May 1.—Brought Andrew Shortreed to copy some things I want. Maxpopple
came with us as far as Lessudden, and we stopped and made a pilgrimage
to Fair Maiden Lilliard's Stone, which has been restored lately, to the
credit of Mr. Walker of Muirhouselaw.  Set my young clerk to work
when we came home, and did some laborious business. A letter from Sir
Thomas Lawrence informed me I am chosen Professor of Antiquities to the
Royal Academy—a beautiful professor to be sure!
The rude inscription on the stone placed over the grave
of this Border amazon, slain at Ancrum Moor, A.D. 1545, ran thus—
May 2.—Did nothing but proofs this morning. At ten went to Selkirk to
arrange about the new measures, which, like all new things, will throw
us into confusion for a little at least. The weather was so exquisitely
good that I walked after tea to half-past eight, and enjoyed a sort of
half-lazy, half-sulky humour—like Caliban's, "There's wood enough
within."  Well, I may be the bear, but I must mount the ragged staff
all the same. I set my myself to labour for R.P.G.  The Germanic
Horrors are my theme, and I think something may be yet made of them.
"Fair maiden Lilliard lies under this stane,
Little was her stature but great was her fame,
Upon the English louns she laid many thumps,
And when her legs were cuttet off she fought upon her stumps."
See New Stat. Account Scot., "Roxburgh," p. 244.
Tempest, Act I. Sc. 2.
May 3.—An early visit from Mr. Thomas Stewart, nephew of Duchess of
Wellington, with a letter from his aunt. He seems a well-behaved and
pleasant young man. I walked him through the Glen. Colonel Ferguson came
to help us out at dinner, and then we had our wine and wassail.
An article for the Foreign Quarterly Review, regarding
which Mr. Lockhart says:—"It had then been newly started under the
Editorship of Mr. R.P. Gillies. This article, it is proper to observe,
was a benefaction to Mr. Gillies, whose pecuniary affairs rendered such
assistance very desirable. Scott's generosity in this matter—for it was
exactly giving a poor brother author £100 at the expense of considerable
time and drudgery to himself—I think it necessary to mention; the date
of the exertion requires it of me."—Life, vol. ix. pp. 72-3; see
Misc. Prose Works, vol. xviii. p. 270.
May 4.—Corrected proofs in the morning. Mr. Stewart still here, which
prevented work; however, I am far beforehand with everything. We walked
a good deal; asked Mr. Alexander Pringle, Whytbank, to dinner. This is
rather losing time, though.
May 5.—Worked away upon those wild affairs of Hoffmann for Gillies. I
think I have forgot my German very much, and then the stream of
criticism does not come freely at all: I cannot tell why. I gave it up
in despair at half-past one, and walked out.
Had a letter from R.P.G. He seems in spirits about his work. I wish it
may answer. Under good encouragement it certainly might. But—
Maxpopple came to dinner, and Mr. Laidlaw after dinner, so that broke up
a day, which I can ill spare. Mr. Stewart left us this day.
May 6.—Wrought again at Hoffmann—unfructuously I fear—unwillingly I
am certain; but how else can I do a little good in my generation? I will
try a walk. I would fain catch myself in good-humour with my task, but
that will not be easy.
May 7.—Finished Hoffmann, talis qualis. I don't like it; but then I
have been often displeased with things that have proved successful. Our
own labours become disgusting in our eyes, from the ideas having been
turned over and over in our own minds. To others, to whom they are
presented for the first time, they have a show of novelty. God grant it
may prove so. I would help the poor fellow if I could, for I am poor
May 8.—Corrected Hoffmann with a view to send him off, which,
however, I could not accomplish. I finished a criticism on Defoe's
Writings.  His great forte is his power of vraisemblance. This I
have instanced in the story of Mrs. Veal's Ghost. Ettrick Shepherd
See note 1, p. 387.
