Apoplectic Paralysis---Miss Ferrier---Election Scenes at Jedburgh and Selkirk---Castle Dangerous begun---Excursion to Douglasdale--- Visits of Captain Barns and Wordsworth---Departure from Abbotsford---London---Voyage in the Barham---Malta--- Naples---Rome---Notes by Mrs Davy, Sir W. Gell, and Mr E. Cheney---Publication of the last Tales of my Landlord. 1831-- 1832.
After a pause of some days, the Diary has this entry for April 25, 1831:---``From Saturday 16th April, to Saturday 24th of the same month, unpleasantly occupied by ill health and its consequences. A distinct stroke of paralysis affecting both my nerves and speech, though beginning only on Monday with a very bad cold. Doctor Abercrombie was brought out by the friendly care of Cadell,---but young Clarkson had already done the needful, that is, had bled and blistered, and placed me on a very reduced diet. Whether precautions have been taken in time, I cannot tell. I think they have, though severe in themselves, beat the disease but I am alike prepared.''
The preceding paragraph has been deciphered with difficulty. The blow which it records was greatly more severe than any that had gone before it. Sir Walter's friend Lord Meadowbank had come to Abbotsford, as usual when on the Jedburgh circuit; and he would make an effort to receive the Judge in something of the old style of the place; he collected several of the neighbouring gentry to dinner, and tried to bear his wonted part in the conversation. Feeling his strength and spirits flagging, he was tempted to violate his physician's directions, and took two or three glasses of champagne, not having tasted wine for several months before. On retiring to his dressing-room he had this severe shock of apoplectic paralysis, and kept his bed under the surgeon's hands for several days.
Shortly afterwards his eldest son and his daughter Sophia arrived at Abbotsford. It may be supposed that they both would have been near him instantly, had that been possible; but Major Scott's regiment was stationed in a very disturbed district, and his sister was in a disabled state from the relics of a fever. I followed her a week later, when we established ourselves at Chiefswood for the rest of the season. Charles Scott had some months before this time gone to Naples, as an attach<e'> to the British embassy there. During the next six months the Major was at Abbotsford every now and then---as often as circumstances could permit him to be absent from his Hussars.
On my arrival (May 10th), I found Sir Walter to have rallied considerably; yet his appearance, as I first saw him, was the most painful sight I had ever then seen. Knowing at what time I might be expected, he had been lifted on his pony, and advanced about half a mile on the Selkirk road to meet me. He moved at a foot-pace, with Laidlaw at one stirrup, and his forester Swanston (a fine fellow, who did all he could to replace Tom Purdie) at the other. Abreast was old Peter Mathieson on horseback, with one of my children astride before him on a pillion. Sir Walter had had his head shaved, and wore a black silk night-cap under his blue bonnet. All his garments hung loose about him; his countenance was thin and haggard, and there was an obvious distortion in the muscles of one cheek. His look, however, was placid---his eye as bright as ever---perhaps brighter than it ever was in health; he smiled with the same affectionate gentleness, and though at first it was not easy to understand everything he said, he spoke cheerfully and manfully.
He had resumed, and was trying to recast, his novel. All the medical men had urged him, by every argument, to abstain from any such attempts; but he smiled on them in silence, or answered with some jocular rhyme. One note has this postscript---a parody on a sweet lyric of Burns:---
``Dour, dour, and eident was he, Dour and eident but-and-ben--- Dour against their barley-water, And eident on the Bramah pen.''
He told me, that in the winter he had more than once tried writing with his own hand, because he had no longer the same ``pith and birr'' that formerly rendered dictation easy to him; but that the experiment failed. He was now sensible he could do nothing without Laidlaw to hold the Bramah pen; adding, ``Willie is a kind clerk---I see by his looks when I am pleasing him, and that pleases me.'' And however the cool critic may now estimate _Count Robert,_ no one who then saw the author could wonder that Laidlaw's prevalent feeling in writing those pages should have been admiration. Under the full consciousness that he had sustained three or four strokes of apoplexy or palsy, or both combined, and tortured by various attendant ailments--- cramp, rheumatism in half his joints, daily increasing lameness, and now of late gravel (which was, though last, not least)---he, retained all the energy of his will, struggled manfully against this sea of troubles, and might well have said seriously, as he more than once both said and wrote playfully,
`` 'Tis not in mortals to command success, But we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it.''<*>
* Addison's _Cato._
To assist them in amusing him in the hours which he spent out of his study, and especially that he might be tempted to make those hours more frequent, his daughters had invited his friend the authoress of _Marriage_ to come out to Abbotsford; and her coming was serviceable. For she knew and loved him well, and she had seen enough of affliction akin to his, to be well skilled in dealing with it. She could not be an hour in his company without observing what filled his children with more sorrow than all the rest of the case. He would begin a story as gaily as ever, and go on, in spite of the hesitation in his speech, to tell it with picturesque effect;---but before he reached the point, it would seem as if some internal spring had given way---he paused and gazed round him with the blank anxiety of look that a blind man has when he has dropped his staff. Unthinking friends sometimes pained him sadly by giving him the catchword abruptly. I noticed the delicacy of Miss Ferrier on such occasions. Her sight was bad, and she took care not to use her glasses when he was speaking; and she affected to be also troubled with deafness, and would say---``Well, I am getting as dull as a post---I have not heard a word since you said so and so:''---being sure to mention a circumstance behind that at which he had really halted. He then took up the thread with his habitual smile of courtesy---as if forgetting his case entirely in the consideration of the lady's infirmity.---He had also a visit from the learned and pious Dr Macintosh Mackay, then minister of Laggan, but now at Dunoon---the chief author of the Gaelic Dictionary, then recently published under the auspices of the Highland Society; and this gentleman also accommodated himself, with the tact of genuine kindness, to the circumstances of the time.
In the family circle Sir Walter seldom spoke of his illness at all, and when he did, it was always in the hopeful strain. In private to Laidlaw and myself, his language corresponded exactly with the tone of the Diary---he expressed his belief that the chances of recovery were few--- very few---but always added, that he considered it his duty to exert what faculties remained to him, for the sake of his creditors, to the very last. ``I am very anxious,'' he repeatedly said to me, ``to be done, one way or other, with this Count Robert, and a little story about the Castle Dangerous, which also I had long had in my head---but after that I will attempt nothing more---at least not until I have finished all the notes for the novels, &c.; for, in case of my going off at the next slap, you would naturally have to take up that job,---and where could you get at all my old wives' stories?''
I felt the sincerest pity for Cadell and Ballantyne at this time; and advised him to lay Count Robert aside for a few weeks at all events, until the general election now going on should be over. He consented---but immediately began another series of Tales on French History---which he never completed.
