The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford June, 1827
by Sir Walter Scott
June 1.—Settled my household-book. Sophia does not set out till the
middle of the week, which is unlucky, our antiquarian skirmish beginning
in Fife just about the time she is to arrive. Letter from John touching
public affairs; don't half like them, and am afraid we shall have the
Whig alliance turn out like the calling in of the Saxons. I told this to
Jeffrey, who said they would convert us, as the Saxons did the British.
I shall die in my Paganism for one. I don't like a bone of them as a
party. Ugly reports of the King's health; God pity this poor country
should that be so, but I think it a thing devised by the enemy. Anne
arrived from Abbotsford. I dined at Sir Robert Dundas's, with Mrs.
Dundas, Arniston, and other friends. Worked a little, not much.
June 2.—Do. Do. Dined at Baron Hume's. These dinners are cruelly in
the way, but que faut-il faire? the business of the Court must be
done, and it is impossible absolutely to break off all habits of
visiting. Besides, the correcting of proof-sheets in itself is now
become burdensome. Three or four a day is hard work.
June 3.—Wrought hard. I think I have but a trifle more to do, but new
things cast up; we get beyond the life, however, for I have killed him
to-day. The newspapers are very saucy; The Sun says I have got £4000
for suffering a Frenchman to look over my manuscript. Here is a proper
fellow for you! I wonder what he thinks Frenchmen are made of—walking
money-bags, doubtless. Now as Sir Fretful Plagiary  says, another
man would be mad at this, but I care not one brass farthing.
Sheridan's Critic, Act I. Sc, 1.
June 4.—The birthday of our good old king. It was wrong not to keep
up the thing as it was of yore with dinners, and claret, and squibs, and
crackers, and saturnalia. The thoughts of the subjects require sometimes
to be turned to the sovereign, were it but only that they may remember
there is such a person.
The Bannatyne edition of Melville's Memoirs is out, and beats all
print. Gad, it is a fine institution that; a rare one, by Jove! beats
the Roxburghe. Wrought very bobbishly to-day, but went off at
dinner-time to Thomas Thomson, where we had good cheer and good fun. By
the way, we have lost our Coal Gas Bill. Sorry for it, but I can't cry.
June 5.—Proofs. Parliament House till two. Commenced the character of
Bonaparte. To-morrow being a Teind-day I will hope to get it finished.
Meantime I go out to-night to see Frankenstein at the theatre.
June 6.—Frankenstein is entertaining for once—considerable art in
the man that plays the Monster, to whom he gave great effect. Cooper is
his name; played excellently in the farce too, as a sailor—a more
natural one, I think, than my old friend Jack Bannister, though he has
not quite Jack's richness of humour. I had seven proof-sheets to correct
this morning, by Goles. So I did not get to composition till nine; work
on with little interruption (save that Mr. Verplanck, an American,
breakfasted with us) until seven, and then walked, for fear of the black
dog or devil that worries me when I work too hard.
June 7.—This morning finished Boney. And now, as Dame Fortune says,
in Quevedo's Visions, Go, wheel, and the devil drive thee.  It was
high time I brought up some reinforcements, for my pound was come to
half-crowns, and I had nothing to keep house when the Lockharts come.
Credit enough to be sure, but I have been taught by experience to make
short reckonings. Some great authors now will think it a degradation to
write a child's book; I cannot say I feel it such. It is to be inscribed
to my grandson, and I will write it not only without a sense of its
being infra dig. but with a grandfather's pleasure.
"No sooner had the Sun uttered these words than Fortune,
as if she had been playing on a cymbal, began to unwind her wheel,
which, whirling about like a hurricane, huddled all the world into an
unparalleled confusion. Fortune gave a mighty squeak, saying, 'Fly,
wheel, and the devil drive thee.'"—Fortune in her Wits, Quevedo.
English trans. (1798), vol. iii. p. 107.
I arranged with Mr. Cadell for the property of Tales of a Grandfather,
10,000 copies for £787, 10s.
June 8.—A Mr. Maywood, much protected by poor Alister Dhu, brought me
a letter from the late Colonel Huxley. His connection and approach to me
is through the grave, but I will not be the less disposed to assist him
if an opportunity offers. I made a long round to-day, going to David
Laing's about forwarding the books of the Bannatyne Club to Sir George
Rose and Duke of Buckingham. Then I came round by the printing-office,
where the presses are groaning upon Napoleon, and so home through the
gardens. I have done little to-day save writing a letter or two, for I
was fatigued and sleepy when I got home, and nodded, I think, over Sir
James Melville's Memoirs. I will do something, though, when I have
dined. By the way, I corrected the proofs for Gillies; they read better
than I looked for.
