April 1.—Ex uno die disce omnes. Rose at seven or sooner, studied,
and wrote till breakfast with Anne, about a quarter before ten. Lady
Scott seldom able to rise till twelve or one. Then I write or study
again till one. At that hour to-day I drove to Huntly Burn, and walked
home by one of the hundred and one pleasing paths which I have made
through the woods I have planted—now chatting with Tom Purdie, who
carries my plaid, and speaks when he pleases, telling long stories of
hits and misses in shooting twenty years back—sometimes chewing the cud
of sweet and bitter fancy—and sometimes attending to the humours of two
curious little terriers of the Dandie Dinmont breed, together with a
noble wolf-hound puppy which Glengarry has given me to replace Maida.
This brings me down to the very moment I do tell—the rest is prophetic.
I will feel sleepy when this book is locked, and perhaps sleep until
Dalgleish brings the dinner summons. Then I will have a chat with Lady
S. and Anne; some broth or soup, a slice of plain meat—and man's chief
business, in Dr. Johnson's estimation, is briefly despatched. Half an
hour with my family, and half an hour's coquetting with a cigar, a
tumbler of weak whisky and water, and a novel perhaps, lead on to tea,
which sometimes consumes another half hour of chat; then write and read
in my own room till ten o'clock at night; a little bread and then a
glass of porter, and to bed.
And this, very rarely varied by a visit from some one, is the tenor of
my daily life—and a very pleasant one indeed, were it not for
apprehensions about Lady S. and poor Johnnie Hugh. The former will, I
think, do well—for the latter—I fear—I fear—
April 2.—I am in a wayward mood this morning. I received yesterday
the last proof-sheets of Woodstock, and I ought to correct them. Now,
this ought sounds as like as possible to must, and must I cannot
abide. I would go to Prester John's country of free good-will, sooner
than I would must it to Edinburgh. Yet this is all folly, and silly
folly too; and so must shall be for once obeyed after I have thus
written myself out of my aversion to its peremptory sound. Corrected the
said proofs till twelve o'clock—when I think I will treat resolution,
not to a dram, as the drunken fellow said after he had passed the
dram-shop, but to a walk, the rather that my eyesight is somewhat
uncertain and wavering. I think it must be from the stomach. The whole
page waltzes before my eyes. J.B. writes gloomily about Woodstock; but
commends the conclusion. I think he is right. Besides, my manner is
nearly caught, and, like Captain Bobadil , I have taught nearly a
hundred gentlemen to fence very nearly, if not altogether, as well as
myself. I will strike out something new.
Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour, Act IV, Sc. 5.
April 3.—I have from Ballantyne and Gibson the extraordinary and
gratifying news that Woodstock is sold for £8228 in all, ready
money—a matchless sum for less than three months' work . If
Napoleon does as well, or near it, it will put the trust affairs in high
flourish. Four or five years of leisure and industry would, with [such]
success, amply replace my losses, and put me on a steadier footing than
ever. I have a curious fancy: I will go set two or three acorns, and
judge by their success in growing whether I will succeed in clearing my
way or not. I have a little toothache keeps me from working much
to-day, besides I sent off, per Blucher, copy for Napoleon, as well as
the d—d proofs.
The reader will understand that the Novel was sold for
behoof of James Ballantyne & Co.'s creditors, and that this sum includes
the cost of printing the first edition as well as paper.—J.G.L.
A blank forenoon! But how could I help it, Madam Duty? I was not lazy;
on my soul I was not. I did not cry for half holiday for the sale of
Woodstock. But in came Colonel Ferguson with Mrs. Stewart of
Blackhill, or hall, or something, and I must show her the garden,
pictures, etc. This lasts till one; and just as they are at their lunch,
and about to go off, guard is relieved by the Laird and Lady Harden, and
Miss Eliza Scott—and my dear Chief, whom I love very much, though a
little obsidional or so, remains till three. That same crown, composed
of the grass which grew on the walls of besieged places, should be
offered to visitors who stay above an hour in any eident  person's
house. Wrote letters this evening.
Eident, i.e. eagerly diligent.—J.G.L.
