poet ; the first is said to be equal to the crime of witch- 
craft, but many an act of my life has shown that I am 
no conjurer. If I were, however, ten times more mo- 
dest than twenty years' attendance at the bar renders 
probable, your flattering inscription would cure me of so 
unfashionable a malady. I might, indeed, lately have 
had a legal title to as niuch supremacy on Parnassus as 
can be conferred by a sign-manual, for I had a very flat- 
tering -offer of the laurel, but as I felt obliged, for a 
great many reasons, to decline it, I am altogether un- 
conscious of any other title to sit high upon the forked 

^^ To return to the Giaour ; I had lent my first edi- 
tion, but the whole being imprinted in my memory, I 
had no difficulty in tracing the additions, which are great 
improvements, as I should have conjectured aforehand 
merely from their being additions^ I hope your lord- 
ship intends to proceed with this fascinating style of 
composition. You have access to a stream of senti- 
ments, imagery, and manners which are so little known 
to us as to convey all the interest of novelty, yet so en- 
deared to us by the early perusal of Eastern tales, that 
we are not embarrassed with utt^ ignorance upon the 
subject* Vathek, bating some passages, would have 
made a charming subject for a tale. The conclusion is 
truly grand. I would give a great deal to know the 
originals from which it was drawn. Excuse this hasty 


scrawl, and believe me, my lord, your lordship's much 

obliged, very humble servant, 

Walter' Scott.'* 

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

The earlier chapters of the present narrative have an- 
ticipated much of what I might, perhaps with better 
judgment, have reserved for this page. Taken together 
with the author's introduction and notes, those anecdotes 
^of his days of youthful wandering must, however, have 
enabled the reader to trace almost as minutely as he could 
wrish, the sources from which the novelist drew his mate- 
rials, both of scenery and character; and Mr Train's 
Durham Garland^ which I print in the Appendix to this 
volume,* exhausts my information concerning the humble 

• See Appendix, post p. 405. 

• VISIT TO LONDON — MARCH, 1815. 333 

groundwork on which fancy reared this delicious ro- 

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

On the rising of the Court of Session in March, Mr 
and Mrs Scott went by sea to London with their eldest 
girl, whom, being yet too young for general society, they 
again deposited with Joanna Baillie at Hampstead, while 
they themselves resumed, for two months, their usual 
quarters at kind Miss Dumergue's, in Piccadilly. Six 
years had elapsed since Scott last appeared in the metro- 
polis ; and brilliant as his reception had then been, it was 
still more so on the present occasion. Scotland had been 
visited in the interim, chiefly from the interest excited by 
his writings, by crowds of the EngliA nobility, most of 
whom had found introduction to his personal acquaintance 
— ^notafewhad partaken of his hospitality at Ashestiel or 
Abbotsford. The generation among whom, I presume, 
a genius of this order feels his own influence with the 
proudest and sweetest confidence — on whose fresh minds 
and ears he has himself made the first indelible impres- 
sions — the generation with whose earliest romance of the 
heart and fancy his idea had been blended, was now grown 
to the full stature ; the success of these recent novels, 
seen on every table, the subject of every conversation;^ 
had, with those who did not doubt their parentage, far 


more tlian counterweighed his declination, dubious after 
all, in the poetical balance; while the mystery that hung 
over them quickened the curiosity of the hesitating and 
conjecturing many — and the name on which ever and anon 
gome new circumstance accumulated stronger suspicion, 
loomed larger through the haze in which he had thought 
fit to envelope it Moreover this was a period of high 
national pride and excitement. 

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

** O these were hours, when thrilling joy repaid 
A longj long course of darkness, doubts, and fears ! 
The heart- sick faintness of the hope delayed. 
The waste, the wo, the bloodshed, and tlie tears. 
That tracked with terror twenty rolUog years-^ 
AU was forgot in that blithe jubilee. 
Her downcast eye even pale Affliction rears. 
To sigh a thankful prayer, amid the glee 
That hailed the Despot's fall, and peace and liberty T • 

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

* Lord of the Isles, Csnto yi. 1. 


And now took place James Ballantyne's *^ m%hty con-* 
summation of the meeting of the two bards/' Scott's 
own aoeoant o£ it, in a letter to Mr Moore, must be in 
tbe hands of most of my readers ; yet I think it ought 
also to find a place here. " It was** (says Scott) " in the 
spring of 1815 that, chanciiig to be in London, I had the 
advantage of a personal introduction to Lord Byron* 
Report liad prepared me to meet a man of peculiar habits 
and a quick temper, and I had some doubts whether we 
were likely to suit each other in society. I was most 
agreeably disappointed in this respect. I £Dund Lord 
Byron in the highest degree courteous, and even kind. 
We n^t for an hour or two almost daily, in Mr Murray's 
drawmgroom, and found a great deal to say to each other. 
We also met frequently in parties and evening society, so 
that for about two months I had the advantage of a con- 
siderable intimacy with this distinguished individual. 
Our sentiments agreed a good deal, except upon the sub- 
jects of religion and polkics, upon neither of which I was 
inclined to believe that Lord Byron entertained very 
fixed opinions. I remember saying to him, that I really 
thought that if he lived a few years he would alter his 
sentiments. He answered, rather sharply, 'I suppose you 
are one of those who prophesy I shall turn Methodist.' I 
replied, * No — I don't expect your conversion to be of 
such an ordinar}' kind. I would rather look to see you 
retreat upon the CathoUb faith, and distinguish yourself 
by the austerity of your penances. The species of reli-* 
gion to which you must, or may, one day attach yourself^ 
must exercise a strong power on the imagination.' He 
smiled gravely, and seemed to allow I might be right* 

<^ On politics, he used sometimes to express a high 
strain of what is now called Liberalism ; but it appeared 
to me that the pleasure it afforded him, as a vebiclefdr 
displaying his wit and satire against individuals in offiee>. 


was at the bottom of this habit of thinking, rather than 
any real conviction of the politiiial principles on which 
he talked. He was certainly proud of his rank and an- 
cient family, and, in that respect, as much an aristocrat 
as was consistent with good sense and good breeding. 
Some disgusts, how adopted I know not, seemed to me 
to have given this peculiar (and, as it appeared to me) 
contradictory cast of mind : but, at heart, I would have 
termed Byron a patrician on principle. 

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

" I saw Byron for the last time in 1815, after I re- 
turned from France. He dined^ or lunched, with me at 
Long*s, in Bond Street. I never saw him so full of 
gaiety and good-humour, to which the presence of Mr 
Mathews, the comedian, added not a little. Poor Terry 
was also present. After one of the gayest parties I ever 
was present at, my fellow-traveller, Mr Scoit of Gala, 
and I set off for Scotland, and I never saw Lord Byron 
again. Several letters passed between us — one perhaps 
every half year. Like the old heroes in Homer, we 
exchanged gifts. I gave Byron a beautiful dagger 
mounted with gold, which had been the property of the 
redoubted Elfi Bey. But I was to play the part of 
Diomed in the Iliad, for Byron sent me, some time af- 
ter, a large sepulchral vase of silver. It was full of dead 



men's bones, and had inscriptions on two sides of the 
base. One ran thus: — * The bones contained in this 
urn were found in certain ancient sepulchres within the 
Jong walls of Athens, in the month of February, 1811.* 
The other face bears the lines of JuvenaL^* Expende — 
quot libras in duce summo invenies? — Mors sola fatetur 
quaiitula sint hominum corpuscida* 

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

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

** I think I can add little more to my recollections of 
Byron. He was often melancholy — almost gloomy ♦ 
When I observed him in this humour, I used either ta 

• Mr Murray had, at the time of giving the vase, suggested to 
Lord B3rron, that it would increase the value of the gift to add some 
such inscription ; but the noble poet answered modestly :— 

" April 9, 1815. 
* Dear Murray — I have a great objection to your proposition about 
inscribing the vase — which is, that it would appear ostentatious on 
my part ; and of course I must send it as it is^ without any alteration. 
Yours ever, Byron." ' > 

VOL. III. 2 F 


^rait till it went off of its own accord, or till some natural 
and easjr mode occurred of leading him into conversation^ 
when the shadows almost always left his countenance, 
like the mist rising from a landscape. In conversation 
he was very animated. 

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

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

^^ I rummage my brains in vain for what often rushes 
into my head unbidden — little traits and sayings which 
recall his looks, manner, tone, and gestures ; and I have 
always continued to think that a crisis of life was arrived 
in which a new career of fame was opened to him, and 


that liad he beea permitted to start upon it, he would 
have obliterated the memory of such parts of his life as 
friends would wish to forget." 

I have nothing to add to this interesting passage, ex- 
cept that Joanna Baillie's tragedy of The Family Le- 
gend being performed at one of the theatres during 
Scott's stay in town, Lord Byron accompanied the au« 
thoress and Mr and Mrs Scott to witness the represen*^ 
tation ; and that the yase with the Attic bones appears 
to have been sent to Scott very soon after his arrival in 
London, not, as Mr Moore had gathered from the hasty 
diction of his ** Reminiscences," at some " subsequent 
period of their acquaintance." This is sufficiently proved 
by the fdlowing note : — 

To the Hight Honourable Lord ^yron, ^c. ^c, 

"Piccadilly, Monday. 
" My dear Lord^ 

" I am not a little ashamed "of the value of the 
shiine in wlich your Lordship has enclosed the Attic 
relics; but were it yet more costly, the circumstance 
could not add value to it in my estimation, when con- 
sidered as a pledge of your Lordship's regard and friend- 
ship. Tlio principal pleasure which I have derived 
£pom my connexion with literature, has been the access 
which it has given me to those who are distinguished 
by talents and accomplishments ; and, standing so high 
as your Lordship justiy does in that rank, my satis- 
£eu!tion in m.aldng your acquaintance has been pro- 
portionally great. It is one of those wishes whitA, 
after having been long and earnestly entertained, I have 
found completely gratified upon becoming personally 
Juiown to you ; and I trust you will permit me to profit 


by it ftequently, during my stay in town. I am, my 
4ear Lord, your truly obliged and faithful 

Walter Scott." 

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

To WaUer Scott^ Etq. Edinburgh. 

" Carlton House, January, 19, 1815* 
" My dear Sir, 

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

- J. S. Clarke." 

On hearing from Mr Croker (then Secretary to the 
Admiralty) that Scott was to be in town by the middle 



of March, the Prince said — " Let me know when he 
comes, and I'll get up a snug little dinner that will suit 
him ;" and, after he had been presented and graciously 
received at the levee, he was invited to dinner accordingly, 
through his excellent friend Mr Adam (now Lord Chief 
Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland), who at 
that time held a confidential office in the royal house- 
hold. . The Regent had consulted with Mr Adam also 
as to the composition of the party. " Let us have," 
said he, " just a few friends of his own — and the more 
Scotch the better;" and both the Chief Commissioner 
and Mr Croker assure me that the party was the most 
interesting and agreeable one in their recollection. 
It comprised, I believe, the Duke of York — ^the late 
Duke of Gordon (then Marquess of Huntly) — the 
Marquess of Hertford (then Lord Yarmouth) — the 
Earl of Fife — ^and Scott's early friend Lord Melville. 
*' The Prince and Scott," says Mr Croker, " were the 
two most brilliant story-tellers in their several ways, 
that I have ever happened to meet; they were both 
aware of their Jbrte^ and both exerted themselves that 
evening with delightful effect. On going home, I 
really could not decide which of them had shone the 
most. The Regent was enchanted with Scott, as 
Scott with him; and on all his subsequent visits to 
London, he was a frequent guest at the royal table." 
The Lord • Chief Commissioner remembers that the 
Prince was particularly delighted with the poet's anec-« 
dotes of the old Scotch judges and lawyers, which his 
Royal Highness sometimes capped by ludicrous traits of 
certain ermined sages of his own acquaintance. Scott 
told, among others, a story, which he was fond of telling, 
of his old friend the Lord Justice-Clerk Braxfield ; and 
the commentary of his Royal Highness on hearing it 
amused Scott, who Often mentioned it afterwards. The 


mecdole is this : — Braxfield, wbenerer lie went on a par- 
ticular eiiemt, was in the habit of visiting a gentleman 
of good fiKtune in the n^hbom^MKyd of one of the assize 
towns, and staying at least one night, which, being both 
cf them ardent ehess-players, they usually concluded 
wiA iheir favourite game. One Spring circuit the battle 
was not dedided at daybreak, so the Justice^CIerk said, 
,^'« Weel, Donald, I must e*en come badi this gate in 
the harvest, and let the game lie ower for the present ;** 
and back he came in October, but not to his old friend's 
hospitable house ; for that gentleman had, in the interim, 
been apprehended on a capital charge (of forgery), and 
his name stood on the Porieous Solly ot Hst of those who 
weve about to be tried under his former guest's auspices. 
The laird was indicted and tried accordingly, and the jury 
retorneda verdict of guilt%f. Braxfield forthwith put on 
his cocked hat (which answers to the black cap in Eng- 
land), and pronounced the sentence of the law in the 
usual terms— ^' To be hanged by the neck until you be 
dead ; and may the Lord have mercy upon your unhappy 
soult" Having concluded this awful formula in his 
most sonorous cadence, Braxfield, dismounting his for- 
midable beaver, gave a familiar nod to his imfortunate 
acquaintance, and said to him, in a sort of chuckling 
whisper — '* And now, Donald, my man, I think Fve 
checkmated you for ance." The Regent laughed heart- 
ily at thfe specimen of Macqueen's brutal humour; and 
*' r&ith, Walter,*' said he, " this old big-wig seems to 
have taken things as coolly as my tyrannical self. Don't 
you remember Tom Moore's description of me at break- 

* The table spread with tea and toast, 
Death- warranta and the Morning Post T 

Towards midnight, the Prince called for ** a bumper, 
with all the honours, to the Author of Waverley,'* and 


looked significantly, as he was charging las €mn glass, 
to Scott. Scott seemed somewhat puzzled for a moment, 
but instantly recovering himself, and filling his glass to 
the brim, said, " Your royal highness looks as if you 
thought I had some claim to the honours of this toast. 
I have no such pretensions, but shall take good care that 
the real Simon Pure hears of the high compliment that 
has now been paid him." He then drank off Ms claret, 
and joined with a stentorian voice in the cheering, which 
the Prince himself timed. But before the company 
eould resmne their seats, his Royal Highness exclaimed^ 
** Another of the same, if you please, to the Author of 
Marmion — and now, Walter, my man, I have check- 
mated you for once" The second bumper was followed 
by cheers still more prolonged : and Scott then rose and 
returned thanks in a short address, which struck the Lord 
Chief Commissioner as " alike grave and graceful." 
This story has been circulated in a very perverted shape* 
I now give it on the authority of my venerated firiend, 
who was — unlike, perhaps, some others of the company 
at that hour — able to hear accurately, and content to 
see single. — He adds, that having occasion, the day after, . 
to call on the Duke of York, his Royal Highness said 
to him — " upon my word, Adam, my brother went ne- 
ther too near the wind about Waverley — ^but nobody 
could have turned the thing more prettily than Walter 
Scott did — and upon the whole I never had better fun. * 

The Regent, as was his custom with those he most de» 
lighted to honour, uniformly addressed the poet, even al 
their first dinner, by his Christian name, " Walter ►" 

Before he left town he again dined at Carlton House^* 
when the party was a still smaller one than before, and 
the merriment, if possible, still more free. That nothii:^ 
might be wanting, the Priuce sung several capital songs 


in the course of that evening — as witness the lines in 
Stdtan Serendih — 

*' 1 loye a Prince will bid the bottle pdss. 
Exchanging with his subjects glance and glass, 

' In fitting time can, gayest of the gay, 

' Keep up the jest and mingle in the lay. 

