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am not yet far advanced in the second volume, reserving it usually for my hour's amusement in the evening, as children keep their dainties for bonne bouche : but as far as I have come, it possesses all the interest of the commencement, though a more faithless and worthless set than both Dutch and Portuguese I have never read of; and it requires your knowledge of the springs of human action, and your lively description of hair-breadth 'scapes,' to make one care whether the hog biles the dog, or the dog bites the hog.' Both nations were in rapid declension from their short-lived age of heroism, and in the act of experiencing all those retrograde movements which are the natural consequence of selfishness on the one hand, and bigotry on the other.
" I am glad to see you are turning your mind to the state of the poor. Should you enter into details on the subject of the best mode of assisting them, I would be happy to tell you the few observations I have made—not on a very small scale neither, considering my fortune, for I have kept about thirty of the labourers in my neighbourhood in constant employment this winter. This. I do not call charity, because they executed some extensive plantations and other works, which I could never have got done so cheaply, and which I always intended one day to do. . But neither was it altogether selfish on my part, because I was putting myself to inconvenience in incurring the expense of several years at once, and certainly would not have done so, but to serve mine honest neighbours, who were likely to want work but for such exertion. From my observation, I am inclined greatly to doubt the salutary effect of the scheme generally adopted in Edinburgh and elsewhere for relieving the poor. At Edinburgh, they are employed on public works at so much a-day-ten-pence, I believe, or one shilling, with an advance to those who have families. This rate is fixed below that of ordinary wages, in order that no person may be employed but those who really cannot find work elsewhere. But it is attended with this bad effect, that the people regard it partly as charity, which is humiliating, and partly as an imposition, in taking their labour below its usual saleable value; to which many add a third view of the subjectnamely, that this sort of half-pay is not given them for the purpose working, but to prevent their rising in rebellion. None of these misconceptions are favourable to hard labour, and the consequence is, that I never have seen such a set of idle fainéants as those employed on this system in the public works, and I am sure that, notwithstanding the very laudable intention of those who subscribed to form the fund, and the yet more praiseworthy, because more difficult, exertions of those who superintend it, the issue of the scheme will occasion full as mucb mischief as good to the people engaged in it. Private geötlemen, acting on something like a similar system, may make it answer belter, because they have not the lazy dross of a metropolis to contend wilh-because they have fewer hands to manage—and above all because an individual always manages his own concerns better than those of the country can be managed. Yet all who bave employed those who were distressed for want of work at under wages, have had, less or more, similar complaints to make. I think I have avoided this in my own case, by inviting the country-people to do piece-work by the contract. Two things only are necessary, one is, that the nature of the work should be such as will admit of its being ascertained, when finished, to have been substantially executed. All sort of spade-work and hoe-work, with many other kinds of country labour, fall under this description, and the employer can hardly be cheated in the execution, if he keeps a reasonable look out. The other point is to take care that the undertakers, in their anxiety for employment, do not take the job too cheap. A little acquaintance with country labour will enable one to regulate this ; but it is an essential point, for if you do not keep them to their bargain, it is making a jest of the thing, and forseiting the very advantage you have in viewthat, namely, of inducing the labourer to bring his heart and spirit to his work. But this he will do where he has a fair bargain, which is to prove a good or bad one according to his own exertions. In this case you make the poor man his
own friend, for the profits of his good conduct are all his own. It is astonishing how partial the people are to this species of contract, and how diligently they labour, acquiring or maintaining all the while those habits which render them honourable and useful members of society. . I mention this to you, because the rich, much to their honour, do not, in general, require to be so much stimulated to benevolence, as to be directed in the most useful way to exert it.
“I have still a word to say about the poor of our own. parish of Parnassus. I have been applied to by a very worthy friend, Mr Scott of Sinton, in behalf of an unfortunate Mr Gilmour, who, it seems, has expended a little fortune in printing, upon his own account, poems which, from the sample I saw, seem exactly to answer the description of Dean Swift's country house
• Too bad for a blessing, too good for a curse,
I wish from my soul they were better or worse. But you are the dean of our corporation, and, I am informed, take soine interest in this poor gentleman. If you can point out any way in wbich I can serve him, I am sure my inclination is not wanting, but it looks like a very hopeless case. I beg my kindest respects to Mrs Southey, and am always sincerely and affectionately yours,
WALTER Scott.” About this time Hogg took possession of Altrive Lake, and some of his friends in Edinburgh set on foot a subscription edition of his Queen's Wake (at a guinea each copy), in the hope of thus raising a sum adequate to the stocking of the little farm. The following letter alludes to this assair; and also to the death of Frances Lady Douglas, sister to Duke Henry of Buccleuch, whose early kindness to Scolt has been more than once mentioned.
“ To the Right Honourable Lord Montagu, etc. etc. etc.