June 9.—Corrected proofs in the morning. When I came home from Court
I found that John Lockhart and Sophia were arrived by the steam-boat at
Portobello, where they have a small lodging. I went down with a bottle
of Champagne, and a flask of Maraschino, and made buirdly cheer with
them for the rest of the day. Had the great pleasure to find them all in
high health. Poor Johnny is decidedly improved in his general health,
and the injury on the spine is got no worse. Walter is a very fine
June 10.—Rose with the odd consciousness of being free of my daily
task. I have heard that the fish-women go to church of a Sunday with
their creels new washed, and a few stones in them for ballast, just
because they cannot walk steadily without their usual load. I feel
somewhat like this, and rather inclined to pick up some light task, than
to be altogether idle. I have my proof-sheets, to be sure; but what are
these to a whole day? Fortunately my thoughts are agreeable; cash
difficulties, etc., all provided for, as far as I can see, so that we go
on hooly and fairly. Betwixt and August 1st I should receive £750, and I
cannot think I have more than the half of it to pay away. Cash, to be
sure, seems to burn in my pocket. "He wasna gien to great misguiding,
but coin his pouches wouldna bide in."  By goles, this shall be
corrected, though! Lockhart gives a sad account of Gillies's
imprudences. Lockhart dined with us. Day idle.
Burns: "On a Scotch Bard, gone to the West Indies."
June 11.—The attendance on the Committee, and afterwards the general
meeting of the Oil Gas Company took up my morning, and the rest dribbled
away in correcting proofs and trifling; reading, among the rest, an odd
volume of Vivian Grey;  clever, but not so much so as to make me,
in this sultry weather, go up-stairs to the drawing-room to seek the
other volumes. Ah! villain, but you smoked when you read.—Well, Madam,
perhaps I think the better of the book for that reason. Made a
blunder,—went to Ravelston on the wrong day. This Anne's fault, but I
did not reproach her, knowing it might as well have been my own.
Vivian Grey, by Benjamin Disraeli, was published
anonymously in 5 vols. 12mo, 1826-7.
June 12.—At Court, a long hearing. Got home only about three.
Corrected proofs, etc. Dined with Baron Clerk, and met several old
friends; Will Clerk in particular.
June 13.—Another long seat at Court. Almost overcome by the heat in
walking home, and rendered useless for the day. Let me be thankful,
however; my lameness is much better, and the nerves of my unfortunate
ankle are so much strengthened that I walk with comparatively little
pain. Dined at John Swinton's; a large party. These festive occasions
consume much valuable time, besides trying the stomach a little by late
hours, and some wine shed, though that's not much.
June 14.—Anne and Sophia dined. Could not stay at home with them
alone. We had the Skenes and Allan, and amused ourselves till ten
June 15.—This being the day long since appointed for our cruise to
Fife, Thomas Thomson, Sir A. Ferguson, Will Clerk, and I, set off with
Miss Adam, and made our journey successfully to Charlton, where met Lord
Chief-Baron and Lord Chief-Commissioner, all in the humour to be happy,
though time is telling with us all. Our good-natured host, Mr. A.
Thomson, his wife, and his good-looking daughters, received us most
kindly, and the conversation took its old roll, in spite of woes and
infirmities. Charlton is a good house, in the midst of highly-cultivated
land, and immediately surrounded with gardens and parterres, together
with plantations, partly in the old, partly in the new, taste; I like it
very much; though, as a residence, it is perhaps a little too much
finished. Not even a bit of bog to amuse one, as Mr. Elphinstone said.
June 16.—This day we went off in a body to St. Andrews, which Thomas
Thomson had never seen. On the road beyond Charlton saw a small cottage
said to have been the heritable appanage of a family called the Keays
[?]. He had a right to feed his horse for a certain time on the
adjoining pasture. This functionary was sent to Falkland with the fish
for the royal table. The ruins at St. Andrews have been lately cleared
out. They had been chiefly magnificent from their size—not their extent
of ornament. I did not go up to St. Rule's Tower as on former occasions;
this is a falling off, for when before did I remain sitting below when
there was a steeple to be ascended? But the rheumatism has begun to
change that vein for some time past, though I think this is the first
decided sign of acquiescence in my lot. I sat down on a grave-stone, and
recollected the first visit I made to St. Andrews, now thirty-four years
ago. What changes in my feeling and my fortune have since then taken
place! some for the better, many for the worse. I remembered the name I
then carved in Runic characters on the turf beside the castle-gate, and
I asked why it should still agitate my heart. But my friends came down
from the tower, and the foolish idea was chased away. 
