February 1.—A most generous letter (though not more so than I
expected) from Walter and Jane, offering to interpose with their
fortune, etc. God Almighty forbid! that were too unnatural in me to
accept, though dutiful and affectionate in them to offer. They talk of
India still. With my damaged fortune I cannot help them to remain by
exchange, and so forth. He expects, if they go, to go out eldest
Captain, when, by staying two or three years, he will get the step of
Major. His whole thoughts are with his profession, and I understand that
when you quit or exchange, when a regiment goes on distant or
disagreeable service, you are not accounted as serious in your
profession; God send what is for the best! Remitted Charles a bill for
£40—£35 advance at Christmas makes £75. He must be frugal.
Attended the Court, and saw J.B. and Cadell as I returned. Both very
gloomy. Came home to work, etc., about two.
February 2.—An odd visit this morning from Miss Jane Bell of North
Shields, whose law-suit with a Methodist parson of the name of Hill made
some noise. The worthy divine had in the basest manner interfered to
prevent this lady's marriage by two anonymous letters, in which he
contrived to refer the lover, to whom they were addressed, for further
corroboration to himself. The whole imposition makes the subject of a
little pamphlet published by Marshall, Newcastle. The lady ventured for
redress into the thicket of English law—lost one suit—gained another,
with £300 damages, and was ruined. The appearance and person of Miss
Bell are prepossessing. She is about thirty years old, a brunette, with
regular and pleasing features, marked with melancholy,—an enthusiast in
literature, and probably in religion. She had been at Abbotsford to see
me, and made her way to me here, in the vain hope that she could get her
story worked up into a novel; and certainly the thing is capable of
interesting situations. It throws a curious light upon the aristocratic
or rather hieratic influence exercised by the Methodist preachers within
the connection, as it is called. Admirable food this would be for the
Quarterly, or any other reviewers who might desire to feed fat their
grudge against these sectarians. But there are two reasons against such
a publication. First, it would do the poor sufferer no good. Secondly,
it might hurt the Methodistic connection very much, which I for one
would not like to injure. They have their faults, and are peculiarly
liable to those of hypocrisy, and spiritual ambition, and priestcraft.
On the other hand, they do infinite good, carrying religion into classes
in society where it would scarce be found to penetrate, did it rely
merely upon proof of its doctrines, upon calm reasoning, and upon
rational argument. Methodists add a powerful appeal to the feelings and
passions; and though I believe this is often exaggerated into absolute
enthusiasm, yet I consider upon the whole they do much to keep alive a
sense of religion, and the practice of morality necessarily connected
with it. It is much to the discredit of the Methodist clergy, that when
this calumniator was actually convicted of guilt morally worse than many
men are hanged for, they only degraded him from the first to the
second class of their preachers,—leaving a man who from mere hatred
at Miss Bell's brother, who was a preacher like himself, had proceeded
in such a deep and infamous scheme to ruin the character and destroy the
happiness of an innocent person, in possession of the pulpit, and an
authorised teacher of others. If they believed him innocent they did too
much—if guilty, far too little. 
Cause of Truth defended, etc. Two Trials of the Rev. T.
Hill, Methodist Preacher, for defamation of the character of Miss Bell,
etc. etc. 8vo. Hull and London, 1827.
I wrote to my nephew Walter to-day, cautioning him against a little
disposition which he has to satire or méchanceté, which may be a great
stumbling-block in his course in life. Otherwise I presage well of him.
He is lieutenant of engineers, with high character for mathematical
science—is acute, very well-mannered, and, I think, good-hearted. He
has seen enough of the world too, to regulate his own course through
life, better than most lads at his age.
February 3.—This is the first morning since my troubles that I felt
"I had drunken deep
Of all the blessedness of sleep." 
Coleridge's Christabel, Part II.
I made not the slightest pause, nor dreamed a single dream, nor even
changed my side. This is a blessing to be grateful for. There is to be a
meeting of the creditors to-day, but I care not for the issue. If they
drag me into the Court, obtorto collo, instead of going into this
scheme of arrangement, they would do themselves a great injury, and,
perhaps, eventually do me good, though it would give me much pain. James
Ballantyne is severely critical on what he calls imitations of Mrs.
Radcliffe in Woodstock. Many will think with him, yet I am of opinion
he is quite wrong, or, as friend J. F[errier] says, vrong  In the
first place, I am to look on the mere fact of another author having
treated a subject happily as a bird looks on a potato-bogle which scares
it away from a field otherwise as free to its depredations as any one's
else! In 2d place, I have taken a wide difference: my object is not to
excite fear of supernatural tilings in my reader, but to show the effect
of such fear upon the agents in the story—one a man of sense and
firmness—one a man unhinged by remorse—one a stupid uninquiring
clown—one a learned and worthy, but superstitious divine. In the third
place, the book turns on this hinge, and cannot want it. But I will try
to insinuate the refutation of Aldiboronti's exception into the
James Ferrier, one of the Clerks of Session,—the father
of the authoress of Marriage, The Inheritance, and Destiny. Mr.
Ferrier was born in 1744, and died in 1829.
From the 19th January to the 2d February inclusive is exactly fifteen
days, during which time, with the intervention of some days' idleness,
to let imagination brood on the task a little, I have written a volume.
I think, for a bet, I could have done it in ten days. Then I must have
had no Court of Session to take me up two or three hours every morning,
and dissipate my attention and powers of working for the rest of the
day. A volume, at cheapest, is worth £1000. This is working at the rate
of £24,000 a year; but then we must not bake buns faster than people
have appetite to eat them. They are not essential to the market, like
John Gibson came to tell me in the evening that a meeting to-day had
approved of the proposed trust. I know not why, but the news gives me
little concern. I heard it as a party indifferent. I remember hearing
that Mandrin  testified some horror when he found himself bound
alive on the wheel, and saw an executioner approach with a bar of iron
to break his limbs. After the second and third blow he fell a-laughing,
and being asked the reason by his confessor, said he laughed at his own
folly which had anticipated increased agony at every blow, when it was
obvious that the first must have jarred and confounded the system of
the nerves so much as to render the succeeding blows of little
consequence. I suppose it is so with the moral feelings; at least I
could not bring myself to be anxious whether these matters were settled
one way or another.
"Authentic Memoirs of the remarkable Life and surprising
Exploits of Mandrin, Captain-General of the French Smugglers, who for
the space of nine months resolutely stood in defiance of the whole army
of France," etc. 8vo, Lond. 1755. See Waverley Novels, vol. xxxvii. p.
February 4.—Wrote to Mr. Laidlaw to come to town upon Monday and see
the trustees. To farm or not to farm, that is the question. With our
careless habits, it were best, I think, to risk as little as possible.
Lady Scott will not exceed with ready money in her hand; but calculating
on the produce of a farm is different, and neither she nor I are capable
of that minute economy. Two cows should be all we should keep. But I
find Lady S. inclines much for the four. If she had her youthful
activity, and could manage things, it would be well, and would amuse
her. But I fear it is too late a week.
Returned from Court by Constable's, and found Cadell had fled to the
sanctuary, being threatened with ultimate diligence by the Bank of
Scotland. If this be a vindictive movement, it is harsh, useless, and
bad of them, and flight, on the contrary, seems no good sign on his
part. I hope he won't prove his father or grandfather at Prestonpans:—
"Cadell dressed among the rest,
Wi' gun and good claymore, man,
On gelding grey he rode that day,
Wi' pistols set before, man.
The cause was gude, he'd spend his blude
Before that he would yield, man,
But the night before he left the corps,
And never faced the field, man."
See Tranent Muir by Skirving.
