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May 1829

May 1.--Weather more tolerable. I commenced my review on the Duke of Guise's Expedition,[307] for my poor correspondent Gillies, with six leaves. What a curious tale that is of Masaniello! I went to Huntly Burn in the sociable, and returned on foot, to my great refreshment. Evening as usual. Ate, drank, smoked, and wrote.

May 2.--A pitiful day of rain and wind. Laboured the whole morning at Gillies's review. It is a fine subject--the Duke of Guise at Naples--and I think not very much known, though the story of Masaniello is.

I have a letter from Dr. Lardner proposing to me to publish the history in June. But I dare not undertake it in so short a space, proof-sheets and all considered; it must be October--no help for it.[308] Worked after dinner as usual.

May 3.--The very same diary might serve this day as the last. I sent off to Gillies half his review, and I wish the other half at Old Nick.

May 4.--A poor young woman came here this morning, well-dressed and well-behaved, with a strong northern accent. She talked incoherently a long story of a brother and a lover both dead. I would have kept her here till I wrote to her friends, particularly to Mr. Sutherland (an Aberdeen bookseller), to inform them where she is, but my daughter and her maidens were frightened, as indeed there might be room for it, and so I sent her in one of Davidson's chaises to the Castle at Jedburgh, and wrote to Mr. Shortreed to see she is humanely treated. I have written also to her brother.

    "Long shall I see these things forlorn,
       And long again their sorrows feel."
The rest was write, walk, eat, smoke; smoke, and write again.

May 5.--A moist rainy day, mild, however, and promising good weather. I sat at my desk the whole day, and worked at Gillies's review. So was the day exhausted.

May 6.--I sent off the review. Received the sheets of the Secret Tribunal from Master Reynolds. Keith Scott, a grandson of James Scott, my father's cousin-german, came here, a fine lively boy with good spirits and amiable manners. Just when I had sent off the rest of Gillies's manuscript, W. Laidlaw came, so I had him for my companion in a walk which the late weather has prevented for one or two days. Colonel and Mrs. Ferguson, and Margaret Ferguson, came to dinner, and so passed the evening.

May 7.--Captain Percy, brother of Lord Lovaine, and son of Lord Beverley, came out to dinner. Dr. and Mrs. Brewster met him. He is like his brother, Lord Lovaine, an amiable, easy, and accomplished man, who has seen a great deal of service, and roamed about with tribes of Western Indians.

May 8.--Went up Yarrow with Captain Percy, which made a complete day's idleness, for which I have little apology to offer. I heard at the same time from the President[309] that Sir Robert Dundas is very unwell, so I must be in Edinburgh on Monday 11th. Very disagreeable, now the weather is becoming pleasant.

May 9.--Captain Percy left us at one o'clock. He has a sense of humour, and aptness of comprehension which renders him an agreeable companion. I am sorry his visit has made me a little idle, but there is no help for it.

I have done everything to-day previous to my going away, but--_que faut-il faire_? one must see society now and then, and this is really an agreeable man. And so, _transeat ille_. I walked, and was so fatigued as to sleep, and now I will attack John Lockhart's proof-sheets, of which he has sent me a revise. In the evening I corrected proofs for the review.

May 10.--This must be a day of preparation, which I hate; yet it is but laying aside a few books, and arranging a few papers, and yet my nerves are fluttered, and I make blunders, and mislay my pen and my keys, and make more confusion than I can repair. After all, I will try for once to do it steadily.

Well! I have toiled through it; it is like a ground swell in the sea that brings up all that is disgusting from the bottom--admonitory letters--unpaid bills--few of these, thank my stars!--all that one would wish to forget perks itself up in your face at a thorough redding up--devil take it, I will get out and cool the fever that this turmoil has made in my veins! The delightful spring weather conjured down the evil spirit. I sat a long time with my nerves shaking like a frightened child, and then laughed at it all by the side of the river, coming back by the thicket.

