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and would say
turesque effect — but before he reached the point, it would seem as if some internal spring had given way –he paused, and gazed round him with the blank anxiety of look that a blind man has when he has dropped his staff. Unthinking friends sometimes pained him sadly by giving him the catch - word abruptly. I noticed the delicacy of Miss Ferrier on such occasions. Her sight was bad, and she took care not to use her glasses when he was speaking ; and she affected to be also troubled with deafness,
“ Well, I am getting as dull as a post; I have not heard a word since you said so and so” — being sure to mention a circumstance behind that at which he had really halted. He then took up
the thread with his habitual smile of courtesy as if forgetting his case entirely in the consideration of the lady's infirmity.
He had also a visit from the learned and pious Dr M. Mackay, then minister of Laggan, but now of Dunoon— the chief author of the Gaelic Dictionary, then recently published under the auspices of the Highland Society; and this gentleman also accommodated himself, with the tact of genuine kindness, to the circumstances of the time.
In the family circle Sir Walter seldom spoke of his illness at all, and when he did, it was always in the hopeful strain. In private to Laidlaw and myself, his language corresponded exactly with the
tone of the Diary – he expressed his belief that the chances of recovery were few
but always added, that he considered it his duty to exert what faculties remained to him, for the sake of his creditors, to the
last. “ I am very anxious," he repeatedly said to me, to be done, one way or other, with this Count Robert, and a little story about the Castle Dangerous, which also I had long had in my head — but after that I will attempt nothing more at least not until I have finished all the notes for the Novels, &c.; for, in case of my going off at the next slap, you would naturally have to take up that job, and where could you get at all my old wives' stories?”
I felt the sincerest pity for Cadell and Ballantyne at this time; and advised him to lay Count Robert aside for a few weeks, at all events, until the general election now going on should be over. sented – but immediately began another series of Tales on French History- which he never completed. The Diary says:
May 12.— Resolved to lay by Robert of Paris, and take it up when I can work. Thinking on it really makes
head swim, and that is not safe. Miss Ferrier comes out to us.
This gifted personage, besides having great talents, has conversation the least exigeante of any author, female at least, whom I have ever seen among the long list I have encountered with : simple, full of humour, and exceedingly ready at repartee ; and all this without the least affectation of the blue stocking.
May 13.- Mr, or more properly, Dr MacIntosh Mackay comes out to see me—a simple learned man, and a Highlander who weighs his own nation justly -a modest and estimable person. Reports of mobs at all the elections, which I fear will prove true. They have much to answer for, who, in gaiety of heart, have brought a peaceful and virtuous population to such a pass.
May 14.-Rode with Lockhart and Mr Mackay through the plantations, and spent a pleasanter day than of late months. Story of a haunted glen in Laggan. A chieftain's daughter or cousin loved a man of low degree. Her kindred discovered the intrigue, and punished the lover's presumption by binding the unhappy man, and laying him naked in one of the large ants' nests common in a Highland forest. He expired in agony
and his mistress became distracted, roamed wildly in the glen till she died, and her phantom, finding no repose, haunted it after her death to such a degree, that the people shunned the road by day as well as night. Mrs Grant tells the story with the addition, that her husband, then minister of Laggan, formed a religious meeting in the place, and by the exercise of public worship there, overcame the popular terror of the Red Woman. Dr Mackay seems to think that she was rather banished by a branch of the Parliamentary road running up the glen, than by the prayers of his predecessor. Dr Mackay, it being Sunday, favoured us with an excellent discourse on the Socinian controversy, which I wish my friend Mr * * * * had heard.—May 15. Dr M. left us early this morning; and I rode and studied as usual, working at the Tales of my Grandfather. Our good and learned Doctor wishes to go down the Tweed to Berwick. It is a laudable curiosity, and I hope will be agreeably satisfied.”
On the 18th, I witnessed a scene which must dwell painfully upon many memories besides mine. The rumours of brick-bat and bludgeon work at the hustings of this month were so prevalent, that Sir Walter's family, and not less zealously the Tory candidate for Roxburghshire himself, tried every means to dissuade him from attending the election for that county. We thought overnight that we had succeeded, and, indeed, as the result of the vote was not at all doubtful, there was not the shadow of a reason for his appearing on this occasion. About seven in the morning, however, when I came down stairs intending to ride over to Jedburgh, I found he had countermanded my horse, ordered the carriage to the door, and was already impatient to be off for the scene of action. We found the town in a most tempestuous state: in fact, it was almost wholly in the hands of a disciplined rabble, chiefly weavers from Hawick, who marched
and down with drums and banners, and then, after filling the Court-hall, lined the streets, grossly insulting every one who did not wear the reforming colours. Sir Walter's carriage, as it advanced towards the house of the Shortreed family, was pelted with stones; one or two fell into it, but none touched him. He breakfasted with the widow and children of his old friend, and then walked to the Hall between me and one of the young Shortreeds. He was saluted with groans and blasphemies all the way — and I blush to add that a woman spat upon him from a window; but this last contumely I think he did not observe.
The scene within was much what has been described under the date of March 21st, except that though he attempted to speak from the Bench, not a word was audible, such was the frenzy. Young Harden was returned by a great majority, 40 to 19, and we then with difficulty gained the inn where the carriage had been put up. But the aspect of the street was by that time such, that several of the gentlemen on the Whig side came and entreated us not to attempt starting