The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford June, 1828
by Sir Walter Scott
June 1.—We took leave of our friends at Rokeby after breakfast, and
pursued our well-known path over Stanmore to Brough, Appleby, Penrith,
and Carlisle. As I have this road by heart, I have little amusement save
the melancholy task of recalling the sensations with which I have traced
it in former times, all of which refer to decay of animal strength, and
abatement if not of mental powers, at least of mental energy. The non
est tanti grows fast at my time of life. We reached Carlisle at seven
o'clock, and were housed for the night. My books being exhausted, I
lighted on an odd volume of the Gentleman's Magazine, a work in which,
as in a pawnbroker's shop, much of real curiosity and value are stowed
away and concealed amid the frippery and trumpery of those reverend old
gentlewomen who were the regular correspondents of the work.
June 2.—We intended to walk to the Castle, but were baffled by rainy
weather. I was obliged to wait for a certificate from the parish
register—Hei mihi!! I cannot have it till ten o'clock, or rather, as
it chanced, till past eleven, when I got the paper for which I
waited.  We lunched at Hawick, and concluded our pilgrimage at
Abbotsford about nine at night, where the joyful barking of the dogs,
with the sight of the kind familiar faces of our domestics, gave us
welcome, and I enjoyed a sound repose on my own bed. I remark that in
this journey I have never once experienced depression of spirits, or the
tremor cordis of which I have sometimes such unpleasant visits.
Dissipation, and a succession of trifling engagements, prevent the mind
from throwing itself out in the manner calculated to exhaust the owner,
and to entertain other people. There is a lesson in this.
 About this time Miss Anne Scott wrote to Mrs. Lockhart:
"Early in the morning, before we started, papa took me with him to the
Cathedral. This he had done often before; but he said he must stand once
more on the spot where he married poor mamma. After that we went to the
Castle, where a new showman went through the old trick of pointing out
Fergus MacIvor's very dungeon. Peveril said, 'Indeed, are you quite
sure, sir?' And on being told there could be no doubt, was troubled with
a fit of coughing, which ended in a laugh. The man seemed exceeding
indignant; so, when papa moved on, I whispered who it was. I wish you
had seen the man's start, and how he stared and bowed as he parted from
us; and then rammed his keys into his pocket and went off at a
hand-gallop to warn the rest of the garrison. But the carriage was
ready, and we escaped a row."—Life, vol. ix. pp. 256-7.
June 3, [Abbotsford].—This was a very idle day. I waked to walk
about my beautiful young woods with old Tom and the dogs. The sun shone
bright, and the wind fanned my cheek as if it were a welcoming. I did
not do the least right thing, except packing a few books necessary for
writing the continuation of the Tales. In this merry mood I wandered as
far as Huntly Burn, where I found the Miss Fergusons well and happy;
then I sauntered back to Abbotsford, sitting on every bench by the way,
"It grew to dinner in conclusion."
A good appetite made my simple meal relish better than the magnificent
cheer which I have lately partaken of. I smoked a cigar, slept away an
hour, and read Mure of Auchendrane's trial, and thus ended the day. I
cannot afford to spend many such, nor would they seem so pleasant.
June 4, [Edinburgh].—The former part of this day was employed much
as yesterday, but some packing was inevitable. Will Laidlaw came to
dinner, of which we partook at three o'clock. Started at half-past four,
and arrived at home, if we must call it so, at nine o'clock in the
evening. I employed my leisure in the chaise to peruse Mure of
Auchendrane's trial, out of which something might be coopered up for
the public.  It is one of the wildest stories I ever read. Something
might surely be twisted out of it.
 See The Doom of Devorgoil: A Melo-Drama. Auchendrane: or
the Ayrshire Tragedy. Published by Cadell in 8vo. 1830.
June 5.—Cadell breakfasted; in great spirits with the success of the
Fair Maid of Perth. A disappointment being always to be apprehended, I
too am greatly pleased that the evil day is adjourned, for the time must
come—and yet I can spin a tough yarn still with any one now going.
