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April 1826

April 1.--_Ex uno die disce omnes._ Rose at seven or sooner, studied, and wrote till breakfast with Anne, about a quarter before ten. Lady Scott seldom able to rise till twelve or one. Then I write or study again till one. At that hour to-day I drove to Huntly Burn, and walked home by one of the hundred and one pleasing paths which I have made through the woods I have planted--now chatting with Tom Purdie, who carries my plaid, and speaks when he pleases, telling long stories of hits and misses in shooting twenty years back--sometimes chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy--and sometimes attending to the humours of two curious little terriers of the Dandie Dinmont breed, together with a noble wolf-hound puppy which Glengarry has given me to replace Maida. This brings me down to the very moment I do tell--the rest is prophetic. I will feel sleepy when this book is locked, and perhaps sleep until Dalgleish brings the dinner summons. Then I will have a chat with Lady S. and Anne; some broth or soup, a slice of plain meat--and man's chief business, in Dr. Johnson's estimation, is briefly despatched. Half an hour with my family, and half an hour's coquetting with a cigar, a tumbler of weak whisky and water, and a novel perhaps, lead on to tea, which sometimes consumes another half hour of chat; then write and read in my own room till ten o'clock at night; a little bread and then a glass of porter, and to bed.

And this, very rarely varied by a visit from some one, is the tenor of my daily life--and a very pleasant one indeed, were it not for apprehensions about Lady S. and poor Johnnie Hugh. The former will, I think, do well--for the latter--I fear--I fear--

April 2.--I am in a wayward mood this morning. I received yesterday the last proof-sheets of _Woodstock_, and I ought to correct them. Now, this _ought_ sounds as like as possible to _must_, and _must_ I cannot abide. I would go to Prester John's country of free good-will, sooner than I would _must_ it to Edinburgh. Yet this is all folly, and silly folly too; and so _must_ shall be for once obeyed after I have thus written myself out of my aversion to its peremptory sound. Corrected the said proofs till twelve o'clock--when I think I will treat resolution, not to a dram, as the drunken fellow said after he had passed the dram-shop, but to a walk, the rather that my eyesight is somewhat uncertain and wavering. I think it must be from the stomach. The whole page waltzes before my eyes. J.B. writes gloomily about _Woodstock_; but commends the conclusion. I think he is right. Besides, my manner is nearly caught, and, like Captain Bobadil[234], I have taught nearly a hundred gentlemen to fence very nearly, if not altogether, as well as myself. I will strike out something new.

April 3.--I have from Ballantyne and Gibson the extraordinary and gratifying news that _Woodstock_ is sold for £8228 in all, ready money--a matchless sum for less than three months' work[235]. If Napoleon does as well, or near it, it will put the trust affairs in high flourish. Four or five years of leisure and industry would, with [such] success, amply replace my losses, and put me on a steadier footing than ever. I have a curious fancy: I will go set two or three acorns, and judge by their success in growing whether I will succeed in clearing my way or not. I have a little toothache keeps me from working much to-day, besides I sent off, per Blucher, copy for _Napoleon_, as well as the d--d proofs.

A blank forenoon! But how could I help it, Madam Duty? I was not lazy; on my soul I was not. I did not cry for half holiday for the sale of _Woodstock_. But in came Colonel Ferguson with Mrs. Stewart of Blackhill, or hall, or something, and I must show her the garden, pictures, etc. This lasts till one; and just as they are at their lunch, and about to go off, guard is relieved by the Laird and Lady Harden, and Miss Eliza Scott--and my dear Chief, whom I love very much, though a little obsidional or so, remains till three. That same crown, composed of the grass which grew on the walls of besieged places, should be offered to visitors who stay above an hour in any eident[236] person's house. Wrote letters this evening.

April 4.--Wrote two pages in the morning. Then went to Ashestiel in the sociable, with Colonel Ferguson. Found my cousin Russell settled kindly to his gardening and his projects. He seems to have brought home with him the enviable talent of being interested and happy in his own place. Ashestiel looks worst, I think, at this period of the year; but is a beautiful place in summer, where I passed nine happy years. Did I ever pass unhappy years anywhere? None that I remember, save those at the High School, which I thoroughly detested on account of the confinement. I disliked serving in my father's office, too, from the same hatred to restraint. In other respects, I have had unhappy days--unhappy weeks--even, on one or two occasions, unhappy months; but Fortune's finger has never been able to play a dirge on me for a quarter of a year together.