I Such Monarchs best our freeborn humour suit. 

But despots must be stately, stern, and mute.*' 

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

I transcribe what follows, from James Ballantyne's 
Memoranda : — " After Mr Scott's first interview with 
his Sovereign, one or two intimate friends took the 
liberty of enquiring, what judgment he had formed of 
the Regent's talents ? He declined giving any definite 
answer — but repeated, that ' he was the first gentleman 
he had seen — certainly the first English gentleman of his 
day ; — there was something about him which, independ- 
ently of the prestige, the « divinity," which hedges a 
King, marked him as standing entirely by himself; but 
tiS to his abilities, spoken of as distinct from his charm- 
ing manners, how could any one form a fair judgment of 
that man who introduced whatever subject he chose, dis- 
cussed it just as long as he chose, and dismissed it when 
lie chose ? ' " 

Ballantyne adds, " What I have now to say is more 
important, not only in itself, but as it will enable you to 
give a final contradiction to an injurious report which 
has been in circulation ; viz. that the Regent asked him 


as to the authorship of Waverley, and received a distinct 
and solemn denial. I took the bold freedom of request- 
ing to know Jrom him whether his Royal Highness had 
questioned him on that subject, and what had been his 
answer. He glanced at me with a look of wild surprise, 
and said, * What answer I might have made to such a 
question, put to me by my sovereign, perhaps I do not, 
or rather perhaps I do know ; but I was never put to 
the test. He is far too well-bred a man ever to put so 
ill-bred a question.' '' 

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

I ought not to have omitted, that during Scott's resi- 
dence in London, in April 18 15, he lost one of the English 
friends, to a meeting with whom he had looked forward 
with the highest pleasure. Mr George Ellis died on 
the 15th of that month, at his seat of Sunninghill. This 
threw a cloud over what would otherwise have been d 
period of unmixed enjoyment. Mr Canning penned the 
epitaph for that dearest of his friends ; but he submitted 
it to Scott's consideration before it was engraved. 








Goethe expressed, I fancy, a very general sentiment, 
wlien he said, that to him the great eharm and value of 
my £riend^s Life of Buonaparte seined quite independ- 
ent of the qiiesti(»i of its accuraey as to small details ; 
that he tamed eagerly to the book, not to find dates 
sifted, and countermarches analyzed, but to eontemplate 
what could not but be a true record of the broad im- 
pressions made on the mind of Scott by the marvellous 
revolutions of his own time in their progress. Feeling 
how justly in the main that work has preserved those 
impressions, though gracefully softened and sobered in 
the retrospect of peaceful and more advanced years, I 
the less regret that I have it not in my power to quote 
any letters of his touching the reappearance of Napoleon 
on the soil of France — the immortal march from Cannes 
— ^the reign of the Hundred Days, and the preparations 
for another struggle, which fixed the gaze of Europe 
in May 1815. 

That he should have been among the first civilians 
who hurried over to see the field of Waterloo, and hear 


English bugles senmd about the walls of Paris, could 
have surprised none who knew the lively concern he 
had always taken in the military efforts of his country* 
men, and the career of the illustrious captain, who had 
taught them to reestablish the renown of Agincourt and 
Blenheims, — 

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

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

'' Briusels, 2d July, 1815» 

*^ This country, the finest in the world, has been of 
late quite out of our minds. I did not, in any degree, 
anticipate the pleasure I should enjoy, the admiration 


forced from me, on coming into one of these antique 
towns, or in journeying through this rich garden. Can 
you recollect the time when there were gentlemen meet- 
ing at the Cross of Edinburgh, or those whom we 
thought such ? They are all collected here. You see 
the very men, with their scraggy necks sticking out of 
the collars of their old-fashioned square-skirted coats — 
their canes — their cocked-hats; and, when they meet, 
the formal bow, the hat off to the ground, and the pow- 
der flying in the wind. I could divert you with the odd 
resemblances of the Scottish faces among the pea- 
sants, too — ^but I noted them at the time* with my pen- 
cil, and I write to you only of things that you won't 
find in my pocket-book. 

" I have just returned from seeing the French wounded 
received in their hospital ; and could you see them laid 
out naked, or almost so — 100 in a row of low beds on 
the ground— though wounded, exhausted, beaten, you 
would still conclude with me that these were men ca- 
pable of marching unopposed from the west of Europe 
to the east of Asia. Strong, thickset, hardy veterans, 
brave spirits and unsubdued, as they cast their wild glance 
upon you, — their black eyes and brown cheeks finely con- 
trasted with the fresh sheets, — you would much admire 
their capacity of adaptation. These fellows are brought 
from the field after lying many days on the ground; 
many dying — many in the agony — many miserably 
racked with pain and spasms ; and the next mimicks his 
fellow, and gives it a tune, — Aha^ vous ckantez Men ! 
How they are wounded you will see in my notes. But 
I must not have you to lose the present impression on 
me of the formidable nature of these fellows as exem- 
plars of the breed in France. It is a forced praise ; for 
from all I have seen, and all I have heard of their fierce- 
ness, cruelty, and bloodthirstiness, I cannot convey to 


you my detestation of this race of trained banditti. By 
what means they are to be kept in subjection until other 
habits come upon them, I know not ; but I am con- 
vinced that these men cannot be left to the bent of their 

" This superb city is now ornamented with the finest 
groupes of armed men that the most romantic fancy 
could dream of. I was struck with the words of a friend 
— E. : ' I saw,' said he, ' that man returning from the 
field on the 16th.' — (This was a Brunswicker of the Black 
or Death Hussars.) — ' He was wounded, and had had his 
arm amputated on the field. He was among the first 
that came in. He rode straight and stark upon his 
horse — the bloody clouts about his stumpi — pale as 
death, but upright, with a stern, fijced expression of 
feature, as if loth to lose his revenge.' These troops 
are very remarkable in their fine military appearance ; 
their dark and ominous dress sets off to advantage their 
strong, manly, northern features and white mustachios ; 
and there is something more than commonly impressive 
about the whole effect. 

" This is the second Sunday after the battle, and 
many are not yet dressed. There are 20,000 wounded 
in this town, besides those in the hospitals, and the 
many in the other towns ;— only 3000 prisoners ; 80,000, 
they say, killed and wounded on both sides." 

I think it not wonderful that this extract should have 
set Scott's imagination effectually on fire; that he should 
have grasped at the idea of seeing probably the last 
shadows of real warfare that his own age would afford ; 
or that some parts of the great surgeon's simple phrase- 
ology are reproduced, almost verbatim, in the first of 
" Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk." No sooner was Scott's 
purpose known, than some of his young neighbours in 


the country proposed to join his excursion; and, in 
company with three of them, namely, his kinsman, John 
Scott of Gala — Alexander Piingle, the younger, of Whyt- 
bank (now M. P. for Selkirkshire) — and Robert Bruce, 
advocate (now Sheriff of Argyle) — he left Edinburgh for 
the south, at 5 a. m., on the 27th of July. 

They travelled by the stage-coach, and took the route 
of Hull and Lincoln to Cambridge ; for Gala and Whyt^ 
bank, being both members of that university, were anxi- 
ous to seize this opportunity of revisiting it themselves, 
and showing its beautiful architecture to their fiiend. 
After this wish had been gratified, they proceeded to 
Harwich, and thence, on the 3d of August, took ship for 

" The weather was beautiful," says Gala, *^ so we all 
went outside the coach from Cambridge to Harwich. 
At starting, there was a general complaint of thirst, the 
consequence of some experiments overnight on the cele- 
brated bishop of my Alma Mater; our friend, however, was 
in great glee, and never was a merrier basket than he made 
it all the morning. He had cautioned us, on leaving 
Edinburgh, never to name names in such situations, and 
our adherence to this rule was rewarded by some amusing 
incidents. For example, as we entered the town where 
we were to dine, a heavy-looking man, who was to stop 
there, took occasion to thank Scott for Ae pleasure his 
anecdotes had afforded him : * You have a good memory, 
sir,' said he ; ^ mayhap, now, you sometimes write down 
what you hear or be a-reading about? ' He answered 
very gravely, that he did occasionally put down a few 
notes, if any thing struck him particulaxly. In the after- 
noon, it happened that he sat on the box, while the rest 
of us were behind him. Here, by d^ees, he became 
quite absorbed in his own reflections. He frequently 
repeated to himself, or composed perhaps, for a good 


while, and often smiled or raiseJ'his hand, seeming com- 
pletely occupied and amused. His neighbour, a vastly 
scientific and rather grave professor, in a smooth drab 
Benjamin and broad-brimmed beaver, cast many a curious 
sidelong glance at him, evidently suspecting that all was 
not right with the upper story, but preserved perfect po- 
liteness. The poet was, however, discovered by the 
captain of the vessel in which we crossed the Channel, 
and a perilous passage it was, chiefly in consequence of 
the unceasing tumblers in which this worthy kept drink- 
ing his health.'' 

Before leaving Edinburgh, Scott had settled in his 
mind the plan of ^^ Paul's Letters ;" for on that same day, 
his agent, John Ballantyne, addressed the following let- 
ter, from his marine villa near Newfaaven — 

To Mestrs Constable and Co. 

•* Trinity, 27th July, 1815. 
" Dear Sirs, 

*' Mr Scott left town to-day for the Continent. He 
proposes writing from thence a series of letters on a pe- 
culiar plan, varied in matter and style, and to different 
supposititious correspondents. 

" The work is to form a demy 8vo volume of twenty- 
two sheets, to sell at 12s. It is to be begun immediately 
on his arrival in France, and to be published, if possible, 
the second week of September, when he proposes to re- 

** We print 3000 of this, and I am empowered to offer 
you one-third of the edition, Messrs Longman and Co. 
and Mr Mmrray having each the same share : the terms, • 
twelve months' aco^tance for paper and print, and half 
profits at six months, granted now, as under. Tlie over 
copies will pay the charge for advertising. I am, &c* 

John Ballantyne^ 


" Charge. 
22 sheets printing,— L.3 15 L.82 10 

145 reams, demy,— 1 10 217 10 


3000 at 8s. La200 
Cost, 300 

L.900 Profit— one-half is L.450." 

Before Scott reached Harwich, he knew that this offer 
bad been accepted without hesitation ; and thenceforth, 
accordingly, he threw his daily letters to bis wife into the 
form of communications meant for an imaginary group, 
consisting of a spinster sister, a statistical laird, a rural 
clergyman of the Presbyterian Kirk, and a brother, a 
veteran officer on half-pay. The rank of this last per- 
sonage corresponded, however, exactly with that of his 
own elder brother, John Scott, who also, like the Major 
of the book, had served in the Duke of York's unfortu- 
nate campaign of 1797 ; the sister is only a slender dis- 
guise for his aunt Christian Rutherfurd, already often 
mentioned; Lord Somerville, long President of the 
Board of Agriculture, was Paul's laird ; and the shrewd 
and unbigoted Dr Douglas of Galashiels was his ^^ mi- 
nister of the gospel." These epistles, after having been 
devoured by the little circle at Abbotsford, were trans- 
mitted to Major John Scott, his mother and Miss Ruther- 
furd in Edinburgh ; from their hands they passed to 
those of James Ballantyne and Mr Erskine, both of 
whom assured me that the copy ultimately sent to the 
press consisted, in great part, of the identical sheets that 
had successively reached Melrose through the post. The 
rest had of course been, as Ballantyne expresses it^ 
"somewhat cobbled;" but, on the whole, Paul's Let- 


ters are to be considered as a true and faithful journal of 
this expedition; insomuch, that I might perhaps con- 
tent myself, in this place, with a simple reference to that 
delightful volume. He found time, however, to write 
letters during his absence from Britain, to some others of 
his friends ; and a specimen or two of these may interest 
the reader. I have also gathered, from the companions 
of the journey, a few more particulars, which Scott's 
modesty withheld him from recording ; and some trivial 
circumstances which occur to me, from recollection of his 
own conversation, may also be acceptable. 

But I hope that, if the reader has not perused Paul's 
Letters recently, he will refresh his memory, before he 
proceeds further, by bestowing an hour on that genuine 
fnlgment of the author's autobiography. He is now, 
unless he had the advantage of Scott's personal familia- 
rity, much better acquainted with the man than he 
could have been before he took up this compilation of 
his private correspondence — -and especially before he 
perused the full diary of the lighthouse yacht in 1814 ; 
and a thousand little turns and circumstances which may 
have, when he originally read the book, passed lightly 
before his eye, will now, I venture to say, possess a 
warm and vivid interest, as inimitably characteristic of 
a departed friend. The kindest of husbands and fathers 
never portrayed himself with more unaffected truth than 
in this vain effort, if such he really fancied he was mak- 
ing, to sustain the character of " a cross old bachelor." 
The whole man, just as he was, breathes in every line, 
with all his compassionate and benevolent sympathy of 
heart, all his sharpness of observation, and sober shrewd- 
ness of reflection ; all his enthusiasm for nature, for 
country life, for simple manners and simple pleasures, 
mixed up with an equally glowing enthusiasm, at which 
many may smile, for the tiniest relics of feudal antiquity 

VOL. III. 2 a 


last, not least, a pulse of phjrsieal rapture for tlie 
*« circumstance rf war,** which bears witness to the 
blood of Boiifiiot and Fire the Braes. 

At Borussels, Scott found the small English garrison 
left there in command of Major-General Sir Frederick 
Adam, the son of his highly valued friend, the present 
Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scot- 
land. Sir Frederick had been wounded at Waterloo, 
and could not as yet mount on horseback ; but one of 
his aides^e-camp. Captain Campbell, escorted Scott 
and his party to the field of battle, on which occasion 
they were also accompanied by another old acquaintance 
of his, Major Pryse Gordon, who being then on half- 
pay, happened to be domesticated with his family at 
Brussels. Major Gordon has since published two lively 
volumes of " Personal Memoirs ;'* and Gala bears wit- 
ness to the fidelity of certain reminiscences of Scott at 
Brussels and Waterloo, which occupy one of the chap- 
ters of this work. I shall, therefore, extract the passage. 


