much pleased to hear, that your officers are, many of them, men of moderate fortune, and disposed to be economical. I had thought of £200 as what would suit us both, but when I see the account which you very properly keep, I shall be better able to determine. It must be considered that any uncommon expense, as the lose of a horse or the like, may occasion an extra draught over and above the allowance. I like very much your methodical arrangement as to expenses; it is rather a tiresome thing at first to keep an accompt of pounds, shillings, and pence, but · it is highly necessary, and enables one to see how the money actually goes. It is, besides, a good practical way of keeping up acquaintance with arithmetic, and you will soon find that the principles on which all military movements turn are arithmetical, and that though one may no doubt learn to do them by rote, yet to understand them, you must have recourse to numbers. Your adjutant will explain this to you. By the way, as he is a foreigner, you will have an opportunity to keep up a little of your French and German. Both are highly necessary to you ; the knowledge of the last, with few other qualifications, made several officers' fortunes last war.

“ I observe with pleasure you are making acquaintances among the gentry, which I hope you will not drop for want of calling, &c. I trust you have delivered all your recommendations, for it is an affront to omit doing so, both to the person who writes them, and those for whom they are designed. On the other hand, one always holds their head a little better up in the world when they keep good society. Lord and Lady Melville are to give you recommendations when you go to Dublin. I was at Melville Castle for two days, and found them both well. I was also one day at Langholm lodge to meet Lord Montagu. Possibly, among your Irish friends, you may get some shooting. I shall be glad you avail yourself of any such opportunities, and also that, when you get your own horses, you hunt in the winter, if you be within the reach of hounds. Nothing confirms a man in horsemanship so well as hunting, though I do not recommend it to beginners, who are apt to learn to ride like grooms. Besides the exercise, field-sports make a young soldier acquainted with the country, and habituate him to have a good eye for distance and for taking up the carte du pays in general, which is essential to all, but especially to officers of light troops, who are expected to display both alertness and intelligence in reporting the nature of the country, being in fact the eyes of the army. In every point of view, field-sports are preferable to the indoors' amusement of a billiard-table, which is too often the lounging - place for idle young officers, where there is nothing to be got but a habit of throwing away time, and an acquaintance with the very worst society -- I mean at public billiard-rooms —for unquestionably the game itself is a pretty one, when practised among gentlemen, and not made a constant habit of. But public billiard - tables are almost always the resort of black-legs and sharpers, and all that numerous class whom the French call chevaliers d'industrie, and we knights of the whipa ping-post.

“ I am glad you go to the anatomical lectures. An acquaintance with our own very extraordinary frame is a useful branch of general knowledge, and as you have some turn for drawing, it will also enable you to judge of the proper mode of disposing the limbs and muscles of your figures, should you prosecute the art so far. In fact, there is no branch of study can come much amiss to a young man, providing he does study, and very often the precise occupation of the time must be trusted to taste and opportunity.

“ The White Boys made a great noise when I was a boy. But Ireland (the more is the pity) has never been without White Boys, or Right Boys, or Defenders, or Peep-of-day Boys, or some wild association or another for disturbing the peace of the country. We shall not be many degrees. better if the Radical reformers be not checked. The Manchester Yeomen behaved very well, upsetting the most immense crowd ever was seen, and notwithstanding the lies in the papers, without any unnecessary violence. Mr Hunt pretends to have had several blows on his head with sabres, but has no wound to show for it. I am disposed to wish he had got such

a one as once on a day I could have treated him to. I am apt to think his politic pate would have broached no more sedition.

“ Miss Rutherford and Eliza Russell are now with us. We were also favoured with a visit of the Miss

s, who are rather empty canisters, though I dare say very good girls. Anne tired of them most inhospitably. Mrs Maclean Clephane and her two unmarried daughters are now here; being, as we say, pears of another tree. Your sisters seem very fond of the young ladies, and I am glad of it, for they will see that a great deal of accomplishment and information may be completely reconciled with liveliness, fun, good-humour, and good-breeding.

“ All here send love. Dogs and cat are well. I dare say you have heard from some other correspondent that poor Lady Wallace died of an inflammation, after two days' illness. Trout * has returned here several times, poor fellow, and seems to look for you; but Henry Scott is very kind to him, and he is a great favourite.

“ As you Hussars smoke, I will give you one of my pipes, but you must let me know how I can send it safely. It is a very handsome one, though not my best. I will keep my Meer-schaum until I make my continental tour, and then you shall have that also. I hope you will get leave for a few months, and go with me. Yours very affectionately,

* Lady Wallace was a pony; Trout a favourite pointer which the Cornet had given, at leaving home, to the young Laird of Harden, now the Master of Polwarth.


About this time, as the succeeding letters will show, Abbotsford had the honour of a short visit from Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, now King of the Belgians. Immediately afterwards Scott heard of the death of Mrs William Erskine, and repaired to Edinburgh, to condole with his afflicted friend.* His allusions meanwhile, to views of buying more land on Tweedside, are numerous. These speculations are explained in a most characteristic style to the Cornet; and we see that one of them was cut short by the tragical death of a bonnet-laird already introduced to the reader's notice— namely, Lauchis Longlegs, the admired of Geoffrey Crayon.

To Cornet Walter Scott, 18th Hussars, Cork.

“ Abbotsford, 27th Sept. 1819. “ My Dear Walter,

“ Your letter of the 10th gave me the pleasant assurance that you are well and happy, and attending to your profession. We have been jogging on here in the old fashion, somewhat varied by an un, expected visit, on Friday last, from no less a person

* For Scott's Epitaph for Mrs Erskine, see his Poetical Works (Edition 1834), vol. xi. p. 347.

« ElőzőTovább »