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March 1829

March 1.--I laboured hard the whole day, and, between hands, refreshed myself with Vidocq's _Memoirs_. No one called except Hay Drummond, who had something to say about Mons Meg. So I wrote before and after dinner, till no less than ten pages were finished.

March 2.--I wrought but little to-day. I was not in the vein, and felt sleepy. I thought to go out, but disgust of the pavement kept me at home, _O rus_, etc. It is pleasant to think that the 11th March sets us on the route for Abbotsford. I shall be done long before with this confounded novel. I wish I were, for I find trouble in bringing it to a conclusion. People compliment me sometimes on the extent of my labour; but if I could employ to purpose the hours that indolence and lassitude steal away from me, they would have cause to wonder indeed. But day must have night, vigilance must have sleep, and labour, bodily or mental, must have rest. As Edgar says, I cannot fool it further.[263] Anne is gone to Hopetoun House for two days.

Dined at the Royal Society Club, and went to the Society in the evening.

March 3.--Began this day with labour as usual, and made up my packet. Then to the Court, where there is a deal of business. Hamilton, having now a serious fit of the gout, is not expected to aid any more this season. I wrote a little both before and after dinner. Niece Anne and I dined alone. Three poets called, each bawling louder than the other--subscribe, subscribe! I generally do, if the work be under 10s.; but the wares were every one so much worse than another, that I declined in the three instances before me. I got cross at the repeated demands, and could have used Richard's apology--

    "Thou troubl'st me: I am not in the vein."[264]
March 4.--Being Teind Wednesday, I settled myself at my desk and laboured the whole forenoon. Got on to page seventy-two, so there cannot be more than twenty pages wanted. Mr. Drummond Hay, who has an alertness in making business out of nothing, came to call once more about Mons Meg. He is a good-humoured gentlemanlike man, but I would Meg were in his belly or he in hers. William Laidlaw also called, whom I asked to dinner. At four o'clock arrives Mr. Cadell, with his horn charged with good news. The prospectus of the _Magnum_, already issued only a week, has produced such a demand among the trade, that he thinks he must add a large number of copies, that the present edition of 7000 may be increased to the demand; he talks of raising it to 10,000 or 12,000. If so, I shall have a constant income to bear on my unfortunate debts to a large amount yearly, and may fairly hope to put them in a secure way of payment, even if I should be cut off in life, or in health, and the power of labour. I hope to be able, in a year or two, to make proposals for eating with my own spoons, and using my own books, which, if I can give value for them, can hardly, I think, be refused to me.[265] In the meantime I have enough, and something to bequeath to my poor children. This is a great mercy, but I must prepare for disappointment, and I will not be elated.

Laidlaw dined with me, and, poor fellow, was as much elated with the news as I am, for it is not of a nature to be kept secret. I hope I shall have him once more at Kaeside to debate, as we used to do, on religion and politics. Meanwhile, patience, cousin, and shuffle the cards.

I must do what I can to get Cadell's discharge from his creditors; this I have always done, and so far effectually, but it would be most inconvenient to be at the mercy of creditors who may at any moment make inquiry into his affairs and so stop his operations. The Old Bank of Scotland are the only parties whose consent has not been obtained to his discharge, and they must see their interest in consenting to it for the expediting of my affairs; since to what purpose oppose it, for they have not the least chance of mending their own by refusing it.

March 5.--Proofs arranged in the morning. Sir Patrick Walker, that Solomon the second, came to propose to me that some benefit society, which he patronises, should attend upon Mons Meg; but, with the Celts at my disposal, I have every reason to think they would be affronted at being marched along with Sir Peter and his tail of trades' lads. I went to the Court, which detained me till two, then to poor old Lady Seaforth's funeral,[266] which was numerously attended. It was near four ere I got home, bringing Skene with me. We called at Cadell's; the edition of the _Magnum_ is raised from 7000 to 10,000. There will really be a clearance in a year or two if R.C. is not too sanguine. I never saw so much reason for indulging hope. By the bye, I am admitted a member of the Maitland Club, a Society on the principle of the Roxburghe and Bannatyne. What a tail of the alphabet I should draw after me were I to sign with the indications of the different societies I belong to, beginning with President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and ended with umpire of the Six-foot-high Club![267] Dined at home, and in quiet, with the girls.