Harden and Mrs. Scott called on Mamma. I was abroad. Henry called on me.
Wrote only two pages (of manuscript) and a half to-day. As the boatswain
said, one can't dance always nowther, but, were we sure of the
quality of the stuff, what opportunities for labour does this same
system of retreat afford us! I am convinced that in three years I could
do more than in the last ten, but for the mine being, I fear, exhausted.
Give me my popularity—an awful postulate!—and all my present
difficulties shall be a joke in five years; and it is not lost yet, at
February 5.—Rose after a sound sleep, and here am I without bile or
anything to perturb my inward man. It is just about three weeks since so
great a change took place in my relations in society, and already I am
indifferent to it. But I have been always told my feelings of joy and
sorrow, pleasure and pain, enjoyment and privation, are much colder than
those of other people.
"I think the Romans call it stoicism." 
Addison, Cato, i. 4.
Missie was in the drawing-room, and overheard William Clerk and me
laughing excessively at some foolery or other in the back-room, to her
no small surprise, which she did not keep to herself. But do people
suppose that he was less sorry for his poor sister,  or I for my
lost fortune? If I have a very strong passion in the world, it is
pride, and that never hinged upon world's gear, which was always with
me—Light come, light go.
See p. 83.
February 6.—Letters received yesterday from Lord Montagu, John
Morritt, and Mrs. Hughes—kind and dear friends all—with solicitous
inquiries. But it is very tiresome to tell my story over again, and I
really hope I have few more friends intimate enough to ask me for it. I
dread letter-writing, and envy the old hermit of Prague, who never saw
pen or ink. What then? One must write; it is a part of the law we live
on. Talking of writing, I finished my six pages, neat and handsome,
yesterday. N.B. At night I fell asleep, and the oil dropped from the
lamp upon my manuscript. Will this extreme unction make it go smoothly
down with the public?
Thus idly we "profane the sacred time"
By silly prose, light jest, and lighter rhyme. 
Variation from 2 Henry IV., Act II. Sc. 4.
I have a song to write, too, and I am not thinking of it. I trust it
will come upon me at once—a sort of catch it should be.  I walked
out, feeling a little overwrought. Saw Constable and turned over
Clarendon. Cadell not yet out of hiding. This is simple work. Obliged to
borrow £240, to be refunded in spring, from John Gibson, to pay my
nephew's outfit and passage to Bombay. I wish I could have got this
money otherwise, but I must not let the orphan boy, and such a clever
fellow, miscarry through my fault. His education, etc., has been at my
expense ever since he came from America.
See "Glee for King Charles," Waverley Novels, vol.
xl. p. 40.—J.G.L.
February 7.—Had letters yesterday from Lady Davy and Lady Louisa
Stuart,  two very different persons. Lady Davy, daughter and
co-heiress of a wealthy Antigua merchant, has been known to me all my
life. Her father was a relation of ours of a Scotch calculation. He was
of a good family, Kerr of Bloodielaws, but decayed. Miss Jane Kerr
married first Mr. Apreece, son of a Welsh Baronet. The match was not
happy. I had lost all acquaintance with her for a long time, when about
twenty years ago we renewed it in London. She was then a widow, gay,
clever, and most actively ambitious to play a distinguished part in
London society. Her fortune, though handsome and easy, was not large
enough to make way by dint of showy entertainments, and so forth. So she
took the blue line, and by great tact and management actually
established herself as a leader of literary fashion. Soon after, she
visited Edinburgh for a season or two, and studied the Northern Lights.
One of the best of them, poor Jack Playfair,  was disposed "to shoot
madly from his sphere,"  and, I believe, asked her, but he was a
little too old. She found a fitter husband in every respect in Sir
Humphry Davy, to whom she gave a handsome fortune, and whose splendid
talents and situation as President of the Royal Society gave her
naturally a distinguished place in the literary society of the
Metropolis. Now this is a very curious instance of an active-minded
woman forcing her way to the point from which she seemed furthest
excluded. For, though clever and even witty, she had no peculiar
accomplishment, and certainly no good taste either for science or
letters naturally. I was once in the Hebrides with her, and I admired to
observe how amidst sea-sickness, fatigue, some danger, and a good deal
of indifference as to what she saw, she gallantly maintained her
determination to see everything.  It marked her strength of
character, and she joined to it much tact, and always addressed people
on the right side. So she stands high, and deservedly so, for to these
active qualities, more French I think than English, and partaking of the
Creole vivacity and suppleness of character, she adds, I believe,
honourable principles and an excellent heart. As a lion-catcher, I could
pit her against the world. She flung her lasso (see Hall's South
America) over Byron himself. But then, poor soul, she is not happy. She
has a temper, and Davy has a temper, and these tempers are not one
temper, but two tempers, and they quarrel like cat and dog, which may
be good for stirring up the stagnation of domestic life, but they let
the world see it, and that is not so well. Now in all this I may be
thought a little harsh on my friend, but it is between my Gurnal and
me, and, moreover, I would cry heartily if anything were to ail my
little cousin, though she be addicted to rule the Cerulean
atmosphere.  Then I suspect the cares of this as well as other
empires overbalance its pleasures. There must be difficulty in being
always in the right humour to hold a court. There are usurpers to be
encountered, and insurrections to be put down, an incessant troop,
bienséances to be discharged, a sort of etiquette which is the curse
of all courts. An old lion cannot get hamstrung quietly at four hundred
miles distance, but the Empress must send him her condolence and a pot
of lipsalve. To be sure the monster is consanguinean, as Sir Toby
Lady Louisa Stuart, youngest daughter of John, third Earl
of Bute, and grand-daughter of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
Looked in at Constable's coming home; Cadell emerged from Alsatia;
borrowed Clarendon. Home by half-past twelve.
The well-known Mathematician and Natural Philosopher.
Professor Playfair died in 1819 in his seventy-second year.
Have you seen the famed Bas bleu, the gentle dame Apreece,
Who at a glance shot through and through the Scots Review,
And changed its swans to geese?
Playfair forgot his mathematics, astronomy, and hydrostatics,
And in her presence often swore, he knew not two and two made four.
[Squib of 1811.]
See Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II. Sc. 2.
This journey was made in 1810.—See Life, Chapter xxi.
vol. iii. p. 271.
Lady Davy survived her distinguished husband for more
than a quarter of a century; she died in London, May 1855.
Twelfth Night, Act II. Sc. 3.
My old friend Sir Peter Murray  called to offer his own assistance,
Lord Justice-Clerk's, and Abercromby's, to negotiate for me a seat upon
the Bench [of the Court of Session] instead of my Sheriffdom and
Clerkship. I explained to him the use which I could make of my pen was
not, I thought, consistent with that situation; and that, besides, I had
neglected the law too long to permit me to think of it; but this was
kindly and honourably done. I can see people think me much worse off
than I think myself. They may be right; but I will not be beat till I
have tried a rally, and a bold one.
Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre, then a baron of the
Court of Exchequer in Scotland; he died in June 1837.
February 8.—Slept ill, and rather bilious in the morning. Many of the
Bench now are my juniors. I will not seek ex eleemosynâ a place
which, had I turned my studies that way, I might have aspired to long
ago ex meritis. My pen should do much better for me than the odd £1000
a year. If it fails, I will lean on what they leave me. Another chance
might be, if it fails, in the patronage which might, after a year or
two, place me in Exchequer. But I do not count on this unless, indeed,
the D[uke] of B[uccleuch], when he comes of age, should choose to make
Got to my work again, and wrote easier than the two last days.