On the 18th of May, I witnessed a scene which must dwell painfully on many memories besides mine. The rumours of brick-bat and bludgeon work at the hustings of this month were so prevalent, that Sir Walter's family, and not less zealously the Tory candidate (Henry Scott, heir of Harden, now Lord Polwarth), tried every means to dissuade him from attending the election for Roxburghshire. We thought overnight that we had succeeded, and indeed, as the result of the vote was not at all doubtful, there could be no good reason for his appearing on this occasion. About seven in the morning, however, when I came down stairs intending to ride over to Jedburgh, I found he had countermanded my horse, ordered his chariot to the door, and was already impatient to be off for the scene of action. We found the town in a most tempestuous state: in fact, it was almost wholly in the bands of a disciplined rabble, chiefly weavers from Hawick, who marched up and down with drums and banners, and then, after filling the Courthall, lined the streets, grossly insulting every one who did not wear the reforming colours. Sir Walter's carriage, as it advanced towards the house of the Shortreed family, was pelted with stones; one or two fell into it, but none touched him. He breakfasted with the widow and children of his old friend, and then walked to the Hall between me and one of the young Shortreeds. He was saluted with groans and blasphemies all the way---and I blush to add that a woman spat upon him from a window; but this last contumely I think he did not observe. The scene within was much what has been described under the date of March 21st, except that though he attempted to speak from the Bench, not a word was audible, such was the frenzy. Young Harden was returned by a great majority, 40 to 19, and we then with difficulty gained the inn where the carriage had been put up. But the aspect of the street was by that time such, that several of the gentlemen on the Whig side came and entreated us not to attempt starting from the front of our inn. One of them, Captain Russell Eliott of the Royal Navy, lived in the town, or rather in a villa adjoining it, to the rear of the Spread Eagle. Sir Walter was at last persuaded to accept this courteous adversary's invitation, and accompanied him through some winding lanes to his residence. Peter Mathieson by and by brought the carriage thither, in the same clandestine method, and we escaped from Jedburgh ---with one shower more of stones at the Bridge. I believe there would have been a determined onset at that spot, but for the zeal of three or four sturdy Darnickers (Joseph Shillinglaw, carpenter, being their Coryph<ae>us), who had, unobserved by us, clustered themselves beside the footman in the rumble. The Diary contains this brief notice:---``_May_ 18---Went to Jedburgh greatly against the wishes of my daughters. The mob were exceedingly vociferous and brutal, as they usually are nowadays. The population gathered in formidable numbers---a thousand from Hawick also---sad blackguards. The day passed with much clamour and no mischief. Henry Scott was r<e:>elected ---for the last time, I suppose. _Troja fuit._ I left the borough in the midst of abuse, and the gentle hint of _Burk Sir Walter._ Much obliged to the brave lads of Jeddart.''
Sir Walter fully anticipated a scene of similar violence at the Selkirk election, which occurred a few days afterwards; but though here also, by help of weavers from a distance, there was a sufficiently formidable display of Radical power, there occurred hardly anything of what had been apprehended. Here the Sheriff was at home--- known intimately to everybody, himself probably knowing almost all of man's estate by head mark, and, in spite of political fanaticism, all but universally beloved as well as feared. The only person who ventured actually to hustle a Tory elector on his way to the poll, attracted Scott's observation at the moment when he was getting out of his carriage; he instantly seized the delinquent with his own hand---the man's spirit quailed, and no one coming to the rescue, he was safely committed to prison until the business of the day was over. Sir Walter had _ex officio_ to preside at this election, and therefore his family would probably have made no attempt to dissuade him from attending it, even had he staid away from Jedburgh. Among the exaggerated rumours of the time, was one that Lord William Graham, the Tory candidate for Dumbartonshire, had been actually massacred by the rabble of his county town. He had been grievously maltreated, but escaped murder, though, I believe, narrowly. But I can never forget the high glow which suffused Sir Walter's countenance when he heard the overburdened story, and said calmly, in rather a clear voice, the trace of his calamitous affliction almost disappearing for the moment---``Well, Lord William died at his post---
`Non aliter cineres mando jacere meos.' ''<*>
* Martial, i. 89.
I am well pleased that the ancient capital of the _Forest_ did not stain its fair name upon this miserable occasion; and I am sorry for Jedburgh and Hawick. This last town stands almost within sight of Branksome Hall, overhanging, also, _sweet Teviot's silver tide._ The civilized American or Australian will curse these places, of which he would never have heard but for Scott, as he passes through them in some distant century, when perhaps all that remains of our national glories may be the high literature adopted and extended in new lands planted from our blood.
No doubt these disturbances of the general election had an unfavourable influence on the invalid. When they were over, he grew calmer and more collected; his speech became, after a little time, much clearer, and such were the symptoms of energy still about him, that I began to think a restoration not hopeless. Some business called me to London about the middle of June, and when I returned at the end of three weeks, I had the satisfaction to find that he had been gradually amending.
But, alas! the first use he made of this partial renovation, had been to expose his brain once more to an imaginative task. He began his _Castle Dangerous_---the groundwork being again an old story which he had told in print, many years before, in a rapid manner.<*> And now, for the
* See Essay on Chivalry---1814.
first time, he left Ballantyne out of his secret. He thus writes to Cadell on the 3d of July:---``I intend to tell this little matter to nobody but Lockhart. Perhaps not even to him; certainly not to J. B., who having turned his back on his old political friends, will no longer have a claim to be a secretary in such matters, though I shall always be glad to befriend him.'' James's criticisms on Count Robert had wounded him---the Diary, already quoted, shews how severely. The last visit this old ally ever paid at Abbotsford, occurred a week or two after. His newspaper had by this time espoused openly the cause of the Reform Bill---and some unpleasant conversation took place on that subject, which might well be a sore one for both parties---and not least, considering the whole of his personal history, for Mr Ballantyne. Next morning, being Sunday, he disappeared abruptly, without saying farewell; and when Scott understood that he had signified an opinion that the reading of the Church service, with a sermon from South or Barrow, would be a poor substitute for the mystical eloquence of some new idol down the vale, he expressed considerable disgust. They never met again in this world. In truth, Ballantyne's health also was already much broken; and if Scott had been entirely himself, he would not have failed to connect that circumstance in a charitable way with this never strong-minded man's recent abandonment of his own old _terra firma,_ both religious and political. But this is a subject on which we have no title to dwell. Sir Walter's misgivings about himself, if I read him aright, now rendered him desirous of external support; but this his spirit would fain suppress and disguise even from itself. When I again saw him on the 13th of this month, he shewed me several sheets of the new romance, and told me how he had designed at first to have it printed by somebody else than Ballantyne, but that, on reflection, he had shrunk from hurting his feelings on so tender a point. I found, however, that he had neither invited nor received any opinion from James as to what he had written, but that he had taken an alarm lest he should fall into some blunder about the scenery fixed on (which he had never seen but once when a schoolboy), and had kept the sheets in proof until I should come back and accompany him in a short excursion to Lanarkshire. He was anxious in particular to see the tombs in the Church of St Bride, adjoining the site of his ``Castle Dangerous,'' of which Mr Blore had shewn him drawings; and he hoped to pick up some of the minute traditions, in which he had always delighted, among the inhabitants of Douglasdale.
We set out early on the 18th, and ascended the Tweed, passing in succession Yair, Ashestiel, Innerleithen, Traquair, and many more scenes dear to his early life, and celebrated in his writings. The morning was still, but gloomy, and at length we had some thunder. It seemed to excite him vividly,---and on coming soon afterwards within view of that remarkable edifice (Drochel Castle) on the moorland ridge between Tweed and Clyde, which was begun, but never finished, by the Regent Morton---a gigantic ruin typical of his ambition---Sir Walter could hardly be restrained from making some effort to reach it. Morton, too, was a Douglas, and that name was at present his charm of charms. We pushed on to Biggar, however, and reaching it towards sunset, were detained there for some time by want of horses. It was soon discovered who he was; the population of the little town turned out; and he was evidently gratified with their respectful curiosity. It was the first time I observed him otherwise than annoyed upon such an occasion. Jedburgh, no doubt, hung on his mind, and he might be pleased to find that political differences did not interfere everywhere with his reception among his countrymen. But I fancy the cause lay deeper.
