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July 1829

July 1.--This morning wrote letters and sent them off by Charles. It was Teind Wednesday, so I was at home to witness the departure of my family, which was depressing. My two daughters, with the poor boy Johnnie, went off at ten o'clock, my son Charles, with my niece, about twelve. The house, filled with a little bustle attendant on such a removal, then became silent as the grave. The voices of the children, which had lately been so clamorous with their joyous shouts, are now hushed and still. A blank of this kind is somewhat depressing, and I find it impossible to resume my general tone of spirits. A lethargy has crept on me which no efforts can dispel; and as the day is rainy, I cannot take exercise. I have read therefore the whole morning, and have endeavoured to collect ideas instead of expending them. I have not been very successful. In short, _diem perdidi_.

Localities at Blair-Adam:--

    Lochornie and Lochornie Moss,
    The Loutingstane and Dodgell's Cross,
    Craigen Cat and Craigen Crow,
    Craiggaveral, the King's Cross, and Dunglow.
July 2.--I made up for my deficiencies yesterday, and besides attending the Court wrote five close pages, which I think is very near double task. I was alone the whole day and without interruption. I have little doubt I will make my solitude tell upon my labours, especially since they promise to prove so efficient. I was so languid yesterday that I did not record that J. Ballantyne, his brother Sandy, and Mr. Cadell dined here on a beef-steak, and smoked a cigar, and took a view of our El Dorado.

July 3.--Laboured at Court, where I was kept late, and wrought on my return home, finishing about five pages. I had the great pleasure to learn that the party with the infantry got safe to Abbotsford.

July 4.--After Court I came home and set to work, still on the _Tales_. When I had finished my bit of dinner, and was in a quiet way smoking my cigar over a glass of negus, Adam Ferguson comes with a summons to attend him to the Justice-Clerk's, where, it seems, I was engaged. I was totally out of case to attend his summons, redolent as I was of tobacco. But I am vexed at the circumstance. It looks careless, and, what is worse, affected; and the Justice is an old friend moreover.[351] I rather think I have been guilty towards him in this respect before. Devil take my stupidity! I will call on Monday and say, Here is my sabre and here is my heart.

July 5.--Sir Adam came to breakfast, and with him Mr. and Mrs. Johnstone of Bordeaux, the lady his cousin. I could not give them a right Scottish breakfast, being on a Sunday morning. Laboured on the _Tales_ the whole morning.

The post brought two letters of unequal importance. One from a person calling himself Haval, announcing to me the terrific circumstance that he had written against the Waverley Novels in a publication called _La Belle Assemblée_, at which doubtless, he supposes, I must be much annoyed. He be d----, and that's plain speaking. The other from Lord Aberdeen, announcing that Lockhart, Dr. Gooch, and myself, are invested with the power of examining the papers of the Cardinal Duke of York, and reporting what is fit for publication. This makes it plain that the Invisible[352] neither slumbers nor sleeps. The toil and remuneration must be Lockhart's, and to any person understanding that sort of work the degree of trust reposed holds out hope of advantage. At any rate, it is a most honourable trust, and I have written in suitable terms to Lord Aberdeen to express my acceptance of it, adverting to my necessary occupations here, and expressing my willingness to visit London occasionally to superintend the progress of the work. Treated myself, being considerably fagged, with a glass of poor Glengarry's super-excellent whisky and a cigar, made up my Journal, wrote to the girls, and so to roost upon a crust of bread and a glass of small beer, my usual supper.

July 6.--I laboured all the morning without anything unusual, save a call from my cousin, Mary Scott of Jedburgh, whom I persuaded to take part of my chaise to Abbotsford on Saturday. At two o'clock I walked to Cadell's, and afterwards to a committee of the Bannatyne Club. Thereafter I went to Leith, where we had fixed a meeting of _The Club_, now of forty-one years' standing.[353] I was in the chair, and Sir Adam croupier. We had the Justice-Clerk, Lord Abercromby, Lord Pitmilly, Lord Advocate, James Ferguson, John Irving, and William Clerk, and passed a merry day for old fellows. It is a curious thing that only _three_ have died of this club since its formation. These were the Earl of Selkirk; James Clerk, Lieutenant in the Navy; and Archibald Miller, W.S. Sir Patrick Murray was an unwilling absentee. There were absent--Professor Davidson of Glasgow, besides Glassford, who has cut our society, and poor James Edmonstoune, whose state of health precludes his ever joining society again. We took a fair but moderate allowance of wine, sung our old songs, and were much refreshed with a hundred old stories, which would have seemed insignificant to any stranger. The most important of these were old college adventures of love and battle.