Mr. Laidlaw  came in from Abbotsford and dined with us. We spent the
evening in laying down plans for the farm, and deciding whom we should
keep and whom dismiss among the people. This we did on the true
negro-driving principle of self-interest, the only principle I know
which never swerves from its objects. We chose all the active, young,
and powerful men, turning old age and infirmity adrift. I cannot help
this, for a guinea cannot do the work of five; but I will contrive to
make it easier to the sufferers.
This cherished and confidential friend had been living at
Kaeside from 1817, and acting as steward on the estate. Mr. Laidlaw died
in Ross-shire in 1845.
February 9.—A stormy morning, lowering and blustering, like our
fortunes. Mea virtute me involvo. But I must say to the Muse of
fiction, as the Earl of Pembroke said to the ejected nuns of Wilton, "Go
spin, you jades, go spin!" Perhaps she has no tow on her rock. 
When I was at Kilkenny last year we went to see a nunnery, but could not
converse with the sisters because they were in strict retreat. I was
delighted with the red-nosed Padre, who showed us the place with a sort
of proud, unctuous humiliation, and apparent dereliction of the world,
that had to me the air of a complete Tartuffe; a strong, sanguine,
square-shouldered son of the Church, whom a Protestant would be apt to
warrant against any sufferings he was like to sustain by privation. My
purpose, however, just now was to talk of the "strict retreat," which
did not prevent the nuns from walking in their little garden, breviary
in hand, peeping at us, and allowing us to peep at them. Well, now, we
are in strict retreat; and if we had been so last year, instead of
gallivanting to Ireland, this affair might not have befallen—if
literary labour could have prevented it. But who could have suspected
Constable's timbers to have been rotten from the beginning?
Mr. Lockhart says, "I have the best reason to believe that the kind and
manly character of Dandie [Dinmont in Guy Mannering], the gentle and
delicious one of his wife, and some at least of the most picturesque
peculiarities of the ménage at Charlieshope were filled up from
Scott's observation, years after this period , of a family, with
one of whose members he had, through the best part of his life, a close
and affectionate connection. To those who were familiar with him, I have
perhaps already sufficiently indicated the early home of his dear
friend, William Laidlaw." Life, vol. i. p. 268. See also vol. ii. p.
59; v. pp. 210-15, 251; vii. p. 168; viii. p. 68, etc.
Flax on her distaff.
Visited the Exhibition on my way home from the Court. The new rooms are
most splendid, and several good pictures. The Institution has subsisted
but five years, and it is astonishing how much superior the worst of the
present collection are to the teaboard-looking things which first
appeared. John Thomson, of Duddingston, has far the finest picture in
the Exhibition, of a large size—subject Dunluce, a ruinous castle of
the Antrim family, near the Giant's Causeway, with one of those terrible
seas and skies which only Thomson can paint. Found Scrope there
improving a picture of his own, an Italian scene in Calabria. He is, I
think, greatly improved, and one of the very best amateur painters I
ever saw—Sir George Beaumont scarcely excepted. Yet, hang it, I do
except Sir George.
I would not write to-day after I came home. I will not say could not,
for it is not true; but I was lazy; felt the desire far niente, which
is the sign of one's mind being at ease. I read The English in
Italy,  which is a clever book.
The English in Italy, 3 vols., Lond. 1825, ascribed to
the Marquis of Normanby.
Byron used to kick and frisk more contemptuously against the literary
gravity and slang than any one I ever knew who had climbed so high.
Then, it is true, I never knew any one climb so high; and before you
despise the eminence, carrying people along with you, as convinced that
you are not playing the fox and the grapes, you must be at the top.
Moore told me some delightful stories of him. One was that while they
stood at the window of Byron's Palazzo in Venice, looking at a beautiful
sunset, Moore was naturally led to say something of its beauty, when
Byron answered in a tone that I can easily conceive, "Oh! come, d—n me,
Tom, don't be poetical." Another time, standing with Moore on the
balcony of the same Palazzo, a gondola passed with two English
gentlemen, who were easily distinguished by their appearance. They cast
a careless look at the balcony and went on. Byron crossed his arms, and
half stooping over the balcony said, "Ah! d—n ye, if ye had known what
two fellows you were staring at, you would have taken a longer look at
us." This was the man, quaint, capricious, and playful, with all his
immense genius. He wrote from impulse, never from effort; and therefore
I have always reckoned Burns and Byron the most genuine poetical
geniuses of my time, and half a century before me. We have, however,
many men of high poetical talent, but none, I think, of that
ever-gushing and perennial fountain of natural water.
Mr. Laidlaw dined with us. Says Mr. Gibson told him he would dispose of
my affairs, were it any but S.W.S.  No doubt, so should I, and am
wellnigh doing so at any rate. But, fortuna juvante! much may be
achieved. At worst, the prospect is not very discouraging to one who
wants little. Methinks I have been like Burns's poor labourer,
"So constantly in Ruin's sight,
The view o't gives me little fright."
"S.W.S." Scott, in writing of himself, often uses these
three letters in playful allusion to a freak of his trusty henchman Tom
Purdie, who, in his joy on hearing of the baronetcy, proceeded to mark
every sheep on the estate with a large letter "S" in addition to the
owner's initials, W.S., which, according to custom, had already been
stamped on their backs.
[Edinburgh,] February 10.—Went through, for a new day, the task of
buttoning, which seems to me somehow to fill up more of my morning than
usual—not, certainly, that such is really the case, but that my mind
attends to the process, having so little left to hope or fear. The half
hour between waking and rising has all my life proved propitious to any
task which was exercising my invention.  When I get over any knotty
difficulty in a story, or have had in former times to fill up a passage
in a poem, it was always when I first opened my eyes that the desired
ideas thronged upon me. This is so much the case that I am in the habit
of relying upon it, and saying to myself, when I am at a loss, "Never
mind, we shall have it at seven o'clock to-morrow morning." If I have
forgot a circumstance, or a name, or a copy of verses, it is the same
thing. There is a passage about this sort of matutinal inspiration in
the Odyssey,  which would make a handsome figure here if I could
read or write Greek. I will look into Pope for it, who, ten to one, will
not tell me the real translation. I think the first hour of the morning
is also favourable to the bodily strength. Among other feats, when I was
a young man, I was able at times to lift a smith's anvil with one hand,
by what is called the horn, or projecting piece of iron on which
things are beaten to turn them round. But I could only do this before
breakfast, and shortly after rising. It required my full strength,
undiminished by the least exertion, and those who choose to try it will
find the feat no easy one. This morning I had some good ideas respecting
Woodstock which will make the story better. The devil of a difficulty
is, that one puzzles the skein in order to excite curiosity, and then
cannot disentangle it for the satisfaction of the prying fiend they have
raised. A letter from Sir James Mackintosh of condolence, prettily
expressed, and which may be sung to the old tune of "Welcome, welcome,
brother Debtor." A brother son of chivalry dismounted by mischance is
sure to excite the compassion of one laid on the arena before him.
Moore also felt that the morning was his happiest time
for work, but he preferred "composing" in bed! He says somewhere that he
would have passed half his days in bed for the purpose of composition
had he not found it too relaxing.