I was much distressed to find that the last of the Macdonald Buchanans,
a fine lad of about twenty-one, is now decidedly infected by the same
pulmonary complaint which carried off his four brothers in succession.
This is indeed a cruel stroke, and it is melancholy to witness the
undaunted Highland courage of the father.
I went to Court, and when I returned did some work upon the Tales.
"And now again, boys, to the oar."
June 6.—I have determined to work sans intermission for lost time,
and to make up at least my task every day. J. Gibson called on me with
good hopes that the trustees will authorise the grand opus to be set
afloat.  They are scrupulous a little about the expense of
engravings, but I fear the taste of the town will not be satisfied
without them. It is time these things were settled. I wrought both
before and after dinner, and finished five pages, which is two above
 Referring to the uniform edition of the Waverley Novels
in 48 vols., which began to be issued in June 1829. The great cost of
the publication naturally caused the Trustees much anxiety at this
June 7.—Saturday was another working day, and nothing occurred to
June 8.—I finished five sheets this day. Will Clerk and Francis Scott
of Harden came to dinner, and we spent a pleasant evening.
June 9.—I laboured till about one, and was then obliged to go to
attend a meeting of the Oil Gas Company,—as I devoutly hope for the
After that I was obliged to go to sit to Colvin Smith, which is an
atrocious bore, but cannot be helped. 
 Ante, p. 120, February 2d.
Cadell rendered me report of accounts paid for me with vouchers, which
very nearly puts me out of all shop debts. God grant me grace to keep
June 10-14.—During these five days almost nothing occurred to
diversify the ordinary task of the day, which, I must own, was dull
enough. I rose to my task by seven, and, less or more, wrought it out in
the course of the day, far exceeding the ordinary average of three
leaves per day. I have attended the Parliament House with the most
strict regularity, and returned to dine alone with Anne. Also, I gave
three sittings to Mr. Colvin Smith, who I think has improved since I saw
Of important intelligence nothing occurs save the termination of all
suspense on the subject of poor James Macdonald Buchanan. He died at
Malta. The celebrated Dugald Stewart is also dead, famous for his
intimate acquaintance with the history and philosophy of the human mind.
There is much of water-painting in all metaphysics, which consist rather
of words than ideas. But Stewart was most impressive and eloquent. In
former days I was frequently with him, but not for many years. Latterly,
I am told, he had lost not the power of thinking, but the power of
expressing his thoughts by speech. This is like the Metamorphosis of
Ovid, the bark binding in and hardening the living flesh.
June 15.—W. Clerk, Francis Scott, and Charles Sharpe dined with me,
but my task had been concluded before dinner.
June 16.—Dined at Dalmahoy, with the young Earl and Countess of
Morton. I like these young noble folks particularly well. Their manners
and style of living are easy and unaffected, and I should like to see
them often. Came home at night. The task finished to-day. I should
mention that the plan about the new edition of the novels was considered
at a meeting of trustees, and finally approved of. I trust it will
answer; yet, who can warrant the continuance of popularity? Old
Corri,  who entered into many projects, and could never set the
sails of a wind-mill so as to catch the aura popularis, used to say
that he believed that were he to turn baker, it would put bread out of
fashion. I have had the better luck to dress my sails to every wind; and
so blow on, good wind, and spin round, whirligig.
 Natali Corri, born in Italy, but settled in Edinburgh,
where, among other schemes, he tried to set up an Italian opera. In
conjunction with a brother he published several musical works. He died
at Trieste in 1823.
June 17.—Violent rheumatic headache all day. Wrought, however. But
what difference this troublesome addition may make on the quality of the
stuff produced, truly I do not know. I finished five leaves.
June 18.—Some Italian gentlemen landed here, under the conveyance of
the Misses Haig of Bemerside. They were gentlemanlike men; but as I did
not dare to speak bad French, I had not much to say to foreigners. Gave
them and their pretty guides a good breakfast, however. The scene seemed
to me to resemble Sheridan's scene in the Critic.  There are a
number of very civil gentlemen trying to make themselves understood, and
I do not know which is the interpreter. After all, it is not my fault.
