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April 1827

April 1.--The proofs are not to be found. Applications from R.P. G[illies]. I must do something for him; yet have the melancholy conviction that nothing will do him any good. Then he writes letters and expects answers. Then they are bothering me about writing in behalf of the oil-gas light, which is going to the devil very fast. I cannot be going a-begging for them or anybody. Please to look down with an eye of pity--a poor distressed creature! No, not for the last morsel of bread. A dry ditch and a speedy death is worth it all.

April 2.--Another letter from R.P.G. I shall begin to wish, like S., that he had been murthered and robbed in his walks between Wimbledon and London. John [Archibald] Murray and his young wife came to dinner, and in good time. I like her very much, and think he has been very lucky. She is not in the vaward of youth, but John is but two or three years my junior. She is pleasing in her manners, and totally free from affectation; a beautiful musician, and willingly exerts her talents in that way; is said to be very learned, but shows none of it. A large fortune is no bad addition to such a woman's society.

April 3.--I had processes to decide; and though I arose at my usual hour, I could not get through above two of five proofs. After breakfast I walked with John Murray, and at twelve we went for Melrose, where I had to show the lions. We came back by Huntly Burn, where the carriage broke down, and gave us a pretty long walk home. Mr. Scrope dined with his two artists, and John [Thomson?]. The last is not only the best landscape-painter of his age and country, but is, moreover, one of the warmest-hearted men living, with a keen and unaffected feeling of poetry. Poor fellow! he has had many misfortunes in his family. I drank a glass or two of wine more than usual, got into good spirits, and _came from Tripoli_ for the amusement of the good company. I was in good fooling.

April 4.--I think I have a little headache this morning; however, as Othello says, "That's not much." I saw our guests go off by seven in the morning, but was not in time to give them good-bye.

    "And now again, boys, to the oar."
I did not go to the oar though, but walked a good deal.

April 5.--Heard from Lockhart; the Duke of W[ellington] and Croker are pleased with my historical labours; so far well--for the former, as a soldier said of him, "I would rather have his long nose on my side than a whole brigade." Well! something good may come of it, and if it does it will be good luck, for, as you and I know, Mother Duty, it has been a rummily written work. I wrote hard to-day.

April 6.--Do. Do. I only took one turn about the thicket, and have nothing to put down but to record my labours.

April 7.--The same history occurs; my desk and my exercise. I am a perfect automaton. _Bonaparte_ runs in my head from seven in the morning till ten at night without intermission. I wrote six leaves to-day and corrected four proofs.

April 8.--Ginger, being in my room, was safely delivered in her basket of four puppies; the mother and children all doing well. Faith! that is as important an entry as my Journal could desire. The day is so beautiful that I long to go out. I won't, though, till I have done something. A letter from Mr. Gibson about the trust affairs. If the infernal bargain with Constable go on well, there will be a pretty sop in the pan to the creditors; £35,000 at least. If I could work as effectually for three years more, I shall stand on my feet like a man. But who can assure success with the public?

April 9.--I wrote as hard to-day as need be, finished my neat eight pages, and, notwithstanding, drove out and visited at Gattonside. The devil must be in it if the matter drags out longer now.

April 10.--Some incivility from the Leith Bank, which I despise with my heels. I have done for settling my affairs all that any man--much more than most men--could have done, and they refuse a draught of £20, because, in mistake, it was £8 overdrawn. But what can be expected of a _sow_ but a _grumph_? Wrought hard, hard.

April 11.--The parks were rouped for £100 a year more than they brought last year. Poor Abbotsford will come to good after all. In the meantime it is _Sic vos non vobis_--but who cares a farthing? If _Boney_ succeeds, we will give these affairs a blue eye, and I will wrestle stoutly with them, although

    "My banks they are covered with bees,"[500]
or rather with wasps. A very tough day's work.

April 12.--_Ha-a-lt_--as we used to say, my proof-sheets being still behind. Very unhandsome conduct on the part of the Blucher[501] while I was lauding it so profusely. It is necessary to halt and close up our files--of correspondence I mean. So it is a chance if, except for contradiction's sake, or upon getting the proof-sheets, I write a line to-day at _Boney_. I did, however, correct five revised sheets and one proof, which took me up so much of the day that I had but one turn through the courtyard. Owing to this I had some of my flutterings, my trembling exies, as the old people called the ague. Wrote a great many letters--but no "copy."

