The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, No. 571

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Gregory Margo and PG Distributed



* * * * *


With Five Engravings:

1. ABBOTSFORD, (_from the Garden_.)
4. PORTRAIT--(_from the last painting_.)

[Illustration: ABBOTSFORD, (FROM THE GARDEN, see page 247.)]

Sir Walter Scott was the third son of Walter Scott, Esq., Writer to
the Signet, in Edinburgh, and Anne, daughter of Dr. John Rutherford,
Professor of Medicine in the University of the above city. His
ancestry numbers several distinguished persons; though the well-earned
fame of Sir Walter Scott readers his pedigree comparatively
uninteresting; inasmuch as it illustrates the saw of an olden poet,

Learning is an addition beyond
Nobility of birth: honour of blood,
Without the ornament of knowledge, is
A glorious ignorance.


Sir Walter was born at Edinburgh, on the 15th of August, 1771--or, on
the birthday of Napoleon Buonaparte. His father was a man of
prosperous fortune and good report; and for many years was "an elder
in the parish church of Old Grey Friars, while Dr. Robertson, the
historian, acted as one of the ministers. The other clergyman was Dr.
John Erskine, of whom Sir Walter has given an animated picture in his
novel of _Guy Mannering_."[1] Mrs. Scott is described as a
well-educated gentlewoman, possessing considerable natural talents;
though she did not enjoy the acquaintance of Allan Ramsay, Blacklock,
Beattie, and Burns, as has been stated by some biographers. She,
however, advantageously mixed in literary society, and from her
superintendence of the early education of her eldest son, Walter,
there is reason to infer that such advantages may have influenced his
habits and taste. He was the third of a family, consisting of six sons
and one daughter. The cleverest of the sons is stated by Sir Walter to
have been Daniel, a sailor, who died young. Thomas, the next brother
to Sir Walter, was a man of considerable talent, and before the avowal
of the authorship of the Waverley Novels, report ascribed to him a
great part or the whole of them. Sir Walter observes--"Those who
remember that gentleman (of the 70th regiment, then stationed in
Canada) will readily grant, that, with general talent at least equal
to those of his elder brother, he added a power of social humour, and
a deep insight into human character, which rendered him an universally
delightful member of society, and that the habit of composition alone
was wanting to render him equally successful as a writer. The Author
of Waverley was so persuaded of the truth of this, that he warmly
pressed his brother to make such an experiment, and willingly
undertook all the trouble of correcting and superintending the press."
Ill health, however, unfitted Mr. Scott for the task, though "the
author believes his brother would have made himself distinguished in
that striking field, in which, since that period, Mr. Cooper has
achieved so many triumphs."[2]

[1] Chamber's Life of Sir Walter Scott.

[2] General Preface to the Waverley Novels, 41 vols.

The house in which Sir Walter Scott was born no longer exists. It was
situated at the head of the College Wynd, at its entrance into North
College-street. It was thus described by Sir Walter in 1825:--"It
consisted of two flats above Mr. Keith's, and belonged to my father,
Mr. Walter Scott, Writer to the Signet. There I had the chance to be
born, 15th of August, 1771. My father, soon after my birth, removed to
George's Square, and let the house in the College Wynd, first to Mr.
Dundas, of Philipstoun, and afterwards to Mr. William Keith, father of
Sir Alexander Keith. It was purchased by the public, together with Mr.
Keith's (the inferior floors), and pulled down to make way for the new


Mr. Cunningham relates some interesting particulars of this period.
Before Sir Walter was two years old, his nurse let him fall out of her
arms, so as to injure his right foot, and render him lame for life:
"This accident did not otherwise affect his health; he was, as I have
been informed by a lady who chanced to live near him, a remarkably
active and dauntless boy, full of all manner of fun, and ready for all
manner of mischief. He calls himself, in one of his introductions to

A self-willed imp; a grondame's child;

and I have heard it averred, that the circumstance of his lame foot
prompted him to take the lead among all the stirring boys in the
street where he lived, or the school which he attended: he desired,
perhaps, to show them, that there was a spirit which could triumph
over all impediments."[3] If this statement be correct, it is a
somewhat remarkable coincidence with the circumstance of Lord Byron's
lameness; though, happily, the influence of the accident on the
temperament of Scott is not traceable beyond his early years.

[3] Life of Sir Walter Scott; in the Athenaeum, No. 258.

Sir Walter was subsequently removed from Edinburgh, for the
improvement of his health, to the farm-house of Sandyknowe, then
inhabited by his paternal grandfather, and situated in the loveliest
part of the Vale of Tweed. In the neighbourhood, upon a considerable
eminence, stands Smailholm Tower, a Border fort which the future poet
enshrined in his admirable ballad, _The Eve of St. John_. The romantic
influence of the scenery of the whole district is told with much
vigour and sweetness in the introduction to the third canto of


Little is known of the schooldom of Scott, that denotes anything like
precocious talent. It is, however better ascertained that his early
rambles amidst the Tweed scenery retarded his educational pursuits. He
received the rudiments of knowledge under the home tuition of his
mother; next attended an ordinary school at Edinburgh, and was then
placed at the High School, his name first appearing in the school
register in the year 1779. His masters, Mr. Luke Fraser, and Dr. Adam,
were erudite and pains-taking teachers; but, to borrow a phrase from
Montaigne, they could neither lodge it with him, nor make him espouse
it, and Chambers illustratively relates, "apparently, neither the care
of the master, nor the inborn genius of the pupil, availed much in
this case; for it is said that the twenty-fifth place was no uncommon
situation in the class for the future Author of the Waverley Novels."
Perhaps the only anecdote of any early indication of talent that can
be relied on is that related by Mr. Cunningham, of Burns:--"The poet,
while at Professor Ferguson's one day, was struck by some lines
attached to a print of a Soldier dying in the snow, and inquired who
was the author: none of the old or the learned spoke, when the future
author of _Marmion_ answered, 'They are by Langhorne.' Burns, fixing
his large, bright eyes on the boy, and, striding up to him, said, it
is no common course of reading which has taught you this--'this lad,'
said he to the company, will be heard of yet."

At school, Sir Walter represents himself to have excelled in what may
be termed the _art_, or, as Swift calls it, the "knack," of narrating
a story, which, by the way, is as companionable an acquirement at
school as elsewhere. His account is as follows:--"I must refer to a
very early period of my life, were I to point out my first
achievements as a tale-teller--but I believe some of my old
school-fellows can still bear witness that I had a distinguished
character for that talent, at a time when the applause of my
companions was my recompense for the disgraces and punishments which
the future romance writer incurred for being idle himself, and keeping
others idle, during hours that should have been employed on our tasks.
The chief enjoyment of my holydays was to escape with a chosen friend,
who had the same taste with myself, and alternately to recite to each
other such wild adventures as we were able to devise. We told, each in
turn, interminable tales of knight-errantry and battles and
enchantments, which were continued from one day to another as
opportunity offered, without our ever thinking of bringing them to a
conclusion. As we observed a strict secresy on the subject of this
intercourse, it acquired all the character of a concealed pleasure;
and we used to select for the scenes of our indulgence, long walks
through the solitary and romantic environs of Arthur's Seat, Salisbury
Crags, Braid Hills, and similar places in the vicinity of Edinburgh,
and the recollection of those holydays still forms an _oasis_ in the
pilgrimage which I have to look back upon."[4]

[4] General Preface, p. ii.

This excellence in tale-telling drew Scott's attention from graver
studies; but it was an indication of genius which may be regarded as
the corner-stone of his future fame. This reminds us of Steele's idea,
that "a story-teller is born as well as a poet." Scott, about this
time, received some instructions in music, which was then considered a
branch of ordinary education in Scotland; but the future poet, to use
a familiar expression, wanted "an ear." Throughout life he, however,
was highly susceptible of the delights of music, though his own
execution was confined to a single song, with which he attempted to
enliven the social board, but, it is stated, with such unmusical
oddity as to content his hearers with a single specimen of his vocal
talent. His early rambles around the "hills and holms of the border,"
is said to have kindled in Scott the love of painting landscapes, not
strictly in accordance with the rules of art, though certainly from
nature herself. Such attempts in art, by the way, are by no means
uncommon in the early lives of men of genius; and, they are to be
regarded, in many instances as their earliest appreciation of the
beauties of nature.