March 6.--Made some considerable additions to the Appendix to General Preface. I am in the sentiments towards the public that the buffoon player expresses towards his patron--

    "Go tell my young lord, said this modest young man,
      If he will but invite me to dinner,
    I'll be as diverting as ever I can--
      I will, on the faith of a sinner."
I will multiply the notes, therefore, when there is a chance of giving pleasure and variety. There is a stronger gleam of hope on my affairs than has yet touched on them; it is not steady or certain, but it is bright and conspicuous. Ten years may last with me, though I have little chance of it. At the end of this time these works will have operated a clearance of debt, especially as Cadell offers to accommodate with such money as their house can save to pay off what presses. I hope to save, rather than otherwise, and if I leave my literary property to my children, it will make a very good thing for them, and Abbotsford must in any event go to my family, so, on the whole, I have only to pray for quiet times, for how can men mind their serious business--that is, according to Cadell's views--buying _Waverley Novels_ when they are going mad about the Catholic question. Dined at Mr. Nairne's, where there was a great meeting of Bannatynians, rather too numerous, being on the part of our host an Election dinner.

March 7.--Sent away proofs. This extrication of my affairs, though only a Pisgah prospect, occupies my mind more than is fitting; but without some such hope I must have felt like one of the victims of the wretch Burke, struggling against a smothering weight on my bosom, till nature could endure it no longer. No; I will not be the sport of circumstances. Come of it what will, "I'll bend my brows like Highland trows" and make a bold fight of it.

    "The best o't, the warst o't,
    Is only just to die."[268]
And die I think I shall, though I am not such a coward as _mortem conscire me ipso_. But I 'gin to grow aweary of the sun, and when the plant no longer receives nourishment from light and air, there is a speedy prospect of its withering.

Dined with the Banking Club of Scotland, in virtue of Sir Malachi Malagrowther; splendid entertainment, of course. Sir John Hay in the chair.

March 8.--Spent the morning in reading proofs and additions to _Magnum_. I got a note from Cadell, in which Ballantyne, by a letter enclosed, totally condemns _Anne of Geierstein_--three volumes nearly finished--a pretty thing, truly, for I will be expected to do it all over again. Great dishonour in this, as Trinculo says,[269] besides an infinite loss. Sent for Cadell to attend me next morning that we may consult about this business. Peel has made his motion on the Catholic question, with a speech of three hours. It is almost a complete surrender to the Catholics, and so it should be, for half measures do but linger out the feud. This will, or rather ought to, satisfy all men who sincerely love peace, and therefore all men of property. But will this satisfy Pat, who, with all his virtues, is certainly not the most sensible person in the world? Perhaps not; and if not, it is but fighting them at last. I smoked away, and thought of ticklish politics and bad novels. Skene supped with us.

March 9.--Cadell came to breakfast. We resolved in Privy Council to refer the question whether _Anne of G----n_ be sea-worthy or not to further consideration, which, as the book cannot be published, at any rate, during the full rage of the Catholic question, may be easily managed. After breakfast I went to Sir William Arbuthnot's,[270] and met there a select party of Tories, to decide whether we should act with the Whigs by owning their petition in favour of the Catholics. I was not free from apprehension that the petition might be put into such general language as I, at least, was unwilling to authenticate by my subscription. The Solicitor[271] was voucher that they would keep the terms quite general; whereupon we subscribed the requisition for a meeting, with a slight alteration, affirming that it was our desire not to have intermeddled, had not the anti-Catholics pursued that course; and so the Whigs and we are embarked in the same boat, _vogue la galère_.

