The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford September, 1827
by Sir Walter Scott
September 1.—Colonel Ferguson and Colonel Byers breakfasted; the
latter from India, the nephew of the old antiquarian;  but I had not
an opportunity to speak to him about the Eastern information required
for the Chronicles. Besides, my review is not finished, though I
wrought hard to-day. Sir William Hamilton and his brother, Captain
Hamilton, called; also young Davidoff. I am somewhat sorry for my young
friend. His friends permit him to remain too long in Britain to be happy
in Russia. Yet this [is a] prejudice of those who suppose that when the
institutions and habits by which they are governed come to be known to
strangers, they must become exclusively attached to them. This is not
so. The Hottentot returns from civilisation to the wild manners of his
kraal, and wherefore should not a Russian resume his despotic ideas when
returned to his country?
 James Byers, 1733-1817.
September 2.—This was a very warm day. I remained at home, chiefly
engaged in arranging papers, as I go away to-morrow. It is lucky these
starts happen from time to time as I should otherwise never get my table
clear. At five o'clock the air became cooler, and I sat out of doors and
played with the children. Anne, who had been at Mertoun the day before,
brought up Anne and Elizabeth Scott  with her, and Francis has been
with us since yesterday. Richardson left us.
 Anne Scott of Harden, afterwards wife of Lord Jerviswoode,
and Elizabeth of Colonel Charles Wyndham.
September 3.—Went on with my arranging of papers till twelve, when I
took chaise and arrived at Melville Castle.
Found Lord and Lady M. and the two young ladies. Dr. Hope, my old
school-fellow James Hope  and his son, made up our party, which was
very pleasant. After they went away we had some private conversation
about politics. The Whigs and Tories of the Cabinet are strangely
divided, the former desiring to have Mr. Herries for Chancellor of the
Exchequer, the latter to have Lord Palmerston, that Calcraft may be
Secretary of War. The King has declared firmly for Herries, on which
Lord Goderich with tears entreated Herries to remove the bone of
contention by declining to accept. The King called him a blubbering
fool. That the King does not like or trust the Whigs is obvious from his
passing over Lord Lansdowne, a man who, I should suppose, is infinitely
better fitted for a Premier than Goderich. But he probably looks with no
greater [favour] on the return of the High Tories. I fear he may wish to
govern by the system of bascule, or balancing the two parties, a
perilous game . The Advocate  also dined with us.
 James Hope, W.S., Scott's school-fellow, died in Edinburgh
14th November 1842.
 Greville, vol. i. pp. 110-113.
 Sir W. Rae, who was Lord Advocate from 1819 to 1830.
September 4, [Edinburgh].—Came into town after breakfast, and saw
Gibson, whose account of affairs is comfortable. Also William Clerk,
whom I found quite ready and willing to stand my friend if Gourgaud
should come my road. He agrees with me that there is no reason why he
should turn on me, but that if he does, reason or none, it is best to
stand buff to him. It is clear to me that what is least forgiven in a
man of any mark or likelihood is want of that article blackguardly
called pluck. All the fine qualities of genius cannot make amends for
it. We are told the genius of poets especially is irreconcilable with
this species of grenadier accomplishment . If so, quel chien de
génie! Saw Lady Compton. I dine with her to-day, and go to Glasgow with
 See letter to Duke of Buccleuch on James Hogg at p. 40.
September 5.—Dined with Lady Compton yesterday, and talked over old
stories until nine, our tête-à-tête being a very agreeable one. Then
hence to my good friend John Gibson's, and talked with him of sundries.
I had an odd dream last night. It seemed to me that I was at a panorama,
when a vulgar little man behind me was making some very clever but
impudent remarks on the picture, and at the same time seemed desirous of
information, which no one would give him. I turned round and saw a young
fellow dressed like a common carter, with a blue coat and red waistcoat,
and a whip tied across him. He was young, with a hatchet-face, which was
turned to a brick colour by exposure to the weather, sharp eyes, and in
manner and voice not unlike John Leyden. I was so much struck with his
countenance and talents that I asked him about his situation, and
expressed a wish to mend it. He followed me, from the hopes which I
excited, and we had a dreadful walk among ruins, and afterwards I found
myself on horseback, and in front of a roaring torrent. I plunged in as
I have formerly done in good sad earnest, and got to the other side.
