- The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford (June, 1826) by Sir Walter Scott
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The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford
June, 1826

by Sir Walter Scott

June 1.—Yesterday I also finished a few trifling memoranda on a book called The Omen, at Blackwood's request. There is something in the work which pleases me, and the style is good, though the story is not artfully conducted. I dined yesterday in family with Skene, and had a visit from Lord Chief-Commissioner; we met as mourners under a common calamity. There is something extremely kind in his disposition.

Sir R. D[undas] offers me three days of the country next week, which tempts me strongly were it but the prospect of seeing Anne. But I think I must resist and say with Tilburina,
"Duty, I'm all thine own." [278]
[278]Sheridan's Critic, Act IV. Sc. 2.
If I do this I shall deserve a holiday about the 15th June, and I think it is best to wait till then.

June 2.—A pleasant letter from Sophia, poor girl; all doing well there, for which God be praised.

I wrote a good task yesterday, five pages, which is nearly double the usual stint.

I am settled that I will not go to Abbotsford till to-morrow fortnight.

I might have spared myself the trouble of my self-denial, for go I cannot, Hamilton having a fit of gout.

Gibson seems in high spirits on the views I have given to him on the nature of Constable and Co.'s claim. It amounts to this, that being no longer accountable as publishers, they cannot claim the character of such, or plead upon any claim arising out of the contracts entered into while they held that capacity.

June 3.—I was much disturbed this morning by bile and its consequences, and lost so much sleep that I have been rather late in rising by way of indemnification. I must go to the map and study the Italian campaigns instead of scribbling.

June 4.—I wrote a good task yesterday, and to-day a great one, scarce stirring from the desk the whole day, except a few minutes when Lady Rae called. I was glad to see my wife's old friend, with whom in early life we had so many liaisons. I am not sure it is right to work so hard; but a man must take himself, as well as other people, when he is in the humour. A man will do twice as much at one time and in half the time, and twice as well as he will be able to do at another. People are always crying out about method, and in some respects it is good, and shows to great advantage among men of business, but I doubt if men of method, who can lay aside or take up the pen just at the hour appointed, will ever be better than poor creatures. Lady L[ouisa] S[tuart] used to tell me of Mr. Hoole, the translator of Tasso and Ariosto, and in that capacity a noble transmuter of gold into lead, that he was a clerk in the India House, with long ruffles and a snuff-coloured suit of clothes, who occasionally visited her father [John, Earl of Bute]. She sometimes conversed with him, and was amused to find that he did exactly so many couplets day by day, neither more or less; and habit had made it light to him, however heavy it might seem to the reader.

Well, but if I lay down the pen, as the pain in my breast hints that I should, what am I to do? If I think, why, I shall weep—and that's nonsense; and I have no friend now—none—to receive my tediousness for half-an-hour of the gloaming. Let me be grateful—I have good news from Abbotsford.

June 5.—Though this be Monday, I am not able to feague it away, as Bayes says. [279] Between correcting proofs and writing letters, I have got as yet but two pages written, and that with labour and a sensation of pain in the chest. I may be bringing on some serious disease by working thus hard; if I had once justice done to other folks, I do not much care, only I would not like to suffer long pain. Harden made me a visit. He argued with me that Lord M. affichéd his own importance, too much at the election, and says Henry is anxious about it. I hinted to him the necessity of counter-balancing it the next time, which will be soon.
[279]Buckingham's Rehearsal.—The expression "To Feague" does not occur in the first edition, where the passage stands thus:—
"Phys.—When a knotty point comes, I lay my head close to it, with a pipe of tobacco in my mouth and then whew it away. I' faith.
"Bayes.—I do just so, i' gad, always." Act II. Sc. 4.
In some subsequent editions the words are:—"I lay my head close to it with a snuff-box in my hand, and I feague it away. I' faith."
I am indebted to Dr. Murray for this reference, which he kindly furnished me with from the materials collected for his great English Dictionary.
Thomson also called about the Bannatyne Club.

These two interruptions did me good, though I am still a poor wretch.

After all, I have fagged through six pages; and made poor Wurmser lay down his sword on the glacis of Mantua—and my head aches—my eyes ache—my back aches—so does my breast—and I am sure my heart aches, and what can Duty ask more?

