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November 1825

[Edinburgh,] November 20, 1825.--I have all my life regretted that I did not keep a regular Journal. I have myself lost recollection of much that was interesting, and I have deprived my family and the public of some curious information, by not carrying this resolution into effect. I have bethought me, on seeing lately some volumes of Byron's notes, that he probably had hit upon the right way of keeping such a memorandum-book, by throwing aside all pretence to regularity and order, and marking down events just as they occurred to recollection. I will try this plan; and behold I have a handsome locked volume, such as might serve for a lady's album. _Nota bene_, John Lockhart, and Anne, and I are to raise a Society for the suppression of Albums. It is a most troublesome shape of mendicity. Sir, your autograph--a line of poetry--or a prose sentence!--Among all the sprawling sonnets, and blotted trumpery that dishonours these miscellanies, a man must have a good stomach that can swallow this botheration as a compliment.

I was in Ireland last summer, and had a most delightful tour. It cost me upwards of £500, including £100 left with Walter and Jane, for we travelled a large party and in style. There is much less exaggerated about the Irish than is to be expected. Their poverty is not exaggerated; it is on the extreme verge of human misery; their cottages would scarce serve for pig-styes, even in Scotland, and their rags seem the very refuse of a rag-shop, and are disposed on their bodies with such ingenious variety of wretchedness that you would think nothing but some sort of perverted taste could have assembled so many shreds together. You are constantly fearful that some knot or loop will give, and place the individual before you in all the primitive simplicity of Paradise. Then for their food, they have only potatoes, and too few of them. Yet the men look stout and healthy, the women buxom and well-coloured.

Dined with us, being Sunday, Will. Clerk and Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. W.C. is the second son of the celebrated author of _Naval Tactics_.[1] I have known him intimately since our college days; and, to my thinking, never met a man of greater powers, or more complete information on all desirable subjects. In youth he had strongly the Edinburgh _pruritus disputandi_; but habits of society have greatly mellowed it, and though still anxious to gain your suffrage to his views, he endeavours rather to conciliate your opinion than conquer it by force. Still there is enough of tenacity of sentiment to prevent, in London society, where all must go slack and easy, W.C. from rising to the very top of the tree as a conversation man, who must not only wind the thread of his argument gracefully, but also know when to let go. But I like the Scotch taste better; there is more matter, more information, above all, more spirit in it. Clerk will, I am afraid, leave the world little more than the report of his fame. He is too indolent to finish any considerable work.[2] Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe is another very remarkable man. He was bred a clergyman, but did not take orders, owing I believe to a peculiar effeminacy of voice which must have been unpleasant in reading prayers. Some family quarrels occasioned his being indifferently provided for by a small annuity from his elder brother, extorted by an arbitral decree. He has infinite wit and a great turn for antiquarian lore, as the publications of _Kirkton_,[3] etc., bear witness. His drawings are the most fanciful and droll imaginable--a mixture between Hogarth and some of those foreign masters who painted temptations of St. Anthony, and such grotesque subjects. As a poet he has not a very strong touch. Strange that his finger-ends can describe so well what he cannot bring out clearly and firmly in words. If he were to make drawing a resource, it might raise him a large income. But though a lover of antiquities, and therefore of expensive trifles, C.K.S. is too aristocratic to use his art to assist his revenue. He is a very complete genealogist, and has made many detections in _Douglas_ and other books on pedigree, which our nobles would do well to suppress if they had an opportunity. Strange that a man should be curious after scandal of centuries old! Not but Charles loves it fresh and fresh also, for, being very much a fashionable man, he is always master of the reigning report, and he tells the anecdote with such gusto that there is no helping sympathising with him--the peculiarity of voice adding not a little to the general effect. My idea is that C.K.S., with his oddities, tastes, satire, and high aristocratic feelings, resembles Horace Walpole--perhaps in his person also, in a general way.--See Miss Hawkins' _Anecdotes_[4] for a description of the author of _The Castle of Otranto_.

No other company at dinner except my cheerful and good-humoured friend _Missie_ Macdonald,[5] so called in fondness. One bottle of champagne with the ladies' assistance, two of claret. I observe that both these great connoisseurs were very nearly, if not quite, agreed, that there are _no_ absolutely undoubted originals of Queen Mary. But how then should we be so very distinctly informed as to her features? What has become of all the originals which suggested these innumerable copies? Surely Mary must have been as unfortunate in this as in other particulars of her life.[6]

November 21.--I am enamoured of my journal. I wish the zeal may but last. Once more of Ireland. I said their poverty was not exaggerated; neither is their wit--nor their good-humour--nor their whimsical absurdity--nor their courage.

_Wit_.--I gave a fellow a shilling on some occasion when sixpence was the fee. "Remember you owe me sixpence, Pat." "May your honour live till I pay you!" There was courtesy as well as wit in this, and all the clothes on Pat's back would have been dearly bought by the sum in question.

_Good-humour_.--There is perpetual kindness in the Irish cabin; butter-milk, potatoes, a stool is offered, or a stone is rolled that your honour may sit down and be out of the smoke, and those who beg everywhere else seem desirous to exercise free hospitality in their own houses. Their natural disposition is turned to gaiety and happiness; while a Scotchman is thinking about the term-day, or, if easy on that subject, about hell in the next world--while an Englishman is making a little hell of his own in the present, because his muffin is not well roasted--Pat's mind is always turned to fun and ridicule. They are terribly excitable, to be sure, and will murther you on slight suspicion, and find out next day that it was all a mistake, and that it was not yourself they meant to kill at all at all.

_Absurdity_.--They were widening the road near Lord Claremont's seat as we passed. A number of cars were drawn up together at a particular point, where we also halted, as we understood they were blowing a rock, and the _shot_ was expected presently to go off. After waiting two minutes or so, a fellow called out something, and our carriage as a planet, and the cars for satellites, started all forward at once, the Irishmen whooping and crying, and the horses galloping. Unable to learn the meaning of this, I was only left to suppose that they had delayed firing the intended _shot_ till we should pass, and that we were passing quickly to make the delay as short as possible. No such thing. By dint of making great haste, we got within ten yards of the rock when the blast took place, throwing dust and gravel on our carriage, and had our postillion brought us a little nearer (it was not for want of hallooing and flogging that he did not), we should have had a still more serious share of the explosion. The explanation I received from the drivers was, that they had been told by the overseer that as the _mine_ had been so long in _going off_, he dared say we would have time to pass it--so we just waited long enough to make the danger imminent. I have only to add that two or three people got behind the carriage, just for nothing but to see how our honours got past.