In 1783, Scott was placed at the University of Edinburgh, where his
studies were as irregular as at the High School: at the latter he is
said to have made his first attempt at versification in the
description of a thunderstorm in six lines, the recital of which
afforded his mother considerable pleasure and promise; and, on another
occasion, he is stated to have remarked, during a journey over a
sterile district of Scotland, in a day of drizzling rain, "It is only
nature weeping for the barrenness of her soil."


Scott's early love of reading is described to have been of
enthusiastic character, and to have been fostered by an accident at
this period of his life. He had just given over the amusements of
boyhood, and began to prepare himself for the serious business of
life, or the study of the law, when, to use his own words, "a long
illness threw him back on the kingdom of fiction, as it were by a
species of fatality." His autobiography of this period is extremely
interesting:--"My indisposition arose in part at least, from my having
broken a blood-vessel; and motion and speech were for a long time
pronounced positively dangerous. For several weeks I was confined
strictly to my bed, during which time I was not allowed to speak above
a whisper, to eat more than a spoonful or two of boiled rice, or to
have more covering than one thin counterpane. When the reader is
informed that I was at this time a growing youth, with the spirits,
appetite, and impatience of fifteen, and suffered, of course, greatly
under this severe regimen, which the repeated return of my disorder
rendered indispensable, he will not be surprised that I was abandoned
to my own discretion, so far as reading (my almost sole amusement) was
concerned, and still less so, that I abused the indulgence which left
my time so much at my own disposal.

"There was at this time a circulating library at Edinburgh, founded, I
believe, by the celebrated Allan Ramsay, which, besides containing a
most respectable collection of books of every description, was, as
might have been expected, peculiarly rich in works of fiction. I was
plunged into this great ocean of reading without compass or pilot; and
unless when some one had the charity to play at chess with me, I was
allowed to do nothing save read, from morning to night. As my taste
and appetite were gratified in nothing else, I indemnified myself by
becoming a glutton of books. Accordingly, I believe, I read almost all
the old romances, old plays, and epic poetry, in that formidable
collection, and no doubt was unconsciously amassing materials for the
task in which it has been my lot to be so much employed.

"At the same time, I did not in all respects abuse the license
permitted me. Familiar acquaintance with the specious miracles of
fiction brought with it some degree of satiety, and I began by degrees
to seek in histories, memoirs, voyages and travels, and the like,
events nearly as wonderful as those which were the works of the
imagination, with the additional advantage that they were, at least,
in a great measure true. The lapse of nearly two years, during which I
was left to the service of my own free will, was followed by a
temporary residence in the country, where I was again very lonely, but
for the amusement which I derived from a good, though old-fashioned,
library. The vague and wild use which I made of this advantage I
cannot describe better than by referring my reader to the desultory
studies of Waverley in a similar situation; the passages concerning
whose reading were imitated from recollections of my own."[5]

[5] General Preface, &c.


Upon the re-establishment of his health, Scott returned to Edinburgh,
and resumed his studies in the law, which had been interrupted by
illness. He states his progress to have been neither slow nor
unsatisfactory, though by others he is said to have been an indolent
student. He speaks of his "severe studies" occupying the greater part
of his time, and amidst their dulness he seems to have underrated the
incidents of his private life, which he afterwards related to the
world with some share of self-satisfaction.

He appears to have succeeded tolerably in his legal lucubrations; for,
in 1792, he was called to the bar as an advocate. He established
himself in good style in Edinburgh, but had little practice; though
the accounts of his progress are somewhat contradictory. That he
passed much of his time in acquiring other than professional knowledge
is more certain, though he rarely attempted composition. Mr. Chambers,
with all his diligence and advantages for research, (and they are very
meritorious and considerable,) "has not been able to detect any
fugitive pieces of Sir Walter's in any of the periodical publications
of the day, nor even any attempt to get one intruded (?) unless the
following notice in Dr. Anderson's _Bee_ for May 9, 1792, refers to
him:--'The Editor regrets that the verses of _W.S._ are _too defective
for publication_.'"


About this time Sir Walter employed his leisure in collecting the
ballad poetry of the Scottish Border. His inducement to this task was
subsequently described by him as follows:--

"A period," says Sir Walter, "when this particular taste for the
popular ballad was in the most extravagant degree of fashion, became
the occasion, unexpectedly indeed, of my deserting the profession to
which I was educated, and in which I had sufficiently advantageous
prospects for a person of limited ambition. * * I may remark that,
although the assertion has been made, it is a mistake to suppose that
my situation in life or place in society were materially altered by
such success as I attained in literary attempts. My birth, without
giving the least pretension to distinction, was that of a gentleman,
and connected me with several respectable families and accomplished
persons. My education had been a good one, although I was deprived of
its full benefit by indifferent health, just at the period when I
ought to have been most sedulous in improving it." He then describes
his circumstances as easy, with a moderate degree of business for his
standing, and "the friendship of more than one person of
consideration, efficiently disposed to aid his views in life." In
short, he describes himself as "beyond all apprehension of want." He
then notices the low ebb of poetry in Britain for the previous ten
years; the fashionable but slender poetical reputation of Hayley, then
in the wane; "the Bard of Memory slumbered on his laurels, and he of
Hope had scarce begun to attract his share of public attention;"
Cowper was dead, and had not left an extensive popularity; "Burns,
whose genius our southern neighbours could hardly yet comprehend, had
long confined himself to song-writing; and the realms of Parnassus
seemed to lie open to the first bold invader." The gradual
introduction of German literature into this country during such a
dearth of native talent, now led Sir Walter to the study of the German
language. He also became acquainted with Mr. G. Lewis, author of _The
Monk_, who had already published some successful imitations of the
German ballad school. "Out of this acquaintance," says Sir Walter,
"consequences arose, which altered almost all the Scottish
ballad-maker's future prospects of life. In early youth I had been an
eager student of ballad poetry, and the tree is still in my
recollection, beneath which I lay and first entered upon the
enchanting perusal of Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry. The taste of
another person had strongly encouraged my own researches into this
species of legendary lore; but I had never dreamed of an attempt to
imitate what gave me so much pleasure." He then speaks of some
successful metrical translations which he made at the High School; but
in original rhyme he was less fortunate. "In short," says Sir Walter,
"except the usual tribute to a mistress' eyebrow, which is the
language of passion rather than poetry, I had not for ten years
indulged the wish to couple so much as _love_ and _dove_, when finding
Lewis in possession of so much reputation, and, conceiving that, if I
fell behind him in poetical powers, I considerably exceeded him in
general information, I suddenly took it into my head to attempt the
style by which he had raised himself to fame." Sir Walter next hearing
a striking passage from Mr. W. Taylor's translation of Buerger's
_Leonore_, was induced to procure a copy of the original poem from
Germany, and "the book had only been a few hours in my possession,
when I found myself giving an animated account of the poem to a
friend, and rashly added a promise to furnish a copy in English ballad
verse. I well recollect that I began my task after supper, and
finished it about daybreak the next morning, (it consists of 66
stanzas,) by which time the ideas which the task had a tendency to
summon up, were rather of an uncomfortable character." This success
encouraged Sir Walter to publish his translation of _Leonore_ with
that of _Der Wilde Jager_ (the Wild Huntsman,) in a thin quarto; but,
other translations appearing at the same time, Sir Walter's adventure
proved a dead loss: "and a great part of the edition was condemned to
the service of the trunk-maker." This failure did not discourage Sir
Walter; for, early in 1799 he published _Goetz of Berlinchingen_, a
tragedy, from the German of Goethe. We thus see that Sir Walter did
not conceal his obligation to Lewis, for his aid in his translations;
but Lord Byron's assertion that Monk Lewis corrected Scott's verse,
and that he understood little then of the mechanical part of it--is
far from true, as a comparison of their productions warrants us to

Sir Walter's first attempt at originality was in ballad poetry. He
says:--"The ballad called _Glenfinlas_ was, I think, the first
original poem which I ventured to compose. After _Glenfinlas_, I
undertook another ballad, called _The Eve of St. John_. The incidents,
except the hints alluded to in the notes, are entirely imaginary; but
the scene was that of my early childhood. Some idle persons had of
late years during the proprietor's absence, torn down the iron-grated
door of Smailholm Tower from its hinges, and thrown it down the rock."
Sir Walter prevailed on the proprietor to repair the mischief, on
condition that the young poet should write a ballad, of which the
scene should lie at Smailholm Tower, and among the crags where it is
situated. The ballad, as well as _Glenfinlas_, was approved of, and
procured Sir Walter many marks of attention and kindness from Duke
John of Roxburgh, who gave him the unlimited use of the Roxburgh club


