April 1.—A pretty first of April truly; the hills white with snow, I
myself as bilious as a dog. My noble guests left about noon. I wrote
letters, as if I had not bile enough in my bosom already, and did not go
out to face the snow wreaths till half-past two, when I am resolved to
make a brush for exercise. There will be fine howling among the dogs,
for I am about to shut my desk. Found Mrs. Skene disposed to walk, so I
had the advantage of her company. The snow lay three inches thick on the
ground; but we had the better appetite for dinner, after which we talked
and read without my lifting a pen.
April 2.—Begins with same brilliant prospect of snow and sunshine
dazzling to the eyes and chilling to the fingers, a beastly disagreeable
coldness in the air. I stuck by the pen till one, then took a drive with
the ladies as far as Chiefswood and walked home. Young William
Forbes  came, and along with him a Southron, Mr. Cleasby.
 Son of Lord Medwyn. Mr. Forbes had lately returned from
Italy, where he had had as travelling companion Mr. Cleasby, and it was
owing to Mr. Forbes's recommendation that Mr. Cleasby came to Edinburgh
to pursue his studies. Mr. Forbes possessed a fine tenor voice, and his
favourite songs at that time were the Neapolitan and Calabrian
canzonetti, to which Sir Walter alludes under April 4.
April 3.—Still the same party. I fagged at writing letters to
Lockhart, to Charles, and to John Gibson, to Mr. Cadell, Croker, Lord
Haddington, and others. Lockhart has had an overture through Croker
requesting him to communicate with some newspaper on the part of the
Government, which he has wisely declined. Nothing but a thorough-going
blackguard ought to attempt the daily press, unless it is some quiet
country diurnal. Lockhart has also a wicked wit which would make an
office of this kind more dangerous to him than to downright dulness. I
am heartily glad he has refused it. 
 Mr. Lockhart's own account of the overture is
sufficiently amusing and characteristic of the men and the times:—
Sir James Mackintosh and Lord Haddington have spoken very handsomely of
my accession to the Catholic Petition, and I think it has done some
good; yet I am not confident that the measure will disarm the Catholic
spleen.  And I was not entirely easy at finding myself allied to the
Whigs, even in this instance, where I agree with them. This is witless
"I had not time to write more than a line the other day under Croker's
cover, having received it just at post time. He sent for me; I found him
in his nightcap at the Admiralty, colded badly, but in audacious
spirits. His business was this. The Duke of W[ellingto]n finds himself
without one newspaper he can depend on. He wishes to buy up some
evening print, such as the dull Star; and could I do anything for it?
I said I was as well inclined to serve the Duke as he could be, but it
must be in other fashion. He then said he agreed with me—but there
was a second question: Could I find them an editor, and undertake to
communicate between them and him—in short, save the Treasury the
inconvenience of maintaining an avowed intercourse with the Newspaper
press? He said he himself had for some years done this—then others. I
said I would endeavour to think of a man for their turn and would call
on him soon again.
"I have considered the matter at leisure, and resolve to have nothing to
do with it. They CAN only want me as a writer. Any understrapper M.P.
would do well enough for carrying hints to a newspaper office, and I
will not, even to secure the Duke, mix myself up with the newspapers.
That work it is which has damned Croker, and I can't afford to sacrifice
the advantage which I feel I have gained in these later years by
abstaining altogether from partisan scribbling, or to subject the
Quarterly to risk of damage. The truth is, I don't admire, after all
that has come and gone, being applied to through the medium of friend
Crokey. I hope you will approve of my resolution."
 Peel, in writing to Scott, says, "The mention of your
name [in Parliament] as attached to the Edinburgh petition was received
with loud cheers."
My walk to-day was up the Rhymer's Glen with Skene. Colonel Ferguson
dined with us.
April 4.—Mr. Cleasby left this morning. He has travelled much, and is
a young man of copious conversation and ready language, aiming I suppose
at Parliament.  William Forbes is singing like an angel in the next
room, but he sings only Italian music, which says naught to me. I have a
letter from one David Patterson, who was Dr. Knox's jackal for buying
murdered bodies, suggesting that I should write on the subject of Burke
and Hare, and offering me his invaluable collection of anecdotes! "Curse
him imperance and him dam insurance,"  as Mungo says in the farce.
Did ever one hear the like? The scoundrel has been the companion and
patron of such atrocious murderers and kidnappers, and he has the
impudence to write to any decent man!
