The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford October, 1827
by Sir Walter Scott
October 1.—I set about work for two hours, and finished three pages;
then walked for two hours; then home, adjusted sheriff processes, and
cleared the table. I am to set off to-morrow for Ravensworth Castle, to
meet the Duke of Wellington;  a great let off, I suppose. Yet I would
almost rather stay and see two days more of Lockhart and my daughter,
who will be off before my return. Perhaps. But there is no end to
perhaps. We must cut the rope and let the vessel drive down the tide of
 "The Duke was then making a progress in the North of
England, to which additional importance was given by the uncertain state
of political arrangements; the chance of Lord Goderich's being able to
maintain himself as Canning's successor seeming very precarious, and the
opinion that his Grace must soon be called to a higher station than that
of Commander of the Forces, which he had accepted under the new Premier,
gaining ground every day. Sir Walter, who felt for the great Captain the
pure and exalted devotion that might have been expected from some
honoured soldier of his banners, accepted this invitation, and witnessed
a scene of enthusiasm with which its principal object could hardly have
been more gratified than he was."—Life, vol. ix. pp. 156-7.
October 2.—Set out in the morning at seven, and reached Kelso by a
little past ten with my own horses. Then took the Wellington coach to
carry me to Wellington—smart that. Nobody inside but an old lady, who
proved a toy-woman in Edinburgh; her head furnished with as substantial
ware as her shop, but a good soul, I'se warrant her. Heard all her
debates with her landlord about a new door to the cellar, etc. etc.;
propriety of paying rent on the 15th or 25th of May. Landlords and
tenants have different opinions on that subject. Danger of dirty sheets
in inns. We dined at Wooler, and I found out Dr. Douglas on the outside,
son of my old acquaintance Dr. James Douglas of Kelso. This made us even
lighter in mind till we came to Whittingham. Thence to Newcastle, where
an obstreperous horse retarded us for an hour at least, to the great
alarm of my friend the toy-woman. N.B.—She would have made a good
feather-bed if the carriage had happened to fall, and her undermost. The
heavy roads had retarded us near an hour more, so that I hesitated to go
to Ravensworth so late; but my good woman's tales of dirty sheets, and
certain recollections of a Newcastle inn, induced me to go on. When I
arrived the family had just retired. Lord Ravensworth and Mr. Liddell
came down, however, and really received me as kindly as possible.
October 3.—Rose about eight or later. My morals begin to be corrupted
by travelling and fine company. Went to Durham with Lord Ravensworth
betwixt one and two. Found the gentlemen of Durham county and town
assembled to receive the Duke of Wellington. I saw several old friends,
and with difficulty suited names to faces, and faces to names. There was
Headlam, Dr. Gilly and his wife, and a world of acquaintance besides,
Sir Thomas Lawrence too, with Lord Londonderry. I asked him to come on
with me, but he could not. He is, from habit of coaxing his subjects I
suppose, a little too fair-spoken, otherwise very pleasant. The Duke
arrived very late. There were bells and cannon and drums, trumpets and
banners, besides a fine troop of yeomanry. The address was well
expressed, and as well answered by the Duke. The enthusiasm of the
ladies and the gentry was great—the common people were lukewarm .
The Duke has lost popularity in accepting political power. He will be
more useful to his country it may be than ever, but will scarce be so
gracious in the people's eyes; and he will not care a curse for what
outward show he has lost. But I must not talk of curses, for we are
going to take our dinner with the Bishop of Durham , a man of amiable
and courteous manners, who becomes his station well, but has traces of
bad health on his countenance.
 See Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey for
Lord Grey's opinion, vol. i. p. 60.
 Dr. William Van Mildert had been appointed to the See of
Durham in 1826 on the death of Dr. Shute Barrington. He died in 1836.
We dined, about one hundred and forty or fifty men, a distinguished
company for rank and property. Marshal Beresford, and Sir John ,
amongst others, Marquis of Lothian, Lord Duncombe, Marquis Londonderry,
and I know not who besides:
"Lords and Dukes and noble Princes,
All the pride and flower of Spain."
 Admiral Sir John Beresford had some few years before this
commanded on the Leith Station—when Sir Walter and he saw a great deal
of each other—"and merry men were they."—J.G.L.
