The Works of Sydney Fowler Wright 1874 - 1965

The Life Of Sir Walter Scott. - Part I

by S. Fowler Wright

Published by: The Poetry League, 35, Argyll Mansions, London, W.14.
First Edition 1932
Printed by: W. Graves, 8/10 Stanhope Street, London. N.W.1.

Revised 10th November 1996

        "I shall proffer you large proffers," said Sir Lancelot, "that is to say I shall unarm my head, and the last quarter of my body, all that may be unarmed, and I shall let bind my left hand behind me, so that it shall not help me, and right so I shall do battle with you."


        A life of Walter Scott requires no apology. He is by far the greatest figure in Scottish literature, and has only one rival in the English tongue.

        Without making any claim to finality, this volume is intended to represent that life in clearer outline than Lockhart's voluminous records succeed in doing, and with greater accuracy than they attempted to reach.

        In particular, it endeavours to give an equitable and intelligible account of business transactions which were often much simpler in themselves than are the interpretations which have been loaded upon them - and to be equitable, not only to Scott himself, but to others who by the accident of association with him were drawn into the light of the same publicity.

        In the presentation of the closing years it has been possible, through the courtesy of Messrs. Douglas & Foulis of Edinburgh, to quote from Sir Walter Scott's Journal as it was edited by Mr. David Douglas, and is published by them.


Chapter I.

        In the early April days of 1758, a young Edinburgh lawyer, Walter Scott, married Anne Rutherford, the eldest daughter of Dr. John Rutherford, Professor of Medicine at the University, and they set up house-keeping together at the end of the narrow sunless alley of the College Wynd, as the residential deficiencies of the Scottish capital, and their slender income permitted.

        Walter Scott had not been born in Edinburgh. He was the eldest son of a Roxburgh farmer, Robert Scott of Sandy-Knowe, one of the Harden branch of that once-turbulent Border family, and he had come to the metropolis to make his way in the only form of civil warfare which survived the pacification of the Lowlands, and the English Union.

        Anne Rutherford, though we meet her as the daughter of a city doctor, was of a kindred breed. Her father, like Walter Scott, had come to Edinburgh from an ancient moorland home, half fort, half farm, where the Rutherfords had held their own (and sometimes a few trifles to which the word was not originally applicable) through the bickering of centuries, while the law lay more lightly upon the land than the weight of a Border sword.

        Her mother (dead now, and her father married again) was Sir John Swinton's daughter, bringing in another ancestry conspicuous for some previous centuries in Lowland politics, and civil and national warfare.

        Perhaps, as we look backward, we should not omit a glance at Walter Scott's mother also, - Barbara Haliburton, of whom we know little beyond the fact that Robert and she were the parents of a large family whose after-records speak well for their upbringing in the rather primitive and strenuous life of the bleak moorland farm. The Haliburtons were a Berwickshire family of good repute, but somewhat quieter character than Scotts or Rutherfords or Swintons were ever likely to be. Still, like the Rutherfords, they had held their own, which had become a considerable area around Dryburgh and elsewhere, and it was an operation difficult to sustain without a good wit, and some toughness of fibre, through the disorders of the two previous centuries.

        Such were the ancestries of the Edinburgh lawyer and the girl he brought to the narrow house at the corner of College Wynd. Our tale is not of these two, entering the romance of marriage under a shadow that they could not foresee, and would find difficult to understand, but they are necessary to know, and worth knowing.

        Walter had been apprenticed by his father to George Chalmers, a Writer to the Signet, which is a professional description equivalent to that of an English solicitor, the Scottish legal fraternity having split into two branches, similar to those which have become so profitable to themselves and so oppressive to litigants in the Southern country. At this period, Writers to the Signet commonly took from one to several apprentices, of whom a minority only could establish themselves in the profession which they, or their parents, had chosen. But Walter Scott had shown character and ability which had caused him to be retained in George Chalmers's office when his apprenticeship ended, and to appear as a partner not very long afterwards.

        At the time of his marriage, he had built up a good and growing practice, having the confidence of many clients among his numerous and important relatives in the Lowland counties. As the years passed, he became known as an expert conveyancer, adept in the intricacies of ancient title-deeds, a student of ecclesiastical history also, and one who, while advocating individual freedom, was yet conservative in his desire for the retention of old-established customs which were of the spirit of feudalism.

        A strict Calvinist in religion, having the type of mind which would delight in the difficult intellectual gymnastics by which such systems of theology are sustained and defended, he yet appears to have been without bigotry or intolerance, and to have ruled his life by the broader and more vital principles of Christianity. Popular among his contemporaries, of a personal austerity towards physical indulgence which was conspicuous against the manners of the times rather than extreme in itself handsome in person, with a gracious kindliness of manner which tended somewhat to formality as the years passed, he stands out well in the white glare of enquiry which the light of his son's genius was to cast backward upon him.

        His fault (if such it were) was one which might be anticipated when a man of generous mind, and of such combative ancestry, engaged in the civil warfare of litigation. His clients' interests would become his own, even to financing their quarrels personal to himself. His clients' honour would be interpreted by his own standards, so that those who left their funds in his hands, though they could be very sure that he would not apply them to his own use, could have less certainty that they would not be diverted to vicarious generosities toward some needy relative, whom (Mr. Scott had no doubt) they would have been prompt to relieve, had there been convenient opportunity to consult them before the urgent disbursement had to be made.

        Those clients who instructed him in their quarrels would find that they would be ably and pertinaciously defended, and that the growing bill of costs, paid or unpaid, would not be allowed to check disbursement or weaken advocacy. It must take its time and its chance.

        Had such a man been a fool, among such clients as the times would bring to his door, or had he been without a scrupulous personal integrity, he would have been speedily discredited in his profession, and ruined in his finances.

        As it was, he made many bad debts. His opponents might find it hard to outwit him, but to an unscrupulous client it would be an easier thing. Yet his practice and reputation grew.

        In his wife he seems to have made a very fortunate choice. Lockhart says that Anne was superior to her husband "in talents as well as tastes". We can believe that or not as we will. The praise would be equally convincing without the comparison. The fact seems to have been that they were different in details of intellectual interests, with strong outlines of similarity. It is of such diverse similarities that the most successful marriages may be made, and the best children come.

        Anne had an equally deep-rooted religious faith, but we have her son's testimony that she wore the theological cloak with a considerable difference, which tended to mitigate the severities of the Sabbatarian tradition which would lie heavily, even then, upon the children of such a home.

        She was a wide reader, of poetry in particular, a lover of old ballads, a skilful story-teller, and had the sense of humour which is almost the first necessity for successful motherhood, or successful marriage.

        She was of a natural gaiety also, and had a stubborn and buoyant courage, of which she was to have need enough in the first years of married life, as we shall soon see.

        She was 'short of stature, and by no means comely, at least after the days of her early youth'. Lockhart again. He could not have seen her, except at an advanced age, when her vivacity survived, but little else of the attractions of earlier days. You have to know Lockhart first to judge how much, or how little heed to give to his confident oracles. Standards of beauty differ. It is hard to imagine that Anne Rutherford - or Mrs. Walter Scott - was unattractive. Obviously there was one man - and he of a rather fastidious temper - who thought differently, and whose means of judging were much the better of the two.

        It is curious to consider how greatly our conception of an individual depends upon the age at which he or she becomes an object of observation.

        Keats and Shelley survive in the glamour of perpetual youth. Dr. Johnson was born a rather slovenly and obese old man. It is the penalty of those who produce genius that they are cast in the pageant of history for the parts of parents, who are usually elderly when they attract the biographer's notice. Yet they had their youth too.

Chapter II.

        We need not doubt that Walter and Anne Scott set up housekeeping together very happily in College Wynd, having, many common interests, and a bond of love which would endure, but across the natural course of their marriage an inexplicable shadow fell - fell, and would not lift.

        They were themselves in vigorous youth, and of an abundant vitality. They were of healthy stock, and their lives had been continent and well-ordered. Anne had children. They came rapidly. Babies that were strong at birth, as the children of such parents should be. But yet, after a few months, one after one, they tailed and died. It seems that love could not save them, nor any care. Family counsels were of no avail. The Professor of Medicine, with his grandchildren's lives at stake had no sufficient wisdom to give.

        The fact seems to have been that these children, of such entirely moorland ancestry, could not thrive in the smoke - and germ-laden city atmosphere. There could be no enduring life for them in the sunless rooms of that narrow ungardened house, at the end of the College Wynd. They could not resist the infections which the slum-bred child, of weaker vitality, was adapted to overcome. But who was to know that? The bitter lesson which industrial England was to learn in the following century was still unguessed.

        Other children of seemingly weaker stocks thrived well enough; or lived, if they did not thrive. But prayers and tears were of an equal vanity here. There must have been many prayers. There is nothing surer than that. But it seemed that they prayed to a deaf God.

        Pregnant again, and near the time of a fifth birth, Anne folded up four little packets of hair. She was arranging her private drawer, as a woman should who is approaching the ordeal of childbirth, so that it should be left neatly if anything should go wrong, as we know it may, though we are not so cowardly as to talk of that. She wrote on the packet in her slanting Italian hand: All these are dead. With what thoughts or tears she wrote we cannot tell now. She knew herself a failure among mothers. Four times. Was there any value in those short frustrated lives? Immortal futures, as she would have said with confidence, in her darkest hour? Nothing but a physical failure, and the folly of unspaced births, as some of us, with an equal confidence, would assert today? Well, God knows.

        But this time she was to be rewarded with a child that would not die. Robert they named him, after his grandfather, still farming at Sandy-Knowe. That was to be his name, and his destiny was a naval life. There was a Scottish obstinacy about this programme, - or was it a joke?

        If it were so, we must go back a generation or two to understand its subtlety, for the elder Robert, life-long sheep-farmer at Sandy-Knowe, had been bred for the sea also, and that by a father of very obstinate disposition.

        Robert's father had been another Walter by the christening rite, but it was as "Old Beardie" that he was remembered, the nickname earned by a flowing beard that he had vowed not to shave or trim till the Stuarts should be re-established on the Scottish throne.

        But the Covenanters had held their ground, and the beard thrived.

        Old Beardie, a man not to be lightly crossed, had destined his second son, Robert, to the sea, and to the sea he went. His first voyage was on a ship of which we know little more than that it took a northerly course, possibly for Scandinavia or the Baltic ports. But the North Sea was unkind. Robert's ship must have met a tempest from north or east, for it ended as a broken wreck on the Dundee coast. Robert got to the land alive, and on the land he would remain. He had a long walk home. When he arrived he said he had come to stay. He was emphatic about that. Old Beardie was emphatic too. He should go back to the sea, or he should never have another bawbee from him, or another meal at his board.

        Robert agreed very cheerfully. He demonstrated his independence by turning Covenanter on the spot. It must have been a lively discussion.

        He walked out, and went to John Scott of Harden, who was the chief of the clan. He asked for the lease of Sandy-Knowe, which was vacant. Sandy-Knowe was a high moorland farm with a poor soil. The ruins of Smailholm Tower stood at its centre, - one of those small square-built Lowland holds, which had been so numerous in the Border counties.

        Perhaps the fact that Robert had quarrelled with his father was no bad credential to bring. Certainly Old Beardie's political activity must have been an embarrassment to the family. It had cost him the forfeiture of some ancestral lands. It had led him (he was a man of scholarly repute) to a club in Edinburgh where the members talked treason exclusively in the Latin tongue. It had once led him into the folly of active rebellion, from which he had escaped unhanged through the intervention of the Duke of Monmouth, which his wife, the Duchess of Buccleuch, had influenced in favour of this misguided member of her own clan.

        Anyway, Robert got the farm.

        As it must be stocked if it were to be of any profit, he next made a bargain with an old shepherd named Hogg, doubtless an ancestor of James, the Ettrick celebrity of that name, though the exact pedigree might not be easy to trace.

        Hogg was to lend Robert the thirty pounds which he had accumulated in a life of penurious saving, and Robert was to appoint Hogg head-shepherd of a yet sheepless farm. Together, they were to buy sheep.

        On this errand they journeyed to a Northumbrian fair, Robert carrying the money-bag. They separated on arrival and Hogg made a tour of the sheep-pens. When he had matured his opinions upon the prices and qualities that the market offered, he rejoined his master, who was now on horseback. There was no need to worry further about the price of sheep. The horse was bought, and the thirty pounds were gone.

        Tradition says that there was some difficulty in explaining matters to the satisfaction of the ancient shepherd. As to that we may think what we will, and that Robert had to face a second interview of a lively kind is a very probable thing, but if we go on to suppose that this is no more than a tale of youth indiscretion we are miles out.

        Robert could ride. In fact, he liked riding as much as he disliked having to swim. He rode that horse after the hounds when he got home. He was a judge of a good horse, and he knew how to take a fence. In a few days' time the horse was sold for a doubled price. After that, he bought sheep.

        Robert settled down on the moorland farm, married Barbara Haliburton, and reared a numerous family. It was land from which a Welshman might have wrung a meagre living, and on which an English farmer would have promptly starved. But Robert had some uncommon qualities, beside the thriftiness of those who are reared on a shallow soil. Where he was, his success would be. He became a dealer in cattle, his operations extending from the Scottish Highlands to the midland counties of England. Shrewd, sagacious, quick of thought and speech, of a tireless activity, and with a name for scrupulous honesty, his reputation grew, and his business with it. We may think of him as sheep-farmer and cattle-drover, for such he was; but we must regard him also as a Harden Scott, whose name entitled him to meet the gentlefolk of the countryside on an equal footing, and whose thriving finances enabled him not only to establish his eldest son as an Edinburgh lawyer (as we have seen) but to provide on a similar scale for other members of the rather large family that he and Barbara raised beneath the shadow of Smailholm Tower, including a boy named Robert who was sent to sea!

        He found time also for the games and field-sports in which he delighted, and in which he had a cultivated proficiency, not only in their exercise, but in their rules and traditions, as he had in other questions of country rites or usage, so that he became widely reputed as an arbiter of dispute. At the period to which we are coming, we must think of him as a white-haired man, of medium height, and a spare activity, the sporting proclivities of earlier years still symbolised in the jockey cap which is his usual head-gear. Barbara is alive also. She will outlive him, and with an activity and capacity which will carry on the farm when he is dead; but it is the gentleness of her disposition which is most impressive to those who meet her. When we remember the 'sweetness' which was remarked in more than one of her children, and particularly in the Walter with whom we have been concerned, which was hardly discernable as a characteristic of the earlier Scotts, we may confirm our thought that the Haliburtons must not be overlooked when we consider his ancestry, and that of his greater son.

Chapter III.

        We have seen that there is a child at last in the corner house at the College Wynd, who is not destined to an infant's grave. He is to be named Robert, and, in defiance of the record of a previous holder of that name, he is also to go to sea.

        Another son, John, followed after a short interval, and then - three years later - a third boy, who was named Walter after his father and Auld Beardie, and it would be hard to say how many other ancestors. It was not the first attempt to continue the name which Walter's parents had made. It is significant of a stubborn fighting quality which is persistent in the Scott family, generation after generation, that the living children repeated the names of those who had died in infancy before them.

        The second Walter throve (in spite of an unfortunate experiment with a tuberculous foster-mother), and shortly after his birth the Scotts removed to a larger and lighter residence in George's Square. The shadow of those four children's deaths was a receding thing in a nursery which was made noisy by three vigorous boys, to which a baby girl had just been added when it threatened again in a new way.

        Walter, now eighteen months old, had been very lively one night, as was remembered afterwards, and resisted capture when bed-time came, but the next morning he was in a state of fever. The wisdom of the nursery authorities attributed this to a coming tooth, but upon the fourth day it became an insufficient explanation of the fact that he could not move his right leg.

        Anxious family consultations followed. The medical faculty of Edinburgh congregated around the child's cot, - Alexander Wood, the grandfather, Dr. Rutherford, and other names of repute at that time. Many treatments, blistering among them, were suggested, and tried in vain. The fever went. The child was otherwise well. But he crawled on the floor with the dragging weight of a useless limb.

        A chicken, being vigorous at birth, may run about very-cheerfully for the first fortnight, even if it be badly fed and worse housed. It is when the down moults, and the growth of feathers makes the first call on its strength, that the effects of previous damp, or lack of exercise or sunlight or vitalising food are shown in weakness and death; while another, that was no stronger at birth, but which has had its necessities better supplied, will grow feathers as easily as it will swallow a worm. A child should grow its teeth in the same way, and it is a poor standard of rearing which anticipates trouble. But if there be any lack of initial vitality, or if there have been any serious deprivation of air or light or essential food, it is then that Nature will present a bill which the child must pay. Dr. Rutherford, if he failed with those four children before, has the credit of having spoken the right word now. "Try Sandy-Knowe." The proposal was quickly adopted by parents who remembered those four tiny graves of children who had been strong at birth, and then so soon, so inexplicably failed.

        Walter was consigned to his grandparents' care. Mrs. Scott sent him to Sandy-Knowe in the charge of a maid in whom she must have felt that she had cause for sufficient confidence, but it was badly placed. The girl was mentally unstable. She was in a lunatic asylum soon afterwards.

        She may have had good reasons of her own for desiring to return to Edinburgh. It may have been no more than a general dislike of a quiet country life, which often affects the town-dwellers whose minds are badly developed in our own day. For their own peace they require a surrounding clamour. They are dependent, almost for existence, upon that which happens outside themselves. Anyway, she conceived a longing for the city streets, and hatred of the child who was the unconscious cause of her detention from them. Concealing a pair of scissors, she went out with the baby in her arms. She climbed the crags with a purpose of cutting his throat, and burying him in the moss. Even if suspicion should fall upon her, there could be no proof. The child would have disappeared. After a few days, she would be allowed to go home. Her need to do that appeared more to her than the life of a deformed baby.

        Had she carried out her purpose, there would have been a short trouble in George's Square; a crime, whether discovered or not, too unimportant for any permanent memory; and Robert Burns would have continued to be the greatest of Scottish poets. The English-speaking race would have lost one of its major intellectual impulses during the succeeding century, Tom Purdie would have gone to jail for poaching, Miss Charpentier would have found a different husband, and J. G. Lockhart a different wife. But the future development of English poetry (though Macauley would not have written the Lays of Ancient Rome) or of the English novel, would not have been very different, for reasons which we must not turn aside to consider here.

        But, fortunately for many besides the child who was most concerned, the young woman altered her mind. She went back, and the peak of full insanity must have been very near, for she mentioned the unusual use to which she had thought of applying her scissors to Alison Wilson, the housekeeper, with the result that she was sent back to Edinburgh by the next coach, as her heart desired. Shortly afterwards, the wretched creature disappeared within the sinister silence of asylum walls.

        It is a curious duplication of the exceptional that Walter Scott's life was again threatened many years later by a man who was crossing the threshold of lunacy. On that occasion (as we shall see in its place) he owed his safety to his own courage and self-control: on this one, his own part in the incident though it may not have been without importance, must have been of an unconscious kind.

        So the child of pure Border blood is back in the farmhouse where his father was born. He is in his grandfather's charge. Alison Wilson, the old housekeeper, takes him into her care. The baby happy-tempered, very loving in baby ways, alert of mind, healthy but for the dragging limb, becomes the common pet of the farm. There is no nurse to restrain his activities, nor (by Heaven's mercy) a baby-carriage to confine him further. Tibby Hunter and the other farm-girls compete for the privilege of carrying 'the darling' on their backs when they go ewe-milking among the crags. Better than that, when Sandy Ormiston goes out to the flocks, he is on the old man's shoulder. He is laid down to roll and crawl in the heather as he will, or as he can with that dragging limb. He raises baby hands to pull the fleeces of the friendly sheep. He lies out in sun and rain and wind as the lambs lie.

        Sandy has a whistle that he can blow at need from the crag's height on a note which will be heard in the kitchen at Sandy-Knowe, and one of the maids will come running to carry him in; but for the most part he is left in the heather's care, and once at least is forgotten, and must be sought through the torrent of moorland storm. . . It was his Aunt Janet who found him at last, looking up at the lightning with laughing eyes.

        So, significantly enough, after half a generation of city life (or more on the mother's side) the child of Border blood, of Scotts and Rutherfords, Haliburtons and Swintons, is back on his native crags, the child who is to interpret, to the world's end, that Border country in itself, in its history, and its people, as it never otherwise would have been known; transfigured somewhat, if you will, by a valour and nobility which was of himself, and which to him must be in every tale for it to be worth the telling, but always with the breadth of the only roof which closed the vision of his waking hours, the wide sanity of the moorland sky.

Chapter IV.

        For the next three or four years the younger Walter saw little of his parents' house in George's Square, where there was an ever-growing family, from which the curse of infant weakness seemed to have permanently lifted, but whether through the change of residence or the superior vitality which is frequently observable in the younger children of a large family might be hard to decide. Tom and Daniel are added to Robert and John and Anne. It seems to have been a happy, noisy family, in spite of the strict routine of its Calvinistic Sabbath. Its mother ruled it with a sympathetic gentleness. She had humour as well as courage and wisdom. Its father was absorbed in his growing practice. He was often absent on visits to his country clients. His reputation for chivalrous integrity, separating him somewhat from the practise of his brother lawyers, increased his clients, and in spite of some consequences of that quality, his income and status grew.

        We shall see more of these children later, and of the mother of so many, dead or living, of whom our Walter (who, of course, ought not to have been born at all) was to write nearly forty years later that she "is, I am glad to say, perfectly well."

        May there not be something to be said after all for the old gallant ignorant days? The days before we were so very sure that consumptives ought not be allowed to marry, or women to stake the risks of pregnancy, or a straightened income, against the gain of a child's life, and - in short, that we should always accept defeat without battle, unless we are quite sure of victory, and that we shall take no wound?

        However that be, Walter lives, by whatever precedent folly, for which we may unite to be thankful. The year was young when they brought him to Sandy-Knowe, and as the summer came, and he lay through the long hours under the moorland sky, the curiosities of childhood, and of an exceptionally alert and adventurous mind, joined the vitalising influences of sun and wind, in the unhurried impulses by which he crawled, and then stood uncertainly on the shrunken limb, and then began to run upon it with an increasing freedom.

        When the young woman of the scissors had brought him to Sandy-Knowe, it had been hard to rouse him to any activity. One of his first recollections was of his grandfather, with the jockey-cap on his short grey hair, still alert and active, though very near to his life's end, wrapping him in the skin of a just killed sheep, which was supposed to impart some mysterious vitality. And there was another old man there whose portrait was to be fixed indelibly on the child's abnormally retentive mind. Sir George MacDougall of Mackerstone his grandfather's cousin, once Colonel of the Greys, in "a small cocked hat, deeply laced, an embroidered scarlet waistcoat, and light coloured coat, with milk-white locks tied in a military fashion." So he knelt, not guessing that he was winning for himself a curious immortality as he dragged his watch along the floor, and the boy struggled to follow the bright attraction, beneath the weight of the heavy skin.

        The boy who would have grown up a crippled invalid in the city streets, gradually found it possible to engage in many robust activities. He would be able to ride well: to take long walks, though his progress might not be rapid. Determination can overcome much. Later, at Edinburgh High School, the difficulty of fighting on equal terms would be overcome in the same spirit, when he would chastise an enemy with the legs of both of them tied beneath the bench on which they fought. It is an arrangement which might well be considered by the promoters of boxing contests in our own day, with a view to prolonging their exhibitions of professional heavyweights, whose passion for the horizontal so often brings them to abrupt conclusion.

        Walter who, by the attraction of his own loving and generous nature, was throughout his life to have very many and loyal friends, owed much to Janet Scott during the years that followed.

        He had been about two years at Sandy-Knowe when someone suggested to his parents that the waters of Bath would be of benefit to the shrunken limb. The idea proved to be of no value, and the change was probably detrimental if weighed in a purely physical scale, but it seemed to the family to be a chance worth trying, though it was a more portentous and relatively expensive enterprise than it would be today. Coaches were slow. Roads were bad, and sometimes dangerous. Janet volunteered She was not young, as a woman's youth was reckoned at that period. She was over thirty. But it was a time when even mature women did not readily adventure such expeditions, with no company but that of a young child.

        Walter, watching with a child's comprehending silence, and storing everything in a memory the range and accuracy of which have been rarely equalled, thought that she was reluctant to face the ordeal. But, if it were so, her affection for him was strong enough to dominate her weaker fears, or her private plans. Indeed, it is hard to see who else could have gone, unless it had been a younger aunt in Edinburgh, Christian Rutherford, for which, had she been willing, there might have been a score of difficulties which can only be guessed today. Rather than that he should miss an opportunity of being healed, or pass into the charge of strangers, Janet said she would take him.

        It is an illuminating comment on the state of the Northern roads that it was considered safest to go to London by sea, and then complete the journey by the famous age-old thoroughfare of the Bath road.

        So Janet, with her three-year-old charge, faced the primitive conditions of a voyage in the small sailing-vessels that traded between Leith and London at that period, and made an eventless passage in the Duchess of Buccleuch - a name which suggests that some members of the Scott family may have been among its owners - leaving us no record either of hindering storm or the sight of a pirate's sails, and landed safely in London, where they delayed their journey sufficiently to visit its most famous buildings, and other places of interest. Walter records that when he inspected the Abbey and the Tower of London twenty-five years later, he was surprised to find how accurately he had remembered them through the intervening years, and that this experience increased his confidence in other infant memories which could not be checked in the same way.

        They remained at Bath for about a year, Walter going through the routines of the pump-room without any apparent benefit, and attending for three months at a dame's school which was near their lodging, where he learned to read.

        He owed his most vivid memory of this period to Janet's sailor brother, Captain Robert Scott, (for though the first had jibbed, the second Robert, like the third, had been sent to sea, as though in propitiation of Auld Beardie's still-indignant ghost!) He visited Bath while they were there, and took them to a performance of As You Like It. It was Walter's first experience of the theatre; an intoxication of poetic pageantry which he could never forget.

        To Captain Robert he owed a debt of another kind. He was already voracious in demand of tale and legend, and with an imagination which preferred such as were of a sombre horror or tragic magnificance. To his temperament, coming from the moorland scenes which were all that his memory knew, it is not very surprising that the sight of carved statuary, particularly such as portrayed the human form in grotesque or distorted shapes, impressed his childhood's imagination as a sinister and dreadful thing. Even the angels of Jacob's ladder, sculptured at the Abbey church, were a spectacle from which he drew back in horror.

        Learning of this imaginative fear, his uncle patiently introduced him to a statue of Neptune, till he could approach it without dread, and by this familiarity enabled him to overcome what might have remained as a permanent obsession. We see here, as we shall see many times again, that he was very fortunate in his friends, and not least in those who were of a kindred blood.

        Beyond these, his after-memories of Bath were no more than disconnected visions - of a toy-shop near the Orange Grove, and of looking across the Avon to cattle lowing upon the opposite hill.

        He returned from Bath to a brief stay in Edinburgh in his parents' home, and then back with Janet to Sandy-Knowe, where he lived almost continuously for the next three or four years.

Chapter V.

        In considering these early years of the town-born child we may observe a curious duplication of experience, such as can rarely be paralleled.

        Scott's ancestry on all sides are of farming, cattle-raising, border stock: they are of the land, not the city. But his immediate parents have changed their environment, though they have not diluted their blood. Their experiences are those of the city schools, and the city streets. Walter begins on the land, as his race began. He looks up to a country sky, his infant hands pull the fleeces of living sheep, his infant ears hear the country legends) the country songs. But this is not the environment in which he completes his development. He will go also to the life of city schools and streets, and be informed by the same duality of experience which had been overlaid to form him before he was born.

        This duplication of duality is of a vital significance. The breadth and sanity of the country-side is to become articulate, and not merely in self-interpretation. Its spirit is to inform and to interpret the whole panorama of human existence.

        But widely though Walter Scott's interests were to reach, and universal as his sympathies were to be, it is worth observation, and has a lesson for some theorists of today, that their roots struck deeply into the tradition of the past, and their trunk was nourished with the artistic consciousness of his own race, and the local literature of its creation. He did not abandon his roots, as a means of enabling him to produce a new flower. . . .

        A cold-blooded criticism may admit that Robert Burns is a grossly over-rated poet. Yet a sympathetic understanding will comprehend why he is so dear to the Lowland Scotsman. His poems were not written by one man; they are the songs of a nation: their distinctive lyric note, passionate and plaintive, was the creation of unrecorded names. In his aspirations and nobilities, he interpreted the spirit of the people of whom he came, as, in his vices, he exposed them upon their weaker side.

        There is a degree in which, though on a higher plane, the earlier work of Walter Scott was of the same kind, and there is a sense in which it also is not an individual achievement, but the work of many.

        His grandmother, Barbara, has her share, as have the authors of a score of forgotten ballads which she repeated to the eager child. So has Janet. So, then and later, have a dozen others, his mother prominently among them, who fed his imagination and stored his memory from the resources of their own minds. For much of that which he was to give to the common knowledge of men was not singular to his own conception. It was to he an interpretation, rather than a creation of genius. . . .

        Janet's father, Robert Scott, was dead when she brought Walter back from Bath. Her mother carried on the farm, not without help from more than one of her children. Her eldest, Walter's father, was able to relieve her of any care for the legal aspect of her late husband's affairs. Her second son, Thomas, who had the management of the Crailing property for Mr. Scott of Danesfield - a relative, of course, though not of the closest - helped her with the farm in matters which were beyond the capacity of her advanced years and failing health. He came over once a week, and might be the only one who would visit them for such an interval. Walter would listen eagerly for the news he brought. The English settlers in America were fighting for independence of the Home Governments and Walter longed for news of the defeat of Washington, which he was not destined to hear.

        It was only later in life that he observed the inconsistency of this desire with a hatred of the Hanoverian ruler, probably fiercer and less discriminating than Washington's own, which had developed in his infant mind, largely from listening to the tales of cruelty which followed the defeat of Culloden. One or two distant relatives of the family had been among those who were executed at Edinburgh or Carlisle, and it was all so recent that Mr. Curle at Yetbyre, who had married Janet's sister, and was an occasional visitor at the farm, had been present, and seen them die.

        Walter lived for about four years in the quiet peace of the moorland farm, with his grandmother and Janet, having no regular tuition, and seeing no-one outside the household, except for the visits of relations, and that the parish clergyman, Dr. Duncan, a 'tall thin emaciated man' of over seventy, wearing clasped gambadoes on his legs, would call occasionally, and impatiently damn (but not using that word, of course,) the noisy ballad-shouting child who interrupted his sedater conversation.

        Sixteen years later, Walter, then a young Edinburgh lawyer, called on Dr. Duncan, a fortnight before the old man's death, and recorded his wonder at the mental vigour and fortitude of this writer of a forgotten History of the Revolution, who had once been impatient of a child's noise. . . .

        But though he had no set tuition during these years, his mind found material on which to feed, perhaps with the greater vigour because it was at its own freedom to take or leave.

        There were a few books in the farmhouse of a congenial kind. Ramsey's Tea-table Miscellany was to be favourably remembered in later years. Josephus was so much loved, and Janet was so patient to repeat the reading of "favourite chapters" that the boy gave early evidence of prodigious memory by repeating long passages from memory before his own reading was sufficiently advanced to render him independent of his aunt's assistance.

        His grandmother, sitting quietly by the fireside in the evening of a long life, with thoughts that went back beyond her dead husband and scattered family, may have found as much pleasure in telling, as he in hearing, the tales which her own childhood had known.

        Tales which were fading into a doubtful tradition, and which were to be restored by the immortality of his own genius, had been near and vivid to her. She may have talked more of others than of the Scotts of Harden and Buccleuch, for we must remember that she was a Haliburton herself, from the next county. Her favourite tales were of the Deil of Littledean, an outlaw of much repute and many exploits, who had married her mother's sister, and might almost be regarded as one of the family.

        But she told also of Watt of Harden, and of her husband's father, Old Beardie Walter's great-grandfather - and of much else which was to be the foundation of future knowledge.

        And so the time passed, till the boy was in his eighth year, and he would run about, vigorously though awkwardly, on the shrunken limb, taking any comfort that he could from the fact that two of the ancestors of whom he had heard had (curiously enough) been lame too, and had overcome that obstacle to self-assertion, even in the days when the argument of physical fitness had been a first necessity for those who would come out on top in the rough struggle of Border life. Going far backward along the ancestral tree there was John Scott the Lamiter, (circ-1300) who, while avoiding the discipline of the monasteries, appears to have taken up a life of scholarship with sufficient success to marry and leave children and a good repute at his death, though how he contrived this is beyond saying. And six generations later there was a Scott of Harden, commonly known as William Boltfoot, who boldly recognised that a man on horseback maybe none the worse for a lame leg, and became of a widely dreaded reputation as a fearless rider, and one whose spear a prudent man would prefer to shun.

        Walter, by his own account, must have been nearly eight (he was born in August) in the summer when Janet went with him to Prestonpans. His leg (he was told) was to benefit from sea-bathing, and the decision to send him there may have been taken with this hope, but there are indications of other adjustments. Changes at Sandy-Knowe may have rendered it necessary for him to leave that hospitable roof, to which he did not return. Prestonpans may have been chosen - if Janet chose it - because it was there that she could meet George Constable, as, in fact, she did.

        George Constable was a friend of Walter's father. They had studied law together, but George had not practised, retiring to his own property, which was near Dundee. He was under fifty at this time. He seemed old to the child.

        Yet it was clear that he was not only his father's friend. He was the friend of his father's sister also. They were constantly together, and Janet was not one to endure an uncongenial companionship. Yet it was a friendship which does not seem to have ended in discord, nor to have gained fruition in a closer intimacy. They both died unmarried. It is their matter, not ours.

        Walter saw much of George Constable at a later date when, residing in Edinburgh, he used to be a regular guest at the Sunday dinner-table in George's Square. He observed his licensed tendency to lead the conversation from his father's Calvinistic austerities to subjects of history or antiquity, in which he more greatly delighted. He had humour, and was rich in anecdote, often drawn from his own experience. He remembered the '45. He professed a hatred of women, and the memories of the young man, while he sat respectfully silent, went back to those childhood days at Prestonpans, when he had observed Mr. Constable and his aunt together, - and he was not sure.

        Afterwards, he reproduced some of Constable's peculiarities in the character of Jonathan Oldbuck, but without intending to give a recognisable portrait, and was surprised when George (Chalmers, a London solicitor who had known both Constable and his father, affirmed that he must be the author of the Antiquary as he recognised the original of that character.

        But we are looking ahead. At Prestonpans, George Constable earned a grateful memory by finding intervals in his attentions to Janet in which he talked to the precocious child of Shakespeare's characters, being apparently unable to contribute to the supply of ballads and local traditions which were his first demand upon every friendly acquaintance.

        At Prestonpans, he also made the acquaintance of a retired veteran 'Captain' Dalgety, from whose memories he took the toll which he was already practised to extract from all whose reading or experience could add to the stores of his own mind.

        By his own account, it was the summer of that campaign which ended in the disaster of Saratoga. Cornwallis, coming down from Canada, was to march through the wilderness of the backwoods, and take the rebel army in the rear. What would become of Washington then, already defeated and driven out of Long Island?

        It was one of those ideas that are strategically sound, but inadequately operated. The old man and the child leaned over the map together. The veterans military pride clashed with the imagination of his young companion as they gazed upon it. The old soldier foretold the military triumph of England. The child's eyes gazed upon the map, with its suggestions of wooded wilderness and rivers and entangling lakes, and the vital imagination and invincible sanity of judgement which would always enable him to see the strength and quality of the opposition darkened his mind with foreboding. The two disputed as to whether the news would be of disaster or triumph, and when the tale of Saratoga came, there was a cooling of this intimacy, for the veteran sulked.

        That is Scott's own account; but there is a difficulty here, which we must explain as we can. He was born on August 15th, 1771. The surrender of Saratoga took place on October 15th, 1777. At this date he was not 'in his eighth year'. His age was six years and eight weeks. If we allow for the interval which must have elapsed - anything from six weeks to ten before the news could have reached Prestonpans, - he will have been a few weeks older, and the season proportionably less propitious for sea bathing on the North Sea coast.

        There is not only the difficulty of the increased precocity of the child's understanding, which is implied by the alteration of date, there is the fact that, if we accept his statement as it stands, it alters the length of his stay at Sandy-Knowe, and the date at which he returned permanently to his parents' home, which seems an improbable mistake for him to have made, for several reasons. But there must be some error in his statement. It is chronologically impossible.

        Was the whole episode imaginary? It seems extremely unlikely. He had remarked, in other connections, on how accurate he found his memory of the events of his early years, when he was able to check it.