June 6.—I arose much better this morning, having taken some medicine, which has removed the strange and aching feeling in my back and breast. I believe it is from the diaphragm; it must be looked to, however. I have not yet breakfasted, yet have cleared half my day's work holding it at the ordinary stint.

Worked hard. John Swinton, my kinsman, came to see me,—very kind and affectionate in his manner; my heart always warms to that Swinton connection, so faithful to old Scottish feelings. Harden was also with me. I talked with him about what Lord M. did at the election; I find that he disapproves—I see these visits took place on the 5th.

June 7.—Again a day of hard work, only at half-past eight I went to the Dean of Faculty's to a consultation about Constable, [280] and met with said Dean and Mr. [J.S.] More and J. Gibson. I find they have as high hope of success as lawyers ought to express; and I think I know how our profession speak when sincere. I cannot interest myself deeply in it. When I had come home from such a business, I used to carry the news to poor Charlotte, who dressed her face in sadness or mirth as she saw the news affect me; this hangs lightly about me. I had almost forgot the appointment, if J.G. had not sent me a card, I passed a piper in the street as I went to the Dean's and could not help giving him a shilling to play Pibroch a Donuil Dhu for luck's sake—what a child I am!
[280]This alludes to the claim advanced by the creditors of Constable and Co. to the copyright of Woodstock and the Life of Napoleon. The Dean of the Faculty of Advocates was at that time George Cranstoun, afterwards a judge on the Scottish Bench under the title; of Lord Corehouse, from 1826 until 1839, when he retired; he died 1850.
June 8.—Bilious and headache this morning. A dog howl'd all night and left me little sleep. Poor cur! I dare say he had his distresses, as I have mine. I was obliged to make Dalgleish shut the windows when he appeared at half-past six, as usual, and did not rise till nine, when me voici. I have often deserved a headache in my younger days without having one, and Nature is, I suppose, paying off old scores. Ay, but then the want of the affectionate care that used to be ready, with lowered voice and stealthy pace, to smooth the pillow—and offer condolence and assistance,—gone—gone—for ever—ever—ever. Well, there is another world, and we'll meet free from the mortal sorrows and frailties which beset us here. Amen, so be it. Let me change the topic with hand and head, and the heart must follow.

I think that sitting so many days and working so hard may have brought on this headache. I must inflict a walk on myself to-day. Strange that what is my delight in the country is here a sort of penance! Well, but now I think on it, I will go to the Chief-Baron and try to get his Lordship's opinion about the question with Constable; if I carry it, as there is, I trust, much hope I shall, Mr. Gibson says there will be funds to divide 6s. in the pound, without counting upon getting anything from Constable or Hurst, but sheer hard cash of my own. Such another pull is possible, especially if Boney succeeds, and the rogue had a knack at success. Such another, I say, and we touch ground I believe, for surely Constable, Robinson, etc., must pay something; the struggle is worth waring [281] a headache upon.
[281]i.e. spending.
I finished five pages to-day, headache, laziness, and all.

June 9.—Corrected a stubborn proof this morning. These battles have been the death of many a man—I think they will be mine. Well but it clears to windward; so we will fag on.

Slept well last night. By the way, how intolerably selfish this Journal makes me seem—so much attention to one's naturals and non-naturals! Lord Mackenzie [282] called, and we had much chat about business. The late regulations for preparing cases in the Outer-House do not work well, and thus our old machinery, which was very indifferent, is succeeded by a kind that will hardly move at all. Mackenzie says his business is trebled, and that he cannot keep it up. I question whether the extreme strictness of rules of court be advisable in practice they are always evaded, upon an equitable showing. I do not, for instance, lodge a paper debito tempore, and for an accident happening, perhaps through the blunder of a Writer's apprentice, I am to lose my cause. The penalty is totally disproportioned to the delict, and the consequence is, that means are found out of evasion by legal fictions and the like. The judges listen to these; they become frequent, and the rule of Court ends by being a scarecrow merely. Formerly, delays of this kind were checked by corresponding amendes. But the Court relaxed this petty fine too often. Had they been more strict, and levied the mulct on the agents, with no recourse upon their clients, the abuse might have been remedied. I fear the present rule is too severe to do much good.
[282]The eldest son of "The Man of Feeling." He had been a judge from 1822; he died at the age of seventy-four in 1851.
One effect of running causes fast through the Courts below is, that they go by scores to appeal, and Lord Gifford [283] has hitherto decided them with such judgment, and so much rapidity, as to give great satisfaction. The consequence will in time be, that the Scottish Supreme Court will be in effect situated in London. Then down fall—as national objects of respect and veneration—the Scottish Bench, the Scottish Bar, the Scottish Law herself, and—and—"there is an end of an auld sang." [284] Were I as I have been, I would fight knee-deep in blood ere it came to that. But it is a catastrophe which the great course of events brings daily nearer—
"And who can help it, Dick?"
[283]Baron Gifford died a few months later, viz., in Sept. 1826; he had been Attorney-General in 1819, and Chief-Justice in 1824. Lord and Lady Gifford had visited Abbotsford in the autumn of 1825.