Yesterday I had an anecdote from old Sir James Steuart Denham, 
which is worth writing down. His uncle, Lord Elcho, was, as is well
known, engaged in the affair of 1745. He was dissatisfied with the
conduct of matters from beginning to end. But after the left wing of the
Highlanders was repulsed and broken at Culloden, Elcho rode up to the
Chevalier and told him all was lost, and that nothing remained except to
charge at the head of two thousand men, who were still unbroken, and
either turn the fate of the day or die sword in hand, as became his
pretensions. The Chevalier gave him some evasive answer, and, turning
his horse's head, rode off the field. Lord Elcho called after him (I
write the very words), "There you go for a damned cowardly Italian," and
never would see him again, though he lost his property and remained an
exile in the cause. Lord Elcho left two copies of his memoirs, one with
Sir James Steuart's family, one with Lord Wemyss. This is better
evidence than the romance of Chevalier Johnstone; and I have little
doubt it is true. Yet it is no proof of the Prince's cowardice, though
it shows him to have been no John of Gaunt. Princes are constantly
surrounded with people who hold up their own life and safety to them
as by far the most important stake in any contest; and this is a
doctrine in which conviction is easily received. Such an eminent person
finds everybody's advice, save here and there that of a desperate Elcho,
recommend obedience to the natural instinct of self-preservation, which
very often men of inferior situations find it difficult to combat, when
all the world are crying to them to get on and be damned, instead of
encouraging them to run away. At Prestonpans the Chevalier offered to
lead the van, and he was with the second line, which, during that brief
affair, followed the first very close. Johnstone's own account,
carefully read, brings him within a pistol-shot of the first line. At
the same time, Charles Edward had not a head or heart for great things,
notwithstanding his daring adventure; and the Irish officers, by whom he
was guided, were poor creatures. Lord George Murray was the soul of the
Macaulay, too, when engaged in his History, was in the habit of
writing three hours before breakfast daily.
I am assured by Professor Butcher that there is no such
passage in the Odyssey, but he suggests "that what Scott had in his mind
was merely the Greek idea of a waking vision being a true one. They
spoke of it as a ὕπαρ opposed to an ὄναρ, a mere dream. These waking
visions are usually said to be seen towards morning.
"In the Odyssey there are two such visions which turn out to be
realities:—that of Nausicaa, Bk. vi. 20, etc., and that of Penelope,
Bk. xix. 535, etc. In the former case we are told that the vision
occurred just before dawn; I. 48-49, αὐτίκα δ' Ἠὼςἦλθεν, 'straightway
came the Dawn,' etc. In the latter, there is no special mention of the
hour. The vision, however, is said to be not a dream, but a true vision
which shall be accomplished (547, οὐκ ὂναρ ἀλλ' ὕπαρ ἐσθλὸν, ὅ τοι
"Such passages as these, which are frequent in Greek literature, might
easily have given rise to the notion of a 'matutinal inspiration,' of
which Scott speaks."
General Sir James Steuart Denham of Coltness, Baronet,
Colonel of the Scots Greys. His father, the celebrated political
economist, took part in the Rebellion of 1745, and was long afterwards
an exile. The reader is no doubt acquainted with "Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu's Letters" addressed to him and his wife, Lady Frances.—J.G.L.
See also Mrs. Calderwood's Letters, 8vo. Edin. 1884. Sir James died in
February 11.—Court sat till half-past one. I had but a trifle to do,
so wrote letters to Mrs. Maclean Clephane and nephew Walter. Sent the
last, £40 in addition to £240 sent on the 6th, making his full equipment
£280. A man, calling himself Charles Gray of Carse, wrote to me,
expressing sympathy for my misfortunes, and offering me half the profits
of what, if I understand him right, is a patent medicine, to which I
suppose he expects me to stand trumpeter. He endeavours to get over my
objections to accepting his liberality (supposing me to entertain them)
by assuring me his conduct is founded on a sage selfishness. This is
diverting enough. I suppose the Commissioners of, Police will next send
me a letter of condolence, begging my acceptance of a broom, a shovel,
and a scavenger's greatcoat, and assuring me that they had appointed me
to all the emoluments of a well-frequented crossing. It would be doing
more than they have done of late for the cleanliness of the streets,
which, witness my shoes, are in a piteous pickle. I thanked the selfish
sage with due decorum—for what purpose can anger serve? I remember once
before, a mad woman, from about Alnwick, baited me with letters and
plans—first for charity to herself or some protégé. I gave my guinea.
Then she wanted to have half the profit of a novel which I was to
publish under my name and auspices. She sent me the manuscript, and a
moving tale it was, for some of the scenes lay in the cabinet à
l'eau. I declined the partnership. Lastly, my fair correspondent
insisted I was a lover of speculation, and would be much profited by
going shares in a patent medicine which she had invented for the benefit
of little babies, I believe. I dreaded to have anything to do with such
a Herod-like affair, and begged to decline the honour of her
correspondence in future. I should have thought the thing a quiz, but
that the novel was real and substantial. Anne goes to Ravelston to-day
to remain to-morrow. Sir Alexander Don called, and we had a good laugh
"Had Prince Charles slept during the whole of the
expedition," says the Chevalier Johnstone, "and allowed Lord George
Murray to act for him according to his own judgment, there is every
reason for supposing he would have found the crown of Great Britain on
his head when he awoke."—Memoirs of the Rebellion of 1745, etc. 4to,
p. 140. London, 1810.—J.G.L.
February 12.—Having ended the second volume of Woodstock last
night, I have to begin the third this morning. Now I have not the
slightest idea how the story is to be wound up to a catastrophe. I am
just in the same case as I used to be when I lost myself in former days
in some country to which I was a stranger. I always pushed for the
pleasantest road, and either found or made it the nearest. It is the
same in writing, I never could lay down a plan—or, having laid it down,
I never could adhere to it; the action of composition always diluted
some passages, and abridged or omitted others; and personages were
rendered important or insignificant, not according to their agency in
the original conception of the plan, but according to the success, or
otherwise, with which I was able to bring them out. I only tried to make
that which I was actually writing diverting and interesting, leaving the
rest to fate. I have been often amused with the critics distinguishing
some passages as particularly laboured, when the pen passed over the
whole as fast as it could move, and the eye never again saw them, except
in proof. Verse I write twice, and sometimes three times over. This may
be called in Spanish the Dar donde diere mode of composition, in
English hab nab at a venture; it is a perilous style, I grant, but I
cannot help it. When I chain my mind to ideas which are purely
imaginative—for argument is a different thing—it seems to me that the
sun leaves the landscape, that I think away the whole vivacity and
spirit of my original conception, and that the results are cold, tame,
and spiritless. It is the difference between a written oration and one
bursting from the unpremeditated exertions of the speaker, which have
always something the air of enthusiasm and inspiration. I would not have
young authors imitate my carelessness, however; consilium non currum
Read a few pages of Will D'Avenant, who was fond of having it supposed
that Shakespeare intrigued with his mother. I think the pretension can
only be treated as Phaeton's was, according to Fielding's farce—
"Besides, by all the village boys I'm shamed,
You, the sun's son, you rascal?—you be damn'd."
Egad—I'll put that into Woodstock.  It might come well from the
old admirer of Shakespeare. Then Fielding's lines were not written. What
then?—it is an anachronism for some sly rogue to detect. Besides, it is
easy to swear they were written, and that Fielding adopted them from
tradition. Walked with Skene on the Calton Hill.