May 9.—This day we went to dinner at Mr. Scrope's, at the Pavilion,
where were the Haigs of Bemerside, Isaac Haig, Mr. and Mrs. Bainbridge,
etc. Warm dispute whether par are or are not salmon trout. "Fleas are
not lobsters, d—n their souls."
Mr. Scrope has made a painting of Tivoli, which, when mellowed a little
by time, will be a fine one. Letters from Lockhart, with news concerning
the beautiful mess they are making in London. Henry Scott will be
threatened in Roxburghshire. This would be bad policy, as it would drive
the young Duke to take up his ground, which, unless pressed, he may be
in no hurry to do. Personally, I do not like to be driven to a point, as
I think Canning may do much for the country, provided he does not stand
committed to his new Whig counsellors. But if the push does come, I will
not quit my old friends—that I am freely resolved, and dissolutely,
as Slender says. 
Merry Wives, Act I. Sc. 1.
May 10.—We went to breakfast at Huntly Burn, and I wandered all the
morning in the woods to avoid an English party who came to see the
house. When I came home I found my cousin Col. Russell, and his sister,
so I had no work to-day but my labour at proofs in the morning. To-day I
dismiss my aide-de-camp, Shortreed—a fine lad. The Boar of the Forest
left us after breakfast. Had a present of a medal forming one of a
series from Chantrey's busts. But this is not for nothing: the donor
wants a motto for the reverse of the King's medal. I am a bad hand to
May 11.—Hogg called this morning to converse about trying to get him
on the pecuniary list of the Royal Literary Society. Certainly he
deserves it, if genius and necessity could do so. But I do not belong to
the society, nor do I propose to enter it as a coadjutor. I don't like
your royal academies of this kind; they almost always fall into jobs,
and the members are seldom those who do credit to the literature of a
country. It affected, too, to comprehend those men of letters who are
specially attached to the Crown, and though I love and honour my King as
much as any of them can, yet I hold it best, in this free country, to
preserve the exterior of independence, that my loyalty may be the more
impressive, and tell more effectually. Yet I wish sincerely to help poor
Hogg, and have written to Lockhart about it. It may be my own desolate
feelings—it may be the apprehension of evil from this political
hocus-pocus, but I have seldom felt more moody and uncomfortable than
while writing these lines. I have walked, too, but without effect. W.
Laidlaw, whose very ingenious mind is delighted with all novelties,
talked nonsense about the new government, in which men are to resign
principle, I fear, on both sides.
May 12.—Wrote Lockhart on what I think the upright and honest
principle, and am resolved to vex myself no more about it. Walked with
my cousin, Colonel Russell, for three hours in the woods, and enjoyed
the sublime and delectable pleasure of being well,—and listened to on
the subject of my favourite themes of laying out ground and plantation.
Russel seems quite to follow such an excellent authority, and my spirits
mounted while I found I was haranguing to a willing and patient pupil.
To be sure, Ashestiel, planting the high knolls, and drawing woodland
through the pasture, could be made one of the most beautiful forest
things in the world. I have often dreamed of putting it in high order;
and, judging from what I have been able to do here, I think I should
have succeeded. At any rate, my blue devils are flown at the sense of
retaining some sort of consequence. Lord, what fools we are!