Another symptom that distressed me during this journey was, that he seemed constantly to be setting tasks to his memory. It was not as of old, when, if any one quoted a verse, he, from the fulness of his heart, could not help repeating the context. He was obviously in fear that this prodigious engine was losing its tenacity, and taking every occasion to rub and stretch it. He sometimes failed, and gave it up with _miseria cogitandi_ in his eye. At other times he succeeded to admiration, and smiled as he closed his recital. About a mile beyond Biggar, we overtook a parcel of carters, one of whom was maltreating his horse, and Sir Walter called to him from the carriage-window in great indignation. The man looked and spoke insolently; and as we drove on, he used some strong expressions about what he would have done had this happened within the bounds of his sheriffship. As he continued moved in an uncommon degrees I said, jokingly, that I wondered his porridge diet had left his blood so warm, and quoted Prior's
``Was ever Tartar fierce or cruel Upon a mess of water-gruel?''
He smiled, graciously, and extemporised this variation of the next couplet---
``Yet who shall stand the Sheriff's force, if _Selkirk_ carter beats his horse?''<*>
* ``But who shall stand his rage and force,
* If first he rides, then eats his horse?'' _Alma._
This seemed to put him into the train of Prior, and he repeated several striking passages both of the Alma and the Solomon. He was still at this when we reached a longish hill, and he got out to walk a little. As we climbed the ascent, he leaning heavily on my shoulder, we were met by a couple of beggars, who were, or professed to be, old soldiers both of Egypt and the Peninsula. One of them wanted a leg, which circumstance alone would have opened Scott's purse-strings, though for _ex facie_ a sad old blackguard; but the fellow had recognised his person, as it happened, and in asking an alms, bade God bless him fervently by his name. The mendicants went on their way, and we stood breathing on the knoll. Sir Walter followed them with his eye, and planting his stick firmly on the sod, repeated without break or hesitation Prior's verses to the historian Mezeray. That he applied them to himself, was touchingly obvious---
``Whate'er thy countrymen have done, By law and wit, by sword and gun, In thee is faithfully recited; And all the living world that view Thy works, give thee the praises due--- At once instructed and delighted.
Yet for the fame of all these deeds, What beggar in the Invalides, With lameness broke, with blindness smitten, Wished ever decently to die, To have been either Mezeray--- Or any monarch he has written? The man in graver tragic known, Though his best part long since was done, Still on the stage desires to tarry; And he who play'd the harlequin, After the jest, still loads the scene, Unwilling to retire, though weary.''
We spent the night at the Inn of Douglas Mill, and at an early hour next morning proceeded to inspect, under the care of one of Lord Douglas's tenants, Mr Haddow, the Castle, the strange old _bourg,_ the Church, long since deserted as a place of worship, and the very extraordinary monuments of the most heroic and powerful family in the annals of Scotland. That works of sculpture equal to any of the fourteenth century in Westminster Abbey (for such they certainly, were, though much mutilated by Cromwell's soldiery) should be found in so remote an inland place, attests strikingly the boundless resources of those haughty lords, ``whose coronet,'' as Scott says, ``so often counterpoised the crown.'' The effigy of the best friend of Bruce is among the number, and represents him cross-legged, as having fallen in battle with the Saracen, when on his way to Jerusalem with the heart of his king. The whole people of the barony gathered round the doors, and two persons of extreme old age,---one so old that he well remembered _Duke Willie_---that is to say, the Conqueror of Culloden---were introduced to tell all their local legends, while Sir Walter examined by torchlight these silent witnesses of past greatness. It was a strange and melancholy scene, and its recollection prompted some passages in Castle Dangerous, which might almost have been written at the same time with Lammermoor. The appearance of the village, too, is most truly transferred to the novel; and I may say the same of the surrounding landscape. We descended into a sort of crypt in which the Douglasses were buried until about a century ago, when there was room for no more; the leaden coffins around the wall being piled on each other, until the lower ones had been pressed flat as sheets of pasteboard, while the floor itself was entirely paved with others of comparatively modern date, on which coronets and inscriptions might be traced. Here the silver case that once held the noble heart of the Good Lord James himself is still pointed out. It is in the form of a heart, which, in memory of his glorious mission and fate, occupies ever since the chief place in the blazon of his posterity:---
``The bloody heart blazed in the van, Announcing Douglas' dreaded name.''
This charnel-house, too, will be recognised easily. Of the redoubted Castle itself, there remains but a small detached fragment, covered with ivy, close to the present mansion; but he hung over it long, or rather sat beside it, drawing outlines on the turf, and arranging in his fancy the sweep of the old precincts. Before the subjacent and surrounding lake and morass were drained, the position must indeed have been the perfect model of solitary strength. The crowd had followed us, and were lingering about to see him once more as he got into his carriage. They attended him to the spot where it was waiting, in perfect silence. It was not like a mob, but a procession. He was again obviously gratified, and saluted them with an earnest yet placid air, as he took his leave.
It was again a darkish cloudy day, with some occasional mutterings of distant thunder, and perhaps the state of the atmosphere told upon Sir Walter's nerves; but I had never before seen him so sensitive as he was all the morning after this inspection of Douglas. As we drove over the high table-land of Lesmahago, he repeated I know not how many verses from Winton, Barbour, and Blind Harry, with, I believe, almost every stanza of Dunbar's elegy on the deaths of the Makers (poets.) It was now that I saw him, such as he paints himself in one or two passages of his Diary, but such as his companions in the meridian vigour of his life never saw him---``the rushing of a brook, or the sighing of the summer breeze, bringing the tears into his eyes not unpleasantly.'' Bodily weakness laid the delicacy of the organization bare, over which he had prided himself in wearing a sort of half-stoical mask. High and exalted feelings, indeed, he had never been able to keep concealed, but he had shrunk from exhibiting to human eye the softer and gentler emotions which now trembled to the surface. He strove against it even now, and presently came back from the Lament of the Makers, to his Douglasses, and chanted, rather than repeated, in a sort of deep and glowing, though not distinct recitative, his first favourite among all the ballads,---
``It was about the Lammas tide, When husbandmen do win their day, That the Doughty Douglas bownde him to ride To England to drive a prey,''---
---down to the closing stanzas, which again left him in tears,---
``My wound is deep---I fain would sleep--- Take thou the vanguard of the three, And hide me beneath the bracken-bush, That grows on yonder lily lee.''
We reached my brother's house on the Clyde some time before the dinner-hour, and Sir Walter appeared among the friends who received him there with much of his old graceful composure of courtesy. He walked about a little ---was pleased with the progress made in some building operations, and especially commanded my brother for having given his bridge ``ribs like Bothwell.'' Greenshields was at hand, and he talked to him cheerfully, while the sculptor devoured his features, as under a solemn sense that they were before his eyes for the last time. My brother had taken care to have no company at dinner except two or three near neighbours, with whom Sir Walter had been familiar through life, and whose entreaties it had been impossible to resist. One of these was the late Mr Elliott Lockhart of Cleghorn and Borthwickbrae---long Member of Parliament for Selkirkshire---the same whose anti-reform address had been preferred to the Sheriff's by the freeholders of that county in the preceding March. But, alas! very soon after that address was accepted, Borthwickbrae had a shock of paralysis as severe as any his old friend had as yet sustained. He, too, had rallied beyond expectation, and his family were more hopeful, perhaps, than the other's dared to be. Sir Walter and he had not met for a few years---not since they rode side by side, as I well remember, on a merry day's sport at Bowhill; and I need not tell any one who knew Borthwickbrae, that a finer or more gallant specimen of the Border gentleman than he was in his prime, never cheered a hunting-field. When they now met (_heu quantum mutati!_) each saw his own case glassed in the other, and neither of their manly hearts could well contain itself as they embraced. Each exerted himself to the utmost---indeed far too much, and they were both tempted to transgress the laws of their physicians.