 Richard Cleasby, afterwards the well-known scholar who
spent many years in gathering materials for an Icelandic Dictionary. Mr.
Cleasby died in 1847, but the work he had planned was not published
until 1874, when it appeared under the editorship of Mr. Vigfusson, [A]
assisted by Sir George Dasent.
Corrected proof-sheets and dedication of the Magnum and sent them off.
 Bickerstaff's Padlock, Act I. Sc. 6.
[A] An Icelandic-English Dictionary based on the MS.
collections of the late Richard Cleasby, enlarged and completed by G.
Vigfusson. 4to, Oxford, 1874.
April 5.—Read prayers to what remains of our party: being Anne, my
niece Anne, the four Skenes, and William Forbes. We then walked, and I
returned time enough to work a little at the criticism. Thus it drew
towards dinner in conclusion, after which we smoked, told stories, and
April 6.—Worked at the review for three or four hours; yet hang it,
I can't get on. I wonder if I am turning clumsy in other matters;
certainly I cannot write against time as I used to do. My thoughts will
not be duly regulated; my pen declares for itself, will neither write
nor spell, and goes under independent colours. I went out with the child
Kitty Skene on her pony. I don't much love children, I suppose from want
of habit, but this is a fine merry little girl.
William Forbes sang in the evening with a feeling and taste
indescribably fine, but as he had no Scottish or English songs, my ears
were not much gratified. I have no sense beyond Mungo: "What signify me
hear if me no understand!"
William Forbes leaves us. As to the old story, scribble till two, then
walk for exercise till four. Deil hae it else, for company eats up the
afternoon, so nothing can be done that is not achieved in the forenoon.
April 7.—We had a gay scene this morning—the foxhounds and merry
hunters in my little base court, which rung with trampling steeds, and
rejoiced in scarlet jackets and ringing horns. I have seen the day
worlds would not have bribed me to stay behind them; but that is over,
and I walked a sober pace up to the Abbot's Knowe, from which I saw them
draw my woods, but without finding a fox. I watched them with that
mixture of interest, affection, and compassion which old men feel at
looking on the amusements of the young. I was so far interested in the
chase itself as to be sorry they did not find. I had so far the
advantage of the visit, that it gave me an object for the morning
exercise, which I would otherwise only have been prompted to by health
and habit. It is pleasant to have one's walk,—as heralds say, with a
difference. By the way, the foxhunters hunted the cover far too fast.
When they found a path they ran through it pell-mell without beating at
all. They had hardly left the hare-hole cover, when a fox, which they
had over-run, stole away. This is the consequence of breeding dogs too
April 8.—We have the news of the Catholic question being carried in
the House of Lords, by a majority of 105 upon the second reading. This
is decisive, and the balsam of Fierabras must be swallowed.  It
remains to see how it will work. Since it was indubitably necessary, I
am glad the decision on the case has been complete. On these last three
days I have finished my review of Tytler for Lockhart and sent it off by
this post. I may have offended Peter by censuring him for a sort of
petulance towards his predecessor Lord Hailes. This day visited by Mr.
Carr, who is a sensible, clever young man, and by his two
sisters —beautiful singer the youngest—and to my taste, and
 Don Quixote, Pt. I. Bk. II. Cap. 2.
April 9.—Laboured correcting proofs and revising; the day infinitely
bad. Worked till three o'clock; then tried a late walk, and a wet one.
 Friends of Joanna Baillie's and John Richardson's.
I hear bad news of James Ballantyne. Hypochondriac I am afraid, and
religiously distressed in mind.
I got a book from the Duke de Lévis, the same gentleman with whom I had
an awkward meeting at Abbotsford, owing to his having forgot his
credentials, which left me at an unpleasant doubt as to his character
and identity.  His book is inscribed to me with hyperbolical
praises. Now I don't like to have, like the Persian poets who have the
luck to please the Sun of the Universe, my mouth crammed with
sugar-candy, which politeness will not permit me to spit out, and my
stomach is indisposed to swallow. The book is better than would be
expected from the exaggerated nonsense of the dedication.
