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Í transcribe what follows, from James Ballantyne's Memoranda : "After Mr Scott's first interview with his Sovereign, one or two intimate friends took the liberty of enquiring, what judgment he had formed of the Regent's talents? He declined giving any definite answer—but repeated, that he was the first gentleman he had seen -certainly the first English gentleman of his day ;-there was something about him which, independently of the prestige, the “divinity," which hedges a King, marked him as standing entirely by himself; but as to his abilities, spoken of as distinct from his charming manners, how could any one form a fair judgment of that man who introduced whatever subject he chose, discussed it just as long as he chose, and dismissed it when he chose ?'
Ballantyne adds, “What I have now to say is more important, not only in itself, but as it will enable you to give a final contradiction to an injurious report which has been in circulation ; viz. that the Regent asked him as to the authorship of Waverley, and received a distinct and solemn denial. I took the bold freedom of requesting to know from him whether his Royal Highness had questioned him on that subject, and what had been his answer. He glanced at me with a look of wild surprise, and said, "What answer I might have made to such a question, put to me by my sovereign, perhaps I do not, or rather perhaps I do, know; but I was never put to the test. He is far too well-bred a man ever to put so ill-bred a question.'
The account I have already given of the convivial scene alluded to would probably have been sufficient ; but it can do no harm to place Ballantyoe's, or rather Scott's own testimony also on record.
I ought not to have omitted, that during Scott's residence in London, in April 1815, he lost one of the English friends, to a meeting with whom he had looked forward with the highest pleasure. Mr George Ellis died on the 15th of that month, at his seat of Sunninghill. This threw a cloud over what would otherwise have been a period of unmixed enjoyment. Mr Canning penned the epitaph for that dearest of his friends; but he submitted it to Scott's consideralion before it was engraved.
Battle of Waterloo-Letters of Sir Charles Bell-Visit to the Continent-Waterloo
-Letters from Brussels and Paris--Anecdotes of Scott at Paris–The Duke of Wellington-The Emperor Alexander-Blucher-Platoff—Party at Ermenonville, &c. -London-Parting with Lord Byron-Scott's Birmingham Knife-Return to Abbotsford-Anecdotes by Mr Skene and James Ballantyne --[815.
Goethe expressed, I fancy, a very general sentiment, when he said, that to him the great charm and value of my friend's Life of Buonaparte seemed quite independent of the question of its accuracy as to small details; that he turned eagerly to the book, not to find dates sifted, and countermarches analyzed, but to contemplate what could not but be a true record of the broad impressions made on the mind of Scolt by the marvellous revolutions of his own time in their progress. Feeling how justly in the main that work has preserved those impressions, though gracefully softened and sobered in the retrospect of peaceful and more advanced years, I the less regret that I have it not in my power to quote any letters of his touching the reappearance of Napoleon on the soil of France-the immortal march from Cannes —the reign of the Hundred Days, and the preparations for another struggle, which fixed the gaze of Europe in May 1815.
That he should have been among the first civilians who hurried over to see the field of Waterloo, and hear English bugles sound about the walls of Paris, could have surprised none who knew the lively concern he had always taken in the military efforts of his countrymen, and the career of the illustrious captain, who had taught them to reestablish the renown of Agincourt and Blenheim,
“ Victor of Assaye's Eastern plain,
Victor of all the fields of Spain.”