At night Scott promised to visit Cleghorn on his way home, but next morning, at breakfast, came a messenger to inform us that the laird, on returning to his own house, fell down in another fit, and was now despaired of. Immediately, although he had intended to remain two days, Sir Walter drew my brother aside, and besought him to lend him horses as far as Lanark, for that he must set off with the least possible delay. He would listen to no persuasions. ---``No, William,'' he said, ``this is a sad warning. I must home to work while it is called day; for the night cometh when no man can work. I put that text, many a year ago on my dial-stone; but it often preached in vain.''<*>
* This dial-stone, which used to stand in front of the old cottage,
* and is now in the centre of the garden, is inscribed, <Nu><Upsilon><Xi> <Gamma><Alpha><Rho>
* <Epsilon><Rho><Chi><Epsilon><Tau><Alpha><Iota>. The same Greek words made the legend on Dr Johnson's
* watch: and he had probably taken the hint from Boswell.
We started accordingly, and making rather a forced march, reached Abbotsford the same night. During the journey, he was more silent than I ever before found him; he seemed to be wrapt in thought, and was but seldom roused to take notice of any object we passed. The little he said was mostly about Castle Dangerous, which he now seemed to feel sure he could finish in a fortnight, though his observation of the locality must needs cost the re-writing of several passages in the chapters already put into type.
For two or three weeks he bent himself sedulously to his task---and concluded both Castle Dangerous and the long suspended Count Robert. By this time he had submitted to the recommendation of all his medical friends, and agreed to spend the coming winter away from Abbotsford, among new scenes, in a more genial climate, and above all (so he promised), in complete abstinence from all literary labour. When Captain Basil Hall understood that he had resolved on wintering at Naples (where, as has been mentioned, his son Charles was attached to the British Legation), it occurred to the zealous sailor that on such an occasion as this all thoughts of political difference ought to be dismissed, ---and he, unknown to Scott, addressed a letter to Sir James Graham, then First Lord of the Admiralty, stating the condition of his friend's health, and his proposed plan, and suggesting that it would be a fit and graceful thing for the King's Government to place a frigate at his disposal. Sir James replied that it afforded his Royal Master, as well as himself, the sincerest satisfaction to comply with this hint; and that whenever Sir Walter found it convenient to come southwards, a vessel should be prepared for his reception. Nothing could be handsomer than the way in which all this matter was arranged, and Scott, deeply gratified, exclaimed that things were yet in the hands of gentlemen; but that he feared they had been undermining the state of society which required such persons as themselves to be at the head.
He had no wish, however, to leave Abbotsford until the approach of winter; and having dismissed his Tales, seemed to say to himself that he would enjoy his dear valley for the intervening weeks, draw friends about him, revisit all the familiar scenes in his neighbourhood once more; and if he were never to come back, store himself with the most agreeable recollections in his power, and so conduct himself as to bequeath to us who surrounded him a last stock of gentle impressions. He continued to work a little at his notes and prefaces, the _Reliqui<ae>_ of Oldbuck, and a private tome entitled _Sylva Abbotsfordiensis,_ but did not fatigue himself; and when once all plans were settled, and all cares in so far as possible set aside, his health and spirits certainly rallied most wonderfully. He had settled that my wife and I should dine at Abbotsford, and he and Anne at Chiefswood, day about; and this rule was seldom departed from. Both at home and in the cottage he was willing to have a few guests, so they were not strangers. Mr James (the accomplished and popular novelist) and his lady, who this season lived at Maxpoffle, and Mr Archdeacon Williams,<*> who was
* The Archdeacon, Charles Scott's early tutor, was at this time
* Rector of the New Edinburgh Academy.
spending his vacation at Melrose, were welcome additions, and frequently so, to his accustomed circle of the Scotts of Harden, the Pringles of Whytbank and Clifton, the Russels of Ashestiel, the Brewsters, and the Fergussons. Sir Walter observed the prescribed diet, on the whole, pretty accurately; and seemed, when in the midst of his family and friends, always tranquil---sometimes cheerful. On one or two occasions he was even gay; particularly, I think, when the weather was so fine as to tempt us to dine in the marble hall at Abbotsford, or at an early hour under the trees at Chiefswood.
He had the gratification of a visit from Mr Adolphus, and accompanied him one day as far as Oakwood and the Linns of Ettrick. He also received and made several little excursions with the great artist, Turner, whose errand to Scotland was connected with the collective edition of his Poems. One morning in particular, he carried Mr Turner, with Mr Skene and myself, to Smailholm Crags; and it was in lounging about them, while the painter did his sketch, that he told his ``kind Samaritan'' how the habit of lying on the turf there among the sheep and lambs, when a lame infant, had given his mind a peculiar tenderness for those animals, which it had ever since retained. He seemed to enjoy the scene of his childhood---yet there was many a touch of sadness both in his eye and his voice. He then carried us to Dryburgh, but excused himself from attending Mr Turner into the inclosure. Skene and I perceived that it would be better for us to leave him alone, and we both accompanied Turner. Lastly, the painter must not omit Bemerside. The good laird and lady were of course flattered, and after walking about a little while among the huge old trees that surround their tower, we ascended to, I think, the third tier of its vaulted apartments, and had luncheon in a stately hall, arched also in stone, but with well-sized windows (as being out of harm's way) duly blazoned with shields and crests, and the time-honoured motto, =Betide, Betide=---being the first words of a prophetic couplet ascribed to Thomas the Rhymer:---
``Betide, betide, whate'er betide, There shall be Haigs in Bemerside.''
Mr Turner's sketch of this picturesque Peel, and its ``brotherhood of venerable trees,'' is probably familiar to most of my readers.
Mr Cadell brought the artist to Abbotsford, and was also of this Bemerside party. I must not omit to record how gratefully all Sir Walter's family felt the delicate and watchful tenderness of Mr Cadell's conduct on this occasion. He so managed that the Novels just finished should remain in types, but not thrown off until the author should have departed; so as to give opportunity for revising and abridging them. He might well be the bearer of cheering news as to their greater concerns, for the sale of the _Magnum_ had, in spite of political turbulences and distractions, gone on successfully. But he probably strained a point to make things appear still better than they really were. He certainly spoke so as to satisfy his friend that he need give himself no sort of uneasiness about the pecuniary results of idleness and travel. It was about this time that we observed Sir Walter beginning to entertain the notion that his debts were paid off. By degrees, dwelling on this fancy, he believed in it fully and implicitly. It was a gross delusion--- but neither Cadell nor any one else had the heart to disturb it by any formal statement of figures. It contributed greatly more than any circumstance besides to soothe Sir Walter's feelings, when it became at last necessary that he should tear himself from his land and his house, and the trees which he had nursed. And with all that was done and forborne, the hour when it came was a most heavy one.
