"As I walked by myself,
I talked to myself,
And thus myself said to me."
January 1.—Since the 20th November 1825, for two months that is, and
two years, I have kept this custom of a diary. That it has made me wiser
or better I dare not say, but it shows by its progress that I am capable
of keeping a resolution. Perhaps I should not congratulate myself on
this; perhaps it only serves to show I am more a man of method and less
a man of originality, and have no longer that vivacity of fancy that is
inconsistent with regular labour. Still, should this be the case, I
should, having lost the one, be happy to find myself still possessed of
January 2.—Cæcæ mentes hominum.—My last entry records my
punctuality in keeping up my diary hitherto; my present labour,
commenced notwithstanding the date, upon the 9th January, is to make up
my little record betwixt the second and that latter date. In a word, I
have been several days in arrear without rhyme or reason,—days too when
there was so little to write down that the least jotting would have done
it. This must not be in future.
January 3.—Our friends begin to disperse. Mrs. Ellis, who has been
indisposed for the last two days, will I hope bear her journey to London
well. She is the relict of my dear old friend George Ellis,  who had
more wit, learning, and knowledge of the world than would fit out twenty
literati. The Hardens remained to-day, and I had a long walk with the
laird up the Glen, and so forth. He seemed a little tired, and, with all
due devotion to my Chief, I was not sorry to triumph over some one in
point of activity at my time of day.
 To whom Scott addressed the fifth canto of Marmion.
January 4.—Visited by Mr. Stewart of Dalguise, who came to collect
materials for a description of Abbotsford, to be given with a drawing in
a large work, Views of Gentlemen's Seats. Mr. Stewart is a
well-informed gentleman-like young man, grave and quiet, yet possessed
of a sense of humour. I must take care he does not in civility over-puff
my little assemblage of curiosities. Scarce anything can be meaner than
the vanity which details the contents of China closets,—basins, ewers,
and chamberpots. Horace Walpole, with all his talents, makes a silly
figure when he gives an upholsterer's catalogue of his goods and
chattels at Strawberry Hill.
January 5.—This day I began to review Taschereau's Life of Molière
for Mr. Gillies, who is crying help for God's sake. Messrs. Treuttel and
Wurtz offer guerdon. I shall accept, because it is doing Gillies no good
to let him have my labour for nothing, and an article is about £100. In
my pocket it may form a fund to help this poor gentleman or others at a
pinch; in his, I fear it would only encourage a neglect of sober
economy. When in his prosperity he asked me whether there was not, in my
opinion, something interesting in a man of genius being in embarrassed
circumstances. God knows he has had enough of them since, poor fellow;
and it should be remembered that if he thus dallied with his good
fortune, his benevolence to others was boundless.
We had the agreeable intelligence of Sophia being safely delivered of a
girl; the mother and child doing well. Praised be God!
January 6.—I have a letter from the Duke of Wellington, making no
promises, but assuring me of a favourable consideration of Walter's
case, should an opening occur for the majority. This same step is
represented as the most important, but so in their time were the
lieutenancy and the troop. Each in its turn was the step par
excellence. It appears that these same steps are those of a treadmill,
where the party is always ascending and never gains the top. But the
same simile would suit most pursuits in life.
The Misses Kerr left us on Friday—two charming young persons,
well-looked, well-mannered, and well-born; above all, well-principled.
They sing together in a very delightful manner, and our evenings are the
duller without them.
I am annoyed beyond measure with the idle intrusion of voluntary
correspondents; each man who has a pen, ink, and sheet of foolscap to
spare, flies a letter at me. I believe the postage costs me £100 [a
year], besides innumerable franks; and all the letters regard the
writer's own hopes or projects, or are filled with unasked advice or
extravagant requests. I think this evil increases rather than
diminishes. On the other hand, I must fairly own that I have received
many communications in this way worth all the trouble and expense that
the others cost me, so I must "lay the head of the sow to the tail of
the grice," as the proverb elegantly expresses itself.
News again of Sophia and baby. Mrs. Hughes thinks the infant a beauty.
Johnnie opines that it is not very pretty, and grandpapa supposes it
to be like other new-born children, which are as like as a basket of
January 7.—Wrought at the review, and finished a good lot of it. Mr.