If the reader turns to December 18, 1825, he will see
that this is not the first allusion in the Journal to his "first
love,"—an innocent attachment, to which we owe the tenderest pages, not
only of Redgauntlet (1824), but of the Lay of the Last Minstrel
(1805), and of Rokeby (1813). In all these works the heroine has
certain distinctive features drawn from one and the same haunting dream.
The lady was "Williamina Belches, sole child and heir of a gentleman who
was a cadet of the ancient family of Invermay, and who afterwards became
Sir John Stuart of Fettercairn." She married Sir William Forbes in 1797
and died in 1810.—Life, vol. i. p. 333; Shairp's Memoirs of
Principal Forbes, pp. 4, 5, 8vo, London, 1873, where her portrait,
engraved from a miniature, is given.
June 17.—Lounged about while the good family went to church. The day
is rather cold and disposed to rain. The papers say that the Corn Bill
is given up in consequence of the Duke of Wellington having carried the
amendment in the House of Lords. All the party here—Sir A.F. perhaps
excepted—are Ministerialists on the present double bottom. They say the
names of Whig and Tory are now to exist no longer. Why have they existed
In the forenoon we went off to explore the environs; we visited two
ancient manor-houses, those of Elie and Balcaskie. Large roomy mansions,
with good apartments, two or three good portraits, and a collection of
most extraordinary frights, prodigiously like the mistresses of King
George I., who "came for all the goods and chattels" of old England.
There are at Elie House two most ferocious-looking Ogresses of this
cast. There are noble trees about the house. Balcaskie put me in mind of
poor Philip Anstruther, dead and gone many a long year since. He was a
fine, gallant, light-hearted young sailor. I remember the story of his
drawing on his father for some cash, which produced an angry letter from
old Sir Robert, to which Philip replied, that if he did not know how to
write like a gentleman, he did not desire any more of his
correspondence. Balcaskie is much dilapidated; but they are restoring
the house in the good old style, with its terraces and yew-hedges. The
beastly fashion of bringing a bare ill-kept park up to your very doors
seems going down. We next visited with great pleasure the Church of St.
Monans, which is under repair, designed to correspond strictly with the
ancient plan, which is the solid, gloomy, but impressive Gothic It was
built by David II., in the fulfilment of a vow made to St. Monan on the
field of battle at Neville's Cross. One would have judged the king to be
thankful for small mercies, for certainly St. Monan proved but an
Mr. Hugh Cleghorn  dined at Charlton, and I saw him for the first
time, having heard of him all my life. He is an able man, has seen much,
and speaks well. Age has clawed him in his clutch, and he has become
deaf. There is also Captain Black of the navy, second lieutenant of the
Mars at Trafalgar. Villeneuve was brought on board that ship after the
debate. He had no expectation that the British fleet would have fought
till they had formed a regular line. Captain Black disowns the idea of
the French and Spaniards being drawn up chequer form for resisting the
British attack, and imputes the appearance of that array to sheer
accident of weather.
Hugh Cleghorn had been Professor of Civil History in St.
Andrews for ten years, afterwards becoming tutor to the Earl of Home,
and subsequently employed by our Government in various foreign missions.
A glimpse of his work is obtainable in Southey's Life, of Dr. Andrew
Bell. Mr. Cleghorn died in 1833, aged 83.
June 18.—We visited Wemyss Castle on our return to Kinghorn. On the
left, before descending to the coast, are considerable remains of a
castle, called popularly the old castle, or Macduff's Castle. That of
the Thane was situated at Kennochquay, at no great distance. The front
of Wemyss Castle, to the land, has been stripped entirely of its
castellated appearance, and narrowly escaped a new front. To the sea it
has a noble situation, overhanging the red rocks; but even there the
structure has been much modernised and tamed. Interior is a good old
house, with large oak staircases, family pictures, etc. We were received
by Captain Wemyss—a gallant sea-captain, who could talk against a
north-wester,—by his wife Lady Emma, and her sister Lady
Isabella—beautiful women of the house of Errol, and vindicating its
title to the handsome Hays. We reached the Pettycur about half-past
one, crossed to Edinburgh, and so ended our little excursion. Of
casualties we had only one: Triton, the house-dog at Charlton, threw
down Thomson and he had his wrist sprained. A restive horse threatened
to demolish our landau, but we got off for the fright. Happily L.C.B.
was not in our carriage.