[284]Speech of Lord Chancellor Seafield on the ratification of the Scottish Union.—See Miscell. Prose Works, vol. xxv. p. 93.
I shall always be proud of Malachi as having headed back the Southron, or helped to do so, in one instance at least.

June 10.—This was an unusual teind-day at Court. In the morning and evening I corrected proofs—four sheets in number; and I wrote my task of three pages and a little more. Three pages a day will come, at Constable's rate, to about £12,000 to £15,000 per year. They have sent their claim; it does not frighten me a bit.

June 11.—Bad dreams about poor Charlotte. Woke, thinking my old and inseparable friend beside me; and it was only when I was fully awake that I could persuade myself that she was dark, low, and distant, and that my bed was widowed. I believe the phenomena of dreaming are in a great measure occasioned by the double touch, which takes place when one hand is crossed in sleep upon another. Each gives and receives the impression of touch to and from the other, and this complicated sensation our sleeping fancy ascribes to the agency of another being, when it is in fact produced by our own limbs acting on each other. Well, here goes—incumbite remis.

June 12.—Finished volume third of Napoleon. I resumed it on the 1st of June, the earliest period that I could bend my mind to it after my great loss. Since that time I have lived, to be sure, the life of a hermit, except attending the Court five days in the week for about three hours on an average. Except at that time I have been reading or writing on the subject of Boney, and have finished last night, and sent to printer this morning the last sheets of fifty-two written since 1st June. It is an awful screed; but grief makes me a house-keeper, and to labour is my only resource. Ballantyne thinks well of the work—very well, but I shall [expect] inaccuracies. An' it were to do again, I would get some one to look it over. But who could that some one be? Whom is there left of human race that I could hold such close intimacy with? No one. "Tanneguy du Châtel, ou es-tu!" [285]. Worked five pages.
[285]See Moréri's Dictionnaire, Art. "Tanneguy du Châtel."
June 13.—I took a walk out last evening after tea, and called on Lord Chief-Commissioner and the Macdonald Buchanans, that kind and friendly clan. The heat is very great, and the wrath of the bugs in proportion. Two hours last night I was kept in an absolute fever. I must make some arrangement for winter. Great pity my old furniture was sold in such a hurry! The wiser way would have been to have let the house furnished. But it's all one in the Greek.