Stewart left us, amply provided with the history of Abbotsford and its
contents. It is a kind of Conundrum Castle to be sure, and I have great
pleasure in it, for while it pleases a fantastic person in the style and
manner of its architecture and decoration, it has all the comforts of a
Besides the review, I have been for this week busily employed in
revising for the press the Tales of a Grandfather. Cadell rather
wished to rush it out by employing three different presses, but this I
repressed (smoke the pun!). I will not have poor James Ballantyne
driven off the plank to which we are all three clinging. I have
made great additions to volume first, and several of these Tales; and
I care not who knows it, I think well of them. Nay, I will hash history
with anybody, be he who he will. I do not know but it would be wise
to let romantic composition rest, and turn my mind to the history of
England, France, and Ireland, to be da capo rota'd, as well as that of
Scotland. Men would laugh at me as an author for Mr. Newbery's shop in
Paul's Churchyard. I should care little for that. Virginibus
puerisque. I would as soon compose histories for boys and girls, which
may be useful, as fictions for children of a larger growth, which can at
best be only idle folk's entertainment. But write what I will, or to
whom I will, I am doggedly determined to write myself out of the present
scrape by any labour that is fair and honest.
 See letter to R. Cadell, Life, vol. ix. p. 209.
January 8.—Despatched my review (in part), and in the morning walked
from Chiefswood, all about the shearing flats, and home by the new walk,
which I have called the Bride's Walk, because Jane was nearly stuck fast
in the bog there, just after her marriage, in the beginning of 1825.
 "The first Tales of a Grandfather [as has already been
said] appeared early in December, and their reception was more rapturous
than that of any one of his works since Ivanhoe. He had solved for the
first time the problem of narrating history, so as at once to excite and
gratify the curiosity of youth, and please and instruct the wisest of
mature minds. The popularity of the book has grown with every year that
has since elapsed; it is equally prized in the library, the boudoir, the
schoolroom, and the nursery; it is adopted as the happiest of manuals,
not only in Scotland, but wherever the English tongue is spoken; nay, it
is to be seen in the hands of old and young all over the civilised
world, and has, I have little doubt, extended the knowledge of Scottish
history in quarters where little or no interest had ever before been
awakened as to any other parts of that subject except those immediately
connected with Mary Stuart and the Chevalier."—Life, vol. ix. pp.
My post brings serious intelligence to-day, and of a very pleasing
description. Longman and Company, with a reserve which marks all their
proceedings, suddenly inform Mr. Gibson that they desire 1000 of the 8vo
edition of St. Ronan's Well, and the subsequent series of Novels
thereunto belonging, for that they have only seven remaining, and wish
it to be sent to their printers, and pushed out in three months. Thus
this great house, without giving any previous notice of the state of the
sale, expect all to be boot and saddle, horse and away, whenever they
give the signal. In the present case this may do, because I will make
neither alteration nor addition till our grand opus, the Improved
Edition, goes to press. But ought we to go to press with this 1000
copies knowing that our project will supersede and render equivalent to
waste paper such of them as may not reach the public before our plan is
publicly known and begins to operate? I have, I acknowledge, doubt as to
this. No doubt I feel perfectly justified in letting Longman and Co.
look to their own interest, since they have neither consulted me nor
attended to mine. But the loss might extend to the retail booksellers;
and to hurt the men through whom my works are ultimately to find their
way to the public would be both unjust and impolitic. On the contrary,
if the St. Ronan Series be hurried out immediately, there is time
enough perhaps to sell it off before the Improved Edition appears. In
the meantime it appears that the popularity of these works is increasing
rather than diminishing, that the measure of securing the copyrights was
most judicious, and that, with proper management, things will work
themselves round. Successful first editions are good, but they require
exertion and imply fresh risk of reputation. But repeated editions tell
only to the agreeable part of literature. 
 It may be remarked at this point how the value of these
works has been sustained by the public demand during the term of legal
copyright and since that date. That of Waverley expired in 1856, and
the others at forty-two years from the date of publication.
Longman and Company have also at length opened their oracular jaws on
the subject of Bonaparte, and acknowledged its rapid sale, and the
probable exhaustion of the present edition.
On December 19, 1827, the copyright of the Novels from Waverley to
Quentin Durward was acquired, as mentioned in the text, for £8400 as a
joint purchase. Five years later, viz., in 1832, Mr. Cadell purchased
from Sir Walter's representatives, for about £40,000, the author's share
in stock and entire copyrights!
