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less apology for his own part in it. He did only what was his duty by his venerated friend; and he did it, I doubt not, as kindly in manner as in spirit. Even if the fourth Epistle of Malachi had been more like its precursors than I can well suppose it to have been, nothing could have been more unfortunate for Sir Walter than to come forward at that moment as a prominent antagonist of Reform. Such an appearance might very possibly have had the consequences to which the bookseller pointed in his remonstrance; but at all events it must have involved him in a maze of replies and rejoinders; and I think it too probable that some of the fiery disputants of the periodical press, if not of St Stephen's Chapel, might have been ingenious enough to connect any real or fancied flaws in his argument with those circumstances in his personal condition which had for some time been darkening his own reflections with dim auguries of the fate of Swift and Marlborough. His reception of Ballantyne's affectionate candour may suggest what the effect of really hostile criticism would have been. The end was, that seeing how much he stood in need of some comfort, the printer and bookseller concurred in urging him not to despair of Count Robert. They assured him that he had attached too much importance to what had formerly been said about the defects of its opening chapters; and he agreed to resume the novel, which
neither of them ever expected he would live to finish. “ If we did wrong,” says Cadell, “ did it for the best: we felt that to have spoken out as fairly on this as we had done on the other subject, would have been to make ourselves the bearers of a death-warrant.” I hope there are not many men who would have acted otherwise in their painful situation.
On the 20th, after a long interval, Sir Walter once more took up his Journal: but the entries are few and short:-eg.
“ December 20, 1830.— Vacation and session are now the same to me. The long remove must then be looked to for the final signal to break up, and that is a serious thought.
“ A circumstance of great consequence to my habits and comforts was my being released from the Court of Session. My salary, which was £1300, was reduced to £800. My friends, before leaving office, were desirous to patch up the deficiency with a pension. I did not see well how they could do this without being charged with obloquy, which they shall not be on my account. Besides, though £500 a-year is a round sum, yet I would rather be independent than I would have it.
“ I had also a kind communication about interfering to have me named a P. Councillor. But besides that, when one is old and poor, one should avoid taking rank, I would be much happier if I thought any act of kindness was done to help forward Charles; and having said so much, I made my bow, and declared my purpose of remaining satisfied with my knighthood. All this is rather pleasing. Yet much of it looks like winding up my bottom for the rest of my life. But there is a worse symptom of settling accompts, of which I have felt some signs. Ever since my fall in February, it is very certain that I have seemed to speak with an impediment. To add to this, I have the constant increase of my lameness - the thigh-joint, knee-joint, and anklejoint. I move with great pain in the whole limb, and am at every minute, during an hour's walk, reminded of my mortality. I should not care for all this, if I were sure of dying handsomely; and Cadells calculations might be sufficiently firm, though the author of Waverley had pulled on his last nightcap. Nay, they might be even more trust-worthy, if remains and memoirs, and such like, were to give a zest to the posthumous. But the fear" is, lest the blow be not sufficient to destroy life, and that I should linger on, a driveller and a show.'
« December 24.- This morning died my quaintance and good friend, Miss Bell Fergusson, a woman of the most excellent conditions. The last
* Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes.
two, or almost three years, were very sickly. A bitter cold day. Anne drove me over to HuntlyBurn. I found Colonel Fergusson, and Captain John, R. N., in deep affliction, expecting Sir Adam hourly. I wrote to Walter about the project of my
“ December 29.- Attended poor Miss Bell Fergusson's funeral. I sat by the Reverend Mr Thom
Though ten years younger than him, I found the barrier between him and me much broken down. The difference of ten years is little after sixty has passed. In a cold day I saw poor Bell laid in her cold bed. Life never parted with a less effort.
January 1, 1831. I cannot say the world opens pleasantly for me this new year.
There are many things for which I have reason to be thankful ; especially that Cadell's plans seem to have succeeded
and he augurs that the next two years will wellnigh clear me But I feel myself decidedly wrecked in point of health, and am now confirmed I have had a paralytic touch. I speak and read with embarrassment, and even my handwriting seems to stammer. This general failure
I am not solicitous about this, only if I were worthy I would pray God for a sudden death, and no interregnum between I cease to exercise reason and I cease to exist.
January 5.— Very indifferent, with more awkward feelings than I can well bear up against. My voice sunk and my head strangely confused. When I begin to form my ideas for conversation expressions fail me, yet in solitude they are sufficiently arranged. I incline to hold that these ugly symptoms are the work of imagination ; but, as Dr Adam Fergusson - a firm man, if ever ere was one in the world said on such an occasion, what is worse than imagination? As Anne was vexed and frightened, I allowed her to send for young Clarkson. Of course he could tell but little save what I knew before.
January 7.- A fine frosty day, and my spirits lighter. I have a letter of great comfort from Walter, who, in a manly, handsome, and dutiful manner, expresses his desire to possess the library and moveables of every kind at Abbotsford, with such a valuation laid upon them as I shall choose to impose. This removes the only delay to making my Will.
January 8. — Spent much time in writing instructions for my last will and testament.