Went to the Oil Gas Committee[7] this morning, of which concern I am president, or chairman. It has amused me much by bringing me into company with a body of active, business-loving, money-making citizens of Edinburgh, chiefly Whigs by the way, whose sentiments and proceedings amuse me. The stock is rather low in the market, 35s. premium instead of £5. It must rise, however, for the advantages of the light are undeniable, and folks will soon become accustomed to idle apprehensions or misapprehensions. From £20 to £25 should light a house capitally, supposing you leave town in the vacation. The three last quarters cost me £10, 10s., and the first, £8, was greatly overcharged. We will see what this, the worst and darkest quarter, costs.

Dined with Sir Robert Dundas,[8] where we met Lord and Lady Melville. My little _nieces_ (_ex officio_) gave us some pretty music. I do not know and cannot utter a note of music; and complicated harmonies seem to me a babble of confused though pleasing sounds. Yet songs and simple melodies, especially if connected with words and ideas, have as much effect on me as on most people. But then I hate to hear a young person sing without feeling and expression suited to the song. I cannot bear a voice that has no more life in it than a pianoforte or a bugle-horn. There is something about all the fine arts, of soul and spirit, which, like the vital principle in man, defies the research of the most critical anatomist. You feel where it is not, yet you cannot describe what it is you want. Sir Joshua, or some other great painter, was looking at a picture on which much pains had been bestowed--"Why, yes," he said, in a hesitating manner, "it is very clever--very well done--can't find fault; but it wants something; it wants--it wants, damn me--it wants THAT"--throwing his hand over his head and snapping his fingers. Tom Moore's is the most exquisite warbling I ever heard. Next to him, David Macculloch[9] for Scots songs. The last, when a boy at Dumfries, was much admired by Burns, who used to get him to try over the words which he composed to new melodies. He is brother of Macculloch of Ardwell.

November 22.--MOORE. I saw Moore (for the first time, I may say) this season. We had indeed met in public twenty years ago. There is a manly frankness, and perfect ease and good breeding about him which is delightful. Not the least touch of the poet or the pedant. A little--very little man. Less, I think, than Lewis, and somewhat like him in person; God knows, not in conversation, for Matt, though a clever fellow, was a bore of the first description. Moreover, he looked always like a schoolboy. I remember a picture of him being handed about at Dalkeith House. It was a miniature I think by Sanders,[10] who had contrived to muffle Lewis's person in a cloak, and placed some poignard or dark lanthorn appurtenance (I think) in his hand, so as to give the picture the cast of a bravo. "That like Mat Lewis?" said Duke Henry, to whom it had passed in turn; "why, that is like a MAN!" Imagine the effect! Lewis was at his elbow.[11] Now Moore has none of this insignificance; to be sure his person is much stouter than that of M.G.L., his countenance is decidedly plain, but the expression is so very animated, especially in speaking or singing, that it is far more interesting than the finest features could have rendered it.

I was aware that Byron had often spoken, both in private society and in his Journal, of Moore and myself in the same breath, and with the same sort of regard; so I was curious to see what there could be in common betwixt us, Moore having lived so much in the gay world, I in the country, and with people of business, and sometimes with politicians; Moore a scholar, I none; he a musician and artist, I without knowledge of a note; he a democrat, I an aristocrat--with many other points of difference; besides his being an Irishman, I a Scotchman, and both tolerably national. Yet there is a point of resemblance, and a strong one. We are both good-humoured fellows, who rather seek to enjoy what is going forward than to maintain our dignity as lions; and we have both seen the world too widely and too well not to contemn in our souls the imaginary consequence of literary people, who walk with their noses in the air, and remind me always of the fellow whom Johnson met in an alehouse, and who called himself "the _great_ Twalmley--inventor of the floodgate iron for smoothing linen." He also enjoys the _mot pour rire_, and so do I.

Moore has, I think, been ill-treated about Byron's Memoirs; he surrendered them to the family (Lord Byron's executors) and thus lost £2000 which he had raised upon them at a most distressing moment of his life. It is true they offered and pressed the money on him afterwards, but they ought to have settled it with the booksellers and not put poor Tom's spirit in arms against his interest.[12] I think at least it might have been so managed. At any rate there must be an authentic life of Byron by somebody. Why should they not give the benefit of their materials to Tom Moore, whom Byron had made the depositary of his own Memoirs?--but T.M. thinks that Cam Hobhouse has the purpose of writing Byron's life himself. He and Moore were at sharp words during the negotiation, and there was some explanation necessary before the affair ended. It was a pity that nothing save the total destruction of Byron's Memoirs would satisfy his executors.[13] But there was a reason--_Premat nox alta_.

It would be a delightful addition to life, if T.M. had a cottage within two miles of one. We went to the theatre together, and the house, being luckily a good one, received T.M. with rapture. I could have hugged them, for it paid back the debt of the kind reception I met with in Ireland.[14]

Here is a matter for a May morning, but much fitter for a November one. The general distress in the city has affected H. and R.,[15] Constable's great agents. Should they _go_, it is not likely that Constable can stand, and such an event would lead to great distress and perplexity on the part of J.B. and myself. Thank God, I have enough at least to pay forty shillings in the pound, taking matters at the very worst. But much distress and inconvenience must be the consequence. I had a lesson in 1814 which should have done good upon me, but success and abundance erased it from my mind. But this is no time for journalising or moralising either. Necessity is like a sour-faced cook-maid, and I a turn-spit whom she has flogged ere now, till he mounted his wheel. If W-st-k[16] can be out by 25th January it will do much, and it is possible.

------'s son has saved his comrade on shipboard by throwing himself overboard and keeping the other afloat--a very gallant thing. But the _Gran giag' Asso_[17] asks me to write a poem on the _civic crown_, of which he sends me a description quoted from Adam's _Antiquities_, which mellifluous performance is to persuade the Admiralty to give the young conservator promotion. Oh! he is a rare head-piece, an admirable Merron. I do not believe there is in nature such a full-acorned Boar.[18]

Could not write to purpose for thick-coming fancies; the wheel would not turn easily, and cannot be forced.

