March 1.—Malachi is in the Edinburgh Journal to-day, and reads
like the work of an uncompromising right-forward Scot of the old school.
Some of the cautious and pluckless instigators will be afraid of their
confederate; for if a man of some energy and openness of character
happens to be on the same side with these truckling jobbers, they stand
as much in awe of his vehemence as doth the inexperienced conjurer who
invokes a fiend whom he cannot manage. Came home, in a heavy shower with
the Solicitor. I tried him on the question, but found him reserved and
cautious. The future Lord Advocate must be cautious; but I can tell my
good friend John Hope that, if he acts the part of a firm and resolute
Scottish patriot, both his own country and England will respect him the
more. Ah! Hal Dundas, there was no such truckling in thy day!
Looked out a quantity of things to go to Abbotsford; for we are
flitting, if you please.  It is with a sense of pain that I leave
behind a parcel of trumpery prints and little ornaments, once the pride
of Lady S——'s heart, but which she sees consigned with indifference to
the chance of an auction. Things that have had their day of importance
with me I cannot forget, though the merest trifles. But I am glad that
she, with bad health and enough to vex her, has not the same useless
mode of associating recollections with this unpleasant business. The
best part of it is the necessity of leaving behind, viz., setting rid
of, a set of most wretched daubs of landscapes, in great gilded frames,
of which I have often been heartily ashamed. The history of them was
curious. An amateur artist (a lady) happened to fall into misfortunes,
upon which her landscapes, the character of which had been buoyed up far
beyond their proper level, sank even beneath it, and it was low enough.
One most amiable and accomplished old lady continued to encourage her
pencil, and to order picture after picture, which she sent in presents
to her friends. I suppose I have eight or ten of them, which I could not
avoid accepting. There will be plenty of laughing when they come to be
sold. It would be a good joke enough to cause it to be circulated that
they were performances of my own in early youth, and they would be
looked on and bought up as curiosities. True it is that I took lessons
of oil-painting in youth from a little Jew animalcule, a smouch called
Burrell, a clever sensible creature though; but I could make no progress
either in painting or drawing. Nature denied me correctness of eye and
neatness of hand, yet I was very desirous to be a draughtsman at least,
and laboured harder to attain that point than at any other in my
recollection, to which I did not make some approaches. My oil-paintings
were to Miss ——— above commemorated what hers are to Claude Lorraine.
Yet Burrell was not useless to me altogether neither; he was a Prussian,
and I got from him many a long story of the battles of Frederic, in
whose armies his father had been a commissary, or perhaps a spy. I
remember his picturesque account of seeing a party of the Black Hussars
bringing in some forage carts which they had taken from a body of the
Cossacks, whom he described as lying on the top of the carts of hay,
mortally wounded, and, like the Dying Gladiator, eyeing their own blood
as it ran down through the straw. I afterwards took lessons from Walker,
whom we used to call Blue-beard. He was one of the most conceited
persons in the world, but a good teacher—one of the ugliest
countenances he had too—enough, as we say, to spean weans.  The
man was always extremely precise in the quality of everything about him,
his dress, accommodations, and everything else. He became insolvent,
poor man, and for some reason or other I attended the meeting of those
concerned in his affairs. Instead of ordinary accommodations for
writing, each of the persons present was equipped with a large sheet of
drawing paper and a swan's quill. It was mournfully ridiculous enough.
Skirving  made an admirable likeness of Walker, not a single scar or
mark of the smallpox which seamed his countenance, but the too accurate
brother of the brush had faithfully laid it down in longitude and
latitude. Poor Walker destroyed it (being in crayons) rather than let
the caricature of his ugliness appear at the sale of his effects. I did
learn myself to take some vile views from Nature. When Will Clerk and I
lived very much together, I used sometimes to make them under his
instruction. He to whom, as to all his family, art is a familiar
attribute, wondered at me as a Newfoundland dog would at a greyhound
which showed fear of the water.
The full-length picture of Sir Walter (with, the two
dogs, Camp and the deerhound) by Raeburn, painted in 1809, was at this
time given to Mr. Skene, and remained in his possession till 1831, when
it was sent to Abbotsford, where it now hangs.—See Letter, Scott to
Skene, under January 16th, 1831.
Going down to Liddesdale once, I drew the castle of Hermitage in my
fashion, and sketched it so accurately that with a few verbal
instructions Clerk put it into regular form, Williams  (the Grecian)
copied over Clerk's, and his drawing was engraved as the frontispiece
of the first volume of the Kelso edition, Minstrelsy of the Scottish
Border.  Do you know why you have written all this down, Sir W.?
Because it pleases me to record that this thrice-transmitted drawing,
though taken originally from a sketch of mine, was extremely like
Hermitage, which neither of my colleagues in the task had ever seen? No,
that's not the reason. You want to put off writing Woodstock, just as
easily done as these memoranda, but which it happens your duty and your
prudence recommend, and therefore you are loath to begin.
Spean a wean, i.e. wean a child.
Archibald Skirving (1749-1819), well known as a
portrait-painter in chalk and crayons in Edinburgh in the early part of
I can't say no;
But this piece of task-work off I can stave, O,
For Malachi's posting into an octavo;
To correct the proof-sheets only this night I have, O,
So, Madame Conscience, you've gotten as good as you gave, O
But to-morrow's a new day and we'll better behave, O,
So I lay down the pen, and your pardon I crave, O."
H.W. Williams, a native of Wales, who settled in
Edinburgh at the beginning of this century. His Travels in Italy and
Greece were published in 1820, and the Views in Greece in 1827. This
work was completed in 1829, the year in which he died.
In the evening Mr. Gibson called and transacted business.
Vols. i. and ii. were published in 1802.
March 2.—I have a letter from Colin Mackenzie, approving
Malachi,—"Cold men may say it is too strong; but from the true men of
Scotland you are sure of the warmest gratitude." I never have yet found,
nor do I expect it on this occasion, that ill-will dies in debt, or what
is called gratitude distresses herself by frequent payments. The one is
like a ward-holding and pays its reddendo in hard blows. The other a
blanch-tenure, and is discharged for payment of a red rose or a
peppercorn. He that takes the forlorn hope in an attack, is often
deserted by those that should support him, and who generally throw the
blame of their own cowardice upon his rashness. We shall see this will
end in the same way. But I foresaw it from the beginning. The bankers
will be persuaded that it is a squib which may burn their own fingers,
and will curse the poor pyrotechnist that compounded it; if they do,
they be d—d. Slept indifferently, and dreamed of Napoleon's last
moments, of which I was reading a medical account last night, by Dr.
