The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford February, 1828
by Sir Walter Scott
February 1.—I had my two youths again to breakfast, but I did not say
more about my determination, save that I would help them if I could make
it convenient. The Chief Commissioner has agreed to let Heath have his
pretty picture of a Study at Abbotsford, by Edwin Landseer, in which old
Maida occurs. The youth Reynolds is what one would suppose his father's
son to be, smart and forward, and knows the world. I suppose I was too
much fagged with sitting in the Court to-day to write hard after dinner,
but I did work, however.
February 2.—Corrected proofs, which are now nearly up with me. This
day was an idle one, for I remained in Court till one, and sat for my
picture till half-past three to Mr. Smith. He has all the steadiness and
sense in appearance which his cousin R.P.G. lacks.  Whether he has
genius or no, I am no judge. My own portrait is like, but I think too
broad about the jowls, a fault which they all fall into, as I suppose,
by placing their subject upon a high stage and looking upwards to them,
which must foreshorten the face. The Chief Baron and Chief Commissioner
had the goodness to sit with me.
 Mr. Colvin Smith painted in all about twenty portraits of
Sir Walter, for seven of which he obtained occasional sittings. A list
of the persons who commissioned them is given at p. 73 of the Centenary
Dressed and went with Anne to dine at Pinkie House, where I met the
President,  Lady Charlotte, etc.; above all, Mrs. Scott of Gala,
whom I had not seen for some time. We had much fun, and I was, as Sir
Andrew Aguecheek says, in good fooling.  A lively French girl, a
governess I think, but very pretty and animated, seemed much amused with
the old gentleman. Home at eleven o'clock.
 The Right Hon. Charles Hope.
 Twelfth Night, Act II. Sc. 2.
By the by, Sir John Hope had found a Roman eagle on his estate in Fife
with sundry of those pots and coffeepots, so to speak, which are so
common: but the eagle was mislaid, so I did not see it.
February 3.—I corrected proofs and wrote this morning,—but slowly,
heavily, lazily. There was a mist on my mind which my exertions could
not dispel. I did not get two pages finished, but I corrected proofs and
February 4.—Wrote a little and was obliged to correct the Molière
affair for R.P.G. I think his plan cannot go on much longer with so much
weakness at the helm. A clever fellow would make it take the field with
a vengeance, but poor G. will run in debt with the booksellers and let
all go to the devil. I sent a long letter to Lockhart, received from
Horace Smith, very gentlemanlike and well-written, complaining that Mr.
Leigh Hunt had mixed him up, in his Life of Byron, with Shelley as if he
had shared his irreligious opinions. Leigh Hunt afterwards at the
request of Smith published a swaggering contradiction of the inference
to be derived from the way in which he has named them together. Horatio
Smith seems not to have relied upon his disclamation, as he has
requested me to mention the thing to John Lockhart, and to some one
influential about Ebony, which I have done accordingly.
February 5.—Concluded the first volume before breakfast. I am but
indifferently pleased; either the kind of thing is worn out, or I am
worn out myself, or, lastly, I am stupid for the time. The book must be
finished, however. Cadell is greatly pleased with annotations intended
for the new edition of the Waverley series. I believe that work must be
soon sent to press, which would put a powerful wheel in motion to clear
the ship. I went to the Parliament House, and in return strolled into
Cadell's, being rather anxious to prolong my walk, for I fear the
constant sitting for so many hours. When I returned, the Duke of
Buccleuch came in. He is looking very well, and stout, but melancholy
about his sister, Lady Charlotte Stopford. He is fitting up a part of
Bowhill and intends to shoot there this year. God send him life and
health, for it is of immense consequence.
February 6.—This and visits wasted my time till past two, and then I
slept half-an-hour from mere exhaustion. Went in the evening to the
play, and saw that good old thing, an English tragedy, well got up. It
was Venice Preserved. Mrs. H. Siddons played Belvidera with much
truth, feeling, and tenderness, though short of her mother-in-law's
uncommon majesty, which is a thing never to be forgotten. Mr. Young
played Pierre very well, and a good Jaffier was supplied by a Mr.