Dined at William M'Kenzie's to meet the Marquis and Marchioness of
Stafford, who are on their road to Dunrobin. Found them both very well.
June 19.—Lord Stafford desires to be a member of the Bannatyne
Club—also Colin M'Kenzie. Sent both names up accordingly.
The day furnishes a beggarly record of trumpery. From eight o'clock till
nine wrote letters, then Parliament House, where I had to wait on
without anything to do till near two, when rain forced me into the
Antiquarian museum. Lounged there till a meeting of the Oil Gas
Committee at three o'clock. There remained till near five. Home and
smoked a cheroot after dinner. Called on Thomson, who is still disabled
by his sprain. Pereat inter hæc. We must do better to-morrow.
June 20.—Kept my word, being Teind Wednesday. Two young Frenchmen,
friends of Gallois, rather interrupted me. I had asked them to
breakfast, but they stayed till twelve o'clock, which is scarce fair,
and plagued me with compliments. Their names are Rémusat and
Guyzard.  Pleasant, good-humoured young men. Notwithstanding this
interruption I finished near six pages, three being a good Session-day's
work. Allons, vogue la galère. Dined at the Solicitor's with Lord
Hopetoun, and a Parliament House party.
Count Paul de Rémusat has been good enough to give me
another view of this visit which will be read with interest:—"118
Faubourg St. Honoré, February 10, 1890.—.... My father has often spoken
to me of this visit to Sir Walter Scott—for it was indeed my father,
Charles de Rémusat, member of the French Academy, and successively
Minister of the Interior and for Foreign Affairs, who went at the age of
thirty to Abbotsford, and he retained to the last days of his life a
most lively remembrance of the great novelist who did not acknowledge
the authorship of his novels, and to whom it was thus impossible
otherwise than indirectly to pay any compliment. It gives me great
pleasure to learn that the visit of those young men impressed him
favourably. My father's companion was his contemporary and friend, M.
Louis de Guizard, who, like my father, was a contributor at that time to
the Liberal press of the Restoration, the Globe and La Revue
Française, and who, after the Revolution of 1830, entered, as did my
father likewise, upon political life. M. de Guizard was first préfet,
then député, and after 1848 became Directeur-général des Beaux Arts.
He died about 1877 or 1878, after his retirement from public life."
June 21.—Finished five leaves—that is, betwixt morning and
dinner-time. The Court detained me till two o'clock. About nine leaves
will make the volume quite large enough.
By the way, the booksellers have taken courage to print up 2000 more of
the first edition [of Napoleon]; which, after the second volume, they
curtailed from 8000 to 6000. This will be £1000 more in my way, at
least, and that is a good help. We dine with the Skenes to-day, Lockhart
being with us. 
"Woodstock placed upwards of £8000 in the hands of Sir
Walter's creditors. The Napoleon (first and second editions) produced
for them a sum which it even now startles me to mention—£18,000. As by
the time the historical work was published nearly half of the First
Series of Chronicles of the Canongate had been written, it is obvious
that the amount to which Scott's literary industry, from the close of
1825 to the 10th of June 1827, had diminished his debt, cannot be stated
at less than £28,000. Had health been spared him, how soon must he have
freed himself from all his encumbrances!"—J.G.L.
June 22.—Wrought in the morning as usual. Received to breakfast Dr.
Bishop, a brother of Bishop the composer. He tells me his brother was
very ill when he wrote "The Chough and Crow," and other music for Guy
Mannering. Singular! but I do think illness, if not too painful, unseals
the mental eye, and renders the talents more acute, in the study of the
fine arts at least. 
See Life, vol. vi. p. 89. In Mr. Ballantyne's
Memorandum, there is a fuller account of the mode in which The Bride
of Lammermoor, The Legend of Montrose, and almost the whole of
Ivanhoe were produced, and the mental phenomenon which accompanied the
preparation of the first-named work:—
"During the progress of composing The Heart of Midlothian, The Bride
of Lammermoor, and Legend of Montrose—a period of many months—Mr.