Very near the end there came some unexpected things to cast a sunset brilliancy over Abbotsford. His son, the Major, arrived with tidings that he had obtained leave of absence from his regiment, and should be in readiness to sail with his father. This was a mighty relief to us all, on Miss Scott's account as well as his, for my occupations did not permit me to think of going with him, and there was no other near connexion at hand. But Sir Walter was delighted---indeed, dearly as he loved all his children, he had a pride in the Major that stood quite by itself, and the hearty approbation which looked through his eyes whenever turned on him, sparkled brighter than ever as his own physical strength decayed. Young Walter had on this occasion sent down a horse or two to winter at Abbotsford. One was a remarkably tall and handsome animal, jet black all over, and when the Major appeared on it one morning, equipped for a little sport with the greyhounds, Sir Walter insisted on being put upon Douce Davy, and conducted as far as the Cauldshield's Loch to see the day's work begun. He halted on the high bank to the north of the lake, and I remained to hold his bridle, in case of any frisk on the part of the Covenanter at the ``tumult great of dogs and men.' We witnessed a very pretty chase or two on the opposite side of the water---but his eye followed always the tall black steed and his rider. The father might well assure Lady Davy, that ``a handsomer fellow never put foot into stirrup.'' But when he took a very high wall of loose stones, at which everybody else _craned,_ as easily and elegantly as if it had been a puddle in his stride, the old man's rapture was extreme. ``Look at him!'' said he---``only look at him! Now, isn't he a fine fellow?''---This was the last time, I believe, that Sir Walter mounted on horseback.
On the 17th of September the old splendour of Abbotsford was, after a long interval, and for the last time, revived. Captain James Glencairn Burns, son of the poet, had come home from India, and Sir Walter invited him (with his wife, and their cicerones Mr and Mrs M`Diarmid of Dumfries) to spend a day under his roof. The neighbouring gentry were assembled, and having his son to help him, Sir Walter did most gracefully the honours of the table.
On the 20th Mrs Lockhart set out for London to prepare for her father's reception there; and on the following day Mr Wordsworth and his daughter arrived from Westmoreland to take farewell of him. This was a very fortunate circumstance: nothing could have gratified Sir Walter more, or sustained him better, if he needed any support from without. On the 22d---all his arrangements being completed, and Laidlaw having received a paper of instructions, the last article of which repeats the caution to be ``very careful of the dogs''---these two great poets, who had through life loved each other well, and, in spite of very different theories as to art, appreciated each other's genius more justly than inferior spirits ever did either of them, spent the morning together in a visit to Newark. Hence _Yarrow Revisited_---the last of the three poems by which Wordsworth has connected his name to all time with the most romantic of Scottish streams.
Sitting that evening in the library, Sir Walter said a good deal about the singularity that Fielding and Smollett had both been driven abroad by declining health, and never returned;---which circumstance, though his language was rather cheerful at this time, he had often before alluded to in a darker fashion; and Mr Wordsworth expressed his regret that neither of those great masters of romance appeared to have been surrounded with any due marks of respect in the close of life. I happened to observe that Cervantes, on his last journey to Madrid, met with an incident which seemed to have given him no common satisfaction. Sir Walter did not remember the passage, and desired me to find it out in the life by Pellicer which was at hand, and translate it. I did so, and he listened with lively though pensive interest. Our friend Allan, the historical painter, had also come out that day from Edinburgh, and he since told me that he remembers nothing he ever saw with so much sad pleasure as the attitudes and aspect of Scott and Wordsworth as the story went on. Mr Wordsworth was at that time, I should notice---though indeed his noble stanzas tell it---in but a feeble state of general health. He was, moreover, suffering so much from some malady in his eyes, that he wore a deep green shade over them. Thus he sat between Sir Walter and his daughter: _absit omen_---but it was no wonder that Allan thought as much of Milton as of Cervantes. The anecdote of the young student's raptures on discovering that he had been riding all day with the author of Don Quixote, is introduced in the Preface to Count Robert and Castle Dangerous, which---(for I may not return to the subject)---came out at the close of November in four volumes, as the Fourth Series of Tales of My Landlord.
The following Sonnet was, no doubt, composed by Mr Wordsworth that same evening:---
``A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain, Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light Engendered, hangs o'er Eildon's triple height: Spirits of power assembled there complain For kindred power departing from their sight; While Tweed, best pleased in chanting a blithe strain, Saddens his voice again, and yet again. Lift up your hearts, ye mourners! for the might Of the whole world's good wishes with him goes; Blessings and prayers, in nobler retinue Than sceptred King or laurelled Conqueror knows, Follow this wondrous potentate. Be true, Ye winds of Ocean, and the Midland Sea, Wafting your charge to soft Parthenope.''
Early on the 23d of September 1831, Sir Walter left Abbotsford, attended by his daughter Anne and myself, and we reached London by easy stages on the 28th, having spent one day at Rokeby. I have nothing to mention of this journey except that notwithstanding all his infirmities, he would not pass any object to which he had ever attached special interest, without getting out of the carriage to revisit it. His anxiety (for example) about the gigantic British or Danish effigy in the churchyard at Penrith, which we had all seen dozens of times before, seemed as great as if not a year had fled since 1797. It may be supposed that his parting with Mr Morritt was a grave one. Finding that he had left the ring he then usually wore, behind him at one of the inns on the road, he wrote to Morritt to make enquiries after it, as it had been dug out of the ruins of Hermitage Castle, and probably belonged of yore to one of the ``Dark Knights of Liddesdale;'' and if recovered, to keep it until he should come back to reclaim it, but, in the meantime, to wear it for his sake. The ring, which is a broad belt of silver with an angel holding the heart of Douglas, was found, and having been worn to the end of life by Mr Morritt, was by him bequeathed to his friend's grandson.
Sir Walter arrived in London in the midst of the Lords' debates on the second Reform Bill, and the ferocious demonstrations of the populace on its rejection were in part witnessed by him. He saw the houses of several of the chief Tories, and above all, that of the Duke of Wellington, shattered and almost sacked. He heard of violence offered to the persons of some of his own noble friends; and having been invited to attend the christening of the infant heir of Buccleuch, whose godfather the King had proposed to be, he had the pain to understand that the ceremony must be adjourned, because it was not considered safe for his Majesty to visit, for such a purpose, the palace of one of his most amiable as well as illustrious peers.
During his stay, which was till the 23d of October, Sir Walter called on many of his old friends; but he accepted of no hospitalities except breakfasting once with Sir Robert Inglis on Clapham Common, and twice with Lady Gifford at Roehampton. Usually he worked a little in the morning at notes for the _Magnum._
Dr Robert Fergusson (now one of her Majesty's physicians), one of the family with which Sir Walter had lived all his days in such brother-like affection, saw him constantly while he remained in the Regent's Park; and though neither the invalid nor his children could fancy any other medical advice necessary, it was only due to Fergusson that some of his seniors should be called in occasionally with him. Sir Henry Halford (whom Scott reverenced as the friend of Baillie) and Dr Henry Holland (an esteemed friend of his own) came accordingly; and all the three concurred in recognising evidence that there was incipient disease in the brain. There were still, however, such symptoms of remaining vigour, that they flattered themselves, if their patient would submit to a total intermission of all literary labour during some considerable space of time, the malady might yet be arrested. When they left him after the first inspection, they withdrew into an adjoining room, and on soon rejoining him found that in the interim he had wheeled his chair into a dark corner, so that he might see their faces without their being able to read his. When he was informed of the comparatively favourable views they entertained, he expressed great thankfulness; promised to obey all their directions as to diet and repose most scrupulously; and he did not conceal from them, that ``he had feared insanity and feared _them._''
The following are extracts from his Diary:---``_London, October_ 2, 1831.---I have been very ill, and if not quite unable to write, I have been unfit to do it. I have wrought, however, at two Waverley things, but not well. A total prostration of bodily strength is my chief complaint. I cannot walk half a mile. There is, besides, some mental confusion, with the extent of which I am not, perhaps, fully acquainted. I am perhaps setting. I am myself inclined to think so, and like a day that has been admired as a fine one, the light of it sets down amid mists and storms. I neither regret nor fear the approach of death, if it is coming. I would compound for a little pain instead of this heartless muddiness of mind. The expense of this journey, &c. will be considerable; yet these heavy burdens could be easily borne if I were to be the Walter Scott I once was---but the change is great. And the ruin which I fear involves that of my country. I fancy the instances of Euthanasia are not in very serious cases very common. Instances there certainly are among the learned and the unlearned---Dr Black, Tom Purdie. I should like, if it pleased God, to slip off in such a quiet way; but we must take what fate sends. I have not warm hopes of being myself again.''