May 11, [Edinburgh].--We passed the morning in the little arrangements previous to our departure, and then returned at night to Edinburgh, bringing Keith Scott along. This boy's grandfather, James Scott by name, very clever and particularly well acquainted with Indian customs and manners. He was one of the first settlers in Prince of Wales Island. He was an active-minded man, and therefore wrote a great deal. I have seen a trunkful of his MSS. Unhappily, instead of writing upon some subject on which he might have conveyed information he took to writing on metaphysics, and lost both his candles and his labour. I was consulted about publishing some part of his works; but could not recommend it. They were shallow essays, with a good deal of infidelity exhibited. Yet James Scott was a very clever man. He only fell into the common mistake of supposing that arguments new to him were new to all others. His son, when I knew him long since in this country, was an ordinary man enough. This boy seems smart and clever. We reached the house in the evening; it was comfortable enough considering it had been shut up for two months. I found a letter from Cadell asserting his continued hope in the success of the _Magnum_. I begin to be jealous on the subject, but I will know to-morrow.

May 12.--Went to Parliament House. Sir Robert Dundas very unwell. Poor Hamilton on his back with the gout. So was obliged to have the assistance of Rolland[310] from the Second Division. Saw Cadell on the way home. I was right: he had been disappointed in his expectations from Glasgow and other mercantile places where trade is low at present. But

    "Tidings did he bring of Africa and golden joys."
The _Magnum_ has taken extremely in Ireland, which was little counted on, and elsewhere. Hence he proposes a new edition of _Tales of my Grandfather_, First Series; also an enlargement of the Third Series. All this drives poverty and pinch, which is so like poverty, from the door.

I visited Lady J.S., and had the pleasure to find her well. I wrote a little, and got over a place that bothered me. Cadell has apprehensions of _A_[_nne_] _of G_[_eierstein_], so have I. Well, the worst of it is, we must do something better.[311]

May 13.--Attended the Court, which took up a good deal of time. On my return saw Sir Robert Dundas, who is better--and expects to be out on Tuesday. I went to the Highland Society to present Miss Grahame Stirling's book, being a translation of Gelieu's work on bees,[312] which was well received. Went with the girls to dine at Dalhousie Castle, where we were very kindly received. I saw the Edgewell Tree,[313] too fatal, says Allan Ramsay, to the family from which he was himself descended. I also saw the fatal Coalston Pear,[314] said to have been preserved many hundred years. It is certainly a pear either petrified or turned into wood, with a bit out of one side of it.

It is a pity to see my old school-companion, this fine true-hearted nobleman of such an ancient and noble descent, after having followed the British flag through all quarters of the world, again obliged to resume his wanderings at a time of life equal, I suppose, to my own. He has not, however, a grey hair in his head.

May 14.--Left Dalhousie at eight to return here to breakfast, where we received cold tidings. Walter has had an inflammatory attack, and I fear it will be necessary to him to return without delay to the Continent. I have letters from Sophia and Sir Andrew Halliday. The last has been of the utmost service, by bleeding and advising active measures. How little one knows to whom they are to be obliged! I wrote to him and to Jane, recommending the Ionian Islands, where Sir Frederick Adam would, I am sure, give Walter a post on his staff. The kind old Chief Commissioner at once interested himself in the matter. It makes me inexpressibly anxious, yet I have kept up my determination not to let the chances of fate overcome me like a summer's-cloud.[315] I wrote four or five pages of the History to-day, notwithstanding the agitation of my feelings.

May 15.--Attended the Court, where Mr. Rolland and I had the duty of the First Division; Sir Robert and Hamilton being both laid up. Dined at Granton and met Lord and Lady Dalhousie, Sir John Hope, etc. I have spelled out some work this day, though I have been rather knocked about.

May 16.--After the Court this day I went to vote at the Archers' Hall, where some of the members had become restive. They were outvoted two to one. There had been no division in the Royal Body Guard since its commencement, but these times make divisions everywhere. A letter from Lockhart brings better news of Walter, but my heart is heavy on the subject. I went on with my History, however, for the point in this world is to do what we ought, and bear what we must.

Dined at home and wrote in the evening.

May 17.--I never stirred from my seat all this day. My reflections, as suggested by Walter's illness, were highly uncomfortable; and to divert it I wrought the whole day, save when I was obliged to stop and lean my head on my hand. Real affliction, however, has something in it by which it is sanctified. It is a weight which, however oppressive, may like a bar of iron be conveniently disposed on the sufferer's person. But the insubstantiality of a hypochondriac affection is one of its greatest torments. You have a huge featherbed on your shoulders, which rather encumbers and oppresses you than calls forth strength and exertion to bear it. There is something like madness in that opinion, and yet it has a touch of reality. Heaven help me!