Then I got home among my children and grandchildren, and there also was
my genius. Now this would defy Daniel and the soothsayers to boot; nor
do I know why I should now put it down, except that I have seldom seen a
portrait in life which was more strongly marked on my memory than that
man's. Perhaps my genius was Mr. Dickinson, papermaker, who has
undertaken that the London creditors who hold Constable's bills will be
satisfied with 10s. in the pound. This would be turning a genius to
purpose, for 6s. 8d. is provided, and they can have no difficulty about
3s. 4d. These debts, for which I am legally responsible, though no party
to their contraction, amount to £30,000 odds. Now if they can be cleared
for £15,000 it is just so much gained. This would be a giant step to
freedom. I see in my present comfortable quarters  some of my own
old furniture in Castle St., which gives me rather queer feelings. I
remember poor Charlotte and I having so much thought about buying these
things. Well, they are in kind and friendly hands.
 No. 10 Walker Street.
September 6.—Went with Lady Compton to Glasgow, and had as pleasant a
journey as the kindness, wit, and accomplishment of my companion could
make it. Lady C. gives an admirable account of Rome, and the various
strange characters she has met in foreign parts. I was much taken with
some stories out of a romance called Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse, by
a certain Count John Polowsky [Potocki?], a Pole. It seems betwixt the
style of Cazotti, Count Hamilton and Le Sage. The Count was a toiler
after supernatural secrets, an adept, and understood the cabbala. He put
himself to death, with many odd circumstances, inferring derangement. I
am to get a sight of the book if it be possible. At Glasgow (Buck's
Head) we met Mrs. Maclean Clephane and her two daughters, and there was
much joy. After the dinner the ladies sung, particularly Anna Jane, who
has more taste and talent of every kind than half the people going with
great reputations on their backs.
A very pleasant day was paid for by a restless night.
September 7.—This day had calls from Lord Provost and Mr. Rutherford
(William) with invitations, which I declined. Read in manuscript a very
clever play (comedy) by Miss A.J. Clephane in the old style, which was
very happily imitated. The plot was confused—too much taking and
retaking of prisoners, but the dialogue was excellent.
Took leave of these dear friends, never perhaps to meet all together
again, for two of us are old. Went down by steam to Colonel Campbell's,
Blythswood House, where I was most courteously received by him and his
sisters. We are kinsfolk and very old acquaintance. His seat here is a
fine one; the house is both grand and comfortable.
We walked to Lawrence Lockhart's of Inchinnan, within a mile of
Blythswood House. It is extremely nice and comfortable, far beyond the
style of a Scotch clergyman; but Lawrence is wealthy. I found John
Lockhart and Sophia there, returned from Largs. We all dined at Colonel
Campbell's on turtle, and all manner of good things. Miss A. and H.
Walker were there. The sleep at night made amends for the Buck's Head.
September 8.—Colonel Campbell carried me to breakfast in Glasgow, and
at ten I took chaise for Corehouse, where I found my old friend George
Cranstoun rejoiced to see me, and glad when I told him what Lord Newton
had determined in my affairs. I should observe I saw the banks of the
Clyde above Hamilton much denuded of its copse, untimely cut; and the
stools ill cut, and worse kept. Cranstoun and I walked before dinner. I
never saw the great fall of Corehouse from this side before, and I think
it the best point, perhaps; at all events, it is not that from which it
is usually seen; so Lord Corehouse has the sight and escapes the
tourists. Dined with him, his sister Mrs. Cunningham, and Corehouse.
I omitted to mention in yesterday's note that within Blythswood
plantation, near to the Bridge of Inchinnan, the unfortunate Earl of
Argyle was taken in 1685, at a stone called Argyle's Stone. Blythswood
says the Highland drovers break down his fences in order to pay a visit
to the place. The Earl had passed the Cart river, and was taken on the
September 9.—This is a superb place of Corehouse's. Cranstoun has as
much feeling about improvement as other things. Like all new improvers,
he is at more expense than is necessary, plants too thick, and trenches
where trenching is superfluous. But this is the eagerness of a young
artist. Besides the grand lion, the Fall of Clyde, he has more than one
lion's whelp; a fall of a brook in a cleugh called Mill's Gill must be
superb in rainy weather. The old Castle of Corehouse is much more
castle-like on this than from the other side.