Vandenhoff. And so the day glided by; only three pages written, which,
however, is a fair task.
February 7.—It was a Teind day, so no Court, but very little work. I
wrote this morning till the boy made his appearance for proofs; then I
had letters to write. Item, at five o'clock I set out with Charles for
Dalkeith to present him to the young Duke.
I asked the Duke about poor Hogg. I think he has decided to take Mr.
Riddell's opinion; it is unlucky the poor fellow has ever taken that
large and dear farm.  Altogether Dalkeith was melancholy to-night,
and I could not raise my spirits at all.
 Mount Benger, which he had taken in 1820.—See ante,
February 8.—I had a little work before dinner, but we are only seven
pages into volume second. It is always a beginning, however; perhaps not
a good one—I cannot tell. I went out to call on Gala and Jack
Rutherfurd of Edgerstoun; saw the former, not the latter. Gala is
getting much better. He talked as if the increase of his village was
like to drive him over the hill to the Abbotsford side, which would
greatly beautify that side and certainly change his residence for the
better, only that he must remain some time without any appearance of
plantation. The view would be enchanting.
I was tempted to buy a picture of Nell Gywnne,  which I think has
merit; at least it pleases me. Seven or eight years ago Graham of
Gartmore bid for it against me, and I gave it up at twenty-five guineas.
I have now bought it for £18, 18s. Perhaps there was folly in this, but
I reckoned it a token of good luck that I should succeed in a wish I had
formerly harboured in vain. I love marks of good luck even in trifles.
 It now hangs in the Drawing-room at Abbotsford.—See
Sharpe's Letters, vol. ii. p. 408.
February 9.—Sent off three leaves of copy; this is using the press
like the famished sailor who was fed by a comrade with shell-fish by one
at a time. But better anything than stop, for the devil is to get set
a-going again. I know no more than my old boots whether I am right or
wrong, but have no very favourable anticipations.
As I came home from the Court about twelve I stepped into the
Exhibition. It makes a very good show; the portraits are better than
last year, those of Colvin Smith and Watson Gordon especially improve.
Landseer's Study at Abbotsford is in a capital light, and generally
admired. I particularly distinguished John Thomson's picture of
Turnberry, which is of first-rate excellence. A picture by Scrope was
also generally distinguished. It is a view in Calabria.
There is a rival Exhibition which does not hurt the earlier foundation,
but rather excites emulation. I am told there are good paintings there.
I came home with little good-will to work, but I will compel myself to
do something. Unluckily, I have again to go out to dinner to-day, being
President of the Bannatyne.
The dinner was a pleasant one; about thirty members attended. I kept
the chair till near eleven, and the company were very joyous.
February 10.—I set myself doggedly to work, and turned off six leaves
before dinner. Had to dinner Sir John Pringle, my dear Gala and his
lady, and young Mackenzie and Miss Jardine. I was quite pleased to see
Gala so well recovered of the consequences of his frightful fall, which
hung about him so long. He is one of the kindest and best-informed men
whom I know.
February 11.—I had Charles Young  to breakfast with us, who gave
us some striking anecdotes of Talma during the Reign of Terror, which
may figure in Napoleon to great advantage.
 Charles Mayne Young, Tragedian, had been a visitor at
Abbotsford in the autumn of 1821. Of this visit his son Julian gives a
pleasant account in a Memoir of his father, pp. 88-96. London, 1871. Mr.
Young died in June 1856.
My son Charles left us this morning to take possession of his situation
in the Foreign Office. He has been very lucky. Correcting sheets, etc.,
took up the morning hours. I wrote three leaves before two o'clock. Day
bitter cold—with snow, a strong contrast to the mild weather we had
Salutation of two old Scottish lairds:—"Ye're maist obedient hummil
servant, Tannachy Tulloh."—"Your nain man, Kilspindie."