May 18.--I resolved to take exercise to-day, so only wrought till twelve. I sent off some sheets and copy to Dr. Lardner. I find my written page goes as better than one to two of his print, so a little more than one hundred and ninety of my writing will make up the sum wanted. I sent him off as far as page sixty-two. Went to Mr. Colvin Smith's at one, and sat for my picture to three. There must be an end of this sitting. It devours my time.

I wrote in the evening to Walter, James MacCulloch, to Dr. Lardner, and others, and settled some other correspondence.

May 19.--I went to the Court, and abode there till about one, and in the Library from one to two, when I was forced to attend a public meeting about the King's statue. I have no turn for these committees, and yet I get always jamm'd into them. They take up a cruel deal of time in a way very unsatisfactory. Dined at home, and wrought hard. I shall be through the Bruce's reign. It is lengthy; but, hang it, it was our only halcyon period. I shall be soon done with one-half of the thousand pound's worth.

May 20.--Mr. Cadell breakfasted with us, with a youngster for whom he wants a letter to the Commander or Governor of Bombay. After breakfast C. and I had some talk of business. His tidings, like those of ancient Pistol, are of Africa and golden joys. He is sure of selling at the starting 8000 copies of the _Magnum_, at a profit of £70 per 1000--that is, per month. This seems certain. But he thinks the sale will rise to 12,000, which will be £280 more, or £840 in all. This will tell out a gross divisible profit of upwards of £25,000. This is not unlikely, but after this comes a series of twenty volumes at least, which produce only half that quantity indeed; but then the whole profits, save commissions, are the author's. That will come to as much as the former, say £50,000 in all. This supposes I carry on the works of fiction for two or three novels more. But besides all this, Cadell entertains a plan of selling a cheaper edition by numbers and numbermen, on which he gives half the selling price. One man, Mr. Ireland, offers to take 10,000 copies of the _Magnum_ and talks of 25,000. This allows a profit of £50 per thousand copies, not much worse than the larger copy, and Cadell thinks to carry on both. I doubt this. I have great apprehension that these interlopers would disgust the regular trade, with whom we are already deeply engaged. I also foresee selling the worst copies at the higher price. All this must be thought and cared for. In the meantime, I see a fund, from which large payments may be made to the Trustees, capable of extinguishing the debt, large as it is, in ten years or earlier, and leaving a reversion to my family of the copyrights. Sweet bodements[316]--good--but we must not reckon our chickens before they are hatched, though they are chipping the shell now. We will see how the stream takes.

Dined at a public dinner given to the excellent Lord Dalhousie before his departure for India. An odd way of testifying respect to public characters, by eating, drinking, and roaring. The names, however, will make a good show in the papers. Home at ten. Good news from Sophia and Walter. I am zealous for the Mediterranean when the season comes, which may be the beginning of September.

May 21.--This is only the 23d on which I write, yet I have forgotten anything that has passed on the 21st worthy of note. I wrote a good deal, I know, and dined at home. The step of time is noiseless as it passes over an old man. The _non est tanti_ mingles itself with everything.

May 22.--I was detained long in the Court, though Ham. had returned to his labour. We dined with Captain Basil Hall, and met a Mr. Codman, or some such name, with his lady from Boston. The last a pleasant and well-mannered woman, the husband Bostonian enough. We had Sir William Arbuthnot, besides, and his lady.

By-the-bye, I should have remembered that I called on my old friend, Lady Charlotte Campbell, and found her in her usual good-humour, though miffed a little--I suspect at the history of Gillespie Grumach in the _Legend of Montrose_. I saw Haining also, looking thin and pale. These should have gone to the memorandum of yesterday.

May 23.--Went to-day to call on the Commissioner,[317] and saw, at his Grace's Levee, the celebrated divine, _soi-disant_ prophet, Irving.[318] He is a fine-looking man (bating a diabolical squint), with talent on his brow and madness in his eye. His dress, and the arrangement of his hair, indicated that much attention had been bestowed on his externals, and led me to suspect a degree of self-conceit, consistent both with genius and insanity.