 This must have been an unusual experience for the head of
a family that considered itself to be the oldest in Christendom. Their
château contained, it was said, two pictures: one of the Deluge, in
which Noah is represented going into the Ark, carrying under his arm a
small trunk, on which was written "Papiers de la maison de Lévis;" the
other a portrait of the founder of the house bowing reverently to the
Virgin, who is made to say, "Couvrez-vous, mon cousin."—See Walpole's
Letters. The book referred to by Sir Walter is The Carbonaro: a
Piedmontese Tale, by the Duke de Lévis. 2 vols. London, 1829.
April 10.—Left Abbotsford at seven to attend the Circuit. Nota
bene—half-past six is the better hour; waters are extremely flooded.
Lord Meadowbank at the Circuit. Nothing tried but a few trumpery
assaults. Meadowbank announces he will breakfast with me to-morrow, so I
shall return to-night. Promised to my cousin Charles Scott to interest
myself about his getting the farm of Milsington upon Borthwick Water
and mentioned him to Colonel Riddell as a proposed offerer. The tender
was well received. I saw James the piper and my cousin Anne; sent to
James Veitch the spyglass of Professor Ferguson to be repaired. Dined
with the Judge and returned in the evening.
April 11.—Meadowbank breakfasted with us, and then went on to
Edinburgh, pressed by bad news of his family. His wife (daughter of my
early patron, President Blair) is very ill; indeed I fear fatally so. I
am sorry to think it is so. When the King was here she was the finest
woman I saw at Holyrood. My proofs kept me working till two; then I had
a fatiguing and watery walk. After dinner we smoked, and I talked with
Mr. Carr over criminal jurisprudence, the choicest of conversation to an
old lawyer; and the delightful music of Miss Isabella Carr closed the
day. Still, I don't get to my task; but I will, to-morrow or next day.
April 12.—Read prayers, put my books in order and made some progress
in putting papers in order which have been multiplying on my table. I
have a letter from that impudent lad Reynolds about my contribution to
the Keepsake. Sent to him the House of Aspen, as I had previously
determined. This will give them a lumping pennyworth in point of extent,
but that's the side I would have the bargain rest upon. It shall be a
warning after this to keep out of such a scrape.
April 13.—In the morning before breakfast I corrected the proof of
the critique on the life of Lord Pitsligo in Blackwood's Magazine. 
After breakfast Skene and his lady and family, and Mr. Carr and his
sisters, took their departure. Time was dawdled away till nearly twelve
o'clock and then I could not work much. I finished, however, a painful
letter to J. Ballantyne, which I hope will have effect upon the nervous
disorder he complains of. He must "awake, arise, or be for ever fallen."
I walked happily and pleasantly from two o'clock till four. And now I
must look to Anne of Geierstein. Hang it! it is not so bad after all,
though I fear it will not be popular. In fact, I am almost expended; but
while I exhort others to exertion I will not fail to exert myself. I
have a letter from R.P. G[illies] proposing to subscribe to assist him
from £25 to £50. It will do no good, but yet I cannot help giving him
"A daimen-icker in a thrave's a sma' request:
I'll get a blessing wi' the lave, and never miss't." 
 No. 152—May, 1829.
I will try a review for the Foreign and he shall have the proceeds.
 Burns's Lines to a Mouse: "a daimen-icker in a thrave,"
that is, an ear of corn out of two dozen sheaves.
April 14.—I sent off proofs of the review of Tytler for John
Lockhart. Then set a stout heart to a stay brae, and took up Anne of
Geierstein. I had five sheets standing by me, which I read with care,
and satisfied myself that worse had succeeded, but it was while the
fashion of the thing was new. I retrenched a good deal about the
Troubadours, which was really hors de place. As to King René, I
retained him as a historical character. In short, I will let the sheets
go nearly as they are, for though J.B. be an excellent judge of this
species of composition, he is not infallible, and has been in
circumstances which may cross his mind. I might have taken this
determination a month since, and I wish I had. But I thought I might
strike out something better by the braes and burn-sides. Alas! I walk
along them with painful and feeble steps, and invoke their influence in
vain. But my health is excellent, and it were ungrateful to complain
either of mental or bodily decay. We called at Elliston to-day and made
up for some ill-bred delay. In the evening I corrected two sheets of the
Magnum, as we call it.
April 15.—I took up Anne, and wrote, with interruption of a nap (in
which my readers may do well to imitate me), till two o'clock. I wrote
with care, having digested Comines. Whether I succeed or not, it would
be dastardly to give in. A bold countenance often carries off an
indifferent cause, but no one will defend him who shows the white
feather. At two I walked till near four. Dined with the girls, smoked
two cigars, and to work again till supper-time. Slept like a top. Amount
of the day's work, eight pages—a round task.