I am sorry to see the Peel-wood, and other natural coppice, decaying and abridged about Ashestiel--

    'The horrid plough has razed the green,
      Where once my children play'd;
    The axe has fell'd the hawthorn screen,
      The schoolboy's summer shade.'[237]
There was a very romantic pasturage called the Cow-park, which I was particularly attached to, from its wild and sequestered character. Having been part of an old wood which had been cut down, it was full of copse--hazel, and oak, and all sorts of young trees, irregularly scattered over fine pasturage, and affording a hundred intricacies so delicious to the eye and the imagination. But some misjudging friend had cut down and cleared away without mercy, and divided the varied and sylvan scene, which was divided by a little rivulet, into the two most formal things in nature--a thriving plantation, many-angled as usual, and a park laid down in grass; wanting therefore the rich graminivorous variety which Nature gives its carpet, and having instead a braird of six days' growth--lean and hungry growth too--of ryegrass and clover. As for the rill, it stagnates in a deep square ditch, which silences its prattle, and restrains its meanders with a witness. The original scene was, of course, imprinted still deeper on Russell's mind than mine, and I was glad to see he was intensely sorry for the change.

April 5.--Rose late in the morning, past eight, to give the cold and toothache time to make themselves scarce, which they have obligingly done. Yesterday every tooth on the right side of my head was absolutely waltzing. I would have drawn by the half dozen, but country dentists are not to be lippened to.[238] To-day all is quiet, but a little swelling and stiffness in the jaw. Went to Chiefswood at one, and marked with regret forty trees indispensably necessary for paling--much like drawing a tooth; they _are_ wanted and will never be better, but I am avaricious of grown trees, having so few.

Worked a fair task; dined, and read Clapperton's journey and Denham's into Bornou. Very entertaining, and less botheration about mineralogy, botany, and so forth, than usual. Pity Africa picks up so many brave men, however. Work in the evening.

April 6.--Wrote in the morning. Went at one to Huntly Burn, where I had the great pleasure to hear, through a letter from Sir Adam, that Sophia was in health, and Johnnie gaining strength. It is a fine exchange from deep and aching uncertainty on so interesting a subject, to the little spitfire feeling of "Well, but they might have taken the trouble to write"; but so wretched a correspondent as myself has not much to say, so I will just grumble sufficiently to maintain the patriarchal dignity.

I returned in time to work, and to receive a shoal of things from J.B. Among others, a letter from an Irish lady, who, for the _beaux yeux_, which I shall never look upon, desires I will forthwith send her all the Waverley Novels, which are published, with an order to furnish her with all others in course as they appear, which she assures me will be an _era_ in her life. She may find out some other epocha.

April 7.--Made out my morning's task; at one drove to Chiefswood, and walked home by the Rhymer's Glen, Mar's Lee, and Haxell-Cleugh. Took me three hours. The heath gets somewhat heavier for me every year--but never mind, I like it altogether as well as the day I could tread it best. My plantations are getting all into green leaf, especially the larches, if theirs may be called leaves, which are only a sort of hair, and from the number of birds drawn to these wastes, I may congratulate myself on having literally made the desert to sing. As I returned, there was, in the phraseology of that most precise of prigs in a white collarless coat and _chapeau bas_, Mister Commissary Ramsay--"a rather dense inspissation of rain." Deil care.

    "Lord, who would live turmoiled in the Court,
    That might enjoy such quiet walks as these?"[239]
Yet misfortune comes our way too. Poor Laidlaw lost a fine prattling child of five years old yesterday.

It is odd enough--Iden, the Kentish Esquire, has just made the ejaculation which I adopted in the last page, when he kills Cade, and posts away up to Court to get the price set upon his head. Here is a letter come from Lockhart, full of Court news, and all sort of news,--best is his wife is well, and thinks the child gains in health.

Lockhart erroneously supposes that I think of applying to Ministers about Charles, and that notwithstanding Croker's terms of pacification I should find _Malachi_ stick in my way. I would not make such an application for millions; I think if I were to ask patronage it would [not] be through them, for some time at least, and I might have better access.[240]

April 8.--We expect _a raid_ of folks to visit us this morning, whom we must have _dined_ before our misfortunes. Save time, wine, and money, these misfortunes--and so far are convenient things. Besides, there is a dignity about them when they come only like the gout in its mildest shape, to authorise diet and retirement, the night-gown and the velvet shoe; when the one comes to chalkstones, and the other to prison, though, there would be the devil. Or compare the effects of Sieur Gout and absolute poverty upon the stomach--the necessity of a bottle of laudanum in the one case, the want of a morsel of meat in the other.