Scott's health had become extremely indifferent, and was often supposed
to place him in great danger. But it would hardly be credited, were it
not for the notoriety of the fact, that although one of the symptoms of
his illness was pain of the most acute description, yet he never allowed
it to interrupt his labours. The only difference it produced, that I am
aware of, was its causing him to employ the hand of an amanuensis in
place of his own. Indeed, during the greater part of the day at this
period he was confined to his bed. The person employed for this purpose
was the respectable and intelligent Mr. Wm. Laidlaw, who acted for him
in this capacity in the country, and I think also attended him to town.
I have often been present with Mr. Laidlaw during the short intervals of
his labour, and it was deeply affecting to hear the account he gave of
his patron's severe sufferings, and the indomitable spirit which enabled
him to overmaster them. He told me that very often the dictation of
Caleb Balderston's and the old cooper's best jokes was mingled with
groans extorted from him by pains; but that when he, Mr. L., endeavoured
to prevail upon him to take a little respite, the only answer he could
obtain from Mr. Scott was a request that he would see that the doors
were carefully shut, so that the expressions of his agony might not
reach his family—'As to stopping work, Laidlaw,' he said, 'you know
that is wholly out of the question.' What followed upon these exertions,
made in circumstances so very singular, appears to me to exhibit one of
the most singular chapters in the history of the human intellect. The
book having been published before Mr. Scott was able to rise from his
bed, he assured me that, when it was put into his hands, he did not
recollect one single incident, character, or conversation it contained.
He by no means desired me to understand, nor did I understand, that his
illness had erased from his memory all or any of the original family
facts with which he had been acquainted from the period probably of his
boyhood. These of course remained rooted where they had ever been, or,
to speak more explicitly, where explicitness is so entirely important,
he remembered the existence of the father and mother, the son and
daughter, the rival lovers, the compulsory marriage, and the attack made
by his bride upon the unhappy bridegroom, with the general catastrophe
of the whole. All these things he recollected, just as he did before he
took to his bed, but the marvel is that he recollected literally nothing
else—not a single character woven by the Romancer—not one of the many
scenes and points of exquisite humour, nor anything with which he was
connected as writer of the work. 'For a long time I felt myself very
uneasy,' he said, 'in the course of my reading, always kept on the qui
vive lest I should be startled by something altogether glaring and
fantastic; however, I recollected that the printing had been performed
by James Ballantyne, who I was sure would not have permitted anything of
this sort to pass.' 'Well,' I said, 'upon the whole, how did you like
it?' 'Oh,' he said, 'I felt it monstrous gross and grotesque, to be
sure, but still the worst of it made me laugh, and I trusted therefore
the good-natured public would not be less indulgent.' I do not think
that I ever ventured to lead to this singular subject again. But you may
depend upon it, that what I have said is as distinctly reported as if it
had been taken down at the moment in shorthand. I should not otherwise
have imparted the phenomenon at all."—Mr. Ballantyne's MSS.
I find the difference on 2000 additional copies will be £3000 instead of
£1000 in favour of the author. My good friend Publicum is impatient.
Heaven grant his expectations be not disappointed! Coragio, andiamos!
Such another year of labour and success would do much towards making me
a free man of the forest. But I must to work since we have to dine with
Lord and Lady Gray. By the way, I forgot an engagement to my old friend,
Lord Justice-Clerk. This is shockingly ill-bred. But the invitation was
a month old, and that is some defence.
June 23.—I corrected proofs and played the grandfather in the
morning. After Court saw Lady Wedderburn, who asked my advice about
printing some verses of Mrs. Hemans in honour of the late Lord James
Murray, who died in Greece. Also Lord Gray, who wishes me to write some
preliminary matter to his ancestor, the Master of Gray's correspondence.
I promised. But ancestor was a great rogue, and if I am to write about
him at all, I must take my will of him. Anne and I dined at home. She
went to the play, and I had some mind to go too. But Miss Foote was the
sole attraction, and Miss Foote is only a very pretty woman, and if she
played Rosalind better than I think she can, it is a bore to see
Touchstone and Jacques murdered. I have a particular respect for As You
Like It. It was the first play I ever saw, and that was at Bath in 1776
or 1777. That is not yesterday, yet I remember the piece very well. So I
remained at home, smoked a cigar, and worked leisurely upon the review
of the Culloden Papers, which, by dint of vamping and turning, may make
up the lacking copy for the "Works" better, I think, than that lumbering
Essay on Border Antiquities.