Finished six pages, twenty-five pages of print that is, or about the
thirteenth part of a volume. That would be a volume in a fortnight, with
a holiday to boot. It would be possible enough for a little while.
February 12.—I wrought hard this morning. Ballantyne blames the
Ossianic monotony of my principal characters. Now they are not Ossianic.
The language of the Ossianic poetry is highly figurative; that of the
knights of chivalry may be monotonous, and probably is, but it cannot be
Ossianic. Sooth to say, this species of romance of chivalry is an
exhaustible subject. It affords materials for splendid description for
once or twice, but they are too unnatural and formal to bear repetition.
We must go on with our present work, however, valeat quantum. Mr.
Cadell, less critical than J.B., seems pleased. The world will soon
decide if I get on at this rate; for I have finished four leaves to-day,
notwithstanding my attendance on the Court.
February 13.—Mr. Macintosh Mackay, minister of Laggan, breakfasted
with us this morning. This reverend gentleman is completing the Highland
Dictionary,  and seems very competent for the task. He left in my
hands some papers of Cluny Macpherson, concerning the affair of 1745,
from which I have extracted an account of the battle of Clifton for
Waverley. He has few prejudices (for a Highlander), and is a mild,
well-mannered young man. We had much talk on Highland matters.
 This enthusiastic Gaelic scholar, then parish minister of
Laggan, joined the Free Church of Scotland in 1843, and was elected
Moderator of its General Assembly in 1849. As a clergyman, he had
afterwards a varied experience in this country and in Australia, before
he finally settled in the island of Harris; he died at Portobello in
The Gaelic dictionary of the Highland Society was completed and
published in 2 vols. 4to, 1828. The editor was Dr. Macleod of Dundonald,
assisted by other Gaelic scholars. Dr. Mackay edited the poems of Rob
Donn in 1829.—See Quarterly Review, July 1831.
The Children's Tales continue in demand. Cadell expects a new edition of
10,000 about next year, which may be £750 or £800 in pouch, besides
constituting a fine property.
February 14.—Mr. Edwards, a candidate for the situation of Rector in
the Edinburgh Academy, a pleasant, gentlemanlike man, and recommended
highly for experience and learning; but he is himself afraid of wanting
bodily strength for the work, which requires all the nerve and muscle of
Williams. I wish he had been three inches taller, and stout in
proportion. I went to Mr. John Russell's, where there was an Academical
party at dinner. Home at nine, a cigar, and to bed.
February 15.—Rose this morning about seven and wrote at the desk
till breakfast; finished about a page and a half. I was fagged at Court
till near two. Then called on Cadell, and so home, tired enough.
February 16.—There dined with me to-day Tom Thomson, Will Clerk, Mr.
Edwards, and my Celtic friend Mr. Mackay of Laggan.
February 17.—A day of hard work, being I think eight pages 
before dinner. I cannot, I am sure, tell if it is worth marking down,
that yesterday at dinner-time I was strangely haunted by what I would
call the sense of pre-existence,—videlicet, a confused idea that
nothing that passed was said for the first time, that the same topics
had been discussed, and the same persons had stated the same opinions on
the same subjects. It is true there might have been some ground for
recollections, considering that three at least of the company were old
friends, and kept much company together: that is, Justice-Clerk, 
[Lord] Abercromby, and I. But the sensation was so strong as to resemble
what is called a mirage in the desert, or a calenture on board ship,
when lakes are seen in the desert, and silvan landscapes in the sea. It
was very distressing yesterday, and brought to my mind the fancies of
Bishop Berkeley about an ideal world. There was a vile sense of want of
reality in all I did and said. It made me gloomy and out of spirits,
though I flatter myself it was not observed. The bodily feeling which
most resembles this unpleasing hallucination is the giddy state which
follows profuse bleeding, when one feels as if walking on feather-beds
and could not find a secure footing. I think the stomach has something
to do with it. I drank several glasses of wine, but these only augmented
the disorder. I did not find the in vino veritas of the philosophers.