Sir Walter Scott accepted my services to conduct bim to W*-. 
terloo: the GeneraUs aide-de-camp was ako of the party; He 
made no secret of his having undertaken to write something on the 
battle ; and perhaps he took the greater interest on this account in 
every thing that he saw. Besides, he had never seen the field of 
such a conflict ; and never having been before on the Continent, it 
was all new to his comprehensive mind. The day was beauti^ ; and 
I had the precaution to send out a couple of saddle-horses^ that he 
might not be fatigued in walking over the fields, which had been re. 
cently ploughed up. In our rounds we fell in with Monsieur de Costar^^ 
v^ith whom he got into conversation. This man had attracted so mach 
notice by his pretended story of being about the person of Napoleon, 
that he was of too much importaace to be passed by : I did notp 
indeed, know as much of this fellow's charlatanism at that time as 
afterwards, when I saw him confronted with a 'blacksmith of La 
Belle Alliance, who had been his companion in a hiding- place ten 
miles from the field during the whcde day ; a &ct which he cocdd 
not deny» But he had got up a tale so planaible and so pn^td^ 


that lie could afford ta bestow husli-money on the eompanioo of his 
flight, so that the imposition was bat little known ; and strangers 
continued to be gulled. He had picked up a good deal of infomuui 
tion about the positions and details of the battle ; and being natu- 
rally a sagacious Wallon, and speaking French pretty fluently, he 
became the favourite cicerone, and every Ce he told was takea for 
gospel. ^ Year afler year» until his death in 1824, he continued his 
popularity, and raised the price of his rounds from a couple of 
firancs to ^ye ; besides as much for the hire of a horse, bis own pro^ 
perty ; for he pretended that the fatigue of walking so many hours 
was beyond his pow^s. It has been said that in this way he rea- 
lized every summer a coujde of hundred Napoleons* 

^ When Sir Walter had examined every point of defence and 
attack^ we adjourned to the * Original Duke of Wellington ' at Wa- 
terloo, to lunch after the fatigues of the ride. Here he had a 
crowded levee of peasants, and collected a great many trophies, 
from cuirasses down to buttons and bullets. He picked up himself 
many little relics, and was fortunate in purchasing a grand cross of 
the legion of honour. But the most precious memorial was pre* 
sented to him by my wife — a French soldier's book, well stained 
with blood, and containing some songs popular in the French army, 
which he found so interesting that he introduced versions of them 
in his ' Paul's Letters ; ' of which he did me the honour to send 
me a copy, with a letter, saying, ' that he considered my wife's gift 
as the most valuable of all his Waterloo relics.* 

" On our return from the field, he kimMy passed the eveningwith 
us, and a few friends whom we invited to meet^ htm. He chiyiDed 
us with his delightful conversation, and was in great spirits from the 
agreeable day. he had passed ; and with great good-humour promised 
to write a stadza in my wife's album. On the following morning he 
fulfilled his promise by contributing smhe beautiful verses on Hou- 
goumoQt. I put him into my little Ktwary to preyent interruption* 
as a great many persons had paraded in the Pare opposite my wiiW 
dow to get a peep of the celebrated man» many having dogged liim 
from his hoteL 

'* Brussels aflbrds but little worthy of the notice of such a tra^ 
veller as the Author of * Waverley ;* but he greatly admired the 
^endid tower of the Maison de YHle, and the andent sculpture 
and style of architecture of the buildings which surround the Grand 

'< He told us, with great humour, a laughable inddent whieh 6ad 
oeeurred to him at Antwerp^ The morning nStci his arrival at that 


city from Holland, be started at an early hour to visit the tomb of . 
Rubens in the Church of St Jacques, before his party were up. 
After wandering about for some time, without finding the object he 
had in view, he determined to make enquiry, and observing a person 
stalking about, he addressed him in his best French ; but the stranger, 
pulling off his hat, very respectfully replied in the pure Highland 
accent, ' Tm vary sorry. Sir, but I canna speak ony thing besides 
English.' — ' This is very unlucky indeed, Donald,' said Sir Walter, 
* but we must help one another ; for to tell you the truth, I'm not 
good at any other tongue but the English, or rather, the Scotch.' — 
' Oh, sir, maybe,* replied the Highlander, 'you are a countryman, 
and ken my maister Captain Cameron of the 79th, and could tell me 
whare he lodges. I'm just cum in, sir, frae a place they ca* Mack" 
lin, * and ha' forgotten the name of the captain's quarters ; it was 
something like the Laahorer.* — * I can, I think, help you with this, 
my friend,' rejoined Sir Walter. * There is an inn just opposite to 
Jrou (pointing to the Hotel du Grand LaJoMrei^r); I dare say that will 
be the captain's quarters' ; and it was so. I cannot do justice to the 
humour with wliich Sir Walter recounted this dialogue.'* f 

The following is the letter which Scott addressed to 
the Duke of Buccleuch, immediately after seeing the 
field of Waterloo ; and it may amuse the reader to com- 
pare it with Major Gordon's chapter, and with the wri- 
ter's own fuller, and, of course, " cobbled" detail, in the 
pages of Paul : — * 

To his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, Sfc. 

*^ My xlear Lord Duke, 

"I promised to let you hear of my wanderings, 
however unimportant ; and have now the pleasure of 
Informing your Grace, that I am at this present time an 
inhabitant of the Premier Hotel de Cambrai, after 
having been about a week upon the Continent. We 
landed at Helvoet, and proceeded to Brussels, by Ber- 

* Mecblin^tlie Highlander gave it the familiar pronunciation of a Scotch 
tillage, Mauchline, celebrated in many of Burns'a poems. 

t See Major Gordon's Per»oaal Memoirs, (1830), Yol. ii. pp. 325-038. 


gen-6p-Zoom and Antwerp, both of which are very 
strongly fortified. The ravages of war are little re- 
marked in a country so rich by nature ; but every thing 
seems at present stationary, or rather retrograde, where 
capital is required. The chateaux are deserted, and 
going to decay ; no new houses are built, and those of 
older date are passing rapidly into the possession of a 
class inferior to those for whom we must suppose them 
to have been built. Even the old gentlewoman of 
Babylon has lost much of her splendour, and her robes 
and pomp are of a description far subordinate to the 
costume of her more magnificent days. The dresses of 
the priests were worn and shabby, both at Antwerp and 
Brussels, and reminded me of the decayed wardrobe 
of a bankrupt theatre: yet, though the gentry and 
priesthood have suffered, the eternal bounty of nature 
has protected the lower ranks against much distress. 
The unexampled fertility of the soil gives them all, and 
more than they want ; and could they but sell the grain 
which they raise in the Netherlands, nothing else would 
be wanting to render them the richest people (common 
people, that is to say) in the world. ^ 

" On Wednesday last, I rode over the field of Water- 
loo, now for ever consecrated to immortality. The more 
ghastly tokens of the carnage are now removed, the 
bodies both of men and horses being either burned or 
buried ; but all the ground is still torn with the shot and 
shells, and covered with cartridges, old hats, and shoes, 
and various relics of the fray which the peasants have 
not thought worth removing. Besides, at Waterloo 
and all the hamlets in the vicinage, there is a mart esta- 
blished for cuirasses ; for the eagles worn by the impe- 
rial guard on their caps ; for casques, swords, carabines, 
and similar articles. I have bought two handsome cui- 
rasses, and intend them, one for Bowhill, and one for 


Abbotsfbrd, if I can get tbem safe over^ whicb Major 
Pryse Gordon has promised to manage for me. I have 
also, for your Grace, one of the little memorandum^ 
books, wUch I picked up oa the field, in which every 
French soldier was obliged to enter his receipts and ex- 
penditure, his services, and even hts punishments. The 
field was covered with fragments of these records. I 
also got a good MS. collection of French songs, proba- 
bly die work of some young officer, and a croix of the 
Legion of Honour. I enclose, under another cover, a 
sketch of the battle, made at Brussels. It is not, I 
understand, strictly accurate ; but sufficiently so to give 
a good notion of what took place. In fact, it would 
require twenty separate plans to give an idea of the 
battle at its various stages. The front, upon which the 
armies engaged, does not exceed a long mile. Our line, 
indeed, originally extended half a-mile farther towards 
the village of Brain-la-Leude ; but as the French indi- 
cated no disposition to attadi: in that direction, the 
troops which occupied this space were gradually con- 
centrated by Lord Wellington, and made to advance till 
they had reached Hougomont — a sort of chateau, with a 
garden and wood attached to it, which was powerfully 
and effectually maintained by the Guards during the 
action. This place was particularly interesting. It was 
a quiet-looking gentleman's house, which had been burnt 
by the French shells. The defenders, burnt out of the 
house itself, betook themselves to the little garden, where, 
breaking loop-holes through the brick walls, they kept 
up a most destructive fire on the assailants, who had 
possessed thexnselves of a little wood which surrounds 
the villa on one side. In this spot vast numbers had 
fallen ; and, being hastily buried, the smell is most offen- 
sive at this moment* Indeed, I felt the same annoy- 
ance in many parts of the field ; and, did I live near the 


spot^ I should be anxious about the diseases which this 
steaming carnage might occasion. The rest of the 
ground, excepting this chateau, and a farm-house called 
La Hay Sainte, early taken, and long held, by the 
French, because it was too close under the brow of the 
descent on which our artillery was placed to admit of 
the pieces being depressed so as to play into it, — ^the 
rest of the ground, I say, is quite open, and Hes between 
two ridges, one of which (Mont St Jean) was constantly 
occupied by the English ; the other, upon which is the 
farm of La Belle AUiance, was the position of the 
French* The slopes between are gentle and varied ; the 
ground every where practicable for cavalry, as was well 
experienced on that memorable day. The cuirassiers, 
despte their arms of proof, were quite inferior to our 
heavy dragoons. The meeting of the two bodies occa- 
sioned a noise, not unaiptly compared to the tinkering 
and hammering of a smith's shop. Generally the cui- 
rassiers came on stooping their heads very low, and giving 
point; the British frequently struck away their casques 
wlule they were in this position, and then laid at the 
bare head. Officers and soldiers all fought, hand to 
band, without distinction ; and many of the former owed 
their life to dexterity at their weapon, and p^ersonal 
strength of body. • Shaw, the milling Life^ Guards' man, 
whom, your Grace may remember, among the champions 
of The Fancy, maintamed the honour of the fist, and 
killed or disabled upwards of twenty Frenchmen, with 
his single arm, until he was killed by the assault of num- 
bers. At one place, where there is a precipitous sand 
or gravel pit, the heavy English cavalry drove many of 
the cuirassiers over peU*mell,. and followed over them- 
selves like fox-hunters. The conduct of the infantry 
and artillery waa equally, or, if possible, more distin- 
guishedy and it was all fuUy necessary ; for, besides that 


our army was much outnumbered, a great part of the 
sum-total were foreigners. Of these, the Brunswickers 
and Hanoverians behaved very well ; the Belgians but 
sorrily enough. On one occasion, when a Belgie regi* 
ment fairly ran off, Lord Wellington rode up to them, 
and said, * My lads, you must be a little blown ; come, 
do take your breath for a moment, and then we'll go 
back, and try if we can do a little better ; ' and he ac- 
tually carried them back to the charge. He was, indeed, 
upon that day, every where, and the soul of every thing ; 
nor could less than his personal endeavours have sup- 
ported the spirits of the men through a contest so long, 
so desperate, and so unequal. At his last attack, Buo- 
naparte brought up 15,000 of his Guard, who had never 
drawn trigger during the day. It was upon their failure 
that his hopes abandoned him. 

" I spoke long with a shrewd Flemish peasant, call- 
ed John De Costar, whom he had seized upon as 
his guide, and who remained beside him the whole day, 
and afterwards accompanied him in his flight as far 
as Charieroi. Your Grace may be sure that I in- 
terrogated Mynheer very closely about what he heard 
and saw. He guided me to the spot where Buona- 
parte remained during the latter part of the action. 
It was in the highway from Brussels to Charieroi, 
where it runs between two high banks, on each of which 
was a French battery. He was pretty well shelter- 
ed from the English lire; and, though many bullets 
flew over his head, neither he nor any of his suite were 
touched. His other stations, during that day, were still 
more remote from all danger. The story of his having 
an observatory erected for him is a mistake. There is 
such a thing, and he repaired to it during the action ; 
but it was built or erected some months before, for the 
purpose of a trigonometrical survey of the country, by 


the King of the Netherlands, Bony's last position was 
nearly fronting a tree, where the Duke of Wellington 
was stationed ; there was not more than a quarter of a 
mile between them ; but Bony was well sheltered, and 
the Duke so much exposed, that the tree is barked in 
several places by the cannon-balls levelled at him. As 
for Bony, De Costar says he was very cool during the 
whole day, and even gay. As the cannon-balls flew over 
them, De Costar ducked ; at which the Emperor laughed, 
and told him they would hit him all the same. At length, 
about the time he made his grand and last effort, the fire 
of the Prussian artillery was heard upon his right, and the 
heads of their columns became visible pressing out of the 
woods. Aid-de-camp after aid-de-camp came with the 
tidings of their advance, to which Bony only replied, 
attenkezy attendez un instant, until he saw his troops, 
fantassins et cavaliers^ return in disorder from the attack. 
He then observed hastily to a general beside him^je croU 
quHls sont miles. The person to whom he spoke, hastily 
raised the spyglass to his eye; but Bony, whom the 
first glance had satisfied of their total discomfiture, bent 
his face to the ground, and shook his head twice, his 
complexion being then as pale as death. The general 
then said something, to which Buonaparte answered, c^eU 
frop tard — sauvons nous. Just at that moment, the 
allied troops, cavalry and infantry, appeared in full ad- 
vance on all hands ; and the Prussians, operating upon 
the right flank of the French, were rapidly gaining their 
rear. Bony, therefore, was compelled to abandon the 
high-road, which, besides, was choked with dead, with 
baggage, and with cannon ; and, gaining the open 
country, kept at full gallop, until he gained, like Johnnie 
Cope, the van of the flying army. The marshals fol« 
lowed his example ; and it was the most complete sauve 
qui peut that can well be imagined. Nevertheless, the 

VOL. III. ' 2 H 


piiionen who'were brought into Brussels maintained 
their national impudence^ and boldly avowed their inten- 
tion of sadung^ the city with every sort of severity. At 
the same time they had. friends liiere* One man of rank 
and wealth went over to Bony during the action, and I 
saw his hotel converted into an hospital for wounded 
soldiers. It oceupied one-half of one of the sides of the 
Place Royalety a noble square, which your Grace has 
probably seen. But, in general, the inhabitants of 
Brussels were very differently disposed ; and their be- 
nevolence to our poor wounded fellows was unbounded. 
The difficulty was to prevent them from killing their 
guests with kindness^ by giving them butcher's meat and 
wine during their fev-er. As I cannot put my letter into 
post until we get to Paris, I shall continue it as we get 

^' i2th AuguMtj Roy 09 in Picardp^ — I imagine your 
Grace about this time to be tolerably well fagged with a 
hard day on the moors. If the weather has been as pro- 
pitious as with us, it must be delightful. The country 
through which we have travelled is most uncommonly 
fertile, and skirted with beautiful woods ; but its present 
political situation is so very uncommon, that I would 
give the world your Grace had come over for a fort- 
night. France may be considered as neither at peace 
or war. Valenciennes, for example, is in a state of 
blockade; we passed through the posts of the allies, all in 
the utmost state of vigilance, with patroles of cavalry, and 
yidettes of infantry, up to the very gates, and two or three 
batteries were manned and mounted. The French trolls 
were equally vigilant at the gates, yet made no objec- 
tions to our passing through the town. Most of them 
had the white cockade, but looked very sulky, and were 
^l obvious disorder and. confusion.. They, had not yet 
made their terms- with the King, nor accepted a com- 


mander appointed by him ; but as they obviously feel 
their party desperate, the soldiers are running from the 
oiBcer»9 and the officers from the soldiers. In fact, the 
multiplied hosts which pour into this country, exhibiting 
all the various dresses and forms of war which can be 
imagined, must necessarily render resistance impracti- 
cable. Yet, like Satan, these fellows retain the uncon« 
quered propensity to defiance, even in the midst of defeat 
and despair. This morning we passed a great number 
of the disbanded garrison of Conde^ and they were the 
most horrid-looking cut-throats I ever saw, extremely 
disposed to be very insolent, and only repressed by the 
consciousness that all the villages and towns around are 
occupied . by the allies. They began by crying to us, 
in an ironical tone, Vive le Rot ; then followed, sotto 

voce^ Sacre B , Mille diablesy and other graces of 

French eloquence. I felt very well pleased that we 
were armed, and four in number; and still more so that 
it was daylight, for they seemed most mischievous 
ruffians. As for the appearance of the country, it is, 
notwithstanding a fine harvest, most melancholy. The 
windows of all the detached houses on the road are uni- 
formly shut up ;, and you see few people, excepting the 
peasants who are employed in drivihg the contributions 
to maintain the armies^ The towns are little better,, 
having for the most< part been partially injured by shells 
or by storm, as was the case both of Cambrai and Pe^- 
ronne. The men look very sulky; and if you* speak, 
three words to a wroman, she is sxae to fall a-crying. In- 
^ort, the poUies&e and gped humour of this people- 
have fled with the annihilation of their self--conceit ; and 
they look on you as if they thought you were laughing 
at them^ or come to enjoy the triumph of our arms over* 
theirs* Postmasters and landlords are all the same^^ 
a^d hardly to be propitiated even by EaglisU' money^*. 


although they charge us about three times as much as 
they durst do to their countryfolks. As for the Prus- 
sians, a party of cavalry dined at our hotel at Mons, eat 
and drank of the best the poor devils had left to give, 
called for their horses, and laughed in the face of the 
landlord when he offered his bill, telling him they should 
pay as they came back. The English, they say, have 
always paid honourably, and upon these they indemnify 
themselves. It is impossible to marchander^ for if you 
object, the poor landlady begins to cry, and tells you 
she will accept whatever your lordship pleases, but that 
she is almost ruined and bankrupt, &c. &c. &c. 