Arnott. Horrible death—a cancer on the pylorus. I would have given
something to have lain still this morning and made up for lost time. But
desidiae valedixi. If you once turn on your side after the hour at
which you ought to rise, it is all over. Bolt up at once. Bad night
last—the next is sure to be better.
"When the drum beats, make ready;
When the fife plays, march away—
To the roll-call, to the roll-call, to the roll-call,
Before the break of day."
Dined with Chief-Commissioner, Admiral Adam, W. Clerk, Thomson, and I.
The excellent old man was cheerful at intervals—at times sad, as was
natural. A good blunder he told us, occurred in the Annandale case,
which was a question partly of domicile. It was proved that leaving
Lochwood, the Earl had given up his kain and carriages;  this an
English Counsel contended was the best of all possible proofs that the
noble Earl designed an absolute change of residence, since he laid aside
his walking-stick and his coach.
Kain in Scotch law means payment in kind. Carriages
in the same phraseology stands for services in driving with horse and
First epistle of Malachi is getting out of print, or rather is out of
March 3.—Could not get the last sheets of Malachi, Second Epistle,
last night, so they must go out to the world uncorrected—a great loss,
for the last touches are always most effectual; and I expect misprints
in the additional matter. We were especially obliged to have it out this
morning, that it may operate as a gentle preparative for the meeting of
inhabitants at two o'clock. Vogue la galère—we shall see if Scotsmen
have any pluck left. If not, they may kill the next Percy themselves. It
is ridiculous enough for me, in a state of insolvency for the present,
to be battling about gold and paper currency. It is something like the
humorous touch in Hogarth's Distressed Poet, where the poor starveling
of the Muses is engaged, when in the abyss of poverty, in writing an
Essay on payment of the National Debt; and his wall is adorned with a
plan of the mines of Peru. Nevertheless, even these fugitive attempts,
from the success which they have had, and the noise they are making,
serve to show the truth of the old proverb—
"When house and land are gone and spent,
Then learning is most excellent."
On the whole, I am glad of this brulzie, as far as I am concerned;
people will not dare talk of me as an object of pity—no more
"poor-manning." Who asks how many punds Scots the old champion had in
his pocket when
"He set a bugle to his mouth,
And blew so loud and shrill,
The trees in greenwood shook thereat,
Sae loud rang ilka hill"? 
Ballad of Hardyknute, slightly altered.—J.G.L.
This sounds conceited enough, yet is not far from truth.
The meeting was very numerous, 500 or 600 at least, and unanimous, save
in one Mr. Howden, who having been all his life, as I am told, in bitter
opposition to Ministers, proposed on the present occasion that the whole
contested measure should be trusted to their wisdom. I suppose he chose
the opportunity of placing his own opinion in opposition, single
opposition too, to that of a large assembly. The speaking was very
moderate. Report had said that Jeffrey, J.A. Murray, and other sages of
the economical school, were to unbuckle their mails, and give us their
opinions. But no such great guns appeared. If they had, having the
multitude on my side, I would have tried to break a lance with them. A
few short but well-expressed resolutions were adopted unanimously. These
were proposed by Lord Rollo, and seconded by Sir James Fergusson, Bart.
I was named one of a committee to encourage all sorts of opposition to
the measure. So I have already broken through two good and wise
resolutions—one, that I would not write on political controversy;
another, that I would not be named on public committees. If my good
resolves go this way, like snaw aff a dyke—the Lord help me!
March 4.—Last night I had a letter from Lockhart, who, speaking of
Malachi, says, "The Ministers are sore beyond imagination at present;
and some of them, I hear, have felt this new whip on the raw to some
purpose." I conclude he means Canning is offended. I can't help it, as I
said before—fiat justitia, ruat coelum. No cause in which I had the
slightest personal interest should have made me use my pen 'gainst them,
blunt or pointed as it may be. But as they are about to throw this
country into distress and danger, by a measure of useless and
uncalled-for experiment, they must hear the opinion of the Scotsmen, to
whom it is of no other consequence than as a general measure affecting
the country at large,—and mine they shall hear. I had determined to
lay down the pen. But now they shall have another of Malachi,
beginning with buffoonery, and ending as seriously as I can write it. It
is like a frenzy that they will agitate the upper and middling classes
of society, so very friendly to them, with unnecessary and hazardous
"Oh, thus it was they loved them dear,
And sought how to requite 'em,
And having no friends left but they,
They did resolve to fight them."
The country is very high just now. England may carry the measure if she
will, doubtless. But what will be the consequence of the distress
ensuing, God only can foretell.
Lockhart, moreover, inquires about my affairs anxiously, and asks what
he is to say about them; says, "He has inquiries every day; kind, most
kind all, and among the most interested and anxious, Sir William
Knighton,  who told me the king was quite melancholy all the evening
he heard of it." This I can well believe, for the king, educated as a
prince, has, nevertheless, as true and kind a heart as any subject in
his dominions. He goes on: "I do think they would give you a Baron's
gown as soon as possible," etc. I have written to him in answer, showing
I have enough to carry me on, and can dedicate my literary efforts to
clear my land. The preferment would suit me well, and the late Duke of
Buccleuch gave me his interest for it. I dare say the young duke would
do the same, for the unvaried love I have borne his house; and by and by
he will have a voice potential. But there is Sir William Rae in the
meantime, whose prevailing claim I would never place my own in
opposition to, even were it possible by a tour de force, such as L.
points at, to set it aside. Meantime, I am building a barrier betwixt me
and promotion. Any prospect of the kind is very distant and very
uncertain. Come time, come, rath, as the German says.
Sir W. Knighton was Physician and Private Secretary to
George IV. Rogers (Table-Talk, p. 289) says no one had more influence
with the King. Sir William died in 1836; his Memoirs were published in
1838, edited by his widow.
In the meanwhile, now I am not pulled about for money, etc., methinks I
am happier without my wealth than with it. Everything is paid. I have no
one wishing to make up a sum of money, and writing for his account to
be paid. Since 17th January I have not laid out a guinea, out of my own
hand, save two or three in charity, and six shillings for a pocket-book.
But the cash with which I set out having run short for family expenses I
drew on Blackwood, through Ballantyne, which was honoured, for £25, to
account of Malachi's Letters, of which another edition of 1000 is
ordered, and gave it to Lady Scott, because our removal will require
that in hand. This is for a fortnight succeeding Wednesday next, being
the 8th March current. On the 20th my quarter comes in, and though I
have something to pay out of it, I shall be on velvet for expense—and
regular I will be. Methinks all trifling objects of expenditure seem to
grow light in my eyes. That I may regain independence, I must be saving.
But ambition awakes, as love of quiet indulgence dies and is mortified
within me. "Dark Cuthullin will be renowned or dead." 
March 5.—Something of toddy and cigar in that last quotation, I
think. Yet I only smoked two, and liquified with one glass of spirits
and water. I have sworn I will not blot out what I have once written
Malachi goes on, but I am dubious about the commencement—it must be
mended at least—reads prosy.
Had letters from Walter and Jane, the dears. All well. Regiment about to
move from Dublin.
March 6.—Finished third Malachi, which I don't much like. It
respects the difficulty of finding gold to replace the paper
circulation. Now this should have been considered first. The admitting
that the measure may be imposed is yielding up the question, and
Malachi is like a commandant who should begin to fire from interior
defences before his outworks were carried. If Ballantyne be of my own
opinion I will suppress it. We are all in a bustle shifting things to
Abbotsford. I believe we shall stay here till the beginning of next
week. It is odd, but I don't feel the impatience for the country which I
have usually experienced.
March 7.—Detained in the Court till three by a hearing. Then to the
Committee appointed at the meeting on Friday, to look after the
small-note business. A pack of old fainéants, incapable of managing
such a business, and who will lose the day from mere coldness of heart.
There are about a thousand names at the petition. They have added no
designations—a great blunder; for testimonia sunt ponderanda, non
numeranda should never be lost sight of. They are disconcerted and
helpless; just as in the business of the King's visit, when everybody
threw the weight on me, for which I suffered much in my immediate
labour, and after bad health it brought on a violent eruption on my
skin, which saved me from a fever at the time, but has been troublesome
more or less ever since. I was so disgusted with seeing them sitting in
ineffectual helplessness spitting on the hot iron that lay before them,
and touching it with a timid finger, as if afraid of being scalded,
that at another time I might have dashed in and taken up the hammer,
summoned the deacons and other heads of public bodies, and by consulting
them have carried them with me. But I cannot waste my time, health, and
spirits in fighting thankless battles. I left them in a quarter of an
hour, and presage, unless the country make an alarm, the cause is lost.
The philosophical reviewers manage their affairs better—hold off—avoid
committing themselves, but throw their vis inertiæ into the opposite
scale, and neutralise the feelings which they cannot combat. To force
them to fight on disadvantageous ground is our policy. But we have more
sneakers after Ministerial favour than men who love their country, and
who upon a liberal scale would serve their party. For to force the Whigs
to avow an unpopular doctrine in popular assemblies, or to wrench the
government of such bodies from them, would be a coup de maître. But
they are alike destitute of manly resolution and sound policy. D—n the
whole nest of them! I have corrected the last of Malachi, and let the
thing take its chance. I have made enemies enough, and indisposed enough
March 8.—At the Court, though a teind day. A foolish thing happened
while the Court were engaged with the teinds. I amused myself with
writing on a sheet of paper notes on Frederick Maitland's account of the
capture of Bonaparte; and I have lost these notes—shuffled in perhaps
among my own papers, or those of the teind clerks. What a curious
document to be found in a process of valuation!
Being jaded and sleepy, I took up Le Due de Guise on Naples.  I
think this, with the old Memoires on the same subject which I have at
Abbotsford, would enable me to make a pretty essay for the Quarterly.
We must take up Woodstock now in good earnest. Mr. Cowan, a good and
able man, is chosen trustee in Constable's affairs, with full power.
From what I hear, the poor man is not sensible of the nature of his own
situation; for myself, I have succeeded in putting the matters perfectly
out of my mind since I cannot help them, and have arrived at a
flocci-pauci-nihili-pili-fication of money, and I thank Shenstone for
inventing that long word.  They are removing the wine, etc., to the
carts, and you will judge if our flitting is not making a noise in the
world—or in the street at least.
Pastoret: Le Duc de Guise à Naples, etc., en 1647 et
1648. 8vo, 1825; also Memoires relating his passage to Naples and
heading the Second Revolt of that people. Englished, sm. 8vo, 1669.
March 9.—I foresaw justly,
"The Reviewal then meditated was afterwards published in Foreign
Quarterly Review, vol. iv. p 355, but not included in the Misc. Prose
Works."—Abbotsford Library Catalogue, p. 36.
W. Shenstone's Essays (1765), p. 115, or Works
(1764-69), vol. iii. p. 49.
I am indebted to Dr. J.A.H. Murray for this reference, which he kindly
supplied from the materials for his great English Dictionary on
"When first I set this dangerous stone a-rolling,
'Twould fall upon myself." 
King Henry VIII., Act v. Sc. 2, slightly
Sir Robert Dundas to-day put into my hands a letter of between thirty
and forty pages, in angry and bitter reprobation of Malachi, full of
general averments and very untenable arguments, all written at me by
name, but of which I am to have no copy, and which is to be shown to me
in extenso, and circulated to other special friends, to whom it may be
necessary to "give the sign to hate."  I got it at two o'clock, and
returned [it] with an answer four hours afterwards, in which I have
studied not to be tempted into either sarcastic or harsh
expressions.  A quarrel it is however, in all the forms, between my
old friend and myself, and his lordship's reprimand is to be read out
in order to all our friends. They all know what I have said is true,
but that will be nothing to the purpose if they are desired to consider
it as false. As for Lord Melville, I do not wonder that he is angry,
though he has little reason, for he, our watchman stented, has from
time to time suffered all manner of tampering to go on under his nose
with the institutions and habits of Scotland. As for myself, I was quite
prepared for my share of displeasure. It is very curious that I should
have foreseen all this so distinctly as far back as 17th February.