"Peccavi, peccavi, dies quidem sine lineâ!" I walked to make calls; got cruelly hot; drank ginger-beer; wrote letters. Then as I was going to dinner, enter a big splay-footed, trifle-headed, old pottering minister, who came to annoy me about a claim which one of his parishioners has to be Earl of Annandale, and which he conceits to be established out of the Border Minstrelsy. He mentioned a curious thing—that three brothers of the Johnstone family, on whose descendants the male representative of these great Border chiefs devolved, were forced to fly to the north in consequence of their feuds with the Maxwells, and agreed to change their names. They slept on the side of the Soutra Hills, and asking a shepherd the name of the place, agreed in future to call themselves Sowtra or Sowter Johnstones. The old pudding-headed man could not comprehend a word I either asked him or told him, and maundered till I wished him in the Annandale beef-stand. [286] Mr. Gibson came in after tea, and we talked business. Then I was lazy and stupid, and dosed over a book instead of writing. So on the whole, Confiteor, confiteor, culpa mea, culpa mea!
[286]An example of Scott's wonderful patience, and his power of utilising hints gathered from the most unpromising materials. Apropos of this Mr. Skene relates:—"In one of our frequent walks to the pier of Leith, to which the freshness of the sea breeze offered a strong inducement to those accustomed to pass a few of the morning hours within the close and impure atmosphere of the Court of Session, I happened to meet with, and to recognise, the Master of a vessel in which I had sailed in the Mediterranean. Our recognition of each other seemed to give mutual satisfaction, as the cordial grasp of the seaman's hard fist effectually indicated. It was some years since we had been shipmates, he had since visited almost every quarter of the globe, but he shook his head, and looked serious when he came to mention his last trip. He had commanded a whaler, and having been for weeks exposed to great stress of weather in the polar regions, finally terminated in the total loss of his vessel, with most of her equipage, in the course of a dark tempestuous night. When thrown on her beam-ends, my friend had been washed overboard, and in his struggles to keep himself above water had got hold of a piece of ice, on the top of which he at length succeeded in raising himself—'and there I was, sir, on a cursed dark dirty night, squatted on a round lump of floating ice, for all the world like a tea-table adrift in the middle of a stormy sea, without being able to see whether there was any hope within sight, and having enough ado to hold on, cold as my seat was, with sometimes one end of me in the water, and sometimes the other, as the ill-fashioned crank thing kept whirling, and whomeling about all night. However, praised be God, daylight had not been long in, when a boat's crew on the outlook hove in sight, and taking me for a basking seal, and maybe I was not unlike that same, up they came of themselves, for neither voice nor hand had I to signal them, and if they lost their blubber, faith, sir, they did get a willing prize on board; so, after just a little bit gliff of a prayer for the mercy that sent them to my help, I soon came to myself again, and now that I am landed safe and sound, I am walking about, ye see, like a gentleman, till I get some new craft to try the trade again.'—Sir Walter, who was leaning on my arm during this narrative, had not taken any share in the dialogue, and kept gazing to seaward, with his usual heavy, absorbed expression, and only joined in wishing the seaman better success in his next trip as we parted. However, the detail had by no means escaped his notice, but dropping into the fertile soil of his mind, speedily yielded fruit, quite characteristic of his habits. We happened that evening to dine in company together; I was not near Sir Walter at table, but in the course of the evening my attention was called to listen to a narrative with which he was entertaining those around him, and he seemed as usual to have excited the eager interest of his hearers. The commencement of the story I had not heard, but soon perceived that a shipwreck was the theme, which he described with all the vivid touches of his fancy, marshalling the incidents and striking features of the situation with a degree of dexterity that seemed to bring all the horrors of a polar storm home to every one's mind, and although it occurred to me that our rencontre in the morning with the shipwrecked Whaler might have recalled a similar story to his recollection, it was not until he came to mention the tea-table of ice that I recognised the identity of my friend's tale, which had luxuriated to such an extent in the fertile soil of the poet's imagination, as to have left the original germ in comparative insignificance. He cast a glance towards me at the close, and observed, with a significant nod, 'You see, you did not hear one-half of that honest seaman's story this morning.' It was such slender hints, which in the common intercourse of life must have hourly dropped on the soil of his retentive memory, that fed the exuberance of Sir Walter's invention, and supplied the seemingly inexhaustible stream of fancy, from which he drew forth at pleasure the ground-work of romance."—Reminiscences.
June 14.—In the morning I began with a page and a half before breakfast. This is always the best way. You stand like a child going to be bathed, shivering and shaking till the first pitcherful is flung about your ears, and then are as blithe as a water-wagtail. I am just come home from Parliament House; and now, my friend Nap., have at you with a down-right blow! Methinks I would fain make peace with my conscience by doing six pages to-night. Bought a little bit of Gruyère cheese, instead of our domestic choke-dog concern. When did I ever purchase anything for my own eating? But I will say no more of that. And now to the bread-mill.

June 15.—I laboured all the evening, but made little way. There were many books to consult; and so all I could really do was to make out my task of three pages. I will try to make up the deficit of Tuesday to-day and to-morrow. Letters from Walter—all well. A visit yesterday from Charles Sharpe.

