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ing Tom Purdie about trees. A few times also, I am sorry to say, we could perceive that his fancy was at Jedburgh — and Burk Sir Walter escaped bim in a melancholy tone. But commonly whatever we could follow him in was a fragment of the Bible (especially the Prophecies of Isaiah, and the Book of Job)—or some petition in the litany - or a verse of some psalm (in the old Scotch metrical version) — or of some of the magnificent hymns of the Romish ritual, in which he had always delighted, but which probably hung on his memory now in connexion with the Church services he had attended while in Italy. We very often heard distinctly the cadence of the Dies Iræ; and I think the very last stanza that we could make out, was the first of a still greater favourite:
“ Stabat Mater dolorosa,
Juxta crucem lachrymosa,
All this time he continued to recognise his daughters, Laidlaw, and myself, whenever we spoke to him
—and received every attention with a most touching thankfulness. Mr Clarkson, too, was always saluted with the old courtesy, though the cloud opened but a moment for him to do so. Most truly might it be said that the gentleman survived the genius.
After two or three weeks had passed in this way, I was obliged to leave Sir Walter for a single day, and go into Edinburgh to transact business, on his account, with Mr Henry Cockburn (now Lord Cockburn), then Solicitor - General for Scotland. The Scotch Reform Bill threw a great burden of new duties and responsibilities upon the Sheriffs ; and Scott's Sheriff-substitute, the Laird of Raeburn, not having been regularly educated for the law, found himself incompetent to encounter these novelties, especially as regarded the registration of voters, and other details connected with the recent enlargement of the electoral franchise. Under such circumstances, as no one but the Sheriff could appoint another Substitute, it became necessary for Sir Walter's family to communicate the state he was in in a formal manner to the Law Officers of the Crown; and the Lord Advocate (Mr Jeffrey), in consequence, introduced and carried through Parliament a short bill (2 and 3 William IV. cap. 101), authorizing the Government to appoint a new Sheriff of Selkirkshire, “ during the incapacity or non-resignation of Sir Walter Scott.” It was on this bill that the Solicitor-General had expressed a wish to converse with me: but there was little to be said, as the temporary nature of the new appointment gave no occasion for any pecuniary question; and, if that had been otherwise, the circumstances of the case would have rendered Sir Walter's family entirely indifferent upon such a sub
ject. There can be no doubt, that if he had recovered in so far as to be capable of executing a resignation, the Government would have considered it just to reward thirty-two years' faithful services by a retired allowance equivalent to his salary-and as little that the Government would have had sincere satisfaction in settling that matter in the shape most acceptable to himself. And perhaps (though I feel that it is scarcely worth while) I may as well here express my regret that a statement highly unjust and injurious should have found its way into the pages of some of Sir Walter's preceding biographers. These writers have thought fit to insinuate that there was a want of courtesy and respect on the part of the Lord Advocate, and the other official persons connected with this arrangement. On the contrary, nothing could be more handsome and delicate than the whole of their conduct in it; Mr Cockburn could not have entered into the case with greater feeling and tenderness, had it concerned a brother of his own; and when Mr Jeffrey introduced his bill in the House of Commons, he used language so graceful and touching, that both Sir Robert Peel and Mr Croker went across the House to thank him cordially for it.
Perceiving, towards the close of August, that the end was near, and thinking it very likely that Abbotsford might soon undergo many changes, and myself, at all events, never see it again, I felt a desire
to have some image preserved of the interior apartments as occupied by their founder, and invited from Edinburgh for that purpose Sir Walter's dear friend, William Allan— whose presence, I well knew, would even under the circumstances of that time be nowise troublesome to any of the family, but the contrary in all respects. Mr Allan willingly complied, and executed a series of beautiful drawings.* He also shared our watchings, and witnessed all but the last moments. Sir Walter's cousins, the ladies of Ashestiel, came down frequently, for a day or two at a time; and did whatever sisterly affections could prompt, both for the sufferer and his daughters. Miss Mary Scott (daughter of his uncle Thomas), and Mrs Scott of Harden, did the like.
As I was dressing on the morning of Monday the 17th of September, Nicolson came into my room, and told me that his master had awoke in a state of composure and consciousness, and wished to see me immediately. I found him entirely himself, though in the last extreme of feebleness. His eye was clear and calm — every trace of the wild fire of delirium extinguished. “ Lockhart,” he said, “ I may have but a minute to speak to you. My dear, be a good man — be virtuous — be religious — be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you
* Some of these drawings have been engraved for this Edition. [1839.]
come to lie here.” — He paused, and I said — “Shall I send for Sophia and Anne ?” — “ No,” said he, “ don't disturb them. Poor souls! I know they were up all night — God bless you all.” — With this he sunk into a very tranquil sleep, and, indeed, he scarcely afterwards gave any sign of consciousness, except for an instant on the arrival of his sons. — They, on learning that the scene was about to close, obtained anew leave of absence from their posts, and both reached Abbotsford on the 19th. About halfpast one P.M., on the 21st of September, Sir Walter breathed his last, in the presence of all his children.
It was a beautiful day—so warm that every window was wide open— and so perfectly still, that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible as we knelt around the bed, and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes.
No sculptor ever modelled a more majestic image of repose :
Κείτο μέγας μεγαλωστί, λελασμένος ιπποσυνάων:
Almost every newspaper that announced this event in Scotland, and many in England, had the signs of mourning usual on the demise of a king. With hardly an exception, the voice was that of universal, unmixed grief and veneration.