    "My spinning-wheel is auld and stiff,
      The rock o't winna stand, sir;
    To keep the temper-pin in tiff
      Employs aft my hand, sir."[19]

Went to dine at the L[ord] J[ustice]-C[lerk's][20] as I thought by invitation, but it was for Tuesday se'nnight. Returned very well pleased, not being exactly in the humour for company, and had a beef-steak. My appetite is surely, excepting in quantity, that of a farmer; for, eating moderately of anything, my Epicurean pleasure is in the most simple diet. Wine I seldom taste when alone, and use instead a little spirits and water. I have of late diminished the quantity, for fear of a weakness inductive to a diabetes--a disease which broke up my father's health, though one of the most temperate men who ever lived. I smoke a couple of cigars instead, which operates equally as a sedative--

"Just to drive the cold winter away, And drown the fatigues of the day."

I smoked a good deal about twenty years ago when at Ashestiel; but, coming down one morning to the parlour, I found, as the room was small and confined, that the smell was unpleasant, and laid aside the use of the _Nicotian weed_ for many years; but was again led to use it by the example of my son, a hussar officer, and my son-in-law, an Oxford student. I could lay it aside to-morrow; I laugh at the dominion of custom in this and many things.
    "We make the giants first, and then--_do not_ kill them."

November 23.--On comparing notes with Moore, I was confirmed in one or two points which I had always laid down in considering poor Byron. One was, that like Rousseau he was apt to be very suspicious, and a plain downright steadiness of manner was the true mode to maintain his good opinion. Will Rose told me that once, while sitting with Byron, he fixed insensibly his eyes on his feet, one of which, it must be remembered, was deformed. Looking up suddenly, he saw Byron regarding him with a look of concentrated and deep displeasure, which wore off when he observed no consciousness or embarrassment in the countenance of Rose. Murray afterwards explained this, by telling Rose that Lord Byron was very jealous of having this personal imperfection noticed or attended to. In another point, Moore confirmed my previous opinion, namely, that Byron loved mischief-making. Moore had written to him cautioning him against the project of establishing the paper called the _Liberal_, in communion with such men as P.B. Shelley and Hunt,[21] on whom he said the world had set its mark. Byron showed this to the parties. Shelley wrote a modest and rather affecting expostulation to Moore.[22] These two peculiarities of extreme suspicion and love of mischief are both shades of the malady which certainly tinctured some part of the character of this mighty genius; and, without some tendency towards which, genius--I mean that kind which depends on the imaginative power--perhaps cannot exist to great extent. The wheels of a machine, to play rapidly, must not fit with the utmost exactness, else the attrition diminishes the impetus.

Another of Byron's peculiarities was the love of mystifying; which indeed may be referred to that of mischief. There was no knowing how much or how little to believe of his narratives. Instance:--Mr. Bankes[23] expostulating with him upon a dedication which he had written in extravagant terms of praise to Cam Hobhouse, Byron told him that Cam had teased him into the dedication till he had said, "Well; it shall be so,--providing you will write the dedication yourself"; and affirmed that Cam Hobhouse did write the high-coloured dedication accordingly. I mentioned this to Murray, having the report from Will Rose, to whom Bankes had mentioned it. Murray, in reply, assured me that the dedication was written by Lord Byron himself, and showed it me in his own hand. I wrote to Rose to mention the thing to Bankes, as it might have made mischief had the story got into the circle. Byron was disposed to think all men of imagination were addicted to mix fiction (or poetry) with their prose. He used to say he dared believe the celebrated courtezan of Venice, about whom Rousseau makes so piquante a story, was, if one could see her, a draggle-tailed wench enough. I believe that he embellished his own amours considerably, and that he was, in many respects, _le fanfaron de vices qu'il n'avoit pas_. He loved to be thought awful, mysterious, and gloomy, and sometimes hinted at strange causes. I believe the whole to have been the creation and sport of a wild and powerful fancy. In the same manner he _crammed_ people, as it is termed, about duels, etc., which never existed, or were much exaggerated.

Constable has been here as lame as a duck upon his legs, but his heart and courage as firm as a cock. He has convinced me we will do well to support the London House. He has sent them about £5000, and proposes we should borrow on our joint security £5000 for their accommodation. J.B. and R. Cadell present. I must be guided by them, and hope for the best. Certainly to part company would be to incur an awful risk.

What I liked about Byron, besides his boundless genius, was his generosity of spirit as well as purse, and his utter contempt of all the affectations of literature, from the school-magisterial style to the lackadaisical. Byron's example has formed a sort of upper house of poetry. There is Lord Leveson Gower, a very clever young man.[24] Lord Porchester too,[25] nephew to Mrs. Scott of Harden, a young man who lies on the carpet and looks poetical and dandyish--fine lad too, but--

    "There will be many peers
    Ere such another Byron."
Talking of Abbotsford, it begins to be haunted by too much company of every kind, but especially foreigners. I do not like them. I hate fine waistcoats and breast-pins upon dirty shirts. I detest the impudence that pays a stranger compliments, and harangues about his works in the author's house, which is usually ill-breeding. Moreover, they are seldom long of making it evident that they know nothing about what they are talking of, except having seen the Lady of the Lake at the Opera.

Dined at St. Catherine's[26] with Lord Advocate, Lord and Lady Melville, Lord Justice-Clerk,[27] Sir Archibald Campbell of Succoth, all class companions and acquainted well for more than forty years. All except Lord J.C. were at Fraser's class, High School.[28] Boyle joined us at college. There are, besides, Sir Adam Ferguson, Colin Mackenzie, James Hope, Dr. James Buchan, Claud Russell, and perhaps two or three more of and about the same period--but

"Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto."[29]

November 24--Talking of strangers, London held, some four or five years since, one of those animals who are lions at first, but by transmutation of two seasons become in regular course Boars!--Ugo Foscolo by name, a haunter of Murray's shop and of literary parties. Ugly as a baboon, and intolerably conceited, he spluttered, blustered, and disputed, without even knowing the principles upon which men of sense render a reason, and screamed all the while like a pig when they cut its throat. Another such Animaluccio is a brute of a Sicilian Marquis de ---- who wrote something about Byron. He inflicted two days on us at Abbotsford. They never know what to make of themselves in the forenoon, but sit tormenting the women to play at proverbs and such trash.