April 4.—Wrote two pages in the morning. Then went to Ashestiel in
the sociable, with Colonel Ferguson. Found my cousin Russell settled
kindly to his gardening and his projects. He seems to have brought home
with him the enviable talent of being interested and happy in his own
place. Ashestiel looks worst, I think, at this period of the year; but
is a beautiful place in summer, where I passed nine happy years. Did I
ever pass unhappy years anywhere? None that I remember, save those at
the High School, which I thoroughly detested on account of the
confinement. I disliked serving in my father's office, too, from the
same hatred to restraint. In other respects, I have had unhappy
days—unhappy weeks—even, on one or two occasions, unhappy months; but
Fortune's finger has never been able to play a dirge on me for a quarter
of a year together.
I am sorry to see the Peel-wood, and other natural coppice, decaying and
abridged about Ashestiel—
'The horrid plough has razed the green,
Where once my children play'd;
The axe has fell'd the hawthorn screen,
The schoolboy's summer shade.' 
These lines slightly altered from Logan.—J.G.L.
There was a very romantic pasturage called the Cow-park, which I was
particularly attached to, from its wild and sequestered character.
Having been part of an old wood which had been cut down, it was full of
copse—hazel, and oak, and all sorts of young trees, irregularly
scattered over fine pasturage, and affording a hundred intricacies so
delicious to the eye and the imagination. But some misjudging friend had
cut down and cleared away without mercy, and divided the varied and
sylvan scene, which was divided by a little rivulet, into the two most
formal things in nature—a thriving plantation, many-angled as usual,
and a park laid down in grass; wanting therefore the rich graminivorous
variety which Nature gives its carpet, and having instead a braird of
six days' growth—lean and hungry growth too—of ryegrass and clover. As
for the rill, it stagnates in a deep square ditch, which silences its
prattle, and restrains its meanders with a witness. The original scene
was, of course, imprinted still deeper on Russell's mind than mine, and
I was glad to see he was intensely sorry for the change.
April 5.—Rose late in the morning, past eight, to give the cold and
toothache time to make themselves scarce, which they have obligingly
done. Yesterday every tooth on the right side of my head was absolutely
waltzing. I would have drawn by the half dozen, but country dentists are
not to be lippened to.  To-day all is quiet, but a little swelling
and stiffness in the jaw. Went to Chiefswood at one, and marked with
regret forty trees indispensably necessary for paling—much like drawing
a tooth; they are wanted and will never be better, but I am
avaricious of grown trees, having so few.
Lippened, i.e. relied upon.—J.G.L.
Worked a fair task; dined, and read Clapperton's journey and Denham's
into Bornou. Very entertaining, and less botheration about mineralogy,
botany, and so forth, than usual. Pity Africa picks up so many brave
men, however. Work in the evening.
April 6.—Wrote in the morning. Went at one to Huntly Burn, where I
had the great pleasure to hear, through a letter from Sir Adam, that
Sophia was in health, and Johnnie gaining strength. It is a fine
exchange from deep and aching uncertainty on so interesting a subject,
to the little spitfire feeling of "Well, but they might have taken the
trouble to write"; but so wretched a correspondent as myself has not
much to say, so I will just grumble sufficiently to maintain the
I returned in time to work, and to receive a shoal of things from J.B.
Among others, a letter from an Irish lady, who, for the beaux yeux,
which I shall never look upon, desires I will forthwith send her all the
Waverley Novels, which are published, with an order to furnish her with
all others in course as they appear, which she assures me will be an
era in her life. She may find out some other epocha.
April 7.—Made out my morning's task; at one drove to Chiefswood, and
walked home by the Rhymer's Glen, Mar's Lee, and Haxell-Cleugh. Took me
three hours. The heath gets somewhat heavier for me every year—but
never mind, I like it altogether as well as the day I could tread it
best. My plantations are getting all into green leaf, especially the
larches, if theirs may be called leaves, which are only a sort of hair,
and from the number of birds drawn to these wastes, I may congratulate
myself on having literally made the desert to sing. As I returned, there
was, in the phraseology of that most precise of prigs in a white
collarless coat and chapeau bas, Mister Commissary Ramsay—"a rather
dense inspissation of rain." Deil care.
"Lord, who would live turmoiled in the Court,
That might enjoy such quiet walks as these?" 
2 King Henry VI., Act IV. Sc. 10, slightly varied.
Yet misfortune comes our way too. Poor Laidlaw lost a fine prattling
child of five years old yesterday.
It is odd enough—Iden, the Kentish Esquire, has just made the
ejaculation which I adopted in the last page, when he kills Cade, and
posts away up to Court to get the price set upon his head. Here is a
letter come from Lockhart, full of Court news, and all sort of
news,—best is his wife is well, and thinks the child gains in health.