Laidlaw's infant, which died on Wednesday, is buried to-day. The people coming to visit prevent my going, and I am glad of it. I hate funerals--always did. There is such a mixture of mummery with real grief--the actual mourner perhaps heart-broken, and all the rest making solemn faces, and whispering observations on the weather and public news, and here and there a greedy fellow enjoying the cake and wine. To me it is a farce full of most tragical mirth, and I am not sorry (like Provost Coulter[241]) but glad that I shall not see my own. This is a most unfilial tendency of mine, for my father absolutely loved a funeral; and as he was a man of a fine presence, and looked the mourner well, he was asked to every interment of distinction. He seemed to preserve the list of a whole bead-roll of cousins, merely for the pleasure of being at their funerals, which he was often asked to superintend, and I suspect had sometimes to pay for. He carried me with him as often as he could to these mortuary ceremonies; but feeling I was not, like him, either useful or ornamental, I escaped as often as I could.

I saw the poor child's funeral from a distance. Ah, that Distance! What a magician for conjuring up scenes of joy or sorrow, smoothing all asperities, reconciling all incongruities, veiling all absurdness, softening every coarseness, doubling every effect by the influence of the imagination. A Scottish wedding should be seen at a distance; the gay band of the dancers just distinguished amid the elderly group of the spectators,--the glass held high, and the distant cheers as it is swallowed, should be only a sketch, not a finished Dutch picture, when it becomes brutal and boorish. Scotch psalmody, too, should be heard from a distance. The grunt and the snuffle, and the whine and the scream, should be all blended in that deep and distant sound, which, rising and falling like the Eolian harp, may have some title to be called the praise of our Maker. Even so the distant funeral: the few mourners on horseback, with their plaids wrapped around them--the father heading the procession as they enter the river, and pointing out the ford by which his darling is to be carried on the last long road--not one of the subordinate figures in discord with the general tone of the incident--seeming just accessories, and no more--this _is_ affecting.

April 9.--I worked at correcting proofs in the morning, and, what is harder, at correcting manuscript, which fags me excessively. I was dead sick of it by two o'clock, the rather as my hand, O revered "Gurnal," be it said between ourselves, gets daily worse.

Lockhart's _Review_.[242] Don't like his article on Sheridan's life. There is no breadth in it, no general views, the whole flung away in smart but party criticism. Now, no man can take more general and liberal views of literature than J.G.L. But he lets himself too easily into that advocatism of style, which is that of a pleader, not a judge or a critic, and is particularly unsatisfactory to the reader. Lieut.-Col. Ferguson dined here.

April 10.--Sent off proofs and copy galore before breakfast, and might be able to give idleness a day if I liked. But it is as well reading for _Boney_ as for anything else, and I have a humour to make my amusement useful. Then the day is changeable, with gusts of wind, and I believe a start to the garden will be my best out-of-doors exercise. No thorough hill-expedition in this gusty weather.

April 11.--Wrought out my task, although I have been much affected this morning by the Morbus, as I call it. Aching pain in the back, rendering one posture intolerable, fluttering of the heart, idle fears, gloomy thoughts and anxieties, which if not unfounded are at least bootless. I have been out once or twice, but am driven in by the rain. Mercy on us, what poor devils we are! I shook this affection off, however. Mr. Scrope and Col. Ferguson came to dinner, and we twaddled away the evening well enough.

April 12.--I have finished my task this morning at half-past eleven--easily and early--and, I think, not amiss. I hope J.B. will make some great points of admiration!!!--otherwise I will be disappointed. If this work answers--if it _but_ answers, it must set us on our legs; I am sure worse trumpery of mine has had a great run. Well, I will console myself and do my best! But fashion changes, and I am getting old, and may become unpopular, but it is time to cry out when I am hurt. I remember with what great difficulty I was brought to think myself something better than common,[243]--and now I will not in mere faintness of heart give up good hopes. So Fortune protect the bold. I have finished the whole introductory sketch of the Revolution--too long for an introduction. But I think I may now go to my solitary walk.