Came home by Cadell's, who persists in his visions of El Dorado. He insists that I will probably bring £60,000 within six years to rub off all Constable's debts, which that sum will do with a vengeance. Cadell talks of offering for the Poetry to Longman. I fear they will not listen to him. The _Napoleon_ he can command when he likes by purchasing their stock in hand. The Lives of the Novelists may also be had. Pleasant schemes all these, but dangerous to build upon. Yet in looking at the powerful machine which we have put in motion, it must be owned "as broken ships have come to land."

Waited on the Commissioner at five o'clock, and had the pleasure to remain till eight, when the debate in the Assembly was over. The question which employed their eloquence was whether the celebrated Mr. Irving could sit there as a ruling elder.[319] It was settled, I think justly, that a divine, being of a different order of officers in the Kirk, cannot assume the character of a ruling elder, seeing he cannot discharge its duties.

Mr. Irving dined with us. I could hardly keep my eyes off him while we were at table. He put me in mind of the devil disguised as an angel of light, so ill did that horrible obliquity of vision harmonise with the dark tranquil features of his face, resembling that of our Saviour in Italian pictures, with the hair carefully arranged in the same manner. There was much real or affected simplicity in the manner in which he spoke. He rather _made play_, and spoke much across the table to the Solicitor, and seemed to be good-humoured. But he spoke with that kind of unction which is nearly [allied] to cajolerie. He boasted much of the tens of thousands that attended his ministry at the town of Annan, his native place, till he wellnigh provoked me to say he was a distinguished exception to the rule that a prophet was not esteemed in his own country. But time and place were not fitting.

May 24.--I wrote or _wrought_ all the morning, yea, even to dinner-time. Miss Kerr, and Mrs. Skene, and Will Clerk dined. Skene came from the Commissioner's at seven o'clock. We had a merry evening. Clerk exults in the miscarriage of the Bill for the augmentation of the judges' salaries. He and the other clerks in the Jury Court had hoped to have had a share in the proposed measure, but the Court had considered it as being _nos poma natamus_. I kept our friends quiet by declining to move in a matter which was to expose us to the insult of a certain refusal. Clerk, with his usual felicity of quotation, said they should have remembered the Clown's exhortation to Lear, "Good nuncle, tarry and take the fool with you."[320]

May 25.--Wrote in the morning. Dr. Macintosh Mackay came to breakfast, and brought with him, to show me, the Young Chevalier's target, purse, and snuff-box, the property of Cluny MacPherson. The pistols are for holsters, and no way remarkable; a good serviceable pair of weapons silver mounted. The targe is very handsome indeed, studded with ornaments of silver, chiefly emblematic, chosen with much taste of device and happily executed. There is a contrast betwixt the shield and purse, the targe being large and heavy, the purse, though very handsome, unusually small and light. After one o'clock I saw the Duke and Duchess of Gordon; then went to Mr. Smith's to finish a painting for the last time. The Duchess called with a Swiss lady, to introduce me to her friend, while I was doing penance. I was heartily glad to see her Grace once more. Called in at Cadell's. His orders continue so thick that he must postpone the delivery for several days, to get new engravings thrown off, etc. _Vogue la galère!_ From all that now appears, I shall be much better off in two or three years than if my misfortunes had never taken place. _Periissem ni periissem._

Dined at a dinner given by the Antiquarian Society to Mr. Hay Drummond, Secretary to the Society, now going Consul to Tangiers. It was an excellent dinner--turtle, champagne, and all the _agrémens_ of a capital meal, for £1, 6s. a-head. How Barry managed I can't say. The object of this compliment spoke and drank wine incessantly; good-naturedly delighted with the compliment, which he repeatedly assured me he valued more than a hundred pounds. I take it that after my departure, which was early, it would be necessary to "carry Mr. Silence to bed."[321]

May 26.--The business at the Court heavy. Dined at Gala's, and had the pleasure to see him in amended health. Sir John and Lady Hope were there, and the evening was lively and pleasant. George Square is always a melancholy place for me. I was dining next door to my father's former house.[322]

May 27.--I got up the additional notes for the _Waverley Novels_. They seem to be setting sail with a favourable wind. I had to-day a most kind and friendly letter from the Duke of Wellington, which is a thing to be vain of. He is a most wonderful man to have climbed to such a height without ever slipping his foot. Who would have said in 1815 that the Duke would stand still higher in 1829, and yet it indubitably is so. We dined with Lady Charlotte Campbell, now Lady Charlotte Bury, and her husband, who is an egregious fop but a fine draughtsman. Here is another day gone without work in the evening.