Went about one o'clock to the Castle, where we saw the auld murderess Mons Meg brought up there in solemn procession to reoccupy her ancient place on the Argyle battery. Lady Hopetoun was my belle. The day was cold but serene, and I think the ladies must have been cold enough, not to mention the Celts, who turned out upon the occasion, under the leading of Cluny Macpherson, a fine spirited lad. Mons Meg is a monument of our pride and poverty. The size is immense, but six smaller guns would have been made at the same expense, and done six times as much execution as she could have done. There was immense interest taken in the show by the people of the town, and the numbers who crowded the Castle-hill had a magnificent appearance. About thirty of our Celts attended in costume; and as there was a Highland regiment on duty, with dragoons and artillerymen, the whole made a splendid show. The dexterity with which the last manned and wrought the windlass which raised old Meg, weighing seven or eight tons, from her temporary carriage to that which has been her basis for many years, was singularly beautiful as a combined exhibition of skill and strength. My daughter had what might have proved a frightful accident. Some rockets were let off, one of which lighted upon her head, and set her bonnet on fire. She neither screamed nor ran, but quietly permitted Charles K. Sharpe to extinguish the fire, which he did with great coolness and dexterity. All who saw her, especially the friendly Celts, gave her merit for her steadiness, and said she came of good blood. I was very glad and proud of her presence of mind. My own courage was not put to the test, for being at some distance, escorting the beautiful and lively Countess of Hopetoun, I did not hear of the accident till it was over. We lunched with the regiment (73d) now in the Castle. The little entertainment gave me an opportunity of observing what I have often before remarked--the improvement in the character of the young and subaltern officers in the army, which in the course of a long and bloody war had been, in point of rank and manners, something deteriorated. The number of persons applying for commissions (3000 being now on the lists) gives an opportunity of selection, and officers should certainly be _gentlemen_, with a complete opening to all who can rise by merit. The style in which duty, and the knowledge of their profession, is enforced, prevents _fainéants_ from long remaining in the profession.

In the evening I presided at the Celtic Club, who received me with their usual partiality. I like this society, and willingly give myself to be excited by the sight of handsome young men with plaids and claymores, and all the alertness and spirit of Highlanders in their native garb. There was the usual degree of excitation--excellent dancing, capital songs, a general inclination to please and to be pleased. A severe cold, caught on the battlements of the Castle, prevented me from playing first fiddle so well as usual, but what I could do was received with the usual partiality of the Celts. I got home, fatigued and _vino gravatus_, about eleven o'clock. We had many guests, some of whom, English officers, seemed both amused and surprised at our wild ways, especially at the dancing without ladies, and the mode of drinking favourite toasts, by springing up with one foot on the bench and one on the table, and the peculiar shriek of applause so unlike English cheering.

March 10.--This may be a short day in the diary, though a busy one to me. I arranged books and papers in the morning, and went to Court after breakfast, where, as Sir Robert Dundas and I had the whole business to discharge, I remained till two or three. Then visited Cadell, and transacted some pecuniary matters.

March 11, [Abbotsford].--I had, as usual, a sort of levée the day I was to leave town, all petty bills and petty business being reserved to the last by those who might as well have applied any one day of the present month. But I need not complain of what happens to my betters, for on the last day of the Session there pours into the Court a succession of trifles which give the Court, and especially the Clerks, much trouble, insomuch that a _ci-devant_ brother of mine proposed that the last day of the Session should be abolished by Statute. We got out of Court at a quarter-past one, and got to Abbotsford at half-past seven, cold and hungry enough to make Scots broth, English roast beef, and a large fire very acceptable.