The lines are given in Woodstock, with the following
apology: "We observe this couplet in Fielding's farce of Tumbledown
Dick, founded on the same classical story. As it was current in the
time of the Commonwealth, it must have reached the author of Tom Jones
by tradition, for no one will suspect the present author of making the
February 13.—The Institution for the Encouragment of the Fine Arts
opens to-day, with a handsome entertainment in the Exhibition-room, as
at Somerset House. It strikes me that the direction given by amateurs
and professors to their protégés and pupils, who aspire to be artists,
is upon a pedantic and false principle. All the Fine Arts have it for
their highest and more legitimate end and purpose, to affect the human
passions, or smooth and alleviate for a time the more unquiet feelings
of the mind—to excite wonder, or terror, or pleasure, or emotion of
some kind or other. It often happens that, in the very rise and origin
of these arts, as in the instance of Homer, the principal object is
obtained in a degree not equalled by his successors. But there is a
degree of execution which, in more refined times, the poet or musician
begins to study, which gives a value of its own to their productions of
a different kind from the rude strength of their predecessors. Poetry
becomes complicated in its rules—music learned in its cadences and
harmonies—rhetoric subtle in its periods. There is more given to the
labour of executing—less attained by the effect produced. Still the
nobler and popular end of these arts is not forgotten; and if we have
some productions too learned, too recherchés for public feeling, we
have, every now and then, music that electrifies a whole assembly,
eloquence which shakes the forum, and poetry which carries men up to the
third heaven. But in painting it is different; it is all become a
mystery, the secret of which is lodged in a few connoisseurs, whose
object is not to praise the works of such painters as produce effect on
mankind at large, but to class them according to their proficiency in
the inferior rules of the art, which, though most necessary to be taught
and learned, should yet only be considered as the Gradus ad
Parnassum—the steps by which the higher and ultimate object of a great
popular effect is to be attained. They have all embraced the very style
of criticism which induced Michael Angelo to call some Pope a poor
creature, when, turning his attention from the general effect of a noble
statue, his Holiness began to criticise the hem of the robe. This seems
to me the cause of the decay of this delightful art, especially in
history, its noblest branch. As I speak to myself, I may say that a
painting should, to be excellent, have something to say to the mind of a
man, like myself, well-educated, and susceptible of those feelings which
anything strongly recalling natural emotion is likely to inspire. But
how seldom do I see anything that moves me much! Wilkie, the far more
than Teniers of Scotland, certainly gave many new ideas. So does Will
Allan, though overwhelmed with their rebukes about colouring and
grouping, against which they are not willing to place his general and
original merits. Landseer's dogs were the most magnificent things I ever
saw—leaping, and bounding, and grinning on the canvas. Leslie has great
powers; and the scenes from Moliere by [Newton] are excellent. Yet
painting wants a regenerator—some one who will sweep the cobwebs out of
his head before he takes the palette, as Chantrey has done in the sister
art. At present we are painting pictures from the ancients, as authors
in the days of Louis Quatorze wrote epic poems according to the recipe
of Madame Dacier and Co. The poor reader or spectator has no remedy; the
compositions are secundum artem, and if he does not like them, he is
no judge—that's all.
February 14—I had a call from Glengarry  yesterday, as kind and
friendly as usual. This gentleman is a kind of Quixote in our age,
having retained, in their full extent, the whole feelings of clanship
and chieftainship, elsewhere so long abandoned. He seems to have lived a
century too late, and to exist, in a state of complete law and order,
like a Glengarry of old, whose will was law to his sept. Warmhearted,
generous, friendly, he is beloved by those who know him, and his efforts
are unceasing to show kindness to those of his clan who are disposed
fully to admit his pretensions. To dispute them is to incur his
resentment, which has sometimes broken out in acts of violence which
have brought him into collision with the law. To me he is a treasure, as
being full of information as to the history of his own clan, and the
manners and customs of the Highlanders in general. Strong, active, and
muscular, he follows the chase of the deer for days and nights together,
sleeping in his plaid when darkness overtakes him in the forest. He was
fortunate in marrying a daughter of Sir William Forbes, who, by yielding
to his peculiar ideas in general, possesses much deserved influence with
him. The number of his singular exploits would fill a volume ; for,
as his pretensions are high, and not always willingly yielded to, he is
every now and then giving rise to some rumour. He is, on many of these
occasions, as much sinned against as sinning; for men, knowing his
temper, sometimes provoke him, conscious that Glengarry, from his
character for violence, will always be put in the wrong by the public. I
have seen him behave in a very manly manner when thus tempted. He has of
late prosecuted a quarrel, ridiculous enough in the present day, to have
himself admitted and recognised as Chief of the whole Clan Ranald, or
surname of Macdonald. The truth seems to be, that the present Clanranald
is not descended from a legitimate Chieftain of the tribe; for, having
accomplished a revolution in the sixteenth century, they adopted a
Tanist, or Captain—that is, a Chief not in the direct line of
succession, a certain Ian Moidart, or John of Moidart, who took the
title of Captain of Clanranald, with all the powers of Chief, and even
Glengarry's ancestor recognised them as chiefs de facto if not de
jure. The fact is, that this elective power was, in cases of insanity,
imbecility, or the like, exercised by the Celtic tribes; and though Ian
Moidart was no chief by birth, yet by election he became so, and
transmitted his power to his descendants, as would King William III., if
he had had any. So it is absurd to set up the jus sanguinis now, which
Glengarry's ancestors did not, or could not, make good, when it was a
right worth combating for. I wrought out my full task yesterday.
Colonel Ranaldson Macdonell of Glengarry. He died in
Saw Cadell as I returned from the Court. He seems dejected, apprehensive
of another trustee being preferred to Cowan, and gloomy about the extent
of stock of novels, etc., on hand. He infected me with his want of
spirits, and I almost wish my wife had not asked Mr. Scrope and Charles
K. Sharpe for this day. But the former sent such loads of game that Lady
Scott's gratitude became ungovernable. I have not seen a creature at
dinner since the direful 17th January, except my own family and Mr.
Laidlaw. The love of solitude increases by indulgence; I hope it will
not diverge into misanthropy. It does not mend the matter that this is
the first day that a ticket for sale is on my house. Poor No. 39. 
One gets accustomed even to stone walls, and the place suited me very
well. All our furniture, too, is to go—a hundred little articles that
seemed to me connected with all the happier years of my life. It is a
sorry business. But sursum corda.
"We have had Maréchal Macdonald here. We had a capital
account of Glengarry visiting the interior of a convent in the ancient
Highland garb, and the effect of such an apparition on the nuns, who
fled in all directions."—Scott to Skene, Edinburgh, 24th June 1825.
No. 39 Castle Street, which had been occupied by him from
1802, when he removed from No. 10 in the same street. The situation
suited him, as the houses of nearly all his friends were within a circle
of a few hundred yards. For description see Life, vol. v. pp. 321,
My two friends came as expected, also Missie, and stayed till half-past
ten. Promised Sharpe the set of Piranesi's views in the dining-parlour.
They belonged to my uncle, so I do not like to sell them. 
See below, March 12.
February 15.—Yesterday I did not write a line of Woodstock. Partly,
I was a little out of spirits, though that would not have hindered.
Partly, I wanted to wait for some new ideas—a sort of collecting of
straw to make bricks of. Partly, I was a little too far beyond the
press. I cannot pull well in long traces, when the draught is too far
behind me. I love to have the press thumping, clattering, and banging in
my rear; it creates the necessity which almost always makes me work
best. Needs must when the devil drives—and drive he does even according
to the letter. I must work to-day, however. Attended a meeting of the
Faculty about our new library. I spoke—saying that I hoped we would now
at length act upon a general plan, and look forward to commencing upon
such a scale as would secure us at least for a century against the petty
and partial management, which we have hitherto thought sufficient, of
fitting up one room after another. Disconnected and distant, these have
been costing large sums of money from time to time, all now thrown away.
We are now to have space enough for a very large range of buildings,
which we may execute in a simple taste, leaving Government to ornament
them if they shall think proper—otherwise, to be plain, modest, and
handsome, and capable of being executed by degrees, and in such
portions as convenience may admit of.
Poor James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, came to advise with me about his
affairs,—he is sinking under the times; having no assistance to give
him, my advice, I fear, will be of little service. I am sorry for him if
that would help him, especially as, by his own account, a couple of
hundred pounds would carry him on.