July 7.--I was rather apprehensive that I might have felt my unusual dissipation this morning, but not a whit; I rose as cool as a cucumber, and set about to my work till breakfast-time. I am to dine with Ballantyne to-day. To-morrow with John Murray. This sounds sadly like idleness, except what may be done either in the morning before breakfast, or in the broken portion of the day between attendance on the Court and my dinner meal,--a vile, drowsy, yawning, fagged portion of existence, which resembles one's day, as a portion of the shirt, escaping betwixt one's waistcoat and breeches, indicates his linen.

Dined with James Ballantyne, who gave us a very pleasant party. There was a great musician, Mr. Neukomm, a German, a pupil of Haydn, a sensible, pleasant man.

July 8.--This morning I had an ample dose of proofs and could do nothing but read them. The Court kept me till two; I was then half tempted to go to hear Mr. Neukomm perform on the organ, which is said to be a most masterly exhibition, but I reflected how much time I should lose by giving way to temptation, and how little such ears as mine would be benefited by the exhibition, and so I resolved to return to my proofs, having not a little to do. I was so unlucky as to meet my foreigner along with Mr. Laine, the French Consul, and his lady, who all invited me to go with them, but I pleaded business, and was set down, doubtless, for a Goth, as I deserved. However, I got my proofs settled before dinner-time, and began to pack up books, etc.

I dined at John Murray's, and met, amongst others, Mr. Schutze, the brother-in-law of poor George Ellis. We conversed about our mutual friend, and about the life Canning was to have written about him, and which he would have done _con amore_. He gave me two instances of poor George's neatness of expression, and acuteness of discrimination. Having met, for the first time, "one Perceval, a young lawyer," he records him as a person who, with the advantages of life and opportunity, would assuredly rise to the head of affairs. Another gentleman is briefly characterised as "a man of few words, and fewer ideas." Schutze himself is a clever man, with something dry in his manner, owing, perhaps, to an imperfection of hearing. Murray's parties are always agreeable and well chosen.

July 9.--I began an immense arrangement of my papers, but was obliged to desist by the approach of four o'clock. Having been enabled to shirk the Court, I had the whole day to do what I wished, and as I made some progress I hope I will be strengthened to resume the task when at Abbotsford.

Heard of the death of poor Bob Shortreed,[354] the companion of many a long ride among the hills in quest of old ballads. He was a merry companion, a good singer and mimic, and full of Scottish drollery. In his company, and under his guidance, I was able to see much of rural society in the mountains which I could not otherwise have attained, and which I have made my use of. He was, in addition, a man of worth and character. I always burdened his hospitality while at Jedburgh on the Circuit, and have been useful to some of his family. Poor fellow! He died at a most interesting period for his family, when his eldest daughter was about to make an advantageous marriage. So glide our friends from us--_Haec poena diu viventibus_. Many recollections die with him and with poor Terry.[355] I dined with the Skenes in a family way.

July 10--Had a hard day's work at the Court till about two, and then came home to prepare for the country. I made a _talis qualis_ arrangement of my papers, which I trust I shall be able to complete at Abbotsford, for it will do much good. I wish I had a smart boy like Red Robin the tinker. Wrote also a pack of letters.

Abbotsford, July 11.--I was detained in the Court till nearly one o'clock, then set out and reached Abbotsford in five or six hours. Found all well, and Johnnie rather better. He sleeps, by virtue of being in the open air, a good deal.