May 13.—A most idle and dissipated day. I did not rise till half-past
eight o'clock. Col. and Capt. Ferguson came to breakfast. I walked
half-way home with them, then turned back and spent the day, which was
delightful, wandering from place to place in the woods, sometimes
reading the new and interesting volumes of Cyril Thornton, 
sometimes chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy which strangely
alternated in my mind, idly stirred by the succession of a thousand
vague thoughts and fears, the gay thoughts strangely mingled with those
of dismal melancholy; tears, which seemed ready to flow unbidden;
smiles, which approached to those of insanity; all that wild variety of
mood which solitude engenders. I scribbled some verses, or rather
composed them in my memory. The contrast at leaving Abbotsford to former
departures is of an agitating and violent description. Assorting papers
and so forth. I never could help admiring the concatenation between
Ahitophel's setting his house in order and hanging himself. The one
seems to me to follow the other as a matter of course. I don't mind the
trouble, though my head swims with it. I do not mind meeting accounts,
which unpaid remind you of your distress, or paid serve to show you you
have been throwing away money you would be glad to have back again. I do
not mind the strange contradictory mode of papers hiding themselves that
you wish to see, and others thrusting themselves into your hand to
confuse and bewilder you. There is a clergyman's letter about the
Scottish pronunciation, to which I had written an answer some weeks
since (the person is an ass, by the by). But I had laid aside my answer,
being unable to find the letter which bore his address; and, in the
course of this day, both his letter with the address, and my answer
which wanted the address, fell into my hands half-a-dozen times, but
separately always. This was the positive malice of some hobgoblin, and I
submit to it as such. But what frightens and disgusts me is those
fearful letters from those who have been long dead, to those who linger
on their wayfare through this valley of tears. These fine lines of
Spencer came into my head—
"When midnight o'er the pathless skies." 
The Youth and Manhood of Cyril Thornton, by Captain
Thomas Hamilton, had just been published anonymously.
Ay, and can I forget the author!—the frightful moral of his own vision.
What is this world? A dream within a dream—as we grow older each step
is an awakening. The youth awakes as he thinks from childhood—the
full-grown man despises the pursuits of youth as visionary—the old man
looks on manhood as a feverish dream. The Grave the last sleep?—no; it
is the last and final awakening.
Mr. Lockhart adds the following lines:—
"The shade of youthful hope is there,
That lingered long, and latest died;
Ambitions all dissolved to air,
With phantom honours by his side.
"What empty shadows glimmer nigh?
They once were friendship, truth, and love!
Oh, die to thought, to memory die,
Since lifeless to my heart ye prove."
(Poems by the Hon. W.R. Spencer, London, 1811, p. 68.) "The best writer
of vers de société in our time, and one of the most charming of
companions, was exactly Sir Walter's contemporary, and, like him, first
attracted notice by a version of Bürger's Lenore. Like him, too, this
remarkable man fell into pecuniary distress in the disastrous year 1825,
and he was now (1826) an involuntary resident in Paris, where he died in
October 1834, anno ætat. 65."—J.G.L.
May 14.—To town per Blucher coach, well stowed and crushed, but saved
cash, coming off for less than £2; posting costs nearly five, and you
don't get on so fast by one-third. Arrived in my old lodgings here with
a stouter heart than I expected. Dined with Mr. and Mrs. Skene, and met
Lord Medwyn and lady.
May 15.—Parliament House a queer sight. Looked as if people were
singing to each other the noble song of "The sky's falling—chickie
diddle." Thinks I to myself, I'll keep a calm sough.
"Betwixt both sides I unconcerned stand by;
Hurt, can I laugh, and honest, need I cry?"
I wish the old Government had kept together, but their personal dislike
to Canning seems to have rendered that impossible.
I dined at a great dinner given by Sir George Clerk to his electors,
the freeholders of Midlothian; a great attendance of Whig and Tory,
huzzaing each other's toasts. If is a good peacemaker, but quarter-day
is a better. I have a guess the best gamecocks would call a truce if a
handful or two of oats were scattered among them.
May 16.—Mr. John Gibson says the Trustees are to allow my expense in
travelling—£300, with £50 taken in in Longman's bill. This will place
me rectus in curia, and not much more, faith!
There is a fellow bawling out a ditty in the street, the burthen of
"There's nothing but poverty everywhere."
He shall not be a penny richer for telling me what I know but too well
May 17.—Learned with great distress the death of poor Richard
Lockhart, the youngest brother of my son-in-law. He had an exquisite
talent for acquiring languages, and was under the patronage of my
kinsman, George Swinton, who had taken him into his own family at
Calcutta, and now he is drowned in a foolish bathing party.