They who wish to see me should be able to speak my language. I called on
Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie. She received me with all the kindness of former
days, and I was delighted to see her. I sat about an hour with her. My
head aches, for all that, and I have heavy fits of drowsiness. Well, I
have finished my task, and have a right to sleep if I have a mind.
 See Act II. Sc. 2. The Italian family's morning call.
I dine to-day with Lord Mackenzie, where I hope to meet Mrs. Stewart
Mackenzie again, for I love her warm heart and lively fancy. Accordingly
I enjoyed this pleasure. 
"And thou, gentle Dame, who must bear to thy grief
For thy clan and thy country the cares of a Chief,
Whom brief rolling moons, in six changes have left
Of thy husband, and father, and brethren bereft;
To thine ear of affection how sad is the hail
That salutes thee, the heir of the line of Kintail."
Poetical Works, vol. viii. p. 394.
Mary, daughter of Francis, Lord Seaforth, was born in Ross-shire in
1784, married, at Barbadoes in 1804, Sir Samuel Hood, and left a widow
in 1814. She married again, in 1817, Mr. J.A. Stewart, who assumed the
name of Mackenzie. Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie died at Brahan Castle in 1862;
her funeral was one of the largest ever witnessed in the North.
June 19.—Scribbled away lustily. Went to the P.H. Wrote when I came
home, both before and after dinner—that's all, I think. I am become a
sort of writing automaton, and truly the joints of my knees, especially
the left, are so stiff and painful in rising and sitting down, that I
can hardly help screaming—I that was so robust and active; I get into a
carriage with great difficulty. My head, too, is bothered with rheumatic
headaches. Why not? I got headaches by my folly when I was young, and
now I am old they come uncalled. Infirmity gives what indiscretion
June 20.—My course is still the same. But I have a painful letter
from Lockhart, which takes away the last hope of poor Johnnie's
recovery. It is no surprise to me. The poor child, so amiable in its
disposition, and so promising from its talents, was not formed to be
long with us, and I have long expected that it must needs come to this.
I hope I shall not outlive my children in other cases, and I think there
is little chance of it. My father did not long survive the threescore
and ten; it will be wonderful if I reach that goal of ordinary
mortality. God send it may find me prepared; and, whatever I may have
been formerly, high spirits are not now like to carry me away.
June, 21.—At Court, and called on Ballantyne on my return. I was
obliged to go to the Register Office at one, where I waited nearly an
hour without meeting my brethren. But I wrote a letter to Lockhart in
the meantime. My niece Ann arrived, to my great satisfaction. I am glad
that Anne, my daughter, has such a sensible and clever companion. Dined
at Baron Hume's.
June 22.—Wrought. Had a note from Ballantyne complaining of my
manuscript, and requesting me to read it over. I would give £1000 if I
could; but it would take me longer to read than to write. I cannot trace
my pieds de mouche but with great labour and trouble; so e'en take
your own share of the burden, my old friend; and, since I cannot read,
be thankful I can write. I will look at his proof, however, and then be
quiet and idle for the rest of the evening. I am come to Charles the
First's trial, and though I have it by heart, I must refresh myself with
a reading of Clarendon. Charles Sharpe and Francis Scott came in the
June 23.—This morning the two Annes and I went to Sir Robert Liston
at Milburn Tower—a beautiful retreat. The travels of the venerable
diplomatist are indicated by the various articles of curiosity which he
has picked up in different corners of the world, and put together with
much taste. The conservatory and gardens are very fine, and contain, I
suppose, very curious plants;—I am sure, hard names enough. But then
the little Gothic tower, embowered amid trees and bushes, surrounded by
these pleasant gardens, offering many a sunny walk for winter, many a
shade for summer, are inexpressibly pleasing. The good old knight and
his lady are worthy of it, for they enjoy it. The artificial piece of
water is a failure, like most things of the kind. The offices, without
being on an extravagant scale, are most substantial; the piggery, in
particular, is quite a palace, and the animals clean and comfortable. I
think I have caught from them a fit of piggish obstinacy. I came at one,
and cannot prevail upon myself to go to work. I answer the calls of
duty as Caliban does those of Prospero, "There's wood enough within." To
be sure, I have not got the Clarendon.
