Imágenes de páginas

or even maintained, without constant and unremitted exertion; and farther, that the decorum of a performer's private character (and it gladdeth me to hear that thine is respectable) addeth not a little to the value of his public exertions.

“Finally, in respect there is nothing perfect in this world, -at least I have never received a wholly faultless version from the very best of my pupils—I pray thee not to let Rob Roy twirl thee around in the ecstasy of thy joy, in regard it oversteps the limits of nature, which otherwise thou so sedulously preservest in thine admirable national portraiture of Bailie Nicol , Jarvie. -I remain thy sincere friend and well-wisher,



Recurrence of Scott's Illness-Death of the Duke of Buccleuch-Letters to Captain

Ferguson-Lord Montagu-Mr Southey-and Mr Shortreed-Scott's Sufferings while dictating the Bride of Lammermoor-Anecdotes by James Ballantyne, &c. Appearance of the Third Series of Tales of my Landlord- Anecdote of the Earl of Buchan-March-June, 1819.

[ocr errors]

It had been Scott's purpose to spend the Easter vacation in London, and receive his baronetcy ; but this was prevented by the serious recurrence of the malady which so much alarmed his friends in the early part of the year 1817, and which had continued ever since to torment him at intervals. The subsequent correspondence will show that afflictions of various sorts were accumulated on his head at the same period :" To the Lord Montagu, Ditton Park, Windsor.

· Edinburgh, 4th March, 1819. • MY DEAR LORD, The Lord President tells me he has a letter from his son, Captain Charles Hope, R.N., who had just taken leave of our High Chief, upon the deck of the Liffey. He had not seen the Duke for a fortnight, and was pleasingly surprised to find his health and general appearance so very much improved. For my part, having watched him with such unremilting attention, I feel very confident in the effect of a change of air and of climale.

It is with great pleasure that l.find the Duke has received an answer from me respecting a matter about which he was anxious, and on which I could make his mind quite easy. His Grace wished Adam Ferguson to assist him as his confidential Secrelary; and with all the scrupulous delicacy that belongs to his character, he did not like to propose this, except through my medium as a common friend. Now, I can answer for Adam, as I can for myself, that he will have the highest pleasure in giving assistance in every possible way the Duke can desire; and 'if forty years' intimacy can entitle one man ļo speak for another, I believe the Duke can find no where a person so highly qualified for such a confidential șituation. He was educated for business, understands it well, and was long a military secretary -bis lemper and manners your Lordship can judge as well as I can, and his worth and honour are of the very first water. I confess I should not be surprised if the Duke should wish to continue the connexion even afterwards, for I have often thought that two hours', leller-writing, which is his Grace's daily allowance; is rather worse than the duty of a Clerk of Session, because Ibere is no

vacation. Much of this might surely be saved by an intelligent friend on whose style of expression, prudence, and secrecy bis Grace could put perfect reliance. Iwo words marked on any letters by his own band, would enable such a person to refase more or less positively—to grant directly or conditionally—or, in short, to maintain the exterior forms of the very troublesome and extensive correspondence which his Grace's high situation entails upon him. I tbiok it is Mons. Le Duc de Saint Simon who tells us of one of Louis XIV.'s ministers qu'il avoit la plumewhich he explains, by saying, it was his duty to imitate the King's handwriting so, closely, as to be almost undistinguishable, and make him on all occasions parler très noblement. I wonder how the Duke gets on without such a friend. In the mean time, however, I am glad I can assure bim of Ferguson's willing and ready assistance while abroad; and I am happy to find still farther that he had got that assurance before they sailed, for tedious hours occur on board of ship, when it will serve as a relief to talk over any of the private affairs which the Duke wishes to intrust to him.

“I have been yery unwell from a visitation of my old enemy the cramp in my 'slomach, which much resembles, as I.conceive, the process by which the diel would make one's king's-hood into a spleuchan,* according to the anathema of Burns. Unfortunately, the opiates wbich the mechicat people think indispensable to relieve spasms, bring on a habit of body which has to be counteracted by media cines of a different tendency, so as to produce a most disagreeable see-saw-a kind of pull-devil, pull-baker contention, the field of battle being my unfortunate præcordia. Or, to say truth, it reminds me of a certain Indian king I have read of in an old voyage, to whom the captain of an European ship generously presented a lock and key, with which the sable polentate was so much delighted, that lo the great neglect, both of his household duties and his affairs of state, he spent a whole month in the repeated operation of locking and unlocking his back-door. better to day, and I trust shall be able to dispense with these alternations, which are much less agreeable in my case than in that of the Sachem aforesaid; and I still hope to be in London in April.

