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mate is increased at every reperusal. Heber says there are only two men in the world-Walter Scott and Lord Byron. Between you, you have given existence to a THIRD. Ever your faithful servant, "JOHN MURRAY."
The author's answer to his publisher, which we must needs give in due order, displays that peculiar skill which he had of preserving a kind of demi-transparent cloud around his paternity. His motto was not fairly stat nominis umbra, for some curious and interested eyes peered through the shadow, as through a glass darkly. His epistle deserves reverence as a pattern of the equivocal :
"To John Murray, Esq., Albemarle street, London.
"EDINBURGH, 18th December, 1816. "My dear sir,-I give you heartily joy of the success of the Tales, although I do not claim that paternal interest in them which my friends do me the credit to assign me. I assure you I have never read a volume of them until they were printed, and can only join with the rest of the world in applauding the true and striking portraits which they present of old Scotish manners. I do not expect implicit reliance to be placed on my disavowal, because I know very well that he who is disposed not to own a work must necessarily deny it, and that otherwise his secret would be at the mercy of all who chose to ask the question, since silence in such a case must always pass for consent, or rather assent. But I have a mode of convincing you that I am perfectly serious in my denialpretty similar to that by which Solomon distinguished the fictitious from the real mother-and that is, by reviewing the work, which I take to be an operation equal to that of quartering the child. But this is only on condition I can have Mr. Erskine's assistance, who admires the work greatly more than I do, though I think the painting of the second tale both true and powerful. I knew Old Mortality very well; his name was Paterson, but few knew him otherwise than by his nickname. The first tale is not very original in its concoction, and lame and impotent in its conclusion. My love to Gifford. I have been over head and ears in work this summer, or I would have sent the Gypsies; indeed I was partly stopped by finding it impossible to procure a few words of their language.
"Constable wrote to me about two months since, desirous of having a new edition of Paul; but not hearing from you, I conclude you are still on hand. Longman's people had then only sixty copies.
"Kind compliments to Heber, whom I expected at Abbotsford_this summer; also to Mr. Croker and all your four o'clock visiters. I am just going to Abbotsford to make a small addition to my premises there. I have now about seven hundred acres, thanks to the booksellers and the discerning public. Yours truly, WALTER SCOTT.
"P S.-I have much to ask about Lord Byron, if I had time. The third canto of the Childe is inimitable. Of the last poems, there are one or two which indicate rather an irregular play of imagination. What a pity that a man of such exquisite genius will not be contented to be happy on the ordinary terms! I declare my heart bleeds when I think of him, self-banished from the country to which he is an honour."
We would fain dwell upon those delightful digressions by
which Mr. Lockhart constantly varies his biography, and solaces the mind of his readers-but we must pursue the thread which binds our laurel bouquet together, ere it prove interminable.
The literary triumphs of Scott had not as yet fully contented his spirit. He looked forward to his future labours with a teeming mind; and a desire for the best opportunities to carry out his views prompted him to address the ensuing note to a distinguished and noble countryman:
"To the Duke of Buccleuch, &c. &c.
"EDINBURGH, 11th December, 1816. "My dear lord duke,-Your grace has been so much my constant and kind friend and patron through the course of my life, that I trust I need no apology for thrusting upon your consideration some ulterior views which have been suggested to me by my friends, and which I will either endeavour to prosecute, time and place serving, or lay aside all thoughts of, as they appear to your grace feasible, and likely to be forwarded by your patronage. It has been suggested to me, in a word, that there would be no impropriety in my being put in nomination as a candidate for the situation of a baron of exchequer, when a vacancy shall take place. The difference of the emolument between that situation and those which I now hold, is just £400 a year, so that, in that point of view, it is not a very great object. But there is a difference in the rank, and also in the leisure afforded by a baron's situation; and a man may, without condemnation, endeavour, at my period of life, to obtain as much honour and ease as he can handsomely come by. My pretensions to such an honour (next to your grace's countenancing my wishes) would rest very much on the circumstance that my nomination would vacate two good offices (clerk of session and sheriff of Selkirkshire) to the amount of £1000 and £300 a year; and, besides, would extinguish a pension of £300 which I have for life, over and above my salary as clerk of session, as having been in office at the time when the judicature act deprived us of a part of our vested fees and emoluments. The extinction of this pension would be just so much saved to the public. I am pretty confident also that I should be personally acceptable to our friend the chief baron. But whether all or any of these circumstances will weigh much in my favour, must solely and entirely rest with your grace, without whose countenance it would be folly in me to give the matter a second thought. With your patronage, both my situation and habits of society may place my hopes as far as any who are likely to apply; and your interest would be strengthened by the opportunity of placing some good friend in Selkirkshire, besides converting the Minstrel of the Clan into a baron-a transmutation worthy of so powerful and kind a chief. But, if your grace thinks I ought to drop thoughts of this preferment, I am bound to say that I think myself as well provided for by my friends and the public as I have the least title to expect, and that I am perfectly contented and grateful for what I have received. Ever your grace's faithful and truly obliged servant, WALTER SCOTT."
