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April 1829

April 1.--A pretty first of April truly; the hills white with snow, I myself as bilious as a dog. My noble guests left about noon. I wrote letters, as if I had not bile enough in my bosom already, and did not go out to face the snow wreaths till half-past two, when I am resolved to make a brush for exercise. There will be fine howling among the dogs, for I am about to shut my desk. Found Mrs. Skene disposed to walk, so I had the advantage of her company. The snow lay three inches thick on the ground; but we had the better appetite for dinner, after which we talked and read without my lifting a pen.

April 2.--Begins with same brilliant prospect of snow and sunshine dazzling to the eyes and chilling to the fingers, a beastly disagreeable coldness in the air. I stuck by the pen till one, then took a drive with the ladies as far as Chiefswood and walked home. Young William Forbes[286] came, and along with him a Southron, Mr. Cleasby.

April 3.--Still the same party. I fagged at writing letters to Lockhart, to Charles, and to John Gibson, to Mr. Cadell, Croker, Lord Haddington, and others. Lockhart has had an overture through Croker requesting him to communicate with some newspaper on the part of the Government, which he has wisely declined. Nothing but a thorough-going blackguard ought to attempt the daily press, unless it is some quiet country diurnal. Lockhart has also a wicked wit which would make an office of this kind more dangerous to him than to downright dulness. I am heartily glad he has refused it.[287]

Sir James Mackintosh and Lord Haddington have spoken very handsomely of my accession to the Catholic Petition, and I think it has done some good; yet I am not confident that the measure will disarm the Catholic spleen.[288] And I was not entirely easy at finding myself allied to the Whigs, even in this instance, where I agree with them. This is witless prejudice, however.

My walk to-day was up the Rhymer's Glen with Skene. Colonel Ferguson dined with us.

April 4.--Mr. Cleasby left this morning. He has travelled much, and is a young man of copious conversation and ready language, aiming I suppose at Parliament.[289] William Forbes is singing like an angel in the next room, but he sings only Italian music, which says naught to me. I have a letter from one David Patterson, who was Dr. Knox's jackal for buying murdered bodies, suggesting that I should write on the subject of Burke and Hare, and offering me his invaluable collection of anecdotes! "Curse him imperance and him dam insurance,"[290] as Mungo says in the farce. Did ever one hear the like? The scoundrel has been the companion and patron of such atrocious murderers and kidnappers, and he has the impudence to write to any decent man!

Corrected proof-sheets and dedication of the _Magnum_ and sent them off.

April 5.--Read prayers to what remains of our party: being Anne, my niece Anne, the four Skenes, and William Forbes. We then walked, and I returned time enough to work a little at the criticism. Thus it drew towards dinner in conclusion, after which we smoked, told stories, and drank tea.

April 6.--Worked at the _review_ for three or four hours; yet hang it, I can't get on. I wonder if I am turning clumsy in other matters; certainly I cannot write against time as I used to do. My thoughts will not be duly regulated; my pen declares for itself, will neither write nor spell, and goes under independent colours. I went out with the child Kitty Skene on her pony. I don't much love children, I suppose from want of habit, but this is a fine merry little girl.

William Forbes sang in the evening with a feeling and taste indescribably fine, but as he had no Scottish or English songs, my ears were not much gratified. I have no sense beyond Mungo: "What signify me hear if me no understand!"

William Forbes leaves us. As to the old story, scribble till two, then walk for exercise till four. Deil hae it else, for company eats up the afternoon, so nothing can be done that is not achieved in the forenoon.

April 7.--We had a gay scene this morning--the foxhounds and merry hunters in my little base court, which rung with trampling steeds, and rejoiced in scarlet jackets and ringing horns. I have seen the day worlds would not have bribed me to stay behind them; but that is over, and I walked a sober pace up to the Abbot's Knowe, from which I saw them draw my woods, but without finding a fox. I watched them with that mixture of interest, affection, and compassion which old men feel at looking on the amusements of the young. I was so far interested in the chase itself as to be sorry they did not find. I had so far the advantage of the visit, that it gave me an object for the morning exercise, which I would otherwise only have been prompted to by health and habit. It is pleasant to have one's walk,--as heralds say, with a difference. By the way, the foxhunters hunted the cover far too fast. When they found a path they ran through it pell-mell without beating at all. They had hardly left the hare-hole cover, when a fox, which they had over-run, stole away. This is the consequence of breeding dogs too speedy.

