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MEMOIRS

OF THE

LIFE OF SIR WALTER SCOTT.

CHAPTER LXXIX.

Winter at Abbotsford - Parliamentary Reform in

agitation William Laidlaw-John Nicolson Mrs Street - Fit of Apoplexy in November Count Robert of Paris --A Fourth Epistle of Malagrowther written and suppressed Unpleasant discussions with Ballantyne and Cadell

- Novel resumed - Second Dividend to Creditors, and their gift of the Library, 8c. at Abbotsford Last Will executed in Edinburgh Fortune's Mechanism-Letter on Politics to the

Hon. H. F. Scott -- Address for the County of VOL. X.

Selkirk written and rejected by the Freeholders- County Meeting at Jedburgh-Speech on Reform - Scott insulted Mr F. Grants Portrait.

OCT. 1830 — APRIL 1832.

The reader has already seen that Sir Walter had many misgivings in contemplating his final retirement from the situation he had occupied for sixand-twenty years in the Court of Session. Such a breach in old habits is always a serious experiment; but in his case it was very particularly so, because it involved his losing, during the winter months, when men most need society, the intercourse of almost all that remained to him of dear familiar friends. He had besides a love for the very stones of Edinburgh, and the thought that he was never again to sleep under a roof of his own in his native city, cost him many a pang. But he never alludes either in his Diary or in his letters (nor do I remember that he ever did so in conversation) to the circumstance which, far more than all besides, occasioned care and regret in the bosom of his family. However he might cling to the notion that his recent ailments sprung merely from a disordered stomach, they had dismissed that dream, and the heaviest of their thoughts was, that he was fixing himself in the country just when his health, perhaps his life, might depend any given hour on the immediate presence of a surgical hand. They reflected that the only medical practitioner resident within three miles of him might, in case of another seizure, come too late, even although the messenger should find him at home ; but that his practice extended over a wide range of thinly peopled country, and that at the hour of need he might as probably be half a day's journey off as at Melrose. We would fain have persuaded him that his library, catalogues, and other papers, had fallen into such confusion, that he ought to have some clever young student in the house during the winter to arrange them; and had he taken the suggestion in good part, a medical student would of course have been selected. But, whether or not he suspected our real motive, he would listen to no such plan; and his friendly surgeon (Mr James Clarkson) then did the best he could for us, by instructing a confidential domestic, privately, in the use of the lancet. This was John Nicolson — a name never to be mentioned by any of Scott's family without respect and gratitude. He had been in the household from his boyhood, and was about this time (poor Dalgleish retiring from weak health) advanced to the chief place in it. Early and continued kindness had made a very deep impression on this fine handsome young man's warm heart; he possessed intelligence, good sense, and a calm tem

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