We dined in the rude old baronial hall, impressive from its antiquity,
and fortunately free from the plaster of former improvement, as I trust
it will, from the gingerbread taste of modern Gothicisers. The bright
moon streaming in through the old Gothic windows, made a light which
contrasted strangely with the artificial lights within; spears, banners,
and armour were intermixed with the pictures of old, and the whole had a
singular mixture of baronial pomp with the graver and more chastened
dignity of prelacy. The conduct of our reverend entertainer suited the
character remarkably well. Amid the welcome of a Count Palatine he did
not for an instant forget the gravity of the Church dignitary. All his
toasts were gracefully given, and his little speeches well made, and the
more affecting that the failing voice sometimes reminded us that our
aged host laboured under the infirmities of advanced life. To me
personally the Bishop was very civil, and paid me his public
compliments by proposing my health in the most gratifying manner. 
 An eye-witness writes:—"The manner in which Bishop Van
Mildert proceeded on this occasion will never be forgotten by those who
know how to appreciate scholarship without pedantry, and dignity without
ostentation. Sir Walter had been observed throughout the day with
extraordinary interest—I should say enthusiasm. The Bishop gave his
health with peculiar felicity, remarking that he could reflect upon the
labours of a long literary life, with the consciousness that everything
he had written tended to the practice of virtue, and to the improvement
of the human race."—Hon. Henry Liddell. Life, vol. ix. p. 160.
The Bishop's lady received a sort of drawing-room after we rose from
table, at which a great many ladies attended. I ought not to forget that
the singers of the choir attended at dinner, and sung the Anthem Non
nobis Domine, as they said who understood them, very well—and, as I
think, who did not understand the music, with an unusual degree of
spirit and interest. It is odd how this can be distinguished from the
notes of fellows who use their throats with as little feeling of the
notes they utter as if they were composed of the same metal as their
After the drawing-room we went to the Assembly-rooms, which were crowded
with company. I saw some very pretty girls dancing merrily that
old-fashioned thing called a country-dance which Old England has now
thrown aside, as she would do her creed, if there were some foreign
frippery offered instead. We got away after midnight, a large party, and
reached Ravensworth Castle—Duke of Wellington, Lord Londonderry, and
about twenty besides—about half-past one. Soda water, and to bed by
October 4.—Slept till nigh ten—fatigued by our toils of yesterday,
and the unwonted late hours. Still too early for this Castle of
Indolence, for I found few of last night's party yet appearing. I had an
opportunity of some talk with the Duke. He does not consider Foy's
book  as written by himself, but as a thing got up perhaps from
notes. Says he knew Foy very well in Spain. Mentioned that he was, like
other French officers, very desirous of seeing the English papers,
through which alone they could collect any idea of what was going on
without their own cantonments, for Napoleon permitted no communication
of that kind with France. The Duke, growing tired of this, at length
told Baron Tripp, whose services he chiefly used in communication with
the outposts, that he was not to give them the newspapers. "What reason
shall I allege for withholding them?" said Baron Tripp. "None," replied
the Duke. "Let them allege some reason why they want them." Foy was not
at a loss to assign a reason. He said he had considerable sums of money
in the English funds and wanted to see how Stocks fell and rose. The
excuse did not, however, go down . I remember Baron Tripp, a Dutch
nobleman, and a dandy of the first water, and yet with an energy in his
dandyism which made it respectable. He drove a gig as far as Dunrobin
Castle, and back again, without a whip. He looked after his own horse,
for he had no servant, and after all his little establishment of clothes
and necessaries, with all the accuracy of a petit-maître. He was one
of the best-dressed men, and his horse was in equally fine condition as
if he had had a dozen of grooms. I met him at Lord Somerville's, and
liked him much. But there was something exaggerated, as appeared from
the conclusion of his life. Baron Tripp shot himself in Italy for no
 Histoire de la guerre de la Péninsule sous Napoléon,
etc. Publiée par Madame la Comtesse Foy. Paris, 4 vols. 8vo, 1827. See
Croker, vol. i. p. 352.
 This story is told also in Lord Stanhope's Conversations
with the Duke of Wellington. 8vo, London, 1888, p. 54.