I had often heard him say, however, that his determination was, if not fixed, much quickened, by a letter of an old acquaintance of his, who had, on the arrival of the news of the 18th of June, instantly repaired to Brussels, to tender his professional skill in aid of the overburdened medical staff of the conqueror's army. When, therefore, I found the letter in question preserved among Scotl's papers, I perused it with a peculiar interest; and I now venture, with the writer's permission, lo
resent it to the reader. It was addressed by Sir Charles Bell to his brother, an eminent barrister in Edinburgh, who transmitted it to Scatt. “When I read it,” said he, “it set me on fire.” The marriage of Miss Maclean Clephane of Torloisk with the Earl of Compton
(now Marquis of Northampton), which took place on the 24th of July, was in fact the only cause why he did not leave Scotland instantly; for that dear young friend had chosen Scott for her guardian, and on him accordingly devolved the chief care of the arrangements on this occasion. The extract sent to him by Mr George Joseph Bell is as follows :
Brussels, 20 July, 1815. "This country, the finest in the world, has been of late quite out of our minds. I did not, in any degree, anticipate the pleasure I should enjoy, the admiration forced from me, on coming into one of these antique towns, or in journeying through this rich garden. Can you recollect the time when thére were gentlemen meeting at the Cross of Edinburgh, or those whom we thought such ? They are all collected here. You see the very men, with their scraggy necks sticking out of the collars of their old-fashioned square-skirted coats—their canes—their cockedhats; and, when they meet, the formal bow, the hat off to the ground, and the powder flying in the wind. I could divert you with the odd resemblances of the Scottish faces among the peasants, too-but I noted them at the time with my pencil, and I write to you only of things that you won't find iņ my pocket-book.
“I have just returned from seeing the French wounded received in their hospital; and could you see them laid out naked, or almost so—100 in a row of low beds on the ground—though wounded, exhausted, beaten, you would still conclude with me that these were men capable of marching unopposed from the west of Europe to the east of Asia. Strong, thickset, hardy veterans, brave spirits and unsubdued, as they cast their wild glance upon you,--their black eyes and brown cheeks finely contrasted with the fresh sheets, —you would much admire their capacity of adaptation. These fellows are brought from the field after lying many days on the ground; many dying-many in the agony-many miserably racked with pain and spasms; and the next mimicks his fellow, and gives it a tune, - Aha, vous chantez bien! How they are wounded you will see in my notes. But I must pot have you to lose the present impression on me of the formidable nature of these fellows as exemplars of the breed in France. It is a forced praise; for from all I have seen, and all I have heard of their fierceness, cruelty, and bloodthirstiness, I cannot convey to you my detestation of this race of trained banditti. By what means they are to be kept in subjection until other habits come upon them, I know not; but I am convinced that these men cannot be left to the bent of their propensities.
“This superb city is now ornamented with the finest groupes of armed men that the most romantic fancy could dream of. I was struck with the words of a friend E.: 'I saw,' said he, 'that man returning from the field on the 16th.'-( This was a Brunswicker of the Black or Death Hussars.) —He was wounded, and had had his arm amputated on the field. He was among the first that came in. He rode straight and stark upon his horse—the bloody clouts about his stump-pale as death, but upright, with a stern, fixed expression of feature, as if loth to lose his revenge. These troops are very remarkable in their fine military appearance; their dark and ominous dress sets off to advantage their strong, manly, northern features and white mustachios; and there is something more than commonly impressive about the whole effect.
“This is the second Sunday after the battle, and many are not yet dressed. There are 20,000 wounded in this town, besides those in the hospitals, and the many in the other towns ;-only 3000 prisoners ; 80,000, they say, killed and wounded on both sides.'
I think it not wonderful that this extract should have set Scott's imagination effectually on fire'; that he should have grasped at the idea of seeing probably the last shadows of real warfare that his own age would afford; or that some parts of the great surgeon's simple phraseology are reproduced, almost verbalim, in the first of Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk." No sooner was Scott's purpose known, than some of his young neighbours in the country proposed to join his excursion ; and, in company with three of them, namely, his kiosman, John Scott of Gala--Alexander Pringle, the younger, of Whitbank ( now M. P. for Selkirkshire)—and Robert Bruce, advocate (now Sheriff of Argyle) he left Edinburgh for the south, at 5 A. M., on the 27th of July.
They travelled by the stage-coach, and took the route of Hull and Lincoln to Cambridge ; for Gala and Whitbank, being both members of that university, were anxious to seize this opportunity of revisiting it themselves, and showing its beautiful architecture to their friend. After this wish had been gratified, they proceeded to Harwich, and thence, on the 3d of August, took ship for Helvoetsluys.
