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June 1828

June 1.--We took leave of our friends at Rokeby after breakfast, and pursued our well-known path over Stanmore to Brough, Appleby, Penrith, and Carlisle. As I have this road by heart, I have little amusement save the melancholy task of recalling the sensations with which I have traced it in former times, all of which refer to decay of animal strength, and abatement if not of mental powers, at least of mental energy. The _non est tanti_ grows fast at my time of life. We reached Carlisle at seven o'clock, and were housed for the night. My books being exhausted, I lighted on an odd volume of the _Gentleman's Magazine_, a work in which, as in a pawnbroker's shop, much of real curiosity and value are stowed away and concealed amid the frippery and trumpery of those reverend old gentlewomen who were the regular correspondents of the work.

June 2.--We intended to walk to the Castle, but were baffled by rainy weather. I was obliged to wait for a certificate from the parish register--_Hei mihi_!! I cannot have it till ten o'clock, or rather, as it chanced, till past eleven, when I got the paper for which I waited.[221] We lunched at Hawick, and concluded our pilgrimage at Abbotsford about nine at night, where the joyful barking of the dogs, with the sight of the kind familiar faces of our domestics, gave us welcome, and I enjoyed a sound repose on my own bed. I remark that in this journey I have never once experienced depression of spirits, or the _tremor cordis_ of which I have sometimes such unpleasant visits. Dissipation, and a succession of trifling engagements, prevent the mind from throwing itself out in the manner calculated to exhaust the owner, and to entertain other people. There is a lesson in this.

June 3, [Abbotsford].--This was a very idle day. I waked to walk about my beautiful young woods with old Tom and the dogs. The sun shone bright, and the wind fanned my cheek as if it were a welcoming. I did not do the least right thing, except packing a few books necessary for writing the continuation of the Tales. In this merry mood I wandered as far as Huntly Burn, where I found the Miss Fergusons well and happy; then I sauntered back to Abbotsford, sitting on every bench by the way, and thus

    "It grew to dinner in conclusion."
A good appetite made my simple meal relish better than the magnificent cheer which I have lately partaken of. I smoked a cigar, slept away an hour, and read Mure of Auchendrane's trial, and thus ended the day. I cannot afford to spend many such, nor would they seem so pleasant.

June 4, [Edinburgh].--The former part of this day was employed much as yesterday, but some packing was inevitable. Will Laidlaw came to dinner, of which we partook at three o'clock. Started at half-past four, and arrived at home, if we must call it so, at nine o'clock in the evening. I employed my leisure in the chaise to peruse Mure of Auchendrane's trial, out of which something might be coopered up for the public.[222] It is one of the wildest stories I ever read. Something might surely be twisted out of it.

June 5.--Cadell breakfasted; in great spirits with the success of the _Fair Maid of Perth_. A disappointment being always to be apprehended, I too am greatly pleased that the evil day is adjourned, for the time must come--and yet I can spin a tough yarn still with any one now going.

I was much distressed to find that the last of the Macdonald Buchanans, a fine lad of about twenty-one, is now decidedly infected by the same pulmonary complaint which carried off his four brothers in succession. This is indeed a cruel stroke, and it is melancholy to witness the undaunted Highland courage of the father.

I went to Court, and when I returned did some work upon the Tales.

    "And now again, boys, to the oar."
June 6.--I have determined to work sans intermission for lost time, and to make up at least my task every day. J. Gibson called on me with good hopes that the trustees will authorise the _grand opus_ to be set afloat.[223] They are scrupulous a little about the expense of engravings, but I fear the taste of the town will not be satisfied without them. It is time these things were settled. I wrought both before and after dinner, and finished five pages, which is two above bargain.

June 7.--Saturday was another working day, and nothing occurred to disturb me.

June 8.--I finished five sheets this day. Will Clerk and Francis Scott of Harden came to dinner, and we spent a pleasant evening.