February 16.—"Misfortune's gowling bark"  comes louder and
louder. By assigning my whole property to trustees for behoof of
creditors, with two works in progress and nigh publication, and with all
my future literary labours, I conceived I was bringing into the field a
large fund of payment, which could not exist without my exertions, and
that thus far I was entitled to a corresponding degree of indulgence. I
therefore supposed, on selling this house, and various other property,
and on receiving the price of Woodstock and Napoleon, that they
would give me leisure to make other exertions, and be content with the
rents of Abbotsford, without attempting a sale. This would have been the
more reasonable, as the very printing of these works must amount to a
large sum, of which they will reap the profits. In the course of this
delay I supposed I was to have the chance of getting some insight both
into Constable's affairs and those of Hurst and Robinson. Nay, employing
these houses, under precautions, to sell the works, the publisher's
profit would have come in to pay part of their debts. But Gibson last
night came in after dinner, and gave me to understand that the Bank of
Scotland see this in a different point of view, and consider my
contribution of the produce of past, present, and future labours, as
compensated in full by their accepting of the trust-deed, instead of
pursuing the mode of sequestration, and placing me in the Gazette.
They therefore expected the trustees instantly to commence a law-suit
to reduce the marriage settlement, which settles the estate upon Walter,
thus loading me with a most expensive suit, and, I suppose, selling
library and whatever they can lay hold on.
Burns's Dedication to Gavin Hamilton—
Now this seems unequal measure, and would besides of itself totally
destroy any power of fancy or genius, if it deserves the name, which may
remain to me. A man cannot write in the House of Correction; and this
species of peine forte et dure which is threatened would render it
impossible for one to help himself or others. So I told Gibson I had my
mind made up as far back as the 24th of January, not to suffer myself to
be harder pressed than law would press me. If this great commercial
company, through whose hands I have directed so many thousands, think
they are right in taking every advantage and giving none, it must be my
care to see that they take none but what law gives them. If they take
the sword of the law, I must lay hold of the shield. If they are
determined to consider me as an irretrievable bankrupt, they have no
title to object to my settling upon the usual terms which the Statute
requires. They probably are of opinion that I will be ashamed to do this
by applying publicly for a sequestration. Now, my feelings are
different. I am ashamed to owe debts I cannot pay; but I am not ashamed
of being classed with those to whose rank I belong. The disgrace is in
being an actual bankrupt, not in being made a legal one. I had like to
have been too hasty in this matter. I must have a clear understanding
that I am to be benefited or indulged in some way, if I bring in two
such funds as those works in progress, worth certainly from £10,000 to
"May ne'er misfortune's gowling bark
Howl through the dwelling o' the Clerk."
Clerk came in last night and drank wine and water.
Slept ill, and bilious in the morning. N.B.—I smoked a cigar, the
first for this present year, yesterday evening.
February 17.—Slept sound, for Nature repays herself for the vexation
the mind sometimes gives her. This morning put interlocutors on several
Sheriff-Court processes from Selkirkshire. Gibson came to-night to say
that he had spoken at full length with Alexander Monypenny, proposed as
trustee on the part of the Bank of Scotland, and found him decidedly in
favour of the most moderate measures, and taking burthen on himself for
the Bank of Scotland proceeding with such lenity as might enable me to
have some time and opportunity to clear these affairs out. I repose
trust in Mr. M. entirely. His father, old Colonel Monypenny, was my
early friend, kind and hospitable to me when I was a mere boy. He had
much of old Withers about him, as expressed in Pope's epitaph—
"O youth in arms approved!
O soft humanity in age beloved." 
His son David, and a younger brother, Frank, a soldier who perished by
drowning on a boating party from Gibraltar, were my school-fellows; and
with the survivor, now Lord Pitmilly,  I have always kept up a
friendly intercourse. Of this gentleman, on whom my fortunes are to
depend, I know little. He was Colin Mackenzie's partner in business
while my friend pursued it, and he speaks highly of him: that's a great
deal. He is secretary to the Pitt Club, and we have had all our lives
the habit idem sentire de republica: that's much too. Lastly, he is a
man of perfect honour and reputation; and I have nothing to ask which
such a man would not either grant or convince me was unreasonable. I
have, to be sure, some of my constitutional and hereditary obstinacy;
but it is in me a dormant quality. Convince my understanding, and I am
perfectly docile; stir my passions by coldness or affronts, and the
devil would not drive me from my purpose. Let me record, I have striven
against this besetting sin. When I was a boy, and on foot expeditions,
as we had many, no creature could be so indifferent which way our course
was directed, and I acquiesced in what any one proposed; but if I was
once driven to make a choice, and felt piqued in honour to maintain my
proposition, I have broken off from the whole party, rather than yield
to any one. Time has sobered this pertinacity of mind; but it still
exists, and I must be on my guard against it.
"O born to arms! O worth in youth approved,
O soft humanity in age beloved!"
—See Pope, Epitaphs, 9.
David Monypenny had been on the Bench from 1813; he
retired in 1830, and died at the age of eighty-one in 1850.
It is the same with me in politics. In general I care very little about
the matter, and from year's end to year's end have scarce a thought
connected with them, except to laugh at the fools who think to make
themselves great men out of little, by swaggering in the rear of a
party. But either actually important events, or such as seemed so by
their close neighbourhood to me, have always hurried me off my feet, and
made me, as I have sometimes afterwards regretted, more forward and more
violent than those who had a regular jog-trot way of busying themselves
in public matters. Good luck; for had I lived in troublesome times, and
chanced to be on the unhappy side, I had been hanged to a certainty.
What I have always remarked has been, that many who have hallooed me on
at public meetings, and so forth, have quietly left me to the odium
which a man known to the public always has more than his own share of;
while, on the other hand, they were easily successful in pressing before
me, who never pressed forward at all, when there was any distribution of
public favours or the like. I am horribly tempted to interfere in this
business of altering the system of banks in Scotland; and yet I know
that if I can attract any notice, I will offend my English friends
without propitiating one man in Scotland. I will think of it till
to-morrow. It is making myself of too much importance after all.
February 18.—I set about Malachi Malagrowther's Letter on the late
disposition to change everything in Scotland to an English model, but
without resolving about the publication. They do treat us very
"O Land of Cakes! said the Northern bard,
Though all the world betrays thee,
One faithful pen thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee." 
Parody on Moore's Minstrel Boy.—J.G.L.
Called on the Lord Chief Commissioner, who, understanding there was a
hitch in our arrangements, had kindly proposed to execute an arrangement
for my relief. I could not, I think, have thought of it at any rate. But
it is unnecessary.
February 19.—Finished my letter (Malachi Malagrowther) this morning,
and sent it to James B., who is to call with the result this forenoon. I
am not very anxious to get on with Woodstock. I want to see what
Constable's people mean to do when they have their trustee. For an
unfinished work they must treat with the author. It is the old story of
the varnish spread over the picture, which nothing but the artist's own
hand could remove. A finished work might be seized under some legal
Being troubled with thick-coming fancies, and a slight palpitation of
the heart, I have been reading the Chronicle of the Good Knight Messire
Jacques de Lalain—curious, but dull, from the constant repetition of
the same species of combats in the same style and phrase. It is like
washing bushels of sand for a grain of gold. It passes the time,
however, especially in that listless mood when your mind is half on your
book, half on something else. You catch something to arrest the
attention every now and then, and what you miss is not worth going back
upon; idle man's studies, in short. Still things occur to one. Something
might be made out of the Pass or Fountain of Tears,  a tale of
chivalry,—taken from the Passages of Arms, which Jacques de Lalain
maintained for the first day of every month for a twelvemonth.  The
first mention perhaps of red-hot balls appears in the siege of Oudenarde
by the citizens of Ghent. Chronique, p. 293. This would be light
"Le Pas de la Fontaine des Pleurs."—Chroniques
J.B. came and sat an hour. I led him to talk of Woodstock; and, to say
truth, his approbation did me much good. I am aware it may—nay,
must—be partial; yet is he Tom Tell-truth, and totally unable to
disguise his real feelings.  I think I make no habit of feeding on
praise, and despise those whom I see greedy for it, as much as I should
an under-bred fellow, who, after eating a cherry-tart, proceeded to lick
the plate. But when one is flagging, a little praise (if it can be had
genuine and unadulterated by flattery, which is as difficult to come by
as the genuine mountain-dew) is a cordial after all. So now—vamos
corazon—let us atone for the loss of the morning.