_Foreigner of a different cast_,--Count Olonym (Olonyne--that's it), son of the President of the Royal Society and a captain in the Imperial Guards. He is mean-looking and sickly, but has much sense, candour, and general information. There was at Abbotsford, and is here, for education just now, a young Count Davidoff, with a tutor Mr. Collyer. He is a nephew of the famous Orloffs. It is quite surprising how much sense and sound thinking this youth has at the early age of sixteen, without the least self-conceit or forwardness. On the contrary, he seems kind, modest, and ingenuous.[30] To questions which I asked about the state of Russia he answered with the precision and accuracy of twice his years. I should be sorry the saying were verified in him--

"So wise so young, they say, do ne'er live long."[31]

Saw also at Abbotsford two Frenchmen whom I liked, friends of Miss Dumergue. One, called Le Noir, is the author of a tragedy which he had the grace never to quote, and which I, though poked by some malicious persons, had _not_ the grace even to hint at. They were disposed at first to be complimentary, but I convinced them it was not the custom here, and they took it well, and were agreeable.

A little bilious this morning, for the first time these six months. It cannot be the London matters which stick on my stomach, for that is mending, and may have good effects on myself and others.

Dined with Robert Cockburn. Company, Lord Melville and family; Sir John and Lady Hope; Lord and Lady R. Kerr, and so forth. Combination of colliers general, and coals up to double price; the men will not work, _although_, or rather _because_, they can make from thirty to forty shillings per week. Lord R.K. told us that he had a letter from Lord Forbes (son of Earl Granard, Ireland), that he was asleep in his house at Castle Forbes, when awakened by a sense of suffocation which deprived him of the power of stirring a limb, yet left him the consciousness that the house was on fire. At this moment, and while his apartment was in flames, his large dog jumped on the bed, seized his shirt, and dragged him to the staircase, where the fresh air restored his powers of exertion and of escape. This is very different from most cases of preservation of life by the canine race, when the animal generally jumps into the water, in which [element] he has force and skill. That of fire is as hostile to him as to mankind.

November 25.--Read Jeffrey's neat and well-intended address[32] to the mechanics upon their combinations. Will it do good? Umph. It takes only the hand of a Lilliputian to light a fire, but would require the diuretic powers of Gulliver to extinguish it. The Whigs will live and die in the heresy that the world is ruled by little pamphlets and speeches, and that if you can sufficiently demonstrate that a line of conduct is most consistent with men's interest, you have therefore and thereby demonstrated that they will at length, after a few speeches on the subject, adopt it of course. In this case we would have [no] need of laws or churches, for I am sure there is no difficulty in proving that moral, regular, and steady habits conduce to men's best interest, and that vice is not sin merely, but folly. But of these men each has passions and prejudices, the gratification of which he prefers, not only to the general weal, but to that of himself as an individual. Under the action of these wayward impulses a man drinks to-day though he is sure of starving to-morrow. He murders to-morrow though he is sure to be hanged on Wednesday; and people are so slow to believe that which makes against their own predominant passions, that mechanics will combine to raise the price for one week, though they destroy the manufacture for ever. The best remedy seems to be the probable supply of labourers from other trades. Jeffrey proposes each mechanic shall learn some other trade than his own, and so have two strings to his bow. He does not consider the length of a double apprenticeship. To make a man a good weaver and a good tailor would require as much time as the patriarch served for his two wives, and after all, he would be but a poor workman at either craft. Each mechanic has, indeed, a second trade, for he can dig and do rustic work. Perhaps the best reason for breaking up the association will prove to be the expenditure of the money which they have been simple enough to levy from the industrious for the support of the idle. How much provision for the sick and the aged, the widow and the orphan, has been expended in the attempt to get wages which the manufacturer cannot afford them, with any profitable chance of selling his commodity?

I had a bad fall last night coming home. There were unfinished houses at the east end of Atholl Place,[33] and as I was on foot, I crossed the street to avoid the material which lay about; but, deceived by the moonlight, I stepped ankle-deep in a sea of mud (honest earth and water, thank God), and fell on my hands. Never was there such a representative of _Wall_ in Pyramus and Thisbe--I was absolutely rough-cast. Luckily Lady S. had retired when I came home; so I enjoyed my tub of water without either remonstrance or condolences. Cockburn's hospitality will get the benefit and renown of my downfall, and yet has no claim to it. In future though, I must take a coach at night--a control on one's freedom, but it must be submitted to. I found a letter from [R.] C[adell], giving a cheering account of things in London. Their correspondent is getting into his strength. Three days ago I would have been contented to buy this _consola_, as Judy says,[34] dearer than by a dozen falls in the mud. For had the great Constable fallen, O my countrymen, what a fall were there!

[Sidenote: _N.B._ Within eight weeks after recording this graceful act of submission, I found I was unable to keep a carriage at all.]

Mrs. Coutts, with the Duke of St. Albans and Lady Charlotte Beauclerk, called to take leave of us. When at Abbotsford his suit throve but coldly. She made me, I believe, her confidant in sincerity.[35] She had refused him twice, and decidedly. He was merely on the footing of friendship. I urged it was akin to love. She allowed she might marry the Duke, only she had at present not the least intention that way. Is this frank admission more favourable for the Duke than an absolute protestation against the possibility of such a marriage? I think not. It is the fashion to attend Mrs. Coutts' parties and to abuse her. I have always found her a kind, friendly woman, without either affectation or insolence in the display of her wealth, and most willing to do good if the means be shown to her. She can be very entertaining too, as she speaks without scruple of her stage life. So much wealth can hardly be enjoyed without some ostentation. But what then? If the Duke marries her, he ensures an immense fortune; if she marries him, she has the first rank. If he marries a woman older than himself by twenty years, she marries a man younger in wit by twenty degrees. I do not think he will dilapidate her fortune--he seems quiet and gentle. I do not think that she will abuse his softness--of disposition, shall I say, or of heart? The disparity of ages concerns no one but themselves; so they have my consent to marry, if they can get each other's. Just as this is written, enter my Lord of St. Albans and Lady Charlotte, to beg I would recommend a book of sermons to Mrs. Coutts. Much obliged for her good opinion: recommended Logan's[36]--one poet should always speak for another. The mission, I suppose, was a little display on the part of good Mrs. Coutts of authority over her high aristocratic suitor. I do not suspect her of turning _dévote_, and retract my consent given as above, unless she remains "lively, brisk, and jolly."[37]

Dined quiet with wife and daughter. R[obert] Cadell looked in in the evening on business.