Nobody at least can plague me for interest with Lord Melville as they
used to do. By the way, from the tone of his letter, I think his
lordship will give up the measure, and I will be the peace-offering. All
will agree to condemn me as too warm—too rash—and get rich on
privileges which they would not have been able to save but for a little
rousing of spirit, which will not perhaps fall asleep again.  A
gentleman called on the part of a Captain [Rutherford], to make inquiry
about the Border Rutherfords. Not being very cleever, as John Fraser
used to say, at these pedigree matters, referred him to Mrs. Dr. Russell
and Robt. Rutherford. The noble Captain conceits he has some title to
the honours of Lord Rutherford. Very odd—when there is a vacant or
dormant title in a Scottish family or name, everybody, and all
connected with the clan, conceive they have quodam modo a right to it.
Not being engrossed by any individual, it communicates part of its
lustre to every individual in the tribe, as if it remained in common
stock for that purpose.
"Watch the sign to hate."—Johnson's Vanity of Human
March 10.—I am not made entirely in the same mould of passions like
other people. Many men would deeply regret a breach with so old a friend
as Lord Melville, and many men would be in despair at losing the good
graces of a Minister of State for Scotland, and all pretty visions about
what might be done for myself and my sons, especially Charles. But I
think my good lord doth ill to be angry, like the patriarch of old, and
I have, in my odd sans souciance character, a good handful of meal from
the grist of the Jolly Miller, who
See Arniston Memoirs, 8vo, Edin. 1888, for text of Lord
Melville's letter and Sir Walter's reply, pp. 315-326.
"Seldom has any political measure called forth so strong
and so universal an expression of public opinion. In every city and in
every county public meetings were held to deprecate the destruction of
the one pound and guinea notes."—Annual Register (1826), p. 24.
Dwelled on the river Dee;
I care for nobody, no, not I,
Since nobody cares for me."
Breakfasted with me Mr. Franks, a young Irishman from Dublin, who
brought letters from Walter and Captain Longmore of the Royal Staff. He
has written a book of poetry, Tales of Chivalry and Romance, far from
bad, yet wants spirit. He talks of publishing his recollections in the
Peninsula, which must be interesting, for he has, I think, sense and
Sandie Young  came in at breakfast-time with a Monsieur Brocque of
Alex. Young of Harburn, a steady Whig of the old school,
and a steady and esteemed friend of Sir Walter's.—J.G.L.
Saw Sir Robert Dundas at Court, who condemns Lord Melville, and says he
will not show his letter to any one; in fact it would be exactly
placarding me in a private and confidential manner. He is to send my
letter to Lord Melville. Colin Mackenzie concurs in thinking Lord
Melville quite wrong. "He must cool in the skin he het in."
On coming home from the Court a good deal fatigued, I took a nap in my
easy-chair, then packed my books, and committed the refuse to Jock
"Left not a limb on which a Dane could triumph."
Gave Mr. Gibson my father's cabinet, which suits a man of business well.
Gave Jock Stevenson the picture of my old favourite dog Camp, mentioned
in one of the introductions to Marmion, and a little crow-quill
drawing of Melrose Abbey by Nelson, whom I used to call the Admiral.
Poor fellow! he had some ingenuity, and was, in a moderate way, a good
penman and draughtsman. He left his situation of amanuensis to go into
Lord Home's militia regiment, but his dissipated habits got the better
of a strong constitution, and he fell into bad ways and poverty, and
died, I believe, in the hospital at Liverpool. Strange enough that Henry
Weber, who acted afterwards as my amanuensis for many years, had also a
melancholy fate ultimately. He was a man of very superior attainments,
an excellent linguist and geographer, and a remarkable antiquary. He
published a collection of ancient Romances, superior, I think, to the
elaborate Ritson. He also published an edition of Beaumont and Fletcher,
but too carelessly done to be reputable. He was a violent Jacobin, which
he thought he disguised from me, while I, who cared not a fig about the
poor young man's politics, used to amuse myself with teasing him. He was
an excellent and affectionate creature, but unhappily was afflicted with
partial insanity, especially if he used strong liquors, to which, like
others with that unhappy tendency, he was occasionally addicted. In
1814  he became quite insane, and, at the risk of my life, I had to
disarm him of a pair of loaded pistols, which I did by exerting the sort
of authority which, I believe, gives an effectual control in such cases.
His friends, who were respectable, placed him in the York Asylum, where
he pined away and died, I think, in 1814 or 1815.  My patronage in
this way has not been lucky to the parties protected. I hope poor George
Huntly Gordon will escape the influence of the evil star. He has no
vice, poor fellow, but his total deafness makes him helpless.
See Life, vol. iv. pp. 146-148.
March 11.—This day the Court rose after a long and laborious
sederunt. I employed the remainder of the day in completing a set of
notes on Captain Maitland's manuscript narrative of the reception of
Napoleon Bonaparte on board the Bellerophon. It had been previously in
the hands of my friend Basil Hall, who had made many excellent
corrections in point of style; but he had been hypercritical in wishing
(in so important a matter where everything depends on accuracy) this
expression to be altered for delicacy's sake,—that to be omitted for
fear of giving offence,—and that other to be abridged for fear of being
tedious. The plain sailor's narrative for me, written on the spot, and
bearing in its minuteness the evidence of its veracity.
Henry Weber died in 1818.
Lord Elgin sent me, some time since, a curious account of his
imprisonment in France, and the attempts which were made to draw him
into some intrigue which might authorise treating him with rigour .
He called to-day and communicated some curious circumstances, on the
authority of Fouché, Denon, and others, respecting Bonaparte and the
empress Maria Louise, whom Lord Elgin had conversed with on the subject
in Italy. His conduct towards her was something like that of Ethwald to
Elburga, in Joanna Baillie's fine tragedy , making her postpone her
high rank by birth to the authority which he had acquired by his
talents. Dinner was usually announced for a particular hour, and
Napoleon's business often made him late. She was not permitted to sit
down to table, an etiquette which was reasonable enough. But from the
hour of dinner till the Emperor appeared she was to be in the act of
sitting down; that is to say, he was displeased if he found her engaged
with a book, with work, or with anything else. She was obliged to be in
a state of absolute "being about to sit down." She seemed a good deal
gênée by something of that kind, though remembering with pride she had
been Empress, it might almost be said of the world. The rest for
See Life of Bonaparte. Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol.
xi. pp. 346-351.—J.G.L.