April 13.--On my return from my walk yesterday I learnt with great concern the death of my old friend, Sir Alexander Don. He cannot have been above six-or seven-and-forty. Without being much together, we had, considering our different habits, lived in much friendship, and I sincerely regret his death. His habits were those of a gay man, much connected with the turf; but he possessed strong natural parts, and in particular few men could speak better in public when he chose. He had tact, wit, power of sarcasm, and that indescribable something which marks the gentleman. His manners in society were extremely pleasing, and as he had a taste for literature and the fine arts, there were few more pleasant companions, besides being a highly-spirited, steady, and honourable man. His indolence prevented his turning these good parts towards acquiring the distinction he might have attained. He was among the _détenus_ whom Bonaparte's iniquitous commands confined so long in France;[244] and coming there into possession of a large estate in right of his mother, the heiress of the Glencairn family, he had the means of being very expensive, and probably then acquired those gay habits which rendered him averse to serious business. Being our member for Roxburghshire, his death will make a stir amongst us. I prophesy Harden[245] will be here to talk about starting his son Henry.

Accordingly the Laird and Lady called. I exhorted him to write to Lord Montagu[246] instantly. I do not see what they can do better, and unless some pickthank intervene to insinuate certain irritating suspicions, I suppose Lord M. will make no objection. There can be no objection to Henry Scott for birth, fortune, or political principle; and I do not see where we could get a better representative.

April 14.--Wrote to Lord M. last night. I hope they will keep the peace in the county. I am sure it would be to me a most distressing thing if Buccleuch and Harden were to pull different ways, being so intimate with both families.

I did not write much yesterday, not above two pages and a half. I have begun _Boney_, though, and _c'est toujours quelque chose_. This morning I sent off proofs and manuscript. Had a letter from the famous Denis Davidoff, the Black Captain, whose abilities as a partisan were so much distinguished during the retreat from Moscow. If I can but wheedle him out of a few anecdotes, it would be a great haul.

A kind letter from Colin Mack[enzie]; he thinks the Ministry will not push the measure against Scotland. I fear they will; there is usually an obstinacy in weakness. But I will think no more about it. Time draws on. I have been here a month. Another month carries me to be a hermit in the city instead of the country. I could scarce think I had been here a week. I wish I was able, even at great loss, to retire from Edinburgh entirely. Here is no bile, no visits, no routine, and yet on the whole, things are as well perhaps as they are.

April 15.--Received last night letters from Sir John Scott Douglas, and from that daintiest of Dandies, Sir William Elliot of Stobs, canvassing for the county. Young Harry's[247] the lad for me. But will he be the lad for Lord Montagu?--there is the point. I should have given him a hint to attend to Edgerston. Perhaps being at Minto, and not there, may give offence, and a bad report from that quarter would play the devil. It is rather too late to go down and tell them this, and, to say truth, I don't like the air of making myself busy in the matter.

Poor Sir Alexander Don died of a disease in the heart; the body was opened, which was very right. Odd enough, too, to have a man, probably a friend two days before, slashing at one's heart as it were a bullock's. I had a letter yesterday from John Gibson. The House of Longman and Co. guarantee the sale [of _Woodstock_] to Hurst, and take the work, if Hurst and Robinson (as is to be feared) can make no play.

Also I made up what was due of my task both for 13th and 14th. So hey for a Swiftianism--

"I loll in my chair, And around me I stare With a critical air, Like a calf at a fair; And, say I, Mrs. Duty, Good-morrow to your beauty, I kiss your sweet shoe-tie, And hope I can suit ye."


Fair words butter no parsnips, says Duty; don't keep talking then, but get to your work again. Here is a day's task before you--the siege of Toulon. Call you that a task? d---- me, I'll write it as fast as _Boney_ carried it on.

April 16.--I am now far ahead with _Nap._ I wrote a little this morning, but this forenoon I must write letters, a task in which I am far behind.

    "Heaven sure sent letters for some wretch's plague."[248]
Lady Scott seems to make no way, yet can scarce be said to lose any. She suffers much occasionally, especially during the night. Sleeps a great deal when at ease; all symptoms announce water upon the chest. A sad prospect.

In the evening a despatch from Lord Melville, written with all the familiarity of former times, desiring me to ride down and press Mr. Scott of Harden to let Henry stand, and this in Lord Montagu's name as well as his own, so that the two propositions cross each other on the road, and Henry is as much desired by the Buccleuch interest as he desires their support.