April 8.--We have the news of the Catholic question being carried in the House of Lords, by a majority of 105 upon the second reading. This is decisive, and the balsam of Fierabras must be swallowed.[291] It remains to see how it will work. Since it was indubitably necessary, I am glad the decision on the case has been complete. On these last three days I have finished my review of Tytler for Lockhart and sent it off by this post. I may have offended Peter by censuring him for a sort of petulance towards his predecessor Lord Hailes. This day visited by Mr. Carr, who is a sensible, clever young man, and by his two sisters[292]--beautiful singer the youngest--and to my taste, and English music.

April 9.--Laboured correcting proofs and revising; the day infinitely bad. Worked till three o'clock; then tried a late walk, and a wet one.

I hear bad news of James Ballantyne. Hypochondriac I am afraid, and religiously distressed in mind.

I got a book from the Duke de Lévis, the same gentleman with whom I had an awkward meeting at Abbotsford, owing to his having forgot his credentials, which left me at an unpleasant doubt as to his character and identity.[293] His book is inscribed to me with hyperbolical praises. Now I don't like to have, like the Persian poets who have the luck to please the Sun of the Universe, my mouth crammed with sugar-candy, which politeness will not permit me to spit out, and my stomach is indisposed to swallow. The book is better than would be expected from the exaggerated nonsense of the dedication.

April 10.--Left Abbotsford at seven to attend the Circuit. _Nota bene_--half-past six is the better hour; waters are extremely flooded. Lord Meadowbank at the Circuit. Nothing tried but a few trumpery assaults. Meadowbank announces he will breakfast with me to-morrow, so I shall return to-night. Promised to my cousin Charles Scott to interest myself about his getting the farm of Milsington upon Borthwick Water and mentioned him to Colonel Riddell as a proposed offerer. The tender was well received. I saw James the piper and my cousin Anne; sent to James Veitch the spyglass of Professor Ferguson to be repaired. Dined with the Judge and returned in the evening.

April 11.--Meadowbank breakfasted with us, and then went on to Edinburgh, pressed by bad news of his family. His wife (daughter of my early patron, President Blair) is very ill; indeed I fear fatally so. I am sorry to think it is so. When the King was here she was the finest woman I saw at Holyrood. My proofs kept me working till two; then I had a fatiguing and watery walk. After dinner we smoked, and I talked with Mr. Carr over criminal jurisprudence, the choicest of conversation to an old lawyer; and the delightful music of Miss Isabella Carr closed the day. Still, I don't get to my task; but I will, to-morrow or next day.

April 12.--Read prayers, put my books in order and made some progress in putting papers in order which have been multiplying on my table. I have a letter from that impudent lad Reynolds about my contribution to the _Keepsake_. Sent to him the _House of Aspen_, as I had previously determined. This will give them a lumping pennyworth in point of extent, but that's the side I would have the bargain rest upon. It shall be a warning after this to keep out of such a scrape.

April 13.--In the morning before breakfast I corrected the proof of the critique on the life of Lord Pitsligo in Blackwood's Magazine.[294] After breakfast Skene and his lady and family, and Mr. Carr and his sisters, took their departure. Time was dawdled away till nearly twelve o'clock and then I could not work much. I finished, however, a painful letter to J. Ballantyne, which I hope will have effect upon the nervous disorder he complains of. He must "awake, arise, or be for ever fallen." I walked happily and pleasantly from two o'clock till four. And now I must look to _Anne of Geierstein_. Hang it! it is not so bad after all, though I fear it will not be popular. In fact, I am almost expended; but while I exhort others to exertion I will not fail to exert myself. I have a letter from R.P. G[illies] proposing to subscribe to assist him from £25 to £50. It will do no good, but yet I cannot help giving him something.

    "A daimen-icker in a thrave's a sma' request:
    I'll get a blessing wi' the lave, and never miss't."[295]
I will try a review for the _Foreign_ and he shall have the proceeds.

April 14.--I sent off proofs of the review of Tytler for John Lockhart. Then set a stout heart to a stay brae, and took up _Anne of Geierstein_. I had five sheets standing by me, which I read with care, and satisfied myself that worse had succeeded, but it was while the fashion of the thing was new. I retrenched a good deal about the Troubadours, which was really _hors de place_. As to King René, I retained him as a historical character. In short, I will let the sheets go nearly as they are, for though J.B. be an excellent judge of this species of composition, he is not infallible, and has been in circumstances which may cross his mind. I might have taken this determination a month since, and I wish I had. But I thought I might strike out something better by the braes and burn-sides. Alas! I walk along them with painful and feeble steps, and invoke their influence in vain. But my health is excellent, and it were ungrateful to complain either of mental or bodily decay. We called at Elliston to-day and made up for some ill-bred delay. In the evening I corrected two sheets of the _Magnum_, as we call it.

April 15.--I took up _Anne_, and wrote, with interruption of a nap (in which my readers may do well to imitate me), till two o'clock. I wrote with care, having digested Comines. Whether I succeed or not, it would be dastardly to give in. A bold countenance often carries off an indifferent cause, but no one will defend him who shows the white feather. At two I walked till near four. Dined with the girls, smoked two cigars, and to work again till supper-time. Slept like a top. Amount of the day's work, eight pages--a round task.

April 16.--I meant to go out with Bogie to plant some shrubs in front of the old quarry, but it rains cats and dogs as they say, a rare day for grinding away at the old mill of imagination, yet somehow I have no great will to the task. After all, however, the morning proved a true April one, sunshine and shower, and I both worked to some purpose, and moreover walked and directed about planting the quarry.

The post brought matter for a May or April morning--a letter from Sir James Mackintosh, telling me that Moore and he were engaged as contributors to Longman's Encyclopædia, and asking me to do a volume at £1000, the subject to be the History of Scotland in one volume. This would be very easy work. I have the whole stuff in my head, and could write _currente calamo_. The size is as I compute it about one-third larger than _The Tales of my Grandfather_. There is much to be said on both sides. Let me balance pros and cons after the fashion of honest Robinson Crusoe. _Pro._--It is the sum I have been wishing for, sufficient to enable me to break the invisible but magic circle which petty debts of myself and others have traced round me. With common prudence I need no longer go from hand to mouth, or what is worse, anticipate my means. I may also pay off some small shop debts, etc., belonging to the Trust, clear off all Anne's embarrassment, and even make some foundation of a purse for her. _N.B._--I think this whacking reason is like to prove the gallon of Cognac brandy, which a lady recommended as the foundation of a Liqueur. "Stop, dear madam, if you please," said my grandfather, Dr. Rutherford, "you can [add] nothing to that; it is _flaconnadé_ with £1000," and a capital hit, egad. _Contra._--It is terribly like a hack author to make an abridgement of what I have written so lately. _Pro._--But a difference may be taken. A history may be written of the same country on a different plan, general where the other is detailed, and philosophical where it is popular. I think I can do this, and do it with unwashed hands too. For being hacked, what is it but another word for being an author? I will take care of my name doubtless, but the five letters which form it must take care of me in turn. I never knew name or fame burn brighter by over chary keeping of it. Besides, there are two gallant hacks to pull with me. _Contra._--I have a monstrous deal on hand. Let me see: Life of Argyll,[296] and Life of Peterborough for Lockhart.[297] Third series _Tales of my Grandfather_--review for Gillies--new novel--end of _Anne of Geierstein_. _Pro._--But I have just finished too long reviews for Lockhart. The third series is soon discussed. The review may be finished in three or four days, and the novel is within a week and less of conclusion. For the next, we must first see how this goes off. In fine, within six weeks, I am sure I can do the work and secure the independence I sigh for. Must I not make hay while the sun shines? Who can tell what leisure, health, and life may be destined to me?

Adjourned the debate till to-morrow morning.

April 17.--I resumed the discussion of the bargain about the history. The ayes to the right, the noes to the left. The ayes have it--so I will write to Sir James of this date. But I will take a walk first, that I will. A little shaken with the conflict, for after all were I as I have been----. "My poverty but not my will consents."[298]

I have been out in a most delicious real spring day. I returned with my nerves strung and my mind determined. I will make this plunge, and with little doubt of coming off no loser in character. What is given in detail may be suppressed, general views may be enlarged upon, and a bird's-eye prospect given, not the less interesting, that we have seen its prominent points nearer and in detail. I have been of late in a great degree free from wafered letters, sums to make up, notes of hand wanted, and all the worry of an embarrassed man's life. This last struggle will free me entirely, and so help me Heaven it shall be made! I have written to Sir James, stating that I apprehend the terms to be £1000, namely, for one volume containing about one-third more than one of the volumes of _Tales of my Grandfather_, and agreeing to do so. Certes, few men can win a thousand pounds so readily.