April 16.—I meant to go out with Bogie to plant some shrubs in front
of the old quarry, but it rains cats and dogs as they say, a rare day
for grinding away at the old mill of imagination, yet somehow I have no
great will to the task. After all, however, the morning proved a true
April one, sunshine and shower, and I both worked to some purpose, and
moreover walked and directed about planting the quarry.
The post brought matter for a May or April morning—a letter from Sir
James Mackintosh, telling me that Moore and he were engaged as
contributors to Longman's Encyclopædia, and asking me to do a volume at
£1000, the subject to be the History of Scotland in one volume. This
would be very easy work. I have the whole stuff in my head, and could
write currente calamo. The size is as I compute it about one-third
larger than The Tales of my Grandfather. There is much to be said on
both sides. Let me balance pros and cons after the fashion of honest
Robinson Crusoe. Pro.—It is the sum I have been wishing for,
sufficient to enable me to break the invisible but magic circle which
petty debts of myself and others have traced round me. With common
prudence I need no longer go from hand to mouth, or what is worse,
anticipate my means. I may also pay off some small shop debts, etc.,
belonging to the Trust, clear off all Anne's embarrassment, and even
make some foundation of a purse for her. N.B.—I think this whacking
reason is like to prove the gallon of Cognac brandy, which a lady
recommended as the foundation of a Liqueur. "Stop, dear madam, if you
please," said my grandfather, Dr. Rutherford, "you can [add] nothing to
that; it is flaconnadé with £1000," and a capital hit, egad.
Contra.—It is terribly like a hack author to make an abridgement of
what I have written so lately. Pro.—But a difference may be taken. A
history may be written of the same country on a different plan, general
where the other is detailed, and philosophical where it is popular. I
think I can do this, and do it with unwashed hands too. For being
hacked, what is it but another word for being an author? I will take
care of my name doubtless, but the five letters which form it must take
care of me in turn. I never knew name or fame burn brighter by over
chary keeping of it. Besides, there are two gallant hacks to pull with
me. Contra.—I have a monstrous deal on hand. Let me see: Life of
Argyll,  and Life of Peterborough for Lockhart.  Third series
Tales of my Grandfather—review for Gillies—new novel—end of Anne
of Geierstein. Pro.—But I have just finished too long reviews for
Lockhart. The third series is soon discussed. The review may be finished
in three or four days, and the novel is within a week and less of
conclusion. For the next, we must first see how this goes off. In fine,
within six weeks, I am sure I can do the work and secure the
independence I sigh for. Must I not make hay while the sun shines? Who
can tell what leisure, health, and life may be destined to me?
 John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich.
Adjourned the debate till to-morrow morning.
 These biographies, intended for The Family Library,
were never written.
April 17.—I resumed the discussion of the bargain about the history.
The ayes to the right, the noes to the left. The ayes have it—so I will
write to Sir James of this date. But I will take a walk first, that I
will. A little shaken with the conflict, for after all were I as I have
been——. "My poverty but not my will consents." 
 Romeo and Juliet, Act v. Sc. 1.
I have been out in a most delicious real spring day. I returned with my
nerves strung and my mind determined. I will make this plunge, and with
little doubt of coming off no loser in character. What is given in
detail may be suppressed, general views may be enlarged upon, and a
bird's-eye prospect given, not the less interesting, that we have seen
its prominent points nearer and in detail. I have been of late in a
great degree free from wafered letters, sums to make up, notes of hand
wanted, and all the worry of an embarrassed man's life. This last
struggle will free me entirely, and so help me Heaven it shall be made!
I have written to Sir James, stating that I apprehend the terms to be
£1000, namely, for one volume containing about one-third more than one
of the volumes of Tales of my Grandfather, and agreeing to do so.
Certes, few men can win a thousand pounds so readily.
We dine with the Fergusons to-day at four. So off we went and safely
April 18.—Corrected proofs. I find J.B. has not returned to his
business, though I wrote him how necessary it was. My pity begins to
give way to anger. Must he sit there and squander his thoughts and
senses upon cloudy metaphysics and abstruse theology till he addles his
brains entirely, and ruins his business? I have written to him again,
letter third and, I am determined, last.