What is called great society, of which I have seen a good deal in my
day, is now amusing to me, because from age and indifference I have lost
the habit of considering myself as a part of it, and have only the
feelings of looking on as a spectator of the scene, who can neither play
his part well nor ill, instead of being one of the dramatis personæ;
and, careless what is thought of myself, I have full time to attend to
the motions of others.
Our party went to-day to Sunderland, where the Duke was brilliantly
received by an immense population, chiefly of seamen. The difficulty of
getting into the rooms was dreadful, for we chanced to march in the rear
of an immense Gibraltar gun, etc., all composed of glass, which is here
manufactured in great quantities. The disturbance created by this thing,
which by the way I never saw afterwards, occasioned an ebbing and
flowing of the crowd, which nearly took me off my legs. I have seen the
day I would have minded it little. The entertainment was handsome; about
two hundred dined, and appeared most hearty in the cause which had
convened them—some indeed so much so, that, finding themselves so far
on the way to perfect happiness, they e'en ... After the dinner-party
broke up there was a ball, numerously attended, where there was a
prodigious anxiety discovered for shaking of hands. The Duke had enough
of it, and I came in for my share; for, though as jackal to the lion, I
got some part in whatever was going. We got home about half-past two in
the morning, sufficiently tired. The Duke went to Seaham, a house of
Lord Londonderry's. After all, this Sunderland trip might have been
October 5.—A quiet day at Ravensworth Castle, giggling and making
giggle among the kind and frank-hearted young people. Ravensworth Castle
is chiefly modern, excepting always two towers of great antiquity. Lord
Ravensworth manages his woods admirably well, and with good taste. His
castle is but half-built. Elections  have come between. In the
evening, plenty of fine music, with heart as well as voice and
instrument. Much of the music was the spontaneous effusions of Mrs.
Arkwright, who had set Hohenlinden and other pieces of poetry. Her music
was of a highly-gifted character. She was the daughter of Stephen
Kemble. The genius she must have inherited from her mother, who was a
capital actress. The Miss Liddells and Mrs. Barrington sang the "The
Campbells are coming," in a tone that might have waked the dead.
 The present generation are apt to forget the enormous sums
spent in Parliamentary elections; e.g., Mme. de Lieven tells Earl Grey
(Cor. ii. p. 215) that Lord Ravensworth's neighbour, the Duke of
Northumberland, will subscribe £100,000 towards the election of 1831.
October 6.—Left Ravensworth this morning, and travelled as far as
Whittingham with Marquis of Lothian. Arrived at Alnwick to dinner, where
I was very kindly received. The Duke is a handsome man,  who will be
corpulent if he does not continue to take hard exercise. The Duchess
very pretty and lively, but her liveliness is of that kind which shows
at once it is connected with thorough principle, and is not liable to be
influenced by fashionable caprice. The habits of the family are early
and regular; I conceive they may be termed formal and old-fashioned by
such visitors as claim to be the pink of the mode. The Castle is a fine
old pile, with various courts and towers, and the entrance is
magnificent. It wants, however, the splendid feature of a keep. The
inside fitting up is an attempt at Gothic, but the taste is meagre and
poor, and done over with too much gilding. It was done half a century
ago, when this kind of taste was ill-understood. I found here the Bishop
of [Gloucester], etc. etc.
 Hugh, third Duke of Northumberland.
October 7.—This morning went to church and heard an excellent sermon
from the Bishop of Gloucester;  he has great dignity of manner, and
his accent and delivery were forcible. Drove out with the Duke in a
phaeton, and saw part of the park, which is a fine one, lying along the
Alne. But it has been ill-planted. It was laid out by the celebrated
Brown,  who substituted clumps of birch and Scottish firs for the
beautiful oaks and copse which grows nowhere so freely as in
Northumberland. To complete this, the late Duke did not thin, so the
wood is in poor state. All that the Duke cuts down is so much waste, for
the people will not buy it where coals are so cheap. Had they been
oak-wood, the bark would have fetched its value; had they been grown
oaks, the sea-ports would have found a market. Had they been [larch],
the country demands for ruder purposes would have been unanswerable. The
Duke does the best he can to retrieve his woods, but seems to despond
more than a young man ought to do. It is refreshing to see a man in his
situation give so much of his time and thoughts to the improvement of
his estates, and the welfare of the people. The Duke tells me his people
in Keeldar were all quite wild the first time his father went up to
shoot there. The women had no other dress than a bed-gown and petticoat.