March 12.--I set apart this day for trifles and dawdling; yet I meditate doing something on the Popish and Protestant affray. I think I could do some good, and I have the sincere wish to do it. I heard the merry birds sing, reviewed my dogs, and was cheerful. I also unpacked books. Deuce take arrangement! I think it the most complete bore in the world; but I will try a little of it. I afterwards went out and walked till dinner-time. I read Reginald Heber's Journal[272] after dinner. I spent some merry days with him at Oxford when he was writing his prize poem. He was then a gay young fellow, a wit, and a satirist, and burning for literary fame. My laurels were beginning to bloom, and we were both madcaps. Who would have foretold our future lot?

    "Oh, little did my mither ken
      The day she cradled me
    The land I was to travel in,
      Or the death I was to die."[273]
March 13.--Wrought at a review of Fraser Tytler's _History of Scotland_. It is somewhat saucy towards Lord Hailes. I had almost stuck myself into the controversy Slough of Despond--the controversy, that is, between the Gothic and Celtic system--but cast myself, like Christian, with a strong struggle or two to the further side of this Slough; and now will I walk on my way rejoicing--not on my article, however, but to the fields. Came home and rejoiced at dinner. After tea I worked a little more. I began to warm in my gear, and am about to awake the whole controversy of Goth and Celt. I wish I may not make some careless blunders.[274]

March 14.--Up at eight, rather of the latest--then fagged at my review, both before and after breakfast. I walked from one o'clock till near three. I make it out, I think, rather better than of late I have been able to do in the streets of Edinburgh, where I am ashamed to walk so slow as would suit me. Indeed nothing but a certain suspicion, that once drawn up on the beach I would soon break up, prevents me renouncing pedestrian exercises altogether, for it is positive suffering, and of an acute kind too.

March 15.--Altogether like yesterday. Wrote in the morning--breakfasted--wrote again till one--out and walked about two hours--to the quills once more--dinner--smoked a brace of cigars and looked on the fire--a page of writing, and so to bed.

March 16.--Day sullen and bitter cold. I fear it brings chilblains on its wings. A dashing of snow, in thin flakes, wandering from the horizon, and threatening a serious fall. As the murderer says to Banquo, "Let it come down!"--we shall have the better chance of fair weather hereafter. It cleared up, however, and I walked from one, or thereabout, till within a quarter of four. A card from Mr. Dempster of Skibo,[275] whose uncle, George Dempster, I knew many years since, a friend of Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and all that set--a fine good-humoured old gentleman. Young Mrs. Dempster is a daughter of my early friend and patron, Robert Dundas of Arniston, Lord Advocate, and I like her for his sake. Mr. Dempster is hunting, and I should have liked to have given his wife and sister refuge during the time he must spend over moss and moor. But the two Annes going to Edinburgh to a fancy ball makes it impossible till they return on Friday night.

March 17.--The Annes went off at eight, morning. After breakfast I drove down to Melrose and waited on Mrs. and Miss Dempster, and engaged them for Saturday. Weather bitter cold; yea, atrociously so. Naboclish--the better for work. Ladies whose husbands love fox-hunting are in a poor way. Here are two pleasant and pretty women pegged up the whole day

    "In the worst inn's worst room"[276]
for the whole twenty-four hours without interruption. They manage the matter otherwise in France, where ladies are the lords of the ascendant. I returned from my visit to my solitary work and solitary meal. I eked out the last two hours' length by dint of smoking, which I find a sedative without being a stimulant.

March 18.--I like the hermit life indifferent well, nor would, I sometimes think, break my heart, were I to be in that magic mountain where food was regularly supplied by ministering genii,[277] and plenty of books were accessible without the least intervention of human society. But this is thinking like a fool. Solitude is only agreeable when the power of having society is removed to a short space, and can be commanded at pleasure. "It is not good for man to be alone." It blunts our faculties and freezes our active virtues. And now, my watch pointing to noon, I think after four hours' work I may indulge myself with a walk. The dogs see me about to shut my desk, and intimate their happiness by caresses and whining. By your leave, Messrs. Genii of the Mountain library, if I come to your retreat I'll bring my dogs with me.

