The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford July, 1830
by Sir Walter Scott
July 1.—Mr. Daveis breakfasted with me. On nearer acquaintance, I was
more galled by some portion of continental manners than I had been at
first, so difficult is it for an American to correct his manner to our
ideas of perfect good-breeding.  I did all that was right, however,
and asked Miss Ferrier, whom he admires prodigiously, to meet him at
dinner. Hither came also a young friend, so I have done the polite thing
every way. Thomson also dined with us. After dinner I gave my strangers
an airing round the Corstorphine hills, and returned by the Cramond
road. I sent to Mr. Gibson, Cadell's project for Lammas, which raises
£15,000 for a dividend of 3s. to be then made. I think the trustees
should listen to this, which is paying one-half of my debt.
 An amusing illustration of the difficulty of seeing
ourselves as others see us may be found written twenty-five years later
by Nathaniel Hawthorne, where the author of the Scarlet Letter
expresses in like manner his surprise at the want of refinement in
Englishmen:—"I had been struck by the very rough aspect of these John
Bulls in their morning garb, their coarse frock-coats, grey hats, check
trousers, and stout shoes; at dinner-table it was not at first easy to
recognise the same individuals.... But after a while, 'you see the same
rough figure through all the finery, and become sensible that John Bull
cannot make himself fine, whatever he may put on. He is a rough animal,
and his female is well adapted to him.'"—Hawthorne and His Wife, vol.
ii. p. 70. 2 vols. 8vo. Cambridge, U.S.A., 1884.
July 2.—Have assurances from John Gibson that £15,000 should be
applied as I proposed. If this can be repeated yearly up to 1835 the
matter is ended, and well ended; yet, woe's me! the public change their
taste, and their favourites get old. Yet if I was born in 1771, I shall
only be sixty in 1831, and, by the same reasoning, sixty-four in 1835,
so I may rough it out, yet be no Sir Robert Preston. At any rate, it is
all I have to trust to.
I did a morning's task, and was detained late at the Court; came home,
ate a hearty dinner, slumbered after it in spite of my teeth, and made
a poor night's work of it. One's mind gets so dissipated by the fagging,
yet insignificant, business of the offices; my release comes soon, but I
fear for a term only, for I doubt if they will carry through the Court
July 3.—My day began at seven as usual. Sir Adam came to breakfast. I
read Southey's edition of the Pilgrim's Progress, and think of
reviewing the same. I would I had books at hand. To the Court, and
remained till two; then went to look at the drawings for repairing
Murthly, the house of Sir John or James Stewart, now building by
Gillespie Graham, and which he has planned after the fashion of James
VI.'s reign, a kind of bastard Grecian —very fanciful and pretty
though. Read Hone's Every-day Book, and with a better opinion of him
than I expected from his anti-religious frenzy. We are to dine with the
 Architects style it Elizabethan, but Sir Walter's term is
Which we did accordingly, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Strange, Lord Forbes, and
July 4.—Was a complete and serious day of work, only interrupted in
the evening by——, who, with all the freedom and ease of continental
manners, gratified me with his gratuitous presence. Yet it might have
been worse, for his conversation is well enough, but it is strange want
of tact to suppose one must be alike welcome to a stranger at all hours
of the day; but I have stuffed the portfolio, so do not grudge
July 5.—I was up before seven and resumed my labours, and by
breakfast-time I had reached p. 133; it may reach to 160 or 170 as I
find space and matter. Buchanan  came and wrote about fifteen of his
pages, equal to mine in proportion of three to one. We are therefore
about p. 138, and in sight of land. At two o'clock went to bury poor
George Burnet, the son of Gilbert Innes, in as heavy a rain as I ever
saw. Was in Shandwick Place again by four and made these entries. I
dine to-day with the Club; grant Heaven it fair before six o'clock!
 An amanuensis who was employed by Scott at this time.
We met at Barry's,  and had a gallant dinner, but only few of our
number was present. Alas! sixty does not rally to such meetings with the
alacrity of sixteen, and our Club has seen the space between these
terms. I was home and abed when Charles arrived and waked me. Poor
fellow! he is doing very well with his rheumatic limbs.
 British Hotel, 70 Queen St.
July 6.—I did little this morning but correct some sheets, and was at
the Court all morning. About two I called at Mr. Cadell's, and I learned
the dividend was arranged. Sir Adam fell in with us, and laid anchors to
windward to get an invitation to Cockenzie for next year, being struck
with my life-like description of a tiled haddock. I came home much
fagged, slept for half-an-hour (I don't like this lethargy), read I
Promessi Sposi, and was idle. Miss Kerr dined and gave us music.