        Is it not more probable that there was more than one visit to Prestonpans? More than one occasion for Janet and George Constable to stroll on the sea-shore, while Walter played with shells on the turf, and sailed boats on the tidal pools, as he remembered doing so clearly when he revisited the scenes in his closing years? . . .

        There is another memory of these early years which came back to him, and was recorded at the other end of his life, when he attended the funeral of his uncle Raeburn. That was a recollection of when he was four or five, and was staying at his uncle's home, Lessudden House. Under whatever circumstances, he must have been there for a considerable time, for he remembers half-taming a starling, which his uncle ruthlessly killed. He never forgot this, and though his uncle did, the two never liked each other afterwards. Scott did much for his family, and Raeburn showed no gratitude, taking it as being done for his wife and children rather than for him, and Scott, in his scrupulous justice, admitted the fairness of this in his own mind.

Chapter VI.

        It was in the autumn following his eighth birthday, if we follow his own recollection and a balance of probabilities, that Walter returned to his parents' home in George's Square, which was to be his permanent residence until his marriage about eighteen years later.

        Up to then he had been, in his own phrase, "a single indulged brat" and his first experience as an unimportant member of a large family left a recollection of misery which time did not obliterate, though he could analyse it without bitterness, and met it at the time with a measure of good sense and good temper which showed that character is something more than the product of its own environment.

        Robert, the naval officer to be, and John, who was to take up a military life, were from three to five years older than himself; Anne was about a year his junior: Tom, destined to succeed to their father's practice, and Daniel, destined to nothing better than a life of failure, completed the family.

        It was about this time than Anne suffered from the almost fatal accident which physically wrecked her life. She is one of those tragedies of human existence of whom no biographies are written, and whose lives are only regarded when they obtrude upon the stage of some more dominating personality. Yet had the scales of fate tilted a different way, as Walter might have remained at home to die of infantile paralysis, or might have been buried in moorland moss with the wound of a mad woman's scissors in his throat, so she might have used her gift of imagination to a purpose as great as he. We can do no more than guess, and perhaps, if we could see with clearer eyes, the difference would be no more than a little thing.

        She was a child who walked blindly in a world of dreams. It was a quieter world than we know today, when such a one would end promptly beneath a lorry's wheels, but its dangers were too many for her. Her hand was badly crushed in a wind-swung door: her half-drowned body was dragged out of an old quarry-hole in the open ground, known as Brown's Park, which was then on the south side of George's Square: before she was six, her clothing had caught fire when she was in a room alone. She survived this last catastrophe, after a long illness, with a broken constitution and a disfigured face. She died before she was thirty. She was devoted to Walter, the lame brother who was so near in age to herself, and who dreamed to such different ends. She lived long enough to give swift friendship and loyal advocacy to Charlotte Charpentier, when Walter brought her, a gay, courageous, foreign, frightened girl, to be his wife in the cold Edinburgh atmosphere.

        Looking at it as a whole, there seems to be a Divine cruelty in such a life as Anne's, which opens with a brightness of morning dreams, and is so quickly clouded. A barren, physically frustrated life, with an inward bitterness which was sometimes bitter to others. Yet the thought may be no more than the folly of ignorance. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten of God?

        Robert bullied the new-comer, to whom the experience did no harm. Indeed, the balance may have been in the other scale. But to Robert, his disposition being as it was, it was misfortune that he was the eldest of the five brothers.

        He was a boy of many fine qualities rather floridly worn, but of an overbearing disposition. Afterwards, as a young naval officer, he did well. He was in 'almost all' Rodney's battles, and came safely through. Walter says that he was a lover of literature, music, and the mechanical arts, could sing a good song, tell a good tale, and even wrote a good elegy in the then-conventional manner on the April night of 1782, when he was a midshipman of sixteen, and the English fleet was cleared for the action of the following day.

        And for these things? in spite of his "capricious tyranny", Walter 'loved him much'. But he was barely eighteen when the peace of 1782 apparently ended the prospects of rapid naval advancement, and so he resigned his commission, and joined the East India Company's service. That, at least, was the argument, but it was complicated by the fact that he considered that he had been badly treated by a superior officer. We know nothing of the rights and wrongs of this quarrel. The naval discipline of those days could not have been easy to endure, and the East may have called to Robert's imagination, as it has done to thousands of others before and since. But it was a fatal decision for him. He made two voyages, and contracted some tropical disease of which he died.

        Walter held the belief that had Robert continued in the navy he would have made a name in the great wars that were soon to follow. Like Anne's, it is the record of a frustrated - perhaps we should say self-frustrated - life. The boy's adventurous, too-impatient spirit was soon quietened in its Indian grave. But before we call such a life vain, we might do well to define the standards of vanity by which we judge.

        And as we trace the history, one by one, of the children of any numerous household, and watch the impact of character and circumstance, and the accidents of mortality, we may pause to consider the modern theory of the advantages of the limited family, the sheltered existence, the 'best' schools, the concentration of every approved stimulus upon a single life, and wonder, by several standards, whether its premises are quite sound.

        Robert, who died young, has yet left a clear impression of personality, John, who lived longer, is a less emphatic figure in the family picture. He went into the army, and at the age of forty he held the rank of Brevet-Major in the 73rd regiment. So far, merit and seniority neither of much avail without influence at that period - appear to have been responsible for such promotions as he had gained; then the intervention of Mr. Canning secured his commission as major of the regiment's second battalion. But his health broke down almost at the same time. He retired from the army, lived an invalid's life with their mother for a few years, and died before he was forty-eight.

        Of Walter's younger brothers there may be more to be seen, bad or good, at a later time.

Whatever hardship there might be for an indulged and sensitive child in adjusting his egotism to the routines and dominations of family life was mitigated by his mother, who gave him the understanding sympathy without which love itself may be vain. She found space for his bed in her own dressing-room: she found time to guide his reading, and to listen while he read aloud, - from Pope's Iliad in particular - and to discuss what was read. The child noticed the exertion of a gentle pressure: to divert his mind from the grotesque and terrible, in which at that time it most delighted, to the consideration of nobler and serener things. That he was not influenced by his mother's intellectual and moral standards would be too emphatic an assertion. His love and admiration for her continued to her life's then distant end, and with such relations prevailing, some influence there must have been. But his own personality, both in character and intellect, was too strong to be widely diverted either by the pressure of circumstance or the dominations of other minds. He might suffer 'internal agony' from the first impacts of unkindness, when subjected to his brother's capricious and bullying moods, but it did not blind him to that brother's more admirable qualities, nor alienate his natural affection from him; he was conscious of his mother's moral or literary preferences, but she could not lessen his own delight in tales of wonder or terror, about which he wrote many years after "I have remained a child, even unto this day".

        But the sanctuary of his mother's dressing-room, in which he slept, through her protective partiality or the exigences of a rather crowded household, gave him the full advantages of all that her own mind could offer to his eager intellectual appetite, with access to the Shakespearean plays which she kept there for her own reading.

        His own witness is that he owed more to his mother than to any other, more even than to his grandmother or Janet Scott, for the power to realise vividly and to accurately reproduce the incidents and characters of the legendary history of Scotland which were to provide the substance for so many future romances both in verse and prose.

        It is with this return to his parents' home that the formal ritual of education began. It is customary to represent it as having been delayed by the ill-health of his early years, and to have been distinguished by some subsequent deficiencies both of conduct and opportunity. An examination of the facts gives little support to these impressions, for which he is himself partly responsible, by his deprecatory allusions to lack of scholarship, and which is partly due to Lockhart's more conventional prejudices.

        His own statement is that he returned to Edinburgh from Prestonpans sometime after his seventh birthday (August 1778) and that he accompanied his brothers to the Edinburgh High School before the end of that year, where he was put into the second class, and found himself rather behind his class-mates, both in age and studies. Previously, he and his brothers had received home lessons in Latin from a private tutor. The possible interval for this private tuition appears short, and the suggestion occurs again that he might have had a period of home life during the earlier winter, but, in any event, his systematic education commenced before he was at an advanced age. But we must not overlook two facts if we are to assess his own and Lockhart's references justly. Education at that period meant primarily a knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages and literatures. If you had received that teaching you were educated: if you hadn't you weren't. Also, it was customary to commence this education at a very early age. The age (we might almost say the childhood) of his brother Robert when he became a midshipman in Rodney's navy is illuminating. Rodney himself had entered the navy when he was twelve. It is true that midshipmen of that age were expected to continue their studies - more or less - when they were not commanding a boat's crew, or carrying powder up from the magazine. More or less - and in times of active service less rather than more. It is evident that if you wished to make sure of acquiring the classical languages it was the safest way to commence young.

        The conventional definition of education might have been worse, but lacked breadth. Walter Scott gained a good knowledge of Latin, and several other languages, but he never learned Greek. That was regrettable, as all ignorance is. But to obtain a correct perspective we must recognise that if he had learnt more Greek he must have learnt less of something else. The human mind cannot be occupied with two things at once. He was of an immense intellectual industry. His mind worked best on subjects which interested it most, as is the common experience. He had an extraordinary memory. He reached a prodigious scholarship. It was his gain and ours that it was not entirely on conventional lines. Lockhart appears to recognise this possibility in one luminous sentence. "As may be said, I believe, with perfect truth of every really great man, Scott was self-educated in every branch of knowledge which he ever turned to account in the works of his genius." The crowding superlatives of this sentence are an example of Lockhart's style at its worst, and its over-statement approaches nonsense, but it shows that he saw the truth for a moment, though (as often) he lacked the self-confidence and independence of mind that would have enabled him to do justice to his own perceptions. Lockhart constantly overestimates the influence of environment, and overvalues the conventional standards of the moment. Conversely, for all his admirable compilation of details, he fails to appreciate, though he sometimes mentions, the independence and force which may often be obscured by the tolerant breadth of Scott's emotional and intellectual sympathies.

        Anyway, if we accept Scott's own memory, at the age of seven-and-a-half he was in the second class of the Edinburgh High School, studying Latin with about eighty other children, most of whom were rather older, and knew more. The boys were not seated alphabetically, but were arranged according to their real or estimated ability, and he found himself near the foot of the class with some dull-witted seniors. He accepted this position and companionship very cheerfully. His mind was full of many things beside the study of Latin. It was occupied with romantic imaginations, and the intoxicating music of words. The fascination of the art which weds emotion and imagination to verbal melody caused him to love the reciting aloud of the poetry which he memorised so readily. But he had learned already that this might arouse derision in minds incapable of its appreciation, and he would prefer to recite in solitude, being sensitive to ridicule at this time, as children are.

        That he did not advance more rapidly in the study of a dead language was owing to no lack of parental effort. His father supplemented the High School teaching of his sons by engaging a tutor, a Mr. James Mitchell, who assisted them in the preparation of their home tasks, and taught writing and arithmetic also. He had been the minister of a sea-port kirk, and had quarrelled with his congregation on the question of whether their fishing-boats should set sail on the Sabbath. They thought it brought them luck, and he thought that damnation would be more likely to follow. Rather than surrender his opinion, he resigned his living. Scott says drily that "the calibre of this young man's understanding may be judged of by this anecdote". But the stubborn honesty of his character may have seemed a more important recommendation to the elder Walter, who may also have agreed with him upon the theological aspects of the point on which he wrecked his worldly prospects. For though, in other ways, the household at George's Square seems to have been driven on a light rein, and with wisdom as well as love, the Sabbath observance was a strict rule, strictly enforced; "and in the end" Scott gave his deliberate tolerant judgement in after years, "it did none of us any good".

        But even Mr. James Mitchell was able to contribute something more than a teaching of arithmetic, and the hearing of lessons in Latin and French. He was a student of the early history of the Church of Scotland, and Walter discovered that knowledge, and took the toll that he extracted from the mental stores of all with whom he came in contact during these early days.

        And so life went on for the next three years, during which he developed physically in a manner which enabled him to engage in many active exercises, in spite of the difficulty of a lameness which was now recognised as permanent. And the spirit in which he strove to overcome this physical handicap united with that which caused him to be quicker to help a companion's task than to excel in his own, to win him a general popularity among his school companions. The experiences of his boyhood contrast with those of many poets of more morbid or egotistic moods during this period of life, and, characteristically, looking back, he attributed his popularity to the natural nobility of the nature of the youthful male. "Boys," he reflected, "are uncommonly just in their feelings, and at least equally generous." It is not a proposition to which Shelley would have given a ready assent. It may be doubted whether the idea would have occurred without qualification to Byron, Coleridge, or Wordsworth. Yet it may have at least as much truth as would be contained in a meaner judgement. He offered the courage and generosity of his own nature, and he found ready response.

        He gained a reputation also among his companions in those early years for the skill with which he could narrate his ' inexhaustible ' tales, and there was emulation among them for the privilege of sitting nearest to him at the winter fireside on such occasions. . . .

        At the age of ten, he was promoted to the class over which the head of the school, Dr. Adam, himself presided. Dr. Adam may have magnified his office, and his own importance. Watching the careers of the many boys who passed through his class, he may have been disposed to attribute their successes too much to his own exertions, and their failures to an excessive measure of original sin. But it was a fault of zeal, if fault it can be called, and the after-records of his scholars were a legitimate source of pride. He recognised the ability of a sometimes-indolent sometimes-inattentive boy, and succeeded in making him realise that knowledge was worth a disciplined effort to win. During the next two years, Walter gained a proficiency in the construing of the Latin classics which took him into the higher form of the two over which Dr. Adam presided. For the first time, he felt the confidence of scholastic ability, and a new pride of proficiency in studies which he had previously regarded as a boring interference with the independent activities of his own imaginations.

        For the first time, also, he owed and recognised a clear debt to the deliberate influence of another mind. Not that he had previously gained nothing from others. But when he had plundered such stores as he considered worth the carrying away from the memories and imaginations of Janet Scott, and Barbara Haliburton, of his mother, Anne Rutherford, and of a score of others, he had done it of his own free will, as a corsair will empty hulls. But he allowed Dr. Adam to lay a hand on his mind's helm, and to deflect its course. The importance of this was not that he learnt more Latin, though there was gain in that, but that he was induced to discipline his mind, which he found difficult to his life's end. As is frequent with those of strong imagination, he could not easily concentrate on a set task. His mind was not idle, but of a prodigious activity. It had a restless waywardness which hated harness. Dr. Adam succeeded in convincing him that his mental powers should be subdued to be tools rather than tyrants, and he recognised the importance of this lesson in later years.

        When he had been two years under Dr. Adam's tuition, Lord Buchan called to inspect the school.

        We know Lord Buchan best as an old man, a fussing busybody, of a conceit which sometimes achieved unconscious comedy. Scott, with a rare contempt, alludes to him in his journal as 'a trumpery body'. But, like the rest of us, he had been young once. He was a young man when some whim of self-importance took him on this visit of inspection to the Edinburgh High School. Walter Scott, in disgrace for an aggravated negligence, was seated near the foot of the class, as the custom was under such circumstances. But Dr. Adam forgot that his pupil was exiled from the seats of honour in the desire to show the best ability of his school. He called him out to repeat the passage from the Aeneid in which Hector's ghost appears. The recitation was a success, and was warmly applauded. It was the first time that his passion for poetry had met a stranger's approbation, and it became an enduring memory. Many years after, it inclined him to patient endurance of the tiresome follies of Lord Buchan's declining years.

Chapter VII.

        During the four or five years that Walter was at the Edinburgh High School, he had made frequent visits, for the length of the school vacations, to his Aunt Janet, who was now living in a house in Kelso, which was at that time his father's property, the farm at Sandy-Knowe having been given up when her mother died. Kelso is a village delightfully situated where Tweed and Teviot meet. "The most beautiful, if not the most romantic village in Scotland," Scott called it in later years. His health benefited by these visits, and they cultivated his passionate love for that locality which was to be one of the inspiring and controlling influences of his life, both for good and evil.

        It was springtime, in the course of his thirteenth year, when his term at the High School ended, and in the natural order he would have gone on at once to the greater freedom of college tuition. But he was growing fast, and a suggestion that he should spend the summer at Kelso was readily adopted, doubtless to his delight, and not at all to the detriment of his education. For the Kelso schoolmaster, Mr. Lancelot Whale, was one of those men, so commonly met in the records of a period in which ability exceeded opportunity, who are too good for the positions they fill. An arrangement was made by which Walter read Latin with Mr. Whale and the other senior scholars, and helped in the school by teaching elementary subjects to the junior class. He has recorded that Mr. Whale gave him more than his fair share of attention, and he looked back on that summer as a time when he learnt much, and in many ways. It was during these months at Kelso that he became consciously aware of the beauty of his surroundings, and that the romantic pageantry of creation captured his imagination through a medium other than the printed page.

        For he had become an insatiable and (to his own memory) an indiscriminate reader, and this notorious appetite had found its own means of gratification. A free lending library - a subscription library - his mother's volumes of Shakespeare, (wickedly devoured after he was supposed to be in bed, by the light and warmth of her bedroom fire, with an apprehensive ear for the ascending footsteps which would send him scuttling back to his dressing-room bed) - these, and the school-book classics, had been magically supplemented by the fact that Dr. Blacklock - a name deservedly honoured in the Edinburgh records of that time - had noticed the boy's omnivorous appetite, and given him the freedom of his private library. He gave him wise guidance also, introducing him, in particular, to the poetry of Edmund Spencer, which became probably the strongest single influence upon his own creations in later years.

        Edmund Spencer is regrettably neglected today, and his place is only grudgingly recognised in the front rank of English poets. But to Walter Scott, even in boyhood, the Fairie Queen had nothing to offer to which he could not respond with the high quality of an equal appreciation. The rich and seemingly-inexhaustible varieties of verbal melody, the luxuriance of imagination, the continually changing wonders of light and colour, the high chivalrous conception of the purpose of life in which nobility is normality, and 'No service lothsome is to gentle kind', all these were of the substance of the reader's own intellect, and of his own character. It is no wonder that the poem which is to many a forbidding wilderness, and to others a magic forest in which they cannot tire to wander, became to him an intoxication, till a "really marvellous" number of its myriad stanzas became part of the enduring furniture of his own mind.

        With the autumn opening of the College term, he returned to Edinburgh, and commenced to take the Greek and Latin University courses. Under the laxer college discipline, students were not compelled to application. They could work or not as they pleased. It was their own choice, and their own (or their parents') loss, if they neglected to do so. With this freedom, Scott is emphatic in self-condemnation. So far as the Greek class is concerned, he didn't please in the least. He had learnt no Greek up to that time, and he found himself among boys who had already mastered the rudiments of the language. His mind was full of other interests, and (he says) he asserted an obstinate opinion that Greek wasn't worth learning. His class-master, Professor Dalzell, an enthusiastic classical scholar, expostulated in vain. Being required to write an essay upon the comparative merits of the authors they had studied, Scott perversely infuriated the Professor by producing an ingenious comparison of Homer and Ariosto, to the detriment of the earlier poet. The "quality of out-of-the-way knowledge" which the essay displayed surprised Professor Dalzell, but was impotent to soothe his anger at this audacious heresy.

        Protest came also from a fellow-pupil, an innkeeper's son, who came to George's Square to argue in favour of the language and literature to which he was himself devoted. He offered to give free help in the evenings to assist in its study, but it was a rejected kindness. Scott blamed himself afterwards very severely for this attitude, which was foolish enough, and, looking back, he had an uneasy self-contemptuous fear that the boy's social inferiority may have influenced the repulse. If so, it was as unlike himself to have acted from such a motive as it was characteristic that he should make public acknowledgement subsequently.

        But the fact is that he was attracted rather by the living cargo which the world's literature carries than by the dry bones of scholarship. It was noticed by his first Latin master that he might be slower than some others on points of construction or syntax, but that he would be the first to extract the vital meaning of the passage with which they dealt.

        There may have been another reason why his neglect of the Greek classes met with less opposition than would otherwise have been the case.

        It was his father's purpose that he should enter his own profession, though it was not resolved whether he should follow the 'higher' branch, or succeed to the management of the business which his father had built up. He accepted this programme with complacence, if without enthusiasm. The legal profession had much use for Latin, but little for Greek. Had the elder Walter heard that his son was treating the Latin tongue with contempt, there might have been more said. As a fact, his father seems to have shown no dissatisfaction at this period either with his abilities or application. The abortive attempt upon the Greek tongue ended of itself in the second term, when another breakdown of health resulted in a second prolonged visit to Kelso, and to the desultory reading which may have been of far greater value than his own assessment allows. Subsequently, on returning to Edinburgh, he took courses in Mathematics, in History, in Moral Philosophy, and in Ethics, in which last he had the honour of being chosen to read an essay before Professor Robertson.

        The subjects appear to have been of his father's selection, and he attributes the fact that they were not more numerous to the parental desire that he should have ample leisure for legal studies. He took the University courses in Civil and Municipal Law.

        His father wisely considered that, even if he were destined for the Bar, he would gain much by a detailed knowledge of the routines of a solicitor's work, and early in his fifteenth year he commenced a five-years' apprenticeship in his father's office.

        To the ideas of today, he had left College at an absurdly early age. He had acquired a wide range of knowledge, and had a keen appetite for acquiring more, which school teaching does not always give. His time had not been wasted, as the sequel showed.

        His own judgement of these years of study was afterwards given in these words: "it is with the deepest regret that I recollect in my manhood the opportunities of learning which I neglected in my youth; that through every part of my literary career I have felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance; and that I would at this moment give half the reputation I have had the good fortune to acquire, if by so doing I could rest the remaining part upon a sound foundation of learning and science."

        It is a severe judgement, in which humility weights the scale. Conscious of what he might have gained, he may have undervalued that which he would have lost to acquire it.

"Few ever read so much," he says of those years, "and to so little purpose." It is an opinion with which few will be likely to agree.

Chapter VIII.

        Although we may dissent from Scott's modest estimate of his own scholarship, it is evident that he expressed genuine feelings of regret and deficiency in the quotations given in the previous chapter.

        Even a century ago, the world of knowledge was not considered beyond the travelling capacity of a single mind. Either you had taken the grand tour of its dominions, or you had not. It was a question of fact, about which there could be no ambiguity. If you had, you were educated, even though you had forgotten half you had seen: otherwise you were not.

        The same idea is still dominant in the practice of giving a University degree for a minimum proficiency in a group of subjects, instead of a certificate of proficiency for each or any. The most profound knowledge of ancient languages will not avail a man who declines or is unable to attain a set standard of mathematical ability. Nor will the most profound knowledge of mathematics be honoured in another, if he persists in disregarding all languages but his own.

        These composite standards of judgement may be condemned as stupid and inequitable, - as they are - but they are based upon the sound principle that we have not mastered any subject unless we understand it in its relations to others. We do not know a continent because we have separately explored its countries, unless we know their relations to one another, and where their boundaries meet. The effect of a furnished room is something more than the sum of the effect of its items of furniture; and if we are conversant with only half its contents, and regard them separately, no closeness of scrutiny will alter the fact that we are of an inferior knowledge to one who sees the whole, even though it be in a poor light.

        We have warning examples of this result of specialisation today in men who have attained eminence in one branch of knowledge, and have then made public demonstration of some childish credulity by which they mislead the simple, who fail to see that their concentration upon physics or anthropology may have resulted in a peculiar ignorance of other subjects, and that a reputed proficiency in one branch of research does not demonstrate exceptional soundness of judgement, and may be consistent with an amazing absence of common-sense. So that wide publicity is given to authoritative nonsense such as that fishes do not learn from experience, that the ghost of Napoleon can be summoned by an illiterate medium to chatter "roses, roses all the way," or (from a scientifically-omniscient bishop) that there was a recent period during which women commonly produced twelve children, of which only three survived. Such people, whatever their reputation or degrees, may properly be described as uneducated, not because they are ignorant, as we all are, but because they are unaware of their limitations.

        To be truly educated - it is the most we can hope, and should be the least at which we should rest content - is to be aware of the nature and extent of the realms of knowledge which we do not explore, and to be prepared to enter them so far as time allows and occasion calls. All knowledge is then at our disposition, and may be used to good purpose so far as we have trained ourselves to the logic and toleration which are necessary to that end. To burden memory with endless accumulations of detail is as foolish as to endeavour to carry all our material possessions continually on our backs.

        This was as true a century ago as it is today, and by such standard Walter Scott was far better educated than most of those whose claims he would have readily conceded to be superior. But he had no inclination to magnify his own attainments or creations, as men of less genius are apt to do. He looked high and far, seeing all that he was not, and could never be. Seeing himself as he was, he thanked God for a small thing. By his own vision he may have been right, but if we agree with him we convict ourselves. . . .

        Having entered his father's office, he took on the work which it required with a conscientious diligence, which brought its own rewards. He hated the confinement, but on his own testimony, which certainly did not err in leniency of self-judgement, he was no 'idle apprentice'. His statement on this point might be worth consideration by all who plead the "artistic temperament" as an excuse for inability to undertake their fair share of the prosaic work of the world, and those who condone the shallow egotism of such an attitude. "The drudgery of the office I disliked, and the confinement I altogether detested; but I loved my father, and I felt the rational pride and pleasure of rendering myself useful to him. I was ambitious, also; and among my companions in labour the only way to gratify ambition was to labour hard and well."

        He had his ultimate reward in becoming a more than competent lawyer: his immediate incentive in a system of copy-money which was the apprentices' slender remuneration for the clerical work they undertook, and which enabled him, whose shillings had been infrequent and few, to indulge in an occasional visit to the theatre, or the acquisition of some otherwise inaccessible book. With such incentives, he remembered once fair-copying 120 folio pages without interval either for food or sleep. . .

        We must not linger unduly over these years of legal apprenticeship, but there are a few recorded incidents which are of intrinsic interest, and illuminating quality.

        It was about at this period that he met Robert Burns for the first time and the last, except for casual street-encounters when he was (quite naturally) not recognised by the older man. There is kindness and admiration in his memory of this event, and its cruelty is without intention. It was at Professor Fergusson's, amid a group of several of those who were of literary reputation in Edinburgh at the moment, Dugald Stewart among them. It was Burns' first visit to Edinburgh, and he was the centre of the gathering. He was shown a print of one of Bunbury's pictures, with some lines of Langhorne's ('Cold on Canadian hills, or Minden's plain') beneath it. The sloppy sentimentality of the lines are rivalled by the bathos of the print. Dead soldier in snow - faithful dog howling beside him - widow also punctually present, with (need it be said?) a baby on her mourning breast. Burns 'seemed much affected by the print. He actually shed tears.' He wanted to know who wrote those pathetic lines about

      "- her eye dissolved in dew,
    The big drops mingling with the milk he drew."

        The literary gentlemen looked at each other, but were unable to supply the information. Scott, modestly in the background as became his youth, whispered Langhorne's name to a bolder companion, who spoke it for him. Burns "rewarded me with a look and word which, though of mere civility, I then received, and still recollect, with very great pleasure". It is a curious fact that Langhorne's name was printed under the lines, but the eyes of all the company may have been blurred with tears.

        Scott makes no criticism of Scotland's national bard. He probably believed to his life's end that he had stood in the presence of a greater man than himself. He says: "Among the men who were the most learned of their time and country, he" (Burns) "expressed himself with perfect firmness, but without the least intrusive forwardness; and when he differed in opinion he did not hesitate to express it firmly, yet at the same time with modesty."

        It is a good witness. But what judgement it is on the man that such testimony should be considered worth putting on record! . . .

        Wishing to read the old French romances in the original, this boy of fourteen, who is so dissatisfied at his neglect of his early opportunities, had already mastered their language, and now, with the lure of Ariosto and Tasso - he had only seen the latter in the 'flatness' of Hoole's translation, not, it seems, having encountered Fairfax's livelier version, or the real poetry of Carey's fragment - he determined to learn Italian. The cost of two evening classes a week became a first charge upon the shillings which his penmanship earned.

        But in spite of the confinement of office hours, the learning of Italian, and his insatiable reading, his life at this time was far from sedentary. Lockhart hints that his fellow-apprentices were a rather boorish lot. He could not have known them, and there is some explicit contrary evidence. Scott's special friend, both at High School and subsequently, John Irving, was certainly not of that description. The two boys lived near to one another, and had found a congenial fellowship from a very early age, taking Song walks together, and narrating romances to one another, which they composed in turns. It was an occupation kept secret to themselves, lest it should provoke ridicule, but Walter had discovered that his friend's mother was a preserver of ancient ballads, both in her own head and their original printings, and Mrs. Irving was added to the list of those upon whom he made distraint to store the resources of his own mind.

        As the years passed, and his strength grew, these walks increased in length, his eager vitality overcoming the reluctance of the shrunken leg, as it had done when he first crawled among the sheep in the heathered moorland of Sandy-Knowe.

        It appears to have been at a later period of his fifteenth year - probably in the summer of 1786 that he was able to visit the Highlands for the first time. He went on the invitation of one of his father's Highland clients, - for the firm's practice had spread far beyond the original relationships in the Lowland counties, an accession of business which may have originated with grandfather Robert's cattle-dealing connections; and when we probe the origins of this invitation we come upon another of Walter's childhood memories.

        Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle was a Jacobite patriarch who had survived participations in the '15 and '45, and would visit Edinburgh in connection with various litigations which had superseded more primitive and congenial methods of settling differences with his Highland neighbours. Walter's first memory of him was at the time when Edinburgh was expecting attack from that picturesque Yankee 'pirate', Paul Jones, and the ancient claymore-girded warrior was volunteering assistance in defence of his country's capital. That was in September 1779. Alexander can scarcely have been under eighty, and Walter was just eight. The incident must have occurred at his father's home or office, and Walter cannot have been at Sandy-Knowe or Prestonpans at that time.

        Seven years later, Mr. Stewart still flourished, and his legal business still necessitated visits to his attorney at Edinburgh. Here he renewed acquaintance with the younger Walter, and joined the goodly company of those who had contributed to the wealth of legend and reminiscence which were being stored in the young law-student's mind. Such conversations led to an invitation to visit the Highland chieftain in his own home, and so the first materials were made available for the future Waverley.

        It was probably in the spring after this visit, or in the following year - the exact date is again in doubt - that Walter's health broke down seriously. His own statement is that it had become 'uncertain and delicate' from rapid growth 'and other causes', and that a blood-vessel broke. The medical treatment which was considered suitable for his condition was of a drastic kind, with some surprising features, but it was justified by its results. He was bled and blistered ' till he had scarcely a pulse left'. He was starved both of warmth and food. It was northern spring weather, cold and raw, but it was part of the remedial treatment that his bloodless body should shiver beneath a single blanket. He had a meagre diet of vegetables, which did little to satisfy a hunger which had become ravenous. He was not even allowed to talk. He might play chess and he might read.

        He lay thus for several weeks. An arrangement of mirrors enabled him to watch troops exercising on the promenade. His own exercise was of the imagination only. He read military history, and set out its battles in childlike games with shells and pebbles and seeds, with toy cross-bows for artillery, and with a wooden fortress which a friendly carpenter - when was he ever to lack the friend of his need? - had helped him to model.

        He says that he was afflicted at this time by a nervousness which he had never experienced before, and from which he never subsequently suffered. His inclination was to attribute this condition to the hated vegetables, which continued to be his sole diet during the convalescence of the following summer, though he is fair enough to say that it may very possibly have been the result of the disorder, and not of the cure.

        Anyway, cured he was, and he recovered to a more robust and vigorous health than he had previously known. For the next thirty years he was clear of the doctors' hands, and pains and remedies were alike forgotten.

        During the remaining years of his apprenticeship he took much riding exercise. He rode well. He resumed and lengthened his pedestrian wanderings. He was not easily wearied, and the lame leg "disfigured rather than disabled" him in these activities.

        Once he walked with three fellow-apprentices to breakfast at Prestonpans, spent the day in wandering among the Seton ruins and the adjoining battlefield, and back to Edinburgh in the evening (after a dinner of haddocks, and two bottles of port for the four) without any toll of fatigue for the thirty miles he had covered.

        Such walks were frequent at that period, and though the half-bottles of port may have been less so, they also have their significance. Walter, like his father, was then, and at all times of life, of abstemious habits. But the word must be used comparatively. At the period, and among his own social order, the taking of large and steady quantities of alcohol was a routine, which on convivial occasions became a ritual also. To many of those who led robust open-air lives it appeared to do little harm till they approached or passed their fiftieth year, but during the following decade they aged very rapidly, and apoplexy, gout, and diseases of liver and kidneys, were almost as general among them as the indulgences from which they came. To those who had abandoned the healthier and more active country life for the occupations of the city courts, offices, colleges, and consulting-rooms, a companion habit of gluttony appears to have been regarded too-frequently as the natural condition of their later and more leisurely years. Of Scott's three closest business associates, two became of such bulk in the days of their prosperity that their deaths were more probably hastened by their physical appetites than their business troubles.

        Scott himself was too active in habits, as he was too strong in self-discipline, to surrender to such indulgences, and if he did so at times it was rather from the claims of good-fellowship than a physical craving. To suggest that at any period of his life he ate or drank excessively would be an overstatement which would have the effect of falsehood. Yet it is no more than he would have freely admitted to say that if he had drank less than he did he might have lived longer and died differently. . . .

        But this love of long rides and of wandering walks - mainly he says, for the delight he experienced in discoveries of romantic scenery - developed until they were protracted beyond the limits of single days, and his parents were first alarmed and then reconciled to his irregular absences. Remonstrance went no further than his father's irritable remark that he must have been born to be a strolling pedlar, and the circumstance throws a kindly light upon the relations of parents and son, and the confidence that must have been felt that these all-night absences were not the indications of any serious escapade.

        He set out on one occasion, not alone, but with a party of other lawyers-to-be, to fish the lake above Howgate. They got there in time for breakfast, fished all day, stayed the night, and started back early next morning. His constant friend, John Irving, was one of the party. General Abercromby's son, George, was another. A third was William Clerk.

        Pennycuik House, the residence of Sir John Clerk, lay a little off the track of their return. William Clerk took the opportunity of introducing his friends. They were warmly received, William Clerk and John Irving for themselves, "and I for their sakes" as Scott modestly says. They were "overwhelmed with kindness" and persuaded to stay for a day or two. But the remainder of the party had gone on, without noticing those who had turned aside, and there was alarm at George's Square that night, while Walter's mind was obliviously occupied with the beauty of his surroundings, the "fine pictures" that the house contained, and the pleasant hospitality that he was experiencing.

        William Clerk must have more than a passing reference, for he became an intimate and life-long friend. Scott's own statement is that John Irving was his closest friend at this period. Lockhart puts Irving quietly aside, and installs Clerk in that position. Indeed, Lockhart will have it that Clerk was a guiding influence over a weaker man. The question of who was his closest friend is one on which Scott himself is the best authority. Whether he or Clerk would be likely to have the stronger influence on the other is a point of opinion which we must decide as we will, looking at the characters and records of the two men. Scott had a readiness to recognise the force of an opponent's arguments, an unselfish generosity, a willingness to yield ground on non-essentials, that combined to give an impression of his being far more pliable than he really was.

        But there was a difference between the social status of the two friends which could not fail to influence Lockhart's mind, though its effect on that of Scott would have been nothing at all. Clerk was to become a barrister. Irving's home was near that of the Scotts in George's Square. He could not introduce his friends to a country seat with the dignity of Pennycuik House. Lockhart's class-consciousness was constant and unashamed. When he met Constable he was moved to wonder that a bookseller could behave like a gentleman. He felt it natural, if not necessary, to record this astonishment, and the evidences on which he felt that Scott might be excused for such an association.

        But we must not tip the scale to the other side. Scott's friendship with William Clerk was a close one, which endured as the years passed. Clerk was one of those men who are content to be, rather than to do. Life came easily to him, and he ruled it with a negative wisdom, leaving a record without achievement, and free from folly. Scott said of him in later years that he was unsurpassed in strength and acuteness of faculties by any man he had conversed with familiarly. It is high praise, even from Scott, who praised generously, but not loosely. Clerk is (more or less) portrayed as the Darsie of Redgauntlet

        So much is true; but Lockhart's suggestion that "it was Clerk who first or mainly awakened his social ambition: it was he that drew him out of the company of his father's apprentices, and taught him to rise above their clubs and festivities, and the rough irregular habits of all their intervals of relaxation," is simply silly.

        It is needless to consider what ground, if any, Lockhart had for this general inditement of the office apprentices, because Scott had always shown an aptitude to chose congenial friends, and however sociable he might be with men of every type and class, he walked in his own ways. Indeed, in his whole account of this friendship, Lockhart shows a profound ignorance of Scott's character, and his own unfitness to be his biographer. We owe much to Lockhart. He was a diligent collector of facts. He was an acute observer of the events that came under his own eyes in later years. But his witness cannot be trusted, even when his prejudices are not aroused, unless we are careful to distinguish between observations and deductions therefrom. There were sides of Scott's character which he was unable to interpret because they were too alien from his own nature. He did not adequately interpret his romantic ideality, his love of jeopardy for its own sake, his essential democracy, because he did not understand them - and, had he done so, he would have felt that they were for excuse rather than admiration.