March 12.—Resumed Woodstock, and wrote my task of six pages. I was
interrupted by a slumberous feeling which made me obliged to stop once
or twice. I shall soon have a remedy in the country, which affords the
pleasanter resource of a walk when such feelings come on. I hope I am
the reverse of the well-known line, "sleepy myself, to give my readers
sleep." I cannot gurnalise at any rate, having wrought my eyes nearly
Plays on the Passions, 2 vols. 8vo, Lond. 1802, vol.
ii. pp. 211-215.
He had, however, snatched a moment to write the following
playful note to Mr. Sharpe, little dreaming that the sportive allusion
to his return in May would be so sadly realised:—"MY DEAR CHARLES,—You
promised when I displenished this house that you would accept of the
prints of Roman antiquities, which I now send. I believe they were once
in some esteem, though now so detestably smoked that they will only suit
your suburban villa in the Cowgate when you remove to that classical
residence. I also send a print which is an old favourite of mine, from
the humorous correspondence between Mr. Mountebank's face and the
monkey's. I leave town to-day or to-morrow at furthest. When I return in
May I shall be
March 13.—Wrote to the end of a chapter, and knowing no more than the
man in the moon what comes next, I will put down a few of Lord Elgin's
remembrances, and something may occur to me in the meanwhile. When
M[aria] Louise first saw B[onaparte], she was in the carriage with his
representative general, when she saw a horseman ride forward at the
gallop, passing and repassing the carriage in a manner which, joined to
the behaviour of her companion, convinced her who it was, especially as
he endeavoured, with a curiosity which would not have been tolerated in
another, to peep into the windows. When she alighted at the inn at——,
Napoleon presented himself, pulled her by the ear, and kissed her
Bachelor Bluff, bachelor Bluff,
Hey for a heart that's rugged and tough.
I shall have a beefsteak and a bottle of wine of a Sunday, which I hope
you will often take share of,—Being with warm regard always yours,
WALTER SCOTT."—Sharpe's Correspondence, vol. ii. pp. 359-60.
Bonaparte's happiest days passed away when he dismissed from about him
such men as Talleyrand and Fouché, whose questions and objections
compelled him to recur upon, modify, and render practicable the great
plans which his ardent conception struck out at a heat. When he had
Murat and such persons about him, who marvelled and obeyed, his
schemes, equally magnificent, were not so well matured, and ended in the
I have hinted in these notes that I am not entirely free from a sort of
gloomy fits, with a fluttering of the heart and depression of spirits,
just as if I knew not what was going to befall me. I can sometimes
resist this successfully, but it is better to evade than to combat it.
The hang-dog spirit may have originated in the confusion and chucking
about of our old furniture, the stripping of walls of pictures, and
rooms of ornaments; the leaving a house we have so long called our home
is altogether melancholy enough. I am glad Lady S. does not mind it, and
yet I wonder, too. She insists on my remaining till Wednesday, not
knowing what I suffer. Meanwhile, to make my recusant spirit do penance,
I have set to work to clear away papers and pack them for my journey.
What a strange medley of thoughts such a task produces! There lie
letters which made the heart throb when received, now lifeless and
uninteresting—as are perhaps their owners. Riddles which time has
read—schemes which he has destroyed or brought to maturity—memorials
of friendships and enmities which are now alike faded. Thus does the
ring of Saturn consume itself. To-day annihilates yesterday, as the old
tyrant swallowed his children, and the snake its tail. But I must say to
my Gurnal as poor Byron did to Moore, "Damn it, Tom, don't be
Memorandum.—I received some time since from Mr. Riddoch, of Falkirk,
a sort of iron mallet, said to have been found in the ruins of Grame's
Dike; there it was reclaimed about three months since by the gentleman
on whose lands it was found, a Doctor—by a very polite letter from his
man of business. Having unluckily mislaid his letter, and being totally
unable either to recollect the name of the proprietor or the
professional gentleman, I returned this day the piece of antiquity to
Mr. Riddoch, who sent it to me. Wrote at the same time to Tom Grahame
of Airth, mentioning what I had done. "Touch my honour, touch my
life—there is the spoon." 
Apropos of the old Scotch lady who had surreptitiously
pocketed a silver spoon, one of a set of a dozen which were being passed
round for examination in an auction room. Suspicion resting on her, she
was asked to allow her person to be searched, but she indignantly
produced the article, with "Touch my honour," etc.
March 14.—J.B. called this morning to take leave, and receive
directions about proofs, etc. Talks of the uproar about Malachi; but I
am tired of Malachi—the humour is off, and I have said what I wanted
to say, and put the people of Scotland on their guard, as well as
Ministers, if they like to be warned. They are gradually destroying what
remains of nationality, and making the country tabula rasa for
doctrines of bold innovation. Their loosening and grinding down all
those peculiarities which distinguished us as Scotsmen will throw the
country into a state in which it will be universally turned to
democracy, and instead of canny Saunders, they will have a very
dangerous North British neighbourhood.
Some [English] lawyer expressed to Lord Elibank an opinion, that at the
Union the English law should have been extended all over Scotland. "I
cannot say how that might have answered our purpose," said Lord Patrick,
who was never nonsuited for want of an answer, "but it would scarce have
suited yours, since by this time the Aberdeen Advocates  would
have possessed themselves of all the business in Westminster Hall."
The Attorneys of Aberdeen are styled advocates. This
valuable privilege is said to have been bestowed at an early period by
some (sportive) monarch.—J.G.L.
What a detestable feeling this fluttering of the heart is! I know it is
nothing organic, and that it is entirely nervous; but the sickening
effects of it are dispiriting to a degree. Is it the body brings it on
the mind, or the mind that inflicts it upon the body? I cannot tell; but
it is a severe price to pay for the Fata Morgana with which Fancy
sometimes amuses men of warm imaginations. As to body and mind, I fancy
I might as well inquire whether the fiddle or fiddlestick makes the
tune. In youth this complaint used to throw me into involuntary passions
of causeless tears. But I will drive it away in the country by exercise.
I wish I had been a mechanic: a turning-lathe or a chest of tools would
have been a God-send; for thought makes the access of melancholy rather
worse than better. I have it seldom, thank God, and, I believe, lightly,
in comparison of others.