The day was showery, but not unpleasant--soft dropping rains, attended by a mild atmosphere, that spoke of flowers in their seasons, and a chirping of birds that had a touch of Spring in it. I had the patience to get fully wet, and the grace to be thankful for it.

Come! a leetle flourish on the trumpet. Let us rouse the genius of this same red mountain, so called because it is all the year covered with roses. There can be no difficulty in finding it, for it lies towards the Caspian, and is quoted in the Persian tales. Well, I open my Ephemerides, form my scheme under the suitable planet, and the genie obeys the invocation and appears.

Genie is a misshapen dwarf, with a huge jolter-head like that of Boerhave on the Bridge,[278] his limbs and body marvellously shrunk and disproportioned.

-

"Sir Dwarf," said I, undauntedly, "thy head is very large, and thy feet and limbs somewhat small in proportion."

Genie. "I have crammed my head, even to the overflowing, with knowledge; I have starved my limbs by disuse of exercise and denial of sustenance!"

Author. "Can I acquire wisdom in thy solitary library?"

G: "Thou mayest!"

A: "On what conditions?"

G: "Renounce all gross and fleshly pleasure, eat pulse and drink water, converse with none but the wise and learned, alive and dead!"

A: "Why, this were to die in the cause of wisdom."

G: "If you desire to draw from our library only the advantage of seeming wise, you may have it consistent with all your favourite enjoyments!"

A: "How much sleep?"

G: "A Lapland night--eight months out of the twelve!"

A: "Enough for a dormouse, most generous Genius.--A bottle of wine?"

G: "Two, if you please; but you must not seem to care for them--cigars in loads, whisky in lashings; but they must be taken with an air of contempt, a _floccipaucinihilipilification_ of all that can gratify the outward man."

A: "I am about to ask you a serious question--When you have stuffed your stomach, drunk your bottle, smoked your cigar, how are you to keep yourself awake?"

G: "Either by cephalic snuff or castle-building!"

A: "Do you approve of castle-building as a frequent exercise?"

G: "Life were not life without it!

'Give me the joy that sickens not the heart, Give me the wealth that has no wings to fly.'"

A: "I reckon myself one of the best aërial architects now living, and _nil me pænitet hujus_."

G: "_Nec est cur te pæniteat_; most of your novels have previously been subjects for airy castles."

A: "You have me--and moreover a man of imagination derives experience from such imaginary situations. There are few situations in which I have not in fancy figured, and there are few, of course, which I am not previously prepared to take some part in."

G: "True, but I am afraid your having fancied yourself victorious in many a fight would be of little use were you suddenly called to the field, and your personal infirmities and nervous agitations both rushing upon you and incapacitating you."

A: "My nervous agitations!--away with thee! Down, down to Limbo and the burning lake! False fiend, avoid!"

-

    So there ends the tale,
    With a hey, with a hoy,
    So there ends the tale,
              With a ho.

There is a moral. If you fail To seize it by the tail, Its import will exhale, You must know.

March 19.--The above was written yesterday before dinner, though appearances are to the contrary. I only meant that the studious solitude I have sometimes dreamed of, unless practised with rare stoicism and privation, was apt to degenerate into secret sensual indulgences of coarser appetites, which, when the cares and restraints of social life are removed, are apt to make us think, with Dr. Johnson, our dinner the most important event of the day. So much in the way of explanation--a humour which I love not. Go to.

My girls returned from Edinburgh with full news of their _bal paré_.

March 20.--We spent this day on the same terms as formerly. I wrought, walked, dined, drank, and smoked upon the same pattern.

March 21.--To-day brought Mrs. Dempster and her sister-in-law. To dinner came Robert Dundas of Arniston from the hunting-field, and with him Mr. Dempster of Skibo, both favourites of mine. Mr. Stuart, the grand-nephew of my dear friend Lady Louisa, also dined with us, together with the Lyons from Gattonside, and the day passed over in hospitality and social happiness.

March 22.--Being Sunday, I read prayers to our guests, then went a long walk by the lake to Huntly Burn. It is somewhat uncomfortable to feel difficulties increase and the strength to meet them diminish. But why should man fret? While iron is dissolved by rust, and brass corrodes, can our dreams be of flesh and blood enduring? But I will not dwell on this depressing subject. My liking to my two young guests is founded on "things that are long enough ago." The first statesman of celebrity whom I personally knew was Mr. Dempster's grand-uncle, George Dempster of Dunnichen, celebrated in his time, and Dundas's father was, when Lord Advocate, the first man of influence who showed kindness to me.

March 23.--Arrived to breakfast one of the Courland nobility, Baron A. von Meyersdorff, a fine, lively, spirited young man, fond of his country and incensed at its degradation under Russia. He talked much of the orders of chivalry who had been feudal lords of Livonia, especially the order of Porte Glaive, to which his own ancestors had belonged. If he report correctly, there is a deep principle of action at work in Germany, Poland, Russia, etc., which, if it does "not die in thinking," will one day make an explosion. The Germans are a nation, however, apt to exhaust themselves in speculation. The Baron has enthusiasm, and is well read in English and foreign literature. I kept my state till one, and wrote notes to Croker upon Boswell's Scottish tour. It was an act of friendship, for time is something of a scarce article with me. But Croker has been at all times personally kind and actively serviceable to me, and he must always command my best assistance. Then I walked with the Baron as far as the Lake. Our sportsmen came in good time to dinner, and our afternoon was pleasant.

March 24.--This morning our sportsmen took leave, and their _ladykind_ (to _renchérir_ on Anthony a-Wood and Mr. Oldbuck) followed after breakfast, and I went to my work till one, and at that hour treated the Baron to another long walk, with which he seemed highly delighted. He tells me that my old friend the Princess Galitzin[279] is dead. After dinner I had a passing visit from Kinnear, to bid me farewell. This very able and intelligent young man, so able to throw a grace over commercial pursuits, by uniting them with literature, is going with his family to settle in London. I do not wonder at it. His parts are of a kind superior to the confined sphere in which he moves in Scotland. In London, he says, there is a rapid increase of business and its opportunities. Thus London licks the butter off our bread, by opening a better market for ambition. Were it not for the difference of the religion and laws, poor Scotland could hardly keep a man that is worth having; and yet men will not see this. I took leave of Kinnear, with hopes for his happiness and fortune, but yet with some regret for the sake of the country which loses him. The Baron agreed to go with Kinnear to Kelso: and _exit_ with the usual demonstrations of German enthusiasm.

March 25.--I worked in the morning, and think I have sent Croker a packet which may be useful, and to Lockhart a critique on rather a dry topic, viz.: the ancient Scottish History. I remember E. Ainslie, commonly called the plain man, who piqued himself on his powers of conversation, striving to strike fire from some old flinty wretch whom he found in a corner of a public coach, at length addressed him: "Friend, I have tried you on politics, literary matters, religion, fashionable news, etc. etc., and all to no purpose." The dry old rogue, twisting his muzzle into an infernal grin, replied, "Can you claver about bend leather?" The man, be it understood, was a leather merchant. The early history of Caledonia is almost as hopeless a subject, but off it goes. I walked up the Glen with Tom for my companion. Dined, heard Anne reading a paper of anecdotes about Cluny Macpherson, and so to bed.

March 26.--As I have been so lately Johnsonizing, I should derive, if possible, some personal use. Johnson advises Boswell to keep a diary, and to omit registers of the weather, and like trumpery. I am resolved in future not to register what is yet more futile--my gleams of bright and clouded temper. Boswell--whose nerves were, one half madness, and half affectation--has thrummed upon this topic till it is threadbare. I have at this moment forty things to do, and great inclination to do none of them. I ended by working till two, walking till five, writing letters, and so to bed.