Lockhart erroneously supposes that I think of applying to Ministers
about Charles, and that notwithstanding Croker's terms of pacification I
should find Malachi stick in my way. I would not make such an
application for millions; I think if I were to ask patronage it would
[not] be through them, for some time at least, and I might have better
In a letter of the same day he says—"My interest, as you
might have known, lies Windsor way."—J.G.L.
April 8.—We expect a raid of folks to visit us this morning, whom
we must have dined before our misfortunes. Save time, wine, and money,
these misfortunes—and so far are convenient things. Besides, there is a
dignity about them when they come only like the gout in its mildest
shape, to authorise diet and retirement, the night-gown and the velvet
shoe; when the one comes to chalkstones, and the other to prison,
though, there would be the devil. Or compare the effects of Sieur Gout
and absolute poverty upon the stomach—the necessity of a bottle of
laudanum in the one case, the want of a morsel of meat in the other.
Laidlaw's infant, which died on Wednesday, is buried to-day. The people
coming to visit prevent my going, and I am glad of it. I hate
funerals—always did. There is such a mixture of mummery with real
grief—the actual mourner perhaps heart-broken, and all the rest making
solemn faces, and whispering observations on the weather and public
news, and here and there a greedy fellow enjoying the cake and wine. To
me it is a farce full of most tragical mirth, and I am not sorry (like
Provost Coulter ) but glad that I shall not see my own. This is a
most unfilial tendency of mine, for my father absolutely loved a
funeral; and as he was a man of a fine presence, and looked the mourner
well, he was asked to every interment of distinction. He seemed to
preserve the list of a whole bead-roll of cousins, merely for the
pleasure of being at their funerals, which he was often asked to
superintend, and I suspect had sometimes to pay for. He carried me with
him as often as he could to these mortuary ceremonies; but feeling I was
not, like him, either useful or ornamental, I escaped as often as I
William Coulter, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, died in
office, April 1810, and was said to have been greatly consoled on his
deathbed by the prospect of so grand a funeral as must needs occur in
his case.—Scott used to take him off as saying, at some public
meeting, "Gentlemen, though doomed to the trade of a stocking-weaver, I
was born with the soul of a Sheepio" (Scipio).
I saw the poor child's funeral from a distance. Ah, that Distance! What
a magician for conjuring up scenes of joy or sorrow, smoothing all
asperities, reconciling all incongruities, veiling all absurdness,
softening every coarseness, doubling every effect by the influence of
the imagination. A Scottish wedding should be seen at a distance; the
gay band of the dancers just distinguished amid the elderly group of the
spectators,—the glass held high, and the distant cheers as it is
swallowed, should be only a sketch, not a finished Dutch picture, when
it becomes brutal and boorish. Scotch psalmody, too, should be heard
from a distance. The grunt and the snuffle, and the whine and the
scream, should be all blended in that deep and distant sound, which,
rising and falling like the Eolian harp, may have some title to be
called the praise of our Maker. Even so the distant funeral: the few
mourners on horseback, with their plaids wrapped around them—the father
heading the procession as they enter the river, and pointing out the
ford by which his darling is to be carried on the last long road—not
one of the subordinate figures in discord with the general tone of the
incident—seeming just accessories, and no more—this is affecting.
April 9.—I worked at correcting proofs in the morning, and, what is
harder, at correcting manuscript, which fags me excessively. I was dead
sick of it by two o'clock, the rather as my hand, O revered "Gurnal," be
it said between ourselves, gets daily worse.
Lockhart's Review.  Don't like his article on Sheridan's life.
There is no breadth in it, no general views, the whole flung away in
smart but party criticism. Now, no man can take more general and liberal
views of literature than J.G.L. But he lets himself too easily into that
advocatism of style, which is that of a pleader, not a judge or a
critic, and is particularly unsatisfactory to the reader. Lieut.-Col.
Ferguson dined here.
Quarterly Review, No. 66: Lockhart's review of
April 10.—Sent off proofs and copy galore before breakfast, and might
be able to give idleness a day if I liked. But it is as well reading for
Boney as for anything else, and I have a humour to make my amusement
useful. Then the day is changeable, with gusts of wind, and I believe a
start to the garden will be my best out-of-doors exercise. No thorough
hill-expedition in this gusty weather.