We dine with the Fergusons to-day at four. So off we went and safely returned.

April 18.--Corrected proofs. I find J.B. has not returned to his business, though I wrote him how necessary it was. My pity begins to give way to anger. Must he sit there and squander his thoughts and senses upon cloudy metaphysics and abstruse theology till he addles his brains entirely, and ruins his business? I have written to him again, letter third and, I am determined, last.

Wrote also to the fop Reynolds, with preface to the _House of Aspen_, then to honest Joseph Train desiring he would give me some notion how to serve him with Messrs. Carr, and to take care to make his ambition moderate and feasible.

My neighbour, Mr. Kerr of Kippielaw, struck with a palsy while he was looking at the hounds; his pony remained standing by his side. A sudden call if a final one.

That strange desire to leave a prescribed task and set about something else seized me irresistibly. I yielded to it, and sat down to try at what speed and in what manner I could execute this job of Sir James Mackintosh's, and I wrote three leaves before rising, well enough, I think. The girls made a round with me. We drove to Chiefswood, and from that to Janeswood, up the Rhymer's Glen, and so home. This occupied from one to four. In the evening I heard Anne read Mr. Peel's excellent Bill on the Police of the Metropolis, which goes to disband the whole generation of Dogberry and Verges. Wrote after tea.

April 19.--I made this a busy day. I wrote on at the history until two o'clock, then took a gallant walk, then began reading for Gillies's article. James Ferguson dined with us. We smoked and I became woundy sleepy. Now I have taken collar to this arrangement, I find an open sea before me which I could not have anticipated, for though I should get through well enough with my expectations during the year, yet it is a great thing to have a certainty to be clear as a new pin of every penny of debt. There is no being obliged or asking favours or getting loans from some grudging friend who can never look at you after but with fear of losing his cash, or you at him without the humiliating sense of having extorted an obligation. Besides my large debts, I have paid since I was in trouble at least £2000 of personal encumbrances, so no wonder my nose is still under water. I really believe the sense of this apparently unending struggle, schemes for retrenchment in which I was unseconded, made me low-spirited, for the sun seems to shine brighter upon me as a free man. Nevertheless, devil take the necessity which makes me drudge like a very hack of Grub Street.

    "May the foul fa' the gear and the bletherie o 't."[299]
I walked out with Tom's assistance, came home, went through the weary work of cramming, and so forth; wrought after tea, and then to bed.

April 20.--As yesterday till two--sixteen pages of the History written, and not less than one-fifth of the whole book. What if they should be off? I were finely holp'd for throwing my time away. A toy! They dare not.

Lord Buchan is dead, a person whose immense vanity, bordering upon insanity, obscured, or rather eclipsed, very considerable talents. His imagination was so fertile that he seemed really to believe the extraordinary fictions which he delighted in telling. His economy, most laudable in the early part of his life, when it enabled him, from a small income, to pay his father's debts, became a miserable habit, and led him to do mean things. He had a desire to be a great man, and a _Mæcenas bon marché_. The two celebrated lawyers, his brothers, were not more gifted by nature than I think he was, but the restraints of a profession kept the eccentricity of the family in order. Henry Erskine was the best-natured man I ever knew, thoroughly a gentleman, and with but one fault: he could not say _no_, and thus sometimes misled those who trusted him. Tom Erskine was positively mad. I have heard him tell a cock-and-a-bull story of having seen the ghost of his father's servant, John Burnet, with as much sincerity as if he believed every word he was saying. Both Henry and Thomas were saving men, yet both died very poor. The one at one time possessed £200,000; the other had a considerable fortune. The Earl alone has died wealthy. It is saving, not getting, that is the mother of riches. They all had wit. The Earl's was crack-brained and sometimes caustic; Henry's was of the very kindest, best-humoured, and gayest that ever cheered society; that of Lord Erskine was moody and maddish. But I never saw him in his best days.

Went to Haining. Time has at last touched the beautiful Mrs. Pringle. I wonder he was not ashamed of himself for spoiling so fine a form. But what cares he? Corrected proofs after dinner. James B. is at last at work again.