June 24.—It was my father's own son, as John Hielandman said, who did
little both yesterday and to-day—I mean little in the way of literary
work, for, as to positive work, I have been writing letters about
Chancery business till I am sick of it. There was a long hearing, and
while Jeffrey exerted his eloquence in the Inner House, I plied my
eloquence de billet in the Library. So, on the whole, I am no bad boy.
Besides, the day is not yet over.
June 25.—I was surprised to hear that our Academy Rector, Williams,
has renounced the chair of Roman learning in the new London University.
His alarm was excited by the interest taken by the prelates in opposing
a High Church institution to that desired by Mr. Brougham. Both the
Bishops and Williams have been unwise. The former have manoeuvred ill.
They should, in the outset, have taken the establishment out of the
hands of the Whigs, without suffering them to reinforce themselves by
support from [others]. And Williams was equally precipitate in joining
an institution which a small degree of foresight might have assured him
would be opposed by his spiritual superiors. However, there he stands,
deprived of his professorship by his resignation, and of his rectorship
by our having engaged with a successor. I think it very doubtful whether
the Bishops will now [admit] him into their alliance. He has in that
case offended both parties. But if they are wise, they will be glad to
pick up the best schoolmaster in Europe, though he comes for the present
Graiâ ex urbe. I accomplished more than my task to-day.
June, 26.—Wrote a long letter to Lockhart about Williams' situation,
saying how, by sitting betwixt two stools, he
"——- Had fallen with heavy thump
Upon his reverential rump,"
and how the Bishops should pick him up if they wanted their
establishment to succeed. It is an awkward position in which Williams
has placed himself. He loses the Whig chair, and has perhaps no chance
of favour from the High Church for having been willing to accept it.
Even if they now give him promotion, there will be a great outcry on his
having left one institution to join another. He would be thick-skinned
if he stands the clamour. Yet he has to all appearance rather sacrificed
than advanced his interest. However, I say again, the Bishops ought not
to omit securing him.
Mr. Macintosh Mackay breakfasted with me, modest, intelligent, and
gentle. I did my duty and more in the course of the day.
I am vexed about Mackay missing the church of Cupar in Angus. It is in
the Crown's gift, and Peel, finding that two parties in the town
recommended two opposite candidates, very wisely chose to disappoint
them both, and was desirous of bestowing the presentation on public
grounds. I heard of this, and applied to Mr. Peel for Macintosh Mackay,
whose quiet patience and learning are accompanied by a most excellent
character as a preacher and a clergyman, but unhappily Mr. Peel had
previously put himself into the hands of Sir George Murray, who applied
to Sir Peter his brother, who naturally applied to certain leaders of
the Church at Edinburgh, and these reverend gentlemen have recommended
that the church which the minister desired to fill up on public grounds
should be bestowed on a boy,  the nephew of one of their number, of
whom the best that can be said is that nothing is known, since he has
only been a few months in orders. This comes of kith, kin, and ally, but
Peel shall know of it, and may perhaps judge for himself another time.
 Patrick James Stevenson was licensed in 1825, and
ordained in 1828.—Scott's Fasti, vol. vi. p. 746.
June 27.—I came out after Court to Blair Adam, with our excellent
friend the Rev. John Thomson of Duddingston, so modest and so
accomplished;—delightful drive and passage at the ferry. We found at
Blair Adam the C.C. and family, Admiral Adam and lady, James Thomson of
Charlton, and Miss T., Will Clerk, and last, not least, Lord Chief Baron
Shepherd—all in high spirits for our excursions.
