Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

been admired as a fine one, the light of it sets down amid mists and storms. I neither regret nor fear the approach of death, if it is coming. I would compound for a little pain instead of this heartless muddiness of mind. The expense of this journey, &c. will be considerable; yet these heavy burdens could be easily borne if I were to be the Walter Scott I

but the change is great. And the ruin which I fear involves that of my country. Well says Colin Mackenzie

once was

Shall this Desolation strike thy towers alone?

No, fair Ellandonan! such ruin 'twill bring,
That the whirl shall have power to unsettle the throne,

And thy fate shall be link'd with the fate of thy king.'

We arrived in London after a long journey — the weakness of my limbs palpably increasing, and the medicine prescribed making me weaker every day. Lockhart, poor fellow, is as attentive as possible, and I have, thank God, no pain whatever; could the decay but be so easy at last, it would be too happy. But I fancy the instances of Euthanasia are not in very serious cases very common. Instances there certainly are among the learned and the unlearned Dr Black, Tom Purdie. I should like, if it pleased God, to slip off in such a quiet way; but we must

* See Ballad of Ellandonan Castle in the Minstrelsy.-Poetical Works, vol. iv. p. 361.

take what fate sends. I have not warm hopes of being myself again.

October 12. — Lord Mahon, a very amiable as well as clever young man, comes to dinner with Mr Croker, Lady Louisa Stuart, and Sir John Malcolm. Sir John told us a story about Garrick and his wife. The lady admired her husband greatly, but blamed him for a taste for low life, and insisted that he loved better to play Scrub to a low - lifed audience than one of his superior characters before an audience of taste. On one particular occasion she was at her box in the theatre. Richard III. was the performance, and Garrick's acting, particularly in the night-scene, drew down universal applause. After the play was over, Mrs G. proposed going home, which Garrick declined, alleging he had some business in the greenroom which must detain him. In short, the lady was obliged to acquiesce, and wait the beginning of a new entertainment, in which was introduced a farmer giving his neighbours an account of the wonders seen in a visit to London. This character was received with such peals of applause that Mrs Garrick began to think it exceeded those which had been so lately lavished on Richard the Third. At last she observed her little spaniel dog was making efforts to get towards the balcony which separated him from the facetious farmer and then she became aware of the truth. • How strange,' he said, "that a dog should know his master, and a woman, in the same circumstances should not recognise her husband !'

October 16.- A pleasant breakfast at Roehampton, where I met my good friend Lord Sidmouth. On my 'way back, I called to see the repairs at Lambeth, which are proceeding under the able direction of Blore, who met me there. They are in the best Gothic taste, and executed at the expense of a large sum, to be secured by way of mortgage payable in fifty years, each incumbent within the time paying a proportion of about £4000 a-year. I was pleased to see this splendour of church architecture returning again,

October 18. Sophia had a small but lively party last night, as indeed she has had every night since we were here — Lady Stafford, Lady Louisa Stuart, Lady Montagu, Miss Montagu, Lady Davy, Mrs M-Leod, and her girls - Lord Montagu, Macleod, Lord Dudley, Rogers, Mackintosh. A good deal of singing."

Sir Walter seemed to enjoy having one or two friends to meet him at dinner - and a few more in the evenings. Those named in the last entries came all of them frequently and so did Lord Melville, the

Bishop of Exeter, Lord Ashley, Sir David Wilkie, Mr Thomas Moore, Mr Milman, and Mr Washington Irving. At this time the Reform Bill for Scotland was in discussion in the House of Commons. Mr Croker made a very brilliant. speech in opposition to it, and was not sorry to have it said, that he had owed his inspiration, in no small degree, to having risen from the table at which Scott sat by his side. But the most regular of the evening visiters was, I think, Sir James Mackintosh. He was himself in very feeble health ; and whatever might have been the auguries of others, it struck me that there was uppermost with him at every parting the anticipation that they might never meet again. Sir James's kind assiduity was the more welcome, that his appearance banished the politics of the hour, on which his old friend's thoughts were too apt to brood. Their conversation, wherever it might begin, was sure to fasten ere long on Lochaber.

When last in Edinburgh, Scott had given his friend William Burn, architect, directions to prepare at his expense a modest monument, for the grave of Helen Walker, the original of Jeanie Deans, in the churchyard of Irongrey. Mr Burn now informed him that the little pillar was in readiness, and on the 18th October Sir Walter sent him this beautiful inscription for it:

THIS STONE WAS ERECTED

BY THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY

TO THE MEMORY

OF

HELEN WALKER,
WHO DIED IN THE YEAR OF GOD, 1791.

THIS HUMBLE INDIVIDUAL

PRACTISED IN REAL LIFE

THE VIRTUES

WITH WHICH FICTION HAS INVESTED

THE IMAGINARY CHARACTER OF

JEANIE DEANS;

REFUSING THE SLIGHTEST DEPARTURE

FROM VERACITY,
EVEN TO SAVE THE LIFE OF A SISTER,
SHE NEVERTHELESS SHOWED HER

KINDNESS AND FORTITUDE,

IN RESCUING HER FROM THE SEVERITY OF THE LAW,

AT THE EXPENSE OF PERSONAL EXERTIONS

WHICH THE TIME RENDERED AS DIFFICULT

AS THE MOTIVE WAS LAUDABLE.

RESPECT THE GRAVE OF POVERTY

WHEN COMBINED WITH LOVE OF TRUTH

AND DEAR AFFECTION.

It was on this day also that he completed the preface for his forthcoming Tales; and the conclusion is so remarkable that I must copy it:

“ The gentle reader is acquainted, that these are, in all probability, the last tales which it will be the lot of the Author to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »