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to his task--and concluded Castle Dangerous, and the long-suspended Count Robert. By this time he had submitted to the recommendation of all his medical friends, and agreed to spend the coming winter away from Abbotsford, among new scenes, in a more genial climate, and above all (so he promised), in complete abstinence from all literary labour. When Captain Basil Hall understood that he had resolved on wintering at Naples (where, as has been mentioned, his son Charles was attached to the British Legation), it occurred to the zealous sailor that on such an occasion as this all thoughts of political difference ought to be dismissed, and he, unknown to Scott, addressed a letter to Sir James Graham, then First Lord of the Admiralty, stating the condition of his friend's health, and his proposed plan, and suggesting that it would be a fit and graceful thing for the King's Government to place a frigate at his disposal for his voyage to the Mediterranean. Sir Jarnes replied, honourably for all concerned, that it afforded himself, and his Royal Master, the sincerest satisfaction to comply with this hint ; and that whenever Sir Walter found it convenient to come southwards, a vessel should be prepared for his reception. Nothing could be handsomer than the way in which all this matter was arranged, and Scott, deeply gratified, exclaimed that things were yet in the hands of gentlemen ; but that he feared they had been un
dermining the state of society which required such persons as themselves to be at the head.
He had no wish, however, to leave Abbotsford until the approach of winter; and having dismissed his Tales, seemed to say to himself that he would enjoy his dear valley for the intervening weeks, draw friends about him, revisit all the familiar scenes in his neighbourhood once more; and if he were never to come back, store himself with the most agreeable recollections in his power, and so conduct himself as to bequeath to us who surrounded him a last stock of gentle impressions. He continued to work a little at his notes and prefaces, the Reliquiæ of Oldbuck, and the Sylva Abbotsfordiensis ; but did not fatigue himself; and when once all plans were settled, and all cares in so far as possible set aside, his health and spirits certainly rallied most wonderfully. He had settled that my wife and I should dine at Abbotsford, and he and Anne at Chiefswood, day about; and this rule was seldom departed from. Both at home and in the cottage he was willing to have a few guests, so they were not strangers. Mr James (the author of Richelieu) and his lady, who this season lived at Maxpoffle, and Mr. Archdeacon Williams, who was spending his vacation at Melrose, were welcome additions, and frequently so, to his accustomed circle of the Scotts of Harden, the Pringles of Whytbank and Clifton, the Russells of Ashestiel, the Brewsters, and the Fergussons. Sir Walter observed the prescribed diet, on the whole, pretty accurately; and seemed, when in the midst of his family and friends, always tranquil, sometimes cheerful. On one or two occa. sions he was even gay: particularly, I think, when the weather was so fine as to tempt us to dine in the marble-hall at Abbotsford, or at an early hour under the trees at Chiefswood, in the old fashion of Rose's Fête de Village. I rather think Mr. Adolphus was present at one .of these (for the time) mirthful doings; but if so, he has not recorded it in his elegant paper of reminiscenses — from which I now take my last extract:
“ In the autumn of 1831” (says Mr Adolphus) “the new shock which had fallen upon Sir Walter's constitution had left traces, not indeed very conspicuous, but painfully observable ; and he was subject to a constant, though apparently not a very severe regimen, as an invalid. At table, if many persons were present, he spoke but little, I believe from a difficulty in making himself heard—not so much because his articulation was slightly impaired, as that his voice was weakened. After dinner, though he still sat with his guests, he forebore drinking, in compliance with the discipline prescribed to him, though he might be seen, once or twice in the course of a sitting, to steal a glass, as if inadvertently. I could not perceive that his faculties of mind were in any respect obscured, except that occasionally (but not very often) he was at a loss for some obvious word. This failure of recollection had begun, I think, the year before. The remains of his old cheerfulness were still living within him, but they required opportunity and the presence of few persons to disclose themselves. He spoke of his approaching voyage with resignation more than with hope, and I could not find that he looked forward with much interest or curiosity to the new scenes in which he was about to travel.
66 The menacing state of affairs in the country he was leaving oppressed him with melancholy anticipations. In the little conversation we had formerly had on subjects of this kind, I had never found him a querulous politician; he could look manfully and philosophically at those changes in the aspect of society which time, and the progress, well or ill directed, of the human mind, were uncontrollably working out, though the innovations might not in some of their results accord with his own tastes and opinions. But the revolutions now beginning, and the violence of word and deed with which they were urged on, bore heavily upon his thoughts, and gave them, when turned in this direction, a gloomy and ominous cast. When I left him to go to London, he gave me, as a kind of parting token, a stick, or rather club, of
formidable size and figure, and, as he put it into my hand, he could not help saying, between joke and earnest, that it might prove useful if I were called out to assist the police in a riot. But his prevailing humour, even at this period, was kindly, genial, and pleasurable.
“ On the last day which I had the happiness to pass with him among his own hills and streams, he appointed an excursion to Oakwood * and the Linns of Ettrick. Miss Scott, and two other ladies, one of whom had not been in Scotland before, were of the party. He did the honours of the country with as much zeal and gallantry, in spirit at least, as he could have shown twenty years earlier. I recollect, that, in setting out, he attempted to plead his hardy habits as an old mail-coach traveller for keeping the least convenient place in the carriage. When we came to the Linns, we walked some way up the stream, and viewed the bold and romantic little torrent from the top of the high bank. . He stood contemplating it in an attitude of rest; the day was past when a minute's active exertion would have carried him to the water's brink. Perhaps he was now for the last time literally fulfilling the wish of his own Minstrel, that in the decay of life he might
• Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break.'
* Oakwood is a ruined tower on the Harden estate in the vale of Ettrick.