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than Prince Leopold. I conclude you will have all the particulars of this important event from the other members of the family, so I shall only say that when I mentioned the number of your regiment, the Prince said he had several friends in the 18th, and should now think he had one more, which was very polite. By the way, I hear an excellent character of your officers for regularity and gentlemanlike manners. This report gives me great pleasure, for to live in bad society will deprave the best manners, and to live in good will improve the worst.
“ I am trying a sort of bargain with neighbour Nicol Milne at present. He is very desirous of parting with his estate of Faldonside, and if he will be contented with a reasonable price, I am equally desirous to be the purchaser. I conceive it will come to about £30,000 at least. I will not agree to give a penny more; and I think that sum is probably £2000. and more above its actual marketable value. But then it lies extremely convenient for us, and would, joined to Abbotsford, make a very gentlemanlike property, worth at least £1800 or £2000 a-year. I can command about £10,000 of my own, and if I be spared life and health, I should not fear rubbing off the rest of the price, as Nicol is in no hurry for payment. As you will succeed me in my landed property, I think it right to communicate my views to you. I am much moved by the prospect of getting at about £2000 or £3000 worth of marle, which
lies on Milne's side of the loch, but which can only be drained on my side, so that he can make no use of it. This would make the lands of Abbotsford worth 40s. an acre over-head, excepting the sheep farm. I am sensible I might dispose of my money to more advantage, but probably to none which, in the long run, would be better for you— certainly to none which would be productive of so much pleasure to myself. The woods are thriving, and it would be easy, at a trifling expense, to restore Faldonside loch, and stock it with fish. In fact, it would require but a small dam-head. By means of a little judicious planting, added to what is already there, the estate might be rendered one of the most beautiful in this part of Scotland. Such are my present plans, my dear boy, having as much your future welfare and profit in view as the immediate gratification of my own wishes.
“ I am very sorry to tell you that poor Mrs William Erskine is no more. She was sent by the medical people on a tour to the lakes of Cumberland, and was taken ill at Lowood, on Windermere. Nature, much exhausted by her previous indisposition, sunk under four days’ illness. Her husband was with her, and two of her daughters—he is much to be pitied.
“ Mr Rees, the bookseller, told me he had met you in the streets of Cork, and reported well of the growth of your Schnurr-bart. I hope you know what that means. Pray write often, as the post comes so
slow. I keep all your letters, and am much pleased with the frankness of the style. No word of your horses yet ? but it is better not to be impatient, and to wait for good ones. I have been three times on Newark, and killed six hares each time. The two young dogs are capital good.
“ I must not omit to tell you our old, and, I may add, our kind neighbour Lauchie, has departed, or, as Tom expresses it, has been fairly flytten out o' the warld. You know the old quarrel betwixt his brother and him about the wife—in an iH-fated hour Jock the brother came down to Lochbreist with a sister from Edinburgh, who was determined to have her share of the scolding-match; they attacked poor old Lauchie like mad folks, and reviled his wife in all sort of evil language. At length his passion was wrought up to a great pitch, and he answered with much emotion, that if she were the greatest in Edinburgh, it was not their business, and as he uttered this speech, he fell down on his back, and lay a dead man before them. There is little doubt the violence of the agitation had broke a blood-vessel in the heart or brain. A very few days since he was running up and down calling for a coffin, and wishing to God he was in one; to which Swanston,* who was present, answered, he could not apply to a better hand, and he would make him one if he had a mind. He has left a will of his own making, but from some informality I think it will be set aside. His land cannot come into the market until his girl comes of age, which, by the way, makes me more able for the other bargain. **** The blackcocks are very plenty. I put up fourteen cocks and hens in walking up the Clappercleuch to look at the wood. Do you not wish you had been on the outside with your gun? Tom has kept us well supplied with game; he boasts that he shot fifteen times without a miss. I shall be glad to hear that you do the same on Mr Newenham's grounds. Mamma, the girls, and Charles, all join in love and affection. Believe me ever, dear Walter, Your affectionate father,
* John Swanston had then the care of the saw-mill at Toftfield; he was one of Scott's most valued dependants, and in the sequel succeeded Tom Purdie as his henchman.
“ To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c. &c.
“ Abbotsford, 3d October 1819. « My Dear Lord,
“ I am honoured with your Buxton letter. ... Anent Prince Leopold, I only heard of his approach at eight o'clock in the morning, and he was to be at Selkirk by eleven. The magistrates sent to ask me to help them to receive him. It occurred to me he might be coming to Melrose to see the Abbey, in which case I could not avoid asking him to Abbotsford, as he must pass my very door. I men
tioned this to Mrs Scott, who was lying quietly in bed, and I wish you had heard the scream she gave on the occasion. What have we to offer him?'
Wine and cake,' said I, thinking to make all things easy; but she ejaculated, in a tone of utter despair, • Cake!! where am I to get cake? However, being partly consoled with the recollection that his visit was a very improbable incident, and curiosity, as usual, proving too strong for alarm, she set out with me in order not to miss a peep of the great man. James Skene and his lady were with us, and we gave our carriages such additional dignity as a pair of leaders could add, and went to meet him in full puff. The Prince very civilly told me, that, though he could not see Melrose on this occasion, he wished to come to Abbotsford for an hour. New despair on the part of Mrs Scott, who began to institute a domiciliary search for cold meat through the whole city of Selkirk, which produced one shoulder of cold lamb. In the meanwhile, his Royal Highness received the civic honours of the BIRSE* very graciously. I had hinted to Bailie Lang, † that it ought only to be licked symbolically on the present occasion ; so he flourished it three times before his mouth, but without touching it with his lips, and the Prince followed his example as directed. Lang
* See ante, Vol. V. p. 122.
+ Scott's good friend, Mr Andrew Lang, Procurator-fiscal for Selkirkshire, was then chief magistrate of the county town.