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self made his appearance. I knew him at once, by the likenesses that had been published of him. He came limping up the gravel walk, aiding himself by a stout walking-staff, but moving rapidly and with vigour. By his side jogged along a large iron-gray staghound, of most grave demeanour, who took no part in the clamour of the canine rabble, but seemed to consider himself bound, for the dignity of the house, to give me a courteous reception.—Before Scott reached the gate, he called out in a hearty tone, welcoming me to Abbotsford, and asking news of Campbell. Arrived at the door of the chaise, he grasped me warmly by the hand : Come, drive down, drive down to the house,' said he, ‘ye’re just in time for breakfast, and afterwards ye shall see all the wonders of the Abbey.' I would have excused myself on the plea of having already made my breakfast. Hut, man,' cried he, ride in the morning in the keen air of the Scotch hills is warrant enough for a second breakfast. I was accordingly whirled to the portal of the cottage, and in a few moments found myself seated at the breakfast table. There was no one present but the family, which consisted of Mrs Scott; her eldest daughter, Sophia, then a fine girl about seventeen ; Miss Ann Scott, two or three years younger ; Walter, a well-grown stripling ; and Charles a lively boy, eleven or twelve years of age.--I soon felt myself quite at home, and my heart in a glow with the cordial welcome I experienced. I had thought to make a mere morning visit, but found I was not to be let off so lightly. * You must not think our neighbourhood is to be read in a morning like a newspaper,' said Scott; - it takes several days of study for an observant traveller, that has a relish for auld-world trumpery. After breakfast you shall make your visit to Melrose Abbey ; I shall not be able to accompany you, as I have some household affairs to attend to; but I will put you in charge of my son Charles, who
is very learned in all things touching the old ruin and the neighbourhood it stands in ; and he and my friend Johnnie Bower will tell you the whole truth about it, with a great deal more that you are not called upon to believe, unless you be a true and nothing-doubting antiquary. When you come back, I'll take you out on a ramble about the neighbourhood. To-morrow we will take a look at the Yarrow, and the next day we will drive over to Dryburgh, which is a fine old ruin, well worth your seeing.'—In a word, before Scott had got through with his plan, I found myself committed for a visit of several days, and it seemed as if a little realm of romance was suddenly open before me.”
The love which Scott had for horses and dogs was noticed by all his guests. He was a bold rider himself, and would lead his less venturous associates through perils to which they were little accustomed. Of his dogs, the writer last quoted gives the following account :
“ As we sallied forth, every dog in the establishment turned out to attend us. There was the old staghound, Maida, that I have already mentioned, a noble animal, and Hamlet, the black greyhound, a wild thoughtless youngster, not yet arrived at the years of discretion; and Finette, a beautiful setter, with soft, silken hair, long pendant ears, and a mild eye, the parlour favourite. When in front of the house, we were joined by a superannuated greyhound, who came from the kitchen wagging his tail ; and was cheered by Scott as an old friend and comrade. In our walks, he would frequently pause in conversation, to notice his dogs, and speak to them as if rational companions; and, indeed, there appears to be a vast deal of rationality in these faithful attendants on man, derived from their close intimacy with him. Maida deported himself with a gravity becoming his age and size, and seemed to consider himself called upon to pre
lounging near us for a few minutes, and then asked the Sheriff' to speak a word.' They withdrew together into the garden—and Scott presently rejoined us with a particularly comical expression of face. As soon as Tom was out of sight, he said — Will ye guess what he has been saying, now ?-Well, this is a great satisfaction! Tom assures me that he has thought the matter over, and will take
my advice about the thinning of that clump behind Captain Ferguson's.'”
Indeed, Scott's opinion of the working classes was as highly creditable to his own heart as to those who succeeded in making an impression so favourable. I have read books enough,” he remarked on one occasion, “and observed and conversed with enough of eminent and splen. didly cultivated minds, too, in my time; but I assure you, I have heard higher sentiments from the lips of poor uneducated men and women, when exerting the spirit of severe yet gentle heroism under difficulties and afflictions, or speaking their simple thoughts as to circumstances in the lot of friends and neighbours, than I ever yet met with out of the pages of the Bible.”
The geniality which appears in these remarks, was an eminent feature in his character, and, no less than his genius, drew to him numerous and attached friends.
It is surprising how little the prodigious literary labour of Scott interfered with his hospitality to his visitors ; but he was economical of his working hours, and his powers of composition were remarkably active. Some one asked the question, When do you think? “ Oh,” said he, “ I lie simmering over things for an hour or so before I get up —and there's the time I am dressing to overhaul my halfsleeping, half-waking projet de chapitre—and when I get the paper before me, it commonly runs off pretty easily. Besides, I often take a dose in the plantations, and while Tom marks out a dyke or a drain, as I have
directed, one's fancy may be running its ain riggs in some other world.”
Had Sir Walter Scott possessed a knowledge of religion, it would have been the crowning excellence of his character ; but though he had a kind of respect for religion, it was a sentiment, rather than a principle. With all his kindness, good nature, generosity, and manliness, he must be charged with having wasted his great powers in the pursuit of objects no higher than family honours, wealth, and the idle breath of fame. The time was coming when some portion of this truth should be made evident to himself.
Amid all his seeming prosperity, he was in reality insolvent. His purchases and buildings at Abbotsford greatly exceeded his means; and the failure in 1826 of Constable his publisher, and James Ballantyne his printer, with whom he had been a secret partner for many years, involved him in utter ruin. Never man met such a mis. fortune with more heroic fortitude. Though the debt for which he was liable exceeded £100,000, he determined to discharge it all by the fruit of his pen ;'and though he did not live to see his purpose fully accomplished, in two years he had realized the astonishing sum of £40,000! For the Life of Napoleon he received £12,000, the labour of twelve months. His working hours at this period were from six in the morning to six at night. An immense sum having been realized by the sale of an edition of his novels in forty-eight volumes, the whole debt was paid shortly after his death. The remaining years of Sir Walter's life were full of
Lady Scott died in 1827. His family were scattered. He was working no longer with the high expectations, and in the full vigour of former years. The heavy debt lay like a mountain on his heart, but he struggled on, publishing volume after volume, till both
mind and body gave way under the burden. An attack of paralysis in 1830 was the first token of failing health ; a more severe shock followed in 1831. He was induced to visit Italy, in hopes of recruiting his health ; for this purpose a ship of war was placed at his disposal by the Admiralty. He went to Naples, and thence to Rome, but his mind was too much shattered to derive any benefit from novel scenes. He returned home in July 1832, and after a period of irregular convalescence, died at Abbotsford, in the afternoon of the 21st of September. He was buried beside his wife in the beautiful ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, on the 26th of the same month.