Jedburgh, April 17.--Came over to Jedburgh this morning, to breakfast with my good old friend Mr. Shortreed, and had my usual warm reception. Lord Gillies held the Circuit Court, and there was no criminal trial for any offence whatsoever. I have attended these circuits with tolerable regularity since 1792, and though there is seldom much of importance to be done, yet I never remember before the Porteous roll[249] being quite blank. The judge was presented with a pair of white gloves, in consideration of its being a maiden circuit. Harden came over and talked about his son's preferment, naturally much pleased.

Received £100 from John Lockhart, for review of Pepys;[250] but this is by far too much; £50 is plenty. Still I must impeticos the gratility for the present,[251]--for Whitsunday will find me only with £300 in hand, unless Blackwood settles a few scores of pounds for _Malachi_.

Wrote a great many letters. Dined with the Judge, where I met the disappointed candidate, Sir John Scott Douglas, who took my excuse like a gentleman. Sir William Elliot, on the other hand, was, being a fine man, very much out of sorts, that having got his own consent, he could not get that of the county. He showed none of this, however, to me.

April 18.--This morning I go down to Kelso from Jedburgh to poor Don's funeral. It is, I suppose, forty years since I saw him first. I was staying at Sydenham, a lad of fourteen, or by 'r Lady some sixteen; and he, a boy of six or seven, was brought to visit me on a pony, a groom holding the leading rein--and now, I, an old grey man, am going to lay him in his grave. Sad work. I detest funerals; there is always a want of consistency; it is a tragedy played by strolling performers, who are more likely to make you laugh than cry. No chance of my being made to laugh to-day. The very road I go is a road of grave recollections. Must write to Charles seriously on the choice of his profession, and I will do it now.

[Abbotsford,] April 19.--Returned last night from the house of death and mourning to my own, now the habitation of sickness and anxious apprehension. Found Lady S. had tried the foxglove in quantity, till it made her so sick she was forced to desist. The result cannot yet be judged. Wrote to Mrs. Thomas Scott to beg her to let her daughter Anne, an uncommonly, sensible, steady, and sweet-tempered girl, come and stay with us a season in our distress, who I trust will come forthwith.

Two melancholy things. Last night I left my pallet in our family apartment, to make way for a female attendant, and removed to a dressing-room adjoining, when to return, or whether ever, God only can tell. Also my servant cut my hair, which used to be poor Charlotte's personal task. I hope she will not observe it.

The funeral yesterday was very mournful; about fifty persons present, and all seemed affected. The domestics in particular were very much so. Sir Alexander was a kind, though an exact master. It was melancholy to see those apartments, where I have so often seen him play the graceful and kind landlord filled with those who were to carry him to his long home.

There was very little talk of the election, at least till the funeral was over.

April 20.--Lady Scott's health in the same harassing state of uncertainty, yet on my side with more of hope than I had two days since.

Another death; Thomas Riddell, younger of Camiston, Sergeant-Major of the Edinburgh Troop in the sunny days of our yeomanry, and a very good fellow.

The day was so tempting that I went out with Tom Purdie to cut some trees, the rather that my task was very well advanced. He led me into the wood, as the blind King of Bohemia was led by his four knights into the thick of the battle at Agincourt or Crecy,[252] and then, like the old King, "I struck good strokes more than one," which is manly exercise.

April 21.--This day I entertained more flattering hopes of Lady Scott's health than late events permitted. I went down to Mertoun with Colonel Ferguson, who returned to dine here, which consumed time so much that I made a short day's work.

Had the grief to find Lady Scott had insisted on coming downstairs and was the worse of it. Also a letter from Lockhart, giving a poor account of the infant. God help us! earth cannot.

April 22.--Lady Scott continues very poorly. Better news of the child.

Wrought a good deal to-day, rather correcting sheets and acquiring information than actually composing, which is the least toilsome of the three.

J.G.L. kindly points out some solecisms in my style, as "amid" for "amidst," "scarce" for "scarcely." "Whose," he says, is the proper genitive of "which" only at such times as "which" retains its quality of impersonification. Well! I will try to remember all this, but after all I write grammar as I speak, to make my meaning known, and a solecism in point of composition, like a Scotch word in speaking, is indifferent to me. I never learned grammar; and not only Sir Hugh Evans but even Mrs. Quickly might puzzle me about Giney's case and horum harum horum.[253] I believe the Bailiff in _The Good-natured Man_ is not far wrong when he says, "One man has one way of expressing himself, and another another, and that is all the difference between them."[254] Went to Huntly Burn to-day and looked at the Colonel's projected approach. I am sure if the kind heart can please himself he will please me.