May 28.--The Court as usual till one o'clock. But I forgot to say Mr. Macintosh Mackay breakfasted, and inspected my curious Irish MS., which Dr. Brinkley gave me.[323] Mr. Mackay, I should say Doctor, who well deserved the name, reads it with tolerable ease, so I hope to knock the marrow out of the bone with his assistance. I came home and despatched proof-sheets and revises for Dr. Lardner. I saw kind John Gibson, and made him happy with the fair prospects of the _Magnum_. He quite agrees in my views. A young clergyman, named M'Combie, from Aberdeenshire, also called to-day. I have had some consideration about the renewal or re-translation of the Psalmody. I had peculiar views adverse to such an undertaking.[324] In the first place, it would be highly unpopular with the lower and more ignorant rank, many of whom have no idea of the change which those spiritual poems have suffered in translation, but consider their old translations as the very songs which David composed. At any rate, the lower class think that our fathers were holier and better men than we, and that to abandon their old hymns of devotion, in order to grace them with newer and more modish expression, would be a kind of sacrilege. Even the best informed, who think on the subject, must be of opinion that even the somewhat bald and rude language and versification of the Psalmody gives them an antique and venerable air, and their want of the popular graces of modish poetry shows they belong to a style where ornaments are not required. They contain, besides, the very words which were spoken and sung by the fathers of the Reformation, sometimes in the wilderness, sometimes in fetters, sometimes at the stake. If a Church possessed the vessels out of which the original Reformers partook of the Eucharist, it would be surely bad taste to melt them down and exchange them for more modern. No, no. Let them write hymns and paraphrases if they will, but let us have still

    "All people that on earth do dwell."[325]
Law and devotion must lose some of their dignity as often as they adopt new fashions.

May 30.--The Skenes came in to supper last night. Dr. Scott of Haslar Hospital came to breakfast. He is a nephew of Scott of Scalloway, who is one of the largest proprietors in Shetland. I have an agreeable recollection of the kindness and hospitality of these remote isles, and of this gentleman's connections in particular, who welcomed me both as a stranger and a Scott, being duly tenacious of their clan. This young gentleman is high in the medical department of the navy. He tells me that the Ultima Thule is improving rapidly. The old clumsy plough is laid aside. They have built several stout sloops to go to the deep-sea fishing, instead of going thither in open boats, which consumed so much time between the shore and the haaf or fishing spot. Pity but they would use a steam-boat to tow them out! I have a real wish to hear of Zetland's advantage. I often think of its long isles, its towering precipices, its capes covered with sea-fowl of every class and description that ornithology can find names for, its deep caves, its smoked geese, and its sour sillocks. I would like to see it again. After the Court I came round by Cadell, who is like Jemmy Taylor,

    "Full of mirth and full of glee,"
for which he has good reason, having raised the impression of the _Magnum_ to 12,000 copies, and yet the end is not, for the only puzzle now is how to satisfy the delivery fast enough.[326]

May 31.--We dined at Craigcrook with Jeffrey. It is a most beautiful place, tastefully planted with shrubs and trees, and so sequestered, that after turning into the little avenue, all symptoms of the town are left behind you. He positively gives up the _Edinburgh Review_.[327] A very pleasant evening. Rather a glass of wine too much, for I was heated during the night. Very good news of Walter.

-

FOOTNOTES:

[307] See _Foreign Quarterly Review_, vol. iv. p. 355.

[308] This short History of Scotland, it was found, could not be comprised in a single volume, and the publishers handsomely agreed to give the author £1500 for two volumes, forming the first and fourth issues of their own _Cabinet Cyclopædia_, the publication of which was commenced before the end of the year.

[309] Right Hon. Charles Hope.

[310] Adam Rolland, Principal Clerk of Session, a nephew of Adam Rolland of Gask, who was in some respects the prototype of Pleydell, and whose face and figure have been made familiar to the present generation by Raeburn's masterpiece of portraiture, now in the possession of Miss Abercrombie, Edinburgh.