May 18.—Heard from Abbotsford; all well. Wrought to-day but
awkwardly. Tom Campbell called, warm from his Glasgow Rectorship; he is
looking very well. He seemed surprised that I did not know anything
about the contentions of Tories, Whigs, and Radicals, in the great
commercial city. I have other eggs on the spit. He stayed but a few
The following note to Mr. and Mrs. Skene belongs to this
May 19.—Went out to-day to Sir John Dalrymple's,  at Oxenford, a
pretty place; the lady a daughter of Lord Duncan. Will Clerk and Robert
Graeme went with me. A good dinner and pleasant enough party; but ten
miles going and ten miles coming make twenty, and that is something of a
journey. Got a headache too by jolting about after dinner.
My dear Friends,—I am just returned from Court dreeping like the Water
Kelpy when he had finished the Laird of Morphey's Bridge, and am, like
that ill-used drudge, disposed to sing—
Sair back and sair banes. [D]
In fact I have the rheumatism in head and shoulders, and am obliged to
deprive myself of the pleasure of waiting upon you to-day to dinner, to
my great mortification.—Always yours, WALTER SCOTT.
Friday, 18th May, 1827.
Sair back and sair banes
Carrying the Lord of Morphey's stanes.
Border Minstrelsy, vol. iii. pp. 360, 365.
Afterwards (in 1840) eighth Karl of Stair.
May 20.—Wrote a good deal at Appendix [to Bonaparte], or perhaps I
should say tried to write. Got myself into a fever when I had finished
four pages, and went out at eight o'clock at night to cool myself if
possible. Walked with difficulty as far as Skene's,  and there sat
and got out of my fidgety feeling. Learned that the Princes Street
people intend to present me with the key of their gardens, which will be
a great treat, as I am too tender-hoofed for the stones. We must now get
to work in earnest.
126 Princes Street.
May 21.—Accordingly this day I wrought tightly, and though not in my
very best mood I got on in a very businesslike manner. Was at the Gas
Council, where I found things getting poorly on. The Treasury have
remitted us to the Exchequer. The Committee want me to make private
interest with the L.C. Baron. That I won't do, but I will state their
cause publicly any way they like.
May 22.—At Court—home by two, walking through the Princes Street
Gardens for the first time. Called on Mrs. Jobson. Worked two hours.
Must dress to dine at Mr. John Borthwick's, with the young folk, now
Mr. and Mrs. Dempster.  Kindly and affectionately received by my
good young friends, who seem to have succeeded to their parents' regard
George Dempster of Skibo had just married a daughter of
the House of Arniston. This lady has had the singular gratification of
listening to these pleasant impressions of a dinner party given in her
honour sixty-two years ago, and which she never forgot, nor Sir Walter's
talk as he sat next her at table, and with unfeigned kindness devoted
himself to her entertainment.
May 23.—Got some books, etc., which I wanted to make up the Saint
Helena affair. Set about making up the Appendix, but found I had mislaid
a number of the said postliminary affair. Had Hogg's nephew here as a
transcriber, a modest and well-behaved young man—clever, too, I
think.  Being Teind Wednesday I was not obliged to go to the Court,
and am now bang up, and shall soon finish Mr. Nappy. And how then? Ay,
marry, sir, that's the question.
"Lord, what will all the people say,
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Mayor!"
See Life, vol. ix. p. 114.
"The fires i' the lowest hell fold in the people!"  as Coriolanus
says. I live not in their report, I hope.
Coriolanus, Act III. Sc. 3.
May 24.—Mr. Gibson paid me £70 more of my London journey. A good
thought came into my head: to write stories for little Johnnie Lockhart
from the History of Scotland, like those taken from the History of
England. I will not write mine quite so simply as Croker has done. I am
persuaded both children and the lower class of readers hate books which
are written down to their capacity, and love those that are more
composed for their elders and betters. I will make, if possible, a book
that a child will understand, yet a man will feel some temptation to
peruse should he chance to take it up. It will require, however, a
simplicity of style not quite my own. The grand and interesting consists
in ideas, not in words. A clever thing of this kind will have a run—
"Little to say,
But wrought away,
And went out to dine with the Skenes to-day."
