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“ If you think, my dear Skene, that any of these trifling particulars concerning this islet can interest our friends, you are free to communicate them either to the Society or to the Club, as you judge most proper. I have just seen James * in full health, but he vanished like a guilty thing, when, forgetting that I was a contraband commodity, I went to shake him by the hand, which would have cost him ten days' imprisonment, I being at present in quarantine.
“ We saw an instance of the strictness with which this law is observed: In entering the harbour, a seaman was pushed from our yard-arm: He swam strongly, notwithstanding the fall, but the Maltese boats, of whom there were several, tacked from him, to avoid picking him up, and an English boat, which did take the poor man in, was condemned to ten days' imprisonment, to reward the benevolence of the action. It is in the capacity of quarantine prisoners that we now inhabit the decayed chambers of a magnificent old Spanish palace, which resembles the pantaloons of the Don in his youth, a world too wide for his shrunk shanks. But you
know Malta, where there is more magnificence than comfort, though we have met already many friends, and much kindness.
“ My best compliments to Mrs Skene, to whom I * James Henry Skene, Esq., a son of Sir W.'s correspondent, was then a young officer on duty at Malta.
am bringing a fairy cup made out of a Nautilus shell
the only one which I found entire on Graham's Island; the original owner had suffered shipwreck.I beg to be respectfully remembered to all friends of the Club.— Yours ever, with love to your fireside,
At Malta Sir Walter found several friends of former days, besides young Skene. The Right Honourable John Hookham Frere had been resident there for several years, as he still continues, the captive of the enchanting climate, and the romantic monuments of the old chivalry.* Sir John Stoddart, the Chief Judge of the island, had known the Poet ever since the early days of Lasswade and Glenfinlas; and the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Seymour Bathurst, had often met him under the roof of his father, the late Earl Bathurst. Mrs Bathurst's distinguished uncle, Sir William Alexander, some time Lord Chief-Baron of England, happened also to be then visiting her. Captain Dawson, husband to Lord Kinnedder's eldest daughter, was of the garrison, and Sir Walter felt as if he were about to meet a daughter of his own in the Euphemia Erskine who had so often sat upon his knee. She immediately joined
* See the charming “ Epistle in Rhyme, from William Stewart Rose at Brighton, to John Hookham Frere at Malta,” published with some other pieces in 1835.
him, and insisted on being allowed to partake his quarantine. Lastly, Dr John Davy, the brother of his illustrious friend, was at the head of the medical staff; and this gentleman's presence was welcome indeed to the Major and Miss Scott, as well as to their father, for he had already begun to be more negligent as to his diet, and they dreaded his removal from the skilful watch of Dr Liddell. Various letters, and Sir Walter's Diary (though hardly legible), show that he inspected with curiosity the knightly antiquities of La Valetta, the church and monuments of St John, the deserted palaces and libraries of the heroic brotherbood; and the reader will find that, when he imprudently resumed the pen
romance, the subject he selected was from their annals. He enjoyed also the society of the accomplished persons I have been naming, and the marks of honour lavished on him by the inhabitants, both native and English. Here he saw much of a Scotch lady, with many
of whose friends and connexions he had been intimateMrs John Davy, the daughter of a brother advocate, the late Mr Archibald Fletcher, whose residence in Edinburgh used to be in North Castle Street, within a few doors of
poor 39.” This lady has been so good as to intrust me with a few pages of her “ Family Journal ;” and I am sure the reader will value a copy of them more than anything else I could
produce with respect to Sir Walter's brief residence at Malta :
“ Before the end of November,” says Mrs Davy, a great sensation was produced in Malta, as well it might, by the arrival of Sir Walter Scott. He came here in the Barham, a frigate considered the very beauty of the fleet --- ' a perfect ship,' as Sir Pulteney Malcolm used to say, and in the highest discipline. In her annals it may now be told that she carried the most gifted, certainly the most popular author of Europe into the Mediterranean ; but it was amusing to see that the officers of the ship thought the great minstrel and romancer must gain more addition to his fame from having been a passenger on board the Barham, than they or she could possibly receive even from having taken on board such a guest. Our Governor, Sir F. Ponsonby, had not returned from a visit to England when this arrival took place, but orders had been received that all manner of attention should be paid ; that a house, carriage, horses, &c., should be placed at Sir Walter's disposal ; and all who thought they had the smallest right to come forward on the occasion, or even a decent pretence for doing so, were eager to do him honour according to their notions and means.
“ On account of cholera then prevailing in England, a quarantine was at this time enforced here on all who came from thence; but instead of driving Sir Walter to the ordinary lazaretto, some good apartments were prepared at Fort Manuel for him and his family to occupy for the appointed time, I believe nine days.
He there held a daily levee to receive the numerous visiters who waited on him; and I well remember, on accompanying Colonel and Mrs Bathurst and Sir William Alexander to pay their first visit, how the sombre landing - place of the Marsa Muscet (the quarantine harbour), under the heavy bastion that shelters it on the Valetta side, gave even then tokens of an illustrious arrival, in the unusual number of boats and bustle of parties setting forth to, or returning from Fort Manuel, on the great business of the day. But even in the case of one whom all delighted to honour,' a quarantine visit is a notably uncomfortable thing; and when our little procession had marched up several broad flights of steps, and we found ourselves on a landing-place having a wide door-way opposite to us, in which sat Sir Walter -- his daughter, Major Scott, and Mrs Dawson, standing behind and a stout bar placed across some feet in front of them, to keep us at the legal distance
I could not but repent having gone to take part in a ceremony so formal and wearisome to all concerned. Sir Walter rose, but seemed to do it with difficulty, and the paralytic fixed look of his face was most distressing. We all walked up to