June 24.—I don't care who knows it, I was lazy this morning. But I
cheated my laziness capitally, as you shall hear. My good friend, Sir
Watt, said I to my esteemed friend, it is hard you should be obliged to
work when you are so disinclined to it. Were I you, I would not be quite
idle though. I would do something that you are not obliged to do, just
as I have seen a cowardly dog willing to fight with any one save that
which his master would have desired him to yoke with. So I went over the
review of the Culloden Papers, and went a great way to convert it into
the Essay on Clanship, etc., which I intend for the Prose Works. I wish
I had thought of it before correcting that beastly border essay.
June 25.—Wrote five pages of the Chronicles, and hope to conquer
one or two more ere night to fetch up the leeway. Went and saw Allan's
sketch of a picture for Abbotsford, which is promising; a thing on the
plan of Watteau. He intends to introduce some interesting characters,
and some, I suspect, who have little business there. Yesterday I dined
with the Lockharts at Portobello.  To-day at home with Anne and Miss
Erskine. They are gone to walk. I have a mind to go to trifle, so I do
not promise to write more to-night, having begun the dedication
(advertisement I mean) to the Chronicles. I have pleasant subjects of
reflection. The fund in Gibson's hands will approach £40,000, I think.
Mr. Lockhart says:—"My wife and I spent the summer of
1827 partly at a sea-bathing place near Edinburgh, and partly in
Roxburghshire. The arrival of his daughter and her children at
Portobello was a source of constant refreshment to him during June, for
every other day he came down and dined there, and strolled about
afterwards on the beach, thus interrupting, beneficially for his health,
and I doubt not for the result of his labours also, the new custom of
regular night-work, or, as he called it, serving double tides."
Lord Melville writes desiring to be a candidate for the Bannatyne Club.
I made a balance of my affairs, and stuck it into my book: it should
answer very well, but still
"I am not given to great misguiding,
But coin my pouches will na bide in,
With me it ne'er was under hiding,
I dealt it free."
I must, however, and will, be independent.
June 26.—Well, if ever I saw such another thing since my mother bound
up my head!  Here is nine of clock strucken and I am still fast
asleep abed. I have not done the like of this many a day. However, it
cannot be helped. Went to Court, which detained me till two o'clock. A
walk home consumed the hour to three! Wrote in the Court, however, to
the Duke of Wellington and Lord Bloomfield. and that is a good job over.
See Swift, "Mary the cook to Dr. Sheridan."
I have a letter from a member of the Commission of the Psalmody of the
Kirk, zealous and pressing. I shall answer him, I think.  One from
Sir James Stuart,  on fire with Corfe Castle, with a drawing of King
Edward, occupying one page, as he hurries down the steep, mortally
wounded by the assassin. Singular power of speaking at once to the eye
and the ear. Dined at home. After dinner sorted papers. Rather idle.
The answer is printed in the Scott Centenary Catalogue
by David Laing, from which the following extracts are given:—
"The expression of the old metrical translation, though homely, is
plain, forcible, and intelligible, and very often possesses a rude sort
of majesty, which perhaps would be ill-exchanged for mere elegance."
"They are the very words and accents of our early Reformers—sung by
them in woe and gratitude, in the fields, in the churches, and on the
scaffold." "The parting with this very association of ideas is a serious
loss to the cause of devotion, and scarce to be incurred without the
certainty of corresponding advantages. But if these recollections are
valuable to persons of education, they are almost indispensable to the
edification of the lower ranks whose prejudices do not permit them to
consider as the words of the inspired poetry, the versions of living or
modern poets, but persist, however absurdly, in identifying the original
with the ancient translation."—p. 158.
Sir James Stuart, the last baronet of Allanbank.
June 27.—Corrected proofs and wrote till breakfast. Then the Court.
Called on Skene and Charles K. Sharpe, and did not get home until three
o'clock, and then so wet as to require a total change. We dine at Hector
Buchanan Macdonald's, where there are sometimes many people and little
conversation. Sent a little chest of books by the carrier to Abbotsford.
A visit from a smart young man, Gustavus Schwab of Königsberg; he gives
a flattering picture of Prussia, which is preparing for freedom. The
King must keep his word, though, or the people may chance to tire of
waiting. Dined at H.B. Macdonald's with rather a young party for Colin
M'Kenzie and me.