March 27.--Letters again. Let me see. I wrote to Lord Montagu about Scott of Beirlaw's commission, in which Invernahyle interests himself. Item, to a lady who is pestering me about a Miss Campbell sentenced to transportation for stealing a silver spoon. Item, to John Eckford. Item, to James Loch, to get an appointment for Sandie Ballantyne's son. Not one, as Dangle says,[280] about any business of my own. My correspondence is on a most disinterested footing. This lasts till past eleven, then enters my cousin R., and remains for two hours, till politics, family news, talk of the neighbourhood are all exhausted, and two or three reputations torn to pieces in the scouring of them. At length I walk him out about a mile, and come back from that _empêchement_. But it is only to find Mr. [Henry] C[ranstoun],[281] my neighbour, in the parlour with the girls, and there is another sederunt of an hour. Well, such things must be, and our friends mean them as civility, and we must take and give the currency of the country. But I am _diddled_ out of a day all the same. The ladies came from Huntly Burn, and cut off the evening.[282]

March 28.--In spite of the temptation of a fine morning, I toiled manfully at the _review_ till two o'clock, commencing at seven. I fear it will be uninteresting, but I like the muddling work of antiquities, and, besides, wish to record my sentiments with regard to the Gothic question. No one that has not laboured as I have done on imaginary topics can judge of the comfort afforded by walking on all-fours, and being grave and dull. I dare say, when the clown of the pantomime escapes from his nightly task of vivacity, it is his special comfort to smoke a pipe and be prosy with some good-natured fellow, the dullest of his acquaintance. I have seen such a tendency in Sir Adam Ferguson, the gayest man I ever knew; and poor Tom Sheridan has complained to me of the fatigue of supporting the character of an agreeable companion.

March 29.--I wrote, read, and walked with the most stoical regularity. This muddling among old books has the quality of a sedative, and saves the tear and wear of an overwrought brain. I wandered on the hills pleasantly enough and concluded a pleasant and laborious day.

March 30.--I finished the remainder of the criticism and sent it off. Pray Heaven it break not the mail coach down.

Lord and Lady Dalhousie, and their relation, Miss Hawthorne, came to dinner, to meet whom we had Dr. and Mrs. Brewster. Lord Dalhousie has more of the Caledonian _prisca fides_ than any man I know now alive. He has served his country in all quarters of the world and in every climate; yet, though my contemporary, looks ten years my junior. He laughed at the idea of rigid temperance, and held an occasional skirmish no bad thing even in the West Indies, thinking, perhaps, with Armstrong, of "the rare debauch"[283]. In all incidents of life he has been the same steady, honest, true-hearted Lord Dalhousie, that Lordie Ramsay promised to be when at the High School. How few such can I remember, and how poorly have honesty and valour been rewarded! Here, at the time when most men think of repose, he is bundled off to command in India.[284] Would it had been the Chief Governorship! But to have remained at home would have been bare livelihood, and that is all. I asked him what he thought of "strangling a nabob, and rifling his jewel closet," and he answered, "No, no, an honest man." I fear we must add, a poor one. Lady Dalhousie, formerly Miss Brown of Coalstoun, is an amiable, intelligent, and lively woman, who does not permit society to "cream and mantle like a standing pool."[285]

The weather, drifting and surly, does not permit us to think of Melrose, and I could only fight round the thicket with Dr. Brewster and his lordship. Lord Dalhousie gave me some interesting accounts of the American Indians. They are, according to his lordship, decaying fast in numbers and principle. Lord Selkirk's property now makes large returns, from the stock of the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Companies having united. I learned from Lord Dalhousie that he had been keeping a diary since the year 1800. Should his narrative ever see the light, what a contrast will it form to the flourishing vapouring accounts of most of the French merchants! Mr. and Mrs. Skene with their daughter Kitty, who has been indisposed, came to dinner, and the party was a well-assorted one.

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FOOTNOTES:

[263] See _Lear_, Act IV. Sc. 1.