July 7.—This morning corrected proofs, with which J.B. proceeds
lazily enough, and alleges printing reasons, of which he has plenty at
hand. Though it was the Teind Wednesday the devil would have it that
this was a Court of Session day also for a cause of mine; so there I sat
hearing a dozen cases of augmentation of stipend pleaded, and wondering
within myself whether anything can be predicated of a Scottish parish,
in which there cannot be discovered a reason for enlarging the
endowments of the minister. I returned after two, with a sousing shower
for companion; I got very wet and very warm. But shall we go mourn for
that, my dear?  I rather like a flaw of weather; it shows something
of the old man is left. I had Mr. Buchanan to help pack my papers and
things, and got through part of that unpleasant business.
 See Winter's Tale, Act IV. Sc. 2.
July 8.—I had my letters as usual, but no proofs till I was just
going out. Returning from the Court met Skene, who brought me news that
our visit was at an end for Saturday, poor Colin having come to town
very unwell. I called to see him, and found him suffering under a degree
of slow palsy, his spirits depressed, and his looks miserable, worse a
great deal than when I last saw him. His wife and daughter were in the
room, dreadfully distressed. We spoke but a few words referring to
recovery and better days, which, I suspect, neither of us hoped. 
For I looked only on the ghost of my friend of many a long day; and he,
while he said to see me did him good, must have had little thought of
our meeting under better auspices. We shall, of course, go straight to
Abbotsford, instead of travelling by Harcus as we intended.
 See ante, January 15, 1828, p. 111. Mr. Mackenzie of
Portmore died in September 1830, when Sir Walter wrote Mr. Skene the
"DEAR SKENE,—I observe from the papers that our invaluable friend is no
more. I have reason to think, that as I surmised when I saw him last,
the interval has been a melancholy one, at least to those who had to
watch the progress. I never expected to see his kind face more, after I
took leave of him in Charlotte Square; yet the certainty that such must
be the case is still a painful shock, as I can never hope again to meet,
during the remaining span of my own life, a friend in whom high talents
for the business of life were more happily mingled with all those
affections which form the dearest part of human intercourse. In that
respect I believe his like hardly is to be found. I hope Mrs. Skene and
you will make my assurance of deep sympathy, of which they know it is
expressed by a friend of poor Colin of fifty years' standing.
"I hope my young friend, his son, will keep his father's example before
his eyes. His best friend cannot wish him a better model.
"I am just setting off to the West for a long-promised tour of a week. I
shall be at Abbotsford after Monday, 27th current, and I hope Mrs. Skene
and you, with some of our young friends, will do us the pleasure to come
here for a few days. We see how separations may happen among friends,
and should not neglect the opportunity of being together while we can.
Besides, entre nous, it is time to think what is to be done about the
Society, as the time of my retirement draws nigh, and I am determined,
at whatever loss, not to drag out the last sands of my life in that
sand-cart of a place, the Parliament House. I think it hurt poor Colin.
This is, however, subject for future consideration, as I have not
breathed a syllable about resigning the Chair to any one, but it must
soon follow as a matter of course. [C]
"Should you think of writing to let me know how the distressed family
are, you may direct, during the beginning of next week, to Drumlanrig,
"My kind love attends my dear Mrs. Skene, girls, boys, and all the
family, and I am, always yours,
"ABBOTSFORD, 18th September ."
[C] Sir Walter had been President of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh for some years; his resignation was not accepted, and he
retained the office until he died.
July 9.—Two distressed damsels on my hands, one, a friend of Harriet
Swinton, translates from the Italian a work on the plan of I Promessi
Sposi, but I fear she must not expect much from the trade. A
translation with them is a mere translation—that is, a thing which can
be made their own at a guinea per sheet, and they will not have an
excellent one at a higher rate. Second is Miss Young, daughter of the
excellent Dr. Young of Hawick. If she can, from her father's letters and
memoranda, extract materials for a fair simple account of his life, I
would give my name as editor, and I think it might do, but for a large
publication—Palabras, neighbour Dogberry,  the time is by. Dined
with the Bannatyne, where we had a lively party. Touching the songs, an
old roué must own an improvement in the times, when all paw-paw words
are omitted, and naughty innuendos gazés. One is apt to say—
"Swear me, Kate, like a lady as thou art,
A good mouth-filling oath, and leave 'in sooth,'
And such protest of pepper-gingerbread." 
 Much Ado about Nothing, Act III. Sc. 5.