I here register my purpose to practise economics. I have little temptation to do otherwise. Abbotsford is all that I can make it, and too large for the property; so I resolve--

No more building;

No purchases of land till times are quite safe;

No buying books or expensive trifles--I mean to any extent; and

Clearing off encumbrances, with the returns of this year's labour;--

Which resolutions, with health and my habits of industry, will make me "sleep in spite of thunder."

After all, it is hard that the vagabond stock-jobbing Jews should, for their own purposes, make such a shake of credit as now exists in London, and menace the credit of men trading on sure funds like H[urst] and R[obinson]. It is just like a set of pickpockets, who raise a mob, in which honest folks are knocked down and plundered, that they may pillage safely in the midst of the confusion they have excited.

[Sidenote: I was obliged to give this up in consequence of my own misfortunes.]

November 26.--The court met late, and sat till _one_; detained from that hour till four o'clock, being engaged in the perplexed affairs of Mr. James Stewart of Brugh. This young gentleman is heir to a property of better than £1000 a year in Orkney. His mother married very young, and was wife, mother, and widow in the course of the first year. Being unfortunately under the direction of a careless agent, she was unlucky enough to embarrass her own affairs by many transactions with this person. I was asked to accept the situation of one of the son's curators; and trust to clear out his affairs and hers--at least I will not fail for want of application. I have lent her £300 on a second (and therefore doubtful) security over her house in Newington, bought for £1000, and on which £600 is already secured. I have no connection with the family except that of compassion, and may not be rewarded even by thanks when the young man comes of age. I have known my father often so treated by those whom he had laboured to serve. But if we do not run some hazard in our attempts to do good, where is the merit of them? So I will bring through my Orkney laird if I can. Dined at home quiet with Lady S. and Anne.

November 27.--Some time since John Murray entered into a contract with my son-in-law, John G. Lockhart, giving him on certain ample conditions the management and editorship of the _Quarterly Review_, for which they could certainly scarcely find a fitter person, both from talents and character. It seems that Barrow[38] and one or two stagers have taken alarm at Lockhart's character as a satirist, and his supposed accession to some of the freaks in _Blackwood's Magazine_, and down comes young D'Israeli[39] to Scotland imploring Lockhart to make interest with my friends in London to remove objections, and so forth. I have no idea of telling all and sundry that my son-in-law is not a slanderer, or a silly thoughtless lad, although he was six or seven years ago engaged in some light satires. I only wrote to Heber and to Southey--the first upon the subject of the reports which had startled Murray, (the most timorous, as Byron called him, of all God's booksellers), and such a letter as he may show Barrow if he judges proper. To Southey I wrote more generally, acquainting him of my son's appointment to the Editorship, and mentioning his qualifications, touching, at the same time, on his very slight connection with _Blackwood's Magazine_, and his innocence as to those gambades which may have given offence, and which, I fear, they may ascribe too truly to an eccentric neighbour of their own. I also mentioned that I had heard nothing of the affair until the month of October. I am concerned that Southey should know this; for, having been at the Lakes in September, I would not have him suppose that I had been using interest with Canning or Ellis to supersede young Mr. Coleridge,[40] their editor, and place my son-in-law in the situation; indeed I was never more surprised than when this proposal came upon us. I suppose it had come from Canning originally, as he was sounding Anne when at Colonel Bolton's[41] about Lockhart's views, etc. To me he never hinted anything on the subject. Other views are held out to Lockhart which may turn to great advantage. Only one person (John Cay[42] of Charlton) knows their object, and truly I wish it had not been confided to any one. Yesterday I had a letter from Murray in answer to one I had written in something a determined style, for I had no idea of permitting him to start from the course after my son giving up his situation and profession, merely because a contributor or two chose to suppose gratuitously that Lockhart was too imprudent for the situation. My physic has wrought well, for it brought a letter from Murray saying all was right, that D'Israeli was sent to me, not to Lockhart, and that I was only invited to write two confidential letters, and other incoherencies--which intimate his fright has got into another quarter. It is interlined and franked by Barrow, which shows that all is well, and that John's induction into his office will be easy and pleasant. I have not the least fear of his success; his talents want only a worthy sphere of exertion. He must learn, however, to despise petty adversaries. No good sportsman ought to shoot at crows unless for some special purpose. To take notice of such men as Hazlitt and Hunt in the _Quarterly_ would be to introduce them into a world which is scarce conscious of their existence. It is odd enough that many years since I had the principal share in erecting this _Review_ which has been since so prosperous, and now it is placed under the management of my son-in-law upon the most honourable principle of _detur digniori_. Yet there are sad drawbacks so far as family comfort is concerned. To-day is Sunday, when they always dined with us, and generally met a family friend or two, but we are no longer to expect them. In the country, where their little cottage was within a mile or two of Abbotsford, we shall miss their society still more, for Chiefswood was the perpetual object of our walks, rides, and drives. Lockhart is such an excellent family man, so fond of his wife and child, that I hope all will go well. A letter from Lockhart in the evening. All safe as to his unanimous reception in London; his predecessor, young [Coleridge], handsomely, and like a gentleman, offers his assistance as a contributor, etc.

November 28.--I have the less dread, or rather the less anxiety, about the consequences of this migration, that I repose much confidence in Sophia's tact and good sense. Her manners are good, and have the appearance of being perfectly natural. She is quite conscious of the limited range of her musical talents, and never makes them common or produces them out of place,--a rare virtue; moreover she is proud enough, and will not be easily netted and patronised by any of that class of ladies who may be called Lion-providers for town and country. She is domestic besides, and will not be disposed to gad about. Then she seems an economist, and on £3000,[43] living quietly, there should be something to save. Lockhart must be liked where his good qualities are known, and where his fund of information has room to be displayed. But, notwithstanding a handsome exterior and face, I am not sure he will succeed in London Society; he sometimes reverses the proverb, and gives the _volte strette e pensiere sciolti_, withdraws his attention from the company, or attaches himself to some individual, gets into a corner, and seems to be quizzing the rest. This is the want of early habits of being in society, and a life led much at college. Nothing is, however, so popular, and so deservedly so, as to take an interest in whatever is going forward in society. A wise man always finds his account in it, and will receive information and fresh views of life even in the society of fools. Abstain from society altogether when you are not able to play some part in it. This reserve, and a sort of Hidalgo air joined to his character as a satirist, have done the best-humoured fellow in the world some injury in the opinion of Edinburgh folks. In London it is of less consequence whether he please in general society or not, since if he can establish himself as a genius it will only be called "Pretty Fanny's Way."