Left Corehouse at eight in the morning, and reached Lanark by half-past
nine. I was thus long in travelling three miles because the postilion
chose to suppose I was bound for Biggar, and was two miles ere I
discovered what he was doing. I thought he aimed at crossing the Clyde
by some new bridge above Bonnington. Breakfasted at Lanark with the
Lockharts, and reached Abbotsford this evening by nine o'clock.
Thus ends a pleasant expedition among the people I like most. Drawback
only one. It has cost me £15, including two gowns for Sophia and Anne;
and I have lost six days' labour. Both may be soon made up.
N.B.—We lunched (dined, videlicet) with Professor Wilson at
Inverleithen, and met James Hogg, 
 Scott's unwearied interest in James Hogg, despite the
waywardness of this imaginative genius, is one of the most beautiful
traits in his character. Readers of Mr. Lockhart's Life, do not
require to be reminded of the active part he took in promoting the
welfare of the "Ettrick Shepherd" on many occasions, from the outset of
their acquaintance in 1801 until the end of his life.
Hogg was a strange compound of boisterous roughness and refinement in
expression, and these odd contrasts surprised strangers such as Moore
and Ticknor. The former was shocked, and the latter said his
conversation was a perpetual contradiction to the exquisite delicacy of
The critics of the day, headed by Professor Wilson, declared he was
Burns's rival as a song-writer, and his superior in anything relating to
external nature! indeed they wrote of him as unsurpassed by poet or
painter in his fairy tales of ancient time, dubbing him Poet Laureate to
the Queen of Elfland; and yet his unrefined manner tempted these friends
to speak of him familiarly as the greatest hog in all Apollo's herd, or
the Boar of the Forest, etc. etc.
Wordsworth, however, on November 21, 1835, when his brother bard had
just left the sunshine for the sunless land, wrote from his heart the
noble lines ending—
"Death upon the Braes of Yarrow
Closed the Poet Shepherd's eyes."
September 10, [Abbotsford].—Gourgaud's wrath has burst forth in a
very distant clap of thunder, in which he accuses me of combining with
the ministry to slander his rag of a reputation. He be d——d for a
fool, to make his case worse by stirring. I shall only revenge myself
by publishing the whole extracts I made from the records of the Colonial
Office, in which he will find enough to make him bite his nails. Still I
wonder he did not come over and try his manhood otherwise. I would not
have shunned him nor any Frenchman who ever kissed Bonaparte's breech.
September 11.—Went to Huntly Burn and breakfasted with Colonel
Ferguson, who has promised to have some Indian memoranda ready for me.
After breakfast went to choose the ground for a new plantation, to be
added next week to the end of Jane's Wood. Came to dinner Lord Carnarvon
and his son and daughter; also Lord Francis Leveson Gower, the
translator of Faust.
September 12.—Walk with Lord Francis. When we return, behold ye!
enter Lady Hampden and Lady Wedderburn. In the days of George Square,
Jane and Maria Brown , beauties and toasts. There was much pleasure
on my side, and some, I suppose, on theirs; and there was a riding, and
a running, and a chattering, and an asking, and a showing—a real scene
of confusion, yet mirth and good spirits. Our guests quit us next day.
 Another, sister Georgiana, married General the Honourable
Sir Alexander Hope, G.C.B., grandfather of Mrs. Maxwell Scott.
September 13.—Fined a man for an assault at Selkirk. He pleaded
guilty, which made short work. The beggarly appearance of the Jury in
the new system is very worthy of note. One was a menial servant. When I
returned, James Ballantyne and Mr. Cadell arrived. They bring a good
account of matters in general. Cadell explained to me a plan for
securing the copyright of the novels, which has a very good face. It
appears they are going off fast; and if the glut of the market is once
reduced by sales, the property will be excellent, and may be increased
by notes. James B. brought his son. Robert Rutherford also here, and
September 14.—In the morning wrote my answer to Gourgaud, rather too
keen perhaps, but I owe him nothing; and as for exciting his resentment,
I will neither seek nor avoid it.
Cadell's views seem fair, and he is open and explicit. His brothers
support him, and he has no want of cash. He sells two or three copies of
Bonaparte and one of the novels, or two, almost every day. He must soon,
he says, apply to London for copies. Read a Refutation, as it calls
itself, of Napoleon's history. It is so very polite and accommodating
that every third word is a concession—the work of a man able to judge
distinctly on specific facts, but erroneous in his general results. He
will say the same of me, perhaps. Ballantyne and Cadell leave us. Enter
Miss Sinclairs, two in number, also a translator, and a little Flemish
woman, his wife—very good-humoured, rather a little given to
compliment; name Fauconpret. They are to return at night in a gig as far
as Kelso—a bold undertaking.