Nineteen years afterwards, viz., on the 26th March 1851 (after Mr.
Cadell's death), the stock and copyrights were exposed for sale by
auction in London, regarding which a Trade Journal of the date says—
"Mr. Hodgson offered for sale the whole of the copyrights of Sir
Walter Scott's works, including stereotypes, steels, woodcuts,
etc., to a very large meeting of the publishers of this country.
After one or two of our leading firms had retired from the contest,
the lot was bought in for, we believe, £15,500. This sum did not
include the stock on hand, valued at £10,000. However, the fact is
that the Trustees have virtually refused £25,000 for the stock,
copyrights, etc., of Scott's works."
Messrs. A. & C. Black in 1851 purchased the property at nearly the same
price, viz.:—Copyright, £17,000; stock, £10,000—in all, £27,000. Mr.
Francis Black, who has kindly given me information regarding the sale of
these works, tells me that of the volumes of one of the cheaper issues
about three millions have been sold since 1851. This, of course, is
independent of other publishers' editions in Great Britain, the
Continent, and America.
These tidings, with the success of the Tales, "speak of Africa and
golden joys."  But the tidings arriving after dinner rather
discomposed me. In the evening I wrote to Cadell and Ballantyne at
length, proposing a meeting at my house on Tuesday first, to hold a
 In Henry IV., Act v. Sc. 3.
January 9.—My first reflection was on Napoleon. I will not be hurried
in my corrections of that work; and that I may not be so, I will begin
them the instant that I have finished the review. It makes me tremble to
think of the mass of letters I have to look through in order to select
all those which affect the subject of Napoleon, and which, in spite of
numerous excellent resolutions, I have never separated from the common
file from which they are now to be selected. Confound them! but they
are confounded already. Indolence is a delightful indulgence, but at
what a rate we purchase it! To-day we go to Mertoun, and having spent
some time in making up my Journal to this length, and in a chat with
Captain John, who dropped in, I will presently set to the review—knock
it off, if possible, before we start at five o'clock. To-morrow, when I
return, we will begin the disagreeable task of a thorough rummage of
papers, books, and documents. My character as a man of letters, and as a
man of honour, depends on my making that work as correct as possible. It
has succeeded, notwithstanding every effort here and in France  to
put it down, and it shall not lose ground for want of backing. We went
to dine and pass the night at Mertoun, where we met Sir John Pringle,
Mr. and Mrs. Baillie Mellerstain, and their daughters.
 In an interesting letter to Scott from Fenimore Cooper,
dated Sept. 12th, 1827, he tells him "that the French abuse you a
little, but as they began to do this, to my certain knowledge, five
months before the book was published, you have no great reason to regard
January 10.—When I rose this morning the weather was changed and the
ground covered with snow. I am sure it's winter fairly. We returned from
Mertoun after breakfast through an incipient snowstorm, coming on
partially, and in great flakes, the sun bursting at intervals through
the clouds. At last Die Wolken laufen zusammen. We made a slow journey
of it through the swollen river and heavy roads, but here we are at
It would be impossible to write the truth on such a subject and please
this nation. One frothy gentleman denounced you in my presence as having
a low, vulgar style, very much such an one as characterised the pen of
I am rather sorry we expect friends to-day, though these friends be the
good Fergusons. I have a humour for work, to which the sober, sad
uniformity of a snowy day always particularly disposes me, and I am sure
I will get poor Gillies off my hand, at least if I had morning and
evening. Then I would set to work with arranging everything for these
second editions of Napoleon, The Romances, etc., which must be soon
got afloat. I must say "the wark gangs bonnily on."  Well, I will
ring for coals, mend my pen, and try what can be done.
 A proverb having its rise from an exclamation made by Mr.
David Dick, a Covenanter, on witnessing the execution of some of
Montrose's followers.—Wishart's Montrose, quoting from Guthrie's
Memoirs, p. 182.
I wrought accordingly on Gillies's review for the Life of Molière, a
gallant subject. I am only sorry I have not time to do it justice. It
would have required a complete re-perusal of his works, for which, alas!
I have no leisure.
"For long, though pleasant, is the way,
And life, alas! allows but one ill winter's day."