Something of this insane feeling remains to-day, but a trifle only.
 See next page, under Feb. 19.
 The Right Hon. David Boyle.
February 18.—I had other work to do this day. In the morning
corrected proofs. After breakfast, made a visit or two, and met Sandie
Buchanan, whom it joys me to see. Then despatched all my sheriff
processes, save one, which hitches for want of some papers. Lastly, here
I am, before dinner, with my journal. I sent all the county money to
Andrew Lang. Wrote to Mr. Reynolds too; methinks I will let them have
the Tales which Jem Ballantyne and Cadell quarrelled with.  I have
asked £500 for them—pretty well that. I suppose they will be fools
enough to give it me. In troth she'll no pe cheaper.
 My Aunt Margaret's Mirror, etc.
February 19.—A day of hard and continued work, the result being eight
pages. But then I hardly ever quitted the table save at meal-time. So
eight pages of my manuscript may be accounted the maximum of my literary
labour. It is equal to forty printed pages of the novels. I had the
whole of this day at my own disposal, by the voluntary kindness of Sir
Robert Dundas interfering to take up my duty at the Court. The proofs of
my Sermons are arrived, but I have had no time, saving to blot out some
flummery, which poor Gordon had put into the preface. 
 See Jan. 25, 1828 (p. 114).
February 20.—Another day of labour; but not so hard. I worked from
eight till three with little intermission, but only accomplished four
pages. Then I went out and made a visit or two, and looked in on Cadell.
If I get two pages in the evening I will be satisfied, for volume II.
may be concluded with the week, or run over to Sunday at most. Will it
tell, this work? I doubt it, but there is no standing still.
A certain Mr. Mackay from Ireland called on me, an active agent, it
would seem, about the reform of prisons. He exclaims, justly I have no
doubt, about the state of our Lock-up House. For myself, I have some
distrust of the fanaticism—even of philanthropy. A good part of it
arises in general from mere vanity and love of distinction, gilded over
to others and to themselves with some show of benevolent sentiment. The
philanthropy of Howard, mingled with his ill-usage of his son, seems to
have risen to a pitch of insanity. Yet without such extraordinary men,
who call attention to the subject by their own peculiarities, prisons
would have remained the same dungeons which they were forty or fifty
years ago. I do not see the propriety of making them dandy places of
detention. They should be a place of punishment, and that can hardly be
if men are lodged better, and fed better, than when they are at large.
The separation of ranks is an excellent distinction, and is nominally
provided for in all modern prisons. But the size of most of them is
inadequate to the great increase of crime, and so the pack is shuffled
together again for want of room to keep them separate. There are several
prisons constructed on excellent principles, the economy of which
becomes deranged so soon as the death takes place of some keen
philanthropist who had the business of a whole committee, which, having
lost him, remained like a carcass without a head. But I have never seen
a plan for keeping in order these resorts of guilt and misery, without
presupposing a superintendence of a kind which might perhaps be
exercised, could we turn out upon the watch a guard of angels. But,
alas! jailors and turnkeys are rather like angels of a different livery,
nor do I see how it is possible to render them otherwise.