September 16.—The ladies went to Church; I, God forgive me, finished
the Chronicles with a good deal of assistance from Colonel
Ferguson's notes about Indian affairs. The patch is, I suspect, too
glaring to be pleasing; but the Colonel's sketches are capitally good. I
understand, too, there are one or two East Indian novels which have
lately appeared. Naboclish! vogue la galère!
 Chronicles of the Canongate. First Series, ending with
the story of The Surgeon's Daughter.
September 17.—Received from James B. the proofs of my reply to
General Gourgaud, with some cautious balaam from mine honest friend,
alarmed by a Highland Colonel, who had described Gourgaud as a mauvais
garçon, famous fencer, marksman, and so forth. I wrote in answer, which
is true, that I would hope all my friends would trust to my acting with
proper caution and advice; but that if I were capable, in a moment of
weakness, of doing anything short of what my honour demanded, I would
die the death of a poisoned rat in hole, out of mere sense of my own
degradation. God knows, that, though life is placid enough with me, I do
not feel anything to attach me to it so strongly as to occasion my
avoiding any risk which duty to my character may demand from me.
I set to work with the Tales of a Grandfather, second volume, and
finished four pages.
September 18.—Wrote five pages of the Tales. Walked from Huntly
Burn, having gone in the carriage. Smoked my cigar with Lockhart after
dinner, and then whiled away the evening over one of Miss Austen's
novels. There is a truth of painting in her writings which always
delights me. They do not, it is true, get above the middle classes of
society, but there she is inimitable.
September 19.—Wrote three pages, but dawdled a good deal; yet the
Tales get on, although I feel bilious, and vapourish, I believe I must
call it. At such times my loneliness, and the increasing inability to
walk, come dark over me, but surely these mulligrubs belong to the mind
more than the body.
September 22.—Captain and Colonel Ferguson, the last returned from
Ireland, dined here. Prayer of the minister of the Cumbrays, two
miserable islands in the mouth of the Clyde: "O Lord, bless and be
gracious to the Greater and the Lesser Cumbrays, and in thy mercy do not
forget the adjacent islands of Great Britain and Ireland."
September 23.—Worked in the morning; then drove over to Huntly Burn,
chiefly to get from the good-humoured Colonel the accurate spelling of
certain Hindu words which I have been using under his instructions. By
the way, the sketches he gave me of Indian manners are highly
picturesque. I have made up my Journal, which was three days in arrear.
Also I wrought a little, so that the second volume of Grandfather's
Tales is nearly half finished.
September 24.—Worked in the morning as usual, and sent off the
proofs and copy. Something of the black dog still hanging about me; but
I will shake him off. I generally affect good spirits in company of my
family, whether I am enjoying them or not. It is too severe to sadden
the harmless mirth of others by suffering your own causeless melancholy
to be seen; and this species of exertion is, like virtue, its own
reward; for the good spirits, which are at first simulated, become at
length real. 
 Mr. Lockhart justly remarks that this entry "paints the
man in his tenderness, his fortitude, and happy wisdom."
September 25, [Edinburgh],—Got into town by one o'clock, the purpose
being to give my deposition before Lord Newton in a case betwixt me and
Constable's creditors. My oath seemed satisfactory; but new reasons were
alleged for additional discussion, which is, I trust, to end this
wearisome matter. I dined with Mr. Gibson, and slept there. J.B. dined
with us, and we had thoughts how to save our copyright by a bargain with
Cadell. I hope it will turn to good, as I could add notes to a future
edition, and give them some value.
September 26, [Abbotsford].—Set off in mail coach, and my horses met
me at Yair Bridge. I travelled with rather a pleasant man, an agent, I
found, on Lord Seaford's  West Indian Estates. Got home by twelve
o'clock, and might have been here earlier if the Tweed had not been too
large for fording. I must note down my cash lest it gets out of my head;
"may the foul fa' the gear, and the blathrie o't,"  and yet there's
no doing either with it or without it.
 Charles Rose Ellis had been created Baron Seaford in
 See Cromek's Reliques of Burns, p. 210.