Which is too literally my own case.
January 11.—Renewed my labour, finished the review, talis qualis,
and sent it off. Commenced then my infernal work of putting to rights.
Much cry and little woo', as the deil said when he shore the sow. But I
have detected one or two things that had escaped me, and may do more
to-morrow. I observe by a letter from Mr. Cadell that I had somewhat
misunderstood his last. It is he, not Longman, that wishes to publish
the thousand copies of St. Ronan's Series, and there is no immediate
call for Napoleon. This makes little difference in my computation. The
pressing necessity of correction is put off for two or three months
probably, and I have time to turn myself to the Chronicles. I do not
much like the task, but when did I ever like labour of any kind? My
hands were fully occupied to-day with writing letters and adjusting
papers—both a great bore.
The news from London assure a change of Ministry. The old Tories come in
play. But I hope they will compromise nothing. There is little danger
since Wellington takes the lead.
January 12.—My expenses have been considerably more than I expected;
but I think that, having done so much, I need not undergo the
mortification of giving up Abbotsford and parting with my old habits and
 Scott's biographer records his admiration for the manner
in which all his dependants met the reverse of their master's fortunes.
The butler, instead of being the easy chief of a large establishment,
was now doing half the work of the house at probably half his former
wages. Old Peter, who had been for five-and-twenty years a dignified
coachman, was now ploughman in ordinary; only putting his horses to the
carriage on high and rare occasions; and so on with all that remained of
the ancient train, and all seemed happier.
January 13, [Edinburgh].—We had a slow and tiresome retreat from
Abbotsford through the worst of weather, half-sleet, half-snow. Dined
with the Royal Society Club, and, being an anniversary, sat till nine
o'clock, instead of half-past seven.
January 14.—I read Cooper's new novel, The Red Rover; the current
of it rolls entirely upon the ocean. Something there is too much of
nautical language; in fact, it overpowers everything else. But, so
people once take an interest in a description, they will swallow a great
deal which they do not understand. The sweet word "Mesopotamia" has its
charm in other compositions as well as in sermons. He has much genius, a
powerful conception of character, and force of execution. The same
ideas, I see, recur upon him that haunt other folks. The graceful form
of the spars, and the tracery of the ropes and cordage against the sky,
is too often dwelt upon.
January 15.—This day the Court sat down. I missed my good friend
Colin Mackenzie, who proposes to retire, from indifferent health. A
better man never lived—eager to serve every one—a safeguard over all
public business which came through his hands. As Deputy-Keeper of the
Signet he will be much missed. He had a patience in listening to every
one which is of the [highest consequence] in the management of a public
body; for many men care less to gain their point than they do to play
the orator, and be listened to for a certain time. This done, and due
quantity of personal consideration being gained, the individual orator
is usually satisfied with the reasons of the civil listener, who has
suffered him to enjoy his hour of consequence. I attended the Court, but
there was very little for me to do. The snowy weather has annoyed my
fingers with chilblains, and I have a threatening of rheumatism—which
James Ballantyne and Mr. Cadell dined with me to-day and talked me into
a good humour with my present task, which I had laid aside in disgust.
It must, however, be done, though I am loth to begin to it again.
January 16.—Again returned early, and found my way home with some
difficulty. The weather—a black frost powdered with snow, my fingers
suffering much and my knee very stiff. When I came home, I set to work,
but not to the Chronicles. I found a less harassing occupation in
correcting a volume or two of Napoleon in a rough way. My indolence,
if I can call it so, is of a capricious kind. It never makes me
absolutely idle, but very often inclines me—as it were from mere
contradiction's sake—to exchange the task of the day for something
which I am not obliged to do at the moment, or perhaps not at all.
January 17.—My knee so swelled and the weather so cold that I stayed
from Court. I nibbled for an hour or two at Napoleon, then took
handsomely to my gear, and wrote with great ease and fluency six pages
of the Chronicles. If they are but tolerable I shall be satisfied. In
fact, such as they are, they must do, for I shall get warm as I work, as
has happened on former occasions. The fact is, I scarce know what is to
succeed or not; but this is the consequence of writing too much and too
often. I must get some breathing space. But how is that to be managed?
There is the rub.
January 18-19.—Remained still at home, and wrought hard. The fountain
trickles free enough, but God knows whether the waters will be worth
drinking. However, I have finished a good deal of hard work,—that's the
humour of it.