Chapter IX.

        Scott's apprenticeship lasted from his fourteenth year to his nineteenth. Before it closed, his decision had been made to adopt the profession of advocacy rather than that of an attorney, and even this choice is ascribed by Lockhart to the influence of William Clerk, with which "another influence must have powerfully co-operated". There is neither evidence nor inherent probability that either of these influences - to the second of which we have still to come - were exerted in such direction, or would have been decisive upon it. It is more reasonable to suppose that the decision came from Scott's own inclination, and his father's counsel.

        At this time, his younger brother, Tom, had also entered the office. It was a business which might have found occupation for both, apart from which, Walter, as the elder may be said to have had the first claim. But it was not a matter, the Scotts being what they were, which was likely to be settled on such a point. Walter may have seemed to his father, and may have been, the more likely to succeed as a barrister. It had some obvious advantages for the brothers to divide their energies between the two branches of the profession. Tom was anxious to be an attorney, though he was certainly not of the temperament to object to Walter as a senior partner. There was a close and genuine affection between the brothers which would outlast the days of a common prosperity. Would Walter have succeeded as a solicitor? Would he have done better than Tom? It is hard to guess. Neither father nor sons were typical of the successful lawyer. They lacked the narrow cautious selfishness which is the lawyer's safeguard. In spite of personal probity, and far more than average abilities, they had characteristics which might be more advantageous to their clients than to themselves and which might even threaten possibilities of final disaster in which client and attorney would have suffered together. It is a frequent paradoxical fact that (defaulting solicitors are not the worst of their kind. Not that there was any question of default here. The elder Walter was nearing the time when he could gradually withdraw himself, as his health weakened, from a long record of honourable practice. He had built up a flourishing business. If he had made some bad debts on a large scale, he had yet made good provision for a numerous family; he had lived in a state or increasing comfort, though without ostentation; and he had acquired considerable property.

        Incidentally, he had at last brought to a triumphant conclusion certain litigation on behalf of Mr. Stewart of Appin (a brother of Alexander of Invernahyle of whom we know) against certain Maclarens, his insurgent tenants in the neighbourhood of Loch Katrine. There had been a legal process to be served personally by the Courts order upon these defeated litigants. Someone from the office must go. It is easy to imagine that Walter was an eager applicant for this rather perilous enterprise, which his father allowed him to undertake. The Highlands had become comparatively quiet since they were subdued after the '45, but that the bearer of such a document would have a friendly reception was not a likely thing. Walter rode to Stirling alone, and obtained an escort of a sergeant and six men from the regiment stationed there. He found the sergeant to have a fund of anecdotes in which Rob Roy and himself were about equally prominent, and he picked his brains in the usual way. So, at eighteen, he rode into the Trossachs pass, which he was afterwards to immortalise as the scene of perhaps the best imaginary skirmish that the world's literature contains, not with a twilight forest of southern spears, but with the glitter of six bayonets behind him to enforce his will.

        The 'other influence' which Lockhart thinks may have inclined him to adopt the profession of the Bar, was the determination which he formed to marry Williamina Stuart, the daughter of Sir John Stuart Belches of Invermay. Lockhart appears to be impressed by a social gulf which he supposed would be lessened by the adoption of the higher branch of the legal profession. But here prejudice ignores fact. The obstacle (apart from the question of the girl's own inclination) was not social but financial. Williamina was one of the richest heiresses in Scotland, but, even so, her parents did not oppose the intimacy. His decision involved two further years of unprofitable study, to be followed by the precarious income of those who commence to practice at the Bar. Had he adopted the attorney's profession, he might have felt in a position to make a formal proposal of marriage two or three years earlier than he actually did, and very many things might have developed and ended differently.

        But there is another reason why Lockhart's suggestion that his desire to win Williamina Stuart influenced his decision on this matter cannot be regarded seriously. It is clear from Scott's own account that the decision was taken before - and probably a considerable time before - the termination of his apprenticeship. His articles began when he was just over fourteen, and terminated shortly after his nineteenth birthday. Williamina was born in October 1776. She was a full five years younger than Walter, being just fourteen years old when his articles ended. It is certain that they were both young when they met, but it is, at least, improbable that he fell in love with her when she was thirteen. It is more probable that the acquaintance began when he had already commenced his studies for the Bar, and that it was the incentive which (as we shall shortly see) was to drag William Clerk out of bed a good deal earlier than that indolent gentleman had been accustomed to rise.

        This probability is increased by Scott's own statement that he had "three years of dreaming, and two of awakening". Williamina married Willie Forbes on Jan. 19th, 1797, her age then being twenty years and four months. If we conclude that the acquaintance began when Walter returned to Edinburgh after the vacation which followed the completion of his articles in the autumn or winter of 1790-1, everything else falls into line, and only Lockhart's inherently improbable suggestion that she influenced his choice of a profession has to go to the scrap-heap.

        He met her first, as the tale goes, in the porch of the Greyfriars Church. She had no umbrella and was faced by a sudden storm, so he offered his, and they went home together. That may have been the occasion on which they first spoke, but how long he may have desired such an opportunity of acquaintance is another matter. Sir John's Edinburgh residence was near to George's Square. They found (they may have known it before) that they went the same way home. . . . But they are not usually alone. Their two mothers come to church also. The elder ladies recognise each other. Thirty years ago, more or less, they were school friends, though they have not met since. They have common subjects of conversation. The Edinburgh pavements of that time were not adapted for four people to walk abreast. We may guess how the pairing went.

        So far, all went well. The mothers did not oppose, and Williamina did not repulse. In fact, she gave a willing friendship at this time, if not more. She was observed to sit out dances with a boy whose lameness withheld him from that diversion. Walter's father knew nothing of the growing intimacy. We may deduce that he had given up going to Church. He had the excuse of weakening health, though he appears to have been able to attend to his professional work for several subsequent years.

        But the time came when Sir John and his family went back to Invermay, and Walter found that a holiday in that neighbourhood had become an urgent necessity. The obstinacy of his selection of the locality intrigued his father's mind, and explanations followed.

        His father did not directly oppose the acquaintance, but he was disturbed by doubts. Did Sir John know what was happening? It appeared that Sir John didn't. Like Mr. Walter Scott he stands convicted by this ignorance. He also must have given up the habit of going to Church. Well, he must know Without telling his son, who, in fact, was in ignorance of the event until many years afterwards, he wrote to Sir John? telling him what his son's position and prospects were. It led to nothing, for Sir John declined to interfere. We may conclude that it was the women - the two elder women - who had their way. There came a time when the younger woman had her way also - but that is looking ahead.

Chapter X.

        Fortunately, we are not dependent upon Lockhart's surmises for the reasons which led to Scott's choice of the advocate's rather than the attorney's profession. Against his suggestion of exterior influences we have Scott's own statement, which is clear and explicit. He says: "My father behaved with the most parental kindness. He offered, if I preferred his own profession, immediately to take me into partnership with him, which, though his business was much diminished, still afforded me an immediate prospect of a handsome independence. But he did not disguise his wish that I should relinquish this situation to my younger brother, and embrace the more ambitious profession of the Bar. I had little hesitation in making my choice - for I was never very fond of money; and in no other particular do the professions admit of a comparison. Besides, I knew and felt the inconveniences attached to that of a Writer; and I thought (like a young man) many of them were ' ingenio non subounda meo'. The appearance of personal dependence which that profession requires was disagreeable to me; the sort of connection between the client and the attorney seemed to render the latter more subservient than was quite agreeable to my nature; and, besides, I had seen many sad examples, while overlooking my father's business, that the utmost exertions and the best-meant services do not secure the man of business, as he is called, from great loss, and most ungracious treatment on the part of his employers. The Bar, though I was conscious of my deficiencies as a public speaker, was the line of ambition and liberty; it was that also for which most of my contemporary friends were destined. And, lastly, although I would willingly have relieved my father of the labours of his business, yet I saw plainly that we could not have agreed on some particulars if we had attempted to conduct it together, and that I should disappoint his expectations if I did not turn to the Bar. So to that object my studies were directed with great ardour and perseverence during the years 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792."

        A careful examination of this statement will show that Lockhart's picture of the youth diverted from boorish companionships and an attorney's desk by the impulses of ambitious love and the influences of a mentor of superior social position is not merely conjectural, but of a demonstrable falsehood. The decision was taken at least as far back as 1789 - when he was no more than eighteen, at no very great distance from his illness. It is also worth notice that he mentions that he was influenced (though it can be no more than a very subordinate consideration) by the fact that the Bar was the profession to which "most of his contemporary friends" were destined. We may transform this into the singular, and take it to refer exclusively to William Clerk, if we will, but it would be an unreasonable perversity. So far as we have any authoritative evidence, his closest friends at this time, apart from Irving and Clerk, were George (afterwards Lord) Abercromby, David Boyle (afterwards Lord Justice Clerk) Thomas Grierson, the Hon. Thomas Douglas (afterwards Earl of Selkirk), Adam Fergusson (Professor Fergusson's son), and James Ramsey. Judging by the careers of these men, it is not a boorish list.

        The fact is that, while no man would be more sympathetic to human weakness, or tolerant of human folly, Scott was always honest with himself and others in seeing failures for what they were, and calling them by plain names. Through all his life, in the highest sense of the word, he was the neighbour of those around him. He was helpful to thousands. But he chose his friends with discrimination.

        His suggestion that, while he would have felt competent to take over his father's practice entirely, he saw the elements of probable friction if they should have been in partnership, is interesting, and may have been a well-founded fear. They were 'both men, in spite of the "sweetness" of disposition which was attributed to them, of strong opinions and strong wills. The elder man was in gradually failing health, and relaxing energies. The practice, though it could still have spared an ample income for an incoming partner, tended to contract as old clients died or drifted away. There were probably many leakages which a younger man could have stopped: debts which he would have been more energetic to collect: parasites which he would have brushed away. Youth is intolerant, and not always wise. Values would have differed. He may have seen his father's weaknesses more clearly than he would see his own at a later day. They were both capable of romantic perversities, which a prosaic wisdom cannot defend.

        There is an earlier incident, authenticated in after-years by a still existing saucer, which illuminates the characters of both - and of Mrs. Scott also.

        The lawyer did not talk about his clients' business at home. Not even to Anne. That was understood. But when a closely cloaked stranger came to George's Square, night after night, to hurry with a muffled face from his sedan chair to her husband's private room, and to remain there in conferences which sometimes lasted long into the night-hours, and when Anne's natural questions as to the identity of this mysterious visitor were turned aside, her curiosity was aroused. That can be understood too.

        A direct answer being refused, Anne did not badger her husband, or make it a cause of quarrel. Neither did she watch surreptitiously, nor abandon her resolution to know who the secret caller might be. She waited up till the ringing of a bell from her husband's room announced that his visitor was about to leave, and his sedan-chair must be summoned to the door. Then she appeared on the scene with a hospitable tea-tray, and the suggestion that the gentleman would be glad to have some refreshment after so long a conference.

        The stranger thanked her, and drank. Walter Scott sat silently before his untasted tea. When his client had gone, he rose and took up the emptied cup. He opened the window. The night-air came in, and the precious china was flung out. He turned to his indignant wife to say that he did not blame her curiosity, but neither he nor her should put lip to cup where Murray of Broughton drank.

        The name means nothing to us today. Fame and infamy go down to the same oblivion. This was the man who had been secretary to Charles Stuart in his invasion of England in '45, and had afterwards bought his own life by giving evidence through which others died.

        The lawyer had no use for the Stuarts. He looked for an ordered government which would bring even the wilder northern counties to the benefit of a settled peace. He might feel also that Murray, in these last shameful years, had troubles to which he could not refuse his professional aid. But his inward scorn of the man was of an intensity to give birth to that illogical destruction. For the cup would have washed. The china of that day was a treasured thing. A sentimentalist might have washed it twice. But the incident is profoundly significant of the strain of unpractical ideality which is observable in the Scott family from generation to generation. If spiritual and material values clash, the material goes carelessly to the gutter, or is flung there to the flinger's loss.

        We are reminded of the younger Walter's refusal (afterwards bitterly repented) to stand by his brother Daniel's dis-honoured grave, or of his conception of the parting of Douglas and Marmion. When Murray entered the lawyer's room, we may be sure that he was not met with an outstretched hand.

        At the time, the boy reacted differently, though in an equally characteristic way. Awake in his mother's dressing-room, or reading surreptitiously by the light of her bedroom fire, he may have heard the cup scatter its fragments upon the pavement of the silent Square. Anyway, he learned what had occurred. He discovered that his father's picturesque indignation had not extended to the saucer from which the cup had been lifted to desecration. He added it to the accumulation of his private relics. The same ironic fate led the saucer to a prolonged existence and the cup to a violent end.

        Did Murray of Broughton hear the cup crash on the pavement as he entered his sedan-chair? Did he understand its significance? It would be pleasant to think he did.

Chapter XI.

        The Faculty of Advocates required, as a condition of admission to the Bar, a course of study which could not be less than two years, the first being occupied with Roman and the second with Scottish Law. Walter Scott's twentieth and twenty-first years were almost entirely occupied with these studies, and on July 6th, 1792, about a month before his twenty-first birthday, he passed the final examination with honours, as did William Clerk at the same time, the two friends acquiring the right to practice, and assuming the gown in public, five days later together.

        Walter may have seen little of Williamina during these two years, and she may have given him no very decided encouragement, but the determination to win her, distant as it might be, and doubtful as it might seem to others, had become the strongest motive that ruled his life. For the first time, he bears witness of himself without qualification that he had applied himself to study "with stern, steady, and undeviating industry". It was a discipline which cannot have been easily self-imposed, to one of his alert mind and varied interests. It was not only poetry and literature which must be repressed. He had been making obstinate attempts to paint (William Clerk painted with ease and skill) and would not readily admit that he could not reach artistic expression through this medium. He had endeavoured to understand music, for which he had not more than an elementary appreciation. He had actually had a singing-master at one time, (if Robert could sing, why not he?) and, curiously enough, the singing-master was better satisfied with his efforts in this direction than were his other auditors.

        There was a reason for that. Alexander Campbell, who taught him, had some private financial troubles which, Scott recorded afterwards, "I could relieve, if I could not remove". What he was able to do at that early age, by monetary or legal assistance, is not clear, but it won a measure of gratitude which would not admit that the young man was unable to sing if he wished to do so.

        Lady Cumming, who lived next door at George's Square, was under no such obligation, and her opinion differed. She sent in a jocularly sarcastic note of expostulation. Would Mr. Scott kindly cease flogging his sons at precisely the same hour each day? She had no doubt the punishment was deserved, but the noise was dreadful. . . . After that, we may suppose that the songs ceased.

        But now poetry and history, painting and music, were alike discarded, at the call of ambition, and the memory of Williamina's eyes. And Williamina at Invermay, though she might give some thought to the young lawyer-lover, whom her mother favoured so strongly, was giving others to Willie Forbes of Pitsligo, the heir of the banker-baronet, Sir William Forbes, who also loved, or might be persuaded to love her. And far south, born in a French town, and now living in London) was a dark, vital, vivacious girl, who had her own dreams, and who could give Walter love and loyalty of a good kind, if they should ever meet, which it was millions to one that they never would. Is it all law? Or all chance? Call it as we will, we may still ask, do we weave it ourselves, or is it the dancing pattern of a Creator's dream? Seeing no more of the future than others do, Walter Scott followed a lying light, and toiled at the law.

        To give him quiet time for his studies, it had been found possible to allot a semi-basement room at George's Square to his sole use. The home was already breaking apart. Robert had gone by the sea's way. John could only be home on rare occasions. Walter need not sleep in the dressing-room now. His father's health no longer permitted the entertaining which had done so much for the business, and brought so many diverse people in earlier years under a child's all-observant eyes. Only intimate friends now enter the quieter rooms. There is Dr. Rutherford, - not Anne's father, who came once to give the wisdom of his advice to save the life of a palsied child - it is Anne's brother who is the Dr. Rutherford of today. And Christian Rutherford comes rather frequently: she is Anne's half-sister, the child of her father's second wife, a clever, even brilliant girl, so much younger than Anne that she is like a sister to Walter, though he must call her aunt.

        Tom and Daniel complete the family, with the invalid sister who has her mother's name, and who now has difficult moods, which call for the patience of others. She is passionately attached to Walter, her favourite brother, and the one (as it is easy to guess) who is most understanding of the tragic isolation in which her spirit still survives in the fire-wrecked body. . . .

        Walter found a natural pleasure in the first living-room that he could call his own. It was here that Francis Jeffrey came to visit him, after hearing him read an essay on ballads at the Speculative Club, and found it crowded with 'dingy' books which overflowed the shelves and must be piled on the floor, and ornamented with Broughton's saucer, and an old Lockaber axe and claymore that Alexander had given him, a cabinet of collected coins, and other accumulations. It is significant of the growing freedom of Walter's life, and the atmosphere of the quietening home, that he took this unexpected and welcome visitor out, and gave him a dinner at a neighbouring tavern.

        The fact that William Clerk and he commenced the two years' study for the Bar at the same time, drew them into a closer intimacy at this period, as Walter's absorption in his work tended to loosen the ties which he had formed with others. William lived at the end of Prince's Street, about two miles away, and they made a compact to meet alternately at each other's house in the early mornings (Sundays excepted) to undergo a system of mutual examinations upon an agreed portion of the range of study that was before them. Walter did his part, but he waited vainly on the mornings when his friend should have appeared at George's Square. Lockhart's paragon would not leave his bed. They did not fall out over the discovery-of these "fetters of indolence", neither did the plan fall through. It was characteristic of the mingled determination and complaisance of Scott's character that he agreed to do all the walking. Before seven every morning, be the weather what it might, he would be hammering on the door in Prince's Street, prepared to examine his friend, and to be himself examined, upon the self-set reading of yesterday. The severe discipline of this method endured (apart from the usual vacations) for the two years of study. It is not surprising that they both passed with honours. We have nothing beyond Lockhart's imagination to support the suggestion that William persuaded Walter to undertake these examinations. There is better evidence of the debt which was owed to Walter by his lazier friend. The fact may still be that William brushed his clothes better than Walter up to the close of Walter's nineteenth year, after which there was a dead heat in the measure of this activity. It may even be true that, at the earlier period, William was rather uppish to Walter in allusions to his superior neatness. The evidence is not easy to find, but it is a point on which we may be content that Lockhart shall have his way. Had this tireless biographer understood how to thin out the forest of facts amid which he wandered, some of his best trees might have been better grown.

CHAPTER XI.        (Chapter error in original)

        There can be no doubt that Lockhart had a sincere admiration for Scott, both for his literary genius, and his personal character. He had a real affection also for an older man of most lovable attributes who was his wife's father, and his own friend. In intimacy, in admiration, in many personal qualifications, he was particularly suited to be his biographer, and his work remains a mine of information and a monument of literary industry. But though he is not sparing in adjectives of laudation, and sometimes acute in criticism, we feel that he was writing of a man whom he had observed from the outside, but whom he could never know.

        And this ignorance concentrates itself in one fatuous amazing paragraph in which he assures us that during the period of his studies for the Bar, and the first years of legal practice, when he was concentrating his energies to hasten the day when he could make a formal offer of marriage to the girl he loved, he was not consorting with prostitutes, nor seducing housemaids.

        Lockhart gravely tells us that he does not bear this witness without careful enquiry. Before venturing to give such an assurance he collected the "concurrent testimony of all the most intimate among his surviving associates"!

        The letters which Scott wrote at that period, or at least those which survive, are not numerous, but Lockhart had access to a large quantity which had been addressed to him, and which obviously were not meant for publication. He remembered Southey's idea that such letters reveal the character of him who receives, as much as those who write them, and lest there should be anything which the "concurrent testimony" had failed to expose, he went through them diligently in search of any "coarse or even jocular suggestion" which might reflect by implication upon the recipient. Naturally he failed to find that which he should have known without looking would not be there.

        It may be suggested - it may be likely enough - that a physical licentiousness in the conduct of his own life would have broken down the deep reticence with which Scott always treated the emotional contacts of lovers, both in verse and prose. Had that been so, it would not have been a gain to literature, but an incalculable loss.

        His conception of a love which is worthy of song or tale is one in which the spiritual element dominates. It is not that physical passion is weak or absent, but that there is something which transcends it, of which it is no more than the carnal garment.

      "It liveth not in fierce desire
      With dead desire it doth not die."

        We may observe that he did not refuse to look at any of the facts of human life with steady, tolerant, and understanding eyes. But he knew obscenity for the comparative triviality which it is, and his work was always free from the defect which reduces so much of modern fiction to a diseased sterility. He was neither under the necessity of asserting, nor the folly of supposing, that the lowest gutter gives the broadest view. . . .

        On the day following that on which the two friends assumed the dignity of the barrister's gown (Scott's first guinea fee having been received that afternoon) the Court of Session rose for the Autumn vacation, and he was able to escape to Kelso, and indulge in a holiday well earned by the two years of successful study. He stayed there for a short time - on this occasion with Captain Robert Scott, who will be remembered as having visited Bath when his sister Janet was there with their infant nephew, and who demonstrated the harmless nature of statuary by introducing the child to a familiar intercourse with a sculptured Neptune, which was a very natural selection for a mariner to make.

        Captain Scott had now retired from the East Indian service, and followed Janet's choice of Kelso as a residence for his declining years. He was easily persuaded by his nephew's youthful impetuosity that he would enjoy a holiday in Northumberland, and they adventured as far as Hexham together.

        The holiday was without recorded incident, and is of no separate significance. But Scott's wanderings during this and succeeding years have an importance which cannot be overlooked.

        His life from this time divides itself conveniently into five periods.

        First, there are the five years of legal practice and wandering holidays which preceded his marriage.

        Next there are the ten careless years - probably the happiest of his life - of assured and growing income and reputation, of congenial occupations which could be carried on without haste or weariness, and of quiet and happy domesticity - the years of Lasswade and Ashestiel.

        Then there are the ten years during which he had the reputation of the greatest living poet: the succeeding ten years during which he had the reputation of the greatest of living novelists, ending with that sudden absolute disaster which left him widowed, bankrupt, broken in health, and loaded with a fantastic total of liabilities: and finally the five years during which he camped stubbornly upon the field of battle where he would not admit defeat.

        During the first ten or fifteen years of this period, it is common to represent him as one who had not 'found himself', and who was unaware of the potentialities of his creative powers. But there is little evidence to support this judgement, and there is much to oppose it. He did not, of course, see the details of his successes - he could not have known that his work would win its immense popularity, and bring him an income such as he could have obtained in no other way. In these first years he looked, naturally and necessarily, to the profession he had adopted to support his home, and he gave it the major portion of his time and energies. He had the broad sanity of judgement which told him that home-making is more important than the rhyming of couplets, and if anyone had advised him that he could improve the prospects of a literary career by deferring marriage, he would not have thanked him for the suggestion, nor delayed the ceremony.

        But it seems clear, from the evidence of a hundred details, and his own most definite statements, that his ambitions were directed from an early age to the distinction of literary achievement. He was so tireless in these years in the collections of material upon which his published work was afterwards constructed, that it is, at least, difficult to suggest how he could have employed his energies to more direct advantage, had he foreseen the future in detail.

        It is also to be considered that creation must precede publication, and that this precedence is of uncertain length in the absence of direct evidence of the period of composition. The Lay of the Last Minstrel is founded upon the traditions and ballads which were his earliest learning. The Lady of the Lake centres round Loch Katrine and the Trossachs, to which we have seen him make a spectacular journey in his nineteenth year. Marmion is a tale of Flodden Field. The visit to Hexham was his second expedition into Northumberland. He had found means and opportunity to visit Flodden at an even earlier age.

        When we come to the novels, we find similar evidence. It is not only that Waverley is known to have been partly written at a period much earlier than that at which it was published. Guy Mannering, which was the next to follow it, was produced with such celerity, under the stress of financial need, as to support its internal evidences of having been largely designed and possibly written at a much earlier date.

        It is true that there are records of the actual composition of some of these works, both verse and prose, which date them definitely at later periods, (Waverley was completed at a known time, and an amazing speed,) but the doubt remains as to whether there may have been considerable drafts or partial compositions in previous existence: flowering which is profuse and sudden could come only from nourished roots and buds in which the petals were shaped already.

        At this time, he had only been back in Kelso for a few days of pleasant idleness when he started out for Jedburgh, and though he may have gone in search of legal business at the Michaelmas head-court there, his introduction to Mr. Robert Shortreed, the Sheriff-substitute of Roxburghshire, led to another of those profitable friendships which he was so adept at forming. They had scarcely made each other's acquaintance before they were setting off together into the wilderness of Liddesdale. The young barrister had expressed his desire to explore its desolate uplands, and the sheriff had volunteered to guide him!

        The county of Roxburghshire, with which Scott is so peculiarly identified, had endured the stress of almost continual border warfare from the tenth century, when the Saxons surrendered it to the Scottish king, with other Lothian territory, to the date of the English Union, nearly eight hundred years later. Its surface was strewn with half-ruined castles and peels which had once protected the lives of its hardy scanty population, or had been sacked and burned when the English raiders had been too strong for successful resistance. The bleak moorlands of its southern portion, rising at times to mountainous heights, and broken by narrow stream-filled hollows, were better adapted to discourage or resist invasion than to support a numerous population; but in its northern valleys - that of the Tweed, the Esk and Teviot dales - the twenty miles, more or less, which separated their inhabitants from the English border had allowed time for the beacon-signals to give warning of hostile invasion, and for men to gather in formidable strength. It resulted that it had been possible to follow the pursuit of agriculture in relative security, and some urban industries, such as the weaving of 'tweed' cloth, had grown up to a modest extent in Hawick, Kelso and Jedburgh, with populations of some thousands at each of these centres. There were fields of barley and oats stretching beneath the wooded slopes of the valleys; and the orchards around Melrose and Kelso were justly famed.

        But further south, the moors, the high hills, green to their rounded summits, had been no better than precarious sheep-walks for the best part of a thousand years. Their spare population had depended for its security upon the rude poverty of its existence, as much as upon the strength of the walls behind which it sheltered when the beacons flared. A small force would turn back, baffled by the strong-walled towers, with their narrow windows, and single room on each storey: a large force would pass them by, seeking for richer spoils in the further valleys.

        Of all this barren desolate southern portion of the county, the wildest and most desolate was the district of Liddesdale in the extreme south, where the moors slope downwards to Cumberland, and the Liddell flows to join the Eden and the Irish Sea.

        When Walter Scott came to Jedburgh, Liddesdale - twenty to thirty miles to the south - was still as wild and little known as the remotest Highlands. Here and there, was a sheep-farmer's isolated house. Less frequently, a little church might be found, or a lonely manse, or the ruins of a deserted tower. It had no roads - no inns. No wheeled vehicle had ever attempted the roughness of its mountain tracks. It was a country where few dwelt, and to which no-one came.

        Here, it seemed to Scott, there might be treasure of old ballads and old tales to be gained by one who would take the trouble to seek them, and who could win the friendship of its lonely inhabitants. Old Border riding-songs might still be sung.

        He could have no better guide than the Sheriff-substitute, the one man of his own status who knew the country, who knew the Elliots and Armstrongs who occupied its lonely farms, and who was known and trusted by them. The new friends set out on horseback together, and by night-time they were sleeping in the same bed (as they would have to become accustomed to do) at the farm at Millburnholm, and between fatigue and Willie Elliot's toddy, we may be sure that they slept well.

        There followed for Scott a very happy and successful week. They spent nothing, being received at manse and farm with a free and equal hospitality. Scott was introduced by Shortreed with the strange and frightening dignity of being an Advocate of the Edinburgh Court, such as had never been known to visit the dale before. They found him to be a tall, handsome, attractive boy, very active, in spite of a shrunken leg, very willing to be 'just a cheild like ourselves', very quick to make friends with every dog that he met, full of inexhaustible anecdotes, and with a smile that charmed the confidence of the shyest of these lonely dwellers on the moors. For he was at home here as much as ever he would be in the streets of Edinburgh. The hardy Cheviot sheep might have been those among which the baby with the dragging leg had crawled above the crags of Sandy-Knowe. It was the same moor, and the same sky.

        With his usual luck (if that be the word to use) he found a friend of the right kind in a doctor at Cleughhead - an Elliot like the rest, who had been collecting manuscript ballads for some previous years for his own satisfaction. Dr. Elliot, under the impetus of the enthusiasm of the younger man, undertook this work with a new energy. For many years after, he made an occupation of seeking out these dying traditional songs, oral or written, and sending them as a willing tribute to the young Edinburgh lawyer whose genius would put them to immortal use.

        It was only the first of many 'raids' which Scott was to make upon the Liddesdale country in the same company during succeeding summers, but Shortreed remembered and told long afterwards the intoxications (mental and too-nearly physical) of that first excursion. "Eh me!" he said, "sic an endless fund o' humour and drollery as he then had wi' him. Never ten yards hut we were either laughing or roaring and singing. Wherever we stopped, how brawlie he suited himself to everybody! He ay did as the lave did -" Scott's mind reacted buoyantly from the hard self-imposed discipline of the two previous years, that had brought him with honours through the examinations of a month ago. He was released from that ordeal, and, for the moment, free. He had the genius of sympathetic imagination which made him all things to all men. But he took their confidences rather than gave his own. All his life he would be the willing confidant and helper of those around him. They would sometimes think him pliable. Where they would think to constrain him to a mile they would sometimes find that he would go two. But it would be of his own will.

        Only occasionally would he give emphatic rebuff to some too-impudent liberty. But his sympathies would seldom deflect his judgement. His own soul would remain apart, almost aloof, in a reticence only to be partially broken at last in the Journal of his closing years, when he would write 'God help us: earth cannot', and find the help for which he looked was there. . . .

        The farmers of Liddlesdale had two occupations which relieved the healthy monotony of the sheep-walks, otherwise only varied as the seasons changed, or by the occasional visits to Hawick, or Jedburgh, or Hexham fair. They had the stimulus of alcohol; and the emotional exercise of their religion, with the intellectual acrobatics of the theological guise it wore. The young lawyer appears to have avoided, as far as courtesy would permit, the excesses of convivial hospitality. Shortreed remarked that he was rarely 'fou' and never showed any of the usual symptoms of drunkenness, but it was not always easy to be abstemious at that time, if one would mix sociably with all conditions of men. There came a day when they reached a remote hill-farm where they were relieved to find that the warmth of their reception was not immediately interpreted in terms of alcoholic refreshment. But it was a respite only. The eager host had sent at express speed to a smuggler on the Solway Firth, when he heard of his approaching visitors. A sober supper, at which the home-brewed elderberry wine was the only beverage, was followed by the customary religious ceremony, through which the light of Christianity was maintained in these scattered homes. A young 'student of divinity', who was of the party, was conducting the solemn service when there was a sound of horses' feet on the stony road. Two herdsmen burst into the room with the keg of brandy for which the anxious farmer had been listening ever since his visitors had arrived too soon. Religious habit and self-control gave way at the joyful sound. He leapt up from his knees. "By God, here's the keg at last!" Scott would always remember the look of despair on the face of the young clergyman, as he closed the book.

        He rode back to Jedburgh with a Border war-horn slung around his neck, the gift of Dr. Elliot, and found (it is said) at the ruins of Hermitage. It is not clear whether he actually visited the relics of that sombre isolated castle, the outpost of the Scottish borders, which the Douglases had held so stubbornly against the raids of Cumberland, on this occasion, or in the following year. He had resolved that he would return to Liddesdale at the first chance he had, but, for the time, he must turn his mind to the profession from which his income must be earned. In November, the Court was sitting again at Edinburgh, and Walter Scott was in regular attendance at Parliament House.

Chapter XII.

        Lockhart came on two of Scott's notebooks dated 1792, and evidently written in that year. He gives a list of the contents of one of them, which is an illuminating criticism of those who depreciate him for a lack of pedantic scholarship. There were first seven closely-written quarto pages containing "Vegtain's Kvitha, or the Descent of Odin, with the Latin of Thomas Bartholine, and the English poetical version of Mr. Gray; with some account of the death of Balder, both as narrated in the Edda, and as handed down to us by the Northern historians - Auctore Gualtero Scott." The Norse original, and the two versions follow. The whole is obviously an essay to be read before one of the Edinburgh literary or debating societies to which he belonged at this period. The book also contained these miscellaneous jottings: -

        A transcript of a receipt for some plate lent to King Charles I.

        A copy of Langhorne's Owen of Carron.

        The verses of Canute on passing Ely.

        The old English cuckoo-lyric, which has since become part of the common furniture of most Anthologies.

        A translation by "a gentleman in Devonshire" of the death-song of Regner Lodbrog.

        One of the quatrains of Gray's Elegy, "There scattered oft, the earliest of the year" which he omitted from the published version.
An Italian canzonet praising blue eyes (Williamina's colour).
Several pages of etymologies from Ducange.
Several pages of notes on the Morte D'Arthur.
Abstracts from the books of Adjournal, about Dame Janet
Beaton, Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch (Wicked Watt), and his wife, who was to appear as the real heroine of the Lay of the Last Minstrel.
Other abstracts concerning witches and fairies.
Some couplets from Hall's Satires.
A passage from Albania.
Notes on Second Sight, with abstracts from Aubrey and Glanville.
A 'list of Ballads to be discovered or re-discovered'.
Abstracts from Guerin de Montglave.
Many more 'similar entries.'
A table of the Maeso-Gothic, Anglo-Saxon and Runic Alphabets.
Beyond these, the book had a section headed German, and left blank.

        Such was one of the note-books of a young man, who stands self-accused of neglecting his opportunities of study, and of whom Lockhart himself writes as though his defects of education need to be leniently explained away. The fact is that he was self-accumulating the stores of the erudition he needed, which none of the professional scholars of the University would have been competent to supply. There was a time when his mind, excited in a score of other directions, declined to engage itself in the study of Greek, which he afterwards regretted, but not sufficiently to induce him to repair the omission. It was regrettable, as all ignorance is. Had he felt sufficient occasion, he would doubtless have mastered the language, as he did Spanish about this time, or earlier) and German during the coming year. . . .

        The first year of an advocate's life in the Edinburgh of that period, as is that of a young barrister of London today, was one of waiting for irregular opportunities, with many dissultory intervals which he would use or waste as his disposition led him to do. There were occasional briefs to be handed out by the Court for those who must be defended in forma pauperis, which were usually allotted to the junior advocates. The fees were small, but they gave opportunities of showing abilities which might be recognised by the watching attorneys from whom briefs of a more valuable kind would then be likely to follow. There was chamber practice in the preparation of "informations", and kindred work, from attorneys, and busier advocates, which was ill-paid, but gave similar opportunities of showing ability where it would be valued, and establishing contacts, which might be of subsequent profit. Steadily, though not rapidly, Scott's practice and income grew.

        The younger advocates, idling for their opportunities around the door of the Court, formed themselves into a loosely organised club, which became known as the Mountain, of which Scott was a very popular member. He still carried the nickname of his college days - Duns Scotus, in recognition of his antiquarian zeals. William Clerk was a member also. His airs of indolent superiority had won him the good-humouredly-ironic title of Baronet, in evident allusion to Sir John Clerk, of the honour of which relationship he appears to have been sufficiently conscious.

        With his genius for the right friendships, Scott added to his intimates at this time, Thomas Thomson, who became later a leading antiquarian authority; and William Erskine (Lord Kinedder), with whom he established a close and enduring friendship. Lockhart gives his opinion that Erskine had an important influence at this time in persuading Scott of the "extravagances both of thought and language" which disfigured the German literature which he was endeavouring to master. "His friendly critic" (Lockhart says) "was just, as well as delicate - and severity as to the mingled absurdities and vulgarities of German detail commanded deliberate attention coming from one who admired not less enthusiastically than himself the sublimity and pathos of his new favourites."

        William Erskine was one of the weaker members of a brilliant family. He was Scott's contemporary, not his grandfather, nor his tutor. Lockhart calls him his 'monitor', but it is difficult to understand why, unless we regard it as axiomatic that one who knows Greek is the monitor of one who is ignorant of that language.

