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“ To Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq.
Prince's Street, Edinburgh.
“ Abbotsford, September, 1831. My Dear Charles,
“ I pray you to honour me with your acceptance of the last number of Mr Lodge's Illustrious Persons. My best thanks to you for the genealogy, which completes a curious subject. I am just setting off for the Mediterranean - a singular instance of a change of luck, for I have no sooner put my damaged fortune into as good a condition as I could desire, than my health, which till now has been excellent, has failed so utterly in point of strength, that while it will not allow me to amuse myself by travelling, neither will it permit me to stay at home.
“ I should like to have shaken hands with you, as there are few I regret so much to part with. But it may not be. I will keep my eyes dry if possible, and therefore content myself with bidding you a long (perhaps an eternal) farewell. But I may find my way home again, improved as a Dutch skipper from a whale fishing. I am very happy that I am like to see Malta. Always yours, well or ill
The same deceptive notion of his pecuniary affairs comes out in another little note, the last I ever received from him at Chiefswood. I had meant to make a run into Lanarkshire for a day or two to see my own relations, and spoken of carrying my second boy, his namesake, then between five and six
years of age, with me in the stage-coach. When I mentioned this over-night at Abbotsford, he said nothing
- indeed he was at the moment a little cross with me for having spoken against some slip he had made on the score of his regimen. Shortly after I got home came this billet:
“ To J. G. Lockhart, Esq., Chiefswood.
“ Dear Don or Doctor Giovanni,
“Can you really be thinking of taking Wa-Wa by the coach—and I think you said outside ? Think of Johnny, and be careful of this little man. Are you par hazard something in the state of the
poor Capitaine des Dragons that comes in singing —
• Comment? Parbleu! Qu'en pensez vous ?
“ If so, remember • Richard's himself again,' and make free use of the enclosed cheque on Cadell for £50. He will give you the ready as you pass through, and you can pay when I ask. Put horses to your carriage, and go hidalgo fashion. We shall all have good days yet.
• And those sad days you deign to spend
On the 17th of September the old splendour of Abbotsford was, after a long interval, and for the last time, revived. Captain James Glencairn Burns, son of the poet, had come home on furlough from India, and Sir Walter invited him (with his wife, and their Cicerones Mr and Mrs M‘Diarmid of Dumfries) to spend a day under his roof. The neighbouring gentry were assembled, and having his son to help him, Sir Walter did most gracefully the honours of the table. As, according to him, “a medal struck at the time, however poor, is in one respect better than any done afterwards,” I insert some verses with which he was pleased, and which, I believe, express the sincere feelings with which every guest witnessed this his parting feast :
* See Crabbe's Sir Eustace Grey.
LINES WRITTEN ON TWEEDSIDE.
September the 18th, 1831.
A day I've seen whose brightness pierced the cloud
Of pain and sorrow, both for great and small A night of flowing cups, and pibrochs loud,
Once more within the Minstrel's blazon'd hall.
“ Upon this frozen hearth pile crackling trees ;
Let every silent clarshach find its strings; Unfurl once more the banner to the breeze;
No warmer welcome for the blood of kings !”
From ear to ear, from eye to glistening eye,
Leap the glad tidings, and the glance of glee; Perish the hopeless breast that beats not high
At thought beneath His roof that guest to see!
What princely stranger comes ? — what exiled lord
From the far East to Scotia's strand returns To stir with joy the towers of Abbotsford,
And “wake the Minstrel's soul ?”—The boy of Burns.
0, Sacred Genius! blessing on the chains,
Wherein thy sympathy can minds entwine ! Beyond the conscious glow of kindred veins,
A power, a spirit, and a charm are thine.
Thine offspring share them. Thou hast trod the land –
It breathes of thee -and men, through rising tears, Behold the image of thy manhood stand,
More noble than a galaxy of Peers.
And He his father's bones had quaked, I ween,
But that with holier pride bis heart-strings bound, Than if his host had King or Kaiser been,
And star and cross on every bosom round.
High strains were pour'd of many a Border spear,
While gentle fingers swept a throbbing shell; A manly voice, in manly notes and clear,
Of lowly love's deep bliss responded well.
The children sang the ballads of their sires :
Serene among them sat the hoary Knight; And, if dead Bards have ears for earthly lyres,
The Peasant's shade was near, and drank delight.
As through the woods we took our homeward way,
Fair shone the moon last night on Eildon Hill; Soft rippled Tweed's broad wave beneath her ray,
And in sweet murmurs gush'd the Huntly rill.
Heaven send the guardian genius of the vale
Health yet, and strength, and length of honoured days, To cheer the world with many a gallant tale,
And hear his children's children chant his lays.
Through seas unruffled may the vessel glide,
That bears her Poet far from Melrose' glen!
may his pulse be steadfast as our pride,
On the 20th Mrs Lockhart set out for London to prepare for her father's reception there, and for the