April 23.--A glorious day, bright and brilliant, and, I fancy, mild. Lady Scott is certainly better, and has promised not to attempt quitting her room.

Henry Scott has been here, and his canvass comes on like a moor burning.

April 24.--Good news from Brighton. Sophia is confined; both she and her baby are doing well, and the child's name is announced to be Walter--a favourite name in our family, and I trust of no bad omen. Yet it is no charm for life. Of my father's family I was the second Walter, if not the third. I am glad the name came my way, for it was borne by my father, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather; also by the grandsire of that last-named venerable person who was the first laird of Raeburn.

Hurst and Robinson, the Yorkshire tykes, have failed after all their swaggering, and Longman and Co. take _Woodstock_. But if _Woodstock_ and _Napoleon_ take with the public I shall care little about their insolvency, and if they do not, I don't think their solvency would have lasted long. Constable is sorely broken down.

    "Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee."[255]
His conduct has not been what I deserved at his hand, but, I believe that, walking blindfold himself, he misled me without _malice prepense_. It is best to think so at least, unless the contrary be demonstrated. To nourish angry passions against a man whom I really liked would be to lay a blister on my own heart.

April 25.--Having fallen behind on the 23d, I wrought pretty hard yesterday; but I had so much reading, and so many proofs to correct, that I did not get over the daily task, so am still a little behind, which I shall soon make up. I have got _Nap._, d--n him, into Italy, where with bad eyes and obscure maps, I have a little difficulty in tracing out his victorious chess-play.

Lady Scott was better yesterday, certainly better, and was sound asleep when I looked in this morning. Walked in the afternoon. I looked at a hooded crow building in the thicket with great pleasure. It is a shorter date than my neighbour Torwoodlee[256] thought of, when he told me, as I was bragging a little of my plantations, that it would be long ere crows built in them.

April 26.--Letters from Walter and Lockharts; all well and doing well. Lady S. continues better, so the clouds are breaking up. I made a good day's work yesterday, and sent off proofs, letters, and copy this morning; so, if this fine day holds good, I will take a drive at one.

There is an operation called putting to rights--_Scotticè_, _redding up_--which puts me into a fever. I always leave any attempt at it half executed, and so am worse off than before, and have only embroiled the fray. Then my long back aches with stooping into the low drawers of old cabinets, and my neck is strained with staring up to their attics. Then you are sure never to get the thing you want. I am certain they creep about and hide themselves. Tom Moore[257] gave us the insurrection of the papers. That was open war, but this is a system of privy plot and conspiracy, by which those you seek creep out of the way, and those you are not wanting perk themselves in your face again and again, until at last you throw them into some corner in a passion, and then they are the objects of research in their turn. I have read in a French Eastern tale of an enchanted person called _L'homme qui cherche_, a sort of "Sir Guy the Seeker," always employed in collecting the beads of a chaplet, which, by dint of gramarye, always dispersed themselves when he was about to fix the last upon the string. It was an awful doom; transmogrification into the Laidleyworm of Spindlestaneheugh[258] would have been a blessing in comparison. Now, the explanation of all this is, that I have been all this morning seeking a parcel of sticks of sealing wax which I brought from Edinburgh, and the "_Weel Brandt and Vast houd_"[259] has either melted without the agency of fire or barricaded itself within the drawers of some cabinet, which has declared itself in a state of insurrection. A choice subject for a journal, but what better have I?

I did not quite finish my task to-day, nay, I only did one third of it. It is so difficult to consult the maps after candles are lighted, or to read the Moniteur, that I was obliged to adjourn. The task is three pages or leaves of my close writing per diem, which corresponds to about a sheet (16 pages) of _Woodstock_, and about 12 of _Bonaparte_, which is a more comprehensive page. But I was not idle neither, and wrote some _Balaam_[260] for Lockhart's _Review_. Then I was in hand a leaf above the tale, so I am now only a leaf behind it.