April 21.--Spent the whole morning at writing, still the History, such is my wilful whim. Twenty pages now finished--I suppose the clear fourth part of a volume. I went out, but the day being sulky I sat in the Conservatory, after trying a walk! I have been glancing over the works for Gillies's review, and I think on them between-hands while I compose the History,--an odd habit of doing two things at once, but it has always answered with me well enough.

April 22.--Another hard day's work at the History, now increased to the Bruce and Baliol period, and threatening to be too lengthy for the Cyclopædia. But I will make short work with wars and battles. I wrote till two o'clock, and strolled with old Tom and my dogs[300] till half-past four, hours of pleasure and healthful exercise, and to-day taken with ease. A letter from J.B., stating an alarm that he may lose the printing of a part of the _Magnum_. But I shall write him he must be his own friend, set shoulder to the wheel, and remain at the head of his business; and of that I must make him aware. And so I set to my proofs. "Better to work," says the inscription on Hogarth's Bridewell, "than stand thus."

April 23.--A cold blustering day--bad welcome for the poor lambs. I made my walk short and my task long, my work turning entirely on the History--all on speculation. But the post brought me a letter from Dr. Lardner, the manager of the Cyclopædia, agreeing to my terms; so all is right there, and no labour thrown away. The volume is to run to 400 pages; so much the better; I love elbow-room, and will have space to do something to purpose. I replied agreeing to his terms, and will send him copy as soon as I have corrected it. The Colonel and Miss Ferguson dined with us. I think I drank rather a cheerful glass with my good friend. Smoked an extra cigar, so no more at present.

April 25.--After writing to Mr. Cochrane,[301] to Cadell and J.B., also to Mr. Pitcairn,[302] it was time to set out for Lord Buchan's funeral. The funeral letters were signed by Mr. H. David Erskine, his lordship's natural son. His nephew, the young Earl, was present, but neither of them took the head of the coffin. His lordship's funeral took place in a chapel amongst the ruins. His body was in the grave with its feet pointing westward. My cousin, Maxpopple,[303] was for taking notice of it, but I assured him that a man who had been wrong in the head all his life would scarce become right-headed after death. I felt something at parting with this old man, though but a trumpery body. He gave me the first approbation I ever obtained from a stranger. His caprice had led him to examine Dr. Adam's class when I, a boy twelve years old, and then in disgrace for some aggravated case of negligence, was called up from a low bench, and recited my lesson with some spirit and appearance of feeling the poetry--it was the apparition of Hector's ghost in the Æneid--of which called forth the noble Earl's applause. I was very proud of this at the time.

I was sad on another account--it was the first time I had been among these ruins since I left a very valued pledge there. My next visit may be involuntary. Even so, God's will be done! at least I have not the mortification of thinking what a deal of patronage and fuss Lord Buchan would bestow on my funeral.[304] Maxpopple dined and slept here with four of his family, much amused with what they heard and saw. By good fortune a ventriloquist and partial juggler came in, and we had him in the library after dinner. He was a half-starved wretched-looking creature, who seemed to have ate more fire than bread. So I caused him to be well stuffed, and gave him a guinea, rather to his poverty than to his skill--and now to finish _Anne of Geierstein_.

April 26.--But not a finger did I lay on the jacket of _Anne_. Looking for something, I fell in with the little drama, long missing, called the _Doom of Devorgoil_. I believe it was out of mere contradiction that I sat down to read and correct it, merely because I would not be bound to do aught that seemed compulsory. So I scribbled at a piece of nonsense till two o'clock, and then walked to the lake. At night I flung helve after hatchet, and spent the evening in reading the _Doom of Devorgoil_ to the girls, who seemed considerably interested. Anne objects to the mingling the goblinry, which is comic, with the serious, which is tragic. After all, I could greatly improve it, and it would not be a bad composition of that odd kind to some picnic receptacle of all things.

April 27.--This day must not be wasted. I breakfast with the Fergusons, and dine with the Brewsters. But, by Heaven, I will finish _Anne of Geierstein_ this day betwixt the two engagements. I don't know why nor wherefore, but I hate _Anne_, I mean _Anne of Geierstein_; the other two Annes are good girls. Accordingly I well nigh accomplished my work, but about three o'clock my story fell into a slough, and in getting it out I lost my way, and was forced to postpone the conclusion till to-morrow. Wrote a good day's work notwithstanding.