Sir Walter seemed to enjoy having one or two friends to meet him at dinner---and a few more in the evenings. Among others he thus saw, more than once, Lord Montagu and his family, the Marchioness of Stafford, (afterwards Duchess of Sutherland) the Macleods of Macleod, Lady Davy, Mr Rogers, Lord Mahon, Mr Murray, Lord Dudley, Lord Melville, the Bishop of Exeter, Lord Ashley, Sir David Wilkie, Mr Thomas Moore, Mr Milman, Mr Washington Irving, and his three medical friends. At this time the Reform Bill for Scotland was in discussion in the House of Commons. Mr Croker made a very brilliant speech in opposition to it, and was not sorry to have it said, that he had owed his inspiration, in no small degree, to having risen from the table at which Scott sat by his side. But the most regular of the evening visitors was, I think, Sir James Mackintosh. That master of every social charm and grace was himself in very feeble health; and whatever might have been the auguries of others, it struck me that there was uppermost with him at every parting the anticipation that they might never meet again. Sir James's kind assiduity was the more welcome, that his appearance banished the politics of the hour, on which his old friend's thoughts were too apt to brood. Their conversation, wherever it might begin, was sure to fasten ere long on Lochaber.
Before quitting home Scott had directed a humble monument to be prepared for the grave of Helen Walker, the original of Jeanie Deans, in the churchyard of Irongray. On the 18th he penned the epitaph now inscribed there---and also the pathetic farewell in the last page of the preface to _Count Robert of Paris._
On the 19th, the Hon. Henry Duncan, R.N., store-keeper of the Ordnance, who had taken a great deal of trouble in arranging matters for the voyage, called on Sir Walter to introduce to him Captain, now Sir Hugh Pigot, the commanding-officer of the Barham---who expected to sail on the 24th.
``_Oct._ 23.---Misty morning---looks like a yellow fog, which is the curse of London. I would hardly take my share of it for a share of its wealth and its curiosity---a vile double distilled fog, of the most intolerable kind. Children scarce stirring yet, but Baby and Macaw beginning their Macaw notes.''---Dr Fergusson, calling early, found Sir Walter with this page of his Diary before him. ``As he was still working at his MS.'' says the Doctor, ``I offered to retire, but was not permitted. On my saying I had come to take leave of him before he quitted England, he exclaimed, with much excitement---`England is no longer a place for an honest man. I shall not live to find it so; you may.' He then broke out into the details of a very favourite superstition of his, that the middle of every century had always been marked by some great convulsion or calamity in this island. The alterations which had taken place in his mind and person since I had seen him, three years before, were very apparent. The expression of the countenance and the play of features were changed by slight palsy of one cheek. His utterance was so thick and indistinct as to make it very difficult for any but those accustomed to hear it, to gather his meaning. His gait was less firm and assured than ever; but his power of self-command, his social tact, and his benevolent courtesy, the habits of a life, remained untouched by a malady which had obscured the higher powers of his intellect.''
After breakfast, Sir Walter, accompanied by his son and both his daughters, set off for Portsmouth; and Captain Basil Hall had the kindness to precede them by an early coach, and prepare everything for their reception at the hotel. In changing horses at Guilford, Sir Walter got out of his carriage, and very narrowly escaped being run over by a stage-coach. Of all ``the habits of a life,'' none clung longer to him than his extreme repugnance to being helped in anything. It was late before he came to lean, as a matter of course, when walking, upon any one but Tom Purdie; and, in the sequel, this proud feeling, coupled with increasing tendency to abstraction of mind, often exposed him to imminent hazard.
The Barham could not sail for a week. During this interval, Sir Walter scarcely stirred from his hotel, being, unwilling to display his infirmities to the crowd of gazers who besieged him whenever he appeared. He received, however, deputations of the literary and scientific societies of the town, and all other visitors, with his usual ease and courtesy: and he might well be gratified with the extraordinary marks of deference paid him by the official persons who could in any way contribute to his comfort. The first Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham, and the Secretary, Sir John Barrow, both appeared in person, to ascertain that nothing had been neglected for his accommodation on board the frigate. The Admiral, Sir Thomas Foley, placed his barge at his disposal; the Governor, Sir Colin Campbell, and all the chief officers, naval and military, seemed to strive with each other in attention to him and his companions. In Hall's Third Series of Fragments of Voyages, some interesting details have long since been made public---it may be sufficient to say here that had Captain Pigot and his gallant shipmates been appointed to convey a Prince of the Blood, more anxious and delicate exertions could not have been made, either in altering the interior of the vessel, so as to meet the wants of the passengers, or afterwards, throughout the voyage, in rendering it easy, comfortable, and as far as might be, interesting and amusing.
On the 29th, the wind changed, and the Barham got under weigh. After a few days, when they had passed the Bay of Biscay, Sir Walter ceased to be annoyed with seasickness, and sat most of his time on deck, enjoying apparently the air, the scenery, and above all the ship itself, the beautiful discipline practised in all things, and the martial exercises of the men. In Sir Hugh Pigot, Lieutenant (now Admiral Sir Baldwin) Walker, the physician, Dr Liddell, and I believe in many others of the officers, he had highly intelligent as well as polished companions. The course was often altered, for the express purpose of giving him a glimpse of some famous place; and it was only the temptation of a singularly propitious breeze that prevented a halt at Algiers.
On the 20th November, they came upon that remarkable phenomenon, the sudden creation of a submarine volcano, which bore, during its very brief date, the name of Graham's Island. Four months had elapsed since it ``arose from out the azure main''---and in a few days more it disappeared. ``Already,'' as Dr Davy says, ``its crumbling masses were falling to pieces from the pressure of the hand or foot.'' Yet nothing could prevent Sir Walter from landing on it---and in a letter of the following week he thus describes his adventure to Mr Skene:---``Not being able to borrow your fingers, those of the Captain's clerk have been put in requisition for the inclosed sketch, and the notes adjoined are as accurate as can be expected from a hurried visit. You have a view of the island, very much as it shows at present; but nothing is more certain than that it is on the eve of a very important change, though in what respect is doubtful. I saw a portion of about five or six feet in height give way under the feet of one of our companions on the very ridge of the southern corner, and become completely annihilated, giving us some anxiety for the fate of our friend, till the dust and confusion of the dispersed pinnacle had subsided. You know my old talents for horsemanship. Finding the earth, or what seemed a substitute for it, sink at every step up to the knee, so as to make walking for an infirm and heavy man nearly impossible, I mounted the shoulders of an able and willing seaman, and by dint of his exertions, rode nearly to the top of the island. I would have given a great deal for you, my friend, the frequent and willing supplier of my defects; but on this journey, though undertaken late in life, I have found, from the benevolence of my companions, that when one man's strength was insufficient to supply my deficiencies, I had the willing aid of twenty if it could be useful. I have sent you one of the largest blocks of lava which I could find on the islet.''