July 12.--The day excessively rainy, or, as we call it, soft. I e'en unpacked my books and did a great deal to put them in order, but I was sick of the labour by two o'clock and left several of my books and all of my papers at sixes and sevens. Sir Adam and the Colonel dined with us. A Spanish gentleman with his wife, whom I had seen at the French Consul's, also dropped in. He was a handsome, intelligent, and sensible man; his name I have forgot. We had a pleasant evening.

July 13.--This day I wrote till one, resuming the History, and making out a day's task. Then went to Chiefswood, and had the pleasure of a long walk with a lady, well known in the world of poetry, Mrs. Hemans. She is young and pretty, though the mother of five children, as she tells me. There is taste and spirit in her conversation. My daughters are critical, and call her blue, but I think they are hypercritical. I will know better when we meet again. I was home at four. Had an evening walk with little Walter, who held me by the finger, gabbling eternally much that I did, and more that I did not, understand. Then I had a long letter to write to Lockhart,[356] correct and read, and despatch proofs, etc.; and to bed heartily tired, though with no great exertion.

July 14.--A rainy forenoon broke the promise of a delightful morning. I wrote four and a half pages, to make the best of a bad bargain. If I can double the daily task, I will be something in hand. But I am resolved to stick to my three pages a day at least. The twelfth of August will then complete my labours.

July 15.--This day two very pretty and well-bred boys came over to breakfast with us. I finished my task of three pages and better, and went to walk with the little fellows round the farm, by the lake, etc., etc. They were very good companions. Tom has been busy thinning the terrace this day or two, and is to go on.

July 16.--I made out my task-work and betook myself to walk about twelve. I feel the pen turn heavy after breakfast; perhaps my solemn morning meal is too much for my intellectual powers, but I won't abridge a single crumb for all that. I eat very little at dinner, and can't abide to be confined in my hearty breakfast. The work goes on as task-work must, slow, sure, and I trust not drowsy, though the author is. I sent off to Dionysius Lardner (Goodness be with us, what a name!) as far as page thirty-eight inclusive, but I will wait to add to-morrow's quota. I had a long walk with Tom.[357] I am walking with more pleasure and comfort to myself than I have done for many a day. May Heaven continue this great mercy, which I have so much reason to be thankful for!

July 17.--- We called at Chiefswood and asked Captain Hamilton, and Mrs. H., and Mrs. Hemans, to dinner on Monday. She is a clever person, and has been pretty. I had a long walk with her _tête-à-tête_. She told me of the peculiar melancholy attached to the words _no more_. I could not help telling, as a different application of the words, how an old dame riding home along Cockenzie Sands, pretty bowsy, fell off the pillion, and her husband, being in good order also, did not miss her till he came to Prestonpans. He instantly returned with some neighbours, and found the good woman seated amidst the advancing tide, which began to rise, with her lips ejaculating to her cummers, who she supposed were still pressing her to another cup, "Nae ae drap mair, I thank you kindly." We dined in family, and all well.

July 18.--- A Sunday with alternate showers and sunshine. Wrote double task, which brings me to page forty-six inclusive. I read the _Spae-wife_ of Galt. There is something good in it, and the language is occasionally very forcible, but he has made his story difficult to understand, by adopting a region of history little known, and having many heroes of the same name, whom it is not easy to keep separate in one's memory. Some of the traits of the _Spae-wife_, who conceits herself to be a changeling or twin, are very good indeed. His Highland Chief is a kind of Caliban, and speaks, like Caliban, a jargon never spoken on earth, but full of effect for all that.

July 19.--I finished two leaves this morning, and received the Hamiltons and Mrs. Hemans to breakfast. Afterwards we drove to Yarrow and showed Mrs. Hemans the lions. The party dined with us, and stayed till evening. Of course no more work.

July 20.--A rainy day, and I am very drowsy and would give the world to ------[358]. [Transcriber's Note: In original, there was a blank space instead of the dashes.] I wrote four leaves, however, and then my understanding dropped me. I have made up for yesterday's short task.

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NOTE.--From July 20th, 1829, to May 23d, 1830, there are no entries in the Journal, but during that time Sir Walter met with a sad loss.