" This is a long stupid letter, but I will endeavour 
to send a better from Paris. Ever your Grace's truly 

Walter Scott.*' 

The only letter which Scott addressed to Joanna 
Baillie, while in Paris, goes over partly the same 
ground : — I transcribe the rest. 

" Paris, 6th Sept. 1815. 
** My dear Friend, 

" I owe you a long letter, but my late travels and 
the date of this epistle will be a tolerable plea for your 
indulgence. The truth is, I became very restless after 
the battle of Waterloo, and was only detained by the 
necessity of attending a j&iend's marriage from setting 
off instantly for the Contiuent. At length, however, I 
got away to Brussels, and was on the memorable field 
of battle about five weeks after it had been fought. . • • 

" If our army had been all British, the day would have 
been soon decided ; but the Ehik'e, or, as they call him 
here, from his detestation of all manner of foppery, the 
Beau^ had not above 35,000 British. All this was to 

PARIS — ^AUG. — SEPT. 1815» 365 

be supplied by treble exertion on the part of our troops. 
The Duke was every where during the battle ; and it 
was the mercy of Heaven that protected him, when all 
liis staff had been killed or wounded round him. I 
asked him, among many other questions, if he had seen 
Buonaparte ; he said ' No ; but at one time, from the 
repeated shouts of Five V Empereur^ I thought he 
must be near.' This was when John De Costar placed 
him in the hollow way. I think, so near as I can judge, 
there may at that time have been a quarter of a mile 
between these two great generals. 

" The fate of the French, after this day of decisive 
appeal, has been severe enough. There were never people 
more mortified, more subdued, and apparently more bro- 
ken in spirit. They submit with sad civility to the extort- 
ions of the Prussians and the Russians, and avenge them- 
selves at the expense of the English, whom they charge 
three prices for everything, because they are the only peo- 
ple who pay at all. They ar#in the right, however, to en- 
force discipline and good order, which not only maintains 
the national character in the mean time, but will prevent 
the army from suifering by habits of indulgence. I ques- 
tion if the Prussians will soon regain their discipline and 
habits of hardihood. At present their powers of eating and 
drinking, which are really something preternatural, are 
exerted to the very utmost. A thin Prussian boy, whom 
I sometimes see, eats in one day as much as three 
English ploughmen. At daybreak he roars for choco- 
late and eggs ; about nine he breakfasts more solemnly 
d la fourchette, when, besides all the usual apparatus of 
an English dijeuner^ he eats a world of cutlets, oysters, 
fruit, &c., and drinks a glass of brandy and a bottle of 
champagne. His dinner might serve Garagantua, at 
which he gets himself about three parts drunk — a cir- 
cumstance which does not prevent the charge upon 


cold meat) with tea and chocolate, about six o'clock ; 
and concluding the whole with an immense supper. 
Positively the appetite of this lad reminds one of the 
Eastern tale of a man taken out of the sea by a ship's 
crew, who, in return, ate up all the provisions of 
the vessel. He was, I think, flown away with by a roc ; 
but from what quarter of the heavens the French are 
to look for deliverance from these devourers, I cannot 
presume to guess. 

^^ The needless wreck and ruin which they make in the 
houses, adds much to the inconvenience of their presence. 
Most of the chateaux, where the Prussians are quartered, 
are what is technically called rumped^ that is to say, plun* 
dered out and out. In the fine chateau of Montmorency, 
for instance, the most splendid apartments, highly orna- 
mented with gilding and carving, were converted into bar- 
zaeks for the dirtiest and most savage-looking hussars I 
have yet seen. Imagine the work these fellows make with 
velvet hangings and embroiilery. I saw one hag boilii^ 
her camp-kettle with part of a picture frame ; the picture 
itself has probably gone to Prussia. With edl this 
greediness and love of mischief, the Prussians axe not 
blood-thirsty.; and their utmost violence seldom exceeds 
a blow or two with the flat of the sabre. They are ako 
very civil to the women, and in both respects behave 
much better than the French did in their country ; but 
they follow the bad example quite close enough fioer the 
sake of humanity and of discipline. As for our people, 
they live in a most orderly and regular manner. All 
the young men pique themselves on imitating the Did^e 
of Wellington in non-^halance and coolness of manner ; 
so they wander about every where, with their hands in 
the pockets of their long waistcoats, or cantering upon 
Cossack ponies, staring and whistling, and trotting ta 
and fro,. as if aU Paris was theirs. The French hate 


them fluffidently for the hauteur of theur manner and 
pretensions, but the grounds of dislike against us are 
drowned in the actual detestation afforded by the other 


" This morning I saw a grand military spectacle, 
— ^bout 20,000 Russians pass in review before all the 
Kings and Dominations who are now resident at Paris. 
The Emperor, King of Prussia, Duke of Wellington, 
with their numerous and brilliant attendance of generals, 
'staff-officers, &c., were in the centre of what is call- 
ed the Place Louis Quinze, almost on the very spot 
where Louis X VL was beheaded. A very long avenue, 
which faces the station where they were placed, was 
like a glowing furnace, so fiercely were the sunbeams 
reflected firom the arms of the host by which it was 
filled* A body .of Cossacks kept the ground with their 
pikes, and, by their wild appearance, added to the sin- 
gularity of the scene. On one hand was the extended 
line of the Tuileries, seen through the gardens and the 
rows of orange trees ; on the other, the long column of 
troops advancing to the music. .Behind was a long 
colonnade, forming the front to the palace, where the 
Chaniber of Representatives are to hold their sittings*; 
and in front of the monarchs was a superb row of build- 
ings, on which you distinguish the bronze pillar erected 
by Napoleon to commemorate his victories over Russia, 
Prussia, and Austria, whose princes were nowreviewing 
their victorious armies in what was so lately his capital. 
Your fancy, my dear friend, will anticipate, better than 
I can express, the thousand sentiments which arose iii 
my mind from witnessing such a splendid scene, in a 
spot connected with such various associations. It may 
give you some idea of the feelings of the French — once 
so fond of spectacles — to know that, I think, there were 
not a hundred of that nation looking on* Yet thiB 


country will soon recover the actual losses she has sus*^ 
tainedy for never was there a soil so blessed by nature, 
or so rich in com, wine, and oil,. and in the animated in- 
dustry of its inhabitants. France is at present the fabled 
giant, struggling^ or rather lying supine, under the load 
of mountains which have been precipitated on her ; but 
she is not, and cannot be crushed. Remove the incum- 
bent weight of 600,000 or 700,000 foreigners, and she 
will soon stand upright — happy, if experience shall have 
taught her to be contented to exert her natural strengtlf 
only for her own protection, and not for the annoyance 
of her neighbours. I am cut short in my lucubrations, 
by an opportunity to send this letter with Lord Castle- 
reagh's despatches ; which is of less consequence, as I 
will endeavour to see you in passing through London. 
I leave this city for Dieppe on Saturday, but I intend 
to go round by Harfleur, if possible. Ever your truly 
obliged and affectionate, 

Walter Scott." 


" Paul " modestly acknowledges, in his last letter, the 
personal attentions which he received while in Paris, 
from Lords Cathcart, Aberdeen, and Castlereagh ; and 
- hints that, through their intervention, he had witnessed 
several of the splendid ^^C5 given by the Duke of Wel- 
lington, where he saw half the crowned heads of Europe 
grouped among the gallant soldiers who had cut a way 
for them to the guilty capital of France. Scott's recep- 
tion, 'however, had been distinguished to a degree of 
which Paul's language gives no notion. The noble lords 
above-named welcomed him with cordial satisfaction ; and 
the Duke of Wellington, to whom he was first presented 
by Sir John Malcolm, treated him then, and ever after- 
wards, with a kindness and confidence, which, I have 
often heard him say, he considered as " the highest dis- 

PARIS — 1815. 369 

tiaction of his life." He used to tell, with great effect, 
the circumstances of his introduction to the Emperor 
Alexander, at a dinner given by the Earl of Cathcart. 
Scott appeared, on that occasion, in the blue and red 
dress of the Selkirkshire Lieutenancy ; and the Czar's 
first question, glancing at his lameness, was, " In what 
affair were you wounded ?" Scott signified that he suf- 
fered from a natural infirmity ; upon which the Emperor 
said, " I thought Lord Cathcart mentioned that you 
had served." Scott observed that the Earl looked a 
little embarrassed at this, and promptly answered, " O, 
yes ; in a certain sense I have served — ^that is, in the 
yeomanry cavaby ; a home force resembling the Land- 
wehr, or Landsturm." — " Under what commander?" — 
*^ Sous M. le Chevalier Rae." — " Were you ever en- 
gaged?" — " In some slight actions — such as the battle 
of the Cross Causeway and the affair of Moredun- 
MQl."— " This," says Mr Pringle-of Whytbank, " was, 
as he saw in Lord Cathcart's face, quite sufficient, 
80 he managed to turn the conversation to some other 
subject." It was at the same dinner that he first' met 
Platoff, * who seemed to take a great fancy to him, 
though, adds my friend, ** I really don't think they had 
any common language to converse in." Next day, how- 
ever, when Pringle and Scott were walking together in 
the Rue de la Paix, the Hetman happened to come up, 
cantering with some of his Cossacks ; as soon as he saw 

* Scott acknowledges, in a note to St Ronan's Well (vol. i., p. 
252), that he took from Platoff this portrait of Mr Touchwood : — 
" His face, which at the distance of a yard or two seemed hale and 
smooth, appeared, when closely examined, to be seamed with a mil- 
lion of wrinkles, crossing each other in every direction possible, but 
as fine as if drawn by the point of a very fine needle." Thus did 
every little peculiarity remain treasured in his memory, to be used 
in due time for giving the air of minute reality to some imaginary 


Scott, he jumped off Iiis liorse^ leaving it to the Pulk, 
and, running up to him, kissed him on each side of the 
cheek with extraordinary demonstrations of affection — 
and then made him understand, through an aid-Kie-eamp, 
that he wished him to join his staff at the next great 
reyiew, when he would take care to mount him on the 
gentlest of his Ukraine horses. So mounted, accord- 
ingly, he witnessed the great closing spectack on the 
Champ de Man. 

It will seem less surprising that Scott should have 
been honoured with much attention by the leading sol- 
diers and statesmen of Germany then in Paris. The 
£une of his poetry had already been established for some 
years in that country. Yet it may be doubted whether 
Bliicher had heard of Marmion any more than Platoff ; 
and old Bliicher struck Scott's fellow-travellers as taking 
more interest in him than any foreign general, except 
only the Hetman. 

A striking passage in Paulas tenth letter indicates the 
high notion which Scott had formed of the personal 
qualities of the Prince of Orange. After depicting, with 
almost prophetic accuracy, the dangers to which the then 
Teeent union of Holland and Belgium must be exposed, 
he concludes with expressing his hope that the finnness 
and sagacity of the Xing of the Netherlands, and the 
admiration which his heir's character and beanng had 
already excited among all,reyen Belgianobeeryers, might 
ultimately prove effective in redeeming this diflScult ex- 
periment from the usual failure of ** arrondissements^ 
indemnities, and all the other terms of modem date, under 
sanction of which cities and districts, and even kingdoms, 
bave been passed from one government to another, as 
the property of lands or stock is transferred by a bargain 
between private parties." 

It is not less curious to compare, with the subsequent 

PARIS — 1815. 371 

coTcrse of affairs in France, the following brief hint in 
Paul's 16th letter: — " The general rallying point of the 
Liberalistes is an avowed dislike to the present monarch 
and his immediate connexions. They will-sacrifice, they 
pretend, so much to the general inclinations of Europe, 
as to select a king from the Bourhon race ; but he must 
be one of their own choosing, and the Duke of Orleans 
is most familiar in their mouths." Thus, in its very 
bud, had his eye detected the conjvrcUion de quinze ans! 
Among the gay parties of this festive period, Seott 
mentioned with special pleasure one fine day given to an 
excursion to Ermenonville, under the auspices of Lady 
Castlereagh. The company was a large one, including 
most of the distinguished personsiges whom I have been 
naming, and they dined al freico among the scenes of 
Rousseau's retirement, but in a &shion less accordant 
with the spirit of his riveries cCun promeneur ^olitaire^ 
than with the song which comm^tnorates some earlier 
tenants of that delicious valley*- 

«< La belle Gabrielle 

'Etoit dans ces lieux— • 
£t le souTenir d'elle 

JMous read heiixenx/' &c. 

At some stage of this merry day'-s proceedings, the 
ladies got tired of walking, and one of Lord Castle- 
reagh's young diplomatists was despatched into a village 
in quest of donkeys for their accommodation. The 
attacks returned by and by with a face of disappointment, 
complaining that the charge the people made was so 
extravagant, he could not think of yielding to the ex- 
tortion. '^ Marshal Forwards ** said nothing, but nodded 
to an aid-de-camp. They had passed a Prussian picket 
a little while before ; — three times the requisite number 
of donkeys appeared presently, driven before Jialf a dozen 


hussars, who were followed by the screaming population 
of the refractory hamlet; and 'fan angry man was 
Bliicheri" said Scott, ** when ILord Castlereagh conde- 
scended to go among them, all smiles, and sent them bafck 
with more Napoleons than perhaps the fee-simple of the 
whole stud was worth." 

Another evening of more peaceful enjoyment has left 
a better record. But I need not quote here the '^ Lines 
on St Cloud." • They were sent, on the 16 th of Au- 
gust, to the late Lady Alvanley, with whom and her 
daughters he spent much of his time while in Paris. 

As yet, the literary reputation of Scott had made but 
little way among the French nation ; but some few of 
their eminent men vied even with the enthusiastic Ger- 
mans^'in their courteous and unwearied attentions to 
him* The venerable Chevalier^ in particular, seemed 
anxious to embrace every opportunity of acting as his 
Cicerone ; and many mornings were spent in exploring, 
under his guidance, the most remarkable scenes and ob- 
jects of historical and antiquarian interest both in Paris 
and its neighbourhood. He several times also enter- 
tained Scott and his young companions at dinner ; but 
the last of those dinners was thoroughly poisoned by a 
preliminary circumstance. The poet, on entering the 
saloon, was presented to a stranger, whose physiognomy 
struck him as the most hideous he had ever seen ; nor 
was his disgust lessened, when he found, a few minutes 
afterwards, that he had undergone the accollade of David 
** of the blood-stained brush." 

From Paris, Mr Bruce and Mr Pringle went on to 
Switzerland, leaving the poet and Gala to return home 
together, which they did by way of Dieppe, Brighton, 
and London. JLt was here, on the 14th of September, 

* See Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 295. 

PARIS LONDON — 1815. 373 

that Scott had that last meeting with Lord Byron, 
alluded to in his communication to Mr Moore, already 
quoted. He carried his young friend in the morning to 
call on Lord Byron, who agreed to dine with them at 
their hotel, where he met also Charles Matthews and 
Daniel Terry. The only survivor of the party has re- 
corded it in his note-book as the most interesting day he 
ever spent. " How I did stare," he says, " at Byron's 
beautiful pale face, like a spirit's — ^good or evil. But 
he was bitter — ^what a contrast to Scott T Among other 
anecdotes of British prowess and spirit, Scott mentioned 
that a young gentleman had been aw- 
fully shot in the head while conveying an order from the 
Duke, and yet staggered on, and delivered his message 
when at the point of death. * Ha!' said Byron, * I 
daresay he could do as well as most people without his 
head — ^it was never of much use to him.' Waterloo did 
not delight him, probably-^-^and Scott could talk or 
think of scarcely any thing else." 