Superintendence is all you can trust to, and superintendence, save in
some rare cases, is hard to come by, where it is to be vigilantly and
constantly exercised. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? As to
reformation, I have no great belief in it, when the ordinary class of
culprits, who are vicious from ignorance or habit, are the subjects of
the experiment. "A shave from a broken loaf" is thought as little of by
the male set of delinquents as by the fair frail. The state of society
now leads so much to great accumulations of humanity, that we cannot
wonder if it ferment and reek like a compost dunghill. Nature intended
that population should be diffused over the soil in proportion to its
extent. We have accumulated in huge cities and smothering manufactories
the numbers which should be spread over the face of a country; and what
wonder that they should be corrupted? We have turned healthful and
pleasant brooks into morasses and pestiferous lakes,—what wonder the
soil should be unhealthy? A great deal, I think, might be done by
executing the punishment of death, without a chance of escape, in all
cases to which it should be found properly applicable; of course these
occasions being diminished to one out of twenty to which capital
punishment is now assigned. Our ancestors brought the country to order
by kilting  thieves and banditti with strings. So did the French
when at Naples, and bandits became for the time unheard of. When once
the evil habit is altered—when men are taught a crime of a certain
character is connected inseparably with death, the moral habits of a
population become altered, and you may in the next age remit the
punishment which in this it has been necessary to inflict with stern
severity. I think whoever pretends to reform a corrupted nation, or a
disorderly regiment, or an ill-ordered ship of war, must begin by
severity, and only resort to gentleness when he has acquired the
complete mastery by terror—the terror being always attached to the law;
and, the impression once made, he can afford to govern with mildness,
and lay the iron rule aside.
 To kilt, i.e. to elevate or lift up anything quickly;
this applied, ludicrously, to tucking by a halter.—Jamieson's
"Their bare preaching now
Makes the thrush bush keep the cow
Better than Scots or English kings
Could do by kilting them with strings."
Mr. Mackay talked big of the excellent state of prisons in Ireland.
J'en doute un peu. That the warm-hearted and generous Irish would
hurry eagerly into any scheme which had benevolence for its motive, I
readily believe; but that Pat should have been able to maintain that
calm, all-seeing, all-enduring species of superintendence necessary to
direct the working of the best plan of prison discipline, I greatly
hesitate to believe.
Well, leaving all this, I wish Mr. Mackay good luck, with some little
doubt of his success, but none of his intentions. I am come in my work
to that point where a lady who works a stocking must count by threads,
and bring the various loose ends of my story together. They are too
February 21.—Last night after dinner I rested from my work, and read
third part of [Theodore Hook's] Sayings and Doings, which shows great
knowledge of life in a certain sphere, and very considerable powers of
wit, which somewhat damages the effect of the tragic parts. But he is an
able writer, and so much of his work is well said, that it will carry
through what is manqué. I hope the same good fortune for other folks.
I am watching and waiting till I hit on some quaint and clever mode of
extricating, but do not see a glimpse of any one. James B., too,
discourages me a good deal by his silence, waiting, I suppose, to be
invited to disgorge a full allowance of his critical bile. But he may
wait long enough, for I am discouraged enough. Now here is the advantage
of Edinburgh. In the country, if a sense of inability once seizes me, it
haunts me from morning to night; but in Edinburgh the time is so
occupied and frittered away by official duties and chance occupation,
that you have not time to play Master Stephen and be gentlemanlike and
melancholy.  On the other hand, you never feel in town those
spirit-stirring influences—those glances of sunshine that make amends
for clouds and mist. The country is said to be quieter life; not to me,
I am sure. In the town the business I have to do hardly costs me more
thought than just occupies my mind, and I have as much of gossip and
ladylike chat as consumes the time pleasantly enough. In the country I
am thrown entirely on my own resources, and there is no medium betwixt
happiness and the reverse.
 See Jonson's Every Man in his Humour, Act I. Sc. 3.
February 22.—Went to Court, and remained there until one o'clock.
Then to Mr. Colvin Smith's and sat to be stared at till three o'clock.
This is a great bore even when you have a companion, sad when you are
alone and can only disturb the painter by your chatter. After dinner I
had proofs to the number of four. J.B. is outrageous about the death of
Oliver Proudfoot, one of the characters; but I have a humour to be
"His business 'tis to die."
Received a present from a Mr. Dobie of a candlestick said to be that of
the Rev. Mr. Guthrie, minister of Fenwick in the seventeenth
century,—very civil of a gentleman unknown, if there comes no request
to look over poems, or to get made a gauger, or the like, for I have
seen that kind of compliment made on the principle on which small
balloons are sent up before a large one, to see how the wind sits. After
February 23.—Morning proof-sheets galore. Then to Parliament House.