        In fact, Scott, Erskine, Thomson and Clerk agreed to learn German together in this winter of 1792-3. They found a good teacher in Dr. Willich. It was the fashion to be interested in German literature. English literature was hesitating towards a new florescence. French literature was regarded as contaminated by the anarchistic activities at which Europe shivered. Interest in the work of Goethe and Schiller was a natural consequence. Scott took what it had to offer, learning, as did his companions, to read its poets in the original. He took what he wanted, as he did from his neighbours' brains. That Erskine's estimate of it was more accurate or more critical than his own, that their estimates differed, that Erskine influenced him rather than being influenced by him, that such influence materially altered Scott's own poetry, - these propositions may appear to be of a mounting improbability. Still, Lockhart appears confident. He writes not as one asserting an opinion, but as recording a fact. We may think as we will. . . .

        The first legal business of importance for which Scott was briefed, and of which there is any detailed record, was not a pleading before the Civil Court, but a matter of Ecclesiastical discipline. There was a certain minister named McNaught, of the kirk at Girthon in Galloway, who was charged with various scandalous proceedings, and the brief for his defence came into the hands of Mr. Scott, with a fee of five guineas marked upon it. It was a hopeless cause. He went down to Girthon, when the rising of the Edinburgh Court in March 1793 released him from attendance there, and marshalled such evidence and arguments as the nature of the case permitted. But the fact was that the reverend gentleman was not easy to defend. It appeared that he was most often drunk. That his songs were lewd and profane. That he danced with gingerbread-sellers of an improbable chastity. Robert Burns had done no less, and remained the hero of the national life, but while a poet may indulge in promiscuous familiarities with "the maids that make the bed for him", and be thought of none the worse by his fellow-countrymen, the ethical standards of the manse are somewhat different, and the Scottish conscience was stirred.

        Scott appeared in due course at the Bar of the Church Assembly, and argued McNaught's case at considerable length, at which the Venerable Court was not pleased. He showed some ingenuity in establishing that there is an important legal distinction between 'ebrius' and 'ebriosus' - between being drunk (which might happen to anyone) and being drunken, which is less capable of defence. He quoted one of the obscene phrases alleged to have been used by the reverend gentleman, and was rebuked for repeating such language with unseemly boldness. When he had occasion to quote a song of the same pattern, which was also at issue, he spoke so low that his legal friends, who crowded the gallery, and who may not have regarded the Kirk Assembly with as much respect as the Civil Court, shouted to him to speak up, and were promptly turned into the street by the order of the indignant Elders.

        Such, at least, is the tale. It may be of as much truth, or as little, as such tales usually are. Scott probably did what was possible in a hopeless case.

        But he was less fitted by temperament to be a barrister than a judge. He saw both sides. He would be a poor advocate of a poor cause. All his life, his tendency was to advise against litigation: to make peace where he could.

        It is true that he went on to Jedburgh, and secured the acquittal of a poacher, which was no mean feat of advocacy in those times, but he had a kindness for this class of miscreant, as Tom Purdie found on a later day. Scott told the man that he was a lucky scoundrel, to which he agreed very cheerfully, and added that he would send him one of the hares when he got home, as no doubt he did.

        But when the Jedburgh Court session was over, Scott was on the way to Liddesdale once again.

Chapter XIII.

        However vague Scott's ultimate ambitions may have been to his own mind, or however privately he may have kept them there, his literary interests were becoming increasingly evident to those among whom he associated, and may have done actual harm to his professional prospects. Men are seldom willing to credit their neighbour with two separate excellencies. Of the Speculative Club, he had before this time accepted, one after another, the triple offices of librarian, secretary and treasurer. In fact, it pivoted upon his personality.

        To suggest that he neglected any opportunity of engaging in the profession he had adopted, or that he failed to give good service to those who briefed him, would go not merely beyond evidence, but beyond probability, remembering the capacity for self-discipline that he had shown in his legal studies, and his stubborn resolution, now known to many, that he would marry the heiress of Invermay. But briefs came irregularly, the passion for poetry, for history, for antiquarian research - they were always with him. While legal practice halted, as, in the experience of most young barristers, it is apt to do, what could he do better than pursue them? The Advocates' Library was in the vaults beneath the Parliament House. It had many old and curious manuscripts which he was expert in deciphering. He became one of its Curators, which was an honour reserved for Advocates who were conspicuous for literary rather than forensic triumphs. During the considerable portions of the year when the Courts were not sitting, he resumed his wanderings with a systematic diligence against which his now-invalid father protested even more vigorously than he had done in earlier days. To him, at least, it appeared a dissipation of energy which militated against the legal career of a brilliant son. It was a view for which some argument could be urged. Probably the older man was disappointed that his progress was not more rapid during these first years. He had expected much. Now he looked rather irritably for the cause, if not of comparative failure, of delayed success. His son kept steadily on the track of a destiny which may - or may not - have been clear to his own mind. He was not insensitive of his father's feelings, but he held to his own course. Christian Rutherford was a sympathetic confidant.

        As his father's health failed, the house at George's Square took on a tone of increased austerity. Tom left it, - marrying Elizabeth McCulloch, a Galway girl, with one of the usual ancient Scottish pedigrees. She lived to survive him, and Walter's children. 'One of the best and wisest and most agreeable women I have ever met', Lockhart called her, writing from the standpoint of the generation that followed. We may notice again that the Scotts chose their wives well.

        So Tom, doubtless drawing a larger income from the attorney's office than Walter had yet in sight, set up his own housekeeping, and the only two others who were still at home were the youngest brother, Daniel, not very anxious to be doing anything in particular, nor likely to succeed at it if he did, and the half-invalid, Anne.

        Whenever the Court was not sitting in Edinburgh, it would be certain that Walter would not be at home. He might be at Tullibody, the seat of George Abercromby's grandfather, Sir Ralph, listening to that resolute old gentleman's tale of how he once visited Rob Roy in his own caravan. (He went on the track of his missing cattle, saw them hanging by the heels where they had been slaughtered for the nourishment of the robber gang, was hospitably allowed to share the meal which his meadows had provided, made a blackmail bargain which protected him from a repetition of such calls, and came back safely.) Or he might be at Newton, hearing tales of the '45; or with Buchanan at Cambusmore; or with Lord Kaines at Blair-Drummond, or with John Ramsay at Ochtertyre.

        Or he might have joined William Clerk at Craighall, where the Rattrays, who were Clerk's relatives, would entertain them together. He wandered far in Highlands and Lowlands, and everywhere he went he gathered local colour, character, or anecdote which would appear in the publications of later years.

        During the period that he was in attendance at the Edinburgh Court he gained another reputation, not characteristic of most barristers, or lame or literary men. It was a time of political unrest, and Scott's interests were too catholic and too keen for him to remain outside its resulting turmoils. The Bolshevism of those days was not at a comfortable distance, so that men could be coldly and remotely curious as to whether it had murdered millions, or engage in academic discussions concerning its five-year plans. It was at the door of England, looking over the narrow seas. It shook Europe. It seemed to many to open a pit of anarchy into which Christianity and civilisation must go down together: must go surely down, unless it could be saved by English courage - and English gold. To others, it was the dawn of a new hope. Liberty and equality, comfort and affluence, were offered to a world of slaves.

        To appreciate the bitter controversies of those times, to be fair to those who took part in them on whatever side, we must; wipe out from our minds all knowledge of the events that followed. We must look at the blackness of the approaching storm, not knowing that we shall outlast it, or that it may drift away.

        It is common to misrepresent Scott as a bigoted Tory, whose politics were of a reactionary obtuseness; one who would have been called a "die-hard" had he lived today. It is a judgement which is profoundly stupid. His attitude toward political questions was consistent from youth to age, because it sprang from certain basic conceptions of the nature of man, and the nature and purpose of human life, which he may or may not have analysed, but which were fundamental in character. He believed in liberty. He believed in order, as a condition of its existence. He believed in the inequality of men. He believed in nobility, concrete as well as abstract. But it must be a nobility of service always. No other is worthy to endure. No other will endure. That was the political creed of a man whose genius may have been more widely and sanely sympathetic than that of any other European poet except Dante - Shakespeare certainly not excepted. It was the creed of one who sympathised with and understood equally the feelings of the hunters and the horses, the dogs and the deer. Ellen Douglas, carelessly emptying her purse in the guardroom -

        "with the grace
        And open bounty of her race"
    - symbolises this ideal, as does De Vaux, who
        "of gold had never need

      Save to purvey him arms and steed.
      The only gold he ever stored
      Inlays his helm and hilts his sword."

        It may be no more (and no less) than the ideal of feudalism, from which feudalism fell away. But when it fell away, itself fell. Its central truth is the kernel of Christianity: "If any man would be first among you, let him be the servant of all."

        When in his later years he would give entertainment to the villagers congregated beneath the shadow of Abbotsford, - who if we probe the position deeply enough we find to be living mainly at his expense, on the proceeds of the Waverley novels, - he would have no pride in what he did, but only a humility of wonder that others could be grateful for so light a cause.

        And when confronted by the certainty of his own ruin, his first thoughts will be for others, and almost his first for the protection of those humbler dependants who had -

"Found shelter underneath his shield."

        When, in his last years, he will drive through the industrial districts of Lancashire, and observe the "stern sullen unwashed artificers", thrown out of work by the financial crisis of the time, crowding frowningly around the vehicle, his sympathies will not be with his own class. He will write that night in his Journal, 'God's justice is requiting, and will further requite - ' not those who were threatening England with revolution, but those, of whatever class, who could make wealth out of the poverty of their fellow-men.

        His ideal of aristocracy was not one of wealth, but of conduct. An aristocracy of noblesse oblige, and by that motto he believed that it could be established impregnably.

        It was with such instincts, such beliefs, such ideals, and with an observation of the state of all grades of the society around him which few, if any, of his age and time can have equalled, that Walter Scott faced the political disorders and listened to the conflicting theories which were discussed around him.

Chapter XIV.

        Looking back, we observe that the horrors of the French revolution did not extend to this island. We observe England as the guide and comforter of all who opposed, from whatever motive, the effort which the French Directory made to impose its political doctrines upon the rest of Europe. So, in retrospect, the fact stands. But to those who lived through the years of strife, the issue was not so clear. The civil difference was acute, bitter, and often violent. The revolutionary element in Edinburgh was so strong that there was at one time a plot to seize the castle, and defy the government. To a superficial view it might not have seemed surprising if the young lawyer, hungry for adventurous living, full of anti-Hanoverian sympathies, might have been drawn into participation in such disorders. But his reaction was different.

        In the theatre, treason had found expression until it was louder than loyalty. An actor's phrase which could be misconstrued into a seditious meaning would bring a roar of applause. Such sentiments might have more weight than any artistic merit in deciding between the success or failure of the play. The first bars of the National Anthem would be the signal for an outburst of cat-calls, hisses and howls. An Irish element, led by some medical students of that nationality, was blamed primarily for this rowdyism. They came, shillelahs in hand, overawing the quieter and more loyal elements of the audience.

        There was a night, after a number of minor disturbances, when a young man rose up in the stalls and announced that he and his friends were determined not merely that the National Anthem should be played in silence, but that it should be sung by the audience. Anyone of a different mind had better leave. Should he interrupt, he would be thrown out. A howl of derision answered from the pit. It flourished defiant sticks. But the warning was no idle threat. There were ready clubs among the group of youthful barristers and attorneys in the stalls from which the challenge came. Conflict roared and did not cease till the last disloyalist had fled or been ejected from the theatre doors. Law and medicine had fought, and the law triumphed. They sang the National Anthem to their own satisfaction.

        Proceedings followed in the Magistrates' Court. With some lack of humour, the defeated party appealed to the law to which it had professed its defiance. One of the defendants was Walter Scott. He was accused of having led the attack. Three complainants showed broken heads, and identified him as the one whose cudgel had knocked them out. With four others, he was bound over to keep the peace, and ordered to find bail for his good behaviour in future. His opponents got little satisfaction from that. There were sureties to be had in plenty. He could have had half the town.

        It was at this time - as early as 1794 - though he was unable to effect his purpose till a later date, that he conceived the idea of the formation of an Edinburgh regiment of volunteer horse, which his lameness would not prevent him from joining. Drilling was becoming general over the country. The fear of invasion grew. The regular army was required for foreign service. Loyal citizens must learn to defend themselves. Before breakfast, in the summer days, his brother Tom drilled as a grenadier. But even the volunteer army had no use for Walter Scott, though Nelson's physical weakness had not kept him out of the navy. Today, we know better. We should have rejected both.

Chapter XV.

        It was in the course of 1796 that the five years dream of marrying Williamina Stuart came to the end which mutual friends appear to have anticipated, though they were reluctant to express their doubts to the one who was most concerned, or found him unwilling to be convinced.

        By this time he was doing considerable ill-paid work at the Bar - his fee-book for the previous year showed payments of £84. 4. 0d., a much more considerable sum then than it would be today - and he was busily occupied in the translation of German ballads, not yet published, but having some private circulation.

        Two new friends come on the scene here, - George Cranston (afterwards Lord Corehouse) and his sister Jane Anne (afterwards the Countess of Purgstall). Jane was in his confidence, and actively corresponding and intriguing on his behalf. It was she who wrote about this time, in the random course of a personal letter, "Upon my word, Walter Scott is going to turn out a poet, - something of a cross, I think, between Burns and Gray". It was a shrewd judgement on the material that she then had on which to form it. As a lyric poet, it probably defines what he became as accurately as a chapter of criticism would be likely to do.

        When he went to Invermay early this April, Miss Cranston had an idea. She shared it with William Erskine, and together they had his translation of Leonore set up in type, and one beautifully-bound copy followed and surprised him a few days after he arrived at Williamina's home.

        Miss Cranston seems to have had some hope at the time that her little scheme had advanced his interests, but, in fact, it was a wasted effort. There may have been girls who would have considered the fact that a man could translate a German ballad a sufficient reason for marrying him, but Williamina thought differently. What her mother thought was revealed long after (when Williamina herself was dead and most of those who were busy now with intrigue and speculation concerning her) but she had the wisdom to let her make her own choice.

        In the autumn, Scott was again at Invermay, and appears to have had a disappointing reception, for Miss Cranston writes to him, after he had left the house "- to trot quietly away, without so much as one stanza to Despair - never talk to me of love again - never, never, never! . . . Heaven speed you, and hope to the end."

        But Scott knew that the end had come. Early in October it was public knowledge that Miss Stuart was engaged to William Forbes, and that the marriage would promptly follow. His friends, by the evidence of correspondence that still remains, appear to have had some apprehension of the way in which he would take the shattering of his five-year dream. But they did not know him. He spent a few days riding in solitude in the Montrose district. He came back, seeming his usual self, and saying nothing to anyone. He was never one to expose his feelings lightly. But the wound remained unhealed to his life's end. Characteristically, his friendship with his successful rival remained unbroken.

        Lockhart professes to identify Miss Stuart both with Margaret of Branksome and Matilda of Rokeby. He may be right about one or other, but not both. Margaret had yellow hair, and there is evidence that Williamina (whom Lockhart calls Margaret, in evident error) had hair of the same colour. Beyond that, there is no description of Margaret's appearance by which comparison can be made. As to character, all we are told of Margaret is that, at a time of acute grief, she neglected to dress properly, that she could rise early and tread lightly at the call of love, and that she bolted like a hare at the approach of danger to her lover's life. Those who knew Williamina may have recognised her immediately from these incidents, but it seems unlikely.

        Matilda was not physically heroic, but she lacked Margaret's pleasantly putty-like qualities. She managed her two lovers with some adroitness, and she did manage to "seize upon their leader's rein" and give the troopers commendably brief and accurate directions, which saved her lovers' lives. Had Margaret been placed in Matilda's situation we feel that the singing of

        "Let our halls and towers decay"

would have lacked spirit.

        There is some evidence that the plot of Rokeby was suggested by the triangle of Scott himself and Williamina and Willie Forbes; and Matilda may have been as like Williamina as he was like the consumptive Wilfred, - which would not be much. But if we accept these comparisons, we must entirely acquit Miss Stuart of any measure of deceit or inconstancy. It is the central idea of Rokeby that love neither overcame honour nor destroyed friendship in those who were of sufficient nobility to equal the assault of circumstance.

        Lockhart, with more reason, regards the following passage from the twelfth chapter of Peveril of the Peak as having been written with its author's own experience in mind:

        "The period at which love is formed for the first time, and felt most strongly, is seldom that at which there is much prospect of its being brought to a happy issue. The state of artificial society opposes many complicated obstructions to early marriages; and the chance is very great that such obstacles prove insurmountable. In fine, there are few men who do not look back in secret to some period of their youth, at which a sincere and early affection was repulsed, or betrayed, or became abortive from opposing circumstances."

        There is an interval of a quarter of a century, but the constancy and strength of Scott's affections, and his enduring memory of this thwarted passion, make it almost impossible that he should have written such a paragraph without consciousness of his own experience.

        Late in life, he said that he had never faced any serious trouble without being vexed in dreams by memories of this emotional disaster of earlier days. He also expressed a wish that its details should not be probed, though he feared that that was too much to hope. There is a border of decency in the investigation of the intimacies of those who are dead which it is easy to overpass, and which is passed very frequently. That they should be less protected than the living cannot be readily allowed by any logical or generous mind, and this applies more particularly to those who are related to, or who come into some contact with men of an enduring celebrity, but who have done nothing themselves to challenge publicity, or deserve its penalties. It is equally true that a biography which is insincere, or deceptive, is about as worthless, if not actively pernicious, as a book can be. Most biographies should not be written at all. The material does not exist, or cannot properly be brought into evidence. It is as though we were to stage a trial at which some essential witnesses would be absent, and the evidence of others would be abruptly terminated before its climax; at which no-one could be cross-examined and no-one would be on oath; and then bring in a casually-confident verdict, which a bench of experienced judges might decline to do.

        Scott showed a truer sense of historical responsibility when he refused to write a life of Mary Stuart, at a time when money was a vital need, and though he must have known that it would have an enormous popularity, because he did not feel that he understood sufficiently the events of that gallant and tragic life. Possibly, had anyone suggested to his mind that the Casket letters -were forgeries, he might have come to a different conclusion, and the result would have enriched our literature.

        The character of most authors is sufficiently (and always most reliably) indicated by the work they leave us. The excuse (if it be needed) for considering the life of Scott is that which he would have applied himself to any theme that might come before him - that it is of an explicit nobility; a tale that it is worth while to tell.

        The suggestion that he had a cause of grievance against Miss Stuart does not come from him, and there is no evidence to support it which endures critical examination.

        It is her abiding honour that Walter Scott loved her with that quality of love which will survive hope, and which endured to his last hour, and we can be content to leave her name un-tarnished.

        He was too great of soul to suppose that this love was inconsistent with that which made sunlight in his life for many after years: too great either to conceal it from Charlotte Charpentier, or any who had his confidence, or to make it cause of complaint, or excuse for bitterness. And it was not without its reward in the control and conduct of his own life. However we may estimate the extent or directions in which it impulsed his literary work, there can be no doubt that the thought of Williamina Stuart inspired his determination to enter the Faculty of Advocates within the minimum possible period, and that when he put aside a score of contending interests for the steady uncongenial study of those two strenuous years

        "Twas she for whose bright eyes was won

        The listed field at Askalon."

Chapter XVI.

        The same October (1796) that saw the final defeat of Scott's effort to win Miss Stuart, saw his first published attempt at victory in the field of literature.

        He published a thin quarto volume containing the version of Leonore ("William and Helen") which Jane Cranston caused to be set in type six months earlier, and The Wild Huntsman, both being translations from Burger, a copy of whose ballads in the original had been presented to him by a German lady who had married Hugh Scott, the chief of his own (Harden) branch of the family.

        This brings us to another of Scott's innumerable friendships, and to another of Lockhart's alleged 'influences'.

        That Walter Scott would visit Hugh Scott at Mertoun was a certain thing. That Mrs. Hugh, the daughter of Count Bruhl, the Saxon ambassador in London, should take an interest in a young kinsman of her husband, who had learnt the language of her native country, and was translating its literature, was natural also. And it was absolutely certain that Scott would use the opportunity to learn from her all that the stores of her own mind, the experiences of her own life, could supply. He appears to have had the gift of pillaging the minds of others in such a manner that they were left with a pleasant satisfaction in the thought of how much they knew, and how much they had been able to help the pleasant and diffident young man with whom they had been conversing. It is curious, but not unnatural, that Scott seems to have shared their belief quite frequently. It had some truth. The mental wares which had been spread on the table between them had been those of their own minds. They did not realise that those which he had already accumulated were a hundred times more than theirs would ever be. They asked nothing from him. He asked information from them so deferentially that we are reminded of ants gently stroking aphidian abdomens, so that their milk shall flow freely.

        Mrs. Hugh Scott, daughter of the Dowager-Countess of Egremont (think of that! Lockhart asks us to do so), met Walter Scott when he was twenty-five, and thought him very young for his years. She knew English better than he. They agreed about that. She could correct his bad rhymes; the Scotticisms of his conversations, which would otherwise (doubtless) invade his youthful efforts at literary expression. He once spoke about the "little two dogs" and she was able to explain that "two little dogs" was preferred in the best society. He was duly grateful. She spread her tail in the sun.

        She did more than this. She "set him right in a thousand little trifles," as she naturally could, being the "first lady of fashion" to "take him up". It is an unconscious comedy as Lockhart tells it, but he may do justice to neither.

        When we think of the verbal loveliness of Rosabelle and other lyrics which must have been written at or very soon after this period, and all the experimental beauties of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, we may smile a little at this picture of uncouth diffidence being instructed by this German-born lady in the elements of the English tongue; but Scott doubtless did learn something from her, and the lady was happy. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

        Lockhart has supplied his hero with a "mentor" in Will Clerk, a "monitor" in Will Erskine, and now a "lady of fashion" to complete the preparation for his exalted destiny, after which he should go far.

        But, for the moment, he didn't.

        Friends who knew him in Edinburgh talked of the book and gave it generous praise, which may not have exceeded sincerity, because they regarded it in relation to the riches of his own mind, of which they already knew. But London literary circles declined to be excited. In fact, they declined to buy it at all. Lockhart is sure that "real lovers of poesy" saw that "no-one but a poet could have transfused the daring imagery of the German in a style so free, bold, masculine, and full of life." Perhaps it was so, and perhaps they did. Lockhart's team of adjectives are somewhat of the same colour, and go no further than to suggest that the translations were of a vigorous quality. So they were. They had energy, and showed some skill in craftsmanship. But they were not his subjects: they were not his inventions: vitally, they were not his. They were more or less capable exercises in verse: they were not poetry at all. It was a time at which everyone was translating Burger. Some did it better than Scott, and most could have been better occupied. If he could do no better than that, he might give up trying, and it would be no loss to the world.

        He took the failure with serenity. Beaten, for the moment, both in love and literature, he made no complaint. He went on practising the art of verse: he went on with his legal business: he redoubled his efforts to organise a regiment of volunteer horse.

        And in this same Autumn of 1796, while the preparations for Williamina's wedding were being pushed forward at Invermay, Scott commenced another of his life-long friendships. A young man, James Skene of Rubislaw, who had just come back from Saxony, where he had been staying for several years, no doubt first attracted his attention owing to his interest in German literature. He wanted to know many things that James should be able to tell him. The fact that Skene was some years the younger of the two may explain Lockhart allowing Scott to have a friend who is not a monitor, but for the extent and quality of the resulting intimacy we may take Mr. Skene's ultimate statement that it continued for "nearly forty years" - that is till one of them should be buried in Dryburgh Abbey - "without ever having sustained a casual chill from unkind thought or word."

        For the moment they talked of chargers, of the fear of French invasion on the northern coast, of the regiment of Light Horse that had been raised in London, and of the possibility of a similar enterprise being successful in the Scottish capital. During the winter, Scott worked so hard at this project that he was able in the middle of February to send a petition to the Government in London, signed by a sufficient number who would be willing to serve in a regiment of volunteer cavalry, to secure the necessary authority; and with such energy was the recruiting pressed that the regiment was an established fact when the spring came. It pledged itself to serve, in case of invasion, in any part of the United Kingdom. It was commanded by Charles Maitland of Rankeillor. Scott was "Paymaster, Quartermaster and Secretary." Its cornets were James Skene, and William Forbes of Pitsligo. The last name is an incidental evidence that no shadow of hostility had fallen between Walter Scott and his successful rival.

        As most of the members of the corps had business or professional duties that filled their days, the hour for drill was fixed for five A.M. - an hour which recalls Scott's early-morning energies in his legal studies, and suggests that the secretary of the corps had some responsibility for this arrangement.

        James Skene's account of him in this connection deserves quotation:

        "The part of quartermaster was purposely selected for him, that he might be spared the rough usage of the ranks; but, notwithstanding his infirmity, he had a remarkably firm seat on horseback, and in all situations a fearless one: no fatigue ever seemed too much for him, and his zeal and animation served to sustain the enthusiasm of the whole corps, while his ready "mot a rire" kept up, in all, a degree of good-humour and relish for the service, without which the toil and privations of long daily drills would not easily have been submitted to by such a body of gentlemen. At every interval of exercise, the order, Sit at ease, was the signal for the quartermaster to lead the squadron to merriment; every eye was intuitively turned on 'Earl Walter', as he was familiarly called by his associates of that date, and his ready joke seldom failed to raise the ready laugh. He took his full share in all the labours and duties of the corps, had the highest pride in its progress and proficiency, and was such a trooper himself, as only a very powerful frame of body and the warmest zeal in the cause could have enabled any one to be."

        The triple offices which Scott held at the first organisation of the regiment, for the existence of which his persistent energy was responsible, reminds us of the similar multiplicity of his official services to the Speculative Club. On this occasion, he found that he had undertaken more than it would be possible to continue permanently, and an arrangement was made for the paymaster's duties to be transferred to Mr. Colin Mackenzie. But it is amazing at this, as at every subsequent period of his life, to observe how much of his time (and often of his money also) was given to the service of others, or to occupations that brought no remuneration. It is obvious, from Skene's account, and from much other witness, that he was the life and inspiration of the regiment, though he had no thought to press for its higher dignities. At this time it seemed as though he would allow himself no time for solitary or introspective thought. He rose early: he read late. On a charger fitted for his unusual height and weight, which he had named Leonore, and the purchase of which had presented such difficulty that he had seriously thought of selling his collection of antique coins to acquire it, he appeared among his brother volunteers as of an inexhaustible vitality, and a good temper that nothing could overset.

        It was so that he would appear to others through the vicissitudes of many future years. As they passed, it would become almost a routine with him to give his time and money to assist the troubles of others, and to keep his own to the privacy of his own heart. There would even be those in later days (but not who had known him) who would suggest that his passions were of no more than a moderate temperature. It is true that in the immense volume of his writings the allusion to periods -

        "When on the weary night dawned wearier day,

        And bitterer was the grief devoured alone,"

are very brief and few. But shallowness is a more talkative and more selfish thing.

Chapter XVII.

        In the latter days of the reign of Louis XVI, there had been living in Lyons, with his wife and two young children, a M. Jean Charpentier, a government official of some wealth and position. Among his friends had been the Marquis of Downshire, who had stayed at his house for some time when travelling on the Continent. When the revolution broke out, M. Charpentier did not fly - he may probably have been in no condition of health to do so - but he prudently sent some of his money to England, about £4,000 in all.

        The Marquis of Downshire was his good friend in the matter. He appears to have arranged its investment, part of the money being secured by a mortgage on his own estate. When her husband died, as he did shortly afterwards, Madame Charpentier left Lyons for Paris, and then fled with her two children to London, as the murderous horrors of the revolution darkened around her. Lord Downshire gave the fugitives shelter in his own house. The mother died almost immediately, and he acted from that time as the guardian of the two orphans who had been left on his hands. He appears to have acted throughout with kindness and probity. He educated the children wisely, and conserved their property. In due time, he procured for the boy, Charles Charpentier, an appointment under the East India Company, who in 1797 already held a good position as a commercial resident at Salem. It is probable that some of the children's original capital had been invested in connection with this appointment, subject to Charles contributing to his sister's support, for at this date we find that Charlotte Charpentier (or Carpenter, as she had now taken to writing it, in the English style) reckoned her income at £500 a year, part of which was from interest on secure investments, and the remainder dependent upon the regularity of her brother's remittances.

        Charlotte's education had been entrusted to Miss Jane Nicholson, a daughter of the Dean of Exeter, and grand-daughter of William Nicholson, Bishop of Carlisle. The Bishop of Carlisle was dead, but Jane Nicholson still had friends or relatives in Carlisle with whom she kept up acquaintance. Charlotte's education was over, but Lord Downshire still retained Miss Nicholson's services as a companion for the lonely girl.

        It followed from these circumstances that when Charlotte and Miss Nicholson took a holiday together in August of this year, Carlisle was the selected spot, from which they went to Gilsland, to spend some summer weeks among the beauties of the English lakes.

        At the same time, the legal session at Edinburgh having closed in July, and the new yeomanry regiment having suspended its drills (after three weeks in camp at Musselburgh), John and Walter Scott, with Walter's friend, Adam Fergusson, came southward on a wandering holiday, stopping at several places before they put up their horses at a Gilsland hotel. The next morning Walter and Adam took a long ride together to explore the district in Walter's usual manner. Charlotte Carpenter was fond of riding. She had a slim figure, which looked well in a riding-habit, as she doubtless knew. There is no evidence that Miss Nicholson had a similar figure, or a similar liking for a horse's back. There is no evidence either way, beyond the fact that next morning Charlotte rode out alone. She was a dark girl by English, and still more by Scottish, standards. We have her son-in-law's testimony that her complexion was "of the clearest and lightest olive"; that her eyes were "large, deep-set and dazzling, of the finest Italian brown." The two young Scotsmen who reined up their horses to watch her ride must have seen more of her figure, and of jet-black hair that blew loose in the wind. From that hour Charlotte's fate was a settled thing.

        Etiquette did not permit that the girl should be accosted on the lonely moorland. But she could be discreetly followed, and her dwelling marked down for a more circumspect approach. We do not know whether she knew that she was stalked, or disliked the experience, but they rounded her up satisfactorily in Gilsland; which prevented any necessity for changing their own location. There was a dance that night, at which, by whatever combination of chance and swift contriving, they were all present together.

        John had found time to change into the scarlet splendours of his lieutenant's uniform. Adam had put on that of the volunteer regiment which Walter had founded. Walter was content with a more civilian aspect.

        John danced with Charlotte. Adam danced with Charlotte. The lame Walter waited his time, and took her in to supper, as his patience gave him a claim to do.

        A week or two later, he addressed his mother in the following letter.

        "My dear Mother,

        I should very ill deserve the care and affection with which you have ever regarded me, were I to neglect my duty so far as to omit consulting my father and you in the most important step which I can possibly take in life, and upon the success of which my future happiness must depend. It is with pleasure I think that I can avail myself of your advice and instructions in an affair of so great importance as that which I have at present on my hands. You will probably guess from this preamble that I am engaged in a matrimonial plan, which is really the case. Though my acquaintance with the young lady has not been of long standing, this circumstance is in some degree counterbalanced by the intimacy in which we have lived, and by the opportunities which that intimacy has afforded me of remarking her conduct and sentiments on many different occasions, some of which were rather of a delicate nature, so that in fact I have seen more of her during the few weeks we have been together than I could have done after a much longer acquaintance, shackled by the common forms of ordinary life. You will not expect from me a description of her person - for which I refer you to my brother, as also for a fuller account of all the circumstances attending the business than can be comprised in the compass of a letter. Without flying into raptures - for I must assure you that my judgement as well as my affections are consulted upon this occasion - without flying into raptures, then, I may safely assure you, that her temper is sweet and cheerful, her understanding good, and, what I know will give you pleasure, her principles of religion very serious. I have been very explicit with her upon the nature of my expectations, and she thinks she can accommodate herself to the situation which I should wish her to hold in society as my wife, which, you will easily comprehend, I mean should neither be extravagant nor degrading. Her fortune, though partly dependent upon - her brother, who is high in office at Madras, is very considerable - at present £500 a-year. This, however, we must, in some degree, regard as precarious - I mean to the full extent; and indeed, when you know her, you will not be surprised that I regard this circumstance chiefly because it removes those prudential considerations which would otherwise render our union impossible for the present. Betwixt her income and my own professional exertions, I have little doubt we will be enabled to hold the rank in society which my family and situation entitle me to fill. Write to me very fully upon this important subject - send me your opinion, your advice, and, above all, your blessing."

        The letter seems formal to the ideas and practices of today, but a consideration of the circumstances under which it was written, and the difficulties which had to be overcome, reveal it as a very diplomatic document. It does not palter with truth: its statements of fact - as far as they go - are explicit and exact. Neither does it suggest difficulty. Yet there is argument in every line. There is menace also, of a kind. For while it asks advice and even 'instructions', it has a tone of resolution which his mother knew him too well not to be able to understand. That it was addressed to her has been explained, perhaps rightly, as being due to the weakness of his father's health. But it might have been more natural to address it jointly, even under such circumstances. As it stands, his father is not ignored. The minimum of the filial deference of the period is observed. He would "neglect his duty" if he should omit to "consult" both parents upon a step so important to his own welfare. The girl's nationality is not mentioned. Her religion - by Heaven's mercy she was not a Catholic, but it is equally sure that she was not a Presbyterian - is only vaguely indicated. These things are left for John (who carried the letter) to explain.

        For Walter did not go home himself. Neither did Charlotte return to London. She went to her friends in Carlisle. Walter found a lodging in the same place. He meant that there should be no mistake on this occasion. Neither mistake nor delay. And he had a double difficulty to overcome. He had to persuade Charlotte to a willingness to face life with him under the strange and perhaps repellent conditions of the cold northern capital, and he had to persuade his own relatives, not merely to a passive consent to the marriage, but to give his wife the reception that he was resolved that she should have. In the meantime he would neither risk leaving Charlotte, nor introduce her to Edinburgh without invitation, and assurance of welcome there.

        In the result, he stayed in Carlisle till the end of September, when the opening of the Jedburgh court called for his presence. Charlotte stayed, too, treating her guardian in the same way. The matter must be settled by correspondence, unless he should come to her. Miss Nicholson doubtless stayed also, and made her own representations. There might be doubt in London and perturbation in Edinburgh, but there were two young people in Carlisle who meant to have their own way.

        We may suppose that, in spite of the delays and expense of correspondence at that time, Walter's post-bag was heavy during those six weeks. The idea that he should marry a foreign woman whom he had only just met could not be well received in Edinburgh's rigid Calvinistic atmosphere. John may have said what he could in his brother's cause. He was a man of slow brain, but the women must have questioned him more than enough. He may have mentioned that her speech had a foreign accent; that her pronunciation was imperfect. She would always say 'dat' for 'that'. It was very different from the type of English which was spoken in George's Square.

        People may admire such a girl's looks, but they don't marry her if they are wise. They know too well what the French are.

        In any case, what kind of wife would she be likely to make? With no common interests or sympathies, knowing nothing of the customs or conventions of the society to which she would be introduced? Probably she would waste, or quarrel, or sulk, or mope. She might even be faithless or run away.

        Is it surprising if Mr. Walter Scott senior intimated that any rash and sudden step would incur his severe displeasure? If others, even Christian Rutherford, even Jane Cranston (now busily preparing for her own marriage), wrote in remonstrance, or with a hesitation that was too easy to understand?

        There are families in which marital disaster is a frequent incident, and is regarded as an almost normal mischance upon the journey of life. There are others in which you may search in all their branches, and for many generations, and find no matrimonial troubles, though they may have their share of crime and follies of other kinds. The Scotts had always been of the latter category. We have seen already that they chose their wives well.

        All the correspondence which passed has not been preserved, and we must guess with equity, if at all; but one fact stands out in unmistakable significance. There came a point when Walter wrote that he intended to marry Miss Carpenter, and that as soon as he could prevail upon her to attend the ceremony. But he would not bring her to Edinburgh unless he were assured that she would be received in the right way. Otherwise, he would go with her to the Colonies, and make a career there.

        He could not have written this unless he had ascertained her willingness to adventure with him. In fact, she may have thought the programme at least as attractive as that of settling down in that dull northern atmosphere, among people who were so plainly reluctant to make her one of themselves.

        The moment was critical, both for those most concerned, and for a large part of the world's reading during the succeeding century. But courage and resolution conquered, as they most often do. Edinburgh answered with a flag of truce, if not of surrender. Walter, who had emphasised his determination by returning from Jedburgh to Carlisle, instead of proceeding to Edinburgh in the normal course of his legal procession, now agreed to come home. He fulfilled his usual attendances at the Court during the latter part of the autumn session, and returned to Carlisle at its close, in time to marry Charlotte Carpenter in St Mary's Church on December 24th, 1797. He had successfully carried out his purpose without the risk that would have been involved in a meeting between Miss Carpenter and the Edinburgh ladies before the event had become irrevocable, and he had the promise that she should be received into the family when he brought her home.