It was the fiddle after all was out of order, not the fiddlestick; the
body, not the mind. I walked out; met Mrs. Skene, who took a turn with
me in Princes Street. Bade Constable and Cadell farewell, and had a
brisk walk home, which enables me to face the desolation here with more
spirit. News from Sophia. She has had the luck to get an anti-druggist
in a Dr. Gooch, who prescribes care for Johnnie instead of drugs, and a
little home-brewed ale instead of wine; and, like a liberal physician,
supplies the medicine he prescribes. As for myself, while I have scarce
stirred to take exercise for four or five days, no wonder I had the
mulligrubs. It is an awful sensation though, and would have made an
enthusiast of me, had I indulged my imagination on devotional subjects.
I have been always careful to place my mind in the most tranquil posture
which it can assume during my private exercises of devotion.
I have amused myself occasionally very pleasantly during the last few
days, by reading over Lady Morgan's novel of O'Donnel,  which has
some striking and beautiful passages of situation and description, and
in the comic part is very rich and entertaining. I do not remember being
so much pleased with it at first. There is a want of story, always fatal
to a book the first reading—and it is well if it gets a chance of a
second. Alas! poor novel! Also read again, and for the third time at
least, Miss Austen's very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice.
That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and
feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most
wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like
any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary
commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the
description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a
gifted creature died so early! 
This clever book was published in 1814: at the same time
as Waverley. Had it contained nothing else than the sketch of Bran,
the great Irish wolf-hound, it would have commended itself to Scott. The
authoress died in 1859.
March 15.—This morning I leave No. 39 Castle Street, for the last
time. "The cabin was convenient," and habit had made it agreeable to me.
I never reckoned upon a change in this particular so long as I held an
office in the Court of Session. In all my former changes of residence it
was from good to better; this is retrograding. I leave this house for
sale, and I cease to be an Edinburgh citizen, in the sense of being a
proprietor, which my father and I have been for sixty years at least. So
farewell, poor 39, and may you never harbour worse people than those who
now leave you! Not to desert the Lares all at once, Lady S. and Anne
remain till Sunday. As for me, I go, as aforesaid, this morning.
It is worth noting that a quarter of a century after Sir
Walter had written these lines, we find Macaulay stating that, in his
opinion, "there are in the world no compositions which approach nearer
perfection." Scott had already criticised Miss Austen in the 27th No. of
the Quarterly. She died in 1817.
"Ha til mi tulidh'!—" 
"I return no more,"—see Mackrimmon's Lament by
Scott.—Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 332.
Abbotsford, 9 at night.—The naturally unpleasant feelings which
influenced me in my ejectment, for such it is virtually, readily
evaporated in the course of the journey, though I had no pleasanter
companions than Mrs. Mackay, the housekeeper, and one of the maids; and
I have a shyness of disposition, which looks like pride, but it is not,
which makes me awkward in speaking to my household domestics. With an
out-of-doors labourer, or an old woman gathering sticks, I can talk for
ever. I was welcomed here on my arrival by the tumult, great of men and
dogs, all happy to see me. One of my old labourers killed by the fall of
a stone working at Gattonside Bridge. Old Will Straiton, my man of
wisdom and proverbs, also dead. He was entertaining from his importance
and self-conceit, but really a sensible old man. When he heard of my
misfortunes, he went to bed, and said he would not rise again, and kept
his word. He was very infirm when I last saw him. Tom Purdie in great
glory, being released from all farm duty, and destined to attend the
woods, and be my special assistant. The gardener Bogie is to take care
of what small farm we have left, which little would make me give up
March 16.—Pleasant days make short Journals, and I have little to say
to-day. I wrote in the morning at Woodstock; walked from one till
four; was down at Huntly Burn and paid my respects to the ladies. The
spring seems promising, and everything in great order. Visited Will
Straiton's widow, who squeezed out among many tears a petition for a
house. I do not think I shall let her have one, as she has a bad temper,
but I will help her otherwise; she is greedy besides, as was the defunct
philosopher William. In a year or two I shall have on the toft field a
gallant show of extensive woodland, sweeping over the hill, and its
boundaries carefully concealed. In the evening, after dinner, read Mrs.
Charlotte Smith's novel of Desmond —decidedly the worst of her
Published as far back as 1792. An appreciative criticism
on Mrs. Smith's works will be found in Scott's Miscellaneous Prose
Works, vol. iv. pp. 58-70.
March 17.—Sent off a packet to J.B.; only three pages copy, so must
work hard for a day or two. I wish I could wind up my bottom
handsomely—an odd but accredited phrase. The conclusion will be
luminous; we must try to make it dashing. Go spin, you jade, go spin.
Have a good deal to do between-hands in sorting up the newly arrived
accession of books.
I need not have exulted so soon in having attained ease and quiet. I am
robbed of both with a vengeance. A letter from Lockhart, with one
enclosed from Sophia, announces the medical people think the child is
visibly losing strength, that its walking becomes more difficult, and,
in short, that the spine seems visibly affected. They recommend tepid
baths in sea-water, so Sophia has gone down to Brighton, leaving
Lockhart in town, who is to visit her once a week. Here is my worst
augury verified.  The bitterness of this probably impending calamity
is extreme. The child was almost too good for this world; beautiful in
features; and, though spoiled by every one, having one of the sweetest
tempers, as well as the quickest intellect I ever saw; a sense of humour
quite extraordinary in a child, and, owing to the general notice which
was taken of him, a great deal more information than suited his years.
He was born in the eighth month, and such children are never
strong—seldom long-lived. I look on this side and that, and see nothing
but protracted misery, a crippled frame, and decayed constitution,
occupying the attention of his parents for years, and dying at the end
of that period, when their hearts were turned on him; or the poor child
may die before Sophia's confinement, and that may again be a dangerous
and bad affair; or she may, by increase of attention to him, injure her
own health. In short, to trace into how many branches such a misery may
flow is impossible. The poor dear love had so often a slow fever, that
when it pressed its little lips to mine, I always foreboded to my own
heart what all I fear are now aware of.
See this Journal, 2 December last.
Lockhart writes me that Croker is the author of the Letters in the
Courier against Malachi, and that Canning is to make another attack
on me in the House of Commons.  These things would make a man proud.