Matthews accompanied them as far as Warwick and 
Kenilworth, both of which castles the poet had seen be- 
fore, but now re-examined with particular curiosity. 
They spent a night on this occasion at Birmingham ; 
and early next morning Scott sallied forth to provide 
himself with a planter's knife of the most complex con- 
trivance and finished workmanship. Having secured 
one to his mind, and which for many years after was 
his constant pocket-companion, he wrote his name 
on a card, " Walter Scott, Abbotsford," and directed 
it to be engraved on the handle. On his mentioning 
this acquisition at breakfast, young Gala expressed his 
desire to equip himself in like fashion, and was directed 
to the shop accordingly. When he had purchased a 
similar knife, and produced his name in turn for the en- 
graver, the master cutler eyed the signature for a mo» 


menty and exclaimed — <^ John Scott c^ Gala I Well, 1 
hope your ticket may serve me in aft good stead as an- 
other Mr Scdtt's has just done. Upon my word, one 
of my best men, an honest fellow from the North, went 
out of his senses when he saw it — he offered me a week's 
work if I would let him keep it to himself — and I took 
Saunders at his word." Scott used to talk of this as one 
of the most gratifying compliments he ever received in 
his literary capacity. 

Their next halt was at Rokeby ;. but since Scott had 
heard from thence, Mrs Morritt's illness had made such 
alarming progress, that the travellers regretted having 
obtruded themselves on the scene of affliction, and re- 
sumed their journey early next morning. 

Reaching Abbotsford, Scott found with his family his 
old friend Mr Skene of Rubislaw, who had expected 
him to come home sooner, and James Ballantyne, who 
had arrived with a copious budget of bills, calendars, 
booksellers' letters, and proof-sheets. From each of 
tiiese visiters' memoranda I now extract an anecdote. 
Mr Skene's is of a small enough matter, but still it places 
the man so completely before myself, that I am glad he 
thought it worth setting down. << During Scott's ab- 
sence," says his friend, ^< his wife had had the tiny 
drawingroom of the cottage fitted up with new chintz 
jBorniture — every thing had been set out in the best style 
•7— and she and her girls had been looking forward to the 
pleasure which they supposed the little surprise of the 
arrangements would give him. He was received in the 
spruce fresh room^ set himself comfortably down in the 
chair prepared for him, and remained in the full enjoy- 
ment of his own fireside, and a return to his family circle, 
without the least consciousness that any change had 
taken place — until, at length, Mrs Scott's patience trould 
liold out no longer^. and his attention was expressly call- 


ed to it. The vexation he showed at having caused 
sach a disappointment^ struck me as amiably character- 
istic — and in the course of the evening, he every now 
and then threw out some word of admiration, to reconsole 

Ballantyne's note of their next morning's conference is 
in these terms. ^^ He had just been reviewing a pageant 
of emperors, and kings, which seemed, like another Field 
of the Cloth of Gold, to have been got up to realize 
before his eyes some T)f his own splendid descriptions. I 
begged him to tell me what was- the general impresfioon. 
left on his mind. He smswered, that he might now say 
he had seen and conversed with all classes of society, 
from the palace to the cottage,, and including every con- 
ceivable shade of science and ignoranee---«but that he 
had never felt awed or abashed except in the presence 
of one man- — the Duke of Wellington. I expressed 
some surprise. He said I ought not, for that the Duke 
of Wellington possessed every one mighty quality of the 
mind in a higher degree than any other man did, or had 
' ever done. He said he beheld in him a great soldier 
and a great statesman — the greatest of each. When it 
was suggested that the Duke, on his part, saw before 
him a great poet and novelist, he smiled, and said, 
^ What would the Duke of Wellington think of a few 
bitsqfnovelsy which perhaps he had never read, and for 
which the strong probability is that he would not care a 
sixpence if he had?' You are not" (adds Ballantyne) 
^' to suppose that he looked either sheepii^ or embar- 
rassed in the presence of the Duke — indeed you well 
know that he did not, and could not do so ; but the feel- 
ings qualified and modified as I have described it, unques- 
tionably did exist to a certain extent. Its origin forms 
a curious moral problem ; and: may probably be traced 
to a secret consciousness, which he might not himself 


advert to, that the Duke, however great as a soldier 
and statesman, was so defective in imagination as to be 
incapable of appreciating that which had formed the 
charm of his own life, as well as of his works." 

It is proper to add to Mr Ballantyne's solution of his 
*^ curious moral problem," that he was, in his latter days, 
a strenuous opponent of the Duke of Wellington's poli- 
tics ; to which circumstance he ascribes, in these same 
memoranda, the only coolness that ever occurred be** 
tween him and^ Scott. I need hardly repeat, what has been 
already distinctly stated more than once, that Scott 
never considered any amount of literary distinction as 
entitled to be spoken of in the same breath with mastery 
in the higher departments of practical life — ^least of all, 
with the glory of a first-rate captain. To have done 
things worthy to be written, was in his eyes a dignity 
to which no man made any approach, who had only 
written things worthy to be read. He on two occasions, 
which I can never forget, betrayed painful uneasiness 
when his works were alluded to as reflecting honour on 
the age that had produced Watt's improvement of the 
steam-engine, and the safety-lamp of Sir Humphry 
Davy. Such was his modest creed — ^but from all I ever 
saw or heard of his intercourse with the Duke of Wel- 
lington, I am not disposed to believe that he partook it 
with the only man in whose presence he ever felt awe 
and abashment* 

• I think it very probable that Scott had his own first interview 
with the Duke of Wellington in his mind when he described the 
introduction of Roland Graham to the Regent Murray, in the novel 
of The Abbot : — " Such was the personage before whom Roland 
Graham now presented himself with a feeling of breathless awe, 
very different from the usual boldness and vivacity of his temper. 
In fact he was, from education and nature, much more easily con- 
trolled by the moral superiority arising from the elevated talents and 


A charming page in Mr Washington Irving*s ** Ab- 
botsford and Newstead," affords us another anecdote con- 
nected with this return from Paris. Two years after 
this time, when the amiable American visited Scott, he 
walked with him. to a quarry, where his people were at 
work. " The face of the humblest dependant" (he says) 
^^ brightened at his approach— all paused from their 
labour, to have a pleasant * crack wi' the laird.' Among 
the rest was a tall straight old fellow, with a healthful 
complexion and silver hairs, and a small round-crowned 
white hat. He had been about to shoulder a hod, but 
paused, and stood looking at Scott with a slight spark- 
ling of his blue eye, as if waiting his turn ; for the old 
fellow knew he was a favourite. Scott accosted him in 
an affable tone, and asked for a pinch of snuff. The 
old man drew forth a horn snuff-box. ^ Hoot, man,' 
said Scott, i not that old mull. Where's the bonnie 
French one that I brought you from Paris?' — * Troth, 
your honour,' replied the old fellow, * sic a mull as that 
is nae for week-days.' On leaving the quarry, Scott 
informed me, that, when absent at Paris, he had pur- 
chased several trifling articles as presents for his de- 
pendants, and, among others, the gay snuff-box in ques- 
tion, which was so carefully reserved for Sundays by 
the veteran. ^ It was not so much the value of the 
gifts,' said he, ^ that pleased them,^as the idea that the 
laird should think of them when so far away/ " 

One more incident of this return — ^it was told to me 

renown of those with whom he conversed, than hy pretensions 
founded only on rank or external show. He might have braved with 
indifference the presence of an Earl merely distinguished by his 
belt and coronet ; but he felt overawed in that of the eminent soldier 
and statesman, the wielder of a nation's power, and the leader of 
her armies."— Waverletf NweU, vol. xx.« p. 292. 
VOL. III. 2 I 


by himftelf, some years afterwards, with gravity, and 
Aven sadness. ^^ The last of my chargers," he said^ 
'< was a high-spirited and very handsome one, by name 
Dsdsy, all over white, without a speck, and with such a 
mane as Rubens delighted to paint. He had, among 
other good qualities, one always particularly valuable in 
my case, that of standing like a rock to be mounted. 
When he was brought to the door, after I came home 
firom the Continent, instead of signifying, by the usual 
tokens, that he was pleased to see his master, he looked 
askant at me like a devil ; and when I put my foot in 
the stirrup, he reared bolt upright, and I fell to the 
ground rather awkwardly. The experiment was repeated 
twice or thrice, always with the same result. It occurred 
to me that he might have taken «ome capricious dislike 
to my dress ; and Tom Purdie, who always falls heir to 
the white hat and green jacket, and so forth, when Mrs 
Scott has made me discaxd a set of garments, was sent 
for, to try whether these habiliments would produce him 
a similar reception from his old friend Daisy : But Daisy 
allowed Tom to back him with all manner of gentleness. 
The thing was inexplicable — ^but he had certainly taken 
BCHQiie part of my conduct in high dudgeon and disgust ; 
and after trying him again, at the interval of a week, I 
was obl^ed to part with Daisy — and wars and rumours 
of wars being over, I resolved thenceforth to have done 
with such dainty blood. I now stick to a good sober 
eob." Somebody suggested, that Daisy mi^t have 
considered himself as ill-used, by being left at home 
when the Laird went on his journey. " Ayi" said he, 
•* these creatures have many thoughts of their own, no 
doubt, that we can never penetrate." Then, laughing, 
•* Troth," said he, " maybe some bird had whispeied 
Daisy that I had been to see the grand reviews at Paris 


on a little i»crag of a Coasack, while my own gallant 
trooper was left behind bearing Peter and the post-bag 
to MelrosB." • 

A few letters, written shortly after this return to Ab- 
botsford, will, among other things, show with what zeal 
he at once resumed his literary industry, if indeed that 
can be said to have been at all interrupted by a journey, 
in the course of which a great part of Paul's narrative, 
and also of the poem of ^* the Field of Waterloo," must 
have^ been composed. 

To J. B. S, Morritt, Esq, M. P. ^okeby Park. 

" Abbotsford, 2d Oct. 1815» 

" My dear Morritt, 

" Few things could have given me more real pain^ 
than to see Mrs Morritt under such severe suffering, and 
the misery you sustain in witnessing it. Yet let us 
trust in the goodness of Providence, which restored the 
health so deservedly dear to you from as ^eat a state of 
depression upon a former occasion. Our visit was indeed 
a melancholy one, and, I fear, added to your distress, 
when, God knows, it required no addition. The con- 
trast of this quiet bird'« nest of a jdace, with the late 
scene of eorifusion and military splendour which I have 
witnessed, is something of a stunning nature, and, for 
the first five or -six days, I have been content to foldmy 
hands, and saunter up and down in a sort of indolent and 
stupified tranquillity, my only attempt at occupation 
having gone no farther than prunipg a young tree now: 
and then. Yesterday, however, and to-day, I began, 
from necessity, to prune verses, and have been coriJect- 
ing proofs of my little attempt at a poem on Waterloo. 
It will be out this week, and you shall ho^e a copy by 
the Carlisle coach, which pray judge £sivouxably) and. 


remember it is not always the grandest actions which 
are best adapted for the arts of poetry and painting. I 
believe I shall give offence to my old friends the Whigs, 
by not condoling with Buonaparte. Since his sentence 
of transportation, he has begun to look wonderfully 
comely in their eyes. I would they had hanged him, 
that he might have died a perfect Adonis. Every rea- 
sonable creature must think the Ministers would have 
deserved the cord themselves, if they had left him in a 
condition again to cost us the loss of 10,000 of our best 
and bravest, besides thirty millions of good money. The 
very threats and frights which he has given the well- 
meaning people of this realm (myself included), deserved 
no less a punishment than banishment, since the * put- 
ting in bodily fear' makes so material a part of every 
criminal indictment. But, no doubt, we shall see Mi- 
nisters attacked for their want of generosity to a fallen 
«nemy, by the same party who last year, with better 
grounds, assailed them for having left him in a situation 
again to disturb the tranquillity of Europe. My young 
friend Gala has left me, after a short visit to Abbotsford. 
He is my nearest (conversable) neighbour, and I pro- 
mise myself much comfort in him, as he has a turn both 
for the sciences and for the arts, rather uncommon among 
our young Scotch lairds. He was delighted with 
Rokeby and its lord, though he saw both at so melan- 
choly a period, and endured, not only with good humour 
but with sympathy, the stupidity of his fellow-traveller, 
who was not by any means dans son brillant for some 
time after leaving you. 

" We visited Corby Castle on our return to Scotland, 
which remains, in point of situation, as beautiful as when 
its walks were celebrated by David Hume, in the only 
rhymes he was ever known to be guilty of. Here they 
are, from a pane of glass in an inn at Carlisle: — 


LETTER TO MORRITT — 1815. 381 

* Here chicks in eggs for breakfast sprawl. 
Here godless boys God*s glories squall, 
Here Scotchmen's heads do guard the wall. 
But Corby*s walks atone for all.' 

Would it not be a good quiz to advertise The Poetical 
Works of David Hume^ with notes, critical, historical, 
and so forth— with an historical enquiry into the use of 
eggs for breakfast, a physical discussion on the causes 
of their being addled ; a history of the English church 
music, and of the choir of Carlisle in particular ; a full 
account of the aflFair of 1 745, with the trials, last speeches, 
and so forth, of the poor plaids who were strapped up at 
Carlisle ; and, lastly, a full and particular description of 
Corby, with the genealogy of every family who ever 
possessed it? I think, even without more than the 
usual waste of margin, the Poems of David would make 
a decent twelve shilling touch, I shall think about it, 
when I have exhausted mine own century of inventions. 

" I do not know whether it is perverseness of taste, 
or old associations, but an excellent and very handsome 
modern house, which Mr Howard has lately built at 
Corby, does not, in my mind, assimilate so well with 
the scenery as the old irregular monastic hall, with its 
weatherbeaten and antique appearance, which I remem- 
ber there some years ago. 

" Out of my Field of Waterloo has sprung an odd 
wild sort of thing, which I intend to finish separately, 
and call it the Dance of Death.* These matters talce up 
my time so much, that I must bid you adieu for the 
present. Besides, I am summoned to attend a grand 
chasscy and I see the children are all mounted upon the 

• This was published in the Edinburgh Annual Register in 1815. 
—See Poetical Works, Ed. 1834, vol. xi. p. 297. 

K ' 


ponies. By the way, Walter pomises to be a gallant 
horseman. Ever most truly yours, 

Waltkr Scott." 

I shall close this chapter with a transcript of some 
Notes on the proof sheets of the " Field of Waterloo/' 
John Ballantyne being at Abbotsford on the 8d of Oc- 
tober, his brother the printer addressed the packet co]>- 
taining ihe sheets to him. John appears to have consider- 
ed James's observations on the margin before Scott saw 
them ; and the record of the style in which the Poet 
repelled, or yielded to, his critics, will at all events illus- 
trate his habitual good-nature. 

John Ballantyne writes on the fly-leaf bf the proofs 
to his confidential clerk : — " Mr Hodgson, I beg these 
sheets and all the MS. may be carefully preserved ju^ 
as they stand, and put in my father's desk. J. B." 

James prefaces his animadversions with this quotd* 
tion : — 

*' Cut deep and spare noU^^PenmddocL*' 

The Notes are these : — 
Stanza I.—** Fair Brussells, thou art far behind." 

James Ballanti/ne. — I do not like this line. It is tame^ and the 
phrase ** far behind/' has, to my feeling, some associated vulgarity. 