June 16.—Yesterday sate in the Court till nearly four. I had, of course, only time for my task. I fear I will have little more to-day, for I have accepted to dine at Hector's. I got, yesterday, a present of two engravings from Sir Henry Raeburn's portrait of me, which (poor fellow!) was the last he ever painted, and certainly not his worst. [287] I had the pleasure to give one to young Mr. Davidoff for his uncle, the celebrated Black Captain of the campaign of 1812. Curious that he should be interested in getting the resemblance of a person whose mode of attaining some distinction has been very different. But I am sensible, that if there be anything good about my poetry or prose either, it is a hurried frankness of composition which pleases soldiers, sailors, and young people of bold and active disposition. I have been no sigher in shades—no writer of
"Songs and sonnets and rustical roundelays,
Framed on fancies, and whistled on reeds." [288]
[287]Painted for Lord Montagu in 1822.—See Life, vol. vii. p. 13.
Raeburn apparently executed two "half lengths" of Scott almost identical at this time, giving Lord Montagu his choice. The picture chosen remained at Ditton, near Windsor, until 1845, when at Lord Montagu's death it became the property of his son-in-law, the Earl of Home, and it is now (1889) at the Hirsel, Coldstream. The engraving referred to was made from the replica, which remained in the artist's possession, by Mr. Walker, and published in 1826. Sir Henry Raeburn died in July 1823, and I do not know what became of the original, which may be identified by an official chain round the neck, not introduced in the Montagu picture.

[288]Song of The Hunting of the Hare.—J.G.L.
[Abbotsford, Saturday,] June 17.—Left Edinburgh to-day after Parliament House to come [here]. My two girls met me at Torsonce, which was a pleasant surprise, and we returned in the sociable all together. Found everything right and well at Abbotsford under the new regime. I again took possession of the family bedroom and my widowed couch. This was a sore trial, but it was necessary not to blink such a resolution. Indeed, I do not like to have it thought that there is any way in which I can be beaten. [289]
[289]This entry reminds one of Hannah More's account of Mrs. Garrick's conduct after her husband's funeral. "She told me," says Mrs. More, "that she prayed with great composure, then went and kissed the dear bed, and got into it with a sad pleasure."—See Memoirs of Mrs. More, vol. i. p. 135.—J.G.L.
June 18.—This morning wrote till half-twelve—good day's work—at Canongate Chronicles. Methinks I can make this work answer. Then drove to Huntly Burn and called at Chiefswood. Walked home. The country crying for rain; yet on the whole the weather delicious, dry, and warm, with a fine air of wind. The young woods are rising in a kind of profusion I never saw elsewhere. Let me once clear off these encumbrances, and they shall wave broader and deeper yet. But to attain this I must work.

Wrought very fair accordingly till two; then walked; after dinner out again with the girls. Smoked two cigars, first time these two months.

June 19.—Wrought very fair indeed, and the day being scorching we dined al fresco in the hall among the armour, and went out early in the evening. Walked to the lake and back again by the Marle pool; very delightful evening.

June 20.—This is also a hard-working day. Hot weather is favourable for application, were it not that it makes the composer sleepy. Pray God the reader may not partake the sensation! But days of hard work make short journals. To-day we again dine in the hall, and drive to Ashestiel in the evening pour prendre le frais.

June 21—We followed the same course we proposed. For a party of pleasure I have attended to business well. Twenty pages of Croftangry, five printed pages each, attest my diligence, and I have had a delightful variation by the company of the two Annes. Regulated my little expenses here.

[Edinburgh,] June 22.—Returned to my Patmos. Heard good news from Lockhart. Wife well, and John Hugh better. He mentions poor Southey testifying much interest for me, even to tears. It is odd—am I so hard-hearted a man? I could not have wept for him, though in distress I would have gone any length to serve him. I sometimes think I do not deserve people's good opinion, for certainly my feelings are rather guided by reflection than impulse. But everybody has his own mode of expressing interest, and mine is stoical even in bitterest grief. Agere atque pati, Romanum est. I hope I am not the worse for wanting the tenderness that I see others possess, and which is so amiable. I think it does not cool my wish to be of use where I can. But the truth is, I am better at enduring or acting than at consoling. From childhood's earliest hour my heart rebelled against the influence of external circumstances in myself and others. Non est tanti!