People make me the oddest requests. It is not unusual for an Oxonian or Cantab, who has outrun his allowance, and of whom I know nothing, to apply to me for the loan of £20, £50, or £100. A captain of the Danish naval service writes to me, that being in distress for a sum of money by which he might transport himself to Columbia, to offer his services in assisting to free that province, he had dreamed I generously made him a present of it. I can tell him his dream by contraries. I begin to find, like Joseph Surface, that too good a character is inconvenient. I don't know what I have done to gain so much credit for generosity, but I suspect I owe it to being supposed, as Puff[44] says, one of those "whom Heaven has blessed with affluence." Not too much of that neither, my dear petitioners, though I may thank myself that your ideas are not correct.

Dined at Melville Castle, whither I went through a snow-storm. I was glad to find myself once more in a place connected with many happy days. Met Sir R. Dundas and my old friend George, now Lord Abercromby,[45] with his lady, and a beautiful girl, his daughter. He is what he always was--the best-humoured man living; and our meetings, now more rare than usual, are seasoned with a recollection of old frolics and old friends. I am entertained to see him just the same he has always been, never yielding up his own opinion in fact, and yet in words acquiescing in all that could be said against it. George was always like a willow--he never offered resistance to the breath of argument, but never moved from his rooted opinion, blow as it listed. Exaggeration might make these peculiarities highly dramatic: Conceive a man who always seems to be acquiescing in your sentiments, yet never changes his own, and this with a sort of _bonhomie_ which shows there is not a particle of deceit intended. He is only desirous to spare you the trouble of contradiction.

November 29.--A letter from Southey, malcontent about Murray having accomplished the change in the _Quarterly_ without speaking to him, and quoting the twaddle of some old woman, male or female, about Lockhart's earlier _jeux d'esprit_, but concluding most kindly that in regard to my daughter and me he did not mean to withdraw. That he has done yeoman's service to the _Review_ is certain, with his genius, his universal reading, his powers of regular industry, and at the outset a name which, though less generally popular than it deserves, is still too respectable to be withdrawn without injury. I could not in reply point out to him what is the truth, that his rigid Toryism and High Church prejudices rendered him an unsafe counsellor in a matter where the spirit of the age must be consulted; but I pointed out to him what I am sure is true, that Murray, apprehensive of his displeasure, had not ventured to write to him out of mere timidity and not from any [intention to offend]. I treated [lightly] his old woman's apprehensions and cautions, and all that gossip about friends and enemies, to which a splendid number or two will be a sufficient answer, and I accepted with due acknowledgment his proposal of continued support. I cannot say I was afraid of his withdrawing. Lockhart will have hard words with him, for, great as Southey's powers are, he has not the art to make them work popularly; he is often diffuse, and frequently sets much value on minute and unimportant facts, and useless pieces of abstruse knowledge. Living too exclusively in a circle where he is idolised both for his genius and the excellence of his disposition, he has acquired strong prejudices, though all of an upright and honourable cast. He rides his High Church hobby too hard, and it will not do to run a tilt upon it against all the world. Gifford used to crop his articles considerably, and they bear mark of it, being sometimes _décousues._ Southey said that Gifford cut out his _middle joints_. When John comes to use the carving-knife I fear Dr. Southey will not be so tractable. _Nous verrons_. I will not show Southey's letter to Lockhart, for there is to him personally no friendly tone, and it would startle the Hidalgo's pride. It is to be wished they may draw kindly together. Southey says most truly that even those who most undervalue his reputation would, were he to withdraw from the _Review_, exaggerate the loss it would thereby sustain. The bottom of all these feuds, though not named, is _Blackwood's Magazine_; all the squibs of which, which have sometimes exploded among the Lakers, Lockhart is rendered accountable for. He must now exert himself at once with spirit and prudence.[46] He has good backing--Canning, Bishop Blomfield, Gifford, Wright, Croker, Will Rose,--and is there not besides the Douglas?[47] An excellent plot, excellent friends, and full of preparations? It was no plot of my making, I am sure, yet men will say and believe that [it was], though I never heard a word of the matter till first a hint from Wright, and then the formal proposal of Murray to Lockhart announced. I believe Canning and Charles Ellis were the prime movers. I'll puzzle my brains no more about it.

Dined at Justice-Clerk's--the President--Captain Smollett, etc.,--our new Commander-in-chief, Hon. Sir Robert O'Callaghan, brother to Earl of Lismore, a fine soldierly-looking man, with orders and badges;--his brother, an agreeable man, whom I met at Lowther Castle this season. He composes his own music and sings his own poetry--has much humour, enhanced by a strong touch of national dialect, which is always a rich sauce to an Irishman's good things. Dandyish, but not offensively, and seems to have a warm feeling for the credit of his country--rather inconsistent with the trifling and selfish quietude of a mere man of society.

November 30.--I am come to the time when those who look out of the windows shall be darkened. I must now wear spectacles constantly in reading and writing, though till this winter I have made a shift by using only their occasional assistance. Although my health cannot be better, I feel my lameness becomes sometimes painful, and often inconvenient. Walking on the pavement or causeway gives me trouble, and I am glad when I have accomplished my return on foot from the Parliament House to Castle Street, though I can (taking a competent time, as old Braxie[48] said on another occasion) walk five or six miles in the country with pleasure. Well--such things must come, and be received with cheerful submission. My early lameness considered, it was impossible for a man labouring under a bodily impediment to have been stronger or more active than I have been, and that for twenty or thirty years. Seams will slit, and elbows will out, quoth the tailor; and as I was fifty-four on 15th August last, my mortal vestments are none of the newest. Then Walter, Charles, and Lockhart are as active and handsome young fellows as you can see; and while they enjoy strength and activity I can hardly be said to want it. I have perhaps all my life set an undue value on these gifts. Yet it does appear to me that high and independent feelings are naturally, though not uniformly or inseparably, connected with bodily advantages. Strong men are usually good-humoured, and active men often display the same elasticity of mind as of body. These are superiorities, however, that are often misused. But even for these things God shall call us to judgment.