/Sfco//.— Stet. 

Stanza IL— " Let not ike stranger with disdain 

The architecture view." 
James.^These two words are cacophonous. Would not its do? 
iSbo//.— -Th. is a bad sound. Ts. a much worse. 'Read their. 

Stanza IV.— " A stranger might reply." 

James, — My objection to this is probably fantastical, and I state it 

only, because from the first moment to the last, it has, always made 

me boggle. I don't like a. stranger^ Qaery^ ** The questioned"— 

The *« spectator"—" gazer," &c. 

Skott, — Stranger is appropriate— it me&ns stranger to the circum- 


Stanza VI* — JZtmpj.— You had changed ** garner-house pro- 
found," which I think quite admirable, to '* garner under ground^" 
which I think quite otherways. I have presumed not to make' the 
change — must I ? 

Scott* — I acquiesce, but with doubts ; profound sounds af- 

Stanza VIIL— ** The deadly tug of war at length 

Must limits find in human strength, 
And ccaK when these are passed. 
Vain hope I &c." 
Jamet^'-A must needs repeat, that the deadly tug did cease in the 
case supposed. It lasted long^-very long ; but, when the limits of 
resistance, of human strength were past — that is» afler they had 
fought for ten 'hours, then the deadly tug did cease. Therefore the 
•* hope" was not "vain." 

ScoiU^-A answer it did »of,-— because the observation relates- to 
the strength of those actually engaged, and when their strength was 
exhausted other squadrons were brought up. Suppose you saw 
two lawyers scolding at the bar, you might say this mu&t have an 
end — human lungs cannot hold out — but, if the debate were conti- 
nued by the senior counsel, yourweU-grouaded expectations would 
be disappointed—:'' Cousin, thou wert not wont to be so dull I'*— 

Ibid.—" Nor ceased the intermitted shot.** 
James, — Mr Erskine contends that "intermitted" is redundant. 
Scott, -^'^ Nor ceased the storm of shell and shot.** 

IStanza X»— ** Never shall our country say 

We gave one Inch of ground away, 
When battling for her right." 
James.'^^In conflict f 

John B. — Warring f I am afraid battling must stand. 
Scott, — All worse than thet^t. 

Stanza XI. — " PeaPd wildly the imperial name." 

James,-^1 submit with diffidence whether this be not a somewhat 
tame conclusion to so very animated a stanza? And, at -any rate, 
you will observe, that as it stands, you have no rhyme whatever to 
** The Cohort eagles^." — You have no rhyme to^. Flew and 
fli/f also, are perhaps too near, considering that each word closes a 
line of the same sort. I don't well like " Thus in atonent," either. 
If it were, ** In one broad torrent," &c., it strikes me that it would 
be more spirited. 


&oU,^^Granted as to most of these observations— Read, " in one 
dark torrent broad and strong," &c.— The ** imperial name" is truc^ 
therefore must stand. 

Stanza XII. — ** Nor was one forward footstep stoppedj'* 
Jaifur^.— This staggering word was intended^ I presume, but I 
donU like it. 

Scott, — Granted. Read staid, &c. 

Ibid. — " Down were the eagle banners sent, 
Down, down the horse and horsemen went." 
James. — This is very spirited and very fine; but it is unques- 
tionably liable to the charge of being very nearly a direct repetition 
of yourself. See Lord of the Isles, Canto vi. St. 24 : — 
** Down I down I in headlong overthrow. 
Horseman and horse, the foremost go," &c. 
This passage is at once so striking and so recent, that its dose 
similarity to the present, if not indeed its identity, must strike every 
reader ; and really, to borrow from one's self, is hardly much better 
than to borrow from one's neighbours. And yet again, a few Dues 
lower :— 

" As hammers on the anvils reel. 
Against the cuirass clangs the steel.** 
See Lady of the Lake, Canto vL, Stanza 18 :— 

** I heard the broadswords* deadly clang, 
As if an hundred anvils rang." 
Here is precisely the same image, in very nearly the same words. 

Scoit.'^l have altered the expression, but made a note, which, I 
think, will vindicate my retaining the simile. 

Stanza XIII. — " As their own Ocean-rocks hold stance." 
John.^-1 do not know such an English word as stance. 
iSbo/^—- Then we'll make it one for the nance. 

Ibid. — "And newer standards fly." 
James. — I don't like newer, 
Scott.^** And other standards fly." 

Ibid.—.** Or can thy memory fail to quote, 
Heard to thy cost the vengeful note." 
James, — Would to God you would alter this quote I 
Jb*/i.— Would to God Jcouldl— I certainly ahould.— 


ScoU,'^ " Or can thy memory fail to know. 

Heard oft before in hour of wo." 

** Or dwells not in thy memory stilU 

Heard frequent in thine hour of ilL*' 

Stanza XV. — " Wrung forth by pride, reffret, and shame." 
James, — I have ventured to submit to your choice— 

" Wrung forth by pride, and rage^ and shame." 
Regret appearing a faint epithet amidst such a combination of bitter, 

iSbo//.-— Granted. 

Ibid.-*-*' So mingle banner, wain, and gun. 
Where in one tide of horror run 
The warriors," &c 

James, — In the first place, warriors running in a tide, is a dashing 
metaphor ; in the second, the warriors running at all is a iiitle 
liomely. It is trife, no doubt; but really running is litile better 
than scampering. For these causes, .one or both, I think th<^ lines 
should be altered. 

Scott. — You are wrong in one respect. A tide is always said to 
run, — but I thought of the tide without attending to the equivoque^ 
which must be altered. Read, — 

** Where the tumultuous flight rolls on." 

Stanza* XV I.-^" > found gallant grave." 

•70»if«.— This is surely a singular epithet to a grave. I think the 

whole of this stanza eminently fine ; and,, in particular, the con<- 


Scott.'^ _<» found soldier** grave. " 

Stanza XXI. — *• Redoubled Victoii% soul of fire." 
James, — From long association, this epithet strikes me as convey- 
ing a semi- ludicrous idea. 

Scott — It is here appropriate, and your objection Seems merely, 
personal to your own association. 

Ibid. — ** Tlux»ugh his friend's heart to ufound his own." 
James. — Quaere — Pierce^ or rather stab^—wound is/aiiit, 
Scott "Pierce." 

Stanza XXI. — " Forgive, brave fallen^ the imperfect lay." 
James.^Don*t like "brave fallen" at all; nor *• appropriate' 
praise," three lines after. The latter in particular is prosaic. 
Scotl, — ** Forgive, brave dead.** 

" 7%^ dear earned praise ** 

VOL. III. 2 K 



poem of the field op waterloo published^revision of 
Paul's letters, btc« — quarrel and reconciliation 

with hogg football match at carterhaugh — songs 

on the banner of buccleuch — dinner at bowhill — 
design for a piece of plate to the sutors of selkirk 

letters to the duke of buccleuch — joanna baillie 

*— and mr morritt. 


The poem of " the Field of Waterloo " was published 
before the end of October ; the profits of the first edi- 
tion being the author's contribution to the fund raised 
for the relief of the widows and children of the soldiers 
slain in the battle. This piece appears to have disap- 
pointed those most disposed to sympathize with the 
author's views and feelings. The descent is indeed 
heavy from his Bannockburn to his Waterloo: the 
presence, or all but visible reality of what his dreams 
cherished, seems to have overawed his imagination, and 
tamed it into a weak pomposity of movement. The 
burst of pure native enthusiasm upon the Scottish heroes 
that fell around the Duke of Wellington's person, bears, 
however, the broadest marks of " the Mighty Min- 

" Saw gallant Miller's fading eye 
Still bent where Albyn's standards fly. 
And Cameron, in the shock of steel. 
Die like the offspring of Lochiel," &c. ;— . 

FIELD OF WATERLOO — 1815. 387 

and this is far from being the only redeeming passage. 
There is one, indeed, in which he illustrates what he 
then thought Buonaparte's poorness of spirit in adver- 
sity, which always struck me as pre-eminently charac- 
teristic of Scott's manner of interweaving, both in prose 
and verse, the moral energies with analogous natural 
description, and combining thought with imagery — 

" Or is thy soul like mountain tide, 

That swelled by winter storm and shower, 
Rolls down in turbulence of power, 

A torrent fierce and wide ; 
Refb of these aids, a rill obscure^ 
Shrinking unnoticed, mean and poor, 

Whose channel shows displayed 
The wrecks of its impetuous course. 
But not one symptom of the force 

By which these wrecks were made ! " 

The poem was the first upon a subject likely to be suffi- 
ciently hackneyed ; and, having the advantage of coming 
out in a small cheap form — (prudently imitated from 
Murray's innovation with the tales of Byron, which was 
the death-blow to the system of verse in quarto) — it at- 
tained rapidly a measure of circulation above what had 
been reached either by Rokeby or the Lord of the Isles. 

Meanwhile the revision of Paul's Letters was pro- 
ceeding ; and Scott had almost immediately on his re- 
turn to Abbotsford concluded his bargain for the first edi- 
tion of a third novel — The Antiquary — to be published 
also in the approaching winter. Harold the Dauntless, 
too, was from time to time taken up as/ the amusement of 
hor<B svbsedvce. As for Scott's out of doors occupations 
of that autumn, sufficient light will be thrown on them 
by the following letter ; from which it is seen that he 
had now completed a rather tedious negotiation with an- 


Other bonnet-laird, and definitively added the lands of 
Kaeside to the original estate of Abbotsford. 

Tg J^'Ri* Joanna BailUe, Hamptead, 

« November 12, 1815, Abbotsford. 
" I have been long in acknowledging your letter, my 
dear friend, and yet you have not only been frequent in 
my thoughts, as must always be the case, but your name 
has been of late familiar in my mouth as a household 
word. You must know that the pinasters you had the 
goodness to send me some time since, which are now fit 
to be set out of the nursery, have occupied my mind as 
to the mode of disposing of them. Now, mark the 
event ; there is in the middle of what will soon be a 
bank of fine yoimg wood, a certain old gravel-pit, which 
is the present scene of my operations. I have caused it 
to be covered with better earth, and gently altered with 
the spade, so as, if possible, to give it the air of one of 
those accidental hollows which the surface of ^a hill fre- 
quently presents. Having arranged my ground, I in- 
tend to plant it all round with the pinasters, and other 
varieties of the pine species, and in the interior I will 
have a rustic seat, surrounded by all kinds of evergreen 
shrubs (laurels in particular), and all varieties of the 
holly and cedar, and so forth, and this is to be cadled 
and entitled Joanna's Bower* We are determined in 
the choice of our ornaments by necessity, for our ground 
fronts (in poetic phrase) the rising sun, or, in common 
language, lodks to the east ; and being also on the north 
side of the hill — (don't you shiver at the thought?) — 
why, to say truth, George Wynnos and I are both of 
opinion that nothing but evergreens will flourish there ; 
but I trust I shall convert a present deformity into a 
very pretty little hobby-horsical sort of thing. It will 


not bear looking at for years, and that is a pity : but it 
will so fer resemble the person from whom it takes 
name, that it is planted, as she has written, for the be- 
nefit as well of posterity as for. the pasi^ing generation. 
Time and I, says the SpaStiiard, against any two ; and, 
fully confiding in the prorerb, I hav0 just undertaken 
another gtaiid task. You must know, I have purchased 
a large lump of wild land, lying adjoining to this little 
property, which greatly more than doiibles my domains. 
The land is said to be reasonably bought, and I am 
almost certain I can turn it to advantage by a little 
judicious expenditure ; for this place is already allowed 
to be worih twice what it cost lAe ; and our people here 
think so little of planting, and do it so carelessly, that 
they stare with asto;nishment at the alteration which 
well planted woods make on the face of a country. 
There is, beside^, a very great temptation, from the 
land running to within a quarter of a mile of a very 
sweet wild sheet of water, of which (that is, one side of 
it) I have every chance to become proprietor : this is a 
poetical circujiistance not to be lost sight of, and ac- 
cordingly I keep it full in my view. Amid these various 
avocations, past, present, and to oome^ I have not 
thought much about Waterloo, only th^t I am truly 
glad you like it. I might, io doubt, have added many 
curious anecdotes, but I think the pamphlet long enough 
as it stands, and never had aaay design of writing copious 

*' I do most devoutly hope Lwd Byron will suc- 
ceed in his proposal of bringing out one^of your dramias; 
that he is your sincere admirer is only synonymous with 
his being a man of genius ; ajid he hcw^ I am convinced, 
both the power and inclination to serve the public, by 
availing himlself of the treasures^ you have laid before 
them. Yet I long for * some yet untasted spring,' and 


heartily wish you would take Lord B. into your coun- 
sels, and adjust, from your yet unpublished materials, 
some drama for the public. In such a case, I would, 
in your place, conceal my name till the issue of the ad- 
venture. It is a sickening thing to think how many 
angry and evil passions the mere name of admitted 
excellence brings into full activity. I wish you would 
consider this hint, and I am sure the result would be 
great gratification to the public, and to yourself that 
sort of satisfaction which arises from receiving proofs of 
having attained the mark at which you aimed. Of this 
last, indeed, you cannot doubt, if you consult only the 
voices of the intelligent and the accomplished ; but the 
olgect of the dramatist is professedly to delight the pub- 
lic at large, and therefore I think you shoijdd make the 
experiment fairly. 

^^ Little Sophia is much obliged by your kind and 
continued recollection : she is an excellent good child, 
sufficiently sensible, very affectionate, not without 
perception of character; but the gods have not made 
her poetical, and I hope she will never attempt to 
act a part which nature has not called her to. I 
am myself a poet, writing to a poetess, and therefore 
cannot' be suspected of a wish to degrade a talent, to 
which, in whatever degree I may have possessed it, I am 
indebted for much happinesaf : but this depends only on 
the rare coincidence of some talent falling in with a 
novelty in style and diction and conduct of story, which 
suited the popular taste ; and were my children to be 
better poets than me, they would not be such in general 
estimation, simply because the second cannot be the first, 
and the first (I mean in point of. date) is every thing, 
while others are nothing, even with more intrinsic merit. 
I am therefore particularly anxious to store the heads of 
my young damsels with something better than the tags 


of rhymes ; and I hope Sophia is old enough (young 
though she be) to view her little incidents of celebrity, 
such as they are, in the right point of view. Mrs Scott 
and. she are at present in Edinburgh : the rest of the 
children are with me in this place; my eldest boy is 
already a bold horseman and a fine shot, though only 
about fourteen years old. I assure you I was prouder 
of the first black cock he killed, than I have been of any 
thing whatever since I first killed one myself, and that is 
twenty years. ago. This is all stupid gossip; but, as 
Master Corporal Nym says, * things must be as they 
may 2' you cannot expect grapes from thorns, or much 
amusement from a brain bewildered with thorn hedges 
at Kaeside, for such is the sonorous title of my new pos- 
session, in virtue of which I subscribe myself, 

Abbotsford & Kaeside.'* 

There is now to be mentioned a little pageant of De- 
cember 1815, which perhaps interested Abbotsford and 
Kaeside^ not very much less than the ** Field of the 
Cloth of Gold," as James Ballantyne calls it, of the 
preceding autumn. This was no other than a football 
match, got up under the auspices of the Duke of Buc- 
cleuch, between the men of the Vale of Yarrow and the 
Burghers of Selkirk, the particulars of which will be 
sufficiently explained by an extract from Ballantyne's 
newspaper, written, I can have no doubt, by the Sheriff 
of the Forest. But the part taken 111 this solemnity by 
the Ettrick Shepherd reminds me of an extraordinary 
epistle which Scott had received from him some months 
before this time, and of the account given by Hogg him- 
self, in one of his autobiographies, of the manner in 
which Scott's kindness terminated the alienation it refers 