“ Abbotsford, June 8, 1817. “MY DEAR LORD, --I am honoured with your letter, and will not fail to take care that the Shepherd profits by your kind intentions, and those of Lady Montagu. This is a scheme which I did not devise, for I fear it will end in disappointment, but for which I have done, and will do all I possibly can. There is an old saying of the seamen's, every man is not born to be a boatswain,' and I think I have heard of men born under a sixpenny planet, and doomed never to be worth a groat. 1 fear something of this vile sixpenny influence had gleamed in al the cottage window when poor Hogg first came squeaking into the world. All that he made by his original book he ventured on a flock of sheep to drive into the Highlands lo a farm he had taken there, but of which he could not get possession, so that all the stock was ruined and sold to disadvantage. Then he tried another farm, which proved too dear, so that he fairly broke upon it. Then put forth divers publications, which had little sale—and brought him accordingly few pence, though some praise. Then came this Queen's Wake, by which he might and ought to bave made from L.100 to L.200—for there were, I think, three editions--when lo! his bookseller turned bankrupt, and paid him never a penny. The Duke has now, with his wonted generosity, given him cosie bield, and the object of the present attack upon the public, is to get if possible as much cash together as will stock it. But no one has loose guineas now to give to poor poets, and I greatly doubt the scheme succeeding, unless it is more strongly patronised than can almost be expected. In bookselling matters, an author must either be the conjuror, who commands the devil, or the witch who serves him and few are they whose situation is sufficiently independent to enable them to assume the higher character
and this is injurious the indigent author in every respect, for not only is he obliged to turn his pen to every various kind of composition, and so to injure himself with the public by writing hastily, and on subjects unfitted for his genius; but moreover, those honest gentlemen, the booksellers, from a natural association, consider the books as of least value, which they find they can get at least expense of copy-money, and therefore are proportionally careless in pushing the sale of the work. Whereas a good round sum out of their purse, like a moderate rise of rent on a farm, raises the work thus acquired in their own eyes, and serves as a spur to make them clear away every channel, by which they can discharge their quires upon the public. So much for bookselling, the most ticklish and unsafe, and hazardous of all professions, scarcely with the exception of horse-jockeyship,
“ You cannot doubt the sincere interest I take in Lady Montagu's health. I was very glad to learn from the Duke, that the late melancholy event had produced no permanent effect on her constitution, as I know how much her heart must bave suffered.* I saw our regretted friend for the last time at the Theatre, and made many schemes to be at Bothwell this next July. But thus the world glides from us, and those we most love and honour are withdrawn from the stage before us. I kpow not why it was that among the few for whom I had so much respectful regard, I never had associated the idea of early deprivalion with Lady Douglas. Her excellent sense, deep information, and the wit which she wielded with so much good humour were allied apparently to a healthy constitution which might have permitted us to enjoy, and be instructed by, her society for many years. Dis aliter visum, and the recollection dwelling on all the delight which she afforded to society, and the good which she did in private life, is what now remains to us of her wit, wisdom, and benevolence. The Duke keeps his usual health, with always just so much of the gout, however, as would make me wish that he had more-a kind wish for which I do not observe that he is sufficiently grateful. I hope to spend a few days at Drumlanring Castle, when that ancient mansion shall have so far limited its courtesy as to stand covered in the presence of the wind and rain, which I believe is not yet the case. I am no friend to ceremony, and like a house as well when it does not carry its roof en chapeau bras. I heartily wish your Lordship joy of the new mansion at Ditton, and hope my good stars will permit me to pay my respects there one day. The discovery of the niches certainly bodes good luck to the house of Montagu, and as there are three of them, I presume it is to come threefold. From the care with which they were concealed, I presume they had been closed in the days of Cromwell, or a little before, and that the artist employed (like the General, who told his soldiers to fight bravely against the Pope, since they were Venetians before they were Christians) had more professional than religious zeal, and did not even, 'according to the practice of the time, think it necessary to sweep away Popery with the besom of destruction.t I am here on å stolen visit of two days, and find my mansion gradually enlarging. Thanks to Mr Atkinson (who found out a practical use for our romantic theory), it promises to make a comfortable station for offering your Lordship- and Lady Montagu a pilgrim's meal, when you next visit Melrose Abbey, and that without any risk of your valet) (who I recollect is a substantial person) sticking between the wall of the parlour and the backs of the chairs placed round the table. . This literally befel Sir Harry Macdougal's fat butler, who looked like a ship of the line in the loch at Bowhill, altogether unlike his master, who could glide wherever a weasel might make his way.
Mr Atkinson has indeed been more attentive than
* Lady Montagu was the daughter of the late Lord Douglas by his first marriage with Lady Lucy Grahame, daughter of the second Duke of Montrose.