April 27.--This is one of those abominable April mornings which deserve the name of _Sans Cullotides_, as being cold, beggarly, coarse, savage, and intrusive. The earth lies an inch deep with snow, to the confusion of the worshippers of Flora. By the way, Bogie attended his professional dinner and show of flowers at Jedburgh yesterday. Here is a beautiful sequence to their _floralia_. It is this uncertainty in April, and the descent of snow and frost when one thinks themselves clear of them, and that after fine encouraging weather, that destroys our Scottish fruits and flowers. It is as imprudent to attach yourself to flowers in Scotland as to a caged bird; the cat, sooner or later, snaps up one, and these--_Sans Cullotides_--annihilate the other. It was but yesterday I was admiring the glorious flourish of the pears and apricots, and now hath come the killing frost.[261]

But let it freeze without, we are comfortable within. Lady Scott continues better, and, we may hope, has got the turn of her disease.

April 28.--Beautiful morning, but ice as thick as pasteboard, too surely showing that the night has made good yesterday's threat. Dalgleish, with his most melancholy face, conveys the most doleful tidings from Bogie. But servants are fond of the woful, it gives such consequence to the person who communicates bad news.

Wrote two letters, and read till twelve, and then for a stout walk among the plantations till four. Found Lady Scott obviously better, I think, than I had left her in the morning. In walking I am like a spavined horse, and heat as I get on. The flourishing plantations around me are a great argument for me to labour hard. "_Barbarus has segetes?_" I will write my finger-ends off first.

April 29.--I was always afraid, privately, that _Woodstock_ would not stand the test. In that case my fate would have been that of the unfortunate minstrel trumpeter Maclean at the battle of Sheriffmuir--

    "By misfortune he happened to fa', man;
      By saving his neck
      His trumpet did break,
    And came off without music at a', man."[262]
J.B. corroborated my doubts by his raven-like croaking and criticising; but the good fellow writes me this morning that he is written down an ass, and that the approbation is unanimous. It is but Edinburgh, to be sure; but Edinburgh has always been a harder critic than London. It is a great mercy, and gives encouragement for future exertion. Having written two leaves this morning, I think I will turn out to my walk, though two hours earlier than usual. Egad, I could not persuade myself that it was such bad _Balaam_ after all.

April 30.--I corrected this morning a quantity of proofs and copy, and dawdled about a little, the weather of late becoming rather milder, though not much of that. Methinks Duty looks as if she were but half-pleased with me; but would the Pagan bitch have me work on the Sunday?

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FOOTNOTES:

[234] Ben Jonson's _Every Man in his Humour_, Act IV, Sc. 5.

[235] The reader will understand that the Novel was sold for behoof of James Ballantyne & Co.'s creditors, and that this sum includes the cost of printing the first edition as well as paper.--J.G.L.

[236] Eident, _i.e._ eagerly diligent.--J.G.L.

[237] These lines slightly altered from Logan.--J.G.L.

[238] Lippened, _i.e._ relied upon.--J.G.L.

[239] 2 _King Henry VI_., Act IV. Sc. 10, slightly varied.

[240] In a letter of the same day he says--"My interest, as you might have known, lies Windsor way."--J.G.L.

[241] William Coulter, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, died in office, April 1810, and was said to have been greatly consoled on his deathbed by the prospect of so grand a funeral as must needs occur in his case.--Scott _used to take him off_ as saying, at some public meeting, "Gentlemen, though doomed to the trade of a stocking-weaver, I was born with the soul of a _Sheepio_" (Scipio).

[242] _Quarterly Review_, No. 66: Lockhart's review of Sheridan's Life.