The Shepherd, being as usual in pecuniary straits^ 


had projected a work, to be called " The Poetic Mir- 
ror," in which should appear some piece by each popular 
poet of the time, the whole to be edited by himself, and 
published for his. benefit ; and he addressed, accordingly, 
to his brother bards, a circular petition for their best 
assistance. , Scott — ^like Byron and most of the other 
persons thus applied to — declined the proportion. The 
letter in which he signified his refusal has hot been pre- 
served I: — ^indeed it is sufficiently remarkable, that of all the 
many letters which Hogg must have received from his 
distingiiished contemporaries, he appears to hare kept 
not one; but Scott's decided aversion to joint-stock 
adventures in j^uthorship must have been well known 
ere nc^w. to Hogg-^^^andaiiall events nobody can suspect 
that his npte of refusal was 'meant to be an unfriendly 
communication* The , Shepherd, however, took some 
phrase in high dudgeon, and penned an answer viru- 
lently insolent in spirit and in language, accusing him 
of base jealousy of his own superior natural genius. I 
am not sure whether it was on this or another occasion 
of the like sort, that James varied the usual formulas of 
epistolary composition, by beginning with " Damned 
Sir," and ending, " Believe me, sir, yours with disgust^ 
&e* 5" but certainly the performance was such that no 
intercourse took place between the parties for some 
weeks, or perhapSr months, afterwards. The letter in 
which Hogg at length solicits a renewal o( kindliness, 
says hothixLg, it may be observed, of the circumstance 
which, according to his autobiography, confirmed by 
the recollection of two friends, whom he names in the 
letter itself (Mr John Grieve and Mr William Laidlaw), 
had really caused him to repent of his suspicions, and 
their outrageous expression* The fatrtwas, that hear- 
ing, shortly after the receipt of the oflfensive epistle, 
that Hogg 'Was confined to his lodgings, in an obscure 


alley of Edinburgh called Gabriel's Road, by a dan- 
gerous illness, Scott called on Mr Grieve to make 
enquiries about him, and to ofifer to take on himself the 
expenses of the best medical attendance. He had, how- 
ever, cautioned the worthy hatter that no hint of this 
offer must reach Hogg.; and in consequence, it might 
perhaps be the Shepherd's feeling at the time that he 
should not, in addressing his life-long benefactor, betray 
any acquaintance with this recent interfereQce on his 
behalf. There can be doubt, however, that he obeyed 
the genuine dictates of his better nature when be penned 
this apologetic effusion : — 

To Walter Scott, Esq. Castle Street, 

« Gabriel's Road, February 28, 1815. 
« Mr Scott, 

" I think it is great nonsense for two jnen who are 
friends at heart, and who ever must be so — indeed it is 
not in the nature of things that they can be otherwise — 
should be proft^sed enemies. 

** Mr Grieve and Mr X<aidlaw, who were very severe 
on me, and to whom. I was obliged to show your letter, 
have long ago convinced me that I mistook part of it, 
and that it was not,n\e you held in such contempt, but 
the opinion of the public. The idea. that you might 
mean that (though I still think . the reading will bear 
either construction) has given me much pain; for I 
know J answered yours intemperately, and in a mortal 
tage. I meant to have enclosed yours, and begged of 
you to return mine, but I cannot find it, and am. sure 
that some one to whom I have been induced to show it, 
has taken it away. However, as my troubles on that 
subject were never like to wesur to an .end, I could, no 
longer resist telling you that I am extremely vexed 
about it. I desire not a renewal of our former intimacy, 


for haply, after what I have written, your family would 
not suiSer it ; but I wish it might be understood that, 
when we meet by chance^ we might shake hands, and 
speak to one another, as old acquaintances, and likewise 
that we may exchange a letter occasionally, for I find 
there are m&ny things which I yearn to communicate to 
you, and the tears rush to my eyes when I consider that 
I may not. 

" If you allow of this, pray let me know, and if you 
do not, let me know. Indeed, I am anxious to hear from 
you, for ' as the day o£ trouble is with me, so shall my 
strength be.' To be friends from the teeth forwards is 
common enough ; but it strikes me that there is some- 
thing still more ludicrous in the reverse of the picture, 
and so to be enemies — and why should I be, from the 
teeth forwardsy 

Yours sincerely, 

James Hogg?" 

Scott's reply was, as Hogg says, " a brief note, telling 
him to think no more of the business, and come to break- 
fast next morning." The misunderstanding being thus 
closed, they appear to have counselled and co-operated 
together in the most cordial fashion, in disciplining their 
rural allies for the muster of Carterhaugh — the Duke 
of Buccleuch's brother-in-law, the Earl of Home, having 
appointed the Shepherd his Lieutenant over the Yarrow 
Band, while the Sheriff took under his special cogni- 
zance the SutorSy i.e. shoemakersy of Selkirk — ^for so the 
burgesses of that town have for ages styled themselves, 
and under that denomination their warlike prowess in 
days of yore has been celebrated in many an old ballad, 
besides the well-known one which begins with 

" 'Tis up wV the Sutors o' Selkirk, 
And 'tis down wi' the Earl of Home!" 


In order to xmderstand all the allusions in the newspaper 
record of this important day, one must be familiar with 
the notes to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border ; but 
I shall not burden it with further comment here. 


*f On Monday, 4th December, there was played, upon the exten- 
sive plain of Carterhaugh, near thd 'junction of the Ettrick and 
YarroWy the greatest match at the ball which has taken place for 
many years. It was held by the people of the Dale of Yarrow, 
against those of the parish of Selkirk ; the former being brought to 
the field by the Right Hon. the Earl of Home, and the Gallant 
Sutors by their Chief Magistrate, Ebenezer Clarkson, Esq. Both 
sides were joined by many volunteers from other parishes ; and the 
appearance of the various parties marching from their different glens 
to the place of rendezvous, with pipes playing and loud acclamations, 
carried back the coldest imagination to the old times when the 
Foresters assembled with the -less peaceable purpose of invading the 
English territory, or defending their own. The romantic character 
of the scenery aided the illusion, as well as the performance of a 
feudal ceremony previous to commencing the games. 

<* His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry came upon 

the ground about 11 o^clock, attended by his sons, the young Earl of 

Dalkeith and Lord John Scott ; the Countess of Home ; the Ladies 

Ann, Charlotte, and Isabella Scott; Lord and Lady Montagu and 

family ; the Hon. General Sir Edward Stopford, K. B. ; Sir John 

Riddell of Riddell; Sir Alexander Don of Newton; Mr Elliot 

Lockhart, member for the county ; Mr Pringle of Whytebank, 

younger ; Mr Pringle of Torwoodlee ; Captain Pringle, Royal Navy ; 

Mr Boyd of Broadmeadows and family; Mr Chisholm of Chisholm; 

Major Pott of Todrig ; Mr Walter Scott, Sheriff of Selkirk- 

shire, and family, — and many other gentlemen and ladies.*— The 

ancient banner of the Buccleuch family, a curious and venerable 

Tehque, emblazoned with armorial bearings, and with the word 

*' BeUendainCf* the ancient war-cry of the clan of Scott, was then 

displayed, as on former occasions when the chief took the field in 

person, whether for the purpose of war or sport. The banner was 

delivered by Lady Ann Scott to Master Walter Scott, younger of 

Abbotsford, who attended suitably mounted and armed, and riding 

over the field, displaying it to the sound of the war-pipes, and amid 


the acclamations of the assembled spectators, who could not be 
fe>yer than 2000 in number. That this singular renewal of aa 
ancient military custom might not want poetical celebrity, verses 
were distributed among the spectators, composed for the occasion by 
Mr Walter Scott and the Bttrick Shepherd. — Mr James Hogg 
acted as aide-de-camp to the Earl of Home in the command of the 
Yarrow men, and Mr Robert Henderson oC Selkirk to Mr Clarkson, 
both of whom contributed not a little to the good order of the day. 

** The ball was thrown up between the parties by the Duke of 
Buccleuch, and the first game wa3 gained, afler a severe conflict of 
an hour and a half duration, by the Selkirk men. The second game 
was still more severely contested, and after a close and stubborn 
struggle of more than three hours, with various fortune, and much 
display of strength and ^lity on both sides^ was at length carried by 
the Yarrow men. The ball sliould theo have been thrown up a 
third time, but considerable difficulty occurred in arranging the vo- 
luntary auxiliaries from other parishes, so as to xnake the match 
equal; and, as the day began to close, it was found imposnble to 
bring the strife to an issue^ by playing a decisive game. 

^* Both parties, therefore, parted with equal honours, but, before 
they lefl the ground, the Sheriff threw up bis hat, and in Lord DaU 
keitirs name and his own, challenged the Yarrow men, on the part 
of the Sutors, to a match to be played upon the first convenient op- 
portunity, with 100 picked men only on each side* The challenge 
was mutually accepted by Lord Home, on his own part, and for 
Lord John Scott, and was received with acclamaidon by the players 
on both sides. The principal gentlemen present took part with one 
side or other, except the Duke of Buccleuch, who remains neutral. 
Great play is expected, and all bets are to be pwd by the losers to 
the poor of the winning parish. We cannot dismiss the subject 
without giving our highest commendation to the Earl of Home, and 
to Mr Clarkson, for the attention which they showed in promoting 
the spirit and good order of the day. For ^he players themselves, it 
was impossible to see a finer set of activ^.and athletic young fellows 
than appeared on the field. , But what we chiefly admired in theif 
conduct was, that though several hun^eds in number, exceedingly 
keen for their respective parties, and engaged in so rough and ani- 
mated a contest, they maintained the mo^t perfect good huniour, and 
showed how unnecessary it is to discourage manly and athletic exer- 
cises among the conmion people, under pretext of maintaining subor- 
dination and good order. We have only to regret» that the great 
concourse of spectators rendered it diflSicult to meption the names of 


the several players ^o distinguished themselves by feats of strength 
or ^Uty ; but we raaat not omit to record, that the first ball was 
hailed by Robert Hall, mason in Selkirk^ and the second by George 
Brodie, from Gi'eatlaws, upon AilUwater. 

•* The Selkirk party wore slips of fir as their mark of distinction— ^ 
the Yarrow men, sprigs of heath. 

" Refreshments were distributed to the players by the Duke of 
Buceleuch's domestics, in a booth erected for the purpose ; and no 
persons were allowed to sell ale or spirits on the ^eld. 

** In the evening there was a dance at the Duke's hunting-seat at 
Bowhill, attended by the nobility and gentry who had witnessed the 
sport of the day ; and the fascination of Gow's violin and band de- 
tained them in the dancing-room till the dawn of the winter morning.** 

The newspaper then gives the songs above alluded 
to^-viz,, Scott's " Lifting of the Banner :" — 

** From the brown crest of Newark its summons extending, 

Our signal is waving in smoke and in flame. 
And each Forester blythe, from his mountain descending. 

Bounds light o'er the heather to join in the game ; 
Then up with the Banner ! let forest winds fan her I 
She has blazed over Ettrick eight ages and moie ; 
Li sport we*ll attend her, in battle defend her, 
With heart and with hand, like our Fathers before/* &c.* 

• — and that excellent ditty by Hogg, entitled " The 
Ettrick Garland, to the Ancient Banner of the House 
of Buccleuch :*' — 

** And hast thou here, like hermit grey. 

Thy mystic characters unroU'd, 
O'er peaceful revellers to play, ' 

Thou emblem .of tlie days of old ? 
All hail ! memorial of the brave. 

The liegeman's pride, the Border's awe I 
May thy grey pennon never wave 

On sterner field than Carterliaugh ! *' &c, 

I have no doubt the Sheriff of the Forest was a prouder 
• See Poetical Works, (Edit, 1834) vol. xi. p. 312. 


man, when he saw his boy ride about Carterhaugh with the 
pennon of Bellenden, than when PlatoiF mounted himself 
for the imperial review of the Champ de Mars. It 
is a pity that I should have occasion to allude, before I 
quit a scene so characteristic of Scott, to another out- 
break of Hogg's jealous humour. His Autobiography 
informs us, that when the more distinguished part of the 
company assembled on the conclusion of the sport to dine 
at Bowhill, he was proceeding to place himself at a par- 
ticular table — ^but the Sheriff seized his arm, told him 
that was reserved for the nobility, and seated him at ^^ 
inferior board — ** between himself and the Laird of Har- 
den" — the first gentleman of the clan Scott. ^^ The fact 
is," says Hogg, " I am convinced he was sore afraid of 
my getting to be too great a favourite among the young 
ladies of Buccleuch I" Who can read this, and not be 
reminded of Sancho Panza and the Duchess? And, 
after all, he quite mistook what Scott had said to him ; 
for certainly there was, neither on this, nor on any simi- 
lar occasion at Bowhill, any high table for the nohility^ 
though there was a side-table for the children^ at which 
when the Shepherd of Ettrick was about to seat himself, 
his friend probably whispered that it was reserved for the** 
" little lords and ladies, and their playmates." This 
blunder may seem undeserving of any explanation ; but 
it is often in small matters that the strongest feelings are 
most strikingly betrayed — and this story is, in exact pro- 
portion to its silliness, indicative of the jealous feeling 
which mars and distorts so many of Hogg's representa- 
tions of Scott's conduct and demeanour. 

It appears from the account of this football match in 
the Edinburgh Journal, that Scott took a lead in pro- 
posing a renewal of the contest. This, however, never 
occurred ; and that it ought not to do so, had probably 
occurred from the first to the Duke of Buccleuch, who 

FOOTBALL MATCH — DBC. 1815, 399 

is mentioned as having alone abstained from laying any 
bets on the final issue. 

When Mr Washington Irving visited Scott two years 
afterwards at Abbotsford, he told his American firiend 
that " the old feuds and local interests, and revelries and 
animosities of the Scotch, still slept in their ashes, and 
might easily be roused ; their hereditary feeling for 
names was still great ; it was not always safe to have 
ever^ the game of football between villages; — the old 
clannish spirit was too apt to break out."* 

The good Duke of Buccleuch's solitary exemption 
from these heats of Carterhaugh, might read a signifi- 
cant lesson to minor politicians of all parties on more im- 
portant scenes. In pursuance of the same peace-making 
spirit, he appears to have been desirous of doing some- 
thing gratifying to the men of the town of Selkirk, 
who had on this, occasion taken the field against his 
Yarrow tenantry. His Grace consulted Scott about the 
design of a piece of plate to be presented to their com- 
munity ; and his letter on this weighty subject must not 
be omitted in the memoirs of a Sheriff of Selkirk : — 

To his Grace the Duke of JBuccletich, Sec, JSowhilL 

" Edinburgh, Thursday, 
<* My dear Lord, 

*^ I have proceeded in my commission about the 

cup. It will be a very handsome one. But I am still 

puzzled to dispose of the birsef in a becoming manner. 