April 11.—Wrought out my task, although I have been much affected
this morning by the Morbus, as I call it. Aching pain in the back,
rendering one posture intolerable, fluttering of the heart, idle fears,
gloomy thoughts and anxieties, which if not unfounded are at least
bootless. I have been out once or twice, but am driven in by the rain.
Mercy on us, what poor devils we are! I shook this affection off,
however. Mr. Scrope and Col. Ferguson came to dinner, and we twaddled
away the evening well enough.
April 12.—I have finished my task this morning at half-past
eleven—easily and early—and, I think, not amiss. I hope J.B. will make
some great points of admiration!!!—otherwise I will be disappointed. If
this work answers—if it but answers, it must set us on our legs; I am
sure worse trumpery of mine has had a great run. Well, I will console
myself and do my best! But fashion changes, and I am getting old, and
may become unpopular, but it is time to cry out when I am hurt. I
remember with what great difficulty I was brought to think myself
something better than common, —and now I will not in mere faintness
of heart give up good hopes. So Fortune protect the bold. I have
finished the whole introductory sketch of the Revolution— too long for
an introduction. But I think I may now go to my solitary walk.
It is interesting to read what James Ballantyne has
recorded on this subject.—"Sir Walter at all times laboured under the
strangest delusion, as to the merits of his own works. On this score he
was not only inaccessible to compliments, but even insensible to the
truth; in fact, at all times, he hated to talk of any of his
productions; as, for instance, he greatly preferred Mrs. Shelley's
Frankenstein to any of his own romances. I remember one day, when Mr.
Erskine and I were dining with him, either immediately before or
immediately after the publication of one of the best of the latter, and
were giving it the high praise we thought it deserved, he asked us
abruptly whether we had read Frankenstein. We answered that we had
not. 'Ah,' he said, 'have patience, read Frankenstein, and you will be
better able to judge of——.' You will easily judge of the
disappointment thus prepared for us. When I ventured, as I sometimes
did, to press him on the score of the reputation he had gained, he
merely asked, as if he determined to be done with the discussion, 'Why,
what is the value of a reputation which probably will not last above one
or two generations?' One morning, I recollect, I went into his library,
shortly after the publication of the Lady of the Lake, and finding
Miss Scott there, who was then a very young girl, I asked her, 'Well,
Miss Sophia, how do you like the Lady of the Lake, with which
everybody is so much enchanted?' Her answer was, with affecting
simplicity, 'Oh, I have not read it. Papa says there's nothing so bad
for young girls as reading bad poetry.' Yet he could not be said to be
hostile to compliments in the abstract—nothing was so easy as to
flatter him about a farm or a field, and his manner on such an occasion
plainly showed that he was really open to such a compliment, and liked
it. In fact, I can recall only one instance in which he was fairly
cheated into pleasure by a tribute paid to his literary merit, and it
was a striking one. Somewhere betwixt two and three years ago I was
dining at the Rev. Dr. Brunton's, with a large and accomplished party,
of whom Dr. Chalmers was one. The conversation turned upon Sir Walter
Scott's romances generally, and the course of it led me very shortly
afterwards to call on Sir Walter, and address him as follows—I knew the
task was a bold one, but I thought I saw that I should get well through
it—'Well, Sir Walter,' I said, 'I was dining yesterday, where your
works became the subject of very copious conversation.' His countenance
immediately became overcast—and his answer was, 'Well, I think, I must
say your party might have been better employed.' 'I knew it would be
your answer,'—the conversation continued,—'nor would I have mentioned
it, but that Dr. Chalmers was present, and was by far the most decided
in his expressions of pleasure and admiration of any of the party.' This
instantly roused him to the most vivid animation. 'Dr. Chalmers?' he
repeated; 'that throws new light on the subject—to have produced any
effect upon the mind of such a man as Dr. Chalmers is indeed something
to be proud of. Dr. Chalmers is a man of the truest genius. I will thank
you to repeat all you can recollect that he said on the subject.' I did
so accordingly, and I can recall no other similar instance."—James
April 13.—On my return from my walk yesterday I learnt with great
concern the death of my old friend, Sir Alexander Don. He cannot have
been above six-or seven-and-forty. Without being much together, we had,
considering our different habits, lived in much friendship, and I
sincerely regret his death. His habits were those of a gay man, much
connected with the turf; but he possessed strong natural parts, and in
particular few men could speak better in public when he chose. He had
tact, wit, power of sarcasm, and that indescribable something which
marks the gentleman. His manners in society were extremely pleasing, and
as he had a taste for literature and the fine arts, there were few more
pleasant companions, besides being a highly-spirited, steady, and
honourable man. His indolence prevented his turning these good parts
towards acquiring the distinction he might have attained. He was among
the détenus whom Bonaparte's iniquitous commands confined so long in
France;  and coming there into possession of a large estate in right
of his mother, the heiress of the Glencairn family, he had the means of
being very expensive, and probably then acquired those gay habits which
rendered him averse to serious business. Being our member for
Roxburghshire, his death will make a stir amongst us. I prophesy
Harden  will be here to talk about starting his son Henry.