Chapter XVIII.

        It has been too customary to write of Charlotte Scott in a tone of disparagement, as though a prosaic marriage had followed flatly after a romantic love. But the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to this ungenerous fiction.

        It is obviously true that Charlotte could not have her husband's interest in the antiquities of Scotland, or the rude spirit of its Border ballads. She was of another tradition, another race. Coming to Edinburgh, as she did, to live the life of his own people, she risked more, and surrendered more, than he had occasion to do.

        It may have been a fact, when he waked her up during the night in the excitement of discovering the meaning of a burn's name, that she failed to duplicate his own emotion; but the evidence that they were good comrades and devoted lovers to the hour of her distant death is both direct and indirect, and the indirect evidence is of the strongest kind.

        It is a fact of the highest significance that, from the date of his marriage, Scott's genius asserts itself in his verse as it had never done previously. The advance commences almost at once, and is continuous. There was promise before: there is to be performance now. Whatever other effects his marriage may have had, it did not stifle his ambition, nor divert his mind from his old pursuits, nor reduce the quality of his imaginative work.

        During the five previous years, he had planned and dreamed and accumulated. Now plans became actions, dreams realities, the accumulations of yesterday were to be the building materials of tomorrow. Marriage brought happiness: it was also to bring success.

        When they first came to Edinburgh, they went into a temporary lodging in George Street, the impetuosity of Scott's assault upon the citadel of the position not having allowed sufficient time for the preparation of a home to which he could take his bride. Not that he had neglected this aspect of the enterprise he had undertaken. He had rented a little house in South Castle Street during the few weeks that he had been in Edinburgh, and some furnishing preparations had been made, but it was not ready for occupation, - a circumstance about which Charlotte may have been well content. She had her own ideas as to what a home should be, which she might prefer to Walter's, and certainly to that of the female members of his family, however kindly their help may have been given. The quickly-captured girl had shown some disposition to protest already against the strength and swiftness of the stream on which she was carried. 'I will give you a little hint - that is, not to put so many musts in your letters - it is beginning rather too soon.' So she wrote during those brief weeks of November separation. She may not have minded those musts very greatly, coming from him, but she would be less complaisant to the interference of others. By his evident unwillingness to take the risk of her meeting his family before the irrevocable ceremony, she was coming to a home that she had not seen. She must have been well content that the completion of its arrangements should be left to her.

        Some of the means of its ultimate furnishing probably came from her own resources. It is certain that her money provided the larger and more certain part of the joint income on which their housekeeping was commenced, though it did not long continue to do so. There had been negotiations with London as well as Edinburgh, the success of which had been vital to the celerity of the impetuous marriage, in which Charlotte must have done her own part. But it is certain that Walter had substantial assistance at this time from his father's purse, such as he might fairly expect to receive when once the main point had been conceded. John was not living on his regimental pay. No officers did at that period. He must have drawn on his father with regularity. Tom had an income from the business. He was already married. He had not furnished his home from the savings of his apprentice years. Walter had remained at home. He had lived without cost to himself. His legal fees had been for his own pocket. All his life he was without personal extravagances. But his income had not been sufficient to allow of saving, except for immediate objects. Three or four years ago he had written to Shortreed that he was saving fees so that he could have his next Liddesdale holiday on the back of his own horse, instead of having to borrow from a friend in Jedburgh, as he had done previously. In the spring of this year, he had considered the sale of his precious collection of coins when he had been in difficulty for the price of a military charger.

        But his father had substantial resources in these days, and for some help he could fairly look. Nor can we doubt that it was readily given. Love and pride would unite to see that, in the carefully-worded phrase with which he had opened the negotiations, the conditions to which he should introduce his wife should be "neither extravagant or degrading".

        It says much for Charlotte that she succeeded in conforming to the customs and prejudices of the strange city into which she had come sufficiently to establish friendly, if not intimate associations with her new relatives. There must have been forbearances on both sides. Lockhart says quaintly that she had "some little leaning to the pomps and vanities of the world," but she "made up her mind to find her happiness in better things." It is unlikely that either she or Walter would have described the position quite in that way. She had been used to spending her money more freely than she could now afford to do, and she showed the practical sense and economy of her own nation in her control of expenditure in the new circumstances of her life. Frugal, critical Scottish eyes watched, and approved.

        When they were able to move from the George Street lodging, and she became the mistress of her own home, she scandalised Edinburgh by living in the drawing-room, which should only have been entered (except to dust it) on Sunday afternoons, and some occasional ceremonies. Such are the pitfalls yawning for the feet of those who marry into strange lands. Yet if we give sympathy, it may be misdirected. She met the position with some courage, some gaiety, some concessions to the opinions of others, and some occasional stubbornness when she felt that a limit should not be passed. She would meet the later troubles of life with the same resolute spirit (Scott was to write of her, on the day after her death, as "the sharer of my thoughts and counsels, who could always talk down my sense of the calamitous apprehensions which break the heart that must bear them alone"); she would meet that death ("You all have such melancholy faces!") with the same laughing eyes.

        She made many friends. Walter's invalid sister extended her passionate love for her favourite brother to include his wife.

        His own friends received her with enthusiasm. The legal fraternity of the Mountain had just been deprived of the two ladies who had been most closely associated with it. Jane Cranston had married, as had William Erskine's sister. They found that Mrs. Walter Scott would entertain them gladly. The officers of the Cavalry regiment which he had done so much to create were another circle of acquaintance to which she was welcome. They formed a club, meeting weekly for dinner at each others' houses. The two circles (several belonged to both) consisted of young men of limited means, of busy days, of high ambitions which were realised in a surprising proportion of instances. Broadly considered, they were of good characters and an exceptional intellectual standard. Charlotte was fortunate in her husband's friends.

        They went often to the theatre, usually with William Erskine for company. It had been one of Walter's pleasures ever since, and as often as, his means permitted. It was an amusement of which Charlotte was passionately fond. Swiftly and happily the winter passed, and when spring came they found a cottage at Lasswade, six miles out in the Esk valley, and Scott forgot his disposition to wander over the country, as he tamed its garden to order, and Charlotte made its single living-room suitable to entertain their friends.

Chapter XIX.

        In the spring of 1797 there were few men whose literary reputation stood higher than that of Matthew Gregory Lewis. Time has shortened that stature, as it has laughed at his own diminutive proportions. To do him justice, we must look at what he did in relation to his own time. He had written a romance, The Monk, which was of a universal popularity. It had given him the nickname of Monk Lewis, by which he became more generally known. He was a lover of poetry, and, if not a great poet, he had a sound technique, and he did not attempt more than he was capable of doing, which is not a universal wisdom among men of literature. He was an enthusiastic collector of ballads. He had a design of bringing out a volume of such pieces which was to be entitled Tales of Terror, for which he was collecting materials. William Erskine went up to London, and met him there. He talked about his friend, Walter Scott, and showed the two translated ballads which had been so abortively printed. He said there were others to be obtained from the same source.

        Correspondence followed. From the cottage of Lasswade, there came a packet of manuscript ballads, complete or in draft, such as Scott had written at the time, and considered suitable to offer for such a collection. Lockhart, as is usual, is unfair to both men in the relations that followed. He first sneers at Lewis's literary status, depreciating it below its actual level, and then makes the absurd suggestion that Scott owed him a heavy debt because the reading of Lewis's "Ballads of Alonso the Brave etc., had rekindled effectually in his breast the spark of poetical ambition." If Scott had needed a 'spark' to be 'rekindled' by such means he would not have been a poet at all. But, as in other instances where Lockhart represents Scott as a weak vessel whose course is steered by stronger wills, or who is inspired by stronger creative impulses than his own, examination shows it to be no more than random assertion, as entirely without external evidence as it is without inherent probability.

        Scott was the younger, though the abler man. When Lewis came to Edinburgh in the autumn, and asked him to dinner at his hotel, he was naturally pleased, or even excited at the opportunity. To have responded differently would have shown an absurd conceit, which Scott never had. That he was generous in his estimate of the abilities of others, sometimes to excess, was true throughout his life. But in this case he was in the position of a young officer, inexperienced and unproved, who is noticed by a famous and victorious general, and invited to join his staff.

        Lewis stayed for some time in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, and Scott and he saw much of each other. Lewis visited him at Musselburgh, lodging with him in narrow quarters, while he was in training with his regiment there. They were together (probably on an invitation of Scott's procuring) at Dalkeith House. The Scotts had improved acquaintance, during the summer at Lasswade, with the young Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Dalkeith House being only two or three miles down the Esk valley, as they had with the Clerks at Pennycuick, about twice as far in the opposite direction, and with other of Scott's numberless friends whose country houses were within riding distance. It was on this occasion that Saunder's caricature of Monk Lewis, representing him as a dark-lanterned, cloak-muffled cut-throat was passed round, with exclamations of appreciation at the likeness achieved. The Duke of Bucclench objected "Like Mat Lewis! Why that picture's like a man," and was disconcerted on turning round to find that Lewis was standing beside him. The remark was, of course, in derision of one who Scott describes as "the least man I ever saw, to be strictly well and neatly made."

        Lewis went back to London before the end of the year, taking with him a translation of Goethe's tragedy, 'Goetz,' which Scott had now completed. His friendly interest was successful in placing it almost immediately with a London publisher, and actually inducing him to give £25 for the first edition. This was in January. The play appeared in the following month, Lewis making a better bargain for the unknown author than he would have been likely to be able to do for himself, had stipulated for a further £25 if a second edition should be required. "I have made him" (the publisher, Bell) "distinctly understand that, if you accept so small a sum, it will be only because this is your first publication," Lewis wrote, when sending on the offer of the first payment. So it was, on the London market.

        There was no call for a second edition. Lockhart suggests the explanation to lie in the change of literary fashion which was tiring of some of the absurdities of contemporary German literature, and rejected all indiscriminately in its revulsion of feeling. So it may have been, but no explanation is really needed. Scott's pre-eminence was not in the translation of German drama, and the demand for such a work from a new author was not likely to be large.

        Still, its acceptance and publication was a success, through whatever influence it had been negotiated. The friendship of Mat Lewis had borne an early fruit, and it may have been the deciding argument in the resolution to visit London which was almost immediately taken. Goetz was published in February. In the following month, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Scott were in London together, sharing M. Dumergue's hospitality. It was the first time he had been there since Janet had stopped with him on the road to Bath. He had a short period of exploration among its historical and architectural treasures; some pleasant meetings, on Lewis's introduction, with London literary circles; others, doubtless, among Charlotte's earlier friends. But the visit was quickly and abruptly terminated by a letter which brought the news of his father's death.

        He had sent to Lewis, or left with him a play, The House of Aspen, which had also been written during the first year of his married life. It is said to have been brought to Kemble's notice, and actually reached the point of rehearsal, though it was never acted in public. It is unlikely that it would have had any popular success. Its chief interest is in its lyrics; and their importance is of a negative kind. They show that the almost flawless perfection of form which Scott ultimately attained in this class of composition, a perfection which is so complete as to appear effortless, was not reached without practice, by the path of comparative failure, which is the common experience.

Chapter XX.

        Walter Scott senior died of apoplexy in his seventieth year. He had survived several strokes, beneath which body and mind had gradually given way, and the task of nursing him had been a heavy strain upon his wife and invalid daughter during the previous winter. The manner of his death was that which was most usual at that time in the class to which he belonged. The fact that he survived to the completion of the seventh decade, particularly when consideration is given to the sedentary life he lived in contrast to that of his Border ancestors, gives some support to the abstemious reputation that he enjoyed. His widow, as is common in the family records of this period, survived him for nearly twenty healthy and happy years, modern prejudice would say in spite of the large family that she had borne in her youth. We must explain that as we please; but the habit of taking alcoholic refreshment in large and continual quantities appears to have been masculine rather than feminine, and paralytic deaths among the women were proportionately infrequent.

        Mr. Scott left a sufficient capital sum to provide his widow with an income of about £300 a year, on which she lived in a quiet and comfortable independence, refusing resolutely to have it supplemented in the days of her son's prosperity. Beyond this, Tom had the business, and though the residue which remained for division among the other children was less than had been expected, it doubtless eased the position of all at the time, though with a finality which closed any future expectations from the source on which they had been used to rely.

        The home of a generation in George's Square was closed and dismantled. Walter and Charlotte offered his mother and sister the hospitality of Lasswade, in which narrow quarters they remained together till the autumn came, and the cottage was abandoned for the winter months in the usual way, though somewhat later than usual, for it was here in October that Charlotte's first baby - Charlotte Sophia - was born.

        It was natural, during a summer in which Mrs. Scott and Anne were with them at Lasswade, and Charlotte was approaching motherhood, that Walter did not wander far from his own home. He reduced his annual Liddesdale raid with Sheriff Shortreed to the limit of a single week, - the conditions of life in the desolate moorland country being too primitive for Charlotte to have been his companion on that occasion, - and they improved acquaintance with many friends in the Eskdale district. There was a short visit to Robert Scott at Kelso, during which a printing order was given to James Ballantyne, of which more must be said. There was a visit also to Bothwell Castle, at the invitation of Lady Frances, the Duke of Buccleuch's sister, who had just married Lord Douglas, and who did not allow her marriage to break the friendship which had been formed during the previous summer. There was even a proposal during this visit that the Scotts should give up the Lasswade cottage, and accept the free tenancy of a little house which had been built within the ruins of Craignethan Castle, which was the property of Lord Douglas. The offer, and the fact that it was not rejected, show how close and cordial was the friendship already established with the Buccleuch family. That it was afterwards abandoned was due to other developments to which we must come in due order. It was a year of many events, and in which the seeds of the future were freely sown.

        It was a year of importance also in Scott's literary history, for it saw an output of original ballads in which we may observe him gradually evolving the forms of creative art in which he was to show himself as a pioneer of literature, doing that which had never been done before, and which subsequent imitations have not approached to equal. They are of sufficient importance to deserve some detailed consideration, which it may be convenient to give before coming to the events of the autumn months.

        These ballads, or some of them, were sent to Lewis, either for his opinion, or as possible contributions to the Tales of Wonder, which had still not materialised. They resulted in correspondence between the two poets, in which Lewis took the stand of a prosodic purist, and was severely critical of Scott's looser or more experimental constructions. He was partly right and partly wrong; and so far as he was right, Scott showed himself receptive to his ideas, and may have consciously modified his methods of composition in consequence. The difference may be briefly summarised by saying that Lewis attached too much importance to metrical and rhythmical regularity, and Scott, his poetical appreciation nurtured on old ballads which were often crude and irregular in construction, was too complaisant to defects of form, which are not beauties in themselves, though their tatters may disclose a loveliness which better garments might hide.

        The first of these ballads to reach a complete and final form appears to have been Glenfinlas; the most interesting and significant were The Eve of St. John and The Grey Brother: and the most technically satisfying was The Fire King.

        Glenfinlas begins well;

      "O hone a rie! O hone a rie!
        The pride of Albin's line is o'er."

but there is little more to be said in its favour. It is far too long, and its horror is diffused and elaborated, where its presentation should be swift and simple. The fault is partly one of construction, and partly a defect of the subject itself, which has not sufficient length or variety of incident to supply material for a ballad. It is fit rather for use as a poetic reference, or allusion, of the length of a few lines, in the course of a longer poem.

        Scott made the mistake here that he and Wordsworth made together at a later day. A man died on Helvellyn, and a dog was found long afterwards watching beside his skeleton. The subject was utterly unsuitable for a poem, because anything worth saying about it could be said in a single stanza. They both tried, and they both failed. They wrote the kinds of verse which were natural to either when he had nothing to say. Scott climbed the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn, and Wordsworth asked anxiously, What is the creature doing here? Neither poem is worth reading, and, had they been the work of unknown authors, neither would have been remembered for a week. They are not so much examples of how not to do it, as what not to attempt to do.

        Glenfinlas is a ballad of the same brand. Scott must have felt that he hammered on cold iron, though he may have blamed himself for the poor craftsmanship that resulted. There is one stanza that lives in the reader's memory, - which must have been a moonlight memory to himself of when he had wandered in the Highland night, and seen the solitary expanses of lake and mountain outstretched beneath a cloud-crossed moon.

      "The moon, half-hid in silvery flakes,
      Afar her dubious radiance shed,
      Quivering on Katrine's distant lakes,
      And resting on Benledi's head."

        The stanza is profoundly significant of Scott's genius, and to consider it is to understand why his descriptions of scenery mean so much to some, and so little to others.

        His great contemporaries, Coleridge, Shelley, Wordsworth, and Byron, are all conscious of the natural beauty around them, and all have the skill to draw it. But, in their different ways, they make it reflective of their own moods. Scott loved it simply and utterly for what it was. There is less ego in his cosmos. Where they question, or pose, or fret, he accepts and is satisfied. It may be difficult to consider this difference and remain in doubt as to which is the saner or nobler attitude.

        There are people who are not content with a picture of lake or woodland unless the foreground is disturbed by the obstruction of a human figure. They will be likely to agree that Wordsworth is the greater poet. There are others who admire Wordsworth also, but who keep him apart in their minds, lest he should appear dwarfed by too close a comparison with a loftier stature.

        The Gray Brother is deformed in another way. Its opening and closing stanzas are effective, and could not easily be bettered. Its abrupt close is excellent. It would have been a

better ballad if two-thirds had been lopped away.

      "Who knows not Melville's beechy grove,
        And Roslin's rocky glen,
      Dalkeith, which all the virtues love,
        And classic Hawthornden?"

        The answer to this question is obvious, and not worth giving. But - and that is the real criticism - it has nothing to do with the subject of the ballad. Scott was simply inserting the addresses of the good friends he visited during the summer months at Lasswade, the beautiful situations of which, and their romantic traditions, he admired and loved. His method is emerging, but his genius has not yet fully controlled it to successful ends.

        The Fire King is a ballad of a different kind. It has no local background. It is pure imagination throughout. It has a dramatic theme, competently and completely handled. It is not Scott at his greatest, but of its kind it would not be easy to equal, and of itself it would not be easy to improve. It has a separate interest in the fact that Scott is seen for the first time handling a popular metre with the originality of a prosodic genius which was still only experimenting. The anaepest has a treacherous habit of inopportune levity. It gives the impression that it would dance on its mother's grave. In Scott's time, when poetic style was struggling to escape from the formalism of the previous century, the anaepest was used by almost every poet, major and minor, with disastrous consequences. There were few solemnities on which it did not obscenely or absurdly dance, in utter ignorance of its own grotesqueness. Scott controls it to his own mood in this ballad:

      "The battle is over on Bethsaida's plain. -
      Oh, who is yon Paynim lies stretched mid the slain?
      And who is yon Page lying cold at his knee? -
      Oh, who but Count Albert and fair Rosalie!
      The Lady was buried in Salem's blest bound,
      The Count he was left to the vulture and hound:
      Her soul to high mercy Our Lady did bring;
      His went on the blast to the dread Fire-King."

        It is the same metre that he was afterwards to use in a new way, a kind of heroic levity, in Lochinvar, in Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances, and in When the dawn on the mountains:

      For the rights of fair England that broadsword he draws,
      Her King is his leader, her Church is his cause;
      His watchword is honour, his pay is renown, -
      God strike with the gallant that strikes for the Crown!

        Scott's innovations gave the anaepest a new place in English poetry: they blaze the trail for Swinburne's intricate cadences: in Kipling's ballads their defiant note was sounded again.

        This is not an essay on prosody, and it would be too long a diversion to probe the subtle vowel uses and points of accentuation on which the successful use of the anaepest depends, if it is to avoid being a jog or a jerk - they depend primarily upon the facts, which are not always recognised by teachers of prosody, that English accents do not always fall upon the centres of the syllables which they stress, and that those syllables are not merely long and short, but of many differing lengths - but it is impossible to do justice to Scott as an artist in the music of words without recognising how numerous were his successful experiments, and how much he broadened the bases of English verse.

        The Eve of Saint John stands apart from the other ballads which we know to have been written during this year, not only for itself, but because of the method of its production, which is worth some detailed examination. Its genesis was casual. The ruins of Smailholm Tower rose from the rock which overlooked the farm of Sandy-Knowe. They were one of the earliest memories of Scott's infant years. They were dear to him for their romantic memories, and for the associations of his own family. He saw signs of dilapidations which he asked his Harden kinsman, Hugh Scott, who owned the property, to repair. The reply, not perhaps seriously meant, was that a ballad must be the price. Scott accepted the condition, and The Eve of St. John was the result. Lockhart says that he actually wrote it at Mertoun House, but this should not be taken too literally. It is not off-hand work. It is not only that it is of very skilful dramatic construction, nor that it has varieties of melody in the changing forms of its stanzas, such as do not appear in a too hasty composition: it is that the tale itself is a made thing. Scott did not know any legend of the tower suitable for such purpose. For the first time, we can watch him collecting from the stored resources of his own mind to make a new tale, and to supply the incidents and background which it requires.

        The central idea - that of the return of the murdered lover - is from an old Irish tradition. The idea of the nun of Dryburgh who 'ne'er looked upon the sun,' had an actual and recent parallel there. The placing of the event in the middle of the sixteenth century gave a plausible reason for the Baron's absence: an opportunity to use the call of war for the settlement of a private quarrel. The battle of Ancrum Moor, an historic event dimly indicated in the background, gives a suitable atmosphere, and verisimilitude to the supernatural tale. And the fact that it is left as a mere background shows that Scott was finding by practice the importance of form, even in the apparent looseness of the construction which this ballad wears, and which Mat Lewis, printing it afterwards in his Tales of Wonder, must have regarded as evidence that Scott was beyond his teaching, in spite of the courteous deference of the letters which acknowledged the advice he gave.

        And the temptation to extend the references to Ancrum Moor must have been a strong one. Scott had been over the ground in the course of his Liddesdale 'raids'. It was a battle in which his own clan - the Scotts of Buccleuch and Harden - played an honourable and decisive part. It held none of the bitterness of the memory of the time when Teviotdale and Liddesdale had been engaged in the civil strife which was to be recorded deathlessly in the Lay of the Last Minstrel.

      When Home and Douglas in the van
      Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan,
      Till gallant Cessford's heartblood dear
      Reeked on dark Elliot's Border spear.

        For at Ancrum Moor, Teviotdale came to the support of Liddesdale, and they fought and conquered together. . . .

        Lord Evers had a dreaded name in the Border country. It was not his first raid into Scotland when he came at the head of a little army in which there were 3,000 foreign mercenaries, and 700 renegade Scottish borderers, including the broken Armstrong clan, supporting his own English followers, who were estimated at 1,500 men. He penetrated as far north as Melrose, which he sacked for the second time in two years, and retreated, heavy with spoil. Too weak to attack, too bitter to let him go, Earl Douglas hung on his rear.

        Lord Evers did not want to fight. He had nothing to gain by that. He had done all that he came to do. His eyes were turned towards the Cheviot Hills, and the safety of Cumberland. But he halted on Ancrum Moor, as though hesitant: no-one will ever know why. It was his business to get home. It does not follow that he was wrong. He may have thought it too great a risk to descend to the Teviot ford with Douglas around his rear. He offered battle upon the moor. He commanded a force which evidently did not want to fight, and he had a difficult choice.

        While he halted, Douglas was joined by Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch. He rode in with his own Scotts and those of Harden. The force was not large, but the Scotts had a name that gave confidence. It also appeared that the Sir Walter of that time was a man of brains. He proposed a plan of action to Douglas, which is not very clear, as Lesley gives it, but it was common talk that it won the battle, for which Sir Walter had the praise at the last.

        There was to be going on and off hills, and a pretended flight, and Lord Evers was to do most of the running about (particularly uphill) and at last, when he was quite blown, and had the sun in his eyes, he was to find that the battle wasn't over, but just about to begin.

        The event worked out according to plan, which such tactics very seldom do, and when they saw how things were likely to go, the 700 renegade Scots settled matters by changing sides once again. That was the end. The mercenaries bolted: the Scots turned their coats: the English died where they stood, Lord Evers and his son heading the list.

        Even a quarter of a millennium later, it was a good tale for the Scotts to tell. Liddesdale and Teviotdale had joined forces and triumphed together, and it was Teviotdale that had the honour in the mouths of men. That was better than when Teviotdale had gone down in battle before the Liddesdale spears

        "Till Mathouse burn to Melrose ran,

        All purple with their blood."

        It was a good thought on Scott's part to use this muster for Ancrum Moor as an excuse for the Baron to arm himself and ride off on an errand of private vengeance, but the temptation to allow the battle to invade the foreground of the tale must have been great, and it shows a growing skill of construction that he kept it in the exact place that it ought to occupy.

        He used the old flexible ballad metre, with its optional internal rhymes, which can be so poor or perfect a thing according to the handling it receives, and he did this with an independence of Lewis's theories of regularity which showed that, however courteous or even deferential he might be to the opinions of the older man, he had sufficient independence to develop his own work on his own lines.

        The stanzas, considered separately, have individual beauties, and single lines that remain in the memory. The whole ballad has vigour and dramatic intensity, though it is less perfect, at almost every point of judgement, than some others - notably Alice Brand - that were to follow.

        But it is in the selection of materials of fact and fiction from diverse sources out of the stores he had accumulated, and blending them into an artistic unity, that this ballad is not only an achievement in itself, but an indication of the method by which he would go on to much greater triumphs.

Chapter XXI.

        The year 1799, which witnessed the death of Scott's father (too soon to know the justification of those early wanderings which had vexed his mind), the publication of the Goetz translation, and the birth of his first child, was momentous in two other directions.

        During that week in the early autumn which was spent with Captain Robert at Kelso, Mr. Walter Scott had a visitor. The Editor of the Kelso Mail, Mr. James Ballantyne, a young man of his own age, called to request an article from him on a legal subject of topical interest, with which he was particularly competent to deal. Scott agreed to write it, and to bring it in to the Mail office on completion. The importance of this incident may be exaggerated. The two men had known each other from boyhood, James having been a pupil of Mr. Lancelot Whale when Walter had attended his school during the summer that intervened between his High School and College courses. After that, James had come to Edinburgh, continuing his studies there, his father (a "decent shopkeeper" Lockhart calls him, which is praise by implication, though it holds a sneer) intending him for the legal profession. But this plan was abandoned, and James on his return to his native town, founded the Kelso Mail; laying down his own plant, and being proprietor, printer and editor of this local weekly.

        Scott, as we know, was a frequent visitor at Kelso, first with his Aunt Janet, and then at Rosebank with Captain Robert, and the schoolboy acquaintance had been kept up.

        In the light of after-knowledge, James Ballantyne's call at Rosebank may seem to be of a decisive importance to many lives, but this may be an appearance only. Had he not called, Scott might have called upon him. Anyway, when he did so, he not only had the promised article in his pocket, he had some of his ballads also, to which the talk turned. Lockhart's hearsay account of this interview derived from James Ballantyne, is the best we have. He says:

        "Scott, carrying his article himself to the printing-office, took with him also some of his recent pieces, designed to appear in Lewis's Collection. With these, especially, as his Memorandum says, the 'Morlachian fragment after Goethe,' Ballantyne was charmed, and he expressed his regret that Lewis's book was so long in appearing. Scott talked of Lewis with rapture; and, after reciting some of his stanzas, said - "I ought to apologise to you for having troubled you with anything of my own when I had things like this for your ear." - "I felt at once," says Ballantyne, "that his own verses were far above what Lewis could ever do, and though, when I said this, he dissented, yet he seemed pleased with the warmth of my approbation." At parting, Scott threw out a casual observation, that he wondered his old friend did not try to get some little booksellers' work, "to keep his types in play during the rest of the week." Ballantyne answered that such an idea had not before occurred to him - that he had no acquaintance with the Edinburgh 'trade'; but, if he had, his types were good, and he thought he could afford to work more cheaply than town-printers. Scott, "with his good-humoured smile," said - "You had better try what you can do. You have been praising my little ballads; suppose you print off a doze copies or so of as many as will make a pamphlet, sufficient to let my Edinburgh acquaintances judge of your skill for themselves." Ballantyne assented; and I believe exactly twelve copies of William and Ellen, The Fire-King, The Chase, and a few more of those pieces, were thrown off accordingly, with the title (alluding to the long delay of Lewis's Collection) of "Apology for Tales of Terror - 1799". This first specimen of a press, afterwards so celebrated, pleased Scott; and he said to Ballantyne - "I have been for years collecting old Border ballads, and I think I could, with little trouble, put together such a selection from them as might make a neat little volume, to sell for four or five shillings. I will talk to some of the booksellers about it when I get to Edinburgh, and if the thing goes on, you shall be the printer."

        It is improbable that this account of a conversation which is based on James Ballantyne's recollection at a much later date has more than an approach to accuracy, but it is clear that Scott did not give him a printing order merely because he admired his types. It is clear that since his hurried, prematurely-ended visit to London, he had been steadily occupied in the production of ballads such as might (he hoped) be accepted by Lewis for inclusion in the Tales of Terror. He had worked systematically to complete those that had been in draft, and he had written others. His correspondence with Lewis shows that he had the definite aim of producing such as would be acceptable for the projected book, the delay of which was prolonged.

        It is clear also that since the date of his marriage (if not earlier) he had fixed his mind upon winning honours in the field of literature. Ballantyne may have got a contrary impression, but he was not on terms of intimacy with him at this period, and allowance must be made for Scott's habitual reticence where his personal feelings or projects were concerned. Lockhart recognises this as a probability, in spite of his tendency to represent Scott as a more or less plastic centre of surrounding influences. If he goes widely wrong, it is in the assumption that his ambition was not known among his inner circle of friends. He produces some evidence to support this conclusion, but it may be argued that it should be placed in the opposite scale.

        There is the letter from Mr. Kerr, which congratulates Scott upon some increase of business this autumn at the Jedburgh Court, and continues:

        "Go on: and with your strong sense and hourly ripening knowledge, that you must rise to the top of the tree in the Parliament House in due season, I hold as certain as that Murray died Lord Mansfield. But don't let many an Ovid, or rather many a Burns (which is better), be lost in you. I rather think men of business have produced as good poetry in their by-hours as the professed regulars; and I don't see any sufficient reason why Lord President Scott should not be a famous poet (in the vacation time), when we have seen a President Montesquieu step so nobly beyond the trammels in the Esprit des Loix. I suspect Dryden would have been a happier man had he had your profession. The reasoning talents visible in his verses assure me that he would have ruled in Westminster Hall as easily as he did at Button's, and he might have found time enough besides for everything that one really honours his memory for."

        Lockhart recognises that this letter expresses an opinion on which Scott had so far acted, and continued throughout his career, but Lockhart may have been less ready to accept its wisdom. He was himself a professional literary man, who doubtless regarded his occupation as too exacting to be shared with other business interests. This may be true in many instances, and of literary work of diverse kinds. But so far as poetry is concerned, Kerr expressed a truth which many professional poets might have learnt to their own benefit, and that of their art. The writing of poetry cannot be a full-time occupation for any lifetime, nor a legitimate excuse for continued idleness; and if it be used in that way the results may be of a deplorable kind.

        Chaucer, Dante, Spencer, Shakespeare, Milton, - they were all men of affairs, who could show records of careers of honour, apart from the art they loved; and the influence of those activities is evident in the quality of the work they left. Those who make the writing of poetry an excuse for standing aside from the adventure of life, or for failing to take its fences properly, may produce work in consequence which is of an inferior beauty or a lessened authority. The best "professional" poets have usually buried their excellencies amid quantities of versifying which are not worth reading, and which a busier man would not have written at all.

        Kerr states a more disputable opinion when he asserts that Scott was likely to rise to 'the top of the tree' in Parliament House. It is improbable that he would ever have made a great name as an advocate, but the qualities which unfitted him for that occupation would have made him an excellent judge. He was a sound lawyer. He was sympathetic. He had a profound knowledge of human nature, and an exceptional capacity for judging character; and he would never have allowed his sympathies to deflect his judgement.

        Had he not turned from poetry to fiction, and found it a more time-absorbing occupation, it is more than likely that Scotland's greatest poet would also have been known as one of her greatest judges; but his promotion would, in the first instance, have been by patronage, rather than as the reward of forensic triumphs.

        This letter of Kerr's, whatever be thought of the advice he gives, shows rather that Scott was already regarded by his friends as destined for a literary career, than that it was a future which even he himself had not begun to contemplate seriously.

        He went to Ballantyne with the ballads in his pocket, - and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he had the thought of ordering them to be printed before he entered the door. The title shows what was in his mind. They were an apology for the non-appearance of the book to which he was to have been an important contributor, and which had been a subject of expectation among his friends ever since Monk Lewis had visited them nearly twelve months ago. . . .

        The other event which belongs to the close of this year, and which was to have many after-consequences, arose from the unexpected death of Mr. Andrew Plummer, another antiquarian-scholar with whom Scott had established a familiar intimacy, and who held the office of Sheriff of Selkirkshire. The duties of such an office were not heavy, and it was a life-appointment, carrying a salary of £300 a year. There was no doubt of Scott's suitability for the position, in ability, in character, and in legal knowledge. It was such a position as was often found in those days (and still is in the United States) to provide means of livelihood for men of literature, leaving them the leisure which their work requires. Joined to Charlotte's income, which was being regularly paid, the money he had received at his father's death, and his earnings at the Bar, it might seem sufficient to secure him from financial anxiety as long as his life should last. It would be congenial work, and the appointment would be very opportune now that his first child was born, and the question must arise of how long the Lasswade cottage would give sufficient accommodation for the summer months.

        An appointment of this kind was, at the time, in the gift of the Crown, and its vacancy was the occasion of a political scramble, in which it was likely to fall to the man who had the most and the loudest friends. It is a method of appointment which is, at least, superior to that of a competitive examination, and though some scandals resulted, it was unusual for a man obviously unsuitable to be able to secure sufficiently numerous and powerful nominations. In Scott's case, though he felt an enduring sense of obligation to a large number of people for the result of their concentrated activities, it must have been a walk-over from the first. His services in promoting the formation of the Yeomanry regiment were alone sufficient, with his personal qualifications, to give him a claim which it would be difficult to ignore. He was widely known among the most influential in political, legal, and military circles in Scotland, and universally popular. The Duke of Buccleuch, the young Earl of Dalkeith, Lord Montague, and a dozen others united their efforts. It is an incidental evidence of Scott's numberless friendships that Mr. Henry Dundas (Viscount Melville) who had control of the Crown patronage in Scotland, found the nomination supported by his oldest son (who had known Scott at the High School), and his two nephews, Robert Dundas, the Lord Advocate, and William Dundas, the Secretary to the Board of Control.

        With this din in his ears, Mr. Henry Dundas, who had himself (of course) met Mr. Walter Scott previously, and been favourably impressed, made the recommendation, and on December 16th, 1799, the patent of appointment was formally issued, and Scott was in office as Sheriff.

        The appointment necessitated the refusal of the offer of the summer residence at Craignethan. Strictly, it required that there should be actual residence in the county for not less than four months in the year, but it was not until the Lord Lieutenant of Selkirkshire had made a formal protest, about three years later, that Scott fulfilled this condition. Until the summer of 1804 he continued to reside at Lasswade so far as he was at home during the summer months. He visited Jedburgh regularly in the autumn, maintaining his practice at the Head Court there. He spent the winter in Edinburgh during the legal terms. The house which had been rented in South Castle Street was exchanged for one of a similar size in North Castle Street, which he was now able to purchase, and which would continue to be his winter home for the next twenty-five years. For the rest of his life, circumstances would require or enable him to divide his year between a city and country life, as it would be divided between professional and literary work.

        He found a little inn at Clovenford on the road to Selkirk, at which he made a habit of putting up, when the duties of his appointment required his presence in that neighbourhood. He made (needless to say) new friends in that district. Two of them William Laidlaw and James Hogg, will require more than a passing mention, as will John Leyden, whom he met at Edinburgh at about this time.

        The winter of 1799-1800 was a time not only of its own successes but of far greater dreams, many of which were to be the facts of the future, and yet none of which may have been audacious enough to forecast how great that future was soon to be.

        In April 1800, Scott wrote to Mr. Ballantyne suggesting that he should leave Kelso, and set up a printing business in Edinburgh. He thought that he saw an opening for "a man of talent and education". He, and a friend, were prepared to influence business to such a firm, and some capital might be found in return for a share of the profits, if that were necessary. There was business to be done in the printing of legal documents. Beyond that, why should not Ballantyne succeed with a weekly newspaper in Edinburgh, as he had established the Mail in Kelso?

        Why not a monthly? Why not an Annual Register?

        Vaguely, if not definitely, Scott had the vision of a press which should be under his own control.

Chapter XXII.

        Before suggesting to James Ballantyne that he should remove his business to Edinburgh, Scott had given him expectation of an order for a book which could be printed at Kelso, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, a project which may have been in his mind for a long previous period, and was now taking definite shape.