At Malta, which he reached on the 22d, Sir Walter found several friends of former days. The Right Honourable John Hookham Frere had been resident there for several years, the captive of the enchanting climate and the romantic monuments of the old chivalry.<*> Sir John
* Mr Frere died there in 1846.
Stoddart, the Chief Judge, had known the Poet ever since the days of Lasswade; and the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Seymour Bathurst, had often met him under the roof of his father, the late Earl Bathurst. Captain Dawson, husband to Lord Kinnedder's eldest daughter, was of the garrison, and Sir Walter felt as if he were about to meet a daughter of his own in the Euphemia Erskine who had so often sat upon his knee. She immediately joined him, and insisted on being allowed to partake his quarantine. Lastly, Dr John Davy, the brother of his illustrious friend, was at the head of the medical staff; and this gentleman's presence was welcome indeed to the Major and Miss Scott, as well as to their father, for he had already begun to be more negligent as to his diet, and they dreaded his removal from the skilful watch of Dr Liddell.
Nor less so was the society of Mrs Davy---the daughter of an old acquaintance and brother advocate, and indeed almost a next-door neighbour in Edinburgh (Mr Fletcher). This lady's private journal, Sir Walter's own diary (though hardly legible), and several letters to Laidlaw and myself, tell of extraordinary honours lavished on him throughout his stay. The Lieutenant-Governor had arranged that he should not be driven to the ordinary lazaretto, but to Fort Mannel, where apartments were ready for him and his party; and Mrs Davy, accompanying Colonel and Mrs Bathurst on their first visit there, says, the number of boats and the bustle about the sombre landing-place of the Marsa Muscat ``gave token even then''---that is, in the midst of the terror for the cholera---``of an illustrious arrival.'' The quarantine lasted nine days, but Sir Walter, she says, ``held a daily levee'' to receive the numerous visitors that flocked to converse with him across the barrier---which Mr Frere, notorious for absence of mind, more than once all but transgressed. On being set at liberty, Sir Walter removed to a hotel close to Dr Davy's residence in the Strada Ponente. He, chiefly under Mrs Davy's escort, visited the knightly antiquities of La Valetta, the Church of St John and its rich monuments, the deserted palaces and libraries of the heroic brotherhood,---with especial interest the spot where the famous pirate Dragut met his death, and the Via Stretta, where the young knights of Malta used to fight their duels. ``This town,'' he said to Mrs Davy, ``is quite like a dream---it will go hard but I make something of this:''---and in his letters he speaks repeatedly of his purpose to frame a new work connected with the Order. But the hospitalities of Malta were too much for him. The garrison-officers got up a ball in his honour, and the dignitaries gave dinner after dinner. He, like most persons afflicted with paralytic disease, had begun to lose command over himself at table, and a very slight neglect of his physician's orders was now sure to infer a penalty. He seems to have escaped another fit of apoplexy only by the promptitude of Dr Davy's lancet: and his children were well pleased when he consented to r<e:>embark in the Barham for Naples on the 14th December. Mrs Davy speaks much as Dr Fergusson had done in London, of the change in his appearance---and she gives some sad instances of his failing memory, especially that, when extolling certain novels, he could not bring out their writer's name, but only, after a painful pause, ``that Irish lady.'' But Mrs Davy, too, speaks, like Fergusson, of the unaltered courtesy of his demeanour on all occasions, and the warmth of affection that was evident in every allusion to old friends and ties. She told him, at their last meeting, that her husband was writing Sir Humphrey's Life,---``I am glad of it,'' said Sir Walter; ``I hope his mother lived to see his greatness.''
On the 17th the Barham reached Naples, and Sir Walter found his son Charles ready to receive him. The quarantine was cut short by the courtesy of the King, and the travellers established themselves in an apartment of the Palazzo Caramanico. Here, again, the British Minister, Mr Hill (now Lord Berwick), and the English nobility and gentry then residing in, Naples, did whatever kindness and respect could suggest; nor were the natives less attentive. The Marquis of Hertford, the Hon. Keppel Craven, the Hon. William Ashley and his lady, Sir George Talbot, the venerable Matthias (author of The Pursuits of Literature), Mr Auldjo (celebrated for his ascent of Mont Blanc), and Dr Hogg, who has since published an account of his travels in the East---appear to have, in their various ways, contributed whatever they could to his comfort and amusement. But the person of whom he saw most was the late Sir William Gell, who had long been condemned to live in Italy by ailments and infirmities not dissimilar to his own.
Though he remained here until the middle of April, the reader will pardon me for giving but few of the details to which I have had access. He was immediately elected into the chief literary societies of the place; and the king gave him unusual facilities in the use of all its libraries and museums. An ancient MS. of the Romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton being pointed out to him, he asked and obtained permission to have a transcript; and one was executed in his own apartments. He also expressed great curiosity as to the local ballads and popular tracts, chiefly occupied with the exploits of bandits, and collected enough of them to form about a dozen volumes, which he took a fancy to have bound in vellum. Sir William Gell was his cicerone to most of the celebrated spots in the city and its vicinity--- but soon discovered that he felt comparatively little interest in anything that he saw, unless he could connect it somehow with traditions or legends of medi<ae>val history or romance, or trace some resemblance to the scenery of familiar associations at home. Thus, amidst the chestnut forest near P<ae>stum, he was heard repeating _Jock of Hazeldean_---and again, in looking down on the Lucrine Lake, Bai<ae>, Misenum, and Averno, he suddenly pronounced, ``in a grave tone and with great emphasis,'' some fragment of a Jacobite ditty---
`` 'Tis up the rocky mountain and down the mossy glen, We darena gang a milking for Charlie and his men.''
At Pompeii alone did his thoughts seem to be wholly commanded by the realities before him. There he had himself carried from house and house, and examined everything leisurely; but said little, except ever and anon in an audible whisper, ``The city of the dead---the city of the dead!''
Meantime he more and more lost sight of the necessary restrictions---resumed too much of the usual habits in participating of splendid hospitalities, and, worst of all, resumed his pen. No persuasion could arrest him. He wrote several small tales, the subjects taken from the Newgate history of the Neapolitan banditti; and covered many quires with chapter after chapter of a romance connected with the Knights of St John.
The MS. of these painful days is hardly to be deciphered by any effort; but he often spoke as well pleased with what he was doing, and confident that, on reaching Scotland again, he should have produced welcome materials for the press---though on many other occasions his conversation intimated apprehensions of a far different order, and he not only prognosticated that his end was near, but expressed alarm that he might not live to finish the journey homewards.