“ I will write to the Duke regularly, for distance of place acts in a contrary ratio on the mind and on the eye : trifles, instead of being diminished, as in prospect, become important and interesting, and therefore he shall have a budget of Them. Hogg is here busy with his Jacobite songs. I wish be may get handsomely through, for he is profoundly ignorant of history, and it is an awkward thing to read in order that you may write. t I give him all the help I can, but he sometimes poses me. For instance he .came yesterday, open mouth, enquiring what greai dignified clergyman had distinguished himself at Killiecrankie-not exactly the scene where one would have expected a churchman to shine-and I found with some difficulty, that he had mistaken Major-General Canon,, called, in Kennedy's Latin song, Canonicus Gallovidiensis, for the canon of a cathedral. Ex ungue leonem. Ever, my dear Lord, your truly obliged and faithful

“ WALTER Scott.” Before this letter reached Lord Montagu, his brother had sailed for Lisbon. The Duke of Wellington had placed his house in that capital (the Palace das Necessidades ) at the Duke of Buccleuch’s disposal ;

I am

[ocr errors]

King's-hood— The second of the four stomachs of ruminating animals.” JAMIESON.-Spleuchan—The Gaelic name of the Highlander's tobacco-pouch.

+ “I am sure I produced two volumes of Jacobite Relics, such as no man in Scotland'or England could have produced but myself.” So says Hogg, ipse-see his Autobiography, 1832, p. 88. I never saw the Shepherd so elated as he was on the appearance of a very severe article on this book in the Edinburgh Review ;. for, to his exquisite delight, the hostile critic selected for exceptive encomium one olul Jacobite strain,” viz. “Donald M'Gillavry,” which Hogg had fabricated the year before. Scott, 100, enjoyed this joke almost as much as the Shepherd.

and in the affectionate care and cheerful society of Captain Ferguson, the invalid had every additional source of comfort that his friends could have wished for him. But the malady had gone too far to be arrested by a change of climate ; and the letter which he had addressed to Scott, when about to embark at Portsmouth, is endorsed with these words—The last I ever received from my dear friend the Duke of · Buccleuch.-Alas ! alas !" The principal object of this letter was to

remind Scott of his promise to sit to Raeburn for a portrait, to be hung up in that favourite residence where the Duke had enjoyed most of his society. “My prodigious undertaking," writes his Grace,“ of a west wing at Bowhill, is begun. A library of forty-one feet by twentyone, is to be added to the present drawing-room. A space for one picture is reserved over the fire-place, and in this warm situation I intend to place the Guardian of Literature. I should be happy to have my friend Maida appear. • It is now almost proverbial, Walter Scott and his Dog.' Raeburn should be warned that I am as well acquainted with my friend's hands and arms as with his nose-and Vandyke was of my opinion. Many of R.'s works are shamefully finished the face studied, but every thing else neglected. This is a fair opportunity of producing something really worthy of his skill."

I shall insert by and by Scott's answer-which never reached the Duke's hand—with another letter of the same date to Captain Ferguson ; but I must first introduce one, addressed a fortnight earlier to Mr Southey, who had been distressed by the accounts he received of Scott's health from an American traveller, Mr George Ticknor of Boston—a friend, and worthy to be such, of Mr Washington Irving. The Poet Laureate, by the way, had adverted also to an impudent trick of a London bookseller, who shortly before this time announced certain volumes of Grub Street manufacture, as A New Series of the Tales of my Landlord,” and who, when John Ballantyne, as the

agent for the Author of Waverley,” published a declaration that the volumes thus advertised were not from that writer's pen, met John's declaration by an audacious rejoinder-impeaching his authority, and asserting that nothing but the personal appearance in the field of the gentleman for whom Ballantyne pretended to act, could shake his. belief that he was himself in the confidence of the true Simon Pure. This affair gave considerable uneasiness at the time, and for a moment the dropping of Scott's mask seems to have been pronounced advisable by both Ballantyne and Constable. But he was not to be worked upon by such means as these. He calmly replied, “ The author who lends himself to such a trick 'must be a blockhead let them publish, and that will serve our purpose better than any thing we ourselves could do.” I have forgotten the names of the “tales,” which, being, published accordingly, fell stillborn from the press.

Mr Southey had likewise dropped some allusions to another newer paper story of Scott's being seriously engaged in a dramatic work; a rumour which probably originated in the assistance he had lent to Terry in some of the recent highly popular adaptations of his novels to the purposes of the stage; though it is not impossible that some hint of the Devorgoil malter may have transpired. “It is reported," said the Laureate, " that you are about to bring forth a play, and I am greatly in hopes it may be true ; for I am verily persuaded that in this course you might run as brilliant a career as you have already done in narrative—both in prose and rhyme ;-for as for believing that you have a double in the field- not I! Those same powers would be equally certain of success in the drama, and were you to give them a dramatic direction, and reign for a third seven years upon the stage, you would stand alone in literary history. Indeed, already I believe that no man ever afforded so uch delight to so great a number of his contemporaries in this or in any other country. God bless you, my dear Scott, and believe me ever yours affectionately, R. S.” Mr Southey's letter had further announced his wife's safe delivery of a son; the approach of the conclusion of his History of Brazil; and his undertaking of the Life of Wesley.

To Robert Southey, Esq., Keswick, Cumberland.