To-day I was detained in the Court from half-past ten till near four; yet I finished and sent off a packet to Cadell, which will finish one-third of the Chronicles, vol. 1st.

Henry Scott came in while I was at dinner, and sat while I ate my beef-steak. A gourmand would think me much at a loss, coming back to my ploughman's meal of boiled beef and Scotch broth, from the rather recherché table at Abbotsford, but I have no philosophy in my carelessness on that score. It is natural—though I am no ascetic, as my father was.

June 23.—The heat tremendous, and the drought threatening the hay and barley crop. Got from the Court at half-twelve, and walked to the extremity of Heriot Row to see poor Lady Don; left my card as she does not receive any one. I am glad this painful meeting is adjourned. I received to-day £10 from Blackwood for the article on The Omen. Time was I would not have taken these small tithes of mint and cummin, but scornful dogs will eat dirty puddings, and I, with many depending on me, must do the best I can with my time—God help me!

[Blair-Adam,] June 24.—Left Edinburgh yesterday after the Court, half-past twelve, and came over here with the Lord Chief-Baron and William Clerk, to spend as usual a day or two at Blair-Adam. In general, this is a very gay affair. We hire a light coach-and-four, and scour the country in every direction in quest of objects of curiosity. But the Lord Chief-Commissioner's family misfortunes and my own make our holiday this year of a more quiet description than usual, and a sensible degree of melancholy hangs on the reunion of our party. It was wise, however, not to omit it, for to slacken your hold on life in any agreeable point of connection is the sooner to reduce yourself to the indifference and passive vegetation of old age.

June 25.—Another melting day; thermometer at 78° even here. 80° was the height yesterday at Edinburgh. If we attempt any active proceeding we dissolve ourselves into a dew. We have lounged away the morning creeping about the place, sitting a great deal, and walking as little as might be on account of the heat.

Blair-Adam has been successively in possession of three generations of persons attached to and skilled in the art of embellishment, and may be fairly taken as a place where art and taste have done a great deal to improve nature. A long ridge of varied ground sloping to the foot of the hill called Benarty, and which originally was of a bare, mossy, boggy character, has been clothed by the son, father, and grandfather; while the undulations and hollows, which seventy or eighty years since must have looked only like wrinkles in the black morasses, being now drained and limed, are skirted with deep woods, particularly of spruce, which thrives wonderfully, and covered with excellent grass. We drove in the droskie and walked in the evening.

June, 26.—Another day of unmitigated heat; thermometer 82; must be higher in Edinburgh, where I return to-night, when the decline of the sun makes travelling practicable. It will be well for my work to be there—not quite so well for me; there is a difference between the clean, nice arrangement of Blair-Adam and Mrs. Brown's accommodations, though he who is insured against worse has no right to complain of them. But the studious neatness of poor Charlotte has perhaps made me fastidious. She loved to see things clean, even to Oriental scrupulosity. So oddly do our deep recollections of other kinds correspond with the most petty occurrences of our life.

Lord Chief-Baron told us a story of the ruling passion strong in death. A Master in Chancery was on his deathbed—a very wealthy man. Some occasion of great urgency occurred in which it was necessary to make an affidavit, and the attorney, missing one or two other Masters, whom he inquired after, ventured to ask if Mr. ——— would be able to receive the deposition. The proposal seemed to give him momentary strength; his clerk sent for, and the oath taken in due form, the Master was lifted up in bed, and with difficulty subscribed the paper; as he sank down again, he made a signal to his clerk—"Wallace."—"Sir?"—"Your ear—lower—lower. Have you got the half-crown?" He was dead before morning.

[Edinburgh,] June 27.—Returned to Edinburgh late last night, and had a most sweltering night of it. This day also cruel hot. However, I made a task or nearly so, and read a good deal about the Egyptian Expedition. Had comfortable accounts of Anne, and through her of Sophia. Dr. Shaw doubts if anything is actually the matter with poor Johnnie's back. I hope the dear child will escape deformity, and the infirmities attending that helpless state. I have myself been able to fight up very well, notwithstanding my lameness, but it has cost great efforts, and I am besides very strong. Dined with Colin Mackenzie; a fine family all growing up about him, turning men and women, and treading fast on our heels. Some thunder and showers which I fear will be but partial. Hot—hot—hot.