He continued, however, to be haunted with a mere delusion ---on the origin of which I can offer no guess.---``In our morning drives'' (writes Gell) ``Sir Walter always noticed a favourite dog of mine, which was usually in the carriage, and generally patted the animal's head for some time, saying ---`poor boy---poor boy.' `I have got at home,' said he, `two very fine favourite dogs,---so large, that I am almost afraid they look too handsome and too feudal for my diminished income. I am very fond of them, but they are so large it was impossible to take them with me.'---He came one morning rather early to my house, to tell me he was sure I should be pleased at some good luck which had befallen him, and of which he had just received notice. This was, as he said, an account from his friends in England, that his last works, Robert of Paris and Castle Dangerous, had gone on to a second edition. He told me in the carriage that he felt quite relieved by his letters; ` for,' said he, `I could have never slept straight in my coffin till I had satisfied every claim against me.' ` And now,' added he to the dog, `my poor boy, I shall have my house, and my estate round it, free, and I may keep my dogs as big and as many as I choose, without fear of reproach.'---He told me, that, being relieved from debt, and no longer forced to write for money, he longed to turn to poetry again. I encouraged him, and asked him why he had ever relinquished poetry?---`Because Byron _bet_ me,' said he, pronouncing the word, _beat,_ short. I rejoined, that I thought I could remember by heart as many passages of his poetry as of Byron's. He replied---`That may be, but he _bet_ me out of the field in the description of the strong passions, and in deep-seated knowledge of the human heart; so I gave up poetry for the time.' He became extremely curious about Rhodes, and having chosen for his poetical subject the chivalrous story of the slaying of the dragon by De Gozon, and the stratagems and valour with which he conceived and executed his purpose, he was quite delighted to hear that I had seen the skeleton of this real or reported dragon, which yet remains secured by large iron staples to the vaulted roof of one of the gates of the city.''
From this time, whoever was near him often heard, that when he reached Scotland, it would be to r<e:>enter on the unfettered use and administration of his estate. He even wrote to Mrs Scott of Harden bespeaking her presence at a little festival which he designed to hold within a few months at Abbotsford, in celebration of his release from all difficulties. All this while he sent letters frequently to his daughter Sophia, Mr Cadell, Mr Laidlaw, and myself. Some were of a very melancholy cast---for the dream about his debts was occasionally broken: in general, however, these his last letters tell the same story of delusive hopes both as to health and wealth, of satisfaction in the resumption of his pen, of eagerness to be once more at Abbotsford, and of affectionate anxiety about the friends he was there to rejoin. Every one of those to Laidlaw has something about the poor people and the dogs. One to myself conveyed his desire that he might be set down for ``something as handsome as I liked'' in a subscription then thought of for the Ettrick Shepherd; who that spring visited London, and was in no respect improved by his visit. Another to my wife bade her purchase a grand pianoforte which he wished to present to Miss Cadell, his bookseller's daughter. The same generous spirit was shewn in many other communications.
It had been his intention not to leave the Mediterranean without seeing Rhodes himself---but he suddenly dropt this scheme, on learning that his friend Sir Frederick Adam, Governor of the Ionian Islands, who had invited him to Corfu, was ordered to India. From that hour his whole thoughts were fixed on home---and his companions soon ceased from opposing his inclinations. Miss Scott was no doubt the more willing to yield, as having received intelligence of the death of her nephew, the ``Hugh Littlejohn'' of the Grandfather's Tales--- which made her anxious about her sister. But indeed, since her father would again work, what good end could it serve to keep him from working at his own desk? And since all her entreaties, and the warnings of foreign doctors, proved alike unavailing as to the regulation of his diet, what remaining chance could there be on that score, unless from replacing him under the eye of the friendly physicians whose authority had formerly seemed to have due influence on his mind? He had wished to return by the route of the Tyrol and Germany, partly for the sake of the remarkable chapel and monuments of the old Austrian princes at Inspruck, and the feudal ruins upon the Rhine, but chiefly that he might have an interview with Goethe at Weimar. That poet died on the 22d of March, and the news seemed to act upon Scott exactly as the illness of Borthwickbrae had done in the August before. His impatience redoubled: all his fine dreams of recovery seemed to vanish at once---``Alas for Goethe!'' he exclaimed: ``but he at least died at home---Let us to Abbotsford.'' And he quotes more than once in his letters the first hemistic of the line from Politian with which he had closed his early memoir of Leyden---``_Grata quies patri<ae>._''
When the season was sufficiently advanced, then, the party set out, Mr Charles Scott having obtained leave to accompany his father; which was quite necessary, as his elder brother had already been obliged to rejoin his regiment. They quitted Naples on the 16th of April, in an open barouche, which could at pleasure be converted into a bed. Sir Walter was somewhat interested by a few of the objects presented to him in the earlier stages of his route. The certainty that he was on his way home, for a time soothed and composed him; and amidst the agreeable society which again surrounded him on his arrival in Rome. he seemed perhaps as much of himself as he had ever been in Malta or in Naples. For a moment even his literary hope and ardour appear to have revived. But still his daughter entertained no doubt, that his consenting to pause for even a few days in Rome, was dictated mainly by consideration of her natural curiosity. Gell went to Rome about the same time; and Sir Walter was introduced there to another accomplished countryman, who exerted himself no less than did Sir William, to render his stay agreeable to him. This was Mr Edward Cheney---whose family had long been on terms of very strict intimacy with the Maclean Clephanes of Torloisk, so that Sir Walter was ready to regard him at first sight as a friend. Nor was it a small circumstance that the Cheney family had then in their occupancy the Villa Muti at Frascati, for many of his later years the favourite abode of the Cardinal York.
At Rome, Sir Walter partook of the hospitalities of the native nobility, many of whom had travelled into Scotland under the influence of his writings, and on one or two occasions was well enough to sustain their best impressions of him by his conversation. But, on the whole, his feebleness, and incapacity to be roused by objects which, in other days, would have appealed most powerfully to his imagination, were too painfully obvious: and, indeed, the only, or almost the only very lively curiosity he appeared to feel regarded the family pictures and other Stuart relies then preserved at the Villa Muti---but especially the monument to Charles Edward and his father in St Peter's, the work of Canova, executed at the cost of George IV. Excepting his visits at Frascati, the only excursion he made into the neighbouring country was one to the grand old castle of Bracciano: where he spent a night in the feudal halls of the Orsini, now included among the numberless possessions of the Banker Prince Torlonia.
``Walking on the battlements of this castle next morning'' (10th May)---says Mr Cheney---``he spoke of Goethe with regret; he had been in correspondence with him before his death, and had purposed visiting him at Weimar. I told him I had been to see Goethe the year before, and that I had found him well, and though very old, in the perfect possession of all his faculties.---`Of all his faculties!' he replied;---`it is much better to die than to survive them, and better still to die than live in the apprehension of it; but the worst of all,' he added, thoughtfully, ' would have been to have survived their partial loss, and yet to be conscious of his state.'--- He did not seem to be, however, a great admirer of some of Goethe's works. Much of his popularity, he observed, was owing to pieces which, in his latter moments, he might have wished recalled. He spoke with much feeling. I answered, that _he_ must derive great consolation in the reflection that his own popularity was owing to no such cause. He remained silent for a moment, with his eyes fixed on the ground; when he raised them, as he shook me by the hand, I perceived the light-blue eye sparkled with unusual moisture. He added---`I am drawing near to the close of my career; I am fast shuffling off the stage. I have been perhaps the most voluminous author of the day; and it _is_ a comfort to me to think that I have tried to unsettle no man's faith, to corrupt no man's principle.' ''
Next day, Friday, May 11, Sir Walter left Rome.--- ``During his stay there'' (adds Mr Cheney) ``he had received every mark of attention and respect from the Italians, who, in not crowding to visit him, were deterred only by their delicacy and their dread of intruding on an invalid. The enthusiasm was by no means confined to the higher orders. His fame, and even his works, are familiar to all classes---the stalls are filled with translations of his novels in the cheapest forms; and some of the most popular plays and operas have been founded upon them. Some time after he left Italy, when I was travelling in the mountains of Tuscany, it has more than once occurred to me to be stopped in little villages, hardly accessible to carriages, by an eager admirer of Sir Walter, to inquire after the health of my illustrious countryman.''
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