discover the true setting of some mighty current: they are the buoyant driftwood which betrays the hidden communication of two great poetic oceans.”

I conclude with re-quoting a fragment from one of the quaint tracts of Sir Thomas Urquhart. The following is the epigraph of Mr Adolphus's 5th Letter:

“ O with how great liveliness did he represent the conditions of all manner of men ! - From the overweening monarch to the peevish swaine, through all intermediate degrees of the superficial courtier or proud warrior, dissembling churchman, doting old man, cozening lawyer, lying traveler, covetous merchant, rude seaman, pedantick scolar, the amorous shepheard, envious artisan, vain-glorious master and tricky servant; - He had all the jeers, squibs, flouts, buls, quips, taunts, whims, jests, clinches, gybes, mokes, jerks, with all the several kinds of equivocations and other sophistical captions, that could properly be adapted to the person by whose representation he intended to inveagle the company into a fit of mirth!”

I have it not in my power to produce the letter in which Scott conveyed to Heber his opinion of this work. I know, however, that it ended with a request that he should present Mr Adolphus with his thanks for the handsome terms in which his poetical efforts had been spoken of throughout, and request him, in the name of the author of Marmion, not to revisit Scotland without reserving a day for Abbotsford; and the Eidolon of the author of Waverley was made, a few months afterwards, to speak as folVOL. VL

B b

lows in the Introduction to the Fortunes of Nigel :

“ These letters to the member for the University of Oxford show the wit, genius, and delicacy of the author, which I heartily wish to see engaged on a subject of more importance; and show, besides, that the preservation of my character of incognito has engaged early talent in the discussion of a curious question of evidence. But a cause, however ingeniously pleaded, is not therefore gained. You may remember the neatly-wrought chain of circumstantial evidence, so artificially brought forward to prove Sir Philip Francis's title to the Letters of Junius, seemed at first irrefragable; yet the influence of the reasoning has passed away, and Junius, in the general opinion, is as much unknown as ever. But on this subject I will not be soothed or provoked into saying one word more. To say who I am not, would be one step towards saying who I am ; and as I desire not, any more than a certain Justice of Peace mentioned by Shenstone, the noise or report such things make in the world, I shall continue to be silent on a subject which, in my opinion, is very undeserving the noise that has been made about it, and still more unworthy of the serious employment of such ingenuity as has been displayed by the young letter-writer."*

* See Waverley Novels, vol. xxvi. p. 34.


New Buildings at AbbotsfordChiefswoodWil

liam Erskine - Letter to Countess Purgstall Progress of the PiratePrivate Letters in the Reign of James 1.Commencement of the Fortunes of NigelSecond Sale of Copyrights Contract for Four Works of FictionEnormous profits of the Novelist, and extravagant projects of Constable The Pirate published - Lord Byron's Cain, dedicated to Scott -Affair of the Beacon Newspaper - Franck's Northern Memoirs, and Notes of Lord Fountainhall, published.


When Sir Walter returned from London, he brought with him the detailed plans of Mr Atkinson for the completion of his house at Abbotsford ; which, however, did not extend to the gateway or the beautiful screen between the court and the garden — for these graceful parts of the general design were conceptions of his own, reduced to shape by the skill of the Messrs Smith of Darnick. It would not, indeed, be easy for me to apportion rightly the constituent members of the whole edifice;— throughout there were numberless consultations with Mr Blore, Mr Terry, and Mr Skene, as well as with Mr Atkinson -and the actual builders placed considerable inventive talents, as well as admirable workmanship, at the service of their friendly employer. Every preparation was now made by them, and the foundations might have been set about without farther delay; but he was very reluctant to authorize the demolition of the rustic porch of the old cottage, with its luxuriant overgrowth of roses and jessamines; and, in short, could not make up his mind to sign the deathwarrant of this favourite bower until winter had robbed it of its beauties. He then made an excursion from Edinburgh, on purpose to be present at its downfall — saved as many of the creepers as seemed likely to survive removal, and planted them with his own hands about a somewhat similar porch, erected expressly for their reception, at his daughter Sophia's little cottage of Chiefswood.

There my wife and I spent this summer and autumn of 1821—the first of several seasons, which will ever dwell on my memory as the happiest of my life. We were near enough Abbotsford to partake as often as we liked of its brilliant society; yet could

do so without being exposed to the worry and exhaustion of spirit which the daily reception of new comers entailed upon all the family except Sir Walter himself. But, in truth, even he was not always proof against the annoyances connected with such a style of open-house-keeping. Even his temper sunk sometimes under the solemn applauses of learned dulness, the vapid raptures of painted and periwigged dowagers, the horse-leech avidity with which underbred foreigners urged their questions, and the pompous simpers of condescending magnates. When sore beset at home in this way, he would every now and then discover that he had some very particular business to attend to on an outlying part of his estate, and craving the indulgence of his guests overnight, appear at the cabin in the glen before its inhabitants were astir in the morning. The clatter of Sibyl Grey's hoofs, the yelping of Mustard and Spice, and his own joyous shout of reveillée under our windows, were the signal that he had burst his toils and meant for that day to “ take his ease in his inn.” On descending, he was to be found seated with all his dogs and ours about him, under a spreading ash that overshadowed half the bank between the cottage and the brook, pointing the edge of his woodman's axe for himself, and listening to Tom Purdie's lecture touching the plantation that most needed thinning. After breakfast, he would take possession of a dressing-room up stairs, and write a chapter of The

« ElőzőTovább »