This work, although not original, may be said to be the superstructure
of Sir Walter Scott's fame. It consists, as we have already hinted, of
the ballad poetry of the Border district; but to obtain this
vernacular literature was not the work of mere compilation. The
editor's task was not performed in the closet, but in a sort of
literary pilgrimage through a land of song, story, and romance. The
farmers and peasantry from whose recitation the ballads were to be set
down, were a primitive race; and the country among which oral
traditions, anecdotes, and legends were to be collected for notes
illustrative of the ballads, was of the most romantic character. Sir
Walter found the most fertile field in the pastoral vale of
Liddesdale, whither he travelled in an old gig with Mr. Shortreed, an
intelligent observer of the manners of the people. In these
researches, Sir Walter evinced a most retentive memory: he is stated
to have used neither pencil nor pen, but to have made his own
memoranda by cutting notches on twigs, or small sticks.[6] The
_Minstrelsy_ was published in 1802, in two volumes; it was reprinted
in the following year with a third volume, of imitations, by Scott and
others, of the ancient ballad; but Sir Walter refers to the second
edition as rather a heavy concern.

[6] Many anecdotes are related in illustration of Sir Walter
Scott's excellent memory. The Ettrick Shepherd tells of
his attempting to sing his ballad of _Gilmanscleuch_,
which had never been printed or penned, but which the
Shepherd had sung once over to Sir Walter three years
previously. On the second attempt to sing it, says the
Shepherd, "in the eighth or ninth verse, I stuck in it,
and could not get on with another line; on which he (Sir
Walter) began it a second time, and recited it every word
from beginning to the end of the eighty-eighth stanza:"
and, on the Shepherd expressing his astonishment, Sir
Walter related that he had recited that ballad and one of
Southey's, but which ballads he had only heard once from
their respective authors, and he believed he had recited
them both without missing a word. Sir Walter also used to
relate that his friend, Mr. Thomas Campbell, called upon
him one evening to show him the manuscript of a poem he
had written--_The Pleasures of Hope_. Sir Walter happened
to have some fine old whisky in his house, and his friend
sat down and had a tumbler or two of punch. Mr. Campbell
left him, but Sir Walter thought he would dip into the
manuscript before going to bed. He opened it, read, and
read again--charmed with the classical grace, purity, and
stateliness of that finest of all our modern didactic
poems. Next morning Mr. Campbell again called, when to his
inexpressible surprise, his friend on returning the
manuscript to its owner, said he should guard well against
piracy, for that he himself could repeat the poem from
beginning to end! The poet dared him to the task, when Sir
Walter Scott began and actually repeated the whole,
consisting of more than two thousand lines, with the
omission of only a few couplets.--_Inverness Courier_.


Reverting to Sir Walter's domestic life, we should mention that in
1797, he married Miss Carpenter, a lady of Jersey, with an annuity of
400_l._; soon after which he established himself during the vacations,
in a delightful retreat at Lasswade, on the banks of the Esse, about
five miles to the south of Edinburgh. In 1799, he obtained the Crown
appointment of sheriff of Selkirkshire, with a salary of 300_l._ a
year; the duties of which office he is said to have performed with
kindness and justice. Mr. Cunningham relates that Sir Walter had a
high notion of the dignity which belonged to his post, and sternly
maintained it when any one seemed disposed to treat it with unbecoming
familiarity. On one occasion, it is said, when some foreign prince
passed through Selkirk, the populace, anxious to look on a live
prince, crowded round him so closely, that Scott, in vain attempted to
approach him; the poet's patience failed, and exclaiming "Room for
your sheriff! Room for your sheriff!" he pushed and elbowed the gapers
impatiently aside, and apologised to the prince for their

[7] Memoir in the _Athenaeum_.

By the death of Sir Walter's father, his income was increased, and
this addition, with the salary of his sheriffdom, left him more at
leisure to indulge his literary pursuits. Soon after this period,
about 1803, Sir Walter finding that his attempts in literature had
been unfavourable to his success at the bar, says:--"My profession and
I, therefore, came to stand nearly upon the footing on which honest
Slender consoled himself with having established with Mrs. Anne Page.
'There was no great love between us at the beginning, and it pleased
Heaven to decrease it on farther acquaintance!' I became sensible that
the time was come when I must either buckle myself resolutely to 'the
toil by day, the lamp by night,' renouncing all the Dalilahs of my
imagination, or bid adieu to the profession of the law, and hold
another course.

"I confess my own inclination revolted from the more severe choice,
which might have been deemed by many the wiser alternative. As my
transgressions had been numerous, my repentance must have been
signalized by unusual sacrifices. I ought to have mentioned that,
since my fourteenth or fifteenth year, my health, originally delicate,
had been extremely robust. From infancy I had laboured under the
infirmity of a severe lameness, but, as I believe is usually the case
with men of spirit who suffer under personal inconveniences of this
nature, I had, since the improvement of my health, in defiance of this
incapacitating circumstance, distinguished myself by the endurance of
toil on foot or horseback, having often walked thirty miles a-day, and
rode upwards of a hundred without stopping. In this manner I made many
pleasant journeys through parts of the country then not very
accessible, gaining more amusement and instruction than I have been
able to acquire since I have travelled in a more commodious manner. I
practised most sylvan sports also with some success and with great
delight. But these pleasures must have been all resigned, or used with
great moderation, had I determined to regain my station at the bar."
After well weighing these matters, Sir Walter resolved on quitting his
avocations in the law for literature; though he determined that
literature should be his staff but not his crutch, and that the
profits of his labour, however convenient otherwise, should not become
necessary to his ordinary expenses.


Sir Walter's secession from the law was followed by the production of
his noblest poem--_the Lay of the Last Minstrel_--the origin of which
is thus related by the author:

"The lovely young Countess of Dalkeith, afterwards Harriet, Duchess of
Buccleuch, had come to the land of her husband, with the desire of
making herself acquainted with its traditions and customs. Of course,
where all made it a pride and pleasure to gratify her wishes, she soon
heard enough of Border lore; among others, an aged gentleman of
property, near Langholm, communicated to her ladyship the story of
Gilpin Horner--a tradition in which the narrator and many more of that
county were firm believers. The young Countess, much delighted with
the legend, and the gravity and full confidence with which it was
told, enjoined it on me as a task to compose a ballad on the subject.
Of course, to hear was to obey; and thus the goblin story, objected to
by several critics as an excrescence upon the poem, was, in fact, the
occasion of its being written."

Sir Walter having composed the first two or three stanzas of the
poem--taking for his model the _Christabel_ of Coleridge--showed them
to two friends, "whose talents might have raised them to the highest
station in literature, had they not preferred exerting them in their
own profession of the law, in which they attained equal preferment."
They were more silent upon the merits of the stanzas than was
encouraging to the author; and Sir Walter, looking upon the attempt as
a failure, threw the manuscript into the fire, and thought as little
as he could of the matter. Sometime afterwards, Sir Walter meeting his
two friends, was asked how he proceeded in his romance;--they were
surprised at its fate, said they had reviewed their opinion, and
earnestly desired that Sir Walter would proceed with the composition.
He did so; and the poem was soon finished, proceeding at the rate of
about a canto per week. It was finally published in 1805, and produced
to the author 600_l._; and, to use his own words, "it may be regarded
as the first work in which the writer, who has been since so
voluminous, laid his claim to be considered as an original author." We
thus see that Sir Walter Scott was in his 34th year before he had
published an original work.