The men were savage and could hardly be brought to rise from the heath,
either from sullenness or fear. They sung a wild tune, the burden of
which was Ourina, ourina, ourina. The females sung, the men danced
round, and at a certain part of the tune they drew their dirks, which
they always wore.
 Dr. Bethell, who had been tutor to the Duke of
Northumberland, held at this time the See of Gloucester.—J.G.L.
 Launcelot Brown, 1715-1782.
We came by the remains of the old Carmelite Monastery of Hulne, which is
a very fine object in the park. It was finished by De Vesci. The gateway
of Alnwick Abbey, also a fine specimen, is standing about a mile
distant. The trees are much finer on the left side of the Alne, where
they have been let alone by the capability-villain. Visited the enceinte
of the Castle, and passed into the dungeon. There is also an armoury,
but damp, and the arms in indifferent order. One odd petard-looking
thing struck me.—Mem. to consult Grose. I had the honour to sit in
Hotspur's seat, and to see the Bloody Gap, where the external wall must
have been breached. The Duchess gave me a book of etchings of the
antiquities of Alnwick and Warkworth from her own drawings.  I had
half a mind to stay to see Warkworth, but Anne is alone. We had prayers
in the evening read by the Archdeacon. 
 A quarto volume, containing 39 etchings (privately printed
in 1823), still preserved at Abbotsford.
 Mr. Archdeacon Singleton.—J.G.L.
The Marquis of Lothian on Saturday last told me a remarkable thing,
which he had from good authority. Just before Bonaparte's return from
Elba there was much disunion at the Congress of Vienna. Russia and
Prussia, conscious of their own merits, made great demands, to which
Austria, France, and Britain, were not disposed to accede. This went so
far that war became probable, and the very Prussian army which was so
useful at Waterloo was held in readiness to attack the English. On the
other hand, England, Austria, and France entered into a private
agreement to resist, beyond a certain extent, Prussia's demands of a
barrier on the Rhine, etc., and, what is most singular of all, it was
from Bonaparte that the Emperor Alexander first heard of this triple
alliance.  But the circumstance of finding Napoleon interesting
himself so far in the affairs of Europe alarmed the Emperor more than
the news he sent him. On the same authority, Gneisenau and most of
Blücher's personal suite remained behind a house at the battle of Ligny,
and sent out an officer from time to time, but did not remain even in
sight of the battle, till Blücher put himself at the head of the cavalry
with the zeal of an old hussar.
 Stanhope's Notes, p. 24; and Croker, vol. ii. p. 233.
October 8.—Left Alnwick, where I have experienced a very kind
reception, and took coach at Whittingham at eleven o'clock. I find there
is a new road to be made between Alnwick and Wooler, which will make the
communication much easier, and avoid Remside Moor.
Saw some fine young plantations about Whittingham suffering from
neglect, which is not the case under the Duke's own eye. He has made
two neat cottages at Percy's Cross, to preserve that ancient monument of
the fatal battle of Hedgeley Moor. The stones marking the adjacent spot
called Percy's Leap are thirty-three feet asunder. To show the
uncertainty of human testimony, I measured the distance (many years
since, it is true), and would have said and almost sworn that it was but
eighteen feet. Dined at Wooler, and reached home about seven o'clock,
having left Alnwick at half-past nine. So it would be easy to go there
to dinner from Abbotsford, starting at six in the morning, or seven
would do very well.
October 9, [Abbotsford].—No proofs here, which I think odd of Jas. B.
But I am not sorry to have a day to write letters, and besides I have a
box of books to arrange. It is a bad mizzling day, and might have been a
good day for work, yet it is not quite uselessly spent.
October 10.—Breakfasted at Huntly Burn with the merry knight, Sir
Adam Ferguson. When we returned we found a whole parcel of proofs which
had been forgot yesterday at the toll—so here ends play and begins
work. Dr. Brewster and Mr. Thornhill. The latter gave me a box, made of
the real mulberry-tree.  Very kind of him.
 From Stratford-on-Avon.
October 11.—Being a base melancholy weeping day I e'en made the best
of it, and set in for work. Wrote ten leaves this day, equivalent to
forty pages. But then the theme was so familiar, being Scottish history,
that my pen never rested. It is more than a triple task.
October 12.—Sent off proofs and copy, a full task of three pages. At
one Anne drove me to Huntly Burn, and I examined the earthen fence
intended for the new planting, and altered the line in some points. This
employed me till near four, the time of my walking home being included.
October 13.—Wrote in the forenoon. Lord Bessborough and Mr. and Mrs.
Ponsonby called to see the place. His lady used to be civil to me in
London—an accomplished and pleasing woman. They only stayed an hour. At
dinner we had Lord and Lady Bathurst, and my friend Lady Georgiana—also
Marquis of Lothian and Lord Castlereagh, plenty of fine folks. Expected
also the Lord Register and Mrs. Dundas, but they could not come. Lord
Bathurst told me that Gourgaud had negotiated with the French Government
to the last moment of his leaving London, and that he had been told so
by the French Ambassador. Lord B. refused to see him, because he
understood he talked disrespectfully of Napoleon.
October 14.—I read prayers to the company of yesterday, and we took a
drive round by Drygrange Bridge. Lord B. told me that the late king made
it at one time a point of conscience to read every word of every act of
parliament before giving his assent to it. There was a mixture of
principle and nonsense in this. Lord Lothian left us. I did a full task
to-day, which is much, considering I was a good deal occupied.
October 15.—My noble guests departed, pleased I believe with their
visit. I have had to thank Lord Bathurst for former kindness. I respect
him too, as one who being far from rich, has on the late occasion
preferred political consistency to a love of office and its emoluments.
He seems to expect no opposition of a formal kind this next session.
What is wonderful, no young man of talents seems to spring up in the
House of Commons. I wonder what comes of all the clever lads whom we see
at college. The fruit apparently does not ripen as formerly. Lord
Castlereagh remained with us. I bestowed a little advice on him. He is a
warm-hearted young fellow, with some of the fashionable affectations of
the age about him, but with good feelings and an inclination to come
October 16.—With all this racketing the work advances fast. The third
volume of the Tales is now half finished, and will, I think, be a
useful work. Some drizzling days have been of great use to its progress.
This visiting has made some dawdling, but not much, perhaps not more
than there ought to be for such a task.
I walked from Huntly Burn up the little Glen, which was in all the
melancholy beauty of autumn, the little brook brawling and bickering in
fine style over its falls and currents.
October 17.—Drove down to Mertoun and brought up Elizabeth Scott to
be our guest for some days or so. Various chance guests arrived. One of
the most welcome was Captain MacKenzie of the Celtic Society and the 72d
regiment, a picture of a Highlander in his gigantic person and innocent
and generous disposition. Poor fellow, he is going to retreat to
Brittany, to make his half-pay support a wife and family. I did not dare
to ask how many. God send I may have the means of serving him.
He told me a Maclean story which was new to me. At the battle of
Sheriffmuir that clan was commanded by a chief called Hector. In the
action, as the chief rushed forward, he was frequently in situations of
peril. His foster-father followed him with seven sons, whom he reserved
as a body-guard, whom he threw forward into the battle as he saw his
chief pressed. The signal he gave was, "Another for Hector!" The youths
replied, "Death for Hector!" and were all successively killed. These
words make the sign and countersign at this day of the clan Gillian. 
 For the utilisation of this story, see Fair Maid of
Perth, published in the following year.
Young Shortreed dined with us and the two Fergusons, Sir Adam and the
Colonel. We had a pleasant evening.
October 19.—Wrought out my task, and better—as I have done for these
several days past. Lady Anna Maria Elliot arrived unexpectedly to
dinner, and though she had a headache, brought her usual wit and
good-humour to enliven us.
October 20.—The day being basely muggy, I had no walk, which I was
rather desirous to secure. I wrought, however; and two-thirds of the
last volume of Tales of my Grandfather are finished. I received a
large packet of proofs, etc., which for some reason had been delayed. We
had two of Dr. Brewster's boys to dinner—fine children; they are
spirited, promising, and very well-behaved.