June 9.--I laboured till about one, and was then obliged to go to attend a meeting of the Oil Gas Company,--as I devoutly hope for the last time.

After that I was obliged to go to sit to Colvin Smith, which is an atrocious bore, but cannot be helped.[224]

Cadell rendered me report of accounts paid for me with vouchers, which very nearly puts me out of all shop debts. God grant me grace to keep so!

June 10-14.--During these five days almost nothing occurred to diversify the ordinary task of the day, which, I must own, was dull enough. I rose to my task by seven, and, less or more, wrought it out in the course of the day, far exceeding the ordinary average of three leaves per day. I have attended the Parliament House with the most strict regularity, and returned to dine alone with Anne. Also, I gave three sittings to Mr. Colvin Smith, who I think has improved since I saw him.

Of important intelligence nothing occurs save the termination of all suspense on the subject of poor James Macdonald Buchanan. He died at Malta. The celebrated Dugald Stewart is also dead, famous for his intimate acquaintance with the history and philosophy of the human mind. There is much of water-painting in all metaphysics, which consist rather of words than ideas. But Stewart was most impressive and eloquent. In former days I was frequently with him, but not for many years. Latterly, I am told, he had lost not the power of thinking, but the power of expressing his thoughts by speech. This is like the Metamorphosis of Ovid, the bark binding in and hardening the living flesh.

June 15.--W. Clerk, Francis Scott, and Charles Sharpe dined with me, but my task had been concluded before dinner.

June 16.--Dined at Dalmahoy, with the young Earl and Countess of Morton. I like these young noble folks particularly well. Their manners and style of living are easy and unaffected, and I should like to see them often. Came home at night. The task finished to-day. I should mention that the plan about the new edition of the novels was considered at a meeting of trustees, and finally approved of. I trust it will answer; yet, who can warrant the continuance of popularity? Old Corri,[225] who entered into many projects, and could never set the sails of a wind-mill so as to catch the _aura popularis_, used to say that he believed that were he to turn baker, it would put bread out of fashion. I have had the better luck to dress my sails to every wind; and so blow on, good wind, and spin round, whirligig.

June 17.--Violent rheumatic headache all day. Wrought, however. But what difference this troublesome addition may make on the quality of the stuff produced, truly I do not know. I finished five leaves.

June 18.--Some Italian gentlemen landed here, under the conveyance of the Misses Haig of Bemerside. They were gentlemanlike men; but as I did not dare to speak bad French, I had not much to say to foreigners. Gave them and their pretty guides a good breakfast, however. The scene seemed to me to resemble Sheridan's scene in the _Critic_.[226] There are a number of very civil gentlemen trying to make themselves understood, and I do not know which is the interpreter. After all, it is not my fault. They who wish to see me should be able to speak my language. I called on Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie. She received me with all the kindness of former days, and I was delighted to see her. I sat about an hour with her. My head aches, for all that, and I have heavy fits of drowsiness. Well, I have finished my task, and have a right to sleep if I have a mind.

I dine to-day with Lord Mackenzie, where I hope to meet Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie again, for I love her warm heart and lively fancy. Accordingly I enjoyed this pleasure.[227]

June 19.--Scribbled away lustily. Went to the P.H. Wrote when I came home, both before and after dinner--that's all, I think. I am become a sort of writing automaton, and truly the joints of my knees, especially the left, are so stiff and painful in rising and sitting down, that I can hardly help screaming--I that was so robust and active; I get into a carriage with great difficulty. My head, too, is bothered with rheumatic headaches. Why not? I got headaches by my folly when I was young, and now I am old they come uncalled. Infirmity gives what indiscretion bought.

June 20.--My course is still the same. But I have a painful letter from Lockhart, which takes away the last hope of poor Johnnie's recovery. It is no surprise to me. The poor child, so amiable in its disposition, and so promising from its talents, was not formed to be long with us, and I have long expected that it must needs come to this. I hope I shall not outlive my children in other cases, and I think there is little chance of it. My father did not long survive the threescore and ten; it will be wonderful if I reach that goal of ordinary mortality. God send it may find me prepared; and, whatever I may have been formerly, high spirits are not now like to carry me away.