        For the past ten or fifteen years he had been collecting Scottish ballad poetry with a tireless energy, and with the assistance of every friend he could discover who had a kindred interest.

        Now, if not earlier, this work was being pursued with the definite object of ultimate publication, and Scott was anxious that the date should not be long deferred.

        He had new helpers during this winter. Mr. Richard Heber, a scholar who specialised in the literature of the Middle Ages, and who sat in Parliament as representative of Oxford University, spent some months in Edinburgh, and was of assistance, not only by his own knowledge and the resources of his own library, but indirectly to a greater extent by his discovery of John Leyden.

        John Leyden was a literary phenomenon, who, like so many of the numberless friends whom Scott accumulated, deserves a central stage rather than the passing reference which is all that there is space to give.

        Born in poverty, in a cottage hovel in Roxburghshire, he was at this time a self-taught youth whose exact and various scholarship could confound those who were of greater repute in a dozen branches of learning. Rough and uncouth in speech and manner, he is said to have united the characteristics of boor and scholar in a way which was as bewildering as his own attainments. He had no money to purchase books, but Archibald Constable, a young man who had started a small second-hand store in a side-street of Edinburgh, would let him come to his shop, and read as long as he would.

        Mr. Heber, searching for worm-eaten treasures, came to Constable's shop also, and his attention was attracted by the uncouth visitor, and the recondite nature of the volumes with which he would observe him to be sitting absorbed, either on stool or ladder. Conversation followed, and when Heber discovered that Leyden's miscellaneous learning included an exceptional knowledge of, and enthusiasm for the old ballad-poetry of the country, he told Scott, and Scott came quickly on the scene.

        From that time, for the two years that they were working together, the assistance which John Leyden gave to Scott's enterprise was of a primary importance, and was not overpaid by the fact that their friendship opened many doors of social or literary eminence to the poorer man.

        John Leyden had already contributed for several years under the semi-anonymity of his own initials to Jeffrey's Edinburgh Review. He had shown himself to be an expert translator of the poetry of several languages. Now he contributed an original ballad to Lewis's slowly-growing collection. His suggestions enlarged the intended scope of Scott's own scheme of a Border Minstrelsy volume. It was now to be two volumes or more, with an original section, to which Leyden would contribute three ballads. The work of preparation went on during these spring months with a two-fold energy.

        Heber went back to London when the spring came, and was followed by a letter from Scott, asking him to look out for a phaeton, which Mrs. Scott was very anxious to have. It was to cost no more than £31. 10. 0 and was to be "strong, low, and handsome". There is significance in this combination of qualities. Doubtless the handsome aspect was for Charlotte's contentment, and it must be strong and low because they had planned that she should be with him on his next summer's raid into Liddesdale, which was therefore to be undertaken with more thought for comfort than had been his custom. The phaeton was destined for many spring-straining jolts on pathless hills and moors, where no wheeled vehicle had ventured previously.

        The difficult commission appears to have been successfully executed. Anyway, there was a phaeton in the Lasswade coach-house when the summer came, a phaeton that found its way over the hills to Hermitage, where Lord Dalkeith had made timely provision that its occupants should have a welcome somewhat more liberal, if not more kindly, than the moorland farmers would have been able to give.

        It was during this summer that Sir John Stoddart, touring Scotland, paid a visit to Lasswade, to which he made reference in an account of his wanderings which he published in the following year. He had a pleasant memory of the encounter, and gushed accordingly. It appears that he observed Scott to be engaged inter alia in 'the daily exercise of the most precious sympathies as a husband, a father, and a friend'. His fatherhood was "daily exercised" at this time upon one baby girl of about nine months. No doubt Sir John was well entertained, and saw the interior of a happy well-ordered home, but there would be more cause to thank him had he recorded a single fact, instead of a paragraph of vague superlatives.

        Scott was an excellent father, showing love and sympathy, and a discreet wisdom, tolerant yet without weakness, as the years passed. His attitude towards small babies was that to which a large number of men would plead guilty, if they had the courage to do so, as is shown by a note in his Journal, nearly thirty years later, when that nine-months baby was herself a mother, and he was in London inspecting his own grandchildren. "My name-son, a bright and blue-eyed rogue, with flaxen hair, screams and laughs like an April morning; and the baby is that species of dough which is called a fine baby. I care not for children till they care a little for me."

        It was during this summer of 1800 that Scott also made the acquaintance of the Laidlaw family, and of the "Ettrick Shepherd," James Hogg.

        He came on the Laidlaw household when he was making; one of the sojourns in Selkirkshire that his office required, and rode out from his lodgings at the inn in Clovenford to explore the upper part of the Yarrow valley. Up Douglas-burn, fifteen miles or more from Clovenford, at the further end of the county, he halted at Blackhouse farm, and was well received by its in-mates. Among them was William Laidlaw, the son of the house, little more than a youth at that time, but one of kindred tastes to his own, of exceptional intellectual abilities, united to a very gentle and loveable character. Scott's genius for choosing and making friends asserted itself again, and a few weeks of meeting and correspondence laid the firm foundations of a life long intimacy.

        William Laidlaw introduced him to a shepherd who had been in his father's employment for nine previous years, but had recently left to take service with a neighbouring farmer, and to the man's aged mother, Mrs. Hogg (herself a Laidlaw), whose mind proved to be another of those wells of ballad-treasure which Scott's ceaseless diligence was continually discovering. Her son, James, was a ballad-maker in his own right. Like Leyden he was self-educated, but, unlike him, he cared little for knowledge: for its own sake, and he was content with a very elementary standard of scholarship, which was probably all that he was mentally fitted to reach. But he was an exceptional poet, who never became more than half articulate; though, under the influence of praise and patronage, he became voluminous at a later time. He was of the Burns order, but without the coarse vitality or exuberance of that more popular poet. After a life-time of effort, he was to leave one poem, Kilmeny, which, had he not written it, no-one would have believed that he could ever write. He was an incomparably better lover than Burns, and a worse farmer. His father's methods had been to save money penuriously as a shepherd, which was difficult, and lose it as a sheep-farmer, which was quite easy to do. James pursued this sequence with the regularity of routine. At this time he was saving carefully for the first disaster.

        He was about nine months older than Scott, and had already got some occasional magazine publicity. His contact with Scott at this time, and the generous recognition of his ability which he received from him, may have their shares of responsibility for the hurried publication of a first volume of his verses a few months later, which was admittedly premature. Later, he did better. With childlike vanity, he professed that his birthday was that of Burns, which was a mistake. He gradually rose to the opinion that his poetry was equal to that of Scott, which was another. But there are many worse and smaller men in the records of Scottish poetry, in which his own place is one of honour, and stands secure.

Chapter XXIII.

        The winter of 1800-1 saw the belated appearance of Lewis's Tales of Wonder, to which Scott had made substantial contribution. It fell flat, having been talked about too much in advance, and published a year too late. In fact, Lewis was a setting star. But it is unlikely that Scott was greatly concerned about a book that was not his. He was too fully and hopefully occupied with his own affairs. The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border was now something more than a dream. It took shape. Two volumes were in an advanced state of preparation. Arrangements were made with Ballantyne to print it at Kelso. A London firm of publishers, Cadell and Davies, were to bring it out. It was first intended to include an old mutilated metrical romance, Sir Tristrem, attributed to Thomas of Erchildoune, and certainly of Border origin, but the accumulation of material had been too great. Something must go overboard. Sir Tristrem, if flung out, would make space for a dozen ballads. Scott decided to complete it in imitation of the old form, and print it later as a separate book.

        In this and similar work, the result of which was to be seen later, the first year of the new century passed.

        There is little record of summer wanderings for this year which may be explained by the fact that in October Charlotte had a second child, a boy this time, to add another to the many generations of Walters that the Scott family showed.

        It was in this year also that Scott's sister died, after a twenty-five-year struggle to maintain courage and sanity of spirit in the body which fire had disfigured and injured, "living in an ideal world," as he recorded, "which she had framed to herself by the force of imagination".

        The Scotts spent Christmas in Lanarkshire, on the invitation of the Duke of Hamilton. It gave an opportunity of inspecting the ruins of Cadyow Castle, and the remains of the old Caledonian forest, which are in the neighbourhood of Hamilton Palace. The Ballad of Cadyow Castle was a result of this visit. Lockhart implies that Scott was anxious to include it in the two volumes of Border Minstrelsy which were now in the press, but that Ballantyne vetoed it, on the ground that the volumes were already full enough. The possibility of this seems doubtful. The ballad could not have reached Kelso much before January 1st, 1802, and that date is improbably early. The two volumes were published in London during that month. They had to be printed, and Ballantyne's machinery was limited, and its processes would seem slow today. He had done his work well, which does not suggest haste. After printing, binding must follow. Delivery to London would take about a week at that time. That Scott proposed an insertion of additional matter at such a stage, simply to include something that he had just written, is an improbable thing. The point is of noat all?importance, except as showing how careless in assertion Lockhart can be, and that is of some moment, in view of more seriously controversial matters which are before us. 'Does it matter?' he might have asked, as he did when he was convicted of a worse inaccuracy. But, if not, why say it at all?

        That it would have been politic to include the ballad there can be no doubt. It had a right to be there, for its author was certainly a Border minstrel. But it was a Clydeside ballad, glorifying the House of Hamilton. It would have called on Glasgow and Paisley, and all the Hamilton interests, to support the book. There may possibly have been a promise to Lady Anne Hamilton that it should be included. But the third volume remained.

        Apart from such arguments, the thing was good in itself. There were points - there were stanzas - in which it surpassed any of Scott's published, if not any of his written work.

        The Hamilton estate included a fragment - perhaps the only remaining fragment - of the old forest of Caledon. The enormous girth of its dying oaks showed that they had flourished when that forest extended unbroken from the Atlantic to the North Sea. Up to ten years ago (about 1790) the ancient wild white cattle had still roamed in its shade.

        The ballad begins, as it ends, with a graceful compliment to the peaceful beauty of the present scene, and to her who had asked that it should be written:

      "For chiefs intent on bloody deed,
      And vengeance shouting o'er the slain,
      Lo, Highborn Beauty rules the steed,
      Or graceful guides the silken rein."

        And then it proceeds very skilfully to call up the past in such a way that the chase of one of the great white mountain bulls in the sixteenth century and the assassination of the Regent Murray at the same period are blended into a single tale.

        The description of Murray's entrance into Linlithgow, when,

      "From the wild Border's humbled side,
      In haughty triumph marched he,"

is ballad poetry, but it is ballad poetry raised to a new plane of artistry:

      Dark Morton, girt with many a spear,
      Murder's foul minion, led the van;
      And clashed their broadswords in the rear,
      The wild Macfarlanes' plaided clan.

      Glencairn and stout Parkhead were nigh,
      Obsequious at their Regent's rein,
      And haggard Lindesay's iron eye,
      That saw fair Mary weep in vain.

      'Mid pennoned spears, a steely grove,
      Proud Murray's plumage floated high;
      Scarce could his trampling charger move,
      So close the minions crowded nigh."

        These stanzas are not flawless. The repetition of 'minion' must have passed unnoticed; and the first line of the second requires careful accenting, if it is to be read well, but their melody is still of the highest order, with subtle uses of assonance and alliteration and accenting which it would require a chapter to analyse. And defects are as significant as excellences. They show Scott, not as a laborious artificer, but a careless master. It is the distinction which we recognise when we attempt to differentiate between talent and genius. And yet careless is a word which may imply more than the fact. It is Scott's distinctive quality as a poet that he would always put what he had to say before how he said it. He would paint a scene as he saw it to be. Parkhead was one of the two who were closest to Murray when he was shot (the bullet that killed the Regent went on at a downward slant into Parkhead's horse), and the stanza had to put up with the accenting of the man's name as best it could.

        Scott approached the temple of song by the ballad-path. All his life he wrote ballad-poetry, in which the subject matter was the first consideration. What has to be said must be said, and you must dress it, however roughly, in the best garments that its shape will wear. But he brought to their composition an understanding and control of the music of words which raised such poetry to the highest technical level. Miss Cranston judged well when she foretold a cross between Burns and Gray. Gray himself, most patient of craftmen, and most severe in self-criticism, never produced anything more flawless than were the lyrics which Scott would write for the ornamentation of his longer poems.

        Cadyow Castle, though it was not immediately printed, obtained a prompt circulation in manuscript form. It came into the hands of Thomas Campbell -(who, like everyone else, had met Scott in Edinburgh, two years earlier). Campbell, (it is his own witness) could not get it out of his head.

      "Where, mightiest of the beasts of chase
      That roam in woody Caledon,
      Crashing the forest in his race,
      The mountain bull came thundering on."

        He recited audibly in his morning walks, and with such gesticulations that the line of coachmen he passed regarded him as an entertaining lunatic.

        Has the art of verbal music reached new heights in the subsequent century, or is it a cause for satisfaction that we are less alert to hear it?

Chapter XXIV.

        The first two volumes of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border appeared in January 1802, and were an instant success. The literary public were quick to appreciate a work of comprehensive character, the editing of which had been done by one who had mastered the subject with which he dealt. Those who knew most of the traditional ballad poetry of the Scottish borders were the readiest to recognise its quality. In the lucid authoritative prose of the introductions and notes, they admitted a knowledge that surpassed their own. The volumes were, indeed, the product of almost twenty-five years research and labour, in which the aid of scores of others had been enlisted, and ungrudgingly given. Scott was to overshadow himself more than once in the coming years, and, looking back, these volumes seem a minor incident in his literary career. But, had he done no more, they would have stood out in a different light, and been sufficient to give him an enduring reputation, which he himself was to convert to a relative obscurity.

        The ready sale of the first edition was not caused, but was certainly assisted, by the manner in which the volumes had been produced by Ballantyne at his Kelso press. It was fitting that a book of this kind should be printed in its own district, though it was expedient that it should be published in London. But such a production might reasonably have been expected to be inferior to that which would have been issued by a London firm. Such a difference would have needed little apology. Deficiencies of plant, and lack of experience, would have been valid in explanation. But there was no need for excusing anything. Instead of that, there was praise. So far, Scott had made no mistake. He had chosen his printer well. Lockhart is so frequently unfair to James Ballantyne, and (by an implication which he was far from intending) to Scott also, through the whole course of the development of this printing business, that the point deserves emphasis.

        Scott chose a small country printer, one of his boyhood friends, in preference to an established Edinburgh firm, and his judgement was justified by the result. Ballantyne had an opportunity to show that he was capable of good work on a large scale, and he rose to take it.

        When he heard of the success of the book, and that not only the editor but the printer had won praise in the capital city, he went himself to London to discuss the possibility of obtaining orders from publishers there. He must have been well received, for he wrote a letter of warm gratitude to Scott on his return to Kelso. He regarded the opportunity which Scott had given him to print the Minstrelsy as "one of the most fortunate circumstances" of his life. He added, "I can never be sufficiently grateful for the interest you unceasingly take in my welfare." He mentioned that he was now sure of a profit on the enterprise, which implies that he had agreed to take some share of what must, in its inception, have been an adventurous risk for all concerned.

        Mr. Longman, an enterprising London bookseller, journeyed to Edinburgh. He came to negotiate for the copyright. The edition which had been first printed at Scott's or Ballantyne's risk appears to have been one of 500 copies. Scott's agreement with the publishers provided that he should receive half the net profit on the venture. They ultimately paid him £78 10. 0. in settlement of this obligation. Longman came to terms with Scott for the copyright, including the volume which had yet to be issued. He paid him £500. He gave Ballantyne an order for a further 1,000 copies, and for 1,500 of the third volume when it should be ready.

        Editor and printer had good cause to be satisfied with the result of their first venture together. Scott looked ahead, planning boldly, with the confidence which success gives. Ballantyne's letters to him show that the project of moving his business to Edinburgh was becoming more definite. It was 'when' now lather than 'if'.

        It is a general experience that we are more pleased by a small success in an art for which we have no natural genius than by a much greater in one at which we are really proficient. Scott had wished the Minstrelsy to include a sketch of the sombre ruins of Hermitage. There was no drawing in existence, nor any artist who would be willing to take the journey which would be necessary to make one. Scott thought (or wished) he could draw, and when his mind was resolved he was hard to turn. Shortreed and he had made an expedition to Hermitage to get the drawing. It was a time of deep snow on the hills. Scott said that he stood sketching for an hour 'up to his middle' in snow. He may have been a few inches wrong about that. Anyway, it was not too deep for him to move his arms.

        He took the result back to William Clerk, who made from it another drawing of a more conventional kind. This went to the artist who was illustrating the book, and he made a third.

        When the book appeared, those who knew the ruins said they could have guessed right without the help of the name which was printed beneath the sketch. Scott felt the pride of a child who has drawn a quadruped on a slate and finds it recognised for the cow which he had meant it to be. As a poet, he was well aware of his own deficiencies: even as a lawyer, it might be possible that he had his defects, though they were less obvious: but as an artist he was justified by the sketch he made when he was 'up to his middle' in snow.

        With the encouragement he had received, it may be supposed that the summer of 1802 saw the third volume of the Minstrelsy) and other literary projects, pushed rapidly on. Seeking fresh materials, he made a journey into the remotest districts of the Ettrick forest, this time with John Leyden for company. Charlotte stayed at home, which was well for her. They slept on peat-stacks. They were fed on mutton which had died from such a cause as is commonly called an "act of God", but in which no butcher had intervened. They came back no worse for that, and with results which they regarded as sufficient compensation for these experiences.

        Before this time, John Leyden had confided to Scott his desire to get out to the East, and to add a study of Oriental languages and literatures to his omnivorous learning. By the beginning of the year, the interest of Scott and his friends had been active on his behalf, and William Dundas had 'obtained the promise of some literary appointment in the East India Company's service'. At midsummer he had the disconcerting news that the patronage possibilities of the season had been exhausted. The only vacant post which could be placed at the disposal of Mr. Dundas was that of an assistant surgeon, and that would be useless to Mr. Leyden, as it could only be given to a qualified man. At least, that was assumed. Mr. Leyden thought differently. How soon would he have to qualify? He must be ready in six months. Very well. That would do for him. He took instantly to medical study, and was a qualified surgeon in time to join the ship to which he had been appointed. He went out with a letter of introduction from Scott to Charles Charpentier, and doubtless with others which Scott's interest had secured. In Scott's letter, he makes some mention of his own circumstances, and of the success of the Minstrelsy, without boasting, but with some natural elation. John Leyden had seven years in India, becoming famous, in that brief period, for Oriental scholarship, before the climate killed him.

        Scott laid a wreath of verse on his friend's grave when he wrote of

      "Scenes sung by him, who sings no more:
      His brief and bright career is o'er,
      And mute his tuneful strains;
      Quenched is his lamp of varied lore,
      That loved the light of song to pour;
      A distant and a deadly shore
      Has Leyden's cold remains."

        But this is looking too far ahead. In the autumn of 1800, John Leyden was concentrating upon preparation for his medical examination, and the Scotts gave him the quiet hospitality of Lasswade in which to study. We know enough of Leyden's circumstances to suppose that it was an unrequited kindness: enough of his character to know that it would be received with gratitude.

        Scott had more money this year than had been under his control at any previous period, and we see that it is already being used for the benefit of those around him. In 1808, before the time of his greatest prosperity, he wrote with truth that he had never cared overmuch for money. There would never be a time when he would have that which his friends (and some others) would not be free to share.

        Joseph Ritson was a visitor to Lasswade while Leyden was staying there. Ritson was a man of strong and difficult individuality, the nature of which must not be taken to have been fairly drawn by Lockhart, whose prejudice is too strong to avoid caricature. Ritson was a scholar, an antiquarian, a loser of old poetry. He was best known for his assaults upon Bishop Percy's editing of the Reliques. It is a controversy which does not concern us now. The right was not all on one side. Lockhart evidently preferred that of the bishop. He calls Ritson a 'narrow-minded, sour, dogmatical little word-catcher', who was 'utterly incapable of sympathising with any of Scott's 'higher views'.

        It is hardly judicial language, and must be justified, if at all, by the further damnations that Ritson was a vegetarian, and did not like Scotsmen. He was certainly a man of difficult temper, and it was regarded as a triumph of Scott's diplomacy in correspondence that he had enlisted his help. It surprised George Ellis, with whom Scott had also been in correspondence, since their mutual friend, Richard Heber, had returned to London.

        Ritson came to Lasswade, and, on Lockhart's own statement, it was Leyden who played the clown, having a plate of raw meat brought in from the kitchen, and eating it, not from choice, but with the intention of horrifying his hosts' visitor. This exhibition, according to Lockhart, produced glances of "exquisite ruefulness" from Ritson, which is an improbable reaction.

        Gillies, in his Reminisciences of Sir Walter Scott, recounts a somewhat similar scene. He called at Lasswade, and found Scott and Will Erskine starting out for a walk, which he joined. They left John Leyden and Mrs. Scott in the house, where Ritson was expected. They came back to find that he had both come and gone. Mrs. Scott, in a forgetful moment, had served him with some cold beef. Ritson had rejected it in a way which Leyden thought rude, and a violent quarrel had followed, as a result of which Ritson had left the house. Scott heard the tale, and did not look pleased, but on Leyden becoming excited in self-justification, he put it aside with a jest.

        As Lockhart tells it, Leyden is justified by the fact that vegetarians should not expect to be treated with ordinary courtesy. They are non compos mentis. Had not Leyden 'first tried to correct him by ridicule'? To which 'the madman's' only response was to become more violent, instead of showing the gratitude which such an attitude should arouse? After that, if Leyden threatened to wring his neck, and didn't do it, it only shows how mild-mannered he really was.

        These anecdotes show Leyden on his worst side, as one who was born a boor, and may raise a doubt as to what was the atmosphere of the thatched cottage at Lasswade, which could give hospitality to such inmates. But Gillies, who tells the tale, and who looked with the eyes of a brother barrister, and a scholar accustomed to the amenities of city life, gives us this picture also: "In approaching the cottage I was struck with the exceeding air of neatness that prevailed around. The hand of tasteful cultivation had been there, and all methods employed to convert an ordinary thatched cottage into a handsome and comfortable abode."

        But the decision that it must be left, whatever amount of loving care had been spent upon it, would soon have to be reluctantly taken. It was during the next summer that the Lord-Lieutenant of Selkirkshire addressed a formal complaint to Scott that he was doing less than justice to the duties of the official post he held. The remonstrance was not of an urgent character, but it was not of Scott's disposition to disregard it. During these years his absorption in the preparation of the Minstrelsy for the press, his other literary and his legal work, and the military duties which he had undertaken, must have left little time for those of a sheriff to be performed. He replied, very properly, with an expression of regret, and an assurance that there should be no cause for future complaint.

        To fulfil this undertaking, the natural course was to arrange that, as he must still remain in Edinburgh during the winter months, his summer residence should be in the county where his duties lay.

        Besides, the two babies grew, and there would be a third by the time that this correspondence took place. (Anne was born in February l803). Yet, to the Scott's, to leave Lasswade would not be a welcome decision. It was the first country home that they had had. It had been theirs for six very happy years of a growing prosperity. They had spent much upon it, having made it the home it was. But it was a step which could not be much longer deferred. . . .

        When Gillies called at the cottage, on the occasion already mentioned, and went walking with Scott and Erskine, they took him to see the ruins of Roslin, and he has recorded his memory that Scott's foot slipped on the crag-top, and that he "must have been killed" but that he dislodged a hazel-tree which went down with - him, the two arriving safely at the foot of the cliff together. He rose, he says, "with a hearty laugh," and called from below to know whether they would dare to descend in the same way.

        Such incidents tend to be exaggerated in reminiscence, but there is a large body of testimony to Scott's physical and sometimes almost reckless daring, and the buoyant attitude with which he faced mischance or danger. Gillies says that, at this point, "he retained in features and form an impress of that elasticity and youthful vivacity which he used to complain wore off when he was forty, and by his own account was exchanged for the plodding heaviness of an operose student. He had now something of a boyish gaiety of look, and in person was tall, slim and extremely active."

        Doubtless, as the years passed, he insensibly lessened, little by little, the strenuous activities of his earlier years. Doubtless he sat longer at his desk, or, by insensible degrees, longer at the table while the wine passed and the talk went on. Doubtless, his weight insensibly increased, and his steps shortened. But those who saw him long after his fortieth year noticed the same buoyancy of temperament, the same tireless activity, the same readiness to take the risk, on foot or horseback, either of leap or fall.

Chapter XXV.

        In the beginning of April 1803, Mr. and Mrs. Scott went up for a second time to London together. John Leyden had now taken his medical diploma, and gone up at an earlier date, awaiting his sailing instructions. Dates of sailing were, in those days, of a vague uncertainty. They were anxious to see him before his departure, and they probably started as soon as Charlotte felt equal to the long coach journey, which was at that time a rather formidable enterprise, her third child having been born only five or six weeks previously. But, in fact, Leyden had sailed when they arrived.

        They went to stay with M. Charles Dumergue as before. He was a French refugee who had known Charlotte's parents intimately, and who was always ready to give them hospitality when they came up to London together.

        Scott brought with him, among other things, the incomplete manuscript of a long poem, which had at first been no more than a ballad, intended for the third volume of the Minstrelsy, but had grown to a size which had made that an impossible medium of publication. It had been written - more or less - during the previous year: may, indeed, be said to have been the principal work of that period, while he appeared to be fully occupied with other things.

        James Skene had seen him writing busily when they had been in barracks together at Musselburgh in the autumn, and Scott had received a kick from a horse which had laid him up for three days, and after that he had shown him the first canto of the poem in a fairly complete condition. But we must accept the idea of hasty composition with important reservations, if at all. To a large extent they are contradicted by circumstantial evidence as to the way in which it developed: they are rendered extremely improbable by the internal evidences of the poem itself.

        But it must have been either in the course of the journey to London, or after his interviews with booksellers there, that he came to a definite decision as to the title and form which it should take, and the manner of publication, for it was shortly after his arrival that he wrote to James Ballantyne with instructions that he wished an advertisement to be included in the third volume of the Minstrelsy which was to be worded thus:

        "In the press, and will speedily be published, the Lay of the last Minstrel, by Walter Scott, Esq., Editor of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

        Also Sir Tristrem, a Metrical Romance, by Thomas Ercildoune, called the Rhymer, edited from an ancient MS., with an Introduction and Notes, by Walter Scott, Esq."

        No doubt, when Scott drafted that announcement (giving James Ballantyne authority to alter it at his discretion) he anticipated that its forecast would be realised, and that, when the third volume of the Minstrelsy should appear, the two volumes would be actually "in the press". He must have looked on the completion of the "Lay" as a thing to be lightly and swiftly done. The third volume of the Minstrelsy was in an advanced condition of the proof-sheet stage. Scott's letter would stimulate Ballantyne to renewed efforts, with the news that the first two volumes were going well, and that Longman was well pleased with the quality of the 1,000 extra copies of them which he had ordered last year, and which had been already delivered.

        Ballantyne had moved to Edinburgh. He had not sold his business at Kelso. He had come up to the capital city carting his machinery with him. He had taken premises of a very limited size in a side street near Holyrood, and put up a sign, The Border Press. He had done this only three months ago, - a bold, it might be a ruinous step, relying upon Scott's encouragement, and upon the quality of his own work. They had each shown confidence in the other, and their first venture together had been a success, in which each had won praise of its own kind.

        James Ballantyne had founded the Kelso Mail, and built up his printing business, on a very limited capital. He had neither wealthy relatives, nor powerful friends. He had known and overcome financial difficulties enough, to reach the measure of success, of reputation, which he had won when he set out for Edinburgh. Lockhart regards these circumstances as though looking down from a height. It is an attitude which has the absurdity of one who would disparage the victory of a chess player because it had been won with fewer pieces than are usually allotted, or than an opponent held.

        It had been won, in part, because James Ballantyne was something more than a commercial printer, - or less, if you will. He was an artist in type.

        There was danger in that, as well as strength. But Scott and he were both confident of the future, and of themselves. Wordsworth, meeting Scott in the following year, was amazed at the audacity of the plans he made. It was as though Napoleon, Consul of France, had spread maps of continents which he planned to win. But the anticipations at which Wordsworth wondered were less than the facts of the years to be. It was a battle of giants to which we are coming, great with incredible victories, with a final tragedy when world-forces shall bear it back, and almost bear it down at the last; and Lockhart could look at it without understanding, without imaginative sympathy, as a "painful," ignoble thing: only remembering complacently that, at the battle's crisis, he had refused the (possibly worthless) help that Constable asked him to give. . . .

        As to how the Lay was written, let us have dates. When we come to consider it in detail, we shall be able to connect its opening stanzas with the summer of 1800. Skene observed Scott to be busy upon its first canto in the autumn of 1802. Now, in the spring of 1803, he has its title fixed, and anticipates that it will soon be finished. Going back from London, and stopping with George Ellis for a week at Sunninghill, with Heber and Douce in their company, a considerable part of the first two or three cantos was read aloud while picnicking in Windsor Forest. It is a reasonable presumption that the later cantos, if they existed at all, were too embryonic for production. In the following autumn, Wordsworth speaks of the first four cantos as having been read to him. The third volume of the Minstrelsy, which was first to have included the Lay, and then announced that it and Sir Tristrem were separately "in the press", was published in May 1803. Sir Tristrem was published in May 1804. The Lay appeared in January 1805. So far from there being strong presumptive-evidence to support the common assertion that it was hastily written, the evidence is circumstantially and overwhelmingly opposite, and it is just what anyone with experience of writing poetry would expect. It has abundant internal evidences of being an experimental work that was neither swiftly nor completely born. It sprang first from a seed in the mind of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who begot something which he could not have conceived. It groped blindly for shape, and grew to a final form and a final beauty, which its beginnings had not shown. Had the same years of careful work been spent (for instance) upon the Lord of the Isles, it would have been a more excellent thing. We cannot assess fairly the importance of the work of these years 1800-04, without realising that Scott was continually preoccupied with the construction or composition of the Lay during that period, but what it was we must leave to be dealt with later.

Chapter XXVI.

        The Scotts travelled back to Lasswade by way of Oxford, in the company of Richard Heber, who was going to his own place, and they stayed there long enough to make the acquaintance of his brother, Reginald, who was not then a Calcutta Bishop, nor the world-known author of a missionary hymn, but had just won the poetry prize of the year at Brazenose College, and brought the manuscript with him to the breakfast table for Scott to see.

        We might linger pleasantly at Oxford with the Scotts, or at Blenheim which they also visited, making new friends continually, but the difficulty is that to be introduced to all the friends that they made as the years passed is to stop to look at everyone of literary, most of political, and many of those of social or military reputation in the United Kingdom over a period of thirty or forty years. They crowd into the picture, each with his own individuality, his own background. To look at them once, is to be tempted to look again. The sentence becomes a paragraph, and the paragraph a chapter.

        Unless we would have a universal biography of the period, we must turn resolutely aside. We have glanced at the group in Sunninghill, and beneath the oak trees in Windsor Forest, but we have avoided being introduced. We have not even looked at the 'indefatigable and obliging' Douce; and the London conversations with Rogers, and Mackintosh, and William Stewart Rose, have passed unheard.

        After Oxford, there is no record of any further break in the return journey. The whole visit had been very short for so expensive and laborious an expedition as a journey to London was at that period. But Charlotte must have had many thoughts of the three small children that she had left in the Lasswade cottage, including a baby that was still only ten weeks old, and Scott had many interests to which to look forward on his return. In fact, he got back to Edinburgh in time to see the third volume of the Minstrelsy published at the end of May.

        It was during this summer that there came the remonstrance from the Lord-Lieutenant of Selkirkshire to which allusion has been made already, and that it was recognised that the leaving of Lasswade could not be much longer deferred.

        Following the completion of the Minstrelsy publication, Scott first appears as a contributor to the Edinburgh Review, which Jeffrey was editing. He reviewed Southey's Amadis of Gaul, for which he was particularly well qualified. His subsequent articles cover a wide range of subjects, but have the common quality of being those with which he was specially conversant. He never cultivated the journalistic habit of being promiscuously omniscient.

        The summer passed without any climax of incident, in work on the Lay and Sir Tristrem, and in the usual routine of visits, and legal and military duties. The last had become of more than perfunctory character. While the Scotts were on their way back from London, the war in Europe, after a short pause of exhaustion had broken out with a renewed and increasing fury. The fear of invasion was far more real and reasonable than when, a century later, an English government lacked either the courage or the military insight which would have used its full strength on its foemen's ground. Now, people were told that the army was for use abroad. If they did not join it, they must be prepared for the defense of their own homes. The camp at Musselburgh had become an active military centre. A letter to Miss Seward, written at that time, and quoted by Lockhart, deserves reproduction, but, in reading it, it is well to remember that the regiment that owed its first inception to Scott's imagination and practical energy was not a peacetime plaything of the pageantry of war. It met and trained with the knowledge that, at any moment, it might have to oppose its inexperienced valour to the war-hardened legions of France, that would have landed upon the British coast with the prestige of having strewn the map of a ruined Europe with the sites of a hundred victories. It was the year when Collingwood, after the few months of home-life that the brief peace gave, put to sea once more, never to see his wife and infant children again. He died at sea seven years later. England fought for life with an extremity of effort for which there is no parallel in the war of a later century. Her fleets, watching the French ports, must beat backwards and forwards, in all seasons and any weather, as the winds allowed. The partial relief of Trafalgar was still two years ahead.

Scott wrote:

        "We are assuming a very military appearance. Three regiments of militia, with a formidable park of artillery, are encamped just by us. The Edinburgh Troop, to which I have the honour to be quartermaster, consists entirely of young gentlemen of family, and is, of course, admirably well mounted and armed. There are other dour troops in the regiment, consisting of yeomanry, whose iron faces and muscular forms announce the hardness of the climate against which they wrestle, and the powers which nature has given them to contend with and subdue it. These corps have been easily raised in Scotland, the farmers being in general a high-spirited race of men, fond of active exercises, and patient in hardship and fatigue. For myself, I must own that to one who has, like myself, la tete un peu exaltée 'the pomp and circumstance of war' gives, for a time, a very poignant and pleasing sensation. The imposing appearance of cavalry, in particular, and the rush which marks their onset, appear to me to partake highly of the sublime. Perhaps I am the more attached to this sort of sport of swords because my health requires much active exercise, and a lameness contracted in childhood renders it inconvenient for me to take it otherwise than on horseback. I have, too, a hereditary attachment to the animal - not, I flatter myself, of the common jockey cast, but because I regard him as the kindest and most generous of the subordinate tribes. I hardly even except the dogs; at least they are usually so much better treated, that compassion for the steed should be thrown into the scale when we weigh their comparative merits. My wife (a foreigner) never sees a horse ill-used without asking what the poor horse has done in his state of pre-existence? I would fain hope that they have been carters or hackney-coachmen, and are only experiencing a retort of the ill-usage they have formerly inflicted. What think you?"

        The joyous courage which could be optimistic enough, but which did not allow any optimism to take the place of the hard work by which safety is gained, or success comes: the universal sympathy with all around him, extending as he wrote to the cavalry horses for the welfare of which it is a quartermaster's duty to provide, - do they not make easy explanation of the fact that Wordsworth noticed when he and Dorothy visited the Scotts during this autumn, that "I believe that, in the character of the sheriff's friends, we might have counted on a hearty welcome under any roof in the Border country"?

        William and Dorothy, walking from Roslin, where they had left the carriage in which they were touring Scotland, called at Lasswade so early that Mr. and Mrs. Scott were still in bed, but they got no worse reception for that.

        "We were received," Wordsworth said to Lockhart long afterwards, "with that frank cordiality which, under whatever circumstances I afterwards met him, always marked his manners; and, indeed, I found him then in every respect - except, perhaps, that his animal spirits were somewhat higher - precisely the same man that you knew him in later life; the same lively, entertaining conversation, full of anecdote, and averse from disquisition; the same unaffected modesty about himself; the same cheerful and benevolent and hopeful views of man and the world. He partly read and partly recited, sometimes in an enthusiastic style of chant, the first four cantos of the Lay of the Last Minstrel; and the novelty of the manners, the clear picturesque descriptions, and the easy glowing energy of much of the verse, greatly delighted me."

        We notice that the Lay was advancing. There were four cantos now. And Wordsworth listened with an intelligent appreciation. It was not his kind of poetry, but, of its kind, it was quite good. And, so far as he praises, it is intelligent praise. He may have noticed - he may have remarked - a very curious similarity between the opening lines and those of an unfinished poem called Christabel, that his friend Coleridge had written, and which had already had some manuscript circulation; but, if he did, there is no record that he spoke aloud.