Some months since I joined with other literary folks in subscribing a petition for a pension to Mrs. G. of L.,[49] which we thought was a tribute merited by her works as an authoress, and, in my opinion, much more by the firmness and elasticity of mind with which she had borne a succession of great domestic calamities. Unhappily there was only about £100 open on the pension list, and this the minister assigned in equal portions to Mrs. G---- and a distressed lady, grand-daughter of a forfeited Scottish nobleman. Mrs. G----, proud as a Highland-woman, vain as a poetess, and absurd as a bluestocking, has taken this partition _in malam partem_, and written to Lord Melville about her merits, and that her friends do not consider her claims as being fairly canvassed, with something like a demand that her petition be submitted to the King. This is not the way to make her _plack_ a _bawbee_, and Lord M., a little _miffed_ in turn, sends the whole correspondence to me to know whether Mrs. G----will accept the £50 or not. Now, hating to deal with ladies when they are in an unreasonable humour, I have got the good-humoured "Man of Feeling" to find out the lady's mind, and I take on myself the task of making her peace with Lord M. There is no great doubt how it will end, for your scornful dog will always eat your dirty pudding.[50] After all, the poor lady is greatly to be pitied;--her sole remaining daughter, deep and far gone in a decline, has been seized with alienation of mind.

Dined with my cousin, R[obert] R[utherford], being the first invitation since my uncle's death, and our cousin Lieutenant-Colonel Russell[51] of Ashestiel, with his sister Anne--the former newly returned from India--a fine gallant fellow, and distinguished as a cavalry officer. He came overland from India and has observed a good deal. General L---- of L----, in Logan's orthography a _fowl_, Sir William Hamilton, Miss Peggie Swinton, William Keith, and others. Knight Marischal not well, so unable to attend the convocation of kith and kin.

-

FOOTNOTES:

[1] _An Essay on Naval Tactics, Systematical and Historical, with explanatory plates_. In four parts. By John Clerk. 4to. Lond. 1790.

[2] William Clerk of Eldin, the prototype of Darsie Latimer in _Redgauntlet_, "admired through life for talents and learning of which he has left no monument," died at Edinburgh in January 1847.

[3] _Secret and True History of the Church of Scotland from the Restoration to the year_ 1678. 4to. Edin. 1817.

[4] _Anecdotes, Biographical Sketches, and Memoirs_, collected by Lætitia Matilda Hawkins. 8vo. Lond. 1822.

[5] Miss Macdonald Buchanan of Drummakill.--J.G.L.

[6] Mr. Sharpe, whose _Letters_ and _Memoir_ were published in two volumes 8vo, Edin. 1888, survived Sir Walter till the year 1851. In the Sir Mungo Malagrowther of _The Fortunes of Nigel_ some of Sharpe's peculiarities are not unfaithfully mirrored.

[7] One of the numerous joint-stock adventures which were so common in Edinburgh at this time. There had already been formed a Gas-light Company in 1818, for the manufacture of gas from coal, but the projectors of this new venture believed they could produce a purer and more powerful light by the use of oil. It was not successful commercially, and, as is told in the Journal, the rival company acquired the stock and plant a few years after the formation of this "Oil Gas Co.," of which Sir Walter had been Chairman from 1823.

See _Life_, vol. vii. pp. 141, 144, 197, 251, 374; and viii. p. 113; Cockburn's _Memorials_ (for 1825).

[8] Sir Robert Dundas of Beechwood, one of Scott's colleagues at the "Clerks' Table,"--son of the parish minister of Humbie, and kinsman of Lord and Lady Melville; he died in 1835. Some of the other gentlemen with whom the duties of his office brought Scott into close daily connection were David Hume, Hector Macdonald Buchanan, and Colin Mackenzie of Portmore. With these families, says Mr. Lockhart, "he and his lived in such constant familiarity of kindness, that the children all called their father's colleagues _uncles_, and the mothers of their little friends _aunts_; and in truth the establishment was a brotherhood."

[9] Mrs. Thomas Scott's brother.

[10] George L. Sanders, born at Kinghorn, 1774; died in London, 1846.

[11] Sir Walter told Moore that Lewis was the person who first set him upon trying his talent at poetry, adding that "he had passed the early part of his life with a set of clever, rattling, drinking fellows, whose thoughts and talents lay wholly out of the region of poetry." Thirty years after having met Lewis in Edinburgh for the first time in 1798, he said to Allan Cunningham, "that he thought he had never felt such elation as when 'the monk' invited him to dine with him at his hotel." Lewis died in 1818, and Scott says of him, "He did much good by stealth, and was a most generous creature--fonder of great people than he ought to have been, either as a man of talent or as a man of fashion. He had always ladies and duchesses in his mouth, and was pathetically fond of any one that had a title. Mat had queerish eyes--they projected like those of some insects, and were flattish on the orbit."

[12] Moore's friends seem to have recognised his thorough manliness and independence of character. Lord John Russell testifies: "Never did he make wife or family a pretext for political shabbiness--never did he imagine that to leave a disgraced name as an inheritance to his children was a duty as a father" (_Memoirs_, vol. i. pp. xiii and xiv), and when Rogers urged this plea of family as a reason why he should accept the money, Moore said, "More mean things have been done in this world under the shelter of 'wife and children' than under any pretext worldly-mindedness can resort to." To which S.R. only said, "Well, your life may be a good poem, but it is a ---- bad matter of fact."--Clayden, _Rogers and his Contemporaries_, vol. i. p. 378.

[13] Moore's _Life of Byron_ was published in two vols. 4to in 1830, and dedicated to Sir Walter Scott by "his affectionate friend, T.M." See this Journal under March 4 1828.

[14] "I parted from Scott," says Moore, "with the feeling that all the world might admire him in his works, but that those only could learn to love him as he deserved who had seen him at Abbotsford." Moore died February 26, 1852; see Moore's _Life_, vol. iv. pp. 329-42, and vol. v. pp. 13-14.

