« ElőzőTovább »
Mr Wordsworth that same evening of the 22d September:
“ A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain,
Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light
Rokeby - London—Epitaph on Helen Walker
Portsmouth — Voyage in the Barham – Graham's Island — Letter to Mr Skene -- Malta Notes by Mrs John Davy.
SEPT.— DEC. 1831.
Early on the 23d of September, Sir Walter left Abbotsford, attended by his daughter Anne, and myself, and we reached London by easy stages on the 28th, having spent one day at Rokeby. I have nothing to mention of this journey except that, notwithstanding all his infirmities, he would not pass any object to which he had ever attached special interest, without getting out of the carriage to revisit it. His anxiety (for example) about the gigantic British or Danish effigy in the churchyard at Penrith, which we had all seen dozens of times before, seemed as great as if not a year had fled since 1797. It may be supposed that his parting with Mr Morritt was a grave one. Finding that he had left the ring he then usually wore behind him at one of the inns on the road, he wrote to his friend to make enquiries after it, as it had been dug out of the ruins of Hermitage Castle, and probably belonged of yore to one of the “ Dark Knights of Liddesdale ;” and if recovered, to keep it until he should come back to reclaim it, but, in the meantime, to wear it for his sake. The ring, which is a broad belt of silver, with an angel holding the Heart of Douglas, was found, and is now worn by Mr Morritt.
Sir Walter arrived in London in the midst of the Lords' debates on the second Reform bill, and the ferocious demonstrations of the populace on its rejection were in part witnessed by him. He saw the houses of several of the chief Tories, and above all, that of the Duke of Wellington, shattered and almost sacked. He heard of violence offered to the persons of some of his own noble friends; and having been invited to attend the christening of the infant heir of Buccleuch, whose godfather the King had proposed to be, on a day appointed by his Majesty, he had the pain to understand that the ceremony must be adjourned, because it was not considered safe for his Majesty to visit, for such a purpose, the palace of one of his most amiable as well as illustrious peers.
The following is part of a letter which I lately received from Sir Walter's dear friend and kinsman, Mr Scott of Gala : - “ The last time I saw Sir W. Scott was in Sussex Place, the day after he arrived from Scotland, on his way to Italy. I was prepared for a change in his appearance, but was not struck with so great a one as I had expected. He evidently had lost strength since I saw him at Abbotsford the previous autumn, but his eye was good. In his articulation, however, there was too manifest an imperfection. We conversed shortly, as may be supposed, on his health. Weakness,' he observed, “ was his principal complaint.' I said that I supposed he had been rather too fatigued with his journey to leave the house since his arrival. “Oh no,' he replied, “I felt quite able for a drive to-day, and have just come from the city. I paid a visit to my friend Whittaker to ask him for some book of travels likely to be of use to me on my expedition to the Mediterranean. Here's old Brydone accordingly, still as good a companion as any he could recommend. “A very agreeable one certainly,' I replied. — Brydone' (said he) * was sadly failed during his latter years. Did you ever hear of his remark on his own works?' — • Never.'—Why, his family usually read a little for his amusement of an evening, and on one occasion he was asked if he would like to hear some of his travels to Sicily. He assented, and seemed to listen with much pleasure for some time, but he was too
far gone to continue his attention long, and starting up from a doze exclaimed, “ That's really a very amusing book, and contains many curious anecdotes
- I wonder if they are all true.”' — Sir Walter then spoke of as strange a tale as any traveller could imagine -- a new volcanic island, viz. which had appeared very lately—and seemed anxious to see it, “if it would wait for him,' he said. The offer of a King's ship had gratified him, and he ascribed this very much to the exertions of Basil Hall: “ That curious fellow,' said he, “ who takes charge of every one's business without neglecting his own, has done a great deal for me in this matter.' - I observed that Malta would interest him much. The history of the knights, their library, &c., he immediately entered on keenly. —“I fear I shall not be able to appreciate Italy as it deserves,' continued he, as I understand little of painting, and nothing of music. — “ But there are many other subjects of interest,' I replied, and to you particularly — Naples, St Elmo, Pæstum, La Montagna, Pompeii — in fact, I am only afraid you may have too much excitement, the bad effects of which I, as an invalid, am too well aware of.' — I had before this, from my own experience, ventured several hints on the necessity of caution with regard to over-exertion, but to these he always lent an unwilling ear.
“ Sir Walter often digressed during our conver