April 13.--I have sometimes wondered with what regularity--that is, for a shrew of my impatient temper--I have been able to keep this Journal. The use of the first person being, of course, the very essence of a diary, I conceive it is chiefly vanity, the dear pleasure of writing about the best of good fellows, Myself, which gives me perseverance to continue this idle task. This morning I wrote till breakfast, then went out and marked trees to be cut for paling, and am just returned--and what does any one care? Ay, but, Gad! I care myself, though. We had at dinner to-day Mr. and Mrs. Cranstoun (Burns's Maria of Ballochmyle[502]), Mr. Bainbridge and daughters, and Colonel Russell.

April 14.--Went to Selkirk to try a fellow for an assault on Dr. Clarkson--fined him seven guineas, which, with his necessary expenses, will amount to ten guineas. It is rather too little; but as his income does not amount to £30 a year, it will pinch him severely enough, and is better than sending him to an ill-kept jail, where he would be idle and drunk from morning to night. I had a dreadful headache while sitting in the Court--rheumatism in perfection. It did not last after I got warm by the fireside.

April 15.--Delightful soft morning, with mild rain. Walked out and got wet, as a sovereign cure for the rheumatism. Was quite well, though, and scribbled away.

April 16.--A day of work and exercise. In the evening a letter from L[ockhart], with the wonderful news that the Ministry has broken up, and apparently for no cause that any one can explain. The old grudge, I suppose, betwixt Peel and Canning, which has gone on augmenting like a crack in the side of a house, which enlarges from day to day, till down goes the whole. Mr. Canning has declared himself fully satisfied with J.L., and sent Barrow to tell him so. His suspicions were indeed most erroneous, but they were repelled with no little spirit both by L. and myself, and Canning has not been like another Great Man I know to whom I showed demonstrably that he had suspected an individual unjustly. "It may be so," he said, "but his mode of defending himself was offensive."[503]

April 17.--Went to dinner to-day to Mr. Bainbridge's Gattonside House, and had fireworks in the evening, made by Captain Burchard, a good-humoured kind of Will Wimble.[504] One nice little boy announced to us everything that was going to be done, with the importance of a prologue. Some of the country folks assembled, and our party was enlivened by the squeaks of the wenches and the long-protracted Eh, eh's! by which a Teviotdale tup testifies his wonder.

April 18.--I felt the impatience of news so much that I walked up to Mr. Laidlaw, surely for no other purpose than to talk politics. This interrupted _Boney_ a little. After I returned, about twelve or one, behold Tom Tack; he comes from Buenos Ayres with a parcel of little curiosities he had picked up for me. As Tom Tack spins a _tough yarn_, I lost the morning almost entirely--what with one thing, what with t'other, as my friend the Laird of Raeburn says. Nor have I much to say for the evening, only I smoked a cigar more than usual to get the box ended, and give up the custom for a little.

April 19.--Another letter from Lockhart.[505] I am sorry when I think of the goodly fellowship of vessels which are now scattered on the ocean. There is the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Melville, Mr. Peel, and I wot not who besides, all turned out of office or resigned! I wonder what they can do in the House of Lords when all the great Tories are on the wrong side of the House. Canning seems quite serious in his views of helping Lockhart. I hope it will come to something.

April 20.--A surly sort of day. I walked for two hours, however, and then returned chiefly to _Nap_. Egad! I believe it has an end at last, this blasted work. I have the fellow at Plymouth, or near about it. Well, I declare, I thought the end of these beastly big eight volumes was like the end of the world, which is always talked of and never comes.

April. 21.--Here is a vile day--downright rain, which disconcerts an inroad of bairns from Gattonside, and, of course, annihilates a part of the stock of human happiness. But what says the proverb of your true rainy day--

    "'Tis good for book, 'tis good for work,
    For cup and can, or knife and fork."
April 22.--Wrote till twelve o'clock, then sallied forth, and walked to Huntly Burn with Tom; and so, look you, sir, I drove home in the carriage. Wrought in the afternoon, and tried to read _De Vere_, a sensible but heavy book, written by an able hand--but a great bore for all that.[506] Wrote in the evening.

April 23.--Snowy morning. White as my shirt. The little Bainbridges came over; invited to see the armoury, etc., which I stood showman to. It is odd how much less cubbish the English boys are than the Scotch. Well-mannered and sensible are the southern boys. I suppose the sun brings them forward. Here comes six o'clock at night, and it is snowing as if it had not snowed these forty years before. Well, I'll work away a couple of chapters--three at most will finish _Napoleon_.