 1 King Henry IV., Act III. Sc. 1.
I think there is more affectation than improvement in the new mode.
July 10.—Rose rather late: the champagne and turtle, I suppose, for
our reform includes no fasting. Then poor Ardwell came to breakfast;
then Dr. Young's daughter. I have projected with Cadell a plan of her
father's life, to be edited by me.  If she does but tolerably, she
may have a fine thing of it. Next came the Court, where sixty judgments
were pronounced and written by the Clerks, I hope all correctly, though
an error might well happen in such a crowd, and——, one of the best men
possible, is beastly stupid. Be that as it may, off came Anne, Charles,
and I for Abbotsford. We started about two, and the water being too deep
didn't arrive till past seven; dinner, etc., filled up the rest of the
 The biography here spoken of was not published.
July 11, Abbotsford.—Corrected my proofs and the lave of it till
about one o'clock. Then started for a walk to Chiefswood, which I will
take from station to station,  with a book in my pouch. I have begun
Lawrie Todd, which ought, considering the author's undisputed talents,
to have been better. He might have laid Cooper aboard, but he follows
far behind. No wonder: Galt, poor fellow, was in the King's Bench when
he wrote it. No whetter of genius is necessity, though said to be the
mother of invention.
 Sir Walter had seats placed at suitable distances between
the house and Chiefswood.
July 12.—Another wet day, but I walked twice up and down the terrace,
and also wrote a handsome scrap of copy, though mystified by the want of
my books, and so forth. Dr. and Mrs. Lockhart and Violet came to
luncheon and left us to drive on to Peebles. I read and loitered and
longed to get my things in order. Got to work, however, at seven in the
July 13.—Now "what a thing it is to be an ass!"  I have a letter
from a certain young man, of a sapient family, announcing that his
sister had so far mistaken my attentions as to suppose I was only
prevented by modesty from stating certain wishes and hopes, etc. The
party is a woman of rank: so far my vanity may be satisfied. But to
think I would wish to appropriate a grim grenadier made to mount guard
at St. James's! The Lord deliver me! I excused myself with little
picking upon the terms, and there was no occasion for much delicacy in
repelling such an attack.
 Titus Andronicus, Act IV. Sc. 2.
July 14.—The Court of Session Bill is now committed in the House of
Lords, so it fairly goes on this season, and I have, I suppose, to look
for my congé. I can hardly form a notion of the possibility that I am
not to return to Edinburgh. My clerk Buchanan came here, and assists me
to finish the Demonology Letters, and be d—d to them. But it is done
to their hand. Two ladies, Mrs. Latouche of Dublin, and her niece, Miss
Boyle, came to spend a day or two. The aunt is a fine old lady; the
conversation that of a serious person frightened out of her wits by the
violence and superstition of our workers of miracles in the west. 
Miss Boyle is a pretty young woman, rather quiet for an Irish lass.
 For an account of these "miracles" see Peace in
Believing—a memoir of Isabella Campbell of Fernicarry. Roseneath, 8vo,
July 16.—We visited at Lessudden yesterday, and took Mrs. Latouche
thither. To-day, as they had left us, we went alone to Major John's
house of Ravenswood and engaged a large party of cousins to dine
In the evening a party of foreigners came around the door, and going out
I found Le Comte Ladislaus de Potocki, a great name in Poland, with his
lady and brother-in-law, so offered wine, coffee, tea, etc. The lady is
strikingly pretty. If such a woman as she had taken an affection for a
lame baronet, nigh sixty years old, it would be worth speaking about! I
have finished the Demonology. 
 Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, addressed to J.G.
Lockhart, Esq., was published before the end of the year in Murray's
July 17.—Another bad day, wet past all efforts to walk, and
threatening a very bad harvest. Persecuted with begging letters; an
author's Pegasus is like a post-chaise leaving the door of the inn: the
number of beggars is uncountable. The language they hold of my character
for charity makes my good reputation as troublesome as that of Joseph
Surface.  A dinner of cousins, the young Laird of Raeburn, so he
must be called, though nearly as old as I am, at their head. His brother
Robert, who has been in India for forty years, excepting one short
visit: a fine manly fellow, who has belled the cat with fortune, and
held her at bay as a man of mould may. Being all kinsmen and friends, we
made a merry day of our re-union. All left at night.
 School for Scandal.
"Time runs, I know not how, away."
Here am I beginning the second week of my vacation—though what needs me
note that?—vacation and session will probably be the same to me in the
future. The long remove must then be looked to, for the final signal to
break up, and that is a serious thought.
I have corrected two sets of proofs, one for the mail, another for the