After that, at one, down to Sir William MacLeod Bannatyne, who has made
some discoveries concerning Bannatyne the collector of poetry, and
furnished me with some notes to that purpose. He informs me that the
MacLeod, alias MacCruiskin, who met Dr. Johnson on the Isle of Skye, was
Mr. Alexander MacLeod, Advocate, a son of MacLeod of Muiravonside. He
was subject to fits of insanity at times, very clever at others. 
Sir William mentioned the old Laird of Bernera, who, summoned by his
Chief to join him with all the men he could make, when the Chief was
raising his men for Government, sent him a letter to this
purpose:—"Dear Laird,—No man would like better to be at your back than I would; but on this occasion it cannot be. I send my men, who are
at your service; for myself, higher duties carry me elsewhere." He went
off accordingly alone, and joined Raasay as a volunteer. I returned by
the printing office and found J.B. in great feather. He tells me Cadell,
on squaring his books and making allowance for bad debts, has made
between £3000 and £4000, lodged in bank. He does nothing but with me.
Thus we stand on velvet as to finance. Met Staffa,  who walked with
me and gave me some Gaelic words which I wanted.
 See Boswell's Johnson, Croker's ed. imp. 8vo, p. 318.
 Sir Reginald Steuart Seton of Staffa, for many years
Secretary to the Highland and Agricultural Society; died at Edinburgh in
I may mention that I saw at the printing-office a part of a review on
Leigh Hunt's Anecdotes of Byron. It is written with power, apparently by
Professor Wilson, but with a degree of passion which rather diminishes
the effect; for nothing can more lessen the dignity of the satirist than
being or seeming to be in a passion. I think it may come to a bloody
arbitrament,  for if L.H. should take it up as a gentleman, Wilson
is the last man to flinch. I hope Lockhart will not be dragged in as
second or otherwise. Went to Jeffrey's to dinner—there were Mrs. and
Miss Sydney Smith, Lords Gillies and Corehouse, etc. etc.
 On reading the savage article on Hunt's Byron published
in Blackwood, for March 1828, Sir Walter's thoughts must have gone back
not only to Gourgaud's affair of the previous year, and to the more
serious matter of the Beacon newspaper in 1821,—when, to use Lord
Cockburn's words, "it was dreadful to think that a life like Scott's was
for a moment in peril in such a cause"—but he must also have had very
sad recollections of the bloody results of the two melancholy duels
arising from the same party rancour in February 1821 (Scott and
Christie) and in March 1822 (Stuart and Boswell), with all the untold
domestic miseries accompanying them. It is satisfactory to think that
this was about the last of these uncalled for literary onslaughts, as
one finds, in turning over the pages of Blackwood, that in 1834
Professor Wilson in the Noctes rebukes some one for reviving
"forgotten falsehoods," praises Leigh Hunt's London Journal, and adds
the ecstatic words, which he also addressed later on to Lord Jeffrey,
"The animosities are mortal, but the humanities live for ever."
February 24.—I fancy I had drunk a glass or two over much last
night, for I have the heartburn this morning. But a little magnesia
salves that sore. Meantime I have had an inspiration which shows me my
good angel has not left me. For these two or three days I have been at
what the "Critic" calls a dead-lock —all my incidents and
personages ran into a gordian knot of confusion, to which I could devise
no possible extrication. I had thought on the subject several days with
something like the despair which seized the fair princess, commanded by
her ugly step-mother to assort a whole garret full of tangled silk
threads of every kind and colour, when in comes Prince Percinet with a
wand, whisks it over the miscellaneous mass, and lo! all the threads are
as nicely arranged as in a seamstress' housewife. It has often happened
to me that when I went to bed with my head as ignorant as my shoulders
what I was to do next, I have waked in the morning with a distinct and
accurate conception of the mode, good or bad, in which the plot might be
extricated. It seems to me that the action of the intellect, on such
occasions, is rather accelerated by the little fever which an extra
glass of wine produces on the system. Of course excess is out of the
question. Now this may seem strange, but it is quite true; and it is no
less so that I have generally written to the middle of one of these
novels, without having the least idea how it was to end, in short in the
hab nab at a venture style of composition. So now, this hitch being
over, I fold my paper, lock up my journal, and proceed to labour with
 Act III. Sc. 1.