April 24.--Still deep snow--a foot thick in the courtyard, I dare say. Severe welcome to the poor lambs now coming into the world. But what signifies whether they die just now, or a little while after to be united with salad at luncheon-time? It signifies a good deal too. There is a period, though a short one, when they dance among the gowans, and seem happy. As for your aged sheep or wether, the sooner they pass to the Norman side of the vocabulary the better. They are like some old dowager ladies and gentlemen of my acquaintance,--no one cares about them till they come to be _cut up_, and then we see how the tallow lies on the kidneys and the chine.

April 25.--Snow yet, and it prevents my walking, and I grow bilious. I wrote hard though. I have now got _Boney_ pegg'd up in the knotty entrails of Saint Helena, and may make a short pause.

So I finished the review of John Home's works, which, after all, are poorer than I thought them. Good blank verse and stately sentiment, but something lukewarmish, excepting Douglas, which is certainly a masterpiece. Even that does not stand the closet. Its merits are for the stage; but it is certainly one of the best acting plays going. Perhaps a play, to act well, should not be too poetical.

There is a talk in London of bringing in the Marquis of Lansdowne, then Lauderdale will perhaps come in here. It is certain the old Tory party is down the wind, not from political opinions, but from personal aversion to Canning. Perhaps his satirical temper has partly occasioned this; but I rather consider emulation as the source of it, the head and front of the offending. Croker no longer rhymes to joker. He has made a good _coup_, it is said, by securing Lord Hertford for the new administration. D.W. calls him their viper. After all, I cannot sympathise with that delicacy which throws up office, because the most eloquent man in England, and certainly the only man who can manage the House of Commons, is named Minister.[507]

April 26.--The snow still profusely distributed, and the surface, as our hair used to be in youth, after we had played at some active game, half black, half white, all in large patches. I finished the criticism on Home, adding a string of Jacobite anecdotes, like that which boys put to a kite's tail. Sent off the packet to Lockhart; at the same time sent Croker a volume of French tracts, containing _La Portefeuille de Bonaparte_, which he wished to see. Received a great cargo of papers from Bernadotte, some curious, and would have been inestimable two months back, but now my siege is almost made. Still my feelings for poor Count Itterburg,[508] the lineal and legitimate, make me averse to have much to do with this child of the revolution.

April 27.--This hand of mine gets to be like a kitten's scratch, and will require much deciphering, or, what may be as well for the writer, cannot be deciphered at all. I am sure I cannot read it myself. Weather better, which is well, as I shall get a walk. I have been a little nervous, having been confined to the house for three days. Well, I may be disabled from duty, but my tamed spirits and sense of dejection have quelled all that freakishness of humour which made me a voluntary idler. I present myself to the morning task, as the hack-horse patiently trudges to the pole of his chaise, and backs, however reluctantly, to have the traces fixed. Such are the uses of adversity.

April 28.--Wrought at continuing the Works, with some criticism on Defoe.[509] I have great aversion, I cannot tell why, to stuffing the "Border Antiquities" into what they call the Prose Works.

There is no encouragement, to be sure, for doing better, for nobody seems to care. I cannot get an answer from J. Ballantyne, whether he thinks the review on the Highlands would be a better substitution.

April 29.--Colonel and Captain Ferguson dined here with Mr. Laidlaw. I wrote all the morning, then cut some wood. I think the weather gets too warm for hard work with the axe, or I get too stiff and easily tired.

April 30.--Went to Jedburgh to circuit, where found my old friend and schoolfellow, D. Monypenny.[510] Nothing to-day but a pack of riff-raff cases of petty larceny and trash. Dined as usual with the Judge, and slept at my old friend Mr. Shortreed's.

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FOOTNOTES:

[500] See Shenstone's _Pastoral Ballad_, Part ii., Hope.

[501] The coach to Edinburgh.

[502] See "The Braes of Ballochmyle;" Currie's _Burns_, vol. iv. p. 294.

[503] The conduct of the _Quarterly_ at this time was in after years thus commented upon by John Wilson.

"_North._--While we were defending the principles of the British constitution, bearding its enemies, and administering to them the knout, the _Quarterly Review_ was meek and mum as a mouse.

"_Tickler._--Afraid to lose the countenance and occasional assistance of Mr. Canning.

"_North._--There indeed, James, was a beautiful exhibition of party politics, a dignified exhibition of personal independence."--_Noctes Ambrosianae._

It is understood that Canning, who had received the King's commands in April 10, felt keenly the loneliness of his position--estranged from his old comrades, and deterred by the remembrance of many bitter satires against them from having close intimacy with his new co-adjutors.

[504] See _Spectator_.

