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patriotic and excellent manner in which it has always been exerted. In which character I subscribe myself ever yours truly, WALTER Scott.”
I believe, at the time when the foregoing letter was written, Scott and Miss Edgeworth had never met. The next was addressed to a gentleman whose acquaintance the poet had formed when collecting materials for his edition of Swift. On that occasion Mr Hartstonge was of great service to Scott—and he appears to have paid him soon afterwards a visit at Abbotsford. Mr Hartstonge was an amiable and kind-hearted man, and enthusiastically devoted to literature; but his own poetical talents were undoubtedly of the sort that finds little favour either with gods or columns. He seems to have written shortly before this time to enquire about his old acquaintance's health.
“ To Matthew Weld Hartstonge, Esq., Molesworth
“ Abbotsford, July 21, 1819. “ My Dear Sir,
.......“ Fortunately at present my system is pretty strong. In the mean while my family are beginning to get forwards. Walter—(you remember my wading into Cauldshields loch to save his little frigate from wreck)— is now a Cornet of six feet two inches in your Irish 18th Hussars; the regiment is now at Cork, and will probably be next removed to Dublin, so you will see your old friend with a new face; be-furred, be-feathered, and be-whiskered in the highest military ton. I have desired him to call upon you, should he get to Dublin on leave, or come there upon duty. I miss him here very much, for he was my companion, gamekeeper, &c. &c., and when one loses one's own health and strength, there are few things so pleasant as to see a son enjoying both in the vigour of hope and promise. Think of this, my good friend, and as you have kind affections to make some good girl happy, settle yourself in life while you are young, and lay up by so doing, a stock of domestic happiness, against age or bodily decay. There are many good things in life, whatever satirists and misanthropes may say to the contrary, but probably the best of all, next to a conscience void of offence (without which, by the by, they can hardly exist), are the quiet exercise and enjoyment of the social feelings, in which we are at once happy ourselves, and the cause of happiness to them who are dearest to us.
“ I have no news to send you from hence. The addition to my house is completed with battlement and bartisan, but the old cottage remains hidden among creepers, until I shall have leisure-i.e. time and money — to build the rest of my mansion -which I will not do hastily, as the present is amply
sufficient for accommodation. Adieu, my dear sir; never reckon the degree of my regard by the regularity of my correspondence, for besides the vile diseases of laziness and procrastination, which have always beset me, I have had of late both pain and languor sufficient to justify my silence. Believe me, however, always most truly yours,
The first letter the young Cornet received from his father after mounting his “ rattle-traps" was the following:
“ To Cornet Walter Scott, 18th Hussars, Cork.
“ Abbotsford, Aug. 1, 1819. “ Dear Walter,
“I was glad to find you got safe to the hospitable quarters of Piccadilly, and were put on the way of achieving your business well and expeditiously. You would receive a packet of introductory letters by John Ballantyne, to whom I addressed them.
“ I had a very kind letter two days ago from your Colonel.* Had I got it sooner it would have saved some expense in London, but there is no help for it now. As you are very fully provided with all these appointments, you must be particular in taking care of them, otherwise the expense of replacing them will be a great burden. Colonel Murray seems disposed to show you much attention. He is, I am told, rather a reserved man, which indeed is the manner of his family. You will, therefore, be the more attentive to what he says, as well as to answer all advances he may make to you with cordiality and frankness; for if you be shy on the one hand, and he reserved on the other, you cannot have the benefit of his advice, which I hope and wish you may gain. I shall be guided by his opinion respecting your allowance: he stipulates that you shall have only two horses (not to be changed without his consent), and on no account keep a gig. You know of old how I detest that mania of driving wheel-barrows up and down, when a man has a handsome horse and can ride him. They are both foolish and expensive things, and, in my opinion, are only fit for English bagmen—therefore gig it not, I pray you.
* The then commandant of the 18th Hussars was Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. Henry Murray, brother to the Earl of Mansfield.
“ In buying your horses you will be very cautious. I see Colonel Murray has delicacy about assisting you directly in the matter - for he says very truly that some gentlemen make a sort of traffic in horseflesh—from which his duty and inclination equally lead him to steer clear. But he will take care that you don't buy any that are unfit for service, as in the common course they must be approved by the commandant as chargers. Besides which, he will probably give you some private hints, of which avail yourself, as there is every chance of your needing much advice in this business. Two things I preach on my own experience:- 1st, Never to buy an aged horse, however showy. He must have done work, and, at any rate, will be unserviceable in a few years. 2dly, To buy rather when the horse is something low in condition, that you may the better see all his points. Six years is the oldest at which I would purchase. You will run risk of being jockeyed by knowing gentlemen of your own corps parting with their experienced chargers to oblige you. Take care of this. Any good-tempered horse learns the dragoon duty in wonderfully short time, and you are rider enough not to want one quite broke in. Look well about you, and out into the country. Excellent horses are bred all through Munster, and better have a clever young one than an old regimental brute foundered by repeated charges and bolts. If you see a brotherofficer's horse that pleases you much, and seems reasonable, look particularly how he stands on his forelegs, and for that purpose see him in the stable. If he shifts and shakes a little, have nothing to say to him. This is the best I can advise, not doubting you will be handsomely excised after all. The officer who leaves his corps may be disposing of good horses, and perhaps selling reasonable. One who continues will not, at least should not, part with a good horse without some great advantage.