February 25.—This being Monday, I carried on my work according to the
new model. Dined at home and in quiet. But I may notice that yesterday
Mr. Williams, the learned Rector of our new Academy, who now leaves us,
took his dinner here. We had a long philological tête-à-tête. He is
opinionative, as he has some title to be, but very learned, and with a
juster view of his subject than is commonly entertained, for he traces
words to the same source—not from sound but sense. He casts backwards
thus to the root, while many compare the ends of the twigs without going
This night I went to the funeral of Mr. Henderson, late of Eildon Hall,
a kind-hearted man, who rose to great wealth by honest means, and will
be missed and regretted.
In the evening I went to the promenade in the Exhibition of Pictures,
which was splendidly lighted up and filled with fashionable company. I
think there was a want of beauty,—or perhaps the gas-lights were
unfavourable to the ladies' looks.
February 26.—Business filled up the day till one, when I sat to Mr.
Smith. Tedious work, even though Will Clerk chaperoned me. We dined at
Archie Swinton's. Met Lord Lothian, Lord Cringletie, etc. This day I
have wrought almost nothing, but I am nearly half a volume before the
press. Lord Morton,  married to a daughter of my friend Sir George
Rose, is come to Edinburgh. He seems a very gentlemanlike man, and she
pleasing and willing to be pleased. I had the pleasure to be of some
little use to him in his election as one of the Scottish Peers. I owe
Sir George Rose much for his attention to Walter at Berlin.
 Sholto Douglas, eighteenth Earl of Morton.
February 27.—At Court till half-past two. Then to the Waterloo
Tavern, where we had a final and totally unfructuous meeting with the
Committee of the Coal Gas people. So now my journey to London is
resolved on. I shall lose at least £500 by the job, and get little
thanks from those I make the sacrifice for. But the sacrifice shall be
made. Anything is better than to break one's word, or desert a sinking
vessel. Heartily do I wish these "Colliers" had seen the matter in the
best light for their own interest. But there is no help. One thing is
certain, that I shall see my whole family once more around me, and that
is worth the £500. Anne too starts at the idea of the sea. I am
horribly vexed, however. Gibson always expected they would come in, but
there seemed to me little chance of it; perhaps they thought we were not
serious in our proposal to push through the Act. Wrought a little in the
evening, not much.
February 28.—At Court till four. When I came home I did work a
little, but as we expected company it was not to much purpose. Lord
Chief Commissioner dined with us with Miss Adam; Mr. Hutchinson, brother
of Lord Donoughmore, and Miss Jones, Will Clerk and John Thomson made up
the party, and we had a pleasant evening, as such a handful always
secures. Stayed till wine-and-water time. Thus flew another day.
February 29.—I had my proof-sheets as usual in the morning and the
Court as usual till two. Then one or two visits and corrected the
discourses for Gordon. This is really a foolish scrape, but what could I
do? It involved the poor lad's relief from something very like ruin. I
got a letter from the young man Reynolds accepting on Heath's part my
terms for article to The Keepsake, namely £500,—I to be at liberty to
reprint the article in my works after three years. Mr. Heath to print it
in The Keepsake as long and often as he pleases, but not in any other
form. I shall close with them. If I make my proposed bargain with
Murray, all pecuniary matters will be easy in an unusual degree. Dined
at Robert Hamilton's with Lord and Lady Belhaven, Walter Campbell, and a
number of Westlanders.