October 21.—Wrought till one o'clock, then walked out for two hours,
though with little comfort, the bushes being loaded with rain; but
exercise is very necessary to me, and I have no mind to die of my
arm-chair. A letter from Skene, acquainting me that the Censors of the
French press have prohibited the insertion of my answer to the man
Gourgaud. This is their freedom of the press! The fact is there is an
awkward "composition" between the Government and the people of France,
that the latter will endure the former so long as they will allow them
to lull themselves asleep with recollections of their past glory, and
neither the one nor the other sees that truth and honesty and freedom of
discussion are the best policy. He knows, though, there is an answer;
and that is all I care about.
October 22.—Another vile damp drizzling day. I do not know any
morning in my life so fit for work, on which I nevertheless, while
desirous of employing it to purpose, make less progress. A hang-dog
drowsy feeling wrought against me, and I was obliged to lay down the pen
and indulge myself in a drumly sleep.
The Haigs of Bemerside, Captain Hamilton, Mr. Bainbridge and daughter,
with young Nicol Milne and the Fergusons, dined here. Miss Haig sings
Italian music better than any person I ever heard out of the
Opera-house. But I am neither a judge nor admirer of the science. I do
not know exactly what is aimed at, and therefore cannot tell what is
attained. Had a letter from Colin Mackenzie, who has proposed himself
for the little situation in the Register House. I have written, him,
begging him to use the best interest in his own behalf, and never mind
October 23.—Another sullen rainy day. "Hazy weather, Mr. Noah," as
Punch says in the puppet-show.  I worked slow, however, and
untowardly, and fell one leaf short of my task.
 See M.G. Lewis's Journal of a West Indian Proprietor.
8vo, Lond., 1834, p. 47; and Introduction to Fair Maid of Perth, p.
Went to Selkirk, and dined with the forest Club, for the first time I
have been there this season. It was the collar-day, but being extremely
rainy, I did not go to see them course. N.B.—Of all things, the
greatest bore is to hear a dull and bashful man sing a facetious song.
October 24.—Vilely low in spirits. I have written a page and a half,
and doubt whether I can write more to-day. A thick throbbing at my
heart, and fancies thronging on me. A disposition to sleep, or to think
on things melancholy and horrible while I wake. Strange that one's
nerves should thus master them, for nervous the case is, as I know too
well. I am beginning to tire of my Journal, and no wonder, faith, if I
have only such trash as this to record. But the best is, a little
exertion or a change of the current of thought relieves me.
God, who subjects us to these strange maladies, whether of mind or body
I cannot say, has placed the power within our own reach, and we should
be grateful. I wrestled myself so far out of the Slough of Despond as to
take a good long walk, and my mind is restored to its elasticity. I did
not attempt to work, especially as we were going down to Mertoun, and
set off at five o'clock.
October 25.—We arrived at Mertoun yesterday, and heard with some
surprise that George had gone up in an air balloon, and ascended two
miles and a half above this sublunary earth. I should like to have an
account of his sensations, but his letters said nothing serious about
them. Honest George, I certainly did not suspect him of being so
flighty! I visited the new plantations on the river-side with Mrs.
Scott; I wish her lord and master had some of her taste for planting.
When I came home I walked through the Rhymer's Glen, and I thought how
the little fall would look if it were heightened. When I came home a
surprise amounting nearly to a shock reached me in another letter from
L.J.S.  Methinks this explains the gloom which hung about me
yesterday. I own that the recurrence to these matters seems like a
summons from the grave. It fascinates me. I ought perhaps to have
stopped it at once, but I have not nerve to do so. Alas! alas!—But why
alas? Humana perpessi sumus.
 On the 13th of October Sir Walter had received a letter
from "one who had in former happy days been no stranger," and on turning
to the signature he found to his astonishment that it was from Lady Jane
Stuart, with whom he had had no communication since the memorable visit
he had made to Invermay in the autumn of 1796. The letter was simply a
formal request on behalf of a friend for permission to print some
ballads in Scott's handwriting which were in an album that had
apparently belonged to her daughter, yet it stirred his nature to its
depths. The substance of his reply may be gathered from the second
letter, which he had just read before making this sad entry in his
Journal.—Lady Jane tells him that she would convey to him the
—,"as a secret and sacred Treasure, could I but know that you
would take it as I give it without a drawback or misconstruction of
and she adds—
"Were I to lay open my heart (of which you know little indeed) you
would find how it has and ever shall be warm towards you. My age
[she was then seventy-four] encourages me, and I have longed to
tell you. Not the mother who bore you followed you more anxiously
(though secretly) with her blessing than I! Age has tales to tell
and sorrows to unfold."