September 27.—The morning was damp, dripping, and unpleasant; so I
even made a work of necessity, and set to the Tales like a dragon. I
murdered M'Lellan of Bomby at Thrieve Castle; stabbed the Black Douglas
in the town of Stirling; astonished King James before Roxburgh; and
stifled the Earl of Mar in his bath in the Canongate. A wild world, my
masters, this Scotland of ours must have been. No fear of want of
interest; no lassitude in those days for want of work,
"For treason, d' ye see,
Was to them a dish of tea,
And murther bread and butter."
We dined at Gattonside with Mr. Bainbridge, who kindly presented me with
six bottles of super-excellent Jamaica rum, and with a manuscript
collection of poetry, said to be Swift's handwriting, which it
resembles. It is, I think, poor Stella's. Nothing very new in it.
September 28.—Another dropping and busy day. I wrought hard at the
Historical Tales, which get on fast.
September 29.—I went on with the little history which now (i.e.
vol. ii.) doth appropinque an end. Received in the evening [Nos. 37 to
41?] of the Roxburghe publications. They are very curious, and,
generally speaking, well selected. The following struck me:—An Italian
poem on the subject of Floddenfield; the legend of St. Robert of
Knaresborough; two plays, printed from MS. by Mr. Haslewood. It does not
appear that Mr. H. fully appreciated the light which he was throwing on
the theatrical history by this valuable communication. It appears that
the change of place, or of scene as we term it, was intimated in the
In the middle of the stage was placed Colchester, and the sign of
Pigot's tavern—called the Tarlton—intimated what part of the town was
represented. The name was painted above. On one side of the stage was,
in like manner, painted a town, which the name announced to be Maldon;
on the other side a ranger's lodge. The scene lay through the piece in
one or other of these three places, and the entrance of the characters
determined where each scene lay. If they came in from Colchester, then
Colchester was for the time the scene of action. When that scene was
shifted to Maldon, it was intimated by the approach of the actors from
the side where it was painted—a clumsy contrivance, doubtless, compared
to changeable scenery; yet sufficient to impress the audience with a
sense of what was meant.
September 30.—Wet, drizzling, dismal day. I finished odds and ends,
scarce stirring out of my room, yet doing little to the purpose. Wrote
to Sir Henry [Seton Steuart] about his queries concerning transplanted
trees, and to Mr. Freeling concerning the Roxburghe Club books. I have
settled to print the manuscript concerning the murder of the two Shaws
by the Master of Sinclair. I dallied with the precious time rather than
used it. Read the two Roxburghe plays; they are by William Percy, a son
of the eighth Earl of Northumberland; worthless and very gross, but
abounding with matter concerning scenery, and so forth, highly
interesting to the dramatic antiquary.
NOTE on the "grenadier accomplishment" mentioned in p. 30.
In a letter to the Duke of Buccleuch, of May 1818, Scott gives the
following amusing account of an incident in the life of the Ettrick
"Our poor friend Hogg has had an affair of honour.... Two
mornings ago, about seven in the morning, my servant announced,
while I was shaving in my dressing-room, that Mr. Hogg wished
earnestly to speak with me. He was ushered in, and I cannot
describe the half-startled, half-humorous air with which he said,
scratching his head most vehemently, 'Odd, Scott, here's twae
fo'k's come frae Glasgow to provoke mey to fecht a duel.' 'A duel,'
answered I, in great astonishment, 'and what do you intend to do?'
'Odd, I just locket them up in my room and sent the lassie for twae
o' the police, and just gie'd the men ower to their chairge, and I
thocht I wad come and ask you what I should do....' He had already
settled for himself the question whether he was to fight or not,
and all that he had to do was to go to the Police Office and tell
the charge he had to bring against the two Glasgow gentlemen....
The Glaswegians were greatly too many for him [in Court].... They
returned in all triumph and glory, and Hogg took the wings of the
morning and fled to his cottage at Altrive, not deeming himself
altogether safe in the streets of Edinburgh! Now, although I do not
hold valour to be an essential article in the composition of a man
like Hogg, yet I heartily wish he could have prevailed on himself
to swagger a little.... But considering his failure in the field
and the Sheriff Office, I am afraid we must apply to Hogg the
apology which is made for Waller by his biographer: 'Let us not
condemn him with untempered severity because he was not such a
prodigy as the world has seldom seen—because his character
included not the poet, the orator, and the hero.'"