For the life led by many of the détenus in France
before 1814, and for anecdotes regarding Sir Alexander Don, see Sir
James Campbell of Ardkinglas' Memoirs, 2 vols. 8vo, London 1832, vol.
ii. chaps. 7 and 8.
Accordingly the Laird and Lady called. I exhorted him to write to Lord
Montagu  instantly. I do not see what they can do better, and unless
some pickthank intervene to insinuate certain irritating suspicions, I
suppose Lord M. will make no objection. There can be no objection to
Henry Scott for birth, fortune, or political principle; and I do not see
where we could get a better representative.
Hugh Scott of Harden, afterwards (in 1835) Lord
Polwarth—succeeded by his son Henry, in 1841.
Henry Jas. Scott, who succeeded to the Barony of Montagu
on the demise of his grandfather, the Duke of Montagu, was the son of
Henry, 3d Duke of Buccleuch. At Lord M.'s death in 1845 the Barony of
April 14.—Wrote to Lord M. last night. I hope they will keep the
peace in the county. I am sure it would be to me a most distressing
thing if Buccleuch and Harden were to pull different ways, being so
intimate with both families.
I did not write much yesterday, not above two pages and a half. I have
begun Boney, though, and c'est toujours quelque chose. This morning
I sent off proofs and manuscript. Had a letter from the famous Denis
Davidoff, the Black Captain, whose abilities as a partisan were so much
distinguished during the retreat from Moscow. If I can but wheedle him
out of a few anecdotes, it would be a great haul.
A kind letter from Colin Mack[enzie]; he thinks the Ministry will not
push the measure against Scotland. I fear they will; there is usually an
obstinacy in weakness. But I will think no more about it. Time draws on.
I have been here a month. Another month carries me to be a hermit in the
city instead of the country. I could scarce think I had been here a
week. I wish I was able, even at great loss, to retire from Edinburgh
entirely. Here is no bile, no visits, no routine, and yet on the whole,
things are as well perhaps as they are.
April 15.—Received last night letters from Sir John Scott Douglas,
and from that daintiest of Dandies, Sir William Elliot of Stobs,
canvassing for the county. Young Harry's  the lad for me. But will
he be the lad for Lord Montagu?—there is the point. I should have given
him a hint to attend to Edgerston. Perhaps being at Minto, and not
there, may give offence, and a bad report from that quarter would play
the devil. It is rather too late to go down and tell them this, and, to
say truth, I don't like the air of making myself busy in the matter.
Henry Scott, afterwards Lord Polwarth.
Poor Sir Alexander Don died of a disease in the heart; the body was
opened, which was very right. Odd enough, too, to have a man, probably a
friend two days before, slashing at one's heart as it were a bullock's.
I had a letter yesterday from John Gibson. The House of Longman and Co.
guarantee the sale [of Woodstock] to Hurst, and take the work, if
Hurst and Robinson (as is to be feared) can make no play.
Also I made up what was due of my task both for 13th and 14th. So hey
for a Swiftianism—
"I loll in my chair,
And around me I stare
With a critical air,
Like a calf at a fair;
And, say I, Mrs. Duty,
Good-morrow to your beauty,
I kiss your sweet shoe-tie,
And hope I can suit ye."
Fair words butter no parsnips, says Duty; don't keep talking then, but
get to your work again. Here is a day's task before you—the siege of
Toulon. Call you that a task? d—— me, I'll write it as fast as Boney
carried it on.
April 16.—I am now far ahead with Nap. I wrote a little this
morning, but this forenoon I must write letters, a task in which I am
"Heaven sure sent letters for some wretch's plague." 
Slightly altered from Pope's Eloisa to Abelard.
Lady Scott seems to make no way, yet can scarce be said to lose any. She
suffers much occasionally, especially during the night. Sleeps a great
deal when at ease; all symptoms announce water upon the chest. A sad
In the evening a despatch from Lord Melville, written with all the
familiarity of former times, desiring me to ride down and press Mr.