June, 21.--At Court, and called on Ballantyne on my return. I was obliged to go to the Register Office at one, where I waited nearly an hour without meeting my brethren. But I wrote a letter to Lockhart in the meantime. My niece Ann arrived, to my great satisfaction. I am glad that Anne, my daughter, has such a sensible and clever companion. Dined at Baron Hume's.

June 22.--Wrought. Had a note from Ballantyne complaining of my manuscript, and requesting me to read it over. I would give £1000 if I could; but it would take me longer to read than to write. I cannot trace my _pieds de mouche_ but with great labour and trouble; so e'en take your own share of the burden, my old friend; and, since I cannot read, be thankful I can write. I will look at his proof, however, and then be quiet and idle for the rest of the evening. I am come to Charles the First's trial, and though I have it by heart, I must refresh myself with a reading of Clarendon. Charles Sharpe and Francis Scott came in the evening.

June 23.--This morning the two Annes and I went to Sir Robert Liston at Milburn Tower--a beautiful retreat. The travels of the venerable diplomatist are indicated by the various articles of curiosity which he has picked up in different corners of the world, and put together with much taste. The conservatory and gardens are very fine, and contain, I suppose, very curious plants;--I am sure, hard names enough. But then the little Gothic tower, embowered amid trees and bushes, surrounded by these pleasant gardens, offering many a sunny walk for winter, many a shade for summer, are inexpressibly pleasing. The good old knight and his lady are worthy of it, for they enjoy it. The artificial piece of water is a failure, like most things of the kind. The offices, without being on an extravagant scale, are most substantial; the piggery, in particular, is quite a palace, and the animals clean and comfortable. I think I have caught from them a fit of piggish obstinacy. I came at one, and cannot prevail upon myself to go to work. I answer the calls of duty as Caliban does those of Prospero, "There's wood enough within." To be sure, I have not got the Clarendon.

June 24.--It was my father's own son, as John Hielandman said, who did little both yesterday and to-day--I mean little in the way of literary work, for, as to positive work, I have been writing letters about Chancery business till I am sick of it. There was a long _hearing_, and while Jeffrey exerted his eloquence in the Inner House, I plied my eloquence _de billet_ in the Library. So, on the whole, I am no bad boy. Besides, the day is not yet over.

June 25.--I was surprised to hear that our Academy Rector, Williams, has renounced the chair of Roman learning in the new London University. His alarm was excited by the interest taken by the prelates in opposing a High Church institution to that desired by Mr. Brougham. Both the Bishops and Williams have been unwise. The former have manoeuvred ill. They should, in the outset, have taken the establishment out of the hands of the Whigs, without suffering them to reinforce themselves by support from [others]. And Williams was equally precipitate in joining an institution which a small degree of foresight might have assured him would be opposed by his spiritual superiors. However, there he stands, deprived of his professorship by his resignation, and of his rectorship by our having engaged with a successor. I think it very doubtful whether the Bishops will now [admit] him into their alliance. He has in that case offended both parties. But if they are wise, they will be glad to pick up the best schoolmaster in Europe, though he comes for the present _Graiā ex urbe_. I accomplished more than my task to-day.

June, 26.--Wrote a long letter to Lockhart about Williams' situation, saying how, by sitting betwixt two stools, he

    "----- Had fallen with heavy thump
    Upon his reverential rump,"
and how the Bishops should pick him up if they wanted their establishment to succeed. It is an awkward position in which Williams has placed himself. He loses the Whig chair, and has perhaps no chance of favour from the High Church for having been willing to accept it. Even if they now give him promotion, there will be a great outcry on his having left one institution to join another. He would be thick-skinned if he stands the clamour. Yet he has to all appearance rather sacrificed than advanced his interest. However, I say again, the Bishops ought not to omit securing him.

