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Had Sir Walter never taken a direct part in politics as a writer, the visible bias of his mind on such subjects must have bad a great influence; nay, the mere fact that such a man belonged to a particular side would have been a very important weight in the balance. His services, direct and indirect, towards repressing the revolutionary propensities of his age, were vast — far beyond the comprehension of vulgar politicians.
On the whole, I have no doubt that, the more the details of his personal history are revealed and studied, the more powerfully will that be found to inculcate the same great lessons with his works. Where else shall we be taught better how prosperity may be extended by beneficence, and adversity confronted by exertion? Where can we see the “ follies of the wise” more strikingly rebuked, and a character more beautifully purified and exalted in the passage through affliction to death ? I have lingered so long over the details, that I have, perhaps, become, even from that circumstance alone, less qualified than more rapid surveyors may be to seize the effect in the mass. But who does not feel that there is something very invigorating as well as elevating in the contemplation? His character seems to belong to some elder and stronger period than ours; and, indeed, I cannot help likening it to the architectural fabrics of other ages, which he most delighted in,
where there is such a congregation of imagery and tracery, such endless indulgence of whim and fancy, the sublime blending here with the beautiful, and there contrasted with the grotesque — half, perhaps, seen in the clear daylight, and half by rays tinged with the blazoned forms of the past — that one may be apt to get bewildered among the variety of particular impressions, and not feel either the unity of the grand design, or the height and solidness of the structure, until the door has been closed upon the labyrinth of aisles and shrines, and you survey it from a distance, but still within its shadow.
And yet as, with whatever admiration his friends could not but regard him constantly when among them, the prevailing feeling was still love and affection, so is it now, and so must ever it be, as to his memory. It is not the privilege of every reader to have partaken in the friendship of A GREAT AND GOOD MAN; but those who have not may be assured, that the sentiment, which the near homely contemplation of such a being inspires, is a thing entirely by itself:—
- “Not another comfort like to this Succeeds in unknown fate."
And now to conclude. - In the year 1832, France and Germany, as well as Britain, had to mourn over their brightest intellects. Goethe shortly preceded
Scott, and Cuvier followed him: and with these mighty lights were extinguished many others of no common order — among the rest, Crabbe and Mackintosh.
Many of those who had been intimately connected with Scott in various ways soon also followed him. James Ballantyne was already on his deathbed when he heard of his great friend and patron's death. The foreman of the printing-house — a decent and faithful man, who had known all their secrets, and done his best for their service, both in prosperous and adverse times, by name M‘Corkindale — began to droop and pine, and died too in a few months. James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, must also be mentioned. He died on the 21st of November 1835; but it had been better for his fame had his end been of earlier date, for he did not follow his best benefactor until he had insulted his dust. Lastly, I observe, as this sheet is passing through the press, the death of the Rev. George Thomson — the happy “ Dominie Thomson” of the happy days of Abbotsford. He died at Edinburgh on the 8th of January 1838.
Miss Anne Scott received at Christmas 1832, a grant of £200 per annum from the privy purse of King William IV. But her name did not long burden the pension list. Her constitution had been miserably shattered in the course of her long and painful attendance, first on her mother's illness, and then on her father's; and perhaps reverse of fortune, and disappointments of various sorts connected with that, had also heavy effect. From the day of Sir Walter's death, the strong stimulus of duty being lost, she too often looked and spoke like one
“Taking the measure of an unmade grave.”
After a brief interval of disordered health, she contracted a brain fever which carried her off abruptlv. She died in my house in the Regent's Park on the 25th June 1833, and her remains are placed in the New Cemetery in the Harrow Road.
The adjoining grave holds those of her nephew John Hugh Lockhart, who died 15th December 1831 ; and also those of my wife Sophia, who expired after a long illness, which she bore with all possible meekness and fortitude, on the 17th of May 1837. The clergyman who read the funeral service over her was her father's friend, and hers, and mine, the Rev. Henry Hart Milman, one of the Prebendaries of Westminster; and a little incident which he happened to observe during the prayers suggested to him some verses, which he transmitted to me the morning after, and which the reader will not, I believe, consider altogether misplaced in the last page of these memoirs of her father.
“ STANZAS - MAY 22, 1837.
“Over that solemn pageant mute and dark,
Where in the grave we laid to rest
Heaven's latest, not least welcome guest,
Hovering in unrebuked glee,
“O thou light-loving and melodious bird,
At every sad and solemn fall
Of mine own voice, each interval In the soul-elevating prayer, I heard
Thy quivering descant full and clear Discord not inharmonious to the ear!
“ We laid her there, the Minstrel's darling child.
Seem'd it then meet that, borne away
From the close city's dubious day,
Nurs’d upon nature's lap, her sleep
“ Ascendedst thou, air-wandering messenger!
Above us slowly lingering yet,
To bear our deep, our mute regret ; To waft upon thy faithful wing to her
The husband's fondest last farewell, Love's final parting pang, the unspoke, the unspeakable ? “ Or didst thou rather chide with thy blithe voice
Our selfish grief that would delay