April 28.--I have slept upon my puzzle, and will now finish it, Jove bless my _pia mater_, as I see not further impediment before me. The story will end, and shall end, because it must end, and so here goes. After this doughty resolution, I went doggedly to work, and finished five leaves by the time when they should meet the coach. But the misfortune of writing fast is that one cannot at the same time write concisely. I wrote two pages more in the evening. Stayed at home all day. Indeed, the weather--sleety, rainy, stormy--forms no tempting prospect. Bogie, too, who sees his flourish going to wreck, is looking as spiteful as an angry fiend towards the unpropitious heavens. So I made a day of work of it,

    "And yet the end was not."
April 29.--This morning I finished and sent off three pages more, and still there is something to write; but I will take the broad axe to it, and have it ended before noon.

This has proved impossible, and the task lasted me till nine, when it was finished, _tant bien que mal_. Now, will people say this expresses very little respect for the public? In fact, I have very little respect for that dear _publicum_ whom I am doomed to amuse, like Goody Trash in _Bartholomew Fair_, with rattles and gingerbread; and I should deal very uncandidly with those who may read my confessions were I to say I knew a public worth caring for or capable of distinguishing the nicer beauties of composition. They weigh good and evil qualities by the pound. Get a good name and you may write trash. Get a bad one and you may write like Homer, without pleasing a single reader. I am, perhaps, _l'enfant gâté de succés_, but I am brought to the stake,[305] and must perforce stand the course.

Having finished _Anne_[306] I began and revised fifteen leaves of the History, and sent them to Dr. Lardner. I think they read more trashy than I expected. But when could I ever please myself, even when I have most pleased others? Then I walked about two hours by the thicket and river-side, watching the appearance of spring, which, as Coleridge says--

    "Comes slowly up this way."
After dinner and tea I resumed the task of correction, which is an odious one, but must be attempted, ay, and accomplished too.

April 30.--Dr. Johnson enjoins Bozzy to leave out of his diary all notices of the weather as insignificant. It may be so to an inhabitant of Bolt Court, in Fleet Street, who need care little whether it rains or snows, except the shilling which it may cost him for a Jarvie; but when I wake and find a snow shower sweeping along, and destroying hundreds perhaps of young lambs, and famishing their mothers, I must consider it as worth noting. For my own poor share, I am as indifferent as any Grub Streeter of them all--

    "--And since 'tis a bad day,
    Rise up, rise up, my merry men,
    And use it as you may."
I have accordingly been busy. The weather did not permit me to go beyond the courtyard, for it continued cold and rainy. I have employed the day in correcting the history for Cyclopædia as far as page 35, exclusive, and have sent it off, or shall to-morrow. I wish I knew how it would run out. Dr. Lardner's measure is a large one, but so much the better. I like to have ample verge and space enough, and a mere abridgment would be discreditable. Well, nobody can say I eat the bread of idleness. Why should I? Those who do not work from necessity take violent labour from choice, and were necessity out of the question I would take the same sort of literary labour from choice--something more leisurely though.

-

FOOTNOTES:

[286] Son of Lord Medwyn. Mr. Forbes had lately returned from Italy, where he had had as travelling companion Mr. Cleasby, and it was owing to Mr. Forbes's recommendation that Mr. Cleasby came to Edinburgh to pursue his studies. Mr. Forbes possessed a fine tenor voice, and his favourite songs at that time were the Neapolitan and Calabrian canzonetti, to which Sir Walter alludes under April 4.

[287] Mr. Lockhart's own account of the overture is sufficiently amusing and characteristic of the men and the times:--

"I had not time to write more than a line the other day under Croker's cover, having received it just at post time. He sent for me; I found him in his nightcap at the Admiralty, colded badly, but in audacious spirits. His business was this. The Duke of W[ellingto]n finds himself without one newspaper _he_ can depend on. He wishes to buy up some evening print, such as the _dull Star_; and could I do anything for it? I said I was as well inclined to serve the Duke as he could be, but it must be in other fashion. He then said _he agreed_ with me--but there was a second question: Could I find them an editor, and undertake to communicate between them and him--in short, save the Treasury the inconvenience of maintaining an avowed intercourse with the Newspaper press? He said he himself had for some years done this--then others. I said I would endeavour to think of a man for their turn and would call on him soon again.