Scott of Harden to let Henry stand, and this in Lord Montagu's name as
well as his own, so that the two propositions cross each other on the
road, and Henry is as much desired by the Buccleuch interest as he
desires their support.
Jedburgh, April 17.—Came over to Jedburgh this morning, to breakfast
with my good old friend Mr. Shortreed, and had my usual warm reception.
Lord Gillies held the Circuit Court, and there was no criminal trial for
any offence whatsoever. I have attended these circuits with tolerable
regularity since 1792, and though there is seldom much of importance to
be done, yet I never remember before the Porteous roll  being quite
blank. The judge was presented with a pair of white gloves, in
consideration of its being a maiden circuit. Harden came over and talked
about his son's preferment, naturally much pleased.
The Catalogue of Criminals brought before the Circuit
Courts at one time was termed in Scotland the Portuous Roll. The name
appears to have been derived from the practice in early times of
delivering to the judges lists of Criminals for Trials in Portu, or in
the gateway as they entered the various towns on their circuit
ayres.—Chambers's Book of Scotland, p. 310.
Received £100 from John Lockhart, for review of Pepys;  but this is
by far too much; £50 is plenty. Still I must impeticos the gratility for
the present, —for Whitsunday will find me only with £300 in hand,
unless Blackwood settles a few scores of pounds for Malachi.
Jamieson suggests that the word may have come from "Porteous" as
originally applied to a Breviary, or portable book of prayers, which
might easily be transferred to a portable roll of indictments.
Quarterly Review, No. 66, Pepys' Diary.
Wrote a great many letters. Dined with the Judge, where I met the
disappointed candidate, Sir John Scott Douglas, who took my excuse like
a gentleman. Sir William Elliot, on the other hand, was, being a fine
man, very much out of sorts, that having got his own consent, he could
not get that of the county. He showed none of this, however, to me.
Twelfth Night, Act II. Sc. 3.
April 18.—This morning I go down to Kelso from Jedburgh to poor Don's
funeral. It is, I suppose, forty years since I saw him first. I was
staying at Sydenham, a lad of fourteen, or by 'r Lady some sixteen; and
he, a boy of six or seven, was brought to visit me on a pony, a groom
holding the leading rein—and now, I, an old grey man, am going to lay
him in his grave. Sad work. I detest funerals; there is always a want of
consistency; it is a tragedy played by strolling performers, who are
more likely to make you laugh than cry. No chance of my being made to
laugh to-day. The very road I go is a road of grave recollections. Must
write to Charles seriously on the choice of his profession, and I will
do it now.
[Abbotsford,] April 19.—Returned last night from the house of death
and mourning to my own, now the habitation of sickness and anxious
apprehension. Found Lady S. had tried the foxglove in quantity, till it
made her so sick she was forced to desist. The result cannot yet be
judged. Wrote to Mrs. Thomas Scott to beg her to let her daughter Anne,
an uncommonly, sensible, steady, and sweet-tempered girl, come and stay
with us a season in our distress, who I trust will come forthwith.
Two melancholy things. Last night I left my pallet in our family
apartment, to make way for a female attendant, and removed to a
dressing-room adjoining, when to return, or whether ever, God only can
tell. Also my servant cut my hair, which used to be poor Charlotte's
personal task. I hope she will not observe it.
The funeral yesterday was very mournful; about fifty persons present,
and all seemed affected. The domestics in particular were very much so.
Sir Alexander was a kind, though an exact master. It was melancholy to
see those apartments, where I have so often seen him play the graceful
and kind landlord filled with those who were to carry him to his long
There was very little talk of the election, at least till the funeral
April 20.—Lady Scott's health in the same harassing state of
uncertainty, yet on my side with more of hope than I had two days since.
Another death; Thomas Riddell, younger of Camiston, Sergeant-Major of
the Edinburgh Troop in the sunny days of our yeomanry, and a very good
The day was so tempting that I went out with Tom Purdie to cut some
trees, the rather that my task was very well advanced. He led me into
the wood, as the blind King of Bohemia was led by his four knights into
the thick of the battle at Agincourt or Crecy,  and then, like the
old King, "I struck good strokes more than one," which is manly
See Froissart's account of the Battle of Crecy, Bk. i.