[243] It is interesting to read what James Ballantyne has recorded on this subject.--"Sir Walter at all times laboured under the strangest delusion, as to the merits of his own works. On this score he was not only inaccessible to compliments, but even insensible to the truth; in fact, at all times, he hated to talk of any of his productions; as, for instance, he greatly preferred Mrs. Shelley's _Frankenstein_ to any of his own romances. I remember one day, when Mr. Erskine and I were dining with him, either immediately before or immediately after the publication of one of the best of the latter, and were giving it the high praise we thought it deserved, he asked us abruptly whether we had read _Frankenstein_. We answered that we had not. 'Ah,' he said, 'have patience, read _Frankenstein_, and you will be better able to judge of----.' You will easily judge of the disappointment thus prepared for us. When I ventured, as I sometimes did, to press him on the score of the reputation he had gained, he merely asked, as if he determined to be done with the discussion, 'Why, what is the value of a reputation which probably will not last above one or two generations?' One morning, I recollect, I went into his library, shortly after the publication of the _Lady of the Lake_, and finding Miss Scott there, who was then a very young girl, I asked her, 'Well, Miss Sophia, how do you like the _Lady of the Lake_, with which everybody is so much enchanted?' Her answer was, with affecting simplicity, 'Oh, I have not read it. Papa says there's nothing so bad for young girls as reading bad poetry.' Yet he could not be said to be hostile to compliments in the abstract--nothing was so easy as to flatter him about a farm or a field, and his manner on such an occasion plainly showed that he was really open to such a compliment, and liked it. In fact, I can recall only one instance in which he was fairly cheated into pleasure by a tribute paid to his literary merit, and it was a striking one. Somewhere betwixt two and three years ago I was dining at the Rev. Dr. Brunton's, with a large and accomplished party, of whom Dr. Chalmers was one. The conversation turned upon Sir Walter Scott's romances generally, and the course of it led me very shortly afterwards to call on Sir Walter, and address him as follows--I knew the task was a bold one, but I thought I saw that I should get well through it--'Well, Sir Walter,' I said, 'I was dining yesterday, where your works became the subject of very copious conversation.' His countenance immediately became overcast--and his answer was, 'Well, I think, I must say your party might have been better employed.' 'I knew it would be your answer,'--the conversation continued,--'nor would I have mentioned it, but that Dr. Chalmers was present, and was by far the most decided in his expressions of pleasure and admiration of any of the party.' This instantly roused him to the most vivid animation. 'Dr. Chalmers?' he repeated; 'that throws new light on the subject--to have produced any effect upon the mind of such a man as Dr. Chalmers is indeed something to be proud of. Dr. Chalmers is a man of the truest genius. I will thank you to repeat all you can recollect that he said on the subject.' I did so accordingly, and I can recall no other similar instance."--_James Ballantyne's MS._

[244] For the life led by many of the _détenus_ in France before 1814, and for anecdotes regarding Sir Alexander Don, see Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas' _Memoirs_, 2 vols. 8vo, London 1832, vol. ii. chaps. 7 and 8.

[245] Hugh Scott of Harden, afterwards (in 1835) Lord Polwarth--succeeded by his son Henry, in 1841.

[246] Henry Jas. Scott, who succeeded to the Barony of Montagu on the demise of his grandfather, the Duke of Montagu, was the son of Henry, 3d Duke of Buccleuch. At Lord M.'s death in 1845 the Barony of Montagu expired.

[247] Henry Scott, afterwards Lord Polwarth.

[248] Slightly altered from Pope's _Eloisa to Abelard_.

[249] The Catalogue of Criminals brought before the Circuit Courts at one time was termed in Scotland the Portuous Roll. The name appears to have been derived from the practice in early times of delivering to the judges lists of Criminals for Trials _in Portu_, or in the gateway as they entered the various towns on their circuit ayres.--Chambers's _Book of Scotland_, p. 310.

Jamieson suggests that the word may have come from "Porteous" as originally applied to a Breviary, or portable book of prayers, which might easily be transferred to a portable roll of indictments.

[250] _Quarterly Review_, No. 66, Pepys' _Diary_.

[251] _Twelfth Night_, Act II. Sc. 3.

[252] See Froissart's account of the Battle of Crecy, Bk. i. cap. 129.

[253] _Merry Wives of Windsor_, Act iv. Sc. 1.

[254] See Goldsmith's Comedy, Act III.

[255] _King Lear_, Act III. Sc. 2.

[256] James Pringle, Convener of Selkirkshire for more than half a century. For an account of the Pringles of Torwoodlee, see Mr. Craig Brown's _History of Selkirkshire_, vol. i. pp. 459-470.

[257] "_The Insurrection of the Papers--a Dream_." _The Twopenny Post-Bag_, 12mo, London, 1812.

[258] The well-known ballads on these two North-country legends were published by M.G. Lewis and Mr. Lambe, of Norham. "Sir Guy," in the _Tales of Wonder_, and "The Worm," in Ritson's _Northumberland Garland_.--See Child's _English and Scottish Ballads_, 8 vols. 12mo, Boston, 1857, vol. i. p. 386.

[259] _Fyn Segellak wel brand en vast houd_: old brand used by sealing-wax makers.

[260] _Balaam_ is the cant name in a Newspaper Office for asinine paragraphs, about monstrous productions of Nature and the like, kept standing in type to be used whenever the real news of the day leaves an awkward space that must be filled up somehow.--J.G.L.

[261] _Henry VIII._ Act III. Sc. 2.

[262] Ritson, _Scottish Songs_, xvi.

Sir Walter Scott