Mr. Macintosh Mackay breakfasted with me, modest, intelligent, and gentle. I did my duty and more in the course of the day.

I am vexed about Mackay missing the church of Cupar in Angus. It is in the Crown's gift, and Peel, finding that two parties in the town recommended two opposite candidates, very wisely chose to disappoint them both, and was desirous of bestowing the presentation on public grounds. I heard of this, and applied to Mr. Peel for Macintosh Mackay, whose quiet patience and learning are accompanied by a most excellent character as a preacher and a clergyman, but unhappily Mr. Peel had previously put himself into the hands of Sir George Murray, who applied to Sir Peter his brother, who naturally applied to certain leaders of the Church at Edinburgh, and these reverend gentlemen have recommended that the church which the minister desired to fill up on public grounds should be bestowed on a boy,[228] the nephew of one of their number, of whom the best that can be said is that nothing is known, since he has only been a few months in orders. This comes of kith, kin, and ally, but Peel shall know of it, and may perhaps judge for himself another time.

June 27.--I came out after Court to Blair Adam, with our excellent friend the Rev. John Thomson of Duddingston, so modest and so accomplished;--delightful drive and passage at the ferry. We found at Blair Adam the C.C. and family, Admiral Adam and lady, James Thomson of Charlton, and Miss T., Will Clerk, and last, not least, Lord Chief Baron Shepherd--all in high spirits for our excursions.

Thomson described to me a fine dungeon in the old tower at Cassillis in Ayrshire. There is an outer and inner vaulted [chamber], each secured with iron doors. At the upper end of the innermost are two great stones or blocks to which the staples and chains used in securing the prisoners are still attached. Between these stone seats is an opening like the mouth of a still deeper dungeon. The entrance descends like the mouth of a draw-well or shaft of a mine, and deep below is heard the sullen roar of the river Doon, one branch of which, passing through the bottom of the shaft, has probably swept away the body of many a captive, whose body after death may have been thus summarily disposed of. I may find use for such a place--Story of [_Kittleclarkie_?]

June 28.--Off we go to Castle Campbell after breakfast, _i.e._ Will Clerk, Admiral Adam, J. Thomson, and myself. Tremendous hot is the day, and the steep ascent of the Castle, which rises for two miles up a rugged and broken path, was fatiguing enough, yet not so much so as the streets in London. Castle Campbell is unaltered; the window, of which the disjointed stone projects at an angle from the wall, and seems at the point of falling, has still found power to resist the laws of gravitation. Whoever built that tottering piece of masonry has been long in a forgotten grave, and yet what he has made seems to survive in spite of nature itself. The curious cleft called Kemp's Score, which gave the garrison access to the water in case of siege, is obviously natural, but had been improved by steps, now choked up. A girl who came with us recollected she had shown me the way down to the bottom of this terrible gulf seven years ago. I am not able for it now.

    "Wont to do's awa frae me,
    Frae silly auld John Ochiltree."[229]
June 29.--Being Sunday we kept about the doors, and after two took the drosky and drove over the hill and round by the Kiery Craigs. I should have said Williams came out in the morning to ask my advice about staying another year in Edinburgh. I advised him if possible to gain a few days' time till I should hear from Lockhart. He has made a pretty mess for himself, but if the Bishops are wise, they may profit by it. The sound, practical advice of Williams at the first concoction would be of the last consequence. I suspect their systems of eating-houses are the most objectionable part of the college discipline. When their attentions are to be given to the departments of the cook and the butler, all zeal in the nobler paths of education is apt to decay.

Well, to return to the woods. I think, notwithstanding Lord Chief Commissioner's assiduity, they are in some places too thick. I saw a fine larch, felled seventy-two years old, value about five pounds.