[15] Hurst and Robinson, Booksellers, London.

[16] _Woodstock_ was at this time nearly completed.

[17] Probably Sir Walter's dog-Italian for "great donkey."

[18] _Cymbeline_, Act II. Sc. 5.

[19] "My Jo Janet," _Tea-Table Miscellany_.

[20] The Right Hon. David Boyle, who was at the time residing at 28 Charlotte Square.

[21] A quarterly journal edited by Leigh Hunt, "_The Liberal--Verse and Prose from the South_," of which four numbers only were published. 1822-1823.

[22] See Dowden's _Life of Shelley_, vol. ii. pp. 448-9, 507-8; also Moore's _Byron_, vol. v. pp. 313-321, and Russell's _Moore_, vol. iii. p. 353.

[23] William Bankes, of whom Rogers said, "Witty as Sydney Smith was, I have seen him at my own house absolutely overpowered by the superior facetiousness of W.B." Mr. Bankes died in Venice in 1855.

[24] Lord Leveson Gower, afterwards first Earl of Ellesmere, had already published his translation of _Faust_ in 1823, and a volume of "original poems," and "translations," in the following year.

[25] Henry J.G. Herbert, Lord Porchester, afterwards third Earl of Carnarvon, had published _The Moor_ in 1825, and _Don Pedro_ in 1826.

[26] St. Catherine's, the seat of Sir William Rae, Bart., then Lord Advocate, is about three miles from Edinburgh.--J.G.L. Sir William Rae's refusal of a legal appointment to Mr. Lockhart (on the ground that as a just patron he could not give it to the son-in-law of his old friend!!) was understood to be the cause of Mr. Lockhart's quitting the Bar and devoting himself entirely to literature. Sir William Rae died at St. Catherine's on the 19th October 1842.

[27] David Boyle of Shewalton, L.J.C. from 1811, and Lord President from 1841 till 1852. He died in 1853.

[28] See _Autobiography_, 1787, in _Life_, vol. i. pp. 39, 40.

[29] Virg. _Æn._ i. 122.

[30] M. Davidoff has, in his mature life, amply justified Sir Walter's prognostications. He has, I understand, published in the Russian language a tribute to the memory of Scott. But his travels in Greece and Asia Minor are well known, and considered as in a high degree honourable to his taste and learning.--[1839.]--J.G.L.

[31] _King Richard III_., Act III. Sc. 1. Count Orloff Davidoff lived to falsify this "saying." He revisited England in 1872, and had the pleasure of meeting with Scott's great-granddaughter, and talking to her of these old happy Abbotsford days.

[32] _Combinations of Workmen_. Substance of a speech by Francis Jeffrey. 8vo. Edin. 1825.

[33 33] Mr. Robert Cockburn, Lord Cockburn's brother, was then living at No. 7 Atholl Crescent.

[34] This alludes to a strange old woman, keeper of a public-house among the Wicklow mountains, who, among a world of oddities, cut short every word ending in _tion_, by the omission of the termination. _Consola_ for consolation--_bothera_ for botheration, etc. etc. Lord Plunkett had taken care to parade Judy and all her peculiarities.--J.C.L.

[35] See the Duchess's Letter, p. 414.

[36] The Rev. John Logan, minister of South Leith, 1748-1788. The "Sermons" were not published until 1790-91.

[37] For an account of her visit to Abbotsford, see _Life_, vol. viii. pp. 72-76. The marriage took place on June 16, 1827, the lady having previously asked the consent of George IV.!! A droll account of the reception of her _Mercure galant_ at Windsor is given in the _North British Review_, vol. xxxix. p. 349.

[38] Sir John Barrow, the well-known Secretary to the Admiralty, who died in 1848 in his eighty-fifth year.

[39] Benjamin Disraeli, afterwards Lord Beaconsfield.

[40] In after years Sir John Taylor Coleridge (1790-1876), one of the Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench.

[41] Storrs, Windermere.

[42] John Cay, member of the Scotch Bar, Sheriff of Linlithgow. He was one of Mr. Lockhart's oldest friends; he died in 1865.

[43] Moore records that Scott told him "Lockhart was about to undertake the _Quarterly_, has agreed for five years; salary £1200 a year; and if he writes a certain number of articles it will be £1500 a year to him," Moore's _Diary_, under Oct. 29, vol. iv. p. 334. Jeffrey had £700 a year as Editor of the _Edinburgh_, and £2800 for contributors: June 1823, see Moore's _Diary_, vol. iv. p. 89.

[44] Sheridan's _Critic_, Act I. Sc. 2.

[45] George Abercromby, eldest son of Sir Ralph, the hero of the battle of Alexandria.

[46] The following extract from a letter to Professor Wilson, urgently claiming his aid, shows that the new editor had lost no time in looking after his "first Number":--

"Mr. Coleridge has yesterday transferred to me the treasures of the _Quarterly Review_; and I must say, my dear Wilson, that his whole stock is not worth five shillings. Thank God, other and better hands are at work for my first Number or I should be in a pretty hobble. My belief is that he has been living on the stock bequeathed by Gifford, and the contributions of a set of H----es and other d----d idiots of Oriel. But mind now, Wilson, I am sure to have a most hard struggle to get up a very good first Number, and if I do not, it will be the Devil." This letter was quoted in an abridged form in the Life of Professor Wilson by Mrs. Gordon.

[47] This probably refers to Archibald, Lord Douglas, who had married the Lady Frances Scott, sister of Henry, Duke of Buccleuch. Lord Douglas died on the 26th December 1827. For notices of these valued friends see _Life_, vol. ii. pp. 27-8; iv. pp. 22, 70; and v. p. 230.

[48] Robert Macqueen--Lord Braxfield--Justice Clerk from 1788; he died in 1799.

[49] Mrs. Grant of Laggan, author of _Letters from the Mountains_, _Superstitions of the Highlanders_, etc. Died at Edin. in 1838, aged 83.

[50] Scott had not the smallest hesitation in applying this unsavoury proverb to himself a few months later, when he unwillingly "impeticosed the gratillity" for the critique on Galt's _Omen_. See this Journal, June 24, 1826.

[51] Afterwards Major-General Sir James Russell, G.C.B. He died at Ashestiel in 1859 in his 78th year.

Sir Walter Scott