"I have considered the matter at leisure, and resolve to have nothing to do with it. They CAN only want me as a _writer_. Any understrapper M.P. would do well enough for carrying hints to a newspaper office, and I will not, even to secure the Duke, mix myself up with the newspapers. That work it is which has damned Croker, and I can't afford to sacrifice the advantage which I feel I have gained in these later years by abstaining altogether from partisan scribbling, or to subject the _Quarterly_ to risk of damage. The truth is, I don't admire, after all that has come and gone, being applied to through the medium of friend Crokey. I hope you will approve of my resolution."

[288] Peel, in writing to Scott, says, "The mention of your name [in Parliament] as attached to the Edinburgh petition was received with loud cheers."

[289] Richard Cleasby, afterwards the well-known scholar who spent many years in gathering materials for an Icelandic Dictionary. Mr. Cleasby died in 1847, but the work he had planned was not published until 1874, when it appeared under the editorship of Mr. Vigfusson,[A] assisted by Sir George Dasent.

[290] Bickerstaff's _Padlock_, Act I. Sc. 6.

[A] An Icelandic-English Dictionary based on the MS. collections of the late Richard Cleasby, enlarged and completed by G. Vigfusson. 4to, Oxford, 1874.

[291] _Don Quixote_, Pt. I. Bk. II. Cap. 2.

[292] Friends of Joanna Baillie's and John Richardson's.

[293] This must have been an unusual experience for the head of a family that considered itself to be the oldest in Christendom. Their château contained, it was said, two pictures: one of the Deluge, in which Noah is represented going into the Ark, carrying under his arm a small trunk, on which was written "_Papiers de la maison de Lévis_;" the other a portrait of the founder of the house bowing reverently to the Virgin, who is made to say, "_Couvrez-vous, mon cousin_."--See Walpole's _Letters_. The book referred to by Sir Walter is _The Carbonaro: a Piedmontese Tale_, by the Duke de Lévis. 2 vols. London, 1829.

[294] No. 152--May, 1829.

[295] Burns's Lines to a Mouse: "a daimen-icker in a thrave," that is, an ear of corn out of two dozen sheaves.

[296] John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich.

[297] These biographies, intended for _The Family Library_, were never written.

[298] _Romeo and Juliet_, Act v. Sc. 1.

[299]

"When I think on the world's pelf May the shame fa' and the blethrie o 't." Burden of old Scottish Song.

[300] That these afternoon rambles with the dogs were not always so tranquil may be gathered from an incident described by Mr. Adolphus, in which an unsuspecting cat at a cottage door was demolished by Nimrod in one of his gambols.--_Life_, vol. ix. p. 362. This deer-hound was an old offender. Sir Walter tells his friend Richardson, _à propos_ of a story he had just heard of Joanna Baillie's cat having worried a dog: "It is just like her mistress, who beats the male race of authors out of the pit in describing the higher passions that are more proper to their sex than hers. Alack-a-day! my poor cat Hinse, my acquaintance, and in some sort my friend of fifteen years, was snapped at even by the paynim Nimrod. What could I say to him but what Brantôme said to some _ferrailleur_ who had been too successful in a duel, 'Ah! mon grand ami, vous avez tué mon autre grand ami.'"

[301] Manager of the _Foreign Review_.

[302] Robert Pitcairn, author of _Criminal Trials in Scotland_, 3 vols. 4to.

[303] William Scott, Esq., afterwards Laird of Raeburn, was commonly thus designated from a minor possession, during his father's lifetime. Whatever, in things of this sort, used to be practised among the French noblesse, might be traced, till very lately, in the customs of the Scottish provincial gentry.--- J.G.L.

[304] _Life_, vol. vi. p. 90.

[305]

"They have ty'd me to a stake; I cannot fly, But bear-like I must fight the course."--_Macbeth_, Act v. Sc. 7.

[306] The work was published in May30 under the following title:--"_Anne of Geierstein_, or _The Maiden of the Mist_. By the Author of _Waverley_, etc.

What! will the aspiring blood of Lancaster Sink in the ground? SHAKESPEARE.

In three volumes. Edinburgh: Printed for Cadell & Co., Edinburgh; and Simpkin & Marshall, London, 1829. (At the end) Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne & Company, Paul's Work, Canongate."

Sir Walter Scott