Rather too many dinner engagements on my list. Must be hard-hearted. I
cannot say I like my solitary days the worst by any means. I dine, when
I like, on soup or broth, and drink a glass of porter or ginger-beer; a
single tumbler of whisky and water concludes the debauch. This agrees
with me charmingly. At ten o'clock bread and cheese, a single draught
of small beer, porter, or ginger-beer, and to bed.
May 26.—I went the same dull and weary round out to the Parliament
House, which bothers one's brains for the day. Nevertheless, I get on.
Pages vanish from under my hand, and find their way to J. Ballantyne,
who is grinding away with his presses. I think I may say, now I begin to
get rid of the dust raised about me by so many puzzling little facts,
that it is plain sailing to the end.
Dined at Skene's with George Forbes and lady. But that was yesterday.
May 27.—I got ducked in coming home from the Court. Naboclish!—I
thank thee, Pat, for teaching me the word. Made a hard day of it. Scarce
stirred from one room to another, but at bed-time finished a handsome
handful of copy. I have quoted Gourgaud's evidence; I suppose he will be
in a rare passion, and may be addicted to vengeance, like a
long-moustached son of a French bitch as he is. Naboclish! again for
"Frenchman, Devil, or Don,
Damn him, let him come on,
He shan't scare a son of the Island."
Sir Walter varies a verse of The tight little
May 28.—Another day of uninterrupted study; two such would finish the
work with a murrain. I have several engagements next week; I wonder how
I was such a fool as to take them. I think I shall be done, however,
before Saturday. What shall I have to think of when I lie down at night
and awake in the morning? What will be my plague and my pastime, my
curse and my blessing, as ideas come and the pulse rises, or as they
flag and something like a snow haze covers my whole imagination? I have
my Highland Tales—and then—never mind, sufficient for the day is the
May 29.—Detained at the House till near three. Made a call on Mrs.
Jobson and others; also went down to the printing-office. I hope James
Ballantyne will do well. I think and believe he will. Wrought in the
May 30.—Having but a trifle on the roll to-day, I set hard to work,
and brought myself in for a holiday, or rather played truant. At two
o'clock went to a Mr. Mackenzie in my old house at Castle Street, to
have some touches given to Walker's print.  Afterwards, having young
Hogg with me as an amanuensis, I took to the oar till near ten
The engraving from Raeburn's picture.—See ante, p.
May 31.—Being a Court day I was engaged very late. Then I called at
the printing-house, but got no exact calculation how we come on. Met Mr.
Cadell, who bids, as the author's copy [money] 1s. profit on each book
of Hugh Little-john. I thought this too little. My general calculation
is on such profits, that, supposing the book to sell to the public for
7s. 6d., the price ought to go in three shares—one to the trade, one to
the expense of print and paper, and one to the author and publisher
between them, which of course would be 1s. 3d., not 1s. to the author.
But in stating this rule I omitted to observe that books for young
persons are half bound before they go out into the trade. This comes to
about 9d. for two volumes. The allowance to the trade is also heavy, so
that 1s. a book is very well on great numbers. There may besides be a
Mr. Robert Hogg relates that during these few days Sir W.
and he laboured from six in the morning till the same hour in the
evening, with the exception of the intervals allowed for breakfast and
lunch, which were served in the room to save time. He noted a striking
peculiarity in Scott's dictation, that with the greatest ease he was
able to carry on two trains of thought at one time, "one of which was
already arranged, and in the act of being spoken, while at the same time
he was in advance considering what was afterwards to be said."—See his
interesting letter to Mr. Lockhart, Life, vol. ix. pp. 115-117.
Dined at James Ballantyne's, and heard his brother Sandy sing and play
on the violin, beautifully as usual. James himself sang the Reel of
Tullochgorum, with hearty cheer and uplifted voice. When I came home I
learned that we had beat the Coal Gas Company, which is a sort of