“The weather was beautiful,” says Gala, “ so we all went oulside the coach from Cambridge to Harwich. At starting, there was a general complaint of thirst, the consequence of some experiments overnight on the celebrated bishop of my Alma Mater; our friend, however, was in great glee, and never was a merrier basket than he made it all the morning. He had cautioned us, on leaving Edinburgh, never to name names in such situations, and our adherence to this rule was rewarded by some amusing incidents. For example, as we entered the town where we were to dine, a heavy-looking man, who was to stop there, took occasion to thank Scott for the pleasure his anecdotes had afforded him : You have a good memory, sir,' said he; ' mayhap, now, you sometimes write down what you hear or be a-reading about ?' He answered very gravely, that he did occasionally put down a few notes, if any thing struck him particularly. In the afternoon, it happened that he sat on the box, while the rest of us were behind him, Here, by degrees, he became quite absorbed in his own reflections, He frequently repeated to himself, or composed perhaps, for a good while, and often smiled or raised his hand, seeming completely occupied and amused. His neighbour, a vastly scientific and rather grave professor, in a smooth drab Benjamin and broad-brimmed beaver, cast many a curious sidelong glance at him, evidently suspecting that all was not right with the upper story, but preserved perfect politeness. The poet was, however, discovered by the captain of the vessel in which we crossed the Channel, and a perilous passage it was, chiefly in consequence of the unceasing tumblers in which this worthy kept drinking his health."
Before leaving Edinburgh, Scott had settled in his mind the plan of şi Paul's Letters ;" for on that same day, his agent John Ballantyne, addressed the following letter, from his marine villa near Newhaven
6 To Messrs Constable and Co.
« Trinity, 27th July, 1815. Dear Sirs,—Mr Scott left town to-day for the Continent. He proposes writing from thence a series of letters on a peculiar plan, varied in matter and style, and to different supposititious correspondents.
“The work is to form a demy Syo volume of twenty-two sheets, to sell at 12s. It is to be beg immediately on his arrival in France, and to be published, if possible, the second week of September, when he proposes to return.
“We print 3000 of this, and I am empowered to offer you one-third of the edition, Messrs Longman and Co. and Mr Murray having each the same share: the terms, twelve months'acceptance for paper and print, and half profits at six months, granted now, as under. The over copies will pay the charge for advertising. I
John BALLANTYNE. "Charge. 22 sheets printing, -4.3 15 0
L.82 10 145 reams, demy,- 1 10 0
Before Scott reached Harwich, he knew that this offer had been accepted without hesitation; and thenceforth, accordingly, he threw his daily letters to his wife into the form of communications meant for an imaginary group, consisting of a spinster sister, a statistical laird, a rural clergyman of the Presbyterian Kirk, and a brother, a veteran officer on half-pay. The rank of this last personage corresponded, however, exactly with that of his own elder brother, John Scott, who also, like the Major of the book, had served in the Duke of York's unfortunate campaign of 1797 ; the sister is only a slender disguise for his aunt Chris, tian Rutherfurd, already often mentioned; Lord Somerville, long President of the Board of Agriculture, was Paul's laird ; and the shrewd and unbigoted Dr Douglas of Galashiels “ was his minister of the gospel.” These epistles, after having been devoured by the little circle at Abbotsford, were transmitted to Major John Scott, his mother, and Miss Rutherfurd in Edinburgh; from their hands they passed to those of James Ballantyne and Mr Erskine, both of whom assured me that the copy ultimately sent to the press consisted, in great part, of the identical sheets that had successively reached Melrose through the post, The rest had of course been, as Ballantyne expresses it, “ somewhat cobbled;" but, on the whole, Paul's Letters are to be considered as a true and faithful journal of this expedition; insomuch, that I might perhaps content myself, in this place, with a simple reference to that delightful volume. He found time, however, to write letters during his absence from Britain, to some others of his friends; and a specimen or Iwo of these may interest the reader. I have also gathered, from the