Hereditary descent in the Highlands. A clergyman showed J.T. the island of Inch Mahome in the Port of Monteith, and pointed out the boatman as a remarkable person, the representative of the hereditary gardeners of the Earls of Monteith, while these Earls existed. His son, a priggish boy, follows up the theme--"Feyther, when Donald MacCorkindale dees will not the family be extinct?" Father--"No; I believe there is a man in Balquhidder who takes up the _succession_."

June 30.--We made our pleasant excursion to-day round the hill of Bennarty _par terre_, and returned _par mer_. Our route by land led us past Lochore, where we made a pause for a few moments. Then proceeded to Ballingray or Bingray, and so by Kirkness, where late ravages are supplied by the force of vegetation down to the shores of Lochleven. We embarked and went upon Saint Serf's Island, supposed to have been anciently a cell of the Culdees. An old pinfold, or rather a modern pinfold, constructed out of the ancient chapel, is all that attests its former sanctity. We landed on Queen Mary's Island, a miserable scene, considering the purpose for which the Castle was appointed. And yet the captivity and surrender of the Percy was even a worse tale, since it was an eternal blight on the name of Douglas. Well, we got to Blair Adam in due time, and our fine company began to separate, Lord Chief Baron going off after dinner. We had wine and wassail, and John Thomson's delightful flute to help us through the evening.

Thus end the delectations of the Blair Adam Club for this year. Mrs. Thomson of Charlton talks of Beaton's House, and other Fife wonders for the next year, but who knows what one year may bring forth? Our Club has been hitherto fortunate. It has subsisted twelve years.

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FOOTNOTES:

[221] About this time Miss Anne Scott wrote to Mrs. Lockhart: "Early in the morning, before we started, papa took me with him to the Cathedral. This he had done often before; but he said he must stand once more on the spot where he married poor mamma. After that we went to the Castle, where a new showman went through the old trick of pointing out Fergus MacIvor's _very_ dungeon. Peveril said, 'Indeed, are you quite sure, sir?' And on being told there could be no doubt, was troubled with a fit of coughing, which ended in a laugh. The man seemed exceeding indignant; so, when papa moved on, I whispered who it was. I wish you had seen the man's start, and how he stared and bowed as he parted from us; and then rammed his keys into his pocket and went off at a hand-gallop to warn the rest of the garrison. But the carriage was ready, and we escaped a row."--_Life_, vol. ix. pp. 256-7.

[222] See _The Doom of Devorgoil: A Melo-Drama. Auchendrane: or the Ayrshire Tragedy_. Published by Cadell in 8vo. 1830.

[223] Referring to the uniform edition of the Waverley Novels in 48 vols., which began to be issued in June 1829. The great cost of the publication naturally caused the Trustees much anxiety at this period.

[224] _Ante_, p. 120, February 2d.

[225] Natali Corri, born in Italy, but settled in Edinburgh, where, among other schemes, he tried to set up an Italian opera. In conjunction with a brother he published several musical works. He died at Trieste in 1823.

[226] See Act II. Sc. 2. The Italian family's morning call.

[227]

"And thou, gentle Dame, who must bear to thy grief For thy clan and thy country the cares of a Chief, Whom brief rolling moons, in six changes have left Of thy husband, and father, and brethren bereft; To thine ear of affection how sad is the hail That salutes thee, the heir of the line of Kintail." _Poetical Works_, vol. viii. p. 394.

Mary, daughter of Francis, Lord Seaforth, was born in Ross-shire in 1784, married, at Barbadoes in 1804, Sir Samuel Hood, and left a widow in 1814. She married again, in 1817, Mr. J.A. Stewart, who assumed the name of Mackenzie. Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie died at Brahan Castle in 1862; her funeral was one of the largest ever witnessed in the North.

[228] Patrick James Stevenson was licensed in 1825, and ordained in 1828.--Scott's _Fasti_, vol. vi. p. 746.

[229] Ramsay's _Tea-table Miscellany_ (1795), vol. i. p. 125.

Sir Walter Scott