June, 28.—Another hot morning, and something like an idle day, though I have read a good deal. But I have slept also, corrected proofs, and prepared for a great start, by filling myself with facts and ideas.

June 29.—I walked out for an hour last night, and made one or two calls—the evening was delightful—
"Day its sultry fires had wasted,
Calm and cool the moonbeam rose;
Even a captive's bosom tasted
Half oblivion of his woes." [290]
[290]Campbell's Turkish Lady, slightly altered. The poet was then editor of the New Monthly Magazine, but he soon gave it up.—J.G.L.
I wonder often how Tom Campbell, with so much real genius, has not maintained a greater figure in the public eye than he has done of late. The Magazine seems to have paralysed him. The author, not only of the Pleasures of Hope, but of Hohenlinden, Lochiel, etc., should have been at the very top of the tree. Somehow he wants audacity, fears the public, and, what is worse, fears the shadow of his own reputation. He is a great corrector too, which succeeds as ill in composition as in education. Many a clever boy is flogged into a dunce, and many an original composition corrected into mediocrity. Yet Tom Campbell ought to have done a great deal more. His youthful promise was great. John Leyden introduced me to him. They afterwards quarrelled. When I repeated Hohenlinden to Leyden, he said, "Dash it, man, tell the fellow that I hate him, but, dash him, he has written the finest verses that have been published these fifty years." I did mine errand as faithfully as one of Homer's messengers, and had for answer, "Tell Leyden that I detest him, but I know the value of his critical approbation." This feud was therefore in the way of being taken up. "When Leyden comes back from India," said Tom Campbell, "what cannibals he will have eaten and what tigers he will have torn to pieces!"

Gave a poor poetess £1. Gibson writes me that £2300 is offered for the poor house; it is worth £300 more, but I will not oppose my own opinion, or convenience to good and well-meant counsel: so farewell, poor No. 39. What a portion of my life has been spent there! It has sheltered me from the prime of life to its decline; and now I must bid good-bye to it. I have bid good-bye to my poor wife, so long its courteous and kind mistress,—and I need not care about the empty rooms; yet it gives me a turn. I have been so long a citizen of Edinburgh, now an indweller only. Never mind; all in the day's work.

J. Ballantyne and B. Cadell dined with me, and, as Pepys would say, all was very handsome. Drank amongst us one bottle of champagne, one of claret, a glass or two of port, and each a tumbler of whisky toddy. J.B. had courage to drink his with hot water; mine was iced.

June 30.—Here is another dreadful warm day, fit for nobody but the flies. And then one is confined to town.

Yesterday I agreed to let Cadell have the new work, [291] edition 1500, he paying all charges, and paying also £500—two hundred and fifty at Lammas, to pay J. Gibson money advanced on the passage of young Walter, my nephew, to India. It is like a thorn in one's eye this sort of debt, and Gibson is young in business, and somewhat involved in my affairs besides. Our plan is, that this same Miscellany or Chronicle shall be committed quietly to the public, and we hope it will attract attention. If it does not, we must turn public attention to it ourselves. About one half of vol. i. is written, and there is worse abomination, or I mistake the matter.
[291]Viz.: the first series of Chronicles of the Canongate, which was published in 1827. The title originally proposed was The Canongate Miscellany or Traditions of the Sanctuary.
Woodstock had just been launched under the following title:—Woodstock, or the Cavalier; a Tale of the Year Sixteen Hundred and Fifty-one, by the author of Waverley, Tales of the Crusaders, etc. "He was a very perfect gentle knight" (Chaucer). Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Co., Edinburgh; and Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, London, 1826. (At the end) Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. 3 vols. post 8vo.
I was detained in Court till four; dreadfully close, and obliged to drink water for refreshment, which formerly I used to scorn, even on the moors, with a burning August sun, the heat of exercise, and a hundred springs gushing around me.

Corrected proofs, etc., on my return. I think I have conquered the trustees' objections to carry on the small edition of novels. Got Cadell's letter about the Chronicle.

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