[311] Sir Walter had written to Mr. Lockhart on 8th May:--"_Anne of Geierstein_ is concluded; but as I do not like her myself, I do not expect she will be popular."

As a contrast to the criticisms of the printer and publisher, and a comment upon the author's own apprehensions, the subjoined extract from a letter written by Mr. G.P.R. James may be given:--"When I first read _Anne of Geierstein_ I will own that the multitude of surpassing beauties which it contained frightened me, but I find that after having read it the public mind required to be let gently down from the tone of excitement to which it had been raised, and was contented to pause at my book (_Richelieu_), as a man who has been enjoying a fine prospect from a high hill stops before he reaches the valley to take another look, though half the beauty be already lost.... You cannot think how I long to acquit myself of the obligations which I lie under towards you, but I am afraid that fortune, who has given you both the will and the power to confer such great favours upon me, has not in any degree enabled me to aid or assist you in return."

[312] _The Bee Preserver_, or _Practical Directions for the Management and Preservation of Hives_. Translated from the French of J. De Gelieu. 1829.

[313] "An oak tree which grows by the side of a fine spring near the Castle of Dalhousie; very much observed by the country people, who give out that before any of the family died a branch fell from the Edgewell Tree. The old tree some few years ago fell altogether, but another sprang from the same root, which is now [1720] tall and flourishing; and lang be it sae."--Allan Ramsay's _Works_, vol. i. p. 329: "Stocks in 1720." 2 vols. 8vo, Lond. 1800.

The tree is still flourishing [1889], and the belief in its sympathy with the family is not yet extinct, as an old forester, on seeing a large branch fall from it on a quiet still day in July 1874, exclaimed, "The laird's deed noo!" and accordingly news came soon after that Fox Maule, 11th Earl of Dalhousie, had died.

[314] The Coalstoun Pear was removed from Dalhousie to Coalstoun House in 1861.

[315] _Macbeth_, Act III. Sc. 4.

[316] _Macbeth_, Act IV. Sc. 1.

[317] Lord Forbes was at this time His Majesty's High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland: he had been appointed in 1826.

[318] Rev. Edward Irving, minister of the Scottish Church in London, was deposed March 1833, and died Dec. 1834, aged forty-two.

[319] That is as a lay-member of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

[320] _Lear_, Act I. Sc. 4.

[321] 2_d Henry IV_., Act V. Sc. 3.

[322] No. 25.

[323] The manuscript referred to is now at Abbotsford. It is a small quarto of 8-3/4 x 6-1/2 inches, bound in old mottled leather, and consisting of 251 leaves of paper, written on both sides in the Irish character, apparently in the reign of James VI. It bears the following inscription in Sir Walter's hand:--"The kind donor of this book is the Right Rev. Bishop of Cloyne, famed for his skill in science, and especially as an astronomer." For contents of vol. see Appendix. Dr. John Brinkley, Bishop of Cloyne, was Astronomer Royal for Ireland.

[324] See letter to Principal Baird, _ante_, vol, i, p. 412 _n._

[325] The first line of the Scottish metrical version of the hundredth Psalm. Mr. Lockhart tells us, in his affecting account of Sir Walter's illness, that his love for the old metrical version of the Psalms continued unabated to the end. A story has been told, on the authority of the nurse in attendance, that on the morning of the day on which he died, viz., on the 21st Sept. 1832, he opened his eyes once more, quite conscious, and calmly asked her to read to him a psalm. She proceeded to do so, when he gently interposed, saying, "No! no! the Scotch Psalms." After reading to him a little while, he expressed a wish to be moved nearer the window, through which he looked long and earnestly up and down the valley and towards the sky, and then on the woman's face, saying: "_I'll know it all before night_." This story will find some confirmation from the entry in the Journal under September 24, 1830: "I think _I will be in the secret next week_; unless I recruit greatly."

[326] In a letter to his son at this time he says the "sale of the Novels is pro-di-gi-ous. If it last but a few years it will clear my feet of old encumbrances."--_Life_, vol. ix. p. 32.

[327] Jeffrey, who had just retired from the editorship of the _Edinburgh Review_, was succeeded by Macvey Napier, whose first No. was published in October 1829.

Sir Walter Scott