January 20.—Wrought hard in the forenoon. At dinner we had Helen
Erskine,—whom circumstances lead to go to India in search of the
domestic affection which she cannot find here,—Mrs. George Swinton, and
two young strangers: one, a son of my old friend Dr. Stoddart of the
Times, a well-mannered and intelligent youth, the other that unnatural
character, a tame Irishman, resembling a formal Englishman.
January 21.—This morning I sent J.B. as far as page forty-three,
being fully two-thirds of the volume. The rest I will drive on, trusting
that, contrary to the liberated posthorse in John Gilpin, the lumber of
the wheels rattling behind me may put spirit in the poor brute who has
to drag it.
Mr. and Mrs. Moscheles were here at breakfast. She is a very pretty
little Jewess; he one of the greatest performers on the pianoforte of
the day,—certainly most surprising and, what I rather did not expect,
I have this day the melancholy news of Glengarry's death, and was
greatly shocked. The eccentric parts of his character, the pretensions
which he supported with violence and assumption of rank and authority,
were obvious subjects of censure and ridicule, which in some points were
not undeserved. He played the part of a chieftain too nigh the life to
be popular among an altered race, with whom he thought, felt, and acted,
I may say in right and wrong, as a chieftain of a hundred years since
would have done, while his conduct was viewed entirely by modern eyes,
and tried by modern rules. 
 Ante, vol. i. p. 120.
January 22.—I am, I find, in serious danger of losing the habit of my
Journal; and, having carried it on so long, that would be pity. But I am
now, on the 1st February, fishing for the lost recollections of the days
since the 21st January. Luckily there is not very much to remember or
forget, and perhaps the best way would be to skip and go on.
January 23.—Being a Teind day, I had a good opportunity of work. I
should have said I had given breakfast on the 21st to Mr. and Mrs.
Moscheles; she a beautiful young creature, "and one that adores me," as
Sir Toby says, —that is, in my poetical capacity;—in fact, a frank
and amiable young person. I liked Mr. Moscheles' playing better than I
could have expected, considering my own bad ear. But perhaps I flatter
myself, and think I understood it better than I did. Perhaps I have not
done myself justice, and know more of music than I thought I did. But it
seems to me that his variations have a more decided style of originality
than those I have commonly heard, which have all the signs of a da capo
 Twelfth Night, Act II. Sc. 3.
Dined at Sir Archibald Campbell's,  and drank rather more wine than
usual in a sober way. To be sure, it was excellent, and some old
acquaintances proved a good excuse for the glass.
 Sir Archibald Campbell of Succoth. He lived at 1 Park
January 24.—I took a perverse fit to-day, and went off to write
notes, et cetera, on Guy Mannering. This was perverse enough; but it
was a composition between humour and duty; and as such, let it pass.
January 25.—I went on working, sometimes at my legitimate labours,
sometimes at my jobs of Notes, but still working faithfully, in good
spirits, and contented.
Huntly Gordon has disposed of the two sermons  to the bookseller
Colburn for £250—well sold, I think—and is to go forth immediately.
The man is a puffing quack; but though I would rather the thing had not
gone there, and far rather that it had gone nowhere, yet, hang it! if it
makes the poor lad easy, what needs I fret about it? After all, there
would be little gain in doing a kind thing, if you did not suffer pain
or inconvenience upon the score.
 The circumstances under which these sermons were written
are fully detailed in the Life, vol. ix. pp. 193, 206. They were
issued in a thin octavo vol. under the title Religious Discourses, by
a Layman, with a short Preface signed W.S. There were more editions than
one published during 1828.
January 26.—Being Saturday, attended Mr. Moscheles' concert, and was
amused; the more so that I had Mrs. M. herself to flirt a little with.
To have so much beauty as she really possesses, and to be accomplished
and well-read, she is an unaffected and pleasant person. Mr. Moscheles
gives lessons at two guineas by the hour, and he has actually found
scholars in this poor country. One of them at least (Mrs. John Murray)
may derive advantage from his instructions; for I observe his mode of
fingering is very peculiar, as he seems to me to employ the fingers of
the same hand in playing the melody and managing the bass at the same
time, which is surely most uncommon.