This hint was taken up in Count Robert of
James Ballantyne gives an interesting account of an
interview a dozen years before this time, when "Tom Telltruth" had a
somewhat delicate task to perform:—
February 20.—Yesterday, though late in beginning, I nearly finished
my task, which is six of my close pages, about thirty pages of print,
to a full and uninterrupted day's work. To-day I have already written
four, and with some confidence. Thus does flattery or praise oil the
wheels. It is but two o'clock. Skene was here remonstrating against my
taking apartments at the Albyn Club,  and recommending that I should
rather stay with them.  I told him that was altogether impossible; I
hoped to visit them often, but for taking a permanent residence I was
altogether the country mouse, and voted for
"The Lord of the Isles was by far the least popular of the
series, and Mr. Scott was very prompt at making such discoveries.
In about a week after its publication he took me into his library,
and asked me what the people were saying about The Lord of the
Isles. I hesitated, much in the same manner that Gil Blas might be
supposed to do when a similar question was put by the Archbishop of
Grenada, but he very speedily brought the matter to a point—'Come,
speak out, my good fellow, what has put it in your head to be on
ceremony with me? But the result is in one word—disappointment!'
My silence admitted his inference to its fullest extent. His
countenance certainly did look rather blank for a few seconds (for
it is a singular fact, that before the public, or rather the
booksellers, gave their decision he no more knew whether he had
written well or ill, than whether a die, which he threw out of a
box, was to turn out a sise or an ace). However, he almost
instantly resumed his spirits and expressed his wonder rather that
his popularity had lasted so long, than that it should have given
way at last. At length, with a perfectly cheerful manner, he said,
'Well, well, James, but you know we must not droop—for you know we
can't and won't give over—we must just try something else, and the
question is, what it's to be?' Nor was it any wonder he spoke thus,
for he could not fail to be unconsciously conscious, if I dare use
such a term, of his own gigantic, and as yet undeveloped, powers,
and was somewhat under forty years old. I am by no means sure
whether he then alluded to Waverley, as if he had mentioned it to
me for the first time, for my memory has greatly failed me touching
this, or whether he alluded to it, as in fact appears to have been
the case, as having been commenced and laid aside several years
before, but I well recollect that he consulted me with his usual
openness and candour respecting his probability of succeeding as a
novelist, and I confess my expectations were not very sanguine. He
saw this and said, 'Well, I don't see why I should not succeed as
well as other people. Come, faint heart never won fair lady—let us
try.' I remember when the work was put into my hands, I could not
get myself to think much, of the Waverley Honour scenes, but to my
shame be it spoken, when he had reached the exquisite scenes of
Scottish manners at Tully-Veolan, I thought them, and pronounced
them, vulgar! When the success of the book so utterly knocked me
down as a man of taste, all that the good-natured Author observed
was, 'Well, I really thought you might be wrong about the Scotch.
Why, Burns had already attracted universal attention to all about
Scotland, and I confess I could not see why I should not be able to
keep the flame alive, merely because I wrote in prose in place of
"—A hollow tree,
A crust of bread and liberty." 
This was a club-house on the London plan, in Princes
Street [No. 54], a little eastward from the Mound. On its dissolution
soon afterwards, Sir W. was elected by acclamation into the elder
Society, called the New Club, who had then their house in St. Andrew
Square [No. 3], and since 1837 in Princes Street [No. 85].
The chain of friendship, however bright, does not stand the attrition of
constant close contact.
Mr. Skene's house was No. 126 Princes Street. Scott's
written answer has been preserved:—
"MY DEAR SKENE,—A thousand thanks for your kind proposal. But I am
a solitary monster by temper, and must necessarily couch in a den
of my own. I should not, I assure you, have made any ceremony in
accepting your offer had it at all been like to suit me.
"But I must make an arrangement which is to last for years, and
perhaps for my lifetime; therefore the sooner I place myself on my
footing it will be so much the better.—Always, dear Skene, your
obliged and faithful, W. SCOTT."
Pope's Imitation of Horace, Bk. ii Sat. 6.—J.G.L.
February 21.—Corrected the proofs of Malachi  this morning; it
may fall dead, and there will be a squib lost; it may chance to light on
some ingredients of national feeling and set folk's beards in a
blaze—and so much the better if it does. I mean better for
Scotland—not a whit for me. Attended the hearing in P[arliament] House
till near four o'clock, so I shall do little to-night, for I am tired
and sleepy. One person talking for a long time, whether in pulpit or at
the bar, or anywhere else, unless the interest be great, and the
eloquence of the highest character, always sets me to sleep. I
impudently lean my head on my hand in the Court and take my nap without
shame. The Lords may keep awake and mind their own affairs. Quod supra
nos nihil ad nos. These clerks' stools are certainly as easy seats as
are in Scotland, those of the Barons of Exchequer always excepted.
These Letters appeared in the Edinburgh Weekly Journal
in February and March 1826. "They were then collected into a pamphlet,
and ran through numerous editions; in the subsequent discussions in
Parliament, they were frequently referred to; and although an elaborate
answer by the then Secretary of the Admiralty, Mr. Croker, attracted
much notice, and was, by the Government of the time, expected to
neutralise the effect of the northern lucubrations—the proposed
measure, as regarded Scotland, was ultimately abandoned, and that result
was universally ascribed to Malachi Malagrowther."—Scott's Misc.
Works, vol. xxi.
February 22.—Paid Lady Scott her fortnight's allowance, £24.
Ballantyne breakfasted, and is to negotiate about Malachi with
Constable and Blackwood. It reads not amiss; and if I can get a few
guineas for it I shall not be ashamed to take them; for paying Lady
Scott, I have just left between £3 and £4 for any necessary occasion
and my salary does not become due until 20th March, and the expense of
removing, etc., is to be provided for:
"But shall we go mourn for that, my dear?
The cold moon shines by night,
And when we wander here and there,
We then do go most right." 
Winter's Tale, Act iv. Sc. 2, slightly altered.
The mere scarcity of money (so that actual wants are provided) is not
poverty—it is the bitter draft to owe money which we cannot pay.
Laboured fairly at Woodstock to-day, but principally in revising and
adding to Malachi, of which an edition as a pamphlet is anxiously
desired. I have lugged in my old friend Cardrona —I hope it will
not be thought unkindly. The Banks are anxious to have it published.
They were lately exercising lenity towards me, and if I can benefit
them, it will be an instance of the "King's errand lying in the cadger's
The late Mr. Williamson of Cardrona in Peeblesshire, was
a strange humorist, of whom Sir Walter told many stories. The allusion
here is to the anecdote of the Leetle Anderson in the first of
Malachi's Epistles.:—See Scott's Prose Miscellanies, vol. xxi. p.