As is seen by his Journal Sir Walter resumed his personal intercourse
with his venerable friend on November 6th and continued it until her
death, which took place in the winter of 1829.—Ante, vol. i. p. 404,
and Life, vol. i. pp. 329-336.
October 26.—Sent off copy to Ballantyne. Drove over to Huntly Burn at
breakfast, and walked up to the dike they are building for the new
plantation. Returned home. The Fergusons dined; and we had the kirn
Supper.  I never saw a set of finer lads and lasses, and blithely did
they ply their heels till five in the morning. It did me good to see
them, poor things.
 Kirn, the feast at the end of the harvest in Scotland.
October 27.—This morning went again to Huntly Burn to breakfast.
There picked up Sir Adam and the Colonel, and drove down to old Melrose
to see the hounds cast off upon the Gateheugh, the high rocky
amphitheatre which encloses the peninsula of old Melrose, the Tweed
pouring its dark and powerful current between them. The galloping of the
riders and hallooing of the huntsmen, the cry of the hounds and the
sight of sly Reynard stealing away through the brakes, waked something
of the old spirit within me—
"Even in our ashes glow their wonted fires."
On return home I had despatches of consequence. John Gibson writes that
Lord Newton has decided most of the grand questions in our favour. Good,
that! Rev. Mr. Turner writes that he is desirous, by Lord Londonderry's
consent, to place in my hands a quantity of original papers concerning
the public services of the late Lord Londonderry, with a view to drawing
up a memoir of his life. Now this task they desire to transfer to me. It
is highly complimentary; and there is this of temptation in it, that I
should be able to do justice to that ill-requited statesman in those
material points which demand the eternal gratitude of his country. But
then for me to take this matter up would lead me too much into the
hackneyed politics of the House of Commons, which odi et arceo.
Besides, I would have to study the Irish question, and I detest study.
Item.—I might arrive at conclusions different from those of my Lord
of Londonderry, and I have a taste for expressing that which I think.
Fourthly, I think it is sinking myself into a party writer. Moreover, I
should not know what to say to the disputes with Canning; and, to
conclude, I think my Lord Londonderry, if he desired such a thing at my
hands, ought to have written to me. For all which reasons, good, bad,
and indifferent, I will write declining the undertaking.
October 28.—Wrote several letters, and one to Mr. Turner, declining
the task of Lord Castlereagh's Memoirs,  with due acknowledgments.
Had his public and European politics alone been concerned, I would have
tried the task with pleasure. I wrote out my task and something more,
corrected proofs, and made a handsome remittance of copy to the press.
 The correspondence of Robert, second Marquis of
Londonderry, was edited by his brother in 1850, but there was no memoir
published until Alison wrote the Lives of Lord Castlereagh and Sir
Charles Stewart, Second and Third Marquesses of Londonderry. 3 vols.
8vo, Edinburgh, 1861.
October 31.—Just as I was merrily cutting away among my trees,
arrives Mr. Gibson with a melancholy look, and indeed the news he
brought was shocking enough. It seems Mr. Abud, the same Jew broker who
formerly was disposed to disturb me in London, has given the most
positive orders to take out diligence against me for his debt of £1500.
This breaks all the measures we had resolved on, and prevents the
dividend from taking place, by which many poor persons will be great
sufferers. For me the alternative will be more painful to my feelings
than prejudicial to my interest. To take out a sequestration and allow
the persons to take what they can get will be the inevitable
consequence. This will cut short my labour by several years, which I
might spend and spend in vain in labouring to meet their demands. No
doubt they may in the interim sell the liferent of this place, with the
books and furniture. But, perhaps, it may be possible to achieve some
composition which may save these articles, as I would make many
sacrifices for that purpose. Gibson strongly advises taking a
sequestration at all events. But if the creditors choose to let Mr. Abud
have his pound of flesh out of the first cut, my mind will not be
satisfied with the plan of deranging, for the pleasure of disappointing
him, a plan of payment to which all the others had consented. We will
know more on Saturday, and not sooner. I went to Bowhill with Sir Adam
Ferguson to dinner, and maintained as good a countenance in the midst of
my perplexities as a man need desire. It is not bravado; I literally
feel myself firm and resolute.