This negotiation proved abortive; and we find no indication that it was a subject of after-regret to the applicant. He had better things in store. Rob Roy was on the tapis. We cannot
resist the presentation of the following scraps of business diplomacy :
"To Mr. John Ballantyne, Hanover street, Edinburgh.
"ABBOTSFORD, Monday, [April, 1817.] "Dear John,-I have a good subject for a work of fiction in petto. What do you think Constable would give for a smell of it? You ran away without taking leave the other morning, or I wished to have spoken to you about it. I don't mean a continuation of Jedediah, because there might be some delicacy in putting that by the original publishers. You may write if any thing occurs to you on this subject. It will not interrupt my History. By the way, I have a great lot of the Register ready for delivery, and no man asks for it. I shall want to pay up some cash at Whitsunday, which will make me draw on my brains. Yours truly, 'W. SCOTT.'
"To the same.
"ABBOTSFORD, Saturday, May 3, 1817. "Dear John-I shall be much obliged to you to come here with Constable on Monday, as he proposes a visit, and it will save time. By the way, you must attend that the usual quantity of stock is included in the arrangement-that is £600 for 6000 copies. My sum is £1700 payable in May-a round advance, by'r Lady, but I think I was entitled to it, considering what I have twined off hitherto on such occasions.
"I make a point on your coming with Constable, health allowing. Yours truly. W. S.'
"The result of this meeting is indicated in a note scribbled by John Ballantyne at the bottom of the foregoing letter, before it was seen by his brother the printer.
"Half-past 3 o'clock, Tuesday. "Dear James,—I am this moment returned from Abbotsford, with entire and full success. Wish me joy. I shall gain above £600-Constable taking my share of stock also. The title is Rob Roy-by the author of Waverley!!! Keep this letter for me.
"On the same page there is written, in fresher ink, which marks, no doubt, the time when John pasted it into his collection of private papers now before me-'N. B.—I did gain above £1200.-J. B.'"
His retreat at Abbotsford was visited by many distinguished persons, attracted thither by the fame which rendered its location "a Mecca of the mind." Among those who tarried for a while, during the summer and autumn of 1817, were Washington Irving and Lady Byron. "Scott," says his biographer, "had received the History of New York by Knickerbocker,' shortly after its appearance in 1812, from an accomplished American traveller, Mr. Brevoort; and the admirable humour of this early work had led him to anticipate the brilliant career which its author has since run. Mr. Thomas Campbell being no stranger to Scott's high estimation of Irving's genius, gave him a letter of introduction, which, halting his chaise on the high-road above Abbotsford, he modestly sent down to the house with a card, on which he had written, that he was on
his way to the ruins of Melrose, and wished to know whether it would be agreeable to Mr. Scott to receive a visit from him in the course of the morning.' Scott's family well remember the delight with which he received the announcement-he was at breakfast, and sallied forth instantly, dogs and children after bim as usual, to greet the guest, and conduct him in person from the highway to the door. The account of Irving's reception, and the whereabout of his host, are admirably told in his Sketch of Abbotsford." To ourselves, who have had opportunities of appreciating the delightful society of Irving, the inference is clear that the period he passed with Scott could not have been more prolific of enjoyment to himself than to his celebrated friend.
Time and space would fail to quote what we desire from the work before us. We cannot resist the inclination, however, to give the following exquisite stanzas, composed in the fall of 1817, which remind us of the melody of Burns' lyre. Of them, Mr. Lockhart observes :--
"They mark the very spot of their birth-namely, the then naked height overhanging the northern side of the Cauldshiels Loch, from which Melrose Abbey to the eastward, and the hills of Ettrick and Yarrow to the west, are now visible over a wide range of rich woodland-all the work of the poet's hand :
'The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill,
In Ettrick's vale, is sinking sweet;
'With listless look along the plain
The hill, the stream, the tower, the tree-
Or is the dreary change in me?
Alas! the warp'd and broken board,
Were barren as this moorland hill.""
Other Americans, beside Irving, visited Scott. Of these, in a
letter to Southey, he speaks thus:
"To Robert Southey, Esq., Keswick, Cumberland.
"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 health 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 permananent, 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 eldest 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 attachment 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 wellaccomplished 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 strength of a team of horses, I could never have fought through it, and through the heavy fire of medical artillery, scarcely 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 has been, in all its private and public relations, as fortunate perhaps as ever was lived, up to this period; and whether pain or misfortune may lie behind the dark curtain of futurity, I am already a sufficient debtor to the bounty of Providence to be resigned to it. Fear