February 23.—Corrected two sheets of Woodstock this morning. These
are not the days of idleness. The fact is, that the not seeing company
gives me a command of my time which I possessed at no other period in my
life, at least since I knew how to make some use of my leisure. There is
a great pleasure in sitting down to write with the consciousness that
nothing will occur during the day to break the spell. Detained in the
Court till past three, and came home just in time to escape a terrible
squall. I am a good deal jaded, and will not work till after dinner.
There is a sort of drowsy vacillation of mind attends fatigue with me. I
can command my pen as the school copy recommends, but cannot equally
command my thought, and often write one word for another. Read a little
volume called The Omen —very well written—deep and powerful
language. Aut Erasmus aut Diabolus, it is Lockhart or I am strangely
deceived. It is passed for Wilson's though, but Wilson has more of the
falsetto of assumed sentiment, less of the depth of gloomy and powerful
The Omen, by Galt, had just been published.—See Sir
Walter's review of this novel in the Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol.
xviii. p. 333. John Gait died at Greenock in April 1839.—J.G.L.
February 24.—Went down to printing-office after the Court, and
corrected Malachi. J.B.'s name is to be on the imprint, so he will
subscribe the book. He reproaches me with having taken much more pains
on this temporary pamphlet than on works which have a greater interest
on my fortunes. I have certainly bestowed enough of revision and
correction. But the cases are different. In a novel or poem, I run the
course alone—here I am taking up the cudgels, and may expect a drubbing
in return. Besides, I do feel that this is public matter in which the
country is deeply interested; and, therefore, is far more important than
anything referring to my fame or fortune alone. The pamphlet will soon
be out—meantime Malachi prospers and excites much attention.  The
Banks have bespoke 500 copies. The country is taking the alarm; and I
think the Ministers will not dare to press the measure. I should rejoice
to see the old red lion ramp a little, and the thistle again claim its
nemo me impune. I do believe Scotsmen will show themselves unanimous
at least where their cash is concerned. They shall not want backing. I
incline to cry with Biron in Love's Labour's Lost,
"More Atés, more Atés! stir them on."
"A Letter from Malachi Malagrowther, Esq., to the Editor
of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal, on the proposed Change of Currency,
and other late alterations as they affect, or are intended to affect,
the Kingdom of Scotland. 8 vo, Edin. 1826."
I suppose all imaginative people feel more or less of excitation from a
scene of insurrection or tumult, or of general expression of national
feeling. When I was a lad, poor Davie Douglas  used to accuse me of
being cupidus novarum rerum, and say that I loved the stimulus of a
broil. It might be so then, and even still—
The motto to the epistle was:—
"When the pipes begin to play
Tutti taittie to the drum,
Out claymore and down wi' gun,
And to the rogues again."
In the next edition it was suppressed, as some friends thought it might
be misunderstood. Mr. Croker in his reply had urged that if the author
appealed to the edge of the claymore at Prestonpans, he might refer him
to the point of the bayonet at Culloden.—See Croker's Correspondence,
vol. i. pp. 317-320, and Scott's Life, vol. viii. pp. 301-5.
"Even in our ashes glow their wonted fires." 
Lord Reston, who died at Gladsmuir in 1819. He was one of
Scott's companions at the High School.—See Life., vol. i. p. 40.
Whimsical enough that when I was trying to animate Scotland against the
currency bill, John Gibson brought me the deed of trust, assigning my
whole estate to be subscribed by me; so that I am turning patriot, and
taking charge of the affairs of the country, on the very day I was
proclaiming myself incapable of managing my own. What of that? The
eminent politician, Quidnunc,  was in the same condition. Who
would think of their own trumpery debts, when they are taking the
support of the whole system of Scottish banking on their shoulders? Odd
enough too—on this day, for the first time since the awful 17th
January, we entertain at dinner—Lady Anna Maria Elliot,  W. Clerk,
John A. Murray,  and Thomas Thomson,  as if we gave a dinner on
account of my cessio fori.
See Gray's Elegy.—J.G.L.
In Arthur Murphy's farce of The Upholsterer, or What
February 25.—Our party yesterday went off very gaily; much laugh and
fun, and I think I enjoyed it more from the rarity of the event—I mean
from having seen society at home so seldom of late. My head aches
slightly though; yet we were but a bottle of Champagne, one of Port, one
of old Sherry, and two of Claret, among four gentlemen and three ladies.
I have been led from this incident to think of taking chambers near
Clerk, in Rose Court.  Methinks the retired situation should suit me
well. There a man and woman would be my whole establishment. My
superfluous furniture might serve, and I could ask a friend or two to
dinner, as I have been accustomed to do. I will look at the place
Lady Anna Maria Elliot, daughter of the first Earl of
Minto. She married Sir Rufane Donkin in 1832.
Afterwards Lord Advocate, 1834 and 1835, and Judge under
the title of Lord Murray from 1839; he died in 1859.
The learned editor of the Acts of the Parliaments of
Scotland, in 10 vols. folio, Edin. 1814-24; he succeeded Sir Walter as
President of the Bannatyne Club in 1832, and died in 1852.
Rose Court, where Mr. Clerk had a bachelor's
establishment, was situated immediately behind St. Andrew's Church,
George Street. The name disappeared from our Street Directories shortly
after Mr. Clerk's death in 1847.
I must set now to a second epistle of Malachi to the Athenians. If I
can but get the sulky Scottish spirit set up, the devil won't turn them.
"Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu' sprush;
We'll over the Border, and give them a brush;
There's somebody there we'll teach better behaviour;
Hey, Johnnie lad, cock up your beaver." 
Burns, in Johnson's Musical Museum, No. 319.
February 26.—Spent the morning and till dinner on Malachi's second
epistle to the Athenians. It is difficult to steer betwixt the natural
impulse of one's national feelings setting in one direction, and the
prudent regard to the interests of the empire and its internal peace and
quiet, recommending less vehement expression. I will endeavour to keep
sight of both. But were my own interests alone concerned, d—n me but I
would give it them hot! Had some valuable communications from Colin
Mackenzie and Lord Medwyn, which will supply my plentiful lack of facts.
Received an anonymous satire in doggrel, which, having read the first
verse and last, I committed to the flames. Peter Murray, son of the
clever Lord Elibank, called and sat half-an-hour—an old friend, and
who, from the peculiarity and originality of his genius, is one of the
most entertaining companions I have ever known.  But I must finish
One of the nineteen original members of The Club.—See
Mr. Irving's letter with names, Life, vol. i. pp. 207-8, and Scott's
joyous visit in 1793 to Meigle, pp. 292-4.
February 27.—Malachi is getting on; I must finish him to-night. I
dare say some of my London friends will be displeased—Canning perhaps,
for he is engoué of Huskisson. Can't help it.
The place I looked at won't do; but I really must get some lodging, for,
reason or none, Dalgleish  will not leave me, and cries and makes a
scene. Now if I stayed alone in a little set of chambers, he would serve
greatly for my accommodation. There are some nice places of the kind in
the. New Buildings, but they are distant from the Court, and I cannot
walk well on the pavement. It is odd enough that just when I had made a
resolution to use my coach frequently I ceased to keep one—in town at
Dalgleish was Sir Walter's butler. He said he cared not
how much his wages were reduced—but go he would not.—J.G.L.
February 28.—Completed Malachi to-day. It is more serious than the
first, and in some places perhaps too peppery. Never mind, if you would
have a horse kick, make a crupper out of a whin-cow,  and I trust to
see Scotland kick and fling to some purpose. Woodstock lies back for
this. But quid non pro patria?
Whin-cow—Anglicè, a bush of furze.—J.G.L.