I presided at the Celtic Society's dinner to-day, and proposed
Glengarry's memory, which, although there had been a rough dispute with
the Celts and the poor Chief, was very well received. I like to see men
think and bear themselves like men. There were fewer in the tartan than
usual—which was wrong.
January 27.—Wrought manfully at the Chronicles all this day and
have nothing to jot down; only I forgot that I lost my lawsuit some day
last week or the week before. The fellow therefore gets his money, plack
and bawbee, but it's always a troublesome claim settled,  and there
can be no other of the same kind, as every other creditor has accepted
the composition of 7s. in the £, which my exertions have enabled me to
pay them. About £20,000 of the fund had been created by my own exertions
since the bankruptcy took place, and I had a letter from Donald Horne,
by commission of the creditors, to express their sense of my exertions
in their behalf. All this is consolatory.
 Ante, p. 65.
January 28.—I am in the scrape of sitting for my picture, and had to
repair for two hours to-day to Mr. Colvin Smith—Lord Gillies's nephew.
The Chief Baron  had the kindness to sit with me great part of the
time, as the Chief Commissioner had done on a late occasion. The picture
is for the Chief Commissioner, and the Chief Baron desires a copy. I
trust it will he a good one. At home in the evening, and wrote. I am
well on before the press, notwithstanding late hours, lassitude, and
laziness. I have read Cooper's Prairie—better, I think, than his Red
Rover, in which you never get foot on shore, and to understand entirely
the incidents of the story it requires too much knowledge of nautical
language. It's very clever, though. 
 Sir Samuel Shepherd.
January 29.—This day at the Court, and wrote letters at home, besides
making a visit or two—rare things with me. I have an invitation from
Messrs Saunders and Otley, booksellers, offering me from £1500 to £2000
annually to conduct a journal; but I am their humble servant. I am too
indolent to stand to that sort of work, and I must preserve the
undisturbed use of my leisure, and possess my soul in quiet. A large
income is not my object; I must clear my debts; and that is to be done
by writing things of which I can retain the property. Made my excuses
 Mr. Cooper did not relax his efforts to secure Scott an
interest in his works reprinted in America, but he was not successful,
and he writes to Scott in the autumn of 1827: "This, sir, is a pitiful
account of a project from which I expected something more just to you
and creditable to my country."
January 30.—After Court hours I had a visit from Mr. Charles Heath,
the engraver, accompanied by a son of Reynolds the dramatist. His object
was to engage me to take charge as editor of a yearly publication called
The Keepsake, of which the plates are beyond comparison beautiful, but
the letter-press indifferent enough. He proposed £800 a year if I would
become editor, and £400 if I would contribute from seventy to one
hundred pages. I declined both, but told him I might give him some
trifling thing or other, and asked the young men to breakfast the next
day. Worked away in the evening and completed, "in a way and in a
manner," the notes on Guy Mannering. The first volume of the
Chronicles is now in Ballantyne's hands, all but a leaf or two. Am I
satisfied with my exertions? So so. Will the public be pleased with
them? Umph! I doubt the bubble will burst. While it is current, however,
it is clear I should stand by it. Each novel of three volumes brings
£4000, and I remain proprietor of the mine when the first ore is cropped
out. This promises a good harvest, from what we have experienced. Now,
to become a stipendiary editor of a New-Year's Gift-Book is not to be
thought of, nor could I agree to work for any quantity of supply to such
a publication. Even the pecuniary view is not flattering, though these
gentlemen meant it should be so. But one hundred of their close-printed
pages, for which they offer £400, is not nearly equal to one volume of a
novel, for which I get £1300, and have the reversion of the copyright.
No, I may give them a trifle for nothing, or sell them an article for a
round price, but no permanent engagement will I make. Being the
Martyrdom, there was no Court. I wrought away with what appetite I
January 31.—I received the young gentlemen to breakfast and expressed
my resolution, which seemed to disappoint them, as perhaps they expected
I should have been glad of such an offer. However, I have since thought
there are these rejected parts of the Chronicles, which Cadell and
Ballantyne criticised so severely, which might well enough make up a
trifle of this kind, and settle the few accounts which, will I nill I,
have crept in this New Year. So I have kept the treaty open. If I give
them 100 pages I should expect £500.
I was late at the Court and had little time to write any till after
dinner, and then was not in the vein; so commentated.