Abbotsford, 4th April, 1819. “ My Dear SOUTHEY,-Tidings from you must be always acceptable, even were the bowl in the act of breaking at the fountain—and my health is at present very totterish. I have gone through a cruel succession of spasms and sickness, which have terminated in a special fit of the jaundice, so that I might sit for the image of Plutus, the god of specie, so far as complexion goes. I shall like our American acquaintance the better that he has sharpened your remembrance of me, but he is also a wondrous fellow for romantic lore and antiquarian research, considering his country. I have now seen four or five well-lettered Americans, ardent in pursuit of knowledge, and free from the ignorance and forward presumption which distinguish many of their countrymen. I hope they will inoculate their country with a love of letters, so nearly allied to a desire of peace and a sense of public justice, virtues to which the great Transatlantic community is more strange than could be wished. Accept my best and most sincere wishes for the bealth and strength of your latest pledge of affection. When I think what you have already suffered, I can imagine with what mixture of feelings this event must necessarily affect you ; but you need not to be told that we are in better guidance than our own.

I trust in God this late blessing will be permanent, and inherit your talents and virtues. When I look around me, and see how many men seem to make it their pride to misuse high qualifications, can I be less interested than I truly am, in the fate of one who has uniformly dedicated his splendid powers to maintaining the best interests of humanity? I am very angry at the time you are to be in London, as I must be there in about a fortnight, or so soon as I can shake off this depressing complaint, and it would add not a little that I should meet you there. My chief purpose is to put my eidest son into the army. I could have wished he had chosen another profession, but have no title to combat a choice which would have been my own had my lameness permitted. Walter has apparently the dispositions and habits fitted for the military profession, a very quiet and steady temper, an altachment to mathematics and their application, good sense and uncommon personal strength and activity, with address in most exercises, particularly horsemanship.

" — I had written thus far last week when I was interrupted, first by the arrival of our friend Ticknor with Mr Cogswell, another well-accomplished Yankee-(by the by, we have them of all sorts, e. g. one Mr **********

rather a fine man, whom the girls have christened, with some humour, the Yankee Doodle Dandie.) They have had Tom Drum's entertainment, for I have been seized with one or two successive crises of my cruel malady, lasting in the utmost anguish from eight to ten hours. If I had not the strengih of a team of horses I could never have fought through it, and through the heavy fire of medical artillery, scarce less exhausting

- for bleeding, blistering, calomel, and ipecacuanha have gone on without intermission—while, during the agony of the spasms, laudanum became necessary in the most liberal doses, though inconsistent with the general treatment. I did not lose my senses, because I resolved to keep them, but I thought once or twice they would have gone overboard, top and top-gallant. I should be a great fool, and a most ungrateful wretch, to complain of such inflictions as these. My life bas been, in all its private and public relations, as fortunate perhaps as was ever lived, up to this period; and whether pain or misfortune may lie behind the dark curtain of futurity, I am already a fficient debtor to the bounty of Providence to be resigned to it. Fear is an evil that has never mixed with my nature, nor has even unwonted good fortune rendered my love of life tenacious; and so I can look forward to the possible conclusion of these scenes of agony with reasonable equanimity, and suffer chiefly through the sympathetic distress of my family.

.“ Other ten days have passed away, for I would not send this Jeremiad to teaze you, while its terminalion seemed doubtful. For the present,

“The game is done—I've won, I've won,
Quoth sle, and whistles thrice."

I am this day, for the first time, free from the relics of my disorder, and, except in point of weakness, perfectly well. But no broken-down hunter had ever so many sprung sinews, whelks, and bruises. I am like Sancho after the doughly affair of the Yanguesian Carriers, and all through the unnatural twisting of the muscles under the influence of that Goule the cramp. I must be swathed in Goulard and Rosemary spirits-probatum est.

“ I shall not fine and renew a lease of popularity upon the theatre. To write for low, ill-informed, and conceited actors, whom you must please, for your success is necessarily at their mercy, I cannot away with. How would you, or how do you think I should, relish being the object of such a letter as Keant wrote t'other day to a poor author, who, though a pedantic blockhead, had at least the right to be treated like a gentleman by a copper-laced, twopenny tear-mouih, rendered mad by conceit and success? Pesides, if this objection were out of the way, I do not think the character of the audience in London is such that one could have the least pleasure in pleasing them. One half 'come to prosecute their debaucheries so openly, that it would degrade a bagnio. Another set to snooze off their beefsteaks and port wine; a third are critics of the fourth column of the newspaper ; fashion, wit, or literature there is not; and, on the whole, I would far rather write verses for mine honest friend Punch and his audience. The only thing that could tempt me to be so silly, would be to assist a friend in such a degrading lask who was to have the whole profit and shame of it.

“ Have you seen decidedly the most full and methodized collection of Spanish romances (ballads) published by the industry of Depping (Altenburgh, and Leipsic), 1817? It is quite delightful. Ticknor had set me agog to see it, without

* These lines are froin Coleridge's Ancient Mariner.

+ 'The reader will find something about this actor's quarrel with Mr Bucke, an!hor of “ The Italians,” in Barry Cornwall's Life of Kean, vol. ii., p. 175.

« AnteriorContinuar »