Sir Walter's second poem of consequence appeared in 1808, he having
published a few ballads and lyrical pieces during the year 1806. The
publishers, emboldened by the success of _the Lay of the Last
Minstrel_, gave the author 1,000_l._ for _Marmion_. Its success was
electric, and at once wrought up the poet's reputation. In his preface
to the last edition, April, 1830, he states 36,000 copies to have been
printed between 1808 and 1825, besides a considerable sale since that
period; and the publishers were so delighted with the success, as "to
supply the author's cellars with what is always an acceptable present
to a young Scotch house-keeper--namely, a hogshead of excellent


Between the appearance of _the Lay of the Last Minstrel_ and
_Marmion_, hopes were held out to him from an influential quarter of
the reversion of the office of a Principal Clerk in the Court of
Session; and, Mr. Pitt, having expressed a wish to be of service to
the author, of _the Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Sir Walter applied for
the reversion. His desire was readily acceeded to; and, according to
Chambers, George III. is reported to have said, when he signed the
commission, that "he was happy he had it in his power to reward a man
of genius, and a person of such distinguished merit." The King had
signed the document, and the office fees alone remained to be paid,
when Mr. Pitt died, and a new and opposite ministry succeeded. Sir
Walter, however, obtained the appointment, though not from the favour
of an administration differing from himself in politics, as has been
supposed; the grant having been obtained before Mr. Fox's direction
that the appointment should be conferred as a favour coming directly
from his administration. The duties were easy, and the profits about
1,200_l._ a year, though Sir Walter, according to arrangement,
performed the former for five or six years without salary, until the
retirement of his colleague.


Sir Walter's next literary labour was the editorship of the _Works of
John Dryden_, with Notes. Critical and Explanatory, and a Life of the
Author: the chief aim of which appears to be the arrangement of the
"literary productions in their succession, as actuated by, and
operating upon, the taste of an age, where they had so predominating
an influence," and the connexion of the Life of Dryden with the
history of his publications. This he accomplished within a
twelvemonth. Sir Walter subsequently edited, upon a similar plan, an
edition of the _Works of Swift_.--Neither of these works can be said
to entitle Sir Walter to high rank as a biographer.


Was written in 1809, and published in 1810, and was considered by the
author as the best of his poetic compositions. He appears to have
taken more than ordinary pains in its accuracy, especially in
verifying the correctness of the local circumstances of the story. In
his introduction to a late edition of the poem, he says--"I recollect,
in particular, that to ascertain whether I was telling a probable
tale, I went into Perthshire, to see whether King James could actually
have ridden from the banks of Loch Venachar to Stirling Castle within
the time supposed in the poem, and had the pleasure to satisfy myself
that it was quite practicable." The success of the poem "was certainly
so extraordinary, as to induce him for the moment to conclude, that he
had at last fixed a nail in the proverbially inconstant wheel of
Fortune, whose stability in behalf of an individual, who had so boldly
courted her favours for three successive times, had not as yet been

ABBOTSFORD.--(_See the Cuts_.)

Since Sir Walter's appointment to the sheriffdom of Selkirkshire, he
had resided at Ashiesteel, on the banks of the Tweed, of which he was
but the tenant. He was now desirous to purchase a small estate, and
thereon build a house according to his own taste. He found a desirable
site six or seven miles farther down the Tweed, in the neighbourhood
of the public road between Melrose and Selkirk, and at nearly an equal
distance from both of those towns: it was then occupied by a little
farm onstead, which bore the name of Cartley Hole. The mansion is in
what is termed the castellated Gothic style, embosomed in flourishing
wood. It takes its name from a ford, formerly used by the monks of
Melrose, across the Tweed, which now winds amongst a rich succession
of woods and lawns. But we will borrow Mr. Allan Cunningham's
description of the estate, written during a visit to Abbotsford, in
the summer of 1831:--"On the other side of the Tweed we had a fine
view of Abbotsford, and all its policies and grounds. The whole is at
once extensive and beautiful. The fast rising woods are already
beginning to bury the house, which is none of the smallest; and the
Tweed, which runs within gun-shot of the windows, can only be
discerned here and there through the tapestry of boughs. A fine,
open-work, Gothic screen half conceals and half shows the garden, as
you stand in front of the house--(_see the Engraving_.) It was the
offspring of necessity, for it became desirable to mask an unseemly
old wall, on which are many goodly fruit-trees. What we most admired
about the estate, was the naturally useful and elegant manner in which
the great poet has laid out the plantations--first, with respect to
the bounding or enclosing line; and secondly, with regard to the
skilful distribution of the trees, both for the contrast of light and
shade, and for the protection which the strong affords to the weak.[8]
The horizontal profile of the house is fine, crowded with towers and
clustered chimneys: it looks half castle, half monastery. The
workmanship, too, is excellent: indeed we never saw such well-dressed,
cleanly, and compactly laid whinstone course and gage in our life: it
is a perfect picture."[9] "The external walls of Abbotsford, as also
the walls of the adjoining garden, are enriched with many old carved
stones, which, having originally figured in other situations, to which
they were calculated by their sculptures and inscriptions, have a very
curious effect. Among the various relics which Sir Walter has
contrived to collect, may be mentioned the door of the old Tolbooth of
Edinburgh, which, together with the hewn stones that composed the
gateway, are now made to figure in a base court at the west end of the

[8] Sir Walter possessed a practical as well as theoretical
knowledge of Landscape Gardening, as may be seen in a
valuable paper contributed by him to No. 47, of the
_Quarterly Review_. The details of this paper were,
however, disputed by some writers on the subject.

[9] Communicated to No. 199, of _The Athenaeum_. The mansion
was built from designs by Atkinson. Sir Walter may,
however, be termed the amateur architect of the pile, and
this may somewhat explain its irregularities. We have been
told that the earliest design of Abbotsford was furnished
by the late Mr. Terry, the comedian, who was an intimate
friend of Sir Walter, and originally an architect by
profession. His widow, one of the Nasmyths, has painted a
clever View of Abbotsford, from the opposite bank of the
Tweed; which is engraved in No. 427, of _The Mirror_.

[10] Picture of Scotland, by Chambers.

[Illustration: (_Armoury_.)]

It would occupy a whole sheet to describe the _interior_ of the
mansion; so that we select only two apartments, as graphic memorials
of the lamented owner. First, is the _Armoury_, (from a coloured
lithograph, published by Ackermann)--an arched apartment, with a
richly-blazoned window, and the walls filled all over with smaller
pieces of armour and weapons, such as swords, firelocks, spears,
arrows, darts, daggers, &c. These relics will be found enumerated in a
description of Abbotsford, in _the Anniversary_, quoted in vol. xv. of
the _Mirror_. The second of the _interiors_ is the poet's _Study_--a
room about twenty-five feet square by twenty feet high, containing of
what is properly called furniture, nothing but a small writing-table
and an antique arm-chair. On either side of the fire-place various
pieces of armour are hung on the wall; but, there are no books, save
the contents of a light gallery, which runs round three sides of the
room, and is reached by a hanging stair of carved oak in one corner.
There are only two portraits--an original of the beautiful and
melancholy head of Claverhouse, and a small full-length of Rob Roy.
Various little antique cabinets stand about the room; and in one
corner is a collection of really useful weapons--those of the forest
craft, to wit--axes and bills, &c. Over the fire-place, too, are some
Highland claymores clustered round a target. There is only one window,
pierced in a very thick wall, so that the place is rather sombre.

[Illustration: (_Study_.)]


After the publication of _the Lady of the Lake_, Sir Walter's poetical
reputation began to wane. In 1811, appeared _Don Roderick_; and in
1813, _Rokeby_; both of which were unsuccessful; and the _Lord of the
Isles_ followed with no better fortune. In short, Sir Walter perceived
that the tide of popularity was turning, and he wisely changed with
the public taste. The subjects of these poems were neither so
striking, nor the versification so attractive, as in his earlier
poems. The poet himself attributes their failure to the manner or
style losing its charms of novelty, and the harmony becoming tiresome
and ordinary; his measure and manner were imitated by other writers,
and, above all Byron had just appeared as a serious candidate in the
first canto of _Childe Harold_; so that Sir Walter with exemplary
candour confesses that "the original inventor and his invention must
have fallen into contempt, if he had not found out another road to
public favour." We shall therefore now part with his poetic fame, and
proceed in the more gratifying task of glancing at his splendid
successes in prose fiction.