        Later in the day, Scott walked back with the Wordsworths to their carriage at Roslin. He recommended the little inn at Clovenford, where they stayed the night. He was starting to ride to Jedburgh in the course of the next day, and if they cared to pause at Melrose he would catch them up, and show them the ruins there.

        So he did, and they went on to Jedburgh together. He introduced William Laidlaw, who was very anxious to meet a poet whose verses he already knew. He rode with them to Hawick on the next day, and would have taken them into the wilder Liddesdale country, "where," he said, "I have a home in every farmhouse". But he had his sheriff's duties in Jedburgh, and it was time that they should be back in their Westmorland home.

        He gave Wordsworth the impression that he did not take literature or literary success very seriously, and yet that it was in his easy reach. He said casually that he did not make much money at the law, and added that "he was sure he could, if he chose, get more money than he should ever wish to have from the book-sellers".

        Wordsworth, having less reason for a similar confidence, was puzzled, but not alienated by this remark. They parted with cordiality, and he doubtless regained his usual intellectual altitude, making a disquisition to Dorothy, as they rumbled onwards to Westmorland.

        Wordsworth was about eighteen months older than Scott. He was physically and intellectually about at his best at this time. He had recently married, having left a wife and a new-born baby when he set out with his sister on this Highland tour. He had lost something of the neurotic temperament of earlier years, and the pontifical was not yet at its worst. They met with the common consciousness that Wordsworth was the greater man, about which both were content. They had a common love of poetry, but little else to draw them together. Wordsworth was a powerful young man, well-made, with no lameness to hold him back, but there was no thought of a saddle in his mind, no sword in his hand. He went on a Highland tour.

        That Scott's multitude of activities shamed him in any way is an unlikely thing. They are the occupations of the herd, from which genius stands apart. When we remember that Wordsworth had neither sense of humour, nor spark of romance, that he actually attributed the failure of Lyrical Ballads to the fact that he had reluctantly agreed to the inclusion of the Ancient Mariner, we may consider him to have been one of the most difficult friendships that Scott ever made.

        As to Scott's measure of legal success at this time, his fee-book shows a steady advance from year to year, and its total for 1802-3 had reached £228 18. 0. This could not have been the case had he failed to give good service to those whose briefs he accepted. But it is evident also that he had many more engrossing occupations, and a note in his journal, written twenty-two years later, shows how little he had the temperament which successful advocacy requires.

        "Was engaged the whole day," (he noted) "upon Sheriff Court processes. There is something sickening in seeing poor devils drawn into great expenses about trifles by interested attorneys. But too cheap access to litigation has its evils on the other hand, for the proneness of the lower class to gratify spite and revenge in this way would be a dreadful evil were they able to endure the expense. Very few cases come before the Sheriff Court at Selkirk that ought to come anywhere. . . . I try to check it, as well as I can. . . ."

Chapter XXVII.

        The publication of Sir Tristrem was not placed with a London firm. It was entrusted to Archibald Constable, the young bookseller at whose shop Richard Heber had met John Leyden two or three years earlier.

        Archibald Constable's book-selling business increased, and he had already made one or two successful publishing ventures. As to Sir Tristrem, he had a clear opinion as to how it should be produced, and sufficient force of character to have his own way.

        It was not a book from which substantial profit could be reasonably anticipated. The edition should be limited to 150 highly-priced copies. So it was agreed, not without reluctance. They were sold at £2. 2. 0. each. The cost of paper and printing was covered. The production of the Border Press was admired. The author's pocket may not have benefited, but his reputation grew.

        It was at the beginning of May 1804 that Sir Tristrem appeared, and the decision to leave Lasswade was already definite, and the new home had been found.

        Hesitant search in other directions had been abruptly ended by the death of an uncle, Colonel Russell, who had had a house on the Tweedside, a few miles from Selkirk. Colonel Russell had married one of Anne Rutherford's sisters, one of the elder family. He had children of his own - cousins of Walter Scott, of whom we may hear again - but his death broke up the home, his eldest son being in India. The house was not for sale, but was offered to Scott on lease. There was a small farm beside it, which he also took.

        While these negotiations were approaching completion, Captain Robert Scott died at Kelso. He left Rosebank, and thirty acres of fertile land around it to his favourite nephew. There was some temptation to Scott to live in a house that was his own freehold, and Kelso was a place of pleasant memories, and delightfully situated. But it was not quite where he wished to be, and the rural qualities of Rosebank were being reduced by surrounding building. It was neither country nor town. On the other hand, it would sell well. The final decision was to sign the Ashestiel lease, and to let Rosebank go. Later in the year, it was sold for £5,000, and Scott found his finances substantially improved

        As an alternative to Ashestiel, there was a small estate called Broadmeadows, on Yarrow-bank, which it was known would be put up for sale during the summer, and the idea of using the proceeds of Rosebank to acquire this property had an allurement which was not easily put aside. Lockhart considers it "in one point of view, the greatest misfortune of his life" that Scott did not do this. He points out that he now had an income, jointly with Charlotte, of about £1,000, without any great personal exertion. He could have avoided the "mere" commercial direction in which the bulk of the money was ultimately invested.

        It is a point of view with which many will sympathise. It is possible that poems and novels such as he afterwards gave to the world might have been written in a retirement of quiet peace. It is possible, but much less than sure. It is certain that Scott, being what he was, would not have accepted such a scheme of life in his thirty-fourth year. Besides, he had an obligation to Ballantyne in honour, if not in law, and it was in that direction, a few months later, that a large part of the money was to be invested, as we shall see when we come to the events of the next year.

        It is useless, at any stage of his life, to represent Scott as being driven by stronger forces, which Lockhart will continually attempt to do. Because he spoke with a smile to those among whom he moved: because he was always ready to give help to the extent of his own wisdom or his purse's depth, with the understanding sympathy which is more than wisdom or gold, Lockhart fails to see that he dominated, though he may not have domineered, and in doing this he reduces an epic to the dimensions of his own mind.

        He does not see that Scott was a born adventurer, whether in life or art. He would have been of this disposition at any time, in any circumstances, in any occupation. Born at any period of the world's history, whether on a conspicuous stage or in some village obscurity, he would have played high, whether to success or disaster.

        Ballantyne may have made many mistakes, he may have committed many imprudences - follies - neglects - he may have been of a doubtful honour, he may have eaten and drunk to excess as the years passed. He may - or he may not. But it was Scott's audacious dreaming which loaded up the Kelso printing-presses on the road to Edinburgh: it was Scott's genius which made those audacious dreams come true. Scott planned the campaigns. Ballantyne, at the most, was no more than Soult to his own Napoleon. If it be said that Ballantyne commanded on the commercial wing, and it was that wing, at the last, which was driven in, the reply is not only that, time after time, as the years passed, and some crisis of financial battle came, Scott was in personal control of the operations; it goes beyond that to ask what Napoleon have we here, who is alleged to have appointed a muddle-headed, incompetent, slothful field-marshal, and continued to entrust him with that position for nearly thirty years?

        It is also to be remembered that defeat does not always imply incompetence in those who sustain it. Twenty years later, in an extremity of world-wide financial crisis, similar to, but more acute than that of 1931-2, the great book-distributing firm of Hurst & Robinson went down. That disaster involved the ruin of Archibald Constable, and his ruin involved that of Ballantyne & Co., which involved that of Walter Scott, who was a partner in the printing business. These events caused the exposure of many financial transactions and circumstances which would otherwise have been private to the parties concerned. Lockhart recounted them in some detail, and with the implication that Scott was deserving of serious condemnation, which he would have avoided if he could, had not the facts been too plain. He uses the curious adjective "painful". He says explicitly in the course of the subsequent controversy which he provoked, that he made "no such ridiculous attempt" as to show that Scott was "without blame in the conduct of his pecuniary affairs". He assumed, as those who only understand commercial matters from the outside are apt to do, that failure and disgrace are synonymous. But he represented Scott's position as being due mainly to over-confidence in James Ballantyne and his brother John, by whom, and through whose incompetence, that confidence was abused and betrayed. He also represented that Scott was imprudent in investing the very large profits that his novels made in the purchase of land. And though this may sound somewhat remote as a cause of failure, popular imagination, which likes its explanations to be simple and picturesque, has seized upon this idea, and, rightly or wrongly, Scott is now commonly believed to have overreached himself through an inordinate and rather vulgar ambition to become a great landowner, and to have contrived his own ruin in consequence.

        The friends of James Ballantyne did not accept Lockhart's account of these events with complaisance. They issued a pamphlet, which they entitled Refutations of the Misstatements and Calumnies contained in Mr. Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet, by the Trustees and Son of the late James Ballantyne.

        The title of this pamphlet is indicative of its authors' style. It pours words. It makes explicit accusations of mendacity against Lockhart, some of which cannot be dismissed without serious examination. It asserts that James Ballantyne was ruined entirely through having placed his confidence in Sir Walter Scott, that he had made large profits which he had left in the business, and that, through Scott's reckless speculative follies, all the accumulations of a life of successful industry had been swept away.

        Many of its assertions were extremely disputable, and some were palpably false. Lockhart replied, in a spirit of contempt, and with far greater controversial skill. He carried war into the enemies' country, showing the weakness of their positions rather than the strength of his own.

        It is proverbially easy to be wise after the event, but it is less so to judge precedent events with equity when we know what the end will be. With the knowledge that we now have it is difficult to regard the varied fortunes of the next twenty years without the consciousness of this advancing shadow. But we should endeavour to regard each event at its separate value, though with the added care of those who know that there is a judicial process to come. It may end in storm, but we are now at the dawn of a splendid day.

Chapter XXVIII.

        It is the Sheriff's Court at Selkirk. We have a glimpse of Scott sitting there in the local dignity of his magisterial office. A poacher is in the dock. He gives the name of Tom Purdie. The case is proved beyond cavil. He has, in fact, been convicted before. The Sheriff looks at him keenly. The Sheriff may be the most popular man in Selkirkshire, but those who come before him when he is on the bench do not always like the experience. "Anything to say, Purdie?"

        It appears that the man has. Quite a lot. He is out of work. He has a family who need food. There are grouse on the moor.

        The Sheriff listens, but is unmoved. He points out that it is not a first offence. It is a bad case, and poaching has got to stop. He imposes a heavy fine, with a jail sentence as an alternative. Tom Purdie has no money with which to pay fines. He goes from the dock to his own place.

        But, in fact, Tom Purdie went home. When the Court rose he was told to do so. "Sherra," they told him, had paid the fine.

        So it might have ended, an incident of which no-one would know today, had Tom Purdie been content that it should be left there. But he asked where the Sheriff could be found. He wished to thank him for that unexpected freedom.

        But the Sheriff had left the town. He had gone home to the new house he had taken on the other side of the Tweed, three or four miles away. Tom set out to walk.

        In the evening he came to Ashestiel. It was built in a woody place, a meadow's breadth from the Tweed bank, with a little gorge at the side, where a mountain stream came downward to the wider riser. Behind, the hills rose, with Yarrow valley on their further side.

        Tom had a talk with the Sheriff and went home to tell his wife that he had got a job.

        Scott had added another - indeed several others - to the endless list of his life-long friends. We may think, as the years pass, that money will leave his hands rather freely at times, but he never made a better investment than when he paid a poacher's fine.

        How often he acted in the same spirit to others who faced him over a space of twenty-five years in the same dock, can be a matter of conjecture only, but there is a letter still in existence, casually discovered in 1928 by Mr. M. Kliman of Manchester, which deserves reproduction.

        "George and John Brown - You have paid into my hands one guinea being the amount of a fine imposed on you by my sentence of that date for disorderly proceedings at Galashiels on the night of the eighth current, of which fine you are hereby discharged, and I shall transmit the same to the proper quarter.
        Recommending to you over circumspection in future.

I am, etc.,
10th April.

        The year is not inserted, and though there is a probability that it was written about 1824-5, there is no certain proof. Under what circumstances the two men came to send their fine to Abbotsford, instead of to the Court, can be a matter of conjecture only. It was not usual at that period to allow men convicted of disorderly conduct to go free with a fine unpaid. But if there had been any leniency in the treatment they had received, there is a cold warning in the communication which has neither the ordinary courtesies of a letter, nor the neutrality of an official receipt.

        They may have had mercy now, but if they presume upon it, - if they forget to be 'over circumspect' in future, they will be exceptionally foolish men. . . .

        We must not suppose that Scott invented work for Tom Purdie's benefit. Tom had, in fact, called at a lucky time. There had been no regular outside staff at Lasswade, where the garden was small, and the land no more than two or three acres; of grass, on to which a horse could be turned at need. Ashestiel was a small farm. Tom was engaged as a shepherd at first, and was soon promoted to be in general charge of the place, taking a position which had been discussed for the Ettrick Shepherd. How James Hogg would have filled it may be difficult to imagine. Scott had a way of getting the best out of those he employed, and of controlling and reconciling difficult characters, either as guest or servant, but we may conclude that it was best as it was. It was a position of some responsibility, as house and farm would be left in Tom Purdie's charge during the winter months. But we shall find that Scott made few mistakes in his judgements of men, which may be worth remembering when we come to James Ballantyne once again.

        He found a job for Tom's brother-in-law also, Peter Mathieson, about this time. Income has increased, and the larger house must be run on a larger scale. Charlotte wanted the dignity of a closed carriage, and that meant a coachman, for which Peter would do. The phaeton being an open vehicle, Scott had driven it himself. In fact, he had driven it where phaetons were not adapted to go. There had been more than one spill, in which Charlotte and he had been thrown out together. To overturn a phaeton, especially one that had been purchased on the specification sent to Richard Heber, does not sound easy to do. Lockhart attributes it to Scott's "awkward management", and hints that Mrs. Scott thought she would like a change in her charioteer. But to argue that is to ignore some known facts. That Scott drove a vehicle awkwardly is very improbable. But the phaeton had been intended to venture on the hill-tracks of Liddesdale, where no vehicle had ventured before. It may be believed that it had some spills. The closed carriage was not intended for such exploits, and would have rolled over with more disastrous frequency had they been foolish enough to test it. In fact, Lockhart attempts a comparison that does not arise. The closed carriage was to drive into Selkirk, with Mathieson on the box, in the state which a Sheriff's wife may be expected to show. Scott preferred his own saddle, and his own horse.

        But that there had been some perilous driving in the course of the Liddesdale raids may be believed without difficulty. They had definite destinations to reach, and they were attempting them in a new way. It was an adventurous enterprise. Scott, who knew the hills, may have been sanguine, and Charlotte, who didn't, may have been trustful, when it was planned. Still, they came safely home. She could thank his driving for that.

        That he would take risks for himself with a light heart is the testimony of many witnesses. Archibald Park, a neighbouring farmer, who was sheriff's officer, used to ride with him much at this time in that capacity. He had the name of a good rider himself, but he used to exclaim at the way in which Scott took the chances that the rough country gave. He helped the Sheriff in the arrest of a gypsy who was wanted for murder, when they came on a gang of them in a lonely place, and Scott recognised the man and was determined to have him, as, in fact, they did.

        Archibald's brother, Mungo, knew Scott also, and also slept at Ashestiel just before the call of Africa took him back on that last journey from which he did not return. He was about to leave his family on a pretext of visiting Edinburgh, not having courage to tell them that he was leaving Scotland again, and (of course) Scott was the confidant to whom he disclosed his plans. . . . But the resolution to avoid mention of Scott's friends, where they stand aside from the main course of the narrative, must be better kept, for it is an endless list. . . .

        Beside the farm at Ashestiel, Scott had undertaken the care of the plantations on the estate, not renting them, but supervising on his absent cousin's behalf. The fact that his mind was turned upon this duty may have originated a remark in a letter to George Ellis about this time. The Ellises must have had a thought of visiting Scotland, and Scott is anxious that Mrs. Ellis should not expect too much of literal forest in the Ettrick valley. "Ettrick Forest," he writes, "boasts finely shaped hills, and clear romantic streams; but, alas! they are bare to wildness, and denuded of the beautiful natural wood with which they were formerly shaded. It is mortifying to see that, though wherever the sheep are excluded the copse has immediately sprung up in abundance, so that enclosures only are wanted to restore the wood wherever it might be useful or ornamental, yet hardly a proprietor has attempted to give it fair play for a resurrection."

        From a quite different cause, there is a similar process of denudation on the moors of Yorkshire today, where the heather advances and the birch-woods dwindle, and it is equally disregarded. But we may conclude that if Scott shall come to the owning of land in the time to be, it will be a good day for the land.

        In the autumn of this year, on a sudden impulse, born of James Ballantyne's importunity, Scott ceased the alterations and additions to the Lay on which he had been engaged since he got settled at Ashestiel, and gave it to him to go to press. He could not foresee the success it would win, but he knew it to be a greater thing than the ballads with which he had gained the position he already held. For these years, while it had been taking gradual shape, he had felt like a general who sees the fight go well, but knows that his best troops are still held back in reserve. He may well look with confidence to the hour when they will sweep forward across a field which is already won.

        It is an axiom of prosody that a long poem cannot sustain its highest notes either of emotional intensity or verbal melody. There must be flat stretches between the hills. The prosodic standard for the long poem differs from that of the lyric, and is, in some respects, lower. We do not look for continuous gold. If a line sparkle here and there, we have our reward: the gold flashes amid the quartz. But it is the distinctive quality of the Lay that the lyric level is sustained, in which respect it did not conform to the accepted standards, or limitations, of epic, narrative or lyric poetry. It was a new thing.

        Its lyric qualities support the evidences of substance and construction to prove that it was not hastily written. James Skene, having no experience of the writing of poetry, might believe that two cantos were the work of as many idle days. But, if it were so, it was not an act of genius: it was an act of God.

Chapter XXIX.

        Lockhart explained Scott in his earlier years, as being the product of a mentor, a monitor, and a "lady of fashion," to which trinity we should be proportionately grateful for what they gave us. In his thirty-fifth year, he can load him with laudatory adjectives, but he is still unwilling that he should stand alone. William Erskine, the monitor, is still beside him, and is still able to give the literary advice and guidance which he so obviously needs. He had two monitors now. William Erskine - and James Ballantyne! They are the joint reasons why he may prudently publish the Lay without sending it to Sunninghill for George Ellis to put it into shape. "With two such faithful friends within his reach, the author of the Lay might safely dispense with sending his MS. to be revised, even by George Ellis."

        That George Ellis would have had the stupidity (or the impudence) to attempt to revise the poem, had it been sent to him in MS., is an improbability which has no documentary support beyond the fact that he wrote proposing that Flaxman might illustrate it. Scott, with better judgement, thought Flaxman to be an unsuitable artist, and declined the suggestion. He did this by a letter written in the tone of deferential courtesy which he always used to those friends whom he admitted to an intellectual intimacy, and which often obscured the fact that, on essential points, he continued his own course. He added politely that he would have been pleased for Ellis to see the MS., and to have his "opinions and corrections" - but it had already gone to press.

        That William Erskine ever altered as much as two words of the Lay, or attempted to do so, is an improbability unsupported by anything but Lockhart's guessing, and when he guesses he is a very dangerous guide.

        As to James Ballantyne, his position was different, and throughout the whole of Scott's literary life, from this date almost to the end, he acted a very natural and necessary part.

        The days of typewriters, of stenographers and dictaphones, had not yet dawned. Scott wrote with his own hand, at first on folio, but afterwards always on quarto sheets, in the small, neat, rapid script which he had practised as a copyist in his father's office. He sent these sheets to the printer, to be set in type, and for the proofs to be returned for his own correction. For many years the output of Scott's pen was the main financial support of the Border Press, and its greatest activity. James Ballantyne made the oversight and correction of these proofs his personal concern. He corrected obvious clerical errors in the rapidly written script, which were not frequent: he referred back to the author anything which was not clear to the compositor or himself.

        When poetry gave place to fiction, this might be one of Ballantyne's main occupations. There were times when Scott was writing incessantly, - writing against time in the endeavour to get a novel rapidly through the press. It was being set in type, day by day, as its composition proceeded. Day by day, the new script went to the press, and the proofs of the previous sheets would come back for correction. Scott struggled to keep up with the press, or the press struggled to keep up with him.

        At such times, it is more than possible that some of the "mere" commercial interests of the printing business - it is Lockhart's adjective, not mine - may have been subordinated by both Ballantyne and Scott to their literary preoccupations, or they may have been delegated to less competent hands. If this were done to their own ultimate loss, we have no cause for complaint. It was to our gain, and it was they who suffered, not we. And, even by mere commercial standards, they might have shown some justification, for they laboured at the most vital point, either for attack or defence.

        In these ways, the services that James Ballantyne rendered, though not of a monitorial kind, approached those of a secretary, and their value, within their natural limits, is beyond reasonable challenge. He was such a secretary as any author should be glad to have.

        He took a keen interest in the advancing narrative of a novel, as its proofs passed through his hands, and if the author's rapid writing left any point of incident or character obscure, he would naturally call attention to it, in the fourfold capacities of friend, partner, proof-corrector and printer. There were occasions, as the years passed, when he ventured expostulation in respect of features of plots which he thought would be unpopular. In the two instances of which we know, because Scott gave way to his importunity, and that of others - the weakening of the tragedy in St. Ronan's Well, and the resurrection of Athelstan in Ivanhoe - Ballantyne was clearly wrong, as it might be expected that he would be. It is a distortion of fact to represent that Scott depended upon him, or anyone, at any time, for revision of what he wrote, and it would be absurd to discuss such a point, did not Lockhart imply it from time to time with a quiet persistence which gradually destroys the perspective in which Scott should be regarded, particularly in respect of his literary creations, in relation to his surrounding friends.

        It is true that, in separate sentences, Lockhart states explicitly that Scott went his own way in these matters. (Yet, if so, why say it at all? Most authors do.) But, having done so, he will, in the course of a single paragraph, be as explicit in contradiction of his own assurance as when he says that Ballantyne "conveyed his mind on such matters with equal candour and delicacy during the whole of Scott's brilliant career. In the vast majority of instances he found his friend acquiesce at once in the propriety of his suggestions. Mr. Erskine was the referee whenever the poet hesitated about taking the hints of the zealous typographer; and his refined taste and gentle manners rendered his critical alliance highly valuable."

        Lockhart, though he wrote some forgotten novels, was a critic rather than an originator, of literature. He did not understand that great poets and great novelists usually write their own books.

Chapter XXX.

        The Lay of the Last Minstrel was published in London in 1805, and had an instant success, on a scale which was beyond anticipation or precedent. A century later, it had become fashionable in literary circles to depreciate the genius of Scott, particularly as a poet. Smaller men, of meaner ideals and baser instincts, moved restlessly beneath so great a shadow. Literary neurotics questioned the possibility of great art taking on serene or courageous forms. Literary decadents were equally sure that art and obscenity were inseparable friends. Scott, they told each other, was in eclipse, and those who regarded them as intelligent guides repeated the clap-trap phrases in which they dismissed him to a decent obscurity. But it may be doubted whether the eclipse had much reality even then. He gave a light which did not penetrate to their own minds, but it was visible to a million others. And, today, the tide turns. Even the cant formula in which he is said to have been a greater novelist than poet is not repeated with the old assurance, though its echoes have not yet died.

        In textbooks of literature, it had become the fashion to say that he was not Homer or Shakespeare, which is obviously true. Neither was Homer Shakespeare, nor Shakespeare Scott. But of what other figures in modern literature would it occur to any mood of criticism to make either of such comparisons? still less, to make both of the same man? The fact is that, even while they disparage his stature, they are aware of a giant form, as their comparisons prove. Homer - Dante - Shakespeare - Scott - we may give precedence as we will, but they are names that are at home together, and there are no others with which to compare them except themselves.

        Each of these great poets took the material that lay around him to weld it into forms of immortal beauty. Each of them would surely have done the same, with whatever differences, had they been born in each other's places. Scott had his first material in the traditions of Border chivalry, and it is hard to imagine that any poet could have transformed it to a greater thing.

        Something (though not the most) of the novelty of the Lay came from the metre in which it was written, for which Coleridge had a responsibility of unintentional suggestion, and must have his recognition or praise.

        It will be remembered that Sir John Stoddart called at Lasswade Cottage in the summer of l800, and had a reception that pleased him well. Sir John was a friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge. He was an admirer of the latter poet, and in the course of conversation he mentioned a narrative poem, unpublished and incomplete, which Coleridge had written. It was in octosyllabic lines, instead of the decasyllabic which were usual for such poetry - indeed, for any which was beyond lyric length. He quoted from memory of the manuscript he had read.

        The Lay of the Last Minstrel is written in the same metre. Its first canto contains one line which is almost identical with one in Christabel.

      The Lay has:
        Jesu Maria, shield us well!

      Christabel has:
        Jesu, Maria, shield her well!
Beyond that, there is no similarity in subject, idea, or context.
      Christabel has:
        The night is chill; the forest bare;
        Is it the wind that moaneth bleak?

      The Lay has:
        Is it the roar of Teviot's side,
        That chafes against the scaur's red side?
        Is it the wind that swings the oaks?

        Again, there is no similarity of theme or treatment. The two poems approach verbally at these points, and then go their separate ways.

        Neither are they of comparable qualities. There is magic in Christabel, but the narrative is hesitant, unsure of itself. It wanders blindly about, and that it should have been left unfinished seems a most natural thing. Some suppose that Coleridge had no idea, any more than anyone else, what the end should be. He said he did, and he was in the best position to know. Yet, in fact, he did not finish it. His difficulty probably was that his conclusion lacked substance. He could have ended it in a few lines, but he failed to end it in as many hundreds, which he had intended to do. The thought was too thin.

        Neither will the two poems endure comparison on the prosodic level on which they meet. Christabel, again, has its magic lines, and to praise the Lay does not require their depreciation. But they have not the richness, the profuse variety, of the new verbal melodies that the Lay contains. Neither Coleridge nor Scott originated the octosyllabic metre. Yet comparing the cadences of the early lines of the two poems, and the verbal similarities mentioned, it is bare justice to recognise that the seed of the Lay came from the mind of the English poet. It grew, in its new sowing, to such foliage and flower as it could never have produced in its native soil. . . .

        It is difficult to write of the Lay without enthusiasm. Criticism which is unenthusiastic must be unintelligent also.

        Its originalities and varieties of verbal music are alone sufficient to lift it into the front rank of the poetic literature of the world. In this aspect of its originality only Spenser with The Fairie Queen, and Swinburne with the first series of Poems and Ballads, the one before and the one after, made a comparable addition to the cadences of English song.

        There is a curious illumination in these comparisons, because these three poets are the three great solitary peaks in the procession of English poetry. They are of separate grandeurs, without ancestry or descendants. The continuous stream of English literature can be traced intelligently without noticing them at all. And, however separate and different from each other they may appear, they have their deep-rooted affinities. Spenser and Swinburne approach closely to Scott, though from opposite sides, and Scott reaches out to both of them, filling the great space between. . . .

        It is one of the comedies of pedantic criticism that this poem which abounds in lyrical ornament should have been used to support an argument that Scott had a defective ear for the elementary metrical patterns which do not constitute the beauty of poetic form, but are the looms on which its colours are woven. The line usually quoted on this inditement is:

"Saw a terrier and lurcher pass out."

        This line is obviously experimental, and does not succeed, because it needs to be read with a change both of time and inflexion of the concluding syllables.

        The only subsequent attempt to establish it of which I am aware is that of Mr. Chesterton in the Ballad of the White Horse.

      "His fruit trees stood like soldiers
      Drilled in a straight line."

        In this ballad, the construction is repeated several times, showing that it must be deliberate, but its defect is still that it is too unexpected for its rhythm to be recognised at a first reading.

        A full slow equal value may be given to two sequent monosyllables at the commencement of a line of English verse, but the idea will not readily be caught by a reader if the construction be at the end of a line in which the cadence falls. So we may allow that the line first quoted is no better than an experimental failure, because, for reasons too technical to analyse here, it cannot be used in English verse with sufficient regularity to render it an expected thing. But for those who can read the Lay without being intoxicated by its verbal melodies, there is no more to be said - to them.

        The instantaneous success of the poem was not won by its lyric beauty only, nor by the glamour of its reconstruction of a rudely-chivalrous manner of life which had then left the world more recently than it has today. It had the vigour of sympathetic imagination which would vitalise all that Scott would write in whatever form; and with it there was a bias towards nobility which is like the constant tug of an undercurrent, drawing us to the contemplation of "whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report".

        It was the poetry of action, written as it had never been written before, and perhaps will never be written again; but it was not of the order of imagination which exalts the physical. It was occupied with spiritual issues continually. Conduct is not three parts of life; it is the entire whole. As Scott said to his son-in-law on his death-bed, "nothing else matters".

        It is not by supremacy of strength, but "through good heart, and our Lady's grace," that horse and man struggle upward from the midnight ford. Valour, in Scott's romances, never achieves impossible physical feats. Having been up all night, Deloraine goes down before Cranston's lance, as a weary man on a weary horse might be expected to do, but he does not become smaller by the fall, for we had been made aware of the spirit which forgets its weariness "when he marked the crane on the Baron's crest".

        The vital issue of the poem is not whether the kidnapped child will be carried away, or the castle stormed, but in what spirit the Lady of Branksome will meet the threats which are made against her: whether she will barter her honour to regain her child. When she has replied

      "For the young heir of Branksome's line,
      God be his aid and God be mine;
      Through me no friend shall meet his doom;
      Here, while I live, no foe finds room,"

the real battle has been fought and won.

        After the death of Scott, the pursuit of physical science led mankind into a pit of materialism from which it is scarcely emerging, bewildered as from an evil dream, and the majority of our novelists, and some self-called poets, have followed it into a darkness from which they assure us, quite truthfully, they can see no stars.

        It is in estimation of the relative importance of spiritual and physical or material issues that Scott is out of sympathy with modern fiction and modern criticism. Generous and tolerant though he was, he would have dismissed most of the "sex" novels which Mr. Gerald Gould reviews each week with such portentous solemnity, as too trivial and shallow, if not too base, for the wasting of a word upon them.

        "Sexual" is a harmless necessary word, but it is not necessary, nor without significance, that it should be used in contemporary literature (and contemporary journalism) perhaps a hundred times more frequently than in any previous period. The novelists of our time, and some who have professed to be our own poets also, have concentrated on the degradations of physical passion, and observing that the older novelists painted on a wider canvas, and with a different perspective, they bring a humourless accusation against them that they portrayed only half of the panorama of life. The accusation is untrue; but were it of a literal accuracy, the honour would still be theirs, for how many of their successors could claim a breadth of view which would extend to such percentage of the total area?

        Scott was of the tradition of Homer, who saw that there was a higher poetic value in the despairing sorrow of Helen over the dead Hector, than in the way in which she had previously surrendered herself to the arms of his younger brother.

        Like Dante, he would have sorrowed over the tragedy of Francesca - and placed her in the hell to which she belonged.

        We could trust most modern novelists that they would go wrong in either of these instances, and some of those who call themselves our poets would be lost on the same road. To them, the poetic value of Helen and Francesca would be in contemplation of their adulteries, but, like Homer and Dante, Scott preferred greater things. . . .

        The enthusiasm with which the Lay was received is easy to understand. It was not only that it was a very beautiful thing. It was beauty in a new form - new both to the popular mind, and to the student of literature of any time, or in any tongue.

        Beyond that, it was alive; and, being alive, it had the qualities of living matter. It was not carved out of stone, but built of living cells. It was not fashioned, it grew. It had the qualities of its spontaneity; and the defects, if we will. There were those who criticised its structure when it first appeared, and these depreciations have never been entirely silenced, nor are they entirely groundless. A work of outstanding originality is almost always assailed by such criticism. It will differ from the requirements of ordered form, as a river differs from a canal, and for the same reasons. It has not been carved; it has flowered.

        And yet the accusation of defective form cannot be left without qualification. The six-cantoed structure, with its breaking interludes, was regular enough, - regular, indeed, as the severest form of the classical epic. And it, also, like the substance of the poem, had the charm of a new thing. It was its author's invention, admirably adapted to his own genius, and which he was to repeat several times to successful ends, though no subsequent poet would be able to give it the same vitality. It was of the content that the charge of lack of balance and structural unity could be most plausibly urged. It might be compared to a plant which the gardener confines to limited boundaries, within which it can grow at its random will.

        In its final form, it had a well-defined plot, well handled, and reaching a sufficient climax. To a close examination, it may appear that the goblin-dwarf is a needless intrusion, or even an excrescence upon it. In its first form, it had been no more than a ballad of diablerie, in which the dwarf had been a central figure. To have ejected him at a later stage, and made the poem a more literal account of one of the major raids which periodically devastated the Borders in the Middle Ages, would have involved such radical changes that it would have been a different poem, and whether the gain would have outweighed the loss must be hard to guess. But if the excision of the supernatural element had involved that of Deloraine's midnight ride, and the opening of the wizard's grave, probably most lovers of English poetry will be well-content that Scott used his genius for the blending of the various elements that he drew together as the years passed, and the poem lengthened, rather than to discard that to which a more prosaic standard of criticism might object as having become incongruous to the poem in its final form.

Chapter XXXI.

        The first edition of the Lay had consisted of 750 quarto copies, elaborately printed. The bulk of this quantity went to Longmans, in London, and was sold immediately. The publication in Scotland was entrusted to Constable, who had a similar experience. The basis of the agreement with Scott was that the profits of this edition should be shared equally, the copyright remaining his property. Ultimately he received £169 as his share of the proceeds of these 750 volumes.

        But the reception of the book showed Mr. Longman that he had found a poem which could be largely - no-one could do more than guess how largely - sold. Again, he hurried to Edinburgh. He proposed to bring out a larger and less expensive edition in octavo size. He offered Scott £500 for the outright sale of the copyright, which was accepted, and was one of the worst bargains Scott ever made. A subsequent present of £100 to buy a horse to replace one that went lame when publisher and author were riding together, did little to adjust the balance of advantage, for the sales of this book, during Scott's own lifetime, approached 50,000 copies. But, indirectly, the Lay was the source of some further profit in which Scott participated, for the printing orders were to be placed with the Ballantyne Press.

        Up to this time, Scott had had no proprietary interest in Ballantyne's printing business, though it was on his own persuasion that it had been brought to Edinburgh, and he had assisted that migration with a substantial loan. Since then, he had been able to place so much work in its way that the growth of its prosperity could be attributed directly to his own patronage. On the other hand, Ballantyne had done his part well. The event has justified Scott's encouragement of the migration, both by orders which had been secured, and the manner in which they had been discharged.

        Now Ballantyne approached Scott with a statement of his financial position. He was embarrassed by his own success. He was not in a position to execute the amount of orders he was receiving, both for the Lay, and from other directions, unless further capital were available. Scott had a large sum of money awaiting investment. His heart was in the Ballantyne business, and he had the responsibility of those who give advice which is taken. Friends who looked to him for help under any circumstances were not sent empty away. He agreed to invest about a third of the money which Captain Robert had left him. There is no reason to suppose that he did this with reluctance. But he declined to go further as a mere creditor. He required a partnership, to which Ballantyne agreed very willingly. A deed was signed, under which the profit was to be divided into three parts. One was to be paid to James Ballantyne in recompence of his work as manager, the others were to be drawn by the two partners equally. Scott, it will be noticed, had no responsibilities of management at this time. He was to be a sleeping partner. The division of profits may be considered equitable if Ballantyne's capital were substantially equal to that of Scott, or generous if it were less. Lockhart failed to find that any Balance Sheet was drawn up as a foundation for this partnership, and suggests that it was arranged so loosely that there was no such document, which has been assumed as a fact by some later writers. The negative evidence that no such document could be found thirty years later is not convincing, and the improbability that it was not drawn, if the nature of the agreement required it, is extreme, as any accountant will recognise. What basis, in the absence of such a document, could there be for the calculations of future profits, which were certainly made? But the financial circumstances of this partnership, even from its inception, have been the subject of acute controversy, and must be treated in a separate chapter.

        It was subsequently suggested that Scott's action, as a practising barrister, in entering a commercial partnership, was a breech of etiquette, if not of honour, and that this explained an alleged secrecy in which the arrangement was shrouded. It is a suggestion which will not endure examination either in fact or theory. There was, at this period, no law of limited liability. Capital could not be invested in shares or debentures by those who sought to use it in commercial channels, nor could commercial firms obtain it by means of such issues. Scott's legal training had taught him that arrangements for sleeping partnerships, such as this, were the routine business of any attorney's office at that period, and the suggestion that barristers were debarred from such investments requires to be supported by some affirmative evidence, which is wholly lacking. It is said that "only" William Erskine, among his friends, was taken into his confidence at that time, a method of stating an admitted fact which appears to place it in the opposite scale to that to which it belongs. Even if it be literally true, surely the fact that Scott informed a friend who would have been fully aware of the nature of what he was doing, and who was himself a lawyer, should absolve him from the suspicion that he was aware of impropriety. But, in fact and in spite of, or perhaps because of, the endless number of his friends, Scott was not randomly confidential with them about his personal affairs. Even with the pen, he had a habitual reticence, which was only partially abandoned at a later period of life. There is no more than a casual significance in the fact that the attempt at autobiography which he made three years later, and which covered his youthful years with a detailed fluency, broke off abruptly at the time when Williamina Stuart must have come upon the scene, and he could not have continued a frank and sufficient narrative without disclosing matters which he was too sensitive to discuss.