Thomson described to me a fine dungeon in the old tower at Cassillis in
Ayrshire. There is an outer and inner vaulted [chamber], each secured
with iron doors. At the upper end of the innermost are two great stones
or blocks to which the staples and chains used in securing the prisoners
are still attached. Between these stone seats is an opening like the
mouth of a still deeper dungeon. The entrance descends like the mouth of
a draw-well or shaft of a mine, and deep below is heard the sullen roar
of the river Doon, one branch of which, passing through the bottom of
the shaft, has probably swept away the body of many a captive, whose
body after death may have been thus summarily disposed of. I may find
use for such a place—Story of [Kittleclarkie?]
June 28.—Off we go to Castle Campbell after breakfast, i.e. Will
Clerk, Admiral Adam, J. Thomson, and myself. Tremendous hot is the day,
and the steep ascent of the Castle, which rises for two miles up a
rugged and broken path, was fatiguing enough, yet not so much so as the
streets in London. Castle Campbell is unaltered; the window, of which
the disjointed stone projects at an angle from the wall, and seems at
the point of falling, has still found power to resist the laws of
gravitation. Whoever built that tottering piece of masonry has been long
in a forgotten grave, and yet what he has made seems to survive in spite
of nature itself. The curious cleft called Kemp's Score, which gave the
garrison access to the water in case of siege, is obviously natural,
but had been improved by steps, now choked up. A girl who came with us
recollected she had shown me the way down to the bottom of this terrible
gulf seven years ago. I am not able for it now.
"Wont to do's awa frae me,
Frae silly auld John Ochiltree." 
 Ramsay's Tea-table Miscellany (1795), vol. i. p. 125.
June 29.—Being Sunday we kept about the doors, and after two took the
drosky and drove over the hill and round by the Kiery Craigs. I should
have said Williams came out in the morning to ask my advice about
staying another year in Edinburgh. I advised him if possible to gain a
few days' time till I should hear from Lockhart. He has made a pretty
mess for himself, but if the Bishops are wise, they may profit by it.
The sound, practical advice of Williams at the first concoction would be
of the last consequence. I suspect their systems of eating-houses are
the most objectionable part of the college discipline. When their
attentions are to be given to the departments of the cook and the
butler, all zeal in the nobler paths of education is apt to decay.
Well, to return to the woods. I think, notwithstanding Lord Chief
Commissioner's assiduity, they are in some places too thick. I saw a
fine larch, felled seventy-two years old, value about five pounds.
Hereditary descent in the Highlands. A clergyman showed J.T. the island
of Inch Mahome in the Port of Monteith, and pointed out the boatman as a
remarkable person, the representative of the hereditary gardeners of the
Earls of Monteith, while these Earls existed. His son, a priggish boy,
follows up the theme—"Feyther, when Donald MacCorkindale dees will not
the family be extinct?" Father—"No; I believe there is a man in
Balquhidder who takes up the succession."
June 30.—We made our pleasant excursion to-day round the hill of
Bennarty par terre, and returned par mer. Our route by land led us
past Lochore, where we made a pause for a few moments. Then proceeded to
Ballingray or Bingray, and so by Kirkness, where late ravages are
supplied by the force of vegetation down to the shores of Lochleven. We
embarked and went upon Saint Serf's Island, supposed to have been
anciently a cell of the Culdees. An old pinfold, or rather a modern
pinfold, constructed out of the ancient chapel, is all that attests its
former sanctity. We landed on Queen Mary's Island, a miserable scene,
considering the purpose for which the Castle was appointed. And yet the
captivity and surrender of the Percy was even a worse tale, since it was
an eternal blight on the name of Douglas. Well, we got to Blair Adam in
due time, and our fine company began to separate, Lord Chief Baron going
off after dinner. We had wine and wassail, and John Thomson's delightful
flute to help us through the evening.
Thus end the delectations of the Blair Adam Club for this year. Mrs.
Thomson of Charlton talks of Beaton's House, and other Fife wonders for
the next year, but who knows what one year may bring forth? Our Club has
been hitherto fortunate. It has subsisted twelve years.