The first of the author's

long trails of light descending down,

had its origin in a desire to story the ancient traditions and noble
spirit of the Highlands, aided by the author's early recollections of
their scenery and customs; in short, to effect in prose what he had so
triumphantly achieved in the poem of _the Lady of the Lake_. The
author's own account will be read with interest:--"It was with some
idea of this kind, that, about the year 1805, I threw together about
one-third part of the first volume of Waverley. It was advertised to
be published by the late Mr. John Ballantyne, under the name of
'Waverley,' or ''Tis Fifty Years since,'--a title afterwards altered
to ''Tis Sixty Years since,' that the actual date of publication might
be made to correspond with the period in which the scene was laid.
Having proceeded as far, I think, as the seventh chapter, I showed my
work to a critical friend, whose opinion was unfavourable, and having
some poetical reputation, I was unwilling to risk the loss of it by
attempting a new style of composition. I therefore threw aside the
work I had commenced, without either reluctance or remonstrance. This
portion of the manuscript was laid aside in the drawers of an old
writing desk, which, on my first coming to reside at Abbotsford in
1811, was placed in a lumber garret, and entirely forgotten. Thus,
though I sometimes, among other literary avocations, turned my
thoughts to the continuation of the romance which I had commenced,
yet, as I could not find what I had already written, after searching
such repositories as were within my reach, and was too indolent to
attempt to write it anew from memory. I as often laid aside all
thoughts of that nature."

The success of Miss Edgeworth's delineations of Irish life, and the
author's completion of Mr. Strutt's romance of _Queen Hoo Hall_, in
1808, again drew his attention to _Waverley_. Accident threw the lost
sheets in his way, while searching an old writing-desk for some
fishing-tackle for a friend. The long-lost manuscript presented
itself, and "he immediately set to work to complete it, according to
his original purpose." Among other unfounded reports, it has been
said, that the copyright was, during the book's progress through the
press, offered for sale to various booksellers in London at a very
inconsiderable price. This was not the case. Messrs. Constable and
Cadell, who published the work, were the only persons acquainted with
the contents of the publication, and they offered a large sum for it,
while in the course of printing, which, however, was declined, the
author not choosing to part with the copyright. Waverley was published
in 1814: its progress was for some time slow, but, after two or three
months its popularity began to spread, and, in a short time about
12,000 copies were disposed of. The name of the author was kept secret
from his desire to publish the work "as an experiment on the public
taste. Mr. Ballantyne, who printed the novel, alone corresponded with
the author; the original manuscript was transcribed under Mr.
Ballantyne's eye, by confidential persons; nor was there an instance
of treachery during the many years in which these precautions were
resorted to, although various individuals were employed at different
times. Double proof sheets were regularly printed off. One was
forwarded to the author by Mr. Ballantyne, and the alterations which
it received were, by his own hand, copied upon the other proof-sheet
for the use of the printers, so that even the corrected proofs of the
author were never seen in the printing-office; and thus the curiosity
of such eager inquirers as made the most minute investigation was
entirely at fault."[11]

[11] Abridged from the General Preface, &c.


The success of _Waverley_ led to the production of that series of
works, by which the author established himself "as the greatest master
in a department of literature, to which he has given a lustre
previously unknown;--in which he stands confessedly unrivalled, and
not approached, even within moderate limits, except, among
predecessors, by Cervantes, and among contemporaries, by the author of
_Anastasius_." We shall merely enumerate these works, with the date of
their publication, and, as a point of kindred interest, the sums for
which the original manuscripts, in the hand-writing of Sir Walter,
were sold in the autumn of last year. Of the merits of these
productions it would be idle to attempt to speak in our narrow space;
but, for a finely graphic paper, (probably the last written previously
to the author's death,) on the literary claims of Sir Walter Scott, as
a novelist, we may refer the reader to No. 109 of the _Edinburgh

Year of Orig. MS.
Publication. sold in
Novels. Vols. 1831, for
L. s.
Waverley 3 1814 18 0
Guy Mannering 3 1815 27 10
The Antiquary* 3 1816 42 0
Tales of My Landlord 4 1st ser. 1816 33 0
Rob Roy* 3 1818 50 0
Tales of My Landlord 4 2nd ser. 1818
Tales of My Landlord 4 3rd ser. 1819 14 14
Ivanhoe 3 1820 12 0
The Monastery* 3 1820 18 18
The Abbot 3 1820 14 0
Kenilworth 3 1821 17 0
The Pirate 3 1822 12 0
The Fortunes of Nigel 3 1822 16 16
Peveril of the Peak* 3 1823 42 0
Quentin Durward 3 1823
St. Ronan's Well 3 1824
Redgauntlet 3 1824
Tales of the Crusaders 4 1825
Woodstock 3 1826
Chronicles of the Canongate 2 1st ser. 1827
Chronicles of the Canongate 3 2nd ser. 1828
Anne of Gerstein 3 1829
Tales of My Landlord 4 4th ser. 1831

Making in all, 73 volumes, within 17 years.
(Those marked * were alone perfect.)


To particularize Sir Walter's contributions to periodical literature
would occupy considerable space. He wrote a few papers in the early
numbers of the _Edinburgh Review_, and several in the _Quarterly
Review_, especially during the last ten volumes of that journal, of
which his son-in-law, Mr. Lockhart, is the accredited editor. Sir
Walter likewise contributed the articles Chivalry, Drama, and Romance
to the sixth edition of the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_. _Paul's
Letters to his Kinsfolk_, the fruits of Sir Walter's tour through
France and Belgium, in 1815, were published anonymously; and the
_Field of Waterloo_, a poem, appeared about the same time. We may also
here mention his dramatic poem of _Halidon Hill_, which appeared in
1822; and two dramas, _the Doom of Devergoil_ and _Auchindrane_, in
1830--neither of which works excited more than temporary attention.
Sir Walter likewise contributed a _History of Scotland_, in two
volumes, to Dr. Lardner's _Cabinet Cyclopaedia_, in 1830; and in the
same year a volume on _Demonology and Witchcraft_, to Mr. Murray's
_Family Library_: both which works, of course, had a circulation
co-extensively with the series of which they form portions. We may
here notice a juvenile History of Scotland, in three series, or nine
volumes, under the title of _Tales of a Grandfather_, affectionately
addressed to his grandchild, the eldest son of Mr. Lockhart, as Hugh
Littlejohn, Esq.


The large sums received by Sir Walter for the copyright of his earlier
works had enabled him to expend nearly one hundred thousand pounds
upon Abbotsford, so as to make it his "proper mansion, house, and
home, the theatre of his hospitality, the seat of self-fruition, the
comfortablest part of his own life, the noblest of his son's
inheritance, a kind of private princedom, and, according to the degree
of the master, decently and delightfully adorned."[12] Here Sir Walter
lived in dignified enjoyment of his well-earned fortune, during the
summer and autumn, and was visited by distinguished persons from
nearly all parts of the world. He unostentatiously opened his treasury
of relics to all visitors, and his affability spread far and wide. He
usually devoted three hours in the morning, from six or seven o'clock,
to composition, his customary quota being a sheet daily. He passed the
remainder of the day in the pleasurable occupations of a country
life--as in superintending the improvements of the mansion, and the
planting and disposal of the grounds of Abbotsford; or, as Walpole
said of John Evelyn, "unfolding the perfection of the works of the
Creator, and assisting the imperfection of the minute works of the
creature;" so as to render Abbotsford as Evelyn describes his own dear
Wotton, "large and ancient (for there is an air of assumed antiquity
in Abbotsford), suitable to those hospitable times, and so sweetly
environed with those delicious streams and venerable woods, as in the
judgment of strangers as well as Englishmen, it may be compared to one
of the most pleasant seats in the nation, most tempting to a great
person and a wanton purse, to render it conspicuous: it has rising
grounds, meadows, woods, and water in abundance."[13]

[12] Sir Henry Wootton's _Elements of Architecture_.

[13] Evelyn's _Diary_.

In 1820, the poet of _Marmion_ was created a baronet, by George IV.,
but a few weeks after his accession--it being the first baronetcy
conferred by the King, and standing alone in the _Gazette_ which
announced the honour. In 1822, Sir Walter distinguished himself in the
loyal reception of the King, on his visit to Scotland; and soon
afterwards the Baronet was appointed a deputy-lieutenant for the
county of Roxburgh.


Thus stood the "pure contents" of Abbotsford, when, in January, 1826,
the failure of Messrs. Constable threw a gloom over Sir Walter's
affairs. The eminent publisher had been one of his earliest friends.
"Archie Constable," he once said, "was a good friend to me long ago,
and I will never see him at a loss." The sums given by Mr. Constable
for the copyright of Sir Walter's novels were nominally immense; but
they were chiefly paid in bills, which were renewed as the necessities
of the publisher increased, till, on his failure, Sir Walter found
himself responsible for various debts, amounting to 102,000_l_. About
this time Lady Scott died, and her loss was an additional affliction
to him. Various modes of settlement were proposed to Sir Walter for
the liquidation of these heavy debts; but, "like the elder
Osbaldistone of his own immortal pages, considering commercial honour
as dear as any other honour," he would only consent to payment _in
full_; and, in the short space of six years, he paid off 60,000_l._
"by his genius alone; but he crushed his spirit in the gigantic
struggle, or, in plain words, sacrificed himself in the attempt to
repair his broken fortunes." He sold his house and furniture in
Edinburgh, and, says Chambers, "retreated into a humble lodging in a
second-rate street (St. David-street, where David Hume had formerly
lived.)" He reduced his establishment at Abbotsford, and retired, as
far as his official duties would permit, from public life, accompanied
only by his younger daughter. In this domestic retreat, at fifty-five
years of age, he commenced


--visiting France, in 1826, for some information requisite to the
work. In the following summer the _Life_ appeared in nine volumes, an
extent much beyond the original project. As might be expected, from
the aristocratical turn of Sir Walter's political tenets, the opinions
on this work were more various than on any other of his productions:
it is, to say the best, the most faulty and unequal of them all; and,
considering how clearly this has been shown, it is somewhat surprising
to hear so clever a critic as Mr. Cunningham pronounce _The Life of
Napoleon_ as "one of the noblest monuments of Scott's genius." We pass
from these considerations to the excellence of the purpose to which
the proceeds (12,000_l._) of this work were applied--namely, to the
payment of 6_s._ 8_d._ in the pound, as the first dividend of the
debts of the author.

In parting with the _Napoleon_, we might notice the conflicting
opinions of the French critics on its merits; but, as that task would
occupy too much space we content ourselves with the following passage
from a journal published a few days subsequent to the melancholy
intelligence of the death of Sir Walter Scott being received in Paris.
The criticism is in every sense plain-spoken:--

"If Sir Walter Scott's politics did not square with the natural state
of things--if upon this subject he still remained the victim of early
prejudices, and, perhaps, of the predilections of a poetical mind, yet
he was fortunate enough to promote, by his writings, the real
improvement of the people. France has reason to reproach him severely
for the unaccountable statements in his "Paul's Letters to his
Kinsfolk," and in the "History of Bonaparte." But those errors were
imputable to carelessness much more than to malice. A prose writer, a
poet, a novelist--he yielded, during his long and laborious career, to
the impulse of a fancy, rich, copious, and entirely independent of
present circumstances, aloof from the agitations of the day,
delighting in the memory of the past, and drawing from the surviving
relics of ancient times the traditionary tale, to revive and embellish
it. He was one of those geniuses in romance who may be said to have
been impartial and disinterested, for he gave a picture of ordinary
life exactly as it was. He painted man in all the varieties produced
in his nature by passion and the force of circumstances, and avoided
mixing up with these portraits what was merely ideal. Persons gifted
with this power of forgetting themselves, as it were, and of assuming
in succession an infinite series of varied characters, who live,
speak, and act before us in a thousand ways that affect or delight us,
such men are often susceptible of feelings the most ardent on their
own account, although they may not directly express as much. It is
difficult to believe that Shakspeare and Moliere, the noblest types of
this class of exalted minds, did not contemplate life with feelings of
deep and, perhaps, melancholy emotion. It was not so, however, with
Scott, who certainly belonged not to their kindred, possessing neither
the vigour of combination, nor the style which distinguished those
men. Of great natural benevolence, gentle and kind, ardent in the
pursuit of various knowledge, accommodating himself to the manners and
sentiments of his day, good-humoured, and favoured by happy
conjunctures of circumstances, Scott came forth under the most
brilliant auspices, accomplishing his best and most durable works
almost without an effort, and without impressing on these productions
any sort of character which would connect them with the personal
character of the author. If he be represented, indeed, in any part of
his writings, it is in such characters as that of Morton (one of the
Puritans), a sort of ambiguous, undetermined, unoffending, good sort
of person."


Up to this period, the secret of the authorship of the novels was not
generally known, though more extensively so than was at the time
imagined. The public had made up their minds to the fact; but the
identity was _not proven_. The adjustment of Messrs. Constable's
affairs, however, rendered it impossible longer to conceal the
authorship, which was revealed by Sir Walter, at the anniversary
dinner of the Edinburgh Theatrical Fund, in February, 1827. Thus he
acknowledged before three hundred gentlemen "a secret which,
considering that it was communicated to more than twenty people, had
been remarkably well kept." His avowal was as follows:--

"He had now to say, however, that the merits of these works, if they
had any, and their faults, were entirely imputable to himself." [Here
the audience broke into an absolute shout of surprise and delight.]
"He was afraid to think on what he had done. 'Look on't again I dare
not.' He had thus far unbosomed himself, and he knew that it would be
reported to the public. He meant, then, seriously to state, that when
he said he was the author, he was the total and undivided author. With
the exception of quotations, there was not a single word written that
was not derived from himself, or suggested in the course of his
reading. The wand was now broken, and the rod buried. His audience
would allow him further to say, with Prospero, 'Your breath has filled
my sails.'"

The copyright of the novels was soon afterwards sold for 8,400_l._,
and they have since been republished, with illustrations, and notes
and introductions by the author, in forty-one volumes, monthly; the
last volume appearing within a few days of the author's death.


Towards the close of 1830, Sir Walter retired from his office,
retaining a portion of his salary, but declining a pension which had
been offered to him by the present administration. He was now in his
60th year; his health broke apace; it was evident that the task of
writing to pay off debts, which were not of his own contracting, was
alike too severe for his mental and physical powers; and in the
succeeding winter they became gradually paralyzed. He somewhat rallied
in the spring, and, unfortunately for his health, embroiled himself in
the angry politics of the day, at a county meeting at Jedburgh, upon
the Reform question. He was then very feeble, but spoke with such
vehemence as to draw upon him the hisses of some of his auditors: this
ebullition of feeling is said to have much affected him; and he is
stated (we know not how truly) to have been observed on his way home
in tears.

In the autumn of last year Sir Walter, at the recommendation of his
physicians, resolved to winter in the more congenial climate of Italy;
though it required the most earnest entreaties of his friends to
induce him to consent to the change, so strong was his love of country
and apprehension of dying in a foreign land. He accordingly set sail
in H.M.S. the Barham for Malta, on the 27th of October; previous to
which he appended to the Fourth and Last Series of _Tales of my
Landlord_ the following affecting, and, as we lately observed, almost
prophetic, passage:

"The gentle reader is acquainted that these are, in all probability,
the last tales which it will be the lot of the author to submit to the
public. He is now on the eve of visiting foreign parts; a ship of war
is commissioned by its royal master, to carry the Author of Waverley
to climates in which he may readily obtain such a restoration of
health as may serve him to spin his thread to an end in his own
country. Had he continued to prosecute his usual literary labours, it
seems indeed probable that, at the term of years he has already
attained, the bowl, to use the pathetic language of Scripture, would
have been broken at the fountain; and little can one, who has enjoyed
on the whole, an uncommon share of the most inestimable of worldly
blessings, be entitled to complain, that life, advancing to its
period, should be attended with its usual proportion of shadows and
storms. They have affected him, at least, in no more painful manner,
than is inseparable from the discharge of this part of the debt of
humanity. Of those whose relations to him in the ranks of life, might
have insured their sympathy under indisposition, many are now no more;
and those who may yet follow in his wake, are entitled to expect, in
bearing inevitable evils, an example of firmness and patience, more
especially on the part of one who has enjoyed no small good fortune
during the course of his pilgrimage.

"The public have claims on his gratitude, for which the Author of
Waverley has no adequate means of expression; but he may be permitted
to hope that the powers of his mind, such as they are, may not have a
different date from his body; and that he may again meet his
patronizing friends, if not exactly in his old fashion of literature,
at least in some branch which may not call forth the remark, that--

"Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage."