April 21.—This day I entertained more flattering hopes of Lady
Scott's health than late events permitted. I went down to Mertoun with
Colonel Ferguson, who returned to dine here, which consumed time so much
that I made a short day's work.
Had the grief to find Lady Scott had insisted on coming downstairs and
was the worse of it. Also a letter from Lockhart, giving a poor account
of the infant. God help us! earth cannot.
April 22.—Lady Scott continues very poorly. Better news of the child.
Wrought a good deal to-day, rather correcting sheets and acquiring
information than actually composing, which is the least toilsome of the
J.G.L. kindly points out some solecisms in my style, as "amid" for
"amidst," "scarce" for "scarcely." "Whose," he says, is the proper
genitive of "which" only at such times as "which" retains its quality of
impersonification. Well! I will try to remember all this, but after all
I write grammar as I speak, to make my meaning known, and a solecism in
point of composition, like a Scotch word in speaking, is indifferent to
me. I never learned grammar; and not only Sir Hugh Evans but even Mrs.
Quickly might puzzle me about Giney's case and horum harum horum.  I
believe the Bailiff in The Good-natured Man is not far wrong when he
says, "One man has one way of expressing himself, and another another,
and that is all the difference between them."  Went to Huntly Burn
to-day and looked at the Colonel's projected approach. I am sure if the
kind heart can please himself he will please me.
Merry Wives of Windsor, Act iv. Sc. 1.
April 23.—A glorious day, bright and brilliant, and, I fancy, mild.
Lady Scott is certainly better, and has promised not to attempt quitting
See Goldsmith's Comedy, Act III.
Henry Scott has been here, and his canvass comes on like a moor burning.
April 24.—Good news from Brighton. Sophia is confined; both she and
her baby are doing well, and the child's name is announced to be
Walter—a favourite name in our family, and I trust of no bad omen. Yet
it is no charm for life. Of my father's family I was the second Walter,
if not the third. I am glad the name came my way, for it was borne by my
father, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather; also by the
grandsire of that last-named venerable person who was the first laird of
Hurst and Robinson, the Yorkshire tykes, have failed after all their
swaggering, and Longman and Co. take Woodstock. But if Woodstock and
Napoleon take with the public I shall care little about their
insolvency, and if they do not, I don't think their solvency would have
lasted long. Constable is sorely broken down.
"Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That's sorry yet for thee." 
King Lear, Act III. Sc. 2.
His conduct has not been what I deserved at his hand, but, I believe
that, walking blindfold himself, he misled me without malice prepense.
It is best to think so at least, unless the contrary be demonstrated. To
nourish angry passions against a man whom I really liked would be to lay
a blister on my own heart.
April 25.—Having fallen behind on the 23d, I wrought pretty hard
yesterday; but I had so much reading, and so many proofs to correct,
that I did not get over the daily task, so am still a little behind,
which I shall soon make up. I have got Nap., d—n him, into Italy,
where with bad eyes and obscure maps, I have a little difficulty in
tracing out his victorious chess-play.
Lady Scott was better yesterday, certainly better, and was sound asleep
when I looked in this morning. Walked in the afternoon. I looked at a
hooded crow building in the thicket with great pleasure. It is a shorter
date than my neighbour Torwoodlee  thought of, when he told me, as
I was bragging a little of my plantations, that it would be long ere
crows built in them.
James Pringle, Convener of Selkirkshire for more than
half a century. For an account of the Pringles of Torwoodlee, see Mr.
Craig Brown's History of Selkirkshire, vol. i. pp. 459-470.
April 26.—Letters from Walter and Lockharts; all well and doing well.
Lady S. continues better, so the clouds are breaking up. I made a good
day's work yesterday, and sent off proofs, letters, and copy this
morning; so, if this fine day holds good, I will take a drive at one.