I will not answer, because I must show up Sir William Rae, and even Lord
Melville, and I have done enough to draw public attention, which is all
I want. Let them call me ungrateful, unkind, and all sorts of names, so
they keep their own fingers free of this most threatening measure. It is
very curious that each of these angry friends—Melville, Canning, and
Croker—has in former days appealed to me in confidence against each
The letters of Malachi were treated by some members of
the House of Commons as incentives to rebellion, and senators gravely
averred that not many years ago they would have subjected the author to
While I smoked my cigar after dinner, my mind has been running into four
threads of bitter fancies, or rather into three decidedly bitter, and
one that is indifferent. There is the distress incumbent on the country
by these most untimely proceedings, which I would stop with my life were
that adequate to prevent them. 2d, there is the unpleasant feeling of
seeing a number of valued friends pass from me; that I cannot help. 3d,
there is the gnawing misery about that sweet child and its parents. 4th,
there is the necessity of pursuing my own labours, for which perhaps I
ought to be thankful, since it always wrenches one's mind aside from
what it must dwell on with pain. It is odd that the state of excitation
with me rather increases than abates the power of labour, I must finish
Woodstock well if I can: otherwise how the Philistines will rejoice!
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, declared that he did not dread
"the flashing of that Highland claymore though evoked from its scabbard
by the incantations of the mightiest magician of the age."—Speech of
Rt. Hon. F.J. Robinson.
March 18.—Slept indifferently, and under the influence of Queen Mab,
seldom auspicious to me, dreamed of reading the tale of the Prince of
the Black Marble Islands to little Johnnie, extended on a paralytic
chair, and yet telling all his pretty stories about Ha-papa, as he calls
me, and Chiefswood—and waked to think I should see the little darling
no more, or see him as a thing that had better never have existed. Oh,
misery! misery! that the best I can wish for him is early death, with
all the wretchedness to his parents that is like to ensue! I intended to
have stayed at home to-day; but Tom more wisely had resolved that I
should walk, and hung about the window with his axe and my own in his
hand till I turned out with him, and helped to cut some fine paling.
March 19.—I have a most melancholy letter from Anne. Lady S., the
faithful and true companion of my fortunes, good and bad, for so many
years, has, but with difficulty, been prevailed on to see Dr.
Abercrombie, and his opinion is far from favourable. Her asthmatic
complaints are fast terminating in hydropsy, as I have long suspected;
yet the avowal of the truth and its probable consequences are
overwhelming. They are to stay a little longer in town to try the
effects of a new medicine. On Wednesday they propose to return hither—a
new affliction, where there was enough before; yet her constitution is
so good that if she will be guided by advice, things may be yet
ameliorated. God grant it! for really these misfortunes come too close
upon each other.
A letter from Croker of a very friendly tone and tenor, which I will
answer accordingly, not failing, however, to let him know that if I do
not reply it is not for fear of his arguments or raillery, far less from
diffidence in my cause. I hope and trust it will do good. 
Both letters are quoted in Lockhart's Life, vol. viii.
pp. 299-305. See also Croker's Correspondence and Diaries, edited by
Louis J. Jennings, 3 vols. 8vo, Lond. 1884, vol. i. pp. 315-319.
Maxpopple  and two of his boys arrived to take part of my poor
dinner. I fear the little fellows had little more than the needful, but
they had all I had to give them.
W. Scott, Esq., afterwards of Raeburn, Sir Walter's
I wrote a good deal to-day notwithstanding heavy thoughts.
March 20.—Despatched proofs and copy this morning; and Swanston, the
carpenter, coming in, I made a sort of busy idle day of it with altering
and hanging pictures and prints, to find room for those which came from
Edinburgh, and by dint of being on foot from ten to near five, put all
things into apple-pie order. What strange beings we are! The serious
duties I have on hand cannot divert my mind from the most melancholy
thoughts; and yet the talking with these workmen, and the trifling
occupation which they give me, serves to dissipate my attention. The
truth is, I fancy that a body under the impulse of violent motion cannot
be stopped or forced back, but may indirectly be urged into a different
channel. In the evening I read, and sent off my Sheriff-Court processes.
I have a sort of grudging to give reasons why Malachi does not reply
to the answers which have been sent forth. I don't know—I am strongly
tempted—but I won't. To drop the tone might seem mean, and perhaps to
maintain it would only exasperate the quarrel, without producing any
beneficial results, and might be considered as a fresh insult by my
alienated friends, so on the whole I won't.
The thing has certainly had more effect than it deserves; and I suspect
my Ministerial friends, if they love me less, will not hold me cheaper
for the fight I have made. I am far from saying oderint dum emerint,
but there is a great difference betwixt that and being a mere protégé, a
poor broken-down man, who was to be assisted when existing
circumstances, that most convenient of all apologies and happiest of all
phrases, would permit.
March 21.—Perused an attack on myself, done with as much ability as
truth, by no less a man than Joseph Hume, the night-work man of the
House of Commons, who lives upon petty abuses, and is a very useful man
by so doing. He has had the kindness to say that I am interested in
keeping up the taxes; I wish I had anything else to do with them than to
pay them. But he lies, and is an ass, and not worth a man's thinking
about. Joseph Hume, indeed!—I say Joseph Hum,—and could add a Swiftian
rhyme, but forbear.
Busy in unpacking and repacking. I wrote five pages of Woodstock,
which work begins
"To appropinque an end." 
March 22.—A letter from Lord Downshire's man of business about funds
supposed to belong to my wife, or to the estate of my late
brother-in-law. The possessor of the secret wants some reward. If any is
granted, it should be a percentage on the net sum received, with the
condition no cure—no pay. I expect Lady S., and from Anne's last letter
hope to find her better than the first anticipation led me to dread.
Sent off proofs and copy, and shall indulge a little leisure to-day to
collect my ideas and stretch my limbs. I am again far before the press.
March 23.—Lady Scott arrived yesterday to dinner. She was better than
I expected, but Anne, poor soul, looked very poorly, and had been much
worried with the fatigue and discomfort of the last week. Lady S. takes
the digitalis, and, as she thinks, with advantage, though the medicine
makes her very sick. Yet, on the whole, things are better than my gloomy
apprehensions had anticipated.
I wrote to Lockhart and to Lord Downshire's Agent,—G. Handley, Esq.,
Took a good brushing walk, but not till I had done a good task.
March 24.—Sent off copy, proofs, etc. J.B. clamorous for a motto.