+ Lord Montagu's house at Ditton Park, near Windsor, had recently been destroyed by fire--and the ruins revealed some niches with antique candlesticks, &c., belonging to a domestic chapel that had been converted to other purposes from the time, I believe, of Henry VIJI.
I can express, when I consider how valuable his time must be.* We are attempting no castellated conundrums to rival 'those Lord Napier used to have exccuted in sugar, when he was Commissioner, and no cottage neither, but an irregular somewhat—like an old English ball, in which your squire of L.500 a-year used to drink his ale in days of yore
“I am making considerable plantations (that is considering), being greatly encouraged by the progress of those I formerly laid out. Read the veracious Gulliver's account of the Windsor Forest of Lilliput, and you will have some idea of the solemn gloom of my Druid shades. Your Lordship’s truly faithful
“WALTER Scott." “This is the 8th of June, and not an ash tree in leaf yet.' The country cruelly backward, and whole fields destroyed by the grub. I dread this next
Excursion to the Lennox-Glasgow—and Drumlanrig-Purchase of Softfield-Es
tablishment of the Ferguson Family at Huntly Burn-Lines written in Illness— Visits of Washington Irving-Larly Byron-and Sir David Wilkie-Progress of the Building at Abbotsford - Letters to Morritt-Terry, &c.—Conclusion of Rob Roy-1817.
DURING the summer term of 1817, Scott seems to have laboured chiefly on his History of 1815, for the Register, which was published in August; but he also found time to draw up the Introduction for a richly embellished quarto, entitled “ Border Antiquities,” which came out a month later. This valuable essay, containing large additions to the information previously embodied in the Minstrelsy, has been included in the late collection of his Miscellaneous Prose, and has thus obtained a circulation not to be expected for it in the original costly form.
Upon the rising of the Court in July, he made an excursion to the Lennox, chiefly that he might visit a cave at the head of Loch Lomond, said to have been a favourite retreat of his hero, Rob Roy. He was accompanied to the seat of his friend, Mr Macdonald Buchanan, by Captain Adam Ferguson—the long Linton of the days of his apprenticeship; and thence to Glasgow, where, under the auspices of a kind and intelligent acquaintance, Mr John Smith, bookseller, he refreshed his recollection of the noble cathedral, and other localities of the birthplace of Bailie Jarvie. Mr Smith took care also to show the tourists the most remarkable novelties in the great manufacturing establishments
* Mr Atkinson, of St John's Wood, was the architect of Lord Montagu's new mansion at Ditton, as well as the artist ultimately employed in arranging Scott's interior at Abbotsford.
of his flourishing city; and he remembers particularly the delight which Scott expressed on seeing the process of singeing muslio-that is, of divesting the finished web of all superficial knots and irregularities, by passing it, with the rapidity of lightning, over a rolling bar of red-hot iron. “ The man that imagined this,” said Scott, was the Shakspeare
of the W absterg
' Things out of hope are compass'd oft with vent'ring.'” The following note indicates the next stages of his progress :
“To his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, Drumlanrig Castle.
Sanquhar, 2 o'clock, July 30, 1817. « From Ross, where the clouds on Ben-Lomond are sleeping
From Greenock, where Clyde to the Ocean is sweeping-
The Poet and Captain Ferguson remained a week at Drumlanrig, and thence repaired together to Abbotsford. . By this time, the foundations of that part of the existing house, which extends from the hall westwards to the original courl-yard, had been laid ; and Scoli now found a new source of constant occupalion in watching the proceedings of his masons. He had, moreover, no lack of employment surther a-field,- for he was now negociating with another neighbouring land-owner for the purchase of an addition, of more consequence than any he had hitherto made, to his estate. In the course of the autumn he concluded this matter, and became, for the price of L. 10,000, proprietor of the lands of Toftfield,* on which there had recently been erected a substantial mansion-house, fitted, in all points, for the accommodation of a genteel family. This circumstance offered a temptation which much quickened Scott's zeal for completing his arrangement. The venerable Professor Ferguson had died a year before ; Captain Adam Ferguson was at home on half-pay; and Scott now saw the means of securing for himself, henceforth, the immediate neighbourhood of the companion of his youth, and his amiable sisters. Ferguson, who had written, from the lines of Torres Vedras, bis hopes of finding, when the war should be over, some sheltering cottage upon the Tweed, within a walk of Abbotsford, was delighted to see his dreams realized; and the family took up their residence next spring
* On completing this purchase, Scott-writes to John Ballantyne :-“Dear John, --I have closed with Usher for his beautiful patrimony, which makes me a great laird. I am afraid the people will take me up for coining. Indeed, these novels, while their attractions last, are something like it. I am very glad of your good prospects. Still I cry, Prudence! Prudence !-Yours truly.