Wrote also to the fop Reynolds, with preface to the House of Aspen,
then to honest Joseph Train desiring he would give me some notion how to
serve him with Messrs. Carr, and to take care to make his ambition
moderate and feasible.
My neighbour, Mr. Kerr of Kippielaw, struck with a palsy while he was
looking at the hounds; his pony remained standing by his side. A sudden
call if a final one.
That strange desire to leave a prescribed task and set about something
else seized me irresistibly. I yielded to it, and sat down to try at
what speed and in what manner I could execute this job of Sir James
Mackintosh's, and I wrote three leaves before rising, well enough, I
think. The girls made a round with me. We drove to Chiefswood, and from
that to Janeswood, up the Rhymer's Glen, and so home. This occupied from
one to four. In the evening I heard Anne read Mr. Peel's excellent Bill
on the Police of the Metropolis, which goes to disband the whole
generation of Dogberry and Verges. Wrote after tea.
April 19.—I made this a busy day. I wrote on at the history until two
o'clock, then took a gallant walk, then began reading for Gillies's
article. James Ferguson dined with us. We smoked and I became woundy
sleepy. Now I have taken collar to this arrangement, I find an open sea
before me which I could not have anticipated, for though I should get
through well enough with my expectations during the year, yet it is a
great thing to have a certainty to be clear as a new pin of every penny
of debt. There is no being obliged or asking favours or getting loans
from some grudging friend who can never look at you after but with fear
of losing his cash, or you at him without the humiliating sense of
having extorted an obligation. Besides my large debts, I have paid since
I was in trouble at least £2000 of personal encumbrances, so no wonder
my nose is still under water. I really believe the sense of this
apparently unending struggle, schemes for retrenchment in which I was
unseconded, made me low-spirited, for the sun seems to shine brighter
upon me as a free man. Nevertheless, devil take the necessity which
makes me drudge like a very hack of Grub Street.
"May the foul fa' the gear and the bletherie o 't." 
I walked out with Tom's assistance, came home, went through the weary
work of cramming, and so forth; wrought after tea, and then to bed.
"When I think on the world's pelf
May the shame fa' and the blethrie o 't."
Burden of old Scottish Song.
April 20.—As yesterday till two—sixteen pages of the History
written, and not less than one-fifth of the whole book. What if they
should be off? I were finely holp'd for throwing my time away. A toy!
They dare not.
Lord Buchan is dead, a person whose immense vanity, bordering upon
insanity, obscured, or rather eclipsed, very considerable talents. His
imagination was so fertile that he seemed really to believe the
extraordinary fictions which he delighted in telling. His economy, most
laudable in the early part of his life, when it enabled him, from a
small income, to pay his father's debts, became a miserable habit, and
led him to do mean things. He had a desire to be a great man, and a
Mæcenas bon marché. The two celebrated lawyers, his brothers, were not
more gifted by nature than I think he was, but the restraints of a
profession kept the eccentricity of the family in order. Henry Erskine
was the best-natured man I ever knew, thoroughly a gentleman, and with
but one fault: he could not say no, and thus sometimes misled those
who trusted him. Tom Erskine was positively mad. I have heard him tell a
cock-and-a-bull story of having seen the ghost of his father's servant,
John Burnet, with as much sincerity as if he believed every word he was
saying. Both Henry and Thomas were saving men, yet both died very poor.
The one at one time possessed £200,000; the other had a considerable
fortune. The Earl alone has died wealthy. It is saving, not getting,
that is the mother of riches. They all had wit. The Earl's was
crack-brained and sometimes caustic; Henry's was of the very kindest,
best-humoured, and gayest that ever cheered society; that of Lord
Erskine was moody and maddish. But I never saw him in his best days.
Went to Haining. Time has at last touched the beautiful Mrs. Pringle. I
wonder he was not ashamed of himself for spoiling so fine a form. But
what cares he? Corrected proofs after dinner. James B. is at last at
April 21.—Spent the whole morning at writing, still the History, such
is my wilful whim. Twenty pages now finished—I suppose the clear
fourth part of a volume. I went out, but the day being sulky I sat in
the Conservatory, after trying a walk! I have been glancing over the
works for Gillies's review, and I think on them between-hands while I
compose the History,—an odd habit of doing two things at once, but it
has always answered with me well enough.