[264] _Richard III_., Act IV. Sc. 2.

[265] See letter to George Forbes from Sir Walter, dated Dec. 18th, 1830.--_Life_, vol. X. pp. 19-20.

[266] Widow of Francis, Lord Seaforth, last Baron of Kintail, and mother of the Hon. Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie.

[267] A sportive association of young athletes. Hogg, I think, was their Poet Laureate.--J.G.L.

[268]

Mair spier na, no fear na, Auld age ne'er mind a feg; The last o't, the warst o't. Is only for to beg.--BURNS'S _Ep. to Davie_.

[269] _Tempest_, Act IV. Sc. 1. (Stephano).

[270] This gentleman was a favourite with Sir Walter--a special point of communion being the antiquities of the British drama. He was Provost of Edinburgh in 1816-17, and again in 1822, and the king gracefully surprised him by proposing his health at the civic banquet in the Parliament House, as "Sir William Arbuthnot, Baronet."--J.G.L.

[271] John Hope, afterwards Lord Justice-Clerk.

[272] _Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India_, 2 vols. 4to, 1828.

[273] Old Ballad (known as "Marie Hamilton") quoted by Burns in a letter to Mrs. Dunlop regarding Falconer, author of _The Shipwreck_.--Currie's _Burns_, vol. ii. p. 290.

[274] See _Quart. Rev._, Nov. 1829, or _Misc. Prose Works_, xxi. 152-198.

[275] George Dempster of Skibo, one of the few men connecting Scott with this generation, died in Edinburgh on the 6th of February 1889. This accomplished Scottish gentleman had for many years made his home at Ormiston, where, in the old mansion-house, rich in associations of Knox, Wishart, and Buchanan, he was the gracious host to a large circle of friends.

[276] Pope's _Moral Essays_, iii.

[277] _Ante_, vol. i. p. 312, _n._

[278] Mr. Lockhart says, writing in 1839:--"This head may still be seen over a laboratory at No. 100 South Bridge, Edinburgh. [It has since been removed.] N.B. There is a tradition that the venerable bust in question was once dislodged by 'Colonel Grogg' and some of his companions, and waggishly placed in a very inappropriate position."

[279] Fenimore Cooper told Scott that the Princess had had Sir Walter's portrait engraved in 1827 from the picture taken in Paris. [Mme. Mirbel's miniature?]

[280] See Sheridan's _Critic_.

[281] Lord Corehouse's brother.

[282] Room may be made for part of one of the letters received by this morning's mail, in which, after much interesting family detail, his son-in-law describes the duel which took place between the Duke of Wellington and Lord Winchelsea:--"There is no reason to expect a duel every day, and all has been very quiet since Saturday.--The letter was utterly forgotten till this recalled it to remembrance. _Ergo_, there was no sort of call on the Duke after beating Buonaparte to go to war with a booby. But he could not stand the fling at the fair. His correspondence seems admirable every way, and the whole affair was gone through in excellent taste,--the Duke and Hardinge trotting out, the two peaceful lords rumbling down in a coach and four. The Duke had no half-pence and was followed and bothered for some time by the tollman on Battersea Bridge, when Hardinge fished out some silver or a groom came up. There were various market gardeners on the road, who, when Lord Winchelsea's equipage stopped, stopped also and looked on. One of them advised a turn up with nature's weapons. The moment all was done the Duke clapped spars to his horse and was back in Downing Street within the two hours, breakfasted, and off to Windsor, where he transacted business for an hour or so, and then said, 'By-the-by, I was forgetting I have had a field-day with Lord W. this morning.' They say the King rowed Arthur much for exposing himself at such a crisis."

[283] _Art of Preserving Health_, book ii.

[284] George Ramsay, Earl of Dalhousie, had just been appointed Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies; which office he held till 1832. He died in 1838.

[285] _Merchant of Venice_, Act I. Sc. 1.

Sir Walter Scott