[505] "... Your letter has given me the vertigo--my head turns round like a chariot wheel, and I am on the point of asking--

'Why, how now? Am I Giles, or am I not?'

"The Duke of Wellington out?--bad news at home, and worse abroad. Lord Anglesea in his situation?--does not much mend the matter. Duke of Clarence in the Navy?--wild work. Lord Melville, I suppose, falls of course--perhaps _cum totâ sequelâ_, about which _sequela_, unless Sir W. Rae and the Solicitor, I care little. The whole is glamour to one who reads no papers, and has none to read. I must get one, though, if this work is to go on, for it is quite bursting in ignorance. Canning is haughty and prejudiced--but, I think, honourable as well as able: _nous verrons_. I fear Croker will shake, and heartily sorry I should feel for that...."--Scott to Lockhart: _Life_, vol. ix. p. 99.

[506] R. Plumer Ward.--See July 4.

[507] A fuller statement of Scott's views at this crisis will be found in his letters to Lockhart and Morritt in _Life_, vol. ix. (April, May, and June, 1827).

[508] Count Itterburg, then in his 20th year, was the name under which Gustavus, the ex-Crown Prince of Sweden, visited Scotland in 1819. It was his intention to study at the University of Edinburgh during the winter session, but, his real name becoming known, this was rendered impracticable by the curiosity and attention of the public. He devoted himself mainly to the study of military matters, and out-door exercises, roughing it in all sorts of weather, sometimes,--to his mentor Baron Polier's uneasiness,--setting out on dark and stormy nights, and making his way across country from point to point. This self-imposed training was no doubt with the secret hope that he might some day be called upon by the Swedes to oust Bernadotte, and mount the throne of the great Gustavus. Mr. Skene saw a good deal of him, and gives many interesting details of his life in Edinburgh, such as the following account of a meeting at his own house. "He was interested with a set of portraits of the two last generations of the Royal Family of Scotland, which hung in my dining-room, and which had been presented to my grandfather by Prince Charles Edward, in consideration of the sacrifices he had made for the Prince's service during the unfortunate enterprise of the year 1745, having raised and commanded one of the battalions of Lord Lewis Gordon's brigade. The portrait of Prince Charles Edward, taken about the same age as Comte Itterburg, and no doubt also the marked analogy existing in the circumstances to which they had been each reduced, seemed much to engage his notice; and when the ladies had retired he begged me to give him some account of the rebellion, and of the various endeavours of the Stewarts to regain the Scottish crown. The subject was rather a comprehensive one, but having done my best to put him in possession of the leading features, it seemed to have taken very strong hold of his mind, as he frequently, at our subsequent meetings, reverted to the subject. Upon another occasion by degrees the topic of conversation slipped into its wonted channel--the rebellion of 1745, its final disaster, and the singular escape of the Prince from the pursuit of his enemies. The Comte inquired what effect the failure of the enterprise had produced upon the Prince's character, with whose gallant bearing and enthusiasm, in the conduct of his desperate enterprise, he evinced the strongest interest and sympathy. I stated briefly the mortifying disappointments to which Charles Edward was exposed in France, the hopelessness of his cause, and the indifference generally shown to him by the continental courts, which so much preyed on his mind as finally to stifle every spark of his former character, so that he gave himself up to a listless indifference, which terminated in his becoming a sot during the latter years of his life. On turning round to the Prince, who had been listening to these details, I perceived the big drops chasing each other down his cheeks and therefore changed the subject, and he never again recurred to it."--_Reminiscences_.

Count Itterburg, or Prince Gustavus Vasa, to give him the title of an old family dignity which he assumed in 1829, entered the Austrian army, in which he attained the rank of Lieutenant Field-Marshal. His services, it is needless to say, were never required by the Swedes, though he never relinquished his pretensions, and claimed the throne at his father's death in 1837. He died at Pillnitz on the 4th August 1877, leaving one daughter, the present Queen of Saxony.

Notices of his visits to 39 Castle Street and Abbotsford are given in the 6th vol. of _Life_.

[509] This refers to the _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, forming 24 vols., the publication of which did not commence until May 1834, although, as is shown by the Journal, the author was busy in its preparation. The "criticism on Defoe" will be found in the fourth volume, pp. 247-296, forming a supplement to John Ballantyne's Biographical Notice of Defoe in the same volume. The "Essay on Border Antiquities" appeared, notwithstanding Scott's misgivings, in the seventh volume.

[510] Lord Pitmilly.--See _ante_, p. 125.

Sir Walter Scott