He was deprived of his humble friend and staunch henchman, Thomas Purdie. The following little note to Laidlaw shows how keenly he felt his death:--

"MY DEAR WILLIE,--I write to tell you the shocking news of poor Tom Purdie's death, by which I have been greatly affected. He had complained, or rather spoken, of a sore throat; and the day before yesterday, as it came on a shower of rain, I wanted him to walk fast on to Abbotsford before me, but you know well how impossible that was. He took some jelly, or trifle of that kind, but made no complaint. This morning he rose from bed as usual, and sat down by the table with his head on his hand; and when his daughter spoke to him, life had passed away without a sigh or groan. Poor fellow! There is a heart cold that loved me well, and, I am sure, thought of my interest more than his own. I have seldom been so much shocked. I wish you would take a ride down and pass the night. There is much I have to say, and this loss adds to my wish to see you. We dine at four. The day is indifferent, but the sooner the better.--Yours very truly,

"WALTER SCOTT.[359]

"31st (sic) October," Qy. 29th.

To Mr. Cadell, a few days later, he says, "I have lost my old and faithful servant, my _factotum_, and am so much shocked that I really wish to be quit of the country. I have this day laid him in the grave."

On coming to Edinburgh, Sir Walter found that his old friend and neighbour Lady Jane Stuart[360] was no longer there to welcome him. She also had died somewhat suddenly on October 28th, and was buried at Invermay on November 4th.

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FOOTNOTES:

[351] Right Hon. David Boyle.

[352] 5 The familiar name applied to Sir William Knighton, sometimes also the Great Unseen.

[353] For list of the members of _The Club_, which was formed in 1788, see _Life_, vol. i. p. 208.

[354] Some little time before his death, the worthy Sheriff-substitute of Roxburghshire received a set of his friend's works, with this inscription:--"To Robert Shortreed, Esq., the friend of the author from youth to age, and his guide and companion upon many an expedition among the Border hills, in quest of the materials of legendary lore which have at length filled so many volumes, this collection of the results of their former rambles is presented by his sincere friend, Walter Scott."--J.G.L.

[355] Who had died on the 22d June 1829.

[356] See p. 329 _n._

[357] Mr. Skene in his _Reminiscences_ records that--"Tom Purdie identified himself with all his master's pursuits and concerns; he had in early life been a shepherd, and came into Sir Walter's service upon his first taking up his abode at Ashiestiel, of which he became at last the farm manager; and upon the family removing to Abbotsford continued that function, to which was added gamekeeper, forester, librarian, and henchman to his master in all his rambles about the property. He used to talk of Sir Walter's publications as _our_ books, and said that the reading of them was the greatest comfort to him, for whenever he was off his sleep, which sometimes happened to him, he had only to take one of the novels, and before he read two pages it was sure to set him asleep. Tom, with the usual shrewdness common to his countrymen in that class of life, joined a quaintness and drollery in his notions and mode of expressing himself that was very amusing; he was familiar, but at the same time perfectly respectful, although he was sometimes tempted to deal sharp cuts, particularly at Sir Adam Ferguson, whom he seemed to take a pleasure in assailing. When Sir Walter obtained the honour of knighthood for Sir Adam, upon the plea of his being Custodier of the Regalia of Scotland, Tom was very indignant, because he said, 'It would take some of the shine out of us,' meaning Sir Walter. Tom was very fond of salmon fishing, which from an accordance of taste contributed much to elevate my merits in his eyes, and I believe I was his greatest favourite of all Sir Walter's friends, which he used occasionally to testify by imparting to me in confidence some secret about fishing, which he concluded that no one knew but himself. He was remarkably fastidious in his care of the Library, and it was exceedingly amusing to see a clodhopper (for he was always in the garb of a ploughman) moving about in the splendid apartment which had been fitted up for the Library, scrutinising the state of the books, putting derangement to rights, remonstrating when he observed anything that indicated carelessness."

[358] Blank in original

[359] _Abbotsford Notanda_, p. 175.

[360] Eldest daughter of David, sixth Earl of Leven and fifth of Melville, and widow of Sir John Wishart Belsches Stuart, Bart., of Fettercairn. See _ante_, vol. i. p. 404; vol. ii. pp. 55, 62.

Sir Walter Scott