There is an operation called putting to rights—Scotticè, redding
up—which puts me into a fever. I always leave any attempt at it half
executed, and so am worse off than before, and have only embroiled the
fray. Then my long back aches with stooping into the low drawers of old
cabinets, and my neck is strained with staring up to their attics. Then
you are sure never to get the thing you want. I am certain they creep
about and hide themselves. Tom Moore  gave us the insurrection of
the papers. That was open war, but this is a system of privy plot and
conspiracy, by which those you seek creep out of the way, and those you
are not wanting perk themselves in your face again and again, until at
last you throw them into some corner in a passion, and then they are the
objects of research in their turn. I have read in a French Eastern tale
of an enchanted person called L'homme qui cherche, a sort of "Sir Guy
the Seeker," always employed in collecting the beads of a chaplet,
which, by dint of gramarye, always dispersed themselves when he was
about to fix the last upon the string. It was an awful doom;
transmogrification into the Laidleyworm of Spindlestaneheugh  would
have been a blessing in comparison. Now, the explanation of all this is,
that I have been all this morning seeking a parcel of sticks of sealing
wax which I brought from Edinburgh, and the "Weel Brandt and Vast
houd"  has either melted without the agency of fire or barricaded
itself within the drawers of some cabinet, which has declared itself in
a state of insurrection. A choice subject for a journal, but what better
"The Insurrection of the Papers—a Dream." The
Twopenny Post-Bag, 12mo, London, 1812.
I did not quite finish my task to-day, nay, I only did one third of it.
It is so difficult to consult the maps after candles are lighted, or to
read the Moniteur, that I was obliged to adjourn. The task is three
pages or leaves of my close writing per diem, which corresponds to about
a sheet (16 pages) of Woodstock, and about 12 of Bonaparte, which is
a more comprehensive page. But I was not idle neither, and wrote some
Balaam  for Lockhart's Review. Then I was in hand a leaf above
the tale, so I am now only a leaf behind it.
The well-known ballads on these two North-country legends
were published by M.G. Lewis and Mr. Lambe, of Norham. "Sir Guy," in the
Tales of Wonder, and "The Worm," in Ritson's Northumberland
Garland.—See Child's English and Scottish Ballads, 8 vols. 12mo,
Boston, 1857, vol. i. p. 386.
Fyn Segellak wel brand en vast houd: old brand used by
Balaam is the cant name in a Newspaper Office for
asinine paragraphs, about monstrous productions of Nature and the like,
kept standing in type to be used whenever the real news of the day
leaves an awkward space that must be filled up somehow.—J.G.L.
April 27.—This is one of those abominable April mornings which
deserve the name of Sans Cullotides, as being cold, beggarly, coarse,
savage, and intrusive. The earth lies an inch deep with snow, to the
confusion of the worshippers of Flora. By the way, Bogie attended his
professional dinner and show of flowers at Jedburgh yesterday. Here is a
beautiful sequence to their floralia. It is this uncertainty in April,
and the descent of snow and frost when one thinks themselves clear of
them, and that after fine encouraging weather, that destroys our
Scottish fruits and flowers. It is as imprudent to attach yourself to
flowers in Scotland as to a caged bird; the cat, sooner or later, snaps
up one, and these— Sans Cullotides—annihilate the other. It was but
yesterday I was admiring the glorious flourish of the pears and
apricots, and now hath come the killing frost. 
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 2.
But let it freeze without, we are comfortable within. Lady Scott
continues better, and, we may hope, has got the turn of her disease.
April 28.—Beautiful morning, but ice as thick as pasteboard, too
surely showing that the night has made good yesterday's threat.
Dalgleish, with his most melancholy face, conveys the most doleful
tidings from Bogie. But servants are fond of the woful, it gives such
consequence to the person who communicates bad news.
Wrote two letters, and read till twelve, and then for a stout walk among
the plantations till four. Found Lady Scott obviously better, I think,
than I had left her in the morning. In walking I am like a spavined
horse, and heat as I get on. The flourishing plantations around me are a
great argument for me to labour hard. "Barbarus has segetes?" I will
write my finger-ends off first.
April 29.—I was always afraid, privately, that Woodstock would not
stand the test. In that case my fate would have been that of the
unfortunate minstrel trumpeter Maclean at the battle of Sheriffmuir—
"By misfortune he happened to fa', man;
By saving his neck
His trumpet did break,
And came off without music at a', man." 
Ritson, Scottish Songs, xvi.
J.B. corroborated my doubts by his raven-like croaking and criticising;
but the good fellow writes me this morning that he is written down an
ass, and that the approbation is unanimous. It is but Edinburgh, to be
sure; but Edinburgh has always been a harder critic than London. It is a
great mercy, and gives encouragement for future exertion. Having written
two leaves this morning, I think I will turn out to my walk, though two
hours earlier than usual. Egad, I could not persuade myself that it was
such bad Balaam after all.
April 30.—I corrected this morning a quantity of proofs and copy, and
dawdled about a little, the weather of late becoming rather milder,
though not much of that. Methinks Duty looks as if she were but
half-pleased with me; but would the Pagan bitch have me work on the