It is foolish to encourage people to expect mottoes and such-like
decoraments. You have no credit for success in finding them, and there
is a disgrace in wanting them. It is like being in the habit of showing
feats of strength, which you at length gain praise by accomplishing,
while some shame occurs in failure.
March 25.—The end winds out well enough. I have almost finished
to-night; indeed I might have done so had I been inclined, but I had a
walk in a hurricane of snow for two hours and feel a little tired. Miss
Margaret Ferguson came to dinner with us. 
One of Sir Walter's kindly "weird sisters" and
neighbours, daughters of Professor Ferguson. They had occupied the house
at Toftfield (on which Scott at the ladies' request bestowed the name of
Huntly Burn) from the spring of 1818. Miss Margaret has been described
as extremely like her brother Sir Adam in the turn of thought and of
humour.—See Life, vol. vi. p. 322.
March 26.—Here is a disagreeable morning, snowing and hailing, with
gleams of bright sunshine between, and all the ground white, and all the
air frozen. I don't like this jumbling of weather. It is ungenial, and
gives chilblains. Besides, with its whiteness, and its coldness, and its
glister, and its discomfort, it resembles that most disagreeable of all
things, a vain, cold, empty, beautiful woman, who has neither mind nor
heart, but only features like a doll. I do not know what is so like this
disagreeable day, when the sun is so bright, and yet so uninfluential,
"One may gaze upon its beams
Till he is starved with cold."
No matter, it will serve as well as another day to finish Woodstock.
Walked out to the lake, and coquetted with this disagreeable weather,
whereby I catch chilblains in my fingers and cold in my head. Fed the
Finished Woodstock, however, cum tota sequela of title-page,
introduction, etc., and so, as Dame Fortune says in Quevedo,
"Go wheel, and may the devil drive thee." 
Fortune in her Wits, and the Hour of all Men, Quevedo's
Works, Edin. 1798, vol. iii. p. 107.
March 27.—Another bright cold day. I answered two modest requests
from widow ladies. One, whom I had already assisted in some law
business, on the footing of her having visited my mother, requested me
to write to Mr. Peel, saying, on her authority, that her second son, a
youth of infinite merit and accomplishment, was fit for any situation in
a public office, and that I requested he might be provided accordingly.
Another widowed dame, whose claim is having read Marmion and the Lady
of the Lake, besides a promise to read all my other works—Gad, it is a
rash engagement!—demands that I shall either pay £200 to get her cub
into some place or other, or settle him in a seminary of education.
Really this is very much after the fashion of the husbandman of Miguel
Turra's requests of Sancho when Governor.  "Have you anything else
to ask, honest man?" quoth Sancho. But what are the demands of an honest
man to those of an honest woman, and she a widow to boot? I do believe
your destitute widow, especially if she hath a charge of children, and
one or two fit for patronage, is one of the most impudent animals
Don Quixote, Pt. II. cap. 47.
Went to Galashiels and settled the dispute about Sandie's wall.
March 28.—We have now been in solitude for some time—myself nearly
totally so, excepting at meals, or on a call as yesterday from Henry and
William Scott of Harden. One is tempted to ask himself, knocking at the
door of his own heart, Do you love this extreme loneliness? I can answer
conscientiously, I do. The love of solitude was with me a passion of
early youth; when in my teens, I used to fly from company to indulge in
visions and airy castles of my own, the disposal of ideal wealth, and
the exercise of imaginary power. This feeling prevailed even till I was
eighteen, when love and ambition awakening with other passions threw me
more into society, from which I have, however, at times withdrawn
myself, and have been always even glad to do so. I have risen from a
feast satiated; and unless it be one or two persons of very strong
intellect, or whose spirits and good-humour amuse me, I wish neither to
see the high, the low, nor the middling class of society. This is a
feeling without the least tinge of misanthropy, which I always consider
as a kind of blasphemy of a shocking description. If God bears with the
very worst of us, we may surely endure each other. If thrown into
society, I always have, and always will endeavour to bring pleasure with
me, at least to show willingness to please. But for all this "I had
rather live alone," and I wish my appointment, so convenient otherwise,
did not require my going to Edinburgh. But this must be, and in my
little lodging I will be lonely enough.
Had a very kind letter from Croker disowning the least idea of personal
attack in his answer to Malachi.
Reading at intervals a novel called Granby; one of that very difficult
class which aspires to describe the actual current of society, whose
colours are so evanescent that it is difficult to fix them on the
canvas. It is well written, but over-laboured—too much attempt to put
the reader exactly up to the thoughts and sentiments of the parties. The
women do this better: Edgeworth, Ferrier, Austen have all had their
portraits of real society, far superior to anything man, vain man, has
produced of the like nature. 
Granby was written by a young man, Thos. H. Lister,
some years afterwards known as the author of The Life and
Administration of the First Earl of Clarendon, 3 vols. 8vo, 1837-38.
Mr. Lister died in his 41st year in 1842.
March 29.—Worked in the morning. Had two visits from Colonels Russell
and Ferguson. Walked from one till half-past four. A fine, flashy,
disagreeable day; snow-clouds sweeping past among sunshine, driving down
the valley, and whitening the country behind them.
Mr. Gibson came suddenly in after dinner. Brought very indifferent news
from Constable's house. It is not now hoped that they will pay above
three or four shillings in the pound. Robinson supposed not to be much
Mr. G. goes to London immediately, and is to sell Woodstock to
Robinson if he can, otherwise to those who will, John Murray, etc. This
work may fail, perhaps, though better than some of its predecessors. If
so, we must try some new manner. I think I could catch the dogs yet.
A beautiful and perfect lunar rainbow to-night.
March 30.—Mr. Gibson looks unwell, and complains of cold—bitter bad
weather for his travelling, and he looks but frail.
These indifferent news he brought me affect me but to a little degree.
It is being too confident to hope to ensure success in the long series
of successive struggles which lie before me. But somehow, I do fully
entertain the hope of doing a good deal.
"He walked and wrote poor soul, what then?
Why then, he wrote and walked again."
But I am begun Nap. Bon. again, which is always a change, because it
gives a good deal of reading and research, whereas Woodstock and such
like, being extempore from my mother-wit, is a sort of spinning of the
brains, of which a man tires. The weather seems milder to-day.