Sir Walter resided at Malta for a short time; thence he proceeded to
Naples, where he was received with almost pageant honours. In the
spring he visited Rome; but "the world's chief ornament" had few
charms for one bereft of all hope of healthful recovery. His strength
was waning fast, and he set out to return with more than prudent speed
to his native country. He travelled seventeen hours for six successive
days, and, in descending the Rhine, had a second attack of paralysis
which would have carried him off but for the timely presence of mind
of his servant, who immediately bled him. The illustrious Goethe had
looked forward with great pleasure to the meeting with Sir Walter when
he returned through Germany, but the destroyer had fell also on him.
On his arrival in London, Sir Walter was conveyed to the St. James's
Hotel, Jermyn-street, and attended by Sir Henry Halford and Dr.
Holland, with Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart. He lay some weeks in a hopeless
condition, and when the flame of life was just flickering out, he
entreated to be conveyed to his own home. The journey was a hazardous
one, but, as the dying wish of the poet, was tried and effected: on
July 9th, he was conveyed to Edinburgh, whence he was removed to his
fondly-cherished home on the 11th.


Sir Walter's return to Abbotsford was an afflicting scene. On
approaching the mansion he could scarcely be kept from attempting to
raise himself in his carriage, such was his eagerness to catch a
glimpse of his home: he murmured, on his arrival, "that _now_ he knew
he was at Abbotsford." He lingered for two months, during which he
recognised and spoke kindly to friends, and was even pleased in
listening to passages read from the poems of Crabbe and Wordsworth:
till, on September 21st, 1832, he died, apparently free from pain, and
surrounded by his family.


His remains were placed in a coffin of lead, enclosed in another
coffin covered with black cloth, and gilt ornaments. The inscription
plate bore the words, "SIR WALTER SCOTT, of ABBOTSFORD, Bart. AN.
AETAT. 62." The funeral took place at Dryburgh, amidst the ruins of
the venerable abbey, at night-fall, on Sept. 25th; the body being
borne from the hearse to the grave by his domestics, and followed by
upwards of 300 mourners. A Correspondent has furnished us with the
subjoined note of the funeral.

It has been remarked that at the grave, the burial service of the
Episcopal Church was read by a clergyman of the Church of England (the
Rev. John Williams, of Baliol College, Oxford, Rector of the Edinburgh
Academy, and Vicar of Lampeter), although Sir Walter through life
adhered to the persuasion of the Presbyterian or Church of Scotland.
In Scotland no prayers are offered over the dead; when the mourners
assemble in the house of the deceased, refreshments are handed round,
previous to which a blessing is implored, (as at meals,) and _then_
only the minister alludes to the bereavement the family have suffered,
and strength and grace are implored to sustain them under it. This
gratuitous custom was adhered to, and previous to the funeral
_cortege_ setting out from Abbotsford, the Rev. Principal Baird,
offered up a prayer. But although a Presbyterian in practice, Sir
Walter in several parts of his works expressed his dissent from
several of the rigid canons of that Church, and an example occurs in
that graphic scene in _the Antiquary_, the funeral group of _Steenie
Mucklebacket_, where "the creak of the screw nails announced that the
lid of the last mansion of mortality was in the act of being secured
above its tenant. The last act which separates us for ever from the
mortal relicks of the person we assemble to mourn has usually its
effect upon the most indifferent, selfish, and hard-hearted:" and he
adds in condemnation, "With a spirit of contradiction which we may be
pardoned for esteeming narrow-minded, the fathers of the Scottish Kirk
rejected even on this most solemn occasion the form of an address to
the Divinity, lest they should be thought to give countenance to the
ritual of Rome or of England." And he seizes the opportunity to
applaud the liberal judgment of the present Scottish clergymen who
avail themselves of the advantage of offering a prayer, suitable to
make an impression on the living.

The scenery around his burial-place is fraught with melancholy
associations--enshrined as have been its beauties by him that now
sought a bourn amidst them. It had been the land of his poetical
pilgrimage: through its "bosomed vales" and alongside its "valley
streams" his genius had journeyed with untiring energy, then to spread
abroad its stores for the gratification of hundreds of thousands, who
may about his grave

Make dust their paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.

--Only let us glance at a few of the storied sites that are to be seen
around this hallowed spot: at Melrose, with antique pillar and ruins

Was ever scene so sad and fair.

Eildon Hill, where Sir Walter said he could stand and point out
forty-three places famous in war and verse;[14] and above all, the
tower of Smailholm Castle, where once "his careless childhood
strayed,"--the _Alpha_ of his poetic fame.

[14] Cunningham.


Sir Walter Scott had two sons and two daughters. The elder daughter,
Sophia Charlotte, was married, April 28, 1820, to Mr. John Gibson
Lockhart, advocate, editor of the _Quarterly Review_. The eldest son,
Walter, who has succeeded to the baronetcy, is now in his
thirty-second year, and Major of the 15th or King's Hussars. In 1825,
he married Jane, daughter and sole heiress of John Jobson, Esq., an
opulent Scottish merchant, with which lady, report affirmed at the
time, Major Scott received a fortune of 60,000_l_. The estate of
Abbotsford was also settled by Sir Walter upon the young pair; but, as
the owner is stated not to have been at this time in a state of
solvency, though he thought himself so, and his estate now proves to
be encumbered with heavy debts, the deed of entail, of course, becomes
invalid, and the paternal property must be sold by the creditors of
the estate. There is, however, ample reason to hope that such a step
will be averted, by the gratitude of the public, and that Abbotsford
will be preserved for the family. The younger son, Charles, who is, we
believe, a junior clerk in the Foreign Office, is unmarried; as is the
younger daughter, Anne. The death of Lady Scott occurred May 15, 1826.
Mrs. Lockhart's children are as yet the only descendants of Sir Walter
in the second generation.


The reader may be somewhat familiar with the personal appearance of
Sir Walter Scott, through the several portraits which have from time
to time been painted and engraved of the illustrious Baronet. His
height is stated at upwards of six feet; and his frame was strongly
knit, and compactly built. His right leg was shrunk from his boyhood,
and required support by a staff. Mr. Cunningham describes the personal
habits of Sir Walter with his usual characteristic force: "his arms
were strong and sinewy; his looks stately and commanding; and his
face, as he related a heroic story, flushed up as a crystal cup when
one fills it with wine. His eyes were deep seated under his somewhat
shaggy brow;[15] their colour was a bluish grey--they laughed more
than his lips did at a humorous story. His tower-like head and thin,
white hair marked him out among a thousand, while any one might swear
to his voice again who heard it once, for it had a touch of the lisp
and the burr; yet, as the minstrel said, of Douglas, 'it became him
wonder well,' and gave great softness to a sorrowful story: indeed, I
imagined that he kept the burr part of the tone for matters of a
facetious or humorous kind, and brought out the lisp part in those of
tenderness or woe. When I add, that in a meeting of a hundred men, his
hat was sure to be the least, and would fit no one's head but his own,
I have said all that I have to say about his appearance."[16]

[15] Mr. Chambers describes Sir Walter's eyebrows as so shaggy
and prominent, that, when he was reading or writing at a
table, they _completely_ shrouded the eyes beneath; and
the Ettrick Shepherd speaks of Sir Walter's shaggy
eyebrows dipping deep over his eyes.

[16] One of the amusements of Sir Walter's retirement was to
walk out frequently among his plantations at Abbotsford,
with a small hatchet and hand-saw, with which he lopped
off superfluous boughs, or removed an entire tree when it
was marring the growth of others. The author of
_Anastasius_ delighted in a similar pursuit; he would
stroll for hours through the winding walks of the
Deepdene plantation, and with a small hatchet or shears
lop off the luxuriant twigs or branches that might spoil
the trim neatness of the path.

Among the accredited portraits of Sir Walter Scott is that painted by
the late Sir Henry Raeburn, which has been engraved in a handsome
style; another portrait, by Mr. Leslie, was engraved in the
_Souvenir_, a year or two since, and was styled in the Noctes of
_Blackwood's Magazine_, "the vera man himsel;" but the latest, and
perhaps the best, was painted not many month's since, by Mr. Watson
Gordon, and admirably engraved by Horsburgh, of Edinburgh, for the
revised edition of the Novels. A whole-length portrait of the Poet in
his Study, at Abbotsford, was painted a few years since, in masterly
style, by Allan, and engraved by Goodall for the _Anniversary_, edited
by Mr. Cunningham, who informs us that "a painting is in progress from
the same hand, showing Sir Walter as he lately appeared--lying on a
couch in his principal room: all the windows are closed save one,
admitting a strong central light, and showing all that the room
contains--in deep shadow, or in strong sunshine." A splendid portrait
of the Poet was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence for the late King, and
exhibited at the Royal Academy a few years since; an engraving of
which has been announced by Messrs. Moon, Boys, and Graves, his
present Majesty having graciously granted the loan of the picture for
this purpose.[17]

[17] A portrait of Sir Walter was painted by Knight for the
late Mr. Terry, in the year 1825: it is described in the
_Literary Gazette_ as, "particularly excellent," and was
unfortunately destroyed a short time since by a fire at
the house of Mr. Harding, Finchley, in whose possession
it was. This portrait, it is feared, has not been
engraved.--See _Literary Gazette_, No. 819.

[Illustration: (_Sir Walter Scott.--Sketched by Mr. W.H. Brooke, from
the engraving by Horsburgh._)]


Report states that there are in the library of Abbotsford, unfinished
manuscripts and letters, which will compose ten volumes of
correspondence of Sir Walter with nearly all the distinguished
literary characters of his time. These will, of course, be given to
his creditors, as directed by his will. His son-in-law, Mr. Lockhart,
has likewise a great number of letters from Sir Walter; and Mrs. Terry
possesses the baronet's correspondence with the late Mr. Terry, who
was one of Sir Walter's intimate friends. This lady has likewise in
her possession a tragedy written by Sir Walter for her eldest son,
Walter Scott Terry, and intended by the author as a legacy for
Walter's first appearance on the stage.

With such materials, and the poet's autobiographical sketches prefixed
to his works, a competent biographer will, doubtless, be found among
Sir Walter's personal acquaintance. Mr. Allan Cunningham's "Account"
is, perhaps, the most characteristic that has yet appeared: it is full
of truth, nature, kindly feeling, and tinged throughout with a
delightfully poetic enthusiasm. Mr. Ballantyne, the intelligent
printer of nearly the whole of Sir Walter's works, and whom the Poet
much respected for his taste and good sense, has promised a memoir of
the deceased. Public expectation, however, points more decidedly to
Mr. Lockhart; although the Ettrick Shepherd will, doubtless, pay his
announced tribute to the talents and virtues of his illustrious
contemporary. In his Reminiscences of Former Days, prefixed to the
first volume of the _Altrive Tales_, published a few months since, is
the following striking passage:--"There are not above five people in
the world who, I think, know Sir Walter better, or understand his
character better than I do; and if I outlive him, which is likely, as
I am five months and ten days younger, I shall draw a mental portrait
of him, the likeness of which to the original shall not be

[18] Hogg is indebted to Sir Walter for many valuable
suggestions of subjects for his ballads, &c. There is
touching gratitude in the following lines by the
Shepherd, in his dedication of the _Mountain Bard_ to

Bless'd be his generous heart for aye;
He told me where the relic lay;
Pointed my way with ready will,
Afar on Ettrick's wildest hill;
Watch'd my first notes with curious eye,
And wonder'd at my minstrelsy:
He little ween'd a parent's tongue
Such strains had o'er my cradle sung.


A handsome Medal, in bronze, of the lamented Baronet, has been
published from the establishment of Mr. Parker, (medallist, and the
originator of some ingenious improvements in the construction of
lamps), in Argyle-place. The obverse is from Chantrey's celebrated
Bust of Sir Walter, and the reverse a graceful female figure, with the
inscription, "to great men;"--designed by R. Stothard, Esq., the
venerable Academician, and engraved by his son, A.J. Stothard, Esq.
The profile of the obverse is encircled with a motto chosen by Sir
Walter, as will be seen by the following letter; the date of which
shows that the medal was submitted to his approbation some months
since, together with a medal of his present Majesty. The letter is
likewise treasurable,[19] as well for the writer's opinion of the
Monarch, as of the productions of his own pen:--

[19] First printed in the _Literary Gazette,_ No. 819.

"Sir,--I would long ere now have answered your very obliging letter
with the medals. That representing our Sovereign seems most
beautifully executed, and is a striking resemblance. I have very
little turn for imagining mottos, it being long since I read the
classics, which are the great storehouse of such things. I think that
a figure or head of Neptune upon the reverse, with the motto round the
exergue, _Tridens Neptuni sceptrum mundi_. I think this better than
any motto more personally addressed to the King himself than to his
high kingly office. I cannot, of course, be a judge of the other
medal; but such of my family as are with me think it very like. If
there is any motto to be added, I should like the line

"Bardorum citharas patrio qui redidit Istro.

"because I am far more vain of having been able to fix some share of
public attention upon the ancient poetry and manners of my country,
than of any original efforts which I have been able to make in

"I beg you will excuse the delay which has taken place. Your obliging
communication, with the packet which accompanied it, travelled from
country to town, and from town to country, as it chanced to miss me
upon the road.

"I have the honour to be, sir, your obliged, humble servant,


"Edinburgh, 29th May.

"Samuel Parker, Esq., Bronze Works,

"12, Argyle-place, London."

The likeness of the medal is strikingly correct; and Mr. Parker, with
becoming taste, causes an autograph copy of the letter to be delivered
with each medal.

The deference of the latter opinion conveyed in this letter is perhaps
one of the most delightful characteristics of the genius of Sir Walter
Scott,--especially if we admit the position of the writer in the
_Edinburgh Review,_ that no writer has ever enjoyed in his life-time
so extensive a popularity as the Author of Waverley. His love of
fame and acquisition of honourable distinction all over the world had
not the common effect of making him vain. Hear, in proof, the
following unassuming declaration, from the delightful autobiographic
sketch to a late edition of _Rokeby_:--

"I shall not, I believe, be accused of ever having attempted to usurp
a superiority over many men of genius, my contemporaries; but, in
point of popularity, not of actual talent, the caprice of the public
has certainly given me such a temporary superiority over men, of whom,
in regard to poetical fancy and feeling, I scarcely thought myself
worthy to loose the shoe-latch. On the other hand, it would be absurd
affectation in me to deny, that I conceived myself to understand more
perfectly than many of my contemporaries, the manner most likely to
interest the great mass of mankind. Yet, even with this belief, I must
truly and fairly say, that I always considered myself rather as one
who held the bets, in time to be paid over to the winner, than as
having any pretence to keep them in my own right."

Mr. Cunningham well observes--"Though the most accomplished author of
his day, yet he had none of the airs of authorship." He continues--"He
was a proud man; not a proud poet, or historian, or novelist." His was
the pride of ancestry--a weakness, to be sure, but of a venial nature:
"he loved to be looked on as a gentleman of old family, who _built
Abbotsford_, and laid out its garden, and planted its avenues, rather
than a genius, whose works influenced mankind, and diffused happiness
among millions." His own narrative will best illustrate his labours of
leisure at Abbotsford. He writes of that period which men familiarly
call _the turn of life_:--"With the satisfaction of having attained
the fulfilment of an early and long-cherished hope, I commenced my
improvements, as delightful in their progress as those of the child
who first makes a dress for a new doll. The nakedness of the land was
in time hidden by woodlands of considerable extent--the smallest
possible of cottages was progressively expanded into a sort of dream
of a mansion-house, whimsical in the exterior, but convenient within.
Nor did I forget what was the natural pleasure of every man who has
been a reader--I mean the filling the shelves of a tolerably large
library. All these objects I kept in view, to be executed as
convenience should serve; and although I knew many years should elapse
before they could be attained, I was of a disposition to comfort
myself with the Spanish proverb, 'Time and I against any two.'"

* * * * *

*** In the preceding account we have purposely abstained from
reference to the position of the affairs of Sir Walter Scott, from our
inability to obtain any decisive information on the subject. The most
pleasing and the latest intelligence will be found in the _Morning
Chronicle_ of Thursday, wherein it is stated that the prospects of the
family of Sir Walter are much better than have been represented. "We
are assured that there are funds sufficient to cover all his debts,
without touching Abbotsford. In the Biography of Allan Cunningham, it
was stated that there would only be a balance due to his creditors of
21,000_l_. But Mr. Cadell, the bookseller, has undertaken to pay
20,000_l._ for the publication of the remainder of his works, on the
plan which had been so far proceeded in. This will clear off all the
claims. A near relative of Lady Scott left 60,000_l._ to the children
of Sir Walter, to which, of course, they are entitled; and the eldest
son received a large fortune with his wife. The public, therefore, are
spared the pain of knowing that the family of one to whom they are so
largely indebted, are left in a state of destitution."--We hope this
statement is as correct as it is gratifying.

[Illustration: (_Dryburgh Abbey._)]

* * * * *

_Printed and published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, (near Somerset
House,) London._


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