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other gentlemen who are making such efforts in behalf of literature, have a right to know why a person, who has been much favoured by the public, should decline joining an institution whose object it is to relieve those who have been less fortunate than himself, or, in plain words, to contribute to the support of the
of my own guild. If I could justly accuse myself of this species of selfishness, I should think I did a very wrong thing. But the wants of those whose distresses and merits are known to me, are of such a nature, that what I have the means of sparing for the relief of others, is not nearly equal to what I wish. Anything which I might contribute to your Fund would, of course, go to the relief of other objects, and the encouragement of excellent persons, doubtless, to whom I am a stranger; and from having some acquaintance with the species of distress to be removed, I believe I shall aid our general purpose best, by doing such service as I can to misery which cannot be so likely to attract your eyes.
“ I cannot express myself sufficiently upon the proposal which supposes me willing to do good, and holds out an opportunity to that effect.- I am, with great respect to the trustees and other gentlemen of the Fund, sir, your obliged humble servant,
“ To the Rev. Alexander Dyce, London.
• Abbotsford, March 31, 1831. 6 Dear Sir,
“ I had the pleasure of receiving Greene's Plays, with which, as works of great curiosity, I am highly gratified. If the editor of the Quarterly consents, as he probably will, I shall do my endeavour to be useful, though I am not sure when I can get admission. I shall be inclined to include Webster, whó, I think, is one of the best of our ancient dramatists ;
will have the kindness to tell the bookseller to send it to Whittaker, under cover to me, care of Mr Cadell, Edinburgh, it will come safe, and be thankfully received. Marlowe and others I have,-and some acquaintance with the subject, though not much.
“ I have not been well; threatened with a determination of blood to the head; but by dint of bleeding and regimen, I have recovered. I have lost, however, like Hamlet, all habit of my exercise, and, once able to walk thirty miles a day, or ride a hundred, I can hardly walk a mile, or ride a pony four or five.
“ I will send you, by Whittaker, a little curious tract of murder, in which a ghost is the principal evidence. The spirit did not carry his point, however; for the apparition, though it should seem the men were guilty, threw so much ridicule on the whole story, that they were acquitted.*
“ I wish you had given us more of Greene's prose works. - I am, with regard, dear sir, yours sincerely,
To resume the Diary- “ March 30. Bob Dundást and his wife (Miss Durham that was) came to spend a day or two. I was heartily glad to see him, being my earliest and best friend's son. John Swinton, too, came on the part of an Anti-Reform meeting in Edinburgh, who exhorted me to take up the pen; but I declined, and pleaded health, which God knows I have a right to urge. I might have urged also the chance of my breaking down, but that would be a cry of wolf, which might very
prove real. April 2. Mr Henry Liddell, eldest son of Lord Ravensworth, arrives here. I like him and his brother Tom very much, although they are what may be called fine men. Henry is accomplished, is an artist and musician, and certainly has a fine taste for poetry, though he may never cultivate it. April 8. This day I took leave of poor Major John
* See Scott's Letters on Demonology, p. 371.
Scott, who, being afflicted with a distressing asthma, has resolved upon selling his house of Ravenswood, which he had dressed up with much neatness, and going abroad. Without having been intimate friends, we were always affectionate relations, and now we part probably never to meet in this world. He has a good deal of the character said to belong to the family. Our parting with mutual feeling may be easily supposed."
The next entry relates to the last public appearance that the writer ever made, under circumstances at all pleasant, in his native country. He had taken great interest about a new line of mail-road between Selkirk and Edinburgh, which runs in view of Abbotsford across the Tweed; but he never saw it completed.
April 11. - This day I went with Anne, and Miss Jane Erskine,t to see the laying of the stones of foundation for two bridges in my neighbourhood over Tweed and the Ettrick. There were a great many people assembled. The day was beautiful, the scene was romantic, and the people in good spirits
This gentleman, a brother to the Laird of Raeburn, had made some fortune in the East Indies, and bestowed the name of Ravenswood on a villa which he built near Melrose. He died in 1831.
| A daughter of Lord Kinnedder's.-- She died in 1838.
and good-humour. Mr Paterson of Galashiels * made a most excellent prayer: Mr Smith † gave a proper repast to the workmen, and we subscribed sovereigns a-piece to provide for any casualty. I laid the foundation-stone of the bridge over Tweed, and Mr C. B. Scott of Woll | the foundation-stone of that of Ettrick. The general spirit of good-humour made the scene, though without parade, extremely interesting
April 12. — We breakfasted with the Fergussons; after which Anne and Miss Erskine walked up the Rhymer's Glen. I could as easily have made a pilgrimage to Rome with peas in my shoes unboiled. I drove home, and began to work about ten o'clock. At one o'clock I rode, and sent off what I had finished. Mr Laidlaw dined with me. In the afternoon we wrote five or six pages more. I am, I fear, sinking a little from having too much space to fill, and a want of the usual inspiration – which makes me, like the chariot-wheels of Pharaoh in the sands of the Red Sea, drive heavily. It is the less matter if this prove, as I suspect, the last of this fruitful family.-April 13. Corrected proofs in the morning.
* The Rev. N. Paterson, now one of the Ministers of Glasgow.
+ Mr John Smith of Darnick, the builder of Abbotsford, and architect of these bridges.
* This gentleman died in Edinburgh on 4th February 1838.