April 22.—Another hard day's work at the History, now increased to
the Bruce and Baliol period, and threatening to be too lengthy for the
Cyclopædia. But I will make short work with wars and battles. I wrote
till two o'clock, and strolled with old Tom and my dogs  till
half-past four, hours of pleasure and healthful exercise, and to-day
taken with ease. A letter from J.B., stating an alarm that he may lose
the printing of a part of the Magnum. But I shall write him he must be
his own friend, set shoulder to the wheel, and remain at the head of his
business; and of that I must make him aware. And so I set to my proofs.
"Better to work," says the inscription on Hogarth's Bridewell, "than
 That these afternoon rambles with the dogs were not
always so tranquil may be gathered from an incident described by Mr.
Adolphus, in which an unsuspecting cat at a cottage door was demolished
by Nimrod in one of his gambols.—Life, vol. ix. p. 362. This
deer-hound was an old offender. Sir Walter tells his friend Richardson,
à propos of a story he had just heard of Joanna Baillie's cat having
worried a dog: "It is just like her mistress, who beats the male race of
authors out of the pit in describing the higher passions that are more
proper to their sex than hers. Alack-a-day! my poor cat Hinse, my
acquaintance, and in some sort my friend of fifteen years, was snapped
at even by the paynim Nimrod. What could I say to him but what Brantôme
said to some ferrailleur who had been too successful in a duel, 'Ah!
mon grand ami, vous avez tué mon autre grand ami.'"
April 23.—A cold blustering day—bad welcome for the poor lambs. I
made my walk short and my task long, my work turning entirely on the
History—all on speculation. But the post brought me a letter from Dr.
Lardner, the manager of the Cyclopædia, agreeing to my terms; so all is
right there, and no labour thrown away. The volume is to run to 400
pages; so much the better; I love elbow-room, and will have space to do
something to purpose. I replied agreeing to his terms, and will send him
copy as soon as I have corrected it. The Colonel and Miss Ferguson dined
with us. I think I drank rather a cheerful glass with my good friend.
Smoked an extra cigar, so no more at present.
April 25.—After writing to Mr. Cochrane,  to Cadell and J.B.,
also to Mr. Pitcairn,  it was time to set out for Lord Buchan's
funeral. The funeral letters were signed by Mr. H. David Erskine, his
lordship's natural son. His nephew, the young Earl, was present, but
neither of them took the head of the coffin. His lordship's funeral took
place in a chapel amongst the ruins. His body was in the grave with its
feet pointing westward. My cousin, Maxpopple,  was for taking notice
of it, but I assured him that a man who had been wrong in the head all
his life would scarce become right-headed after death. I felt something
at parting with this old man, though but a trumpery body. He gave me the
first approbation I ever obtained from a stranger. His caprice had led
him to examine Dr. Adam's class when I, a boy twelve years old, and then
in disgrace for some aggravated case of negligence, was called up from a
low bench, and recited my lesson with some spirit and appearance of
feeling the poetry—it was the apparition of Hector's ghost in the
Æneid—of which called forth the noble Earl's applause. I was very proud
of this at the time.
 Manager of the Foreign Review.
I was sad on another account—it was the first time I had been among
these ruins since I left a very valued pledge there. My next visit may
be involuntary. Even so, God's will be done! at least I have not the
mortification of thinking what a deal of patronage and fuss Lord Buchan
would bestow on my funeral.  Maxpopple dined and slept here with
four of his family, much amused with what they heard and saw. By good
fortune a ventriloquist and partial juggler came in, and we had him in
the library after dinner. He was a half-starved wretched-looking
creature, who seemed to have ate more fire than bread. So I caused him
to be well stuffed, and gave him a guinea, rather to his poverty than to
his skill—and now to finish Anne of Geierstein.
 Robert Pitcairn, author of Criminal Trials in Scotland,
3 vols. 4to.
 William Scott, Esq., afterwards Laird of Raeburn, was
commonly thus designated from a minor possession, during his father's
lifetime. Whatever, in things of this sort, used to be practised among
the French noblesse, might be traced, till very lately, in the customs
of the Scottish provincial gentry.—- J.G.L.
 Life, vol. vi. p. 90.
April 26.—But not a finger did I lay on the jacket of Anne. Looking
for something, I fell in with the little drama, long missing, called the
Doom of Devorgoil. I believe it was out of mere contradiction that I
sat down to read and correct it, merely because I would not be bound to
do aught that seemed compulsory. So I scribbled at a piece of nonsense
till two o'clock, and then walked to the lake. At night I flung helve
after hatchet, and spent the evening in reading the Doom of Devorgoil
to the girls, who seemed considerably interested. Anne objects to the
mingling the goblinry, which is comic, with the serious, which is
tragic. After all, I could greatly improve it, and it would not be a bad
composition of that odd kind to some picnic receptacle of all things.
April 27.—This day must not be wasted. I breakfast with the
Fergusons, and dine with the Brewsters. But, by Heaven, I will finish
Anne of Geierstein this day betwixt the two engagements. I don't know
why nor wherefore, but I hate Anne, I mean Anne of Geierstein; the
other two Annes are good girls. Accordingly I well nigh accomplished my
work, but about three o'clock my story fell into a slough, and in
getting it out I lost my way, and was forced to postpone the conclusion
till to-morrow. Wrote a good day's work notwithstanding.
April 28.—I have slept upon my puzzle, and will now finish it, Jove
bless my pia mater, as I see not further impediment before me. The
story will end, and shall end, because it must end, and so here goes.
After this doughty resolution, I went doggedly to work, and finished
five leaves by the time when they should meet the coach. But the
misfortune of writing fast is that one cannot at the same time write
concisely. I wrote two pages more in the evening. Stayed at home all
day. Indeed, the weather—sleety, rainy, stormy—forms no tempting
prospect. Bogie, too, who sees his flourish going to wreck, is looking
as spiteful as an angry fiend towards the unpropitious heavens. So I
made a day of work of it,
"And yet the end was not."
April 29.—This morning I finished and sent off three pages more, and
still there is something to write; but I will take the broad axe to it,
and have it ended before noon.
This has proved impossible, and the task lasted me till nine, when it
was finished, tant bien que mal. Now, will people say this expresses
very little respect for the public? In fact, I have very little respect
for that dear publicum whom I am doomed to amuse, like Goody Trash in
Bartholomew Fair, with rattles and gingerbread; and I should deal very
uncandidly with those who may read my confessions were I to say I knew a
public worth caring for or capable of distinguishing the nicer beauties
of composition. They weigh good and evil qualities by the pound. Get a
good name and you may write trash. Get a bad one and you may write like
Homer, without pleasing a single reader. I am, perhaps, l'enfant gâté
de succés, but I am brought to the stake,  and must perforce stand
Having finished Anne  I began and revised fifteen leaves of the
History, and sent them to Dr. Lardner. I think they read more trashy
than I expected. But when could I ever please myself, even when I have
most pleased others? Then I walked about two hours by the thicket and
river-side, watching the appearance of spring, which, as Coleridge
"They have ty'd me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But bear-like I must fight the course."
—Macbeth, Act v. Sc. 7.
"Comes slowly up this way."
 The work was published in May
under the following title:—"Anne
of Geierstein, or The Maiden of the
Mist. By the Author of Waverley,
After dinner and tea I resumed the task of correction, which is an
odious one, but must be attempted, ay, and accomplished too. P/
What! will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
Sink in the ground? SHAKESPEARE.
In three volumes. Edinburgh: Printed for Cadell & Co., Edinburgh; and
Simpkin & Marshall, London, 1829. (At the end) Edinburgh: Printed by
Ballantyne & Company, Paul's Work, Canongate."
April 30.—Dr. Johnson enjoins Bozzy to leave out of his diary all
notices of the weather as insignificant. It may be so to an inhabitant
of Bolt Court, in Fleet Street, who need care little whether it rains or
snows, except the shilling which it may cost him for a Jarvie; but when
I wake and find a snow shower sweeping along, and destroying hundreds
perhaps of young lambs, and famishing their mothers, I must consider it
as worth noting. For my own poor share, I am as indifferent as any Grub
Streeter of them all—
"—And since 'tis a bad day,
Rise up, rise up, my merry men,
And use it as you may."
I have accordingly been busy. The weather did not permit me to go beyond
the courtyard, for it continued cold and rainy. I have employed the day
in correcting the history for Cyclopædia as far as page 35, exclusive,
and have sent it off, or shall to-morrow. I wish I knew how it would run
out. Dr. Lardner's measure is a large one, but so much the better. I
like to have ample verge and space enough, and a mere abridgment would
be discreditable. Well, nobody can say I eat the bread of idleness. Why
should I? Those who do not work from necessity take violent labour from
choice, and were necessity out of the question I would take the same
sort of literary labour from choice—something more leisurely though.