June 28.—Wrote a little and corrected proofs. How many things have I
unfinished at present?
Chronicles, first volume not ended.
do., second volume begun.
Introduction to ditto.
Tales of My Grandfather.
Essay on Highlands. This unfinished, owing to certain causes, chiefly
want of papers and books to fill up blanks, which I will get at
Abbotsford. Came home through rain about two, and commissioned John
Stevenson to call at three about binding some books. Dined with Sophia;
visited, on invitation, a fine old little Commodore Trunnion, who, on
reading a part of Napoleon's history, with which he had himself been
interested, as commanding a flotilla, thought he had detected a mistake,
but was luckily mistaken, to my great delight.
"I fear thee, ancient mariner."
To be cross-examined by those who have seen the true thing is the devil.
And yet these eye-witnesses are not all right in what they repeat
neither, indeed cannot be so, since you will have dozens of
contradictions in their statements.
June 29.—A distressing letter from Haydon; imprudent, probably, but
who is not? A man of rare genius. What a pity I gave that £10 to Craig!
But I have plenty of ten pounds sure, and I may make it something. I
will get £100 at furthest when I come back from the country. Wrote at
proofs, but no copy; I fear I shall wax fat and kick against Madam Duty,
but I augur better things.
Just as we were sitting down to dinner, Cadell burst in in high spirits
with the sale of Napoleon the orders for which pour in, and the
public report is favourable. Detected two gross blunders though, which I
have ordered for cancel. Supped (for a wonder) with Colin Mackenzie and
a bachelor party. Mr. Williams  was there, whose extensive
information, learning, and lively talent makes him always pleasant
company. Up till twelve—a debauch for me nowadays.
"The Life of Bonaparte, then, was at last published
about the middle of June 1827."—Life, ix. 117.
Archdeacon Williams, Rector of the New Edinburgh Academy
from 1824 to 1847.
June 30.—Redd up my things for moving,  which will clear my
hands a little on the next final flitting. Corrected proof-sheets.
Williams told me an English bull last night. A fellow of a college,
deeply learned, sitting at a public entertainment beside a foreigner,
tried every means to enter into conversation, but the stranger could
speak no dead language, the Doctor no living one but his own. At last
the scholar, in great extremity, was enlightened by a happy "Nonne
potes loqui cum digitis?"—said as if the difficulty was solved at
Among the letters which Sir Walter found time to write
before leaving Edinburgh, was one to congratulate his old and true
friend Mrs. Coutts on her marriage, which took place on the 16th of
June. That letter has not been preserved, but it drew from her Grace the
"My dear Sir Walter Scott,—Your most welcome letter has 'wandered
mony a weary mile after me.' Thanks, many thanks for all your kind
congratulations. I am a Duchess at last, that is certain, but
whether I am the better for it remains to be proved. The Duke is
very amiable, gentle, and well-disposed, and I am sure he has taken
pains enough to accomplish what he says has been the first wish of
his heart for the last three years. All this is very flattering to
an old lady, and we lived so long in friendship with each other
that I was afraid I should be unhappy if I did not say I
will—yet (whisper it, dear Sir Walter) the name of Coutts—and a
right good one it is—is, and ever will be, dear to my heart. What
a strange, eventful life has mine been, from a poor little player
child, with just food and clothes to cover me, dependent on a very
precarious profession, without talent or a friend in the world! 'to
have seen what I have seen, seeing what I see.' Is it not
wonderful? is it true? can I believe it?—first the wife of the
best, the most perfect, being that ever breathed, his love and
unbounded confidence in me, his immense fortune so honourably
acquired by his own industry, all at my command, ... and now the
wife of a Duke. You must write my life; the History of Tom Thumb,
Jack the Giant Killer, and Goody Two Shoes, will sink compared with
my true history written by the Author of Waverley; and that you
may do it well I have sent you an inkstand. Pray give it a place on
your table in kind remembrance of your affectionate friend,
"HARRIETT ST. ALBANS.
"STRATTON STREET, July 16th, 1827."
Abbotsford.—Reached this about six o'clock. 
 Next morning the following pleasant little billet was
despatched to Kaeside:—
"My dear Mr. Laidlaw, I would be happy if you would come at
kail-time to-day. Napoleon (6000 copies) is sold for
—Abbotsford Notanda, by R. Carruthers, Edin. 1871.