• Irving*8 Abbotsford and Newstead, 1835, p. 40. 

f A birse, or bunch of hog's bristles, forms the cognizance of 
the sutors. When a new burgess is admitted into their community, 
the birse passes round with the cup of welcome, and every elder bro- 
ther dips it into the wine, and draws it through his mouth, before 
it reaches the happy neophyte, who of course pays it similar re- 


It is a most unmanageable decoration. I tried it up^ 
right on the top of the cup ; it loolced like a shaving-* 
brush, and the goblet might be intended to make the 
lather. Then I thought I had a brilliant idea. The 
arms of Selkirk are a. female seated on a sarcophagus, 
decorated with the arms of Scotland, which will make a 
beautiful top to the cup. So I thought of putting the 
birse into the lady's other hand ; but, alas ! it looked so 
precisely like the rod of chastisement uplifted over the 
poor child, that I laughed at the drawing for half an 
hour. Next, I tried to take off the eastigatory appear- 
ance, by inserting the bristles in a kind of handle ; but 
then it looked as if the poor woman had been engaged 
in the capacities of housemaid and child-keeper at once, 
and, fatigued with her double duty, had sat down on the 
wine-cooler, with the broom in one hand, and the bairn 
in the other. At length, after some conference with 
Charles Sharpe, I have hit on a plan, which, I think, 
will look very well, if tolerably executed, — namely, to 
have the lady seated in due form on the top of the lid 
(which will look handsome and will be well taken), and 
to have a thistle wreathed around the sarcophagus and 
rising above her head, and from the top of the thistle 
shall proceed the birse. I will bring a drawing with me, 
and they shall get the cup ready in the mean time* I 
hope to be at Abbotsford on Monday night, to stay for 
a week. My cat has eat two or three birds, while re- 
galing on the crumbs that were, thrown for them. This 
was a breach of hospitality ; but oportet vivere — and mi- 
cat inter omnes — with which stolen pun, and my respect- 
ful compliments to Lord Montagu and the ladies, I 
am, very truly, your Grace's most faithful and obliged 
servant, Walter Scott." 

" P.S. — Under another cover, which I have just re- 


celved, I send the two drawings of the front and reverse 
of the lid of the proposed cup. Your Grace will be so 
good as understand that the thistle, — the top of which 
is garnished with the bristle, — ^is entirely detached, in 
working, frovH the figure, and slips into a socket. The 
following lines are humbly suggei^ted for a motto, being 
taken from aii ancient Scottish canzonetta,-*-unless the 
Yarrow committee can find any better :— 

* The sutor ga*e the sow a kiss ; 

Qmmph ! quo* the sow, it's a* for my birss.* " 

Some weeks before the year 1815 closed, Mr Morritt 
sustained the heaviest of domestic afflictions ; and seve- 
ral letters on that sad subject had passed between 
Rokeby and Abbotsford, before the date of the foU 
lowing : — 

To J. S. S. Morritt, JEsq,, MP., JRokebf/ Park. 

" Edinburgh, 22d Dec. 1815. 

" My dear Morritt, 

" While you know what satisfaction it would have 
given me to have seen you here, I am very sensible of 
the more- weighty reasons which you urge for preferring 
to stay at Rokeby for some time. I only hope you 
will remember that Scotland has claims on you, when- 
ever you shall find your own mind so far at ease as to 
permit you to look abroad for consolation; and if it 
should happen that you thought of being here about 
our time of vacation, I Tiave my time then entirely at 
my own command, and I need not say, that ias much of 
it as could in any manner of way contribute to your 
amusement, is most heartily at yours. I have myself 
at present the melancholy task of watching the declining 
health of my elder brother, Major Scott, whom, I think, 
you have seen. 

VOL. III. 2 L 


** My literary occupation is getting through the press 
the Letters of Paul, of whosejucubrations I trust soon 
to send you a copy. As the observations of a bystander, 
perhaps you will find some amusement in them, espe- 
cially as I had some channels of information not acces- 
sible to every one. The recess of our courts, which 
takes place to->morrow, for three weeks, will give me am- 
ple time to complete this job, and also the second volume 
of Triermain, which is nearly finished, — a strange rude 
story, founded partly on the ancient northern traditions 
respecting the Berserkers, whose peculiar habits, and fits 
of martial frenzy, make such a figure in the Sagas. I 
shall then set myself seriously to the Antiquary, of which 
I have only a very general sketch at present ; but when 
once I get my pen to the paper it will walk fast enough. 
I am sometimes tempted to leave it alone, and try whe- 
ther it will not write as well without the assistance of 
my head as with it. A hopeful prospect for the reader. 
In the mean while, the snow, which is now falling so 
fast as to make it dubious when this letter may reach 
Rokeby, is likely to forward these important avocations, 
by keeping me a constant resident in Edinburgh, in lieu 
of my plan of going to Abbotsford, where I had a number 
of schemes in hand in the way of planting and improv- 
ing. I believe I told you I have made a considerable 
addition to my little farm, and extended my domains 
towards a wild lake, which I have a good prospect of 
acquiring also. It has a sort of legendary fame ; for 
the persuasion of the solitary shepherds who approach 
its banks, is, that it is tenanted by a very large amphi- 
bious animal, called by them ft water-bull, and which 
several of them pretend to have seen. As his dimen- 
sions greatly exceed those of an otter, I am tempted to 
think with Trinculo, * This is the devil, and no mon- 
ster.' But, after all, is it not strange, that as to almost all 



the lakes in Scotland, both Lowland and Highland, such 
a belief should prevail ? and that the description popu- 
lariy given uniformly corresponds with that of the hip- 
popotamus P Is it possible, that at some remote period, 
that remarkable animal, like some others whidh have 
now disappeared, may have been an inhabitant of our 
large lakes ? Certainly the vanishing of the mammoth 
and other animals from the face of creation, renders such 
a conjecture less wild than I would otherwise esteem it. 
It is certain we have lost the beaver, whose bones have 
been more than once found in our Selkirkshire bogs and 
marl-mosses. The remains of the wild bull are very fre- 
quently found ; and I have more than one scull, with 
the horns of most formidable dimensions. 

" About a fortnight ago, we had a great foot-ball match 
in Selkirkshire, when the Duke of Buccleuch raised his 
banner (a very curious and ancient pennon) in great 
form. Your friend Walter was banner-bearer, dressed 
like a forester of old, in green, with a green bonnet, and 
an eagle feather in it ; and, as he was well mounted, and 
rode handsomely over the field, he was much admired 
by all his clansmen. 

" I have thrown these trifles together, without much 
hope that they will aflFord you amusement ; but I know 
you will wish to know what I am about, and I have but 
trifles to send to those friends who interest themselves 
about a trifler. My present employment is watching, 
from time to time, the progress of a stupid cause, in order 
to be ready to reduce the sentence into writing, when 
the court shall have decided whether Gordon of Kenmore 
or MacMichan of Meikleforthhead be the superior of the 
lands of Tarschrechan and Dalbrattie, and entitled to 
the feudal casualities payable forth thereof, which may 
amount to twopence sterling, once in half a-dozen of 
years. Marry, sir, they make part of a freehold quali- 


fication, and the decision may wing a voter. I did not 
send the book you received by the Selkirk coach. I 
wish I could. have had sense enough to send any thing 
which could afford you consolation. I think our friend 
Lady Ltoisa w$s likely to have. had this. attention ; she 
has, God kuowiis.been Jierself tried with affliction, and is 
well acquaiated with the sources from which comfort 
can be. drawn. My wife joins in kindest remembrance^, 
99 do SophicK iand Walter* £v^r yours affectipnately, 
..-..■. \ . : Waltbr Scott." 

This letter is dat^ the 22d of On the 
26 th, John BaUaBtyne» being/theii at ^^bbptsford, writes 
to Messrs Con,^ble :-^^^ Paul is aU in h^nd ;" and an 
envelope, addressed to James Ballantyne on the 29 th, 
has preserved another little fragment of Scott's playM 
doggrell : — 

** Dear James — I'm done, thank God, with the long yarns 
Of the most prosy of Apostles — Paul ; 
And now advance, sweet Heathen of Monkbams, 
.Step out, old quizz. as &st as I can scrawL" 

[ 405 ] 



[The following 19 the Garland referred to at pages 300 and 332, in 
connexion with the novel of Guy Manoering. The ballad was 
taken down from the recitation of Mrs Young of Castle-Douglas, who, 
as her family informed Mr Train, had long been in the habit of re- 
peating it over to them once in the year, in order that it might not 
escape from her memory. No copy of the printed broadside has as 
yet been recovered] . 

Pabt L 


A worthy Lord of birth and state, 
Who did in Durham live of late — 
But I will not declare his name, 
By reason of his birth and fame. 


This Lord he did a hunting go ; 
If you the truth of all would know, 
He had indeed a noble train, 
Of Lords and Knights and Gentlemen. 

This noble Lord he left the train 
Of Lords and Knights and Gentlemen ; 
And hearing not the horn to blow. 
He could not tell which way to go.^ 

406 APPB27DIX, 


Biit iie did wander to and fro. 
Being weary , likewise fiiU of woe : 
At last Dame Fortune was so kind 
That he the Keeper's house did find. 

He went and knocked at the door. 
He thought it was so late an hour. 
The Forester did let him in. 
And kindly entertained him. 


About the middle of the night. 
When as the stars did shine most bright. 
This Lord was in a sad surprise. 
Being wakened by a fearful noise. 

Then he did rise and call with speed. 
To know the reason then indeed. 
Of all that shrieking and those cries 
Which did disturb his weary eyes. 

" I'm sorry. Sir," the Keeper said— 
" That you should be so much afraid ; 
But I do hope all will be well. 
For my Wife she is in travail." 


The noble Lord was learned and wise. 
To know the Planets in the skies. 
He saw one evil Planet reign. 
He called the Forester again. 

He gave him then to understand. 
He'd have the Midwife hold her hand; 
But he was answered by the mM, 
** My Mistress b delivered." 



*At one o'clock that very morn, 
A lovely infant there was born ; 
It was indeed a charming boy, 
Which brought the man and wife much joy. 


The Lord was generous, land, and free. 
And proffered Godfather to be ; 
The Goodman thanked him heartily 
For his goodwill and courtesy. 


A Parson was sent for with speed. 
For to baptize the child indeed ; 
And after that, as I heard say. 
In mirth and joy they spent the day. 


This Lord did noble presents give. 
Which all the servants did receive. 
They prayed God to enrich his store. 
For they never had so much before. 


And likewise to the child he gave 
A present noble, rich, and brave ; 
It was a charming cabinet, 
That was with pearls and jewels set. 


And within it was a chain of goldi 
Would dazzle eyes for to behold ; 
A richer gift, as I may say^ 
Was not beheld this many a day. 


He charged his father faithfully. 
That he himself would keep the key. 
Until the child could write and read— 
And then to give him it indeed ;— 


^.T -•»-.-^»*iv je lilt 


T\e KCDud pars I mw ooniifi. 
Ai vsii a. jc-^rr 39 e'er was tiii»i, 


Jf y oa u-^ triiih of all wcuid kz»w. 

At e!«7en fears of a^ indeed, 

Bocli Greek and Latin be could read. 

Tfien thinkm^ of his cabinet. 
That was with pearls aad jewels se^ 
Ue Mked his father £»■ the key. 
Which he g»re him wigftt tpeedSy; 


And when he did the same unlock^ 
}Ic was with great amazement struck 
When he the riches did behold. 
And likewise saw the chain of Gold. 

But searching farther he did find 
A paper which disturbed his mind. 


That was within the cabinet, 
In Greek and Latin it was writ. 

6. • 
My child, serve God that is on hig\ 
And pray to him incessantly ; 
Obey your parents^ love your hing. 
That nothing may your conscience sting. 

At seven years hence your fate will he. 
You must he hanged upon a tree ; 
Then pray to God both night and day. 
To let that hour pass away, 

When he these woeful lines did read. 
He with a sigh did say indeed, 
" If hanging be my destiny. 
My parents shall not see Qie die ; 


" For I will wander to and fro, 
m go where I no one do know ; 
But first I'll ask my parents' leave, 
In hopes jheir blessing to receive." 


Then locking up his cabinet, 
He went from his own chamber straight 
Unto his only parents dear. 
Beseeching them with many a tear 


That they would grant what he would have— 
•* But first your blessing I do crave. 
And beg you'll let me go away, 
'Twill do me good another day." 


• « . . « « • « 

'« « « « * « 

*' And if I live I will return, 
When seven 3^ears are past and gone.'* 
VOL, III. 2 M 

410 Ippendix. 


Both man and wife did then reply, 
*' I fear, my son, that we shall die^ 
If we should yield to let you go. 
Our aged hearts would break with wxw. 

But he entreated eagerly, 
While they were forced to comply, 
And give consent to let him go. 
But where, alas ! they did not know. 


In the third part you soon shall £nd. 
That fortune was to him most kind. 
And after many dangers past. 
He cante to Durham at the last. 

Part III. 


He went by chance, as I heard say. 
To that same house that very day. 
In which his Godfather did dwell ; 
But mind what luck to him befel : — 


This child did crave a seryice there. 
On which came out his Godfather, 
And seeing him a pretty youth. 
He took him for his Page in truth. 


Then in this place he pleased so wel. 
That 'hove the rest he bore the bell ; 
This child so well the Lord did please. 
He raised him higher by degrees. 


He made him Butler sure indeed. 
And then his Steward with all speed. 
Which made the other servants spite^ 
And envy him both day and night. 


He was Dever false unto bis trust. 
But proved ever true and just ; 
And to the Lord did hourly pray 
To guide him stili both night and day. 

In this place, plainly it appeae^ 
He lived the space of sevea years \ 
His parents then he thought upoi^ 
And of his procnise to retum* 

Then bnmbly of his Lord did owe. 
That he bis free consent m^t bare 
To go jmd see Ins parents dear. 
He had not seen this many a year* 

Then bovn^ \eKrB sway he went. 
Not dreaming of the false intent 
That was contrived against bim then 
By wicked^ filse, deceitfid men. 

They had in his portmanfteaix put 
This iroble Lord*s fine gc^en ci^; 
That when ^e Lord at dinner wai^ 
The cup was missed as come ta pass;. 

" Where can it be?** this Lord did say, . 
" We had it here but yesterday*"— 
The Butler then replied with speech 
" If you will hear the truth indeed^. 

<* Your darling Steward which is gone. 
With feathered nest away is flown ; 
rU warrant yon be baa that, and more 
That doth belca^ unto your store." 



" No," says this Lord, " that cannot he. 
For I have tried hb honesty ;*' 
« Then,** said the Cook, " my Lord, I die 
Upon a tree full ten feet high." 

Then hearing what these men did say. 
He sent a messenger that day, 
To take him with a hue and cry. 
And bring him back immediately* 

They searched his portmanteau with speed. 
In which they found the cup indeed ; 
Then was he struck with sad surprise. 
He could not well believe his eyes. 


The assizes then were drawing nigh. 
And he was tried and doomed to die s 
And his injured innocence 
Could nothing say in his defence. 

But going to the gallows tree. 
On which he thought to hanged be. 
He clapped his hands upon his breast. 
And thus in tears these words exprest :— 

. ** Bhnd Fortune will be Fortune still 
I see, let man do what he will ; 
For though this day I needs must die, 
I am not guilty— no, not I." 

This noble Lord was in amaze, 
He stood and did with wonder gaze ; 
Then he spoke out with words so mild,— 
•* What mean you by that saying. Child ? ** 


** Will that your Lordship," then said he, 
** Grant one day's full reprieve for me, 
A dismal story Til relate, 
Concerning of my wretched fate." 


" Speak up, my child," this Lord did say, 
" I say you shall not die this day— 
And if 1 find you innocent, 
m crown your days with sweet content'* 

He told him all his dangers past. 
He had gone through from first to last, 
He fetched the chain and cabinet. 
Likewise the paper that was writ. 


When that this noble Lord did see* 
He ran to him most eagerly. 
And in his arms did him embrace. 
Repeating of those words in haste.— 


'' My Child, my Child, how blessed am I 
Thou art innocent, and shall not die ; 
For I'm indeed thy Godfather, 
And thou was't born in fair Yorkshire. 


" I have indeed one daughter dear, 
Wliich is indeed my only heir ; 
And I will give her unto thee. 
And crown you with felicity." 

So then the Butler and the Cook 
CTwas them that stole the golden cup) 
Confessed their faults immediately. 
And for it died deservedly. 


This goodly youth, as I do hear, 
Thus raised, sent for his parents dear» 
Who did rejoice theb Child to see— 
And so I end mj Tragedy..