        Lockhart attempts a subtler point when he suggests that the fact that Scott's partnership was not generally known was unfair to publishers who might be influenced by his proposals as to books which they should produce, without knowing that, if they placed the printing with Ballantyne & Co., it would be financially advantageous to himself. The argument will not endure examination, and the more explicitly it be stated, the more dubious it becomes. It could be argued with at least equal force that he would have been better able to influence business toward the Border Press if it were known that he had a financial interest in it. He might have expressly stipulated that the printing should go to his own firm in cases where he was editing the proposed volumes, which he could hardly do without implication that he was financially interested. At the most, the inditement amounts to an argument that Scott was in a position to act unfairly to others, had he been of a disposition to do so. It is not only disputable in its premises, it is unsupported by any evidence that such breaches of equity occurred, and confronted by an immense improbability, Scott's character being what it was, that he could have allowed it to happen.

        But was the partnership so close and unguessed a secret in commercial circles? There was not, at this time, the publicity of shareholders' registers, there was no system for the registration of partnership names, such as the freer atmosphere of those days would not easily have endured. But, in the absence of the limited liability Acts of later years, such partnerships were extremely common. The closeness of Scott's interest in the Border Press, and his associations with it, could not easily have been concealed from those publishers who were doing regular business with it, and there is no evidence that there was any attempt to conceal them. Had they asked themselves, as they most probably did, if they were not explicitly told, whether Scott had any partnership stake in the printing business, nine out of ten might have made the correct guess, and all must have known that it was a very probable thing.

        Beyond that, there were the type-makers, the cloth and paper merchants, and others from whom, as the business developed, large credits were obtained. There were the banks which gave ever-increasing overdrafts, and discounted customers' bills, by which, in that period of fevered war-finance, the publishing business was almost entirely carried on. Did they never ask for the names of the partners with whom they dealt? Were they never told? The contrary supposition is without proof, and is entirely improbable.

        It does not follow that there may not have been many of Scott's literary and social friends, and more of his acquaintances, who remained ignorant of the details of his investments, and, in particular, of his financial interest in the Ballantyne Press. Any large commercial failure in those days might lead to anxious speculation as to whom it would ruin, and often resulted in the disclosure of unexpected names.

        In the investigation of these matters, Lockhart had the enormous advantages of being closer to the period with which he dealt, having access to more documents than are now available, and having been in personal contact with many of the people concerned. He showed industry in searching among the facts, and some skill in presenting such as he thought most appropriate for exhibition. He had the disadvantages that he was without commercial training, or commercial sympathies. He was biased in Scott's favour as his son-in-law and biographer, and as one who had received much help and affection from him: he was biased against him by personal limitations and prejudices. Frequently, he makes apology where only explanation is needed. He accuses by excusation. . . .

Chapter XXXII.

        In the beginning of this year (1805), and before the success of the Lay could have been more than anticipation, Scott was contemplating a step which would define and limit the claims of his legal profession upon time and thought, and give clear spaces of freedom for literary work, into which no briefs would intrude: this was to obtain an appointment as Clerk of Session at the High Court of Edinburgh, at which he was now a practising barrister. The office, which was closely similar to that of an Associate to a High Court Judge today, was honourable, but not exalted. Such positions were usually granted to barristers of good character and sound legal knowledge, who had lost hope or ambition of attaining to higher legal distinctions. They were life appointments, and those who took them rarely emerged from their honourable obscurity to take up more important offices.

        The duties of a Clerk of Session consisted in watching the course of the cases which were on his list, seeing that they were technically in order, placing them before the officiating Judge, and reducing his judgement to writing in legal form at the conclusion of the hearing. To perform such duties efficiently required legal knowledge and intelligent observation, but they were free from the advocates' anxieties, or the uncertain claims upon time and thought which might be made by cases in preparation before they came into court.

        These appointments were made by Crown patronage, and there were instances of slack or inefficient holders delegating their duties to subordinates, who shared the salary of the office. But most of the Clerks of Session were lawyers of good repute, whatever may have been the nature of the intrigues, or bribery, or direct purchase, by which their appointments had been obtained.

        That Scott should have fixed his mind on the obtaining of such an office at so early an age may be regarded as conclusive evidence that he had decided to regard his legal profession as subordinate to his literary ambition.

        The matter was not actually arranged till the end of the year, and Lockhart, with a surface plausibility, suggests that Scott's decision was taken in direct consequence of the success of the Lay, and of the commercial partnership into which he had entered. What he says is:

        "The first notice of this affair that occurs in his correspondence is in a note of Lord Dalkeith's, February 2nd, 1805, in which his noble friend says: 'My father desires me to tell you that he has had a communication from Lord Melville within these few days, and that he thinks your business in a good train, though not certain.' I consider it as clear, then, that he began his negotiations about a seat at the clerks' table, immediately after the Lay was published; and this in the strictest connection with his trading adventure."

        But when we remember that the Lay was not published till the beginning of January in London, the state of the posts at that period, and the other circumstances of the position, including James Ballantyne's explicit statement that it was after the publication of the Lay that he first opened the financial negotiations with Scott that led to the partnership being arranged, we may be so far from "considering it as clear" that Scott's decision followed the success of the Lay and the partnership negotiation as to observe with equal clarity that it must have been formed at an earlier period.

        Four weeks after the first day of publication in London, Dalkeith was writing that his father (who did not live in his immediate neighbourhood) had heard some days earlier from Lord Melville in reply to a communication that must first have been sent to him, and which was not likely to have received his instant attention; and prior to this communication being sent, Scott must have made his request to the Duke of Buccleuch, sometime after he had heard from London of the success of the Lay, which the first purchaser would scarcely have had time to read when the news must have been dispatched to him!

        This is only one of many instances in which Lockhart fails to appreciate accurately the implication of the dates he gives; and this looseness of deduction is emphasised by his further reference, at the time at which the appointment was made - nearly a year later. He then says:

        "Meantime, the affair of the Clerkship, opened nine or ten months before, had not been neglected by the friends on whose counsel and assistance Scott had relied. Whether Mr Pitt's hint to Mr William Dundas, that he would willingly find an opportunity to promote the interests of the author of the Lay, or some conversation between the Duke of Buccleuch and Lord Melville, first encouraged him to this direction of his views, I am not able to state distinctly."

        The suggestion that the success of the Lay was so instantly realised, and that Scott so instantly decided thereupon to apply for a Clerkship that the negotiation had been well advanced within a month of that publication, may be no more than an extreme improbability, but it becomes an absurdity when it is developed into the supposition that Scott may have been first "encouraged" to "this direction of his views" by the communication to him of a remark said to have been made in London by William Pitt some time after he had read the poem.

        It is a careless, and may seem in itself to be no more than a trivial error, but it had more than a surface significance. Lockhart has, in fact, made it clear that Scott had decided upon this course before he could have known of the success of the Lay: and before there would have been any suggestion of a Ballantyne partnership, unless the design had been formed in advance of Ballantyne's application, through foresight of probabilities, and in the privacy of Scott's own mind. But he comes to an opposite conclusion from that which his own evidence indicates, because he is imputing his own disposition to the man whose biography he is writing.

        Lockhart allowed himself to be influenced by the pressure of circumstance, and relied upon the advice of others, in ways, and to an extent, which Scott never did, but which he imputes to him continually. When Lockhart discusses Scott's character in the abstract, he is not sparing of laudatory adjectives. Indeed, he may use half-a-dozen when a less number would be sufficient. But when he deals with events he constantly represents him, not merely as being driven before the gale of circumstance, but as one who is constantly looking around for stronger shoulders on which to lean, as he instinctively supposes that men most naturally do.

        Here he represents him as impelled by the circumstances of a great literary success, and a commercial investment, to seek the comparative ease of an official appointment, and as being guided thereto by the "counsel" of his friends, whereas the date he himself gives is the strongest evidence that Scott had planned this development at the time he launched the Lay upon the world, and before the partnership had been even discussed or suggested: and there is not the faintest reason to suppose that he sought or received anyone's counsel in the matter, though he naturally sought the assistance of those who were able to influence the appointment which he desired.

        There was actually no vacancy among the Clerks of Session at this time, and to await the death or retirement of one of them would not have suited his purpose, nor could he have been sure that he would have obtained the prize in the scramble which would have taken place on the occurrence of such an event. He therefore entered into an arrangement which was usual at the period. George Home of Wedderburn was an old man, who had held a Clerkship for thirty years, and would be glad to retire. They agreed to make application for the office to be held jointly while they both lived, and then by the survivor alone. While he lived, Home was to draw the entire salary, and Scott was to do the entire work. By this bargain, Scott avoided the necessity of making any capital payment to Home, such as would otherwise have been necessary to purchase his retirement. At a later date, the custom of such arrangements was superseded by a pension system, and the sums which had been found by individuals came out of the public purse.

        The matter, as we shall see later, was not completed until the end of the year, but it could be anticipated with some confidence, and may have relieved his mind from the obligation of further effort to improve a practice at the Bar which would so soon be ended, and there must have been advantage in this, for it was a year bright with victory and with the anticipation of others to follow, and full of many activities which must have consumed the time and strained the energies even of Scott's amazing and unexhausted vitality.

        He wrote to Ballantyne in April telling him that he had an idea for a complete edition of British poets in one hundred octavo volumes, which he would edit and annotate. He would ask a fee of thirty guineas per volume for his trouble, and the copyright would be theirs. It would have been money well-earned, judging by the editorial standard of the Minstrelsy, and his subsequent work in other directions, and the plan might have resulted in a standard edition of British poetry such as we are never likely to have, but it was rejected by the London publishers, in view of a smaller scheme of the same kind which was already on the commercial horizon. It is difficult to regret this, for it must have been, even to Scott, a labour of many years, and would have meant that we should have lacked some better things that we now have. But Scott made proposals for other new editions in the same letter, a complete one of Dryden among them, and this proposition bore immediate fruit. It had Constable's approval, and he was already becoming a voice of some authority in the world of books. It was destined to be published, just three years later, by William Miller of London, a gigantic venture in eighteen octavo volumes. The publisher paid forty guineas a volume for Scott's editorial work upon them, and money has seldom been more hardly or more capably earned. The commercial success of the venture had been regarded dubiously in the trade, and even by Scott's own friends, but the event justified Constable's judgement and Miller's courage. The sale, though not rapid, was steady. A dozen years after publication, the whole edition was exhausted, and a continued demand justified the issue of another.

        For the next three years - till the close of 1807 - we must regard all Scott's activities as carried on with this work in the background, and in continual progress, for it was undertaken in no perfunctory manner. He did not think it sufficient to concentrate upon the text of Dryden, but must familiarise himself with all the literature, politics, and personalities that environed him. He wrote, in this autumn of 1805, that he had already read completely over a hundred pamphlets of the period. The bulk of Dryden's writings in verse and prose, and the fact that so much of it was politically or topically directed, and is full of obscure allusions to forgotten things, made the work an immense labour to one whose mind was preoccupied by so much else of original work, nor does Dryden seem to be one to whom his genius would be naturally sympathetic; but the work, being undertaken, seems to have been finished without weariness or regret. There is little evidence in his other writings of this three years concentration upon it, beyond the brief allusion, in the introduction to the first canto of Marmion (written while the editing of Dryden was actually still on hand) to Dryden's never-realised ambition to have given some adequate poetic interpretation of the Arthurian legends for which our literature still waits, when

      "Dryden in immortal strain
      Had raised the Table Round again,
      But that a ribald King and Court
      Bade him toil on to make them sport;
      Demanded for their niggard pay,
      Fit for their souls, a looser lay,
      Licentious satire, song and play;
      The world, defrauded of the high design,

      Profaned the God-given strength, and marred the lofty line.

        In this same year, Scott made one of his first - possibly his first serious - attempt at prose fiction. He showed William Erskine a fragment - probably about the first seven chapters - of Waverley. They may have been commenced earlier, but the title, which was ultimately used, 'Tis sixty years since, supports the probability that they were the actual work of this year.

        William Erskine was not enthusiastic, which showed good judgement. Scott's own mind may have supported his friend's criticisms. That he deliberately abandoned the attempt may be doubted, but he hesitated, and the idea was smothered for the time amid other activities. It may have been well for him, and for us. His work in poetry was not yet done.

        As to that fragment of Waverley, a prophetic genius might have been able to see the potentialities which it did not contain, but no ordinary critic could be expected to do so. In that preliminary fragment, a great vessel is struggling to get out of harbour. It has not spread its wings to the wind. Or it may be compared to the effort of some gigantic bird that is too heavy to rise. Shown those first chapters, and asked whether there would be a public eager to read them, any critic might have replied in hesitant words. Remembering the gigantic success that the Lay had just attained, any critic might have replied that poetry was the better medium for the next attempt. But Scott, though he listened to all, had a habit of going his own way in the end. It was not the opinion of William Erskine that caused the Waverley fragment to be laid aside; it was the doubt, and still more the contending activities, in his own mind.

        He wrote also, during this year, an almost regular series of articles, on very diverse subjects, for Constable's Edinburgh Review, which Thomas Jeffrey was editing. From this time, Constable advances steadily toward the front of the stage, a young man, of Scott's own age, whose commercial genius, joined to a genuine love of literature for its own sake, and a faculty of criticism which was sometimes superior to that of the professional writers, was advancing him to a position in the trade with which few, even of London publishers, could compare. Looking back now, it may appear that he owed this position largely to the huge sales of Scott's own writings which he was to control in the days to be. To say that would be no more than to recognise that he seized the opportunities which came his way, but, even so, it would do less than justice to his own position. He had already acquired the Edinburgh Review, when it was in its infancy, thinking of it primarily as an advertising gesture, and had made it the foremost literary magazine of its time. That may be attributed partly to Thomas Jeffrey's editing. But who chose Jeffrey for the position?

        He had adventured, with little capital, on the perilous sea of publishing, and had shown the fine discrimination of judgement, both as to the literary value and commercial possibilities of an author's work, which a publisher needs, and so few appear to have.

        We find Scott being drawn by the caprice of circumstance into the orbits of Constable and Jeffrey, but we must observe a difference between them and the James Ballantyne connection. James was his own choice. James had to the last, and through all vicissitudes, a personal loyalty to himself, which Constable certainly never felt in the same way.

        Jeffrey, a somewhat older man, like Scott a barrister, and unlike him having found that a literary career did not interfere with success at the Bar, was not one whom Scott would naturally have chosen for friendship; but he was one who, in his editorial capacity, was in a position to accept or reject the articles which Scott offered for the Review. He might criticise, as from a height: he might even patronise with his pen. He was often a shrewd, and may always have been an honest critic, but he was never able to see Scott's work in a correct perspective. They were too close together.

        Not that Scott was sensitive to adverse criticism. He lost no sleep over that. But Jeffrey, in his political views, and in points of character, was antipathetic to him in many ways. The political differences were, indeed, an evidence of their fundamental discords, rather than the cause that divided them.

        Constable also, though Scott recognised and appreciated some of his greater qualities, was never admitted to a close confidence, or to the inner circle of his friends. They were business acquaintances, united by common interests, and, at one time, by great successes; but all the justice and generosity of Scott's character did not enable this bond to reach real cordiality, or the future course of events might have been somewhat different.

        Had Scott been of the easily-influenced amiability that Lockhart attributed to him, their relations might have reached a closer intimacy. But they were both men of strong wills, and of different audacities, and their wills clashed. There were occasions when Constable was in a position to enforce his own, and had the courage to do so, and was probably right. But the position was such that the issue could never be proved. Scott was not one to let rancour dwell in his mind, but opposition was always a latent possibility between them, of which both were conscious. We must not exaggerate this quality of their association, which had other, and more dominant aspects, but it is necessary to observe it.

Chapter XXXIII.

        As the spring advanced, and Scott would naturally have retired from Edinburgh, with the close of the legal session, to his Ashestiel home, he had a further call upon his time and energies in the increase of military duties which the crisis of the year required. Lockhart, using one of the most unfortunate words that his biography contains, says that it was a year of 'mania' in volunteering. It was a year of crisis in the fate of the United Kingdom, and men of good courage looked into the gloom ahead with steady but not sanguine eyes. Italy lay at the feet of Napoleon. Prussia gathered her armies, but delayed to say to what purpose they would be used. The French army lay at Boulogne. Spain had joined France, and her splendidly equipped, though unpractised, fleet was suddenly added to the naval strength of our foes. It was known in March that the French admiral was out of port, and that Nelson was in pursuit; but beyond that there was silence. They had disappeared into the Atlantic together. Any day the news of Nelson's defeat, or even that Villeneuve had evaded him successfully, might mean the instant landing of Napoleon's mightiest army upon the English shore. Only Austria, Russia, Sweden - furthest removed from the centre of the common danger - still had courage or capacity to unite with England in open hostility to the European conqueror. A ruined continent was a sufficient warning to English and Scottish men to array themselves in defence of their threatened homes.

        As men had laboured to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with trowel in hand, but a sword at an arm's reach, so men went about their business in Edinburgh in such a guise that volunteer uniforms were more common than civilian clothes. To prepare themselves, as well as they might, to meet the battle-practiced veterans of the Grand Army of Napoleon, sham fights were planned on a scale that the Scottish capital had not seen, nor imagined previously. It may be supposed that the regiment of cavalry which owed its creation to Scott's foreseeing energy was not backward in these manoeuvres.

        Yet it is in this summer that he had another editorial scheme in his mind - a uniform series of the old English Chronicles, to which he was striving (with no final success) to bring his correspondents to an equal enthusiasm.

        And when he retires at last, as the summer advances, to the remote quietude of Ashestiel, he is inundated with many visitors, Robert Southey among them, who distract him from his work, and from many time-requiring duties of the country life on which the half of his heart is fixed. And there is a constant influx of correspondence, sent on the easy basis that the heavy postage must be paid by him who takes it in, which he receives, and to which he replies with an amazing patience, and a courtesy that will continue to his life's end, only rarely ruffled to a moment's protest by some exceptional impudence, or too-persistent boring.

        It was in August that John Skene first visited Ashestiel. He was a man of many sides, and particularly associated with Scott in connection with the regiment he had helped to form. He was fond of open-air sports also, and these summer visits became an almost regular occurrence during the coming years. They rode back together from the camp at Edinburgh, and reached the north bank of the Tweed, looking across to Ashestiel, which stood at a little height, half-hidden in trees, on its further side. Ashestiel lay in a wild quiet land. Even the country houses that were scattered all over the Lowland counties, were few and far in that neighbourhood. Only Selkirk, the small county town, scarcely more than a village, that was the centre of the Ettrick dale, lay over the wooded hills a few miles to the south.

        There was no bridge to Ashestiel. You went through the river as best you could, calling it a ford. But it was a poor ford at the best, and now the river was swollen with heavy August rains. Scott made no difficulty of that. He put Captain to the water, going first, as a host should. The horse lost his footing almost at once. They swam safely through the flood. Skene tells the tale as an instance of Scott's somewhat reckless courage in taking untested risks. He was a great taker of fords, either on horse or foot. Skene does not say how he got over himself. We may conclude that he went by the same way.

        The Scotts showed him round the little farm together. There were Charlotte's fowl-pens, into which the wild-cats from the woods had so persistently broken. There were the horses, more than a few. Besides the carriage-horses, Scott had three for his own riding. He fed them himself, when he was at home, before his own breakfast. Besides Captain, there was Lieutenant, and Brown Adam, a dangerous brute who had broken one groom's arm, and another's leg: and whom no-one but Scott would ride. But if the stable-door were opened, Brown Adam would trot to the stone that Scott required to use when he mounted, in consequence of his shrunken leg.

        All his life, Scott had a marvellous control, and understanding of animals. His friendships with them were almost as numerous as with his human associates, and there were some curious unsolicited advances from them to him. There is a tale of a young pig which strains credulity, and another of a hen, of a similar colour.

        There were the dogs, too. First of these was Camp, a large fierce house-dog, but of a trusted gentleness with the children. These children had become a noisy lively nursery now. Sophia was nearly six; Walter was nearly four: Anne, still the baby, was in her third year. Charlotte was expecting another child before the year should close.

        There were the greyhounds, Douglas and Percy, whose gambols, if they were admitted to the study, Camp would ignore with a grave contempt, but who came into their own when their master would take them out to show their skill in the chase.

        Skene had a good time, shooting and coursing in such directions as the season allowed; exploring the wild beauties of the district; and spearing salmon by torch-light over a boat's gun-whale, or wading middle-deep into the Tweed.

        He noticed a change in Scott's habits, which continued as long as his health lasted. He was methodical, as all men who get through exceptional quantities of work, and especially those who do so with an appearance of leisure, are obliged to be: and he had now changed a practice of working late, after others had retired, to one of early rising, and doing about three hours work before breakfast. He had been subject during recent years to a series of nervous headaches which a doctor whom he consulted attributed to the late night-hours at which he worked, and who gave him the advice on which he always afterwards acted. He got up at five, lit the fire if the weather were chilly, and dressed in a careful methodical manner, allowing himself an hour for these processes. Probably that mentally leisured hour held the secret of the ease with which he wrote subsequently. It gave time for unhurried thought, and should be added to his hours of work, if we would total them truly. From six to nine, he wrote steadily. Skene was impressed by the orderly arrangement of manuscripts and books of reference in a study from which the children were never excluded, and to which the three dogs were admitted as to their own kennel.

        Breakfast gave an interval between nine and ten, after which two hours of further work would be enough for the day, if the weather were fine. On a wet day, he might continue for further hours, the extra labour constituting a fund on which he would draw if some day-long expedition in which he joined should prevent his after-breakfast work on another occasion.

        Under this routine, he would be free for outdoor sports or wanderings, or for social intercourse, while the day was still young, and so long as he held to his rule of retiring early, it was a healthy and well-ordered regime.

        The radical defect in his habit of life, of which he only became fully aware when it was too late to avert its consequences, and which, even then, he could do, or at least did, little to alter, lay in the difference between the manners of his summer and winter occupations and exercises. This difference was to be accentuated by the Clerkship for which he had now applied. For about six months of the year he would live in the North Castle Street house, taking little exercise, and making daily attendances at the Court (excepting on Mondays, when only criminal cases were taken, in which he was not concerned). During the remaining six months he would live a country life of a particularly active kind, in which long rides or walks, and violent field-exercises, were a regular feature. These periodic changes became a strain upon his constitution which increased as the years passed. That he would live intensely, in whatever form, was of his nature, and an unavoidable thing. But probably he would have lived a longer and healthier life either as a city or country dweller for the entire year than in this regular alternation of violent change.

        But at thirty-five he thought as little of his health as young and vigorous manhood will. He was conscious only of an abundant vitality. . . .

        When Skene left, Scott set off with Charlotte on a visit to Westmorland. Her days of horse-back riding may not have been over, but at this time, on a journey of such length, and with a baby expected in three or four months' time, there was no question of how it must be undertaken. Peter Mathieson climbed on to the box of the closed carriage, and Charlotte got inside. But Scott, who had been willing to drive his wife in an open phaeton over wilder ways, was not disposed to be driven. He got on Captain's back, and rode at the carriage-side.

        They called at the Wordsworths' Grasmere cottage, and the cordiality of their reception was a pleasant memory for many after-years. Wordsworth was glad to show the beauties of his own country to one who had once introduced him to those of Melrose and the Lowland hills. In the company of Sir Humphrey Davy, whose many-sided personality made him a welcome addition to the party, they climbed to the Helvellyn summit, and saw much of a country which has many similarities to that of the Scottish lakes, and is yet of a different beauty.

        But the real objective was to revisit the Gilsland scenes where they had wandered together in the days when love was new, and the only anxiety had been as to the nature of the letters which the post-bags brought.

        Leaving the Wordsworths, they went on to Gilsland together. In Lockhart's queer pre-Victorian phraseology "Scott carried his wife" there. We know nothing as to which of them first proposed the expedition, which must have been a pleasure to both, but we may assume that the carriage continued to carry her, and Captain to carry him, and the phrase implies nothing beyond the subjection of wives to their husband's authority: it strikes an attitude of propriety.

        However that be, it was a pleasure quickly and abruptly ended. They had been at Gilsland for a few days only when there was a report that the French army was embarking for England. Beacons flared from a hundred summits, as they had done in the Armada warning two centuries earlier. Scott lost no time in leave-taking. He mounted his horse, and in twenty-four hours he was at the Dalkeith muster, a hundred miles away. We may assume that Mr. Wordsworth made another disquisition to his wife and Dorothy, dealing with the possible consequences of such invasion, in his Grasmere cottage. Or it may have been about primroses.

        But the alarm died down. A few weeks later, it had passed away for a century with the smoke of the guns of Trafalgar. Scott did not wait for Charlotte's return. He mounted his horse again, and rode back to meet her at Carlisle, and, as Lockhart would say, to "carry her" home once more, as he had done after their marriage there, nearly eight years ago.

Chapter XXXIV.

        In the early days of 1806, Scott paid a hurried visit to London. Charlotte, for the first time since their marriage, did not accompany him, the reason doubtless being her own state of health, their fourth and last child, Charles, having been born a few weeks before.

        The journey was taken in connection with an appointment of Clerk of Session, of which the Patent had now been issued. It would have been open to him to pay the fees, and take over the office without further trouble, but an examination of the document had disclosed an error immaterial to himself, but which might be disastrous to the man he was superseding. The Patent gave Scott the appointment in his absolute right, without reciting the circumstances under which he obtained it, or asserting the pecuniary interest which Mr. George Home was to retain. This would have been of no consequence while they both lived, in view of the agreement between themselves, but if Scott should pre-decease the older man, he might, on the face of the document, be left without continuing income, or any effectual remedy. An examination of the practice of the time suggests that it would not have been beyond legal ingenuity to devise a further agreement between the parties which would have overcome the difficulty, in view of the fact that the estate of a holder of such office was, up to some years after this date, held to have a financial interest in its reversion. But Scott determined that he could not honourably accept it in the form in which it had been drawn, and that he must apply for a new Patent to be correctly issued. Lockhart does not blame him for this decision, but thinks his journey to London was not only needless, but that he should have realised how causeless it was, and suggests that he would have done this but for an ignorant provincialism, which attributed the petty meannesses and intrigues of Edinburgh politics to the finer spirit of a metropolis to which he was still a stranger. What Lockhart actually says is:

        "It seems wonderful that he should ever have doubted for a single moment of the result; since, had the new Cabinet been purely Whig, and he had been the most violent and obnoxious of Tory partisans, neither of which was the case, the arrangement had been not only virtually, but, with the exception of an evident official blunder, formally completed; and no Secretary of State, as I must think, could have refused to rectify the paltry mistake in question, without a dereliction of every principle of honour. At this period, however, Scott had by no means measured either the character, the feelings, or the arrangements of great public functions, by the standard with which observation and experience subsequently furnished him. He had breathed hitherto, as far as political questions of all sorts were concerned, the hot atmosphere of a very narrow scene - and seems (from his letters) to have pictured to himself Whitehall and Downing Street as only a wider stage for the exhibition of the bitter and fanatical prejudices that tormented the petty circles of the Parliament House at Edinburgh: the true bearing and scope of which no man in after days more thoroughly understood, or more sincerely pitied. The seals of the Home Office had been placed in the hands of a nobleman of the highest character - moreover, an ardent lover of literature; - while the chief of the new Ministry was one of the most generous as well as tasteful of mankind; and there occurred no hesitation whatever on their parts. In communicating his success to the Earl of Dalkeith, whose warm personal kindness, without doubt, had first animated in his favour both the Duke of Buccleuch and Lord Melville, he says (London, February 11th); -'Lord Spencer, upon the nature of the transaction being explained in an audience with which he favoured me, was pleased to direct the commission to be issued, as an act of justice, regretting, he said, it had not been from the beginning his own deed. This was doing the thing handsomely, and like any English nobleman.' "

        Now for the facts. The position of Clerk of Session might be purchased by bargain with a predecessor, as Scott had done, but the formal assent to the arrangement - the issuing of the Patent - was a matter of Crown Patronage. It had been obtained for Scott by the interest of his political friends from the Government of the previous year, and with the death of Pitt on January 23rd, that Government was utterly fallen. The Government which succeeded it was not merely one of bitter hostility to those who had obtained the appointment, it was its declared intention to impeach Lord Melville for maladministration of public funds, - and it was Lord Melville who had been Scott's especial friend in the matter.

        The fact that Lord Spencer willingly and promptly adjusted the error may be a tribute to his own character, as well as to Scott's high literary reputation, but the suggestion that London political circles were freer from intrigue and corruption than those of the Northern capital would require more evidence than Lockhart's assertion, and Lord Spencer's very proper conduct.

        If Scott made any miscalculation, it was in failing to realise the popularity he had attained, and that it would enable him to ask with confidence for that which might have been refused to an unknown man. The wisdom of his decision to go to London, as soon as he heard that the new Government was in office, is not challenged by the fact that he succeeded in that which he set out to do. And it may be observed that a prompt adjustment of the difficulty, or a refusal to set it right, were not inevitable alternatives. Such a document, with the growing correspondence concerning it, might lie on a Whitehall table for an indefinite period.

        Probably most people will agree that Scott took the right course in making a personal application for an amended Patent, and that Lockhart's stricture is baseless. Scott's sense of the delicacy of the position is shown by the fact that he would not visit at Holland House, lest it should be misconstrued. He came to ask an act of justice from his political opponents, but there must be no possibility of supposing that he was buying it with the sacrifice of the principles which he held.

        Lockhart himself records that, in spite of Scott's personal popularity, there was some political outcry from the Whig party, when the appointment was gazetted in the following month; and that alone is sufficient justification of the prompt and energetic manner in which Scott dealt with an unforeseeable emergency.

        Having obtained what he came for, Scott was soon on his way back to Ashestiel, but his visit gave him opportunity for the brief renewal of many friendships, and for the beginning of several new ones. Among these, his introduction to Joanna Baillie, a dramatist who was then at the height of a fame which proved to be no more than a fading light, must be noticed, because, though this first interview was a little disappointing to the anticipations of both, as such meetings most often are, it led to an enduring friendship, and a correspondence which was maintained on both sides, with little interruption, for many years.

        The impeachment of Lord Melville resulted in his acquittal a few months later, and Scott, ever faithful to his friends, and recognising, truly enough, that the prosecution had resulted from party rancour, rather than any serious belief that Lord Melville's standard of honour was below that which commonly prevailed at the time, wrote a song for a dinner which was given in Edinburgh to celebrate the event, which James Ballantyne sang. The incident would not be worth recording had not W. S. Landor subsequently got hold of the tale in a malignantly muddled way, and committed himself to the statement that Scott, after flattering Fox during his life-time, sang a song at a public banquet to deride him after he was dead. It would be hard to cram more falsehoods into one libellous sentence. Scott never wrote any song about Fox, after his death or before. He never sang anything in public, at any time, being aware that he was unable to sing in tune. The lines that he wrote to "flatter" Fox are in the introduction to the first canto of Marmion, which was published in 1808, Fox having died eighteen months earlier:

      "For talents mourn, untimely lost,
      When best employ'd, and wanted most;
      Mourn genius high, and lore profound,
      And wit that loved to play, not wound;
      And all the reasoning powers divine,
      To penetrate, resolve, combine;
      And feelings keen, and fancy's glow, -
      They sleep with him who sleeps below:
      And, if thou mourn'st they could not save
      From error him who owns this grave,
      Be every harsher thought suppress'd
      And sacred be the last long rest.

      Here, where the end of earthly things
      Lays heroes, patriots, bards, and kings;
      Where stiff the hand, and still the tongue,
      Of those who fought, and spoke, and sung;
      Here, where the fretted aisles prolong
      The distant notes of holy song,
      As if some angel spoke agen,
      "All peace on earth, good-will to men;"
      If ever from an English heart,
      Oh, here, let prejudice depart,
      And partial feeling cast aside,
      Record, that Fox a Briton died!

      When Europe crouch'd to France's yoke,
      And Austria bent, and Prussia broke,
      And the firm Russian's purpose brave
      Was barter'd by a timorous slave,
      Even then dishonour's peace he spurn'd.
      The sullied olive-branch return'd,
      Stood for his country's glory fast,
      And nail'd her colours to the mast!"

        It is obvious that these lines were not only published, they were written after Fox's death, and they are not the words of a man who would sing ribaldry over a political opponent's grave.

        But it is quite separately true that Scott regarded the Whig ministry as of the nature of a national disaster, for reasons which are clear enough if we understand his ideals of conduct and character, and consider the political issues at stake. He appears to have given an unusual amount of time to active political work during the brief period that this ministry remained in office.

        He was also particularly stirred by certain proposed "reforms" of legal procedure which he considered to be designed to reduce the independence and prestige of the Northern capital. There was a meeting of the Faculty of Advocates to debate these proposals, at which he spoke against them at such length, and with such emotional eloquence, that Jeffrey, walking away with him from the meeting, and who had taken the other side, jested at the earnestness with which he could regard such questions, and was surprised to notice that he turned away, but not quickly enough to hide his tears.

        The anecdote might be dismissed as a probable exaggeration - as most of such anecdotes are - were there not other occasions in later years, when he showed the same passionate jealousy of any attempt by the Government in London, or the Crown Officers, to centralise administration at the expense of Scottish independence and prestige, which would rouse him more easily than any question of personal interest.

        During the same year - 1806 - he found time to edit The Original Memoirs written during the Great Civil Wars; being the life of Sir Henry Slingsby; also the Memoirs of Captain Hodgson. Ballantyne printed these memoirs, and Constable undertook their publication. They were off his hands in October, and immediately afterwards he commenced another poem, which was to be of the length and manner of the Lay, and he was soon tentatively negotiating with more than one publisher concerning it.

        The Lay had grown into its final form from an uncertain beginning, and the time of composition was no guide to that which would now be necessary when he commenced with a clear intention as to the shape which the new poem would take, and with a plot which (from the substance of the opening stanzas) must have been outlined already. He appears to have anticipated that its composition would be rapid; but, in fact, it was the work of twelve months, - or fifteen with its final revisions. Not, of course, of twelve months of continuous work, but it is obvious that it was a constant preoccupation during that period, which is not surprising when we consider the nature of the result.

        He was attempting a high test of his own capacity, and its issue must be momentous for his literary future. For the Lay seemed to many to be a thing that could not be done twice. Saturated as he was with the spirit of Border chivalry, having his mind stored with so much of Border ballad and Border lore, knowing the history and topography of the subjects with which he dealt, he had extended a ballad of ancient raiding until it had assumed an unexampled length, and sparkled with unfamiliar beauties. But it might not appear to be a thing that could be repeated successfully. Was there not danger, even probability, that there would be staleness, repetition, signs that the materials were no longer fresh? Would not the public, now that the novelty had gone, be more critical, harder to please, even if he could rival the first with a second effort of equal brilliance?

        Scott, at least, was sure of himself. While the idea of the poem was still new, while it was little more than an unwritten dream, he had made a bargain with Constable that he should pay him One Thousand Guineas for the copyright, and that this payment should be immediately made, before there could be delivery of a manuscript which, as yet, did not exist.

        That Scott should have proposed, and succeeded in obtaining these unusual terms, arose from a combination of converging circumstances. First, he found himself needing money in an urgent and unexpected way. Second, Constable had already formed a shrewd opinion that Scott's work would be a good commercial speculation for any publisher who could obtain it. He was on the spot. He was doing other publishing for him. He was in the best position to close a deal. But it was still true that London was the natural centre for publication of an important book. Longmans had made a great success of the Lay. Miller had made a liberal bargain about the Dryden. Others were willing to deal. Constable was well content to close the bargain on the best terms he could. The risk that Scott would die before the completion of the poem, or that it would be a worthless effort, was less than that another publisher would be before him if he should be slow to close.

        We observe Constable as a man prepared to take a bold risk where his judgement urged it. The Lockharts of the world stand aside from the dust of the commercial arena, looking only to results, and equally ready to give their facile condemnation or their worthless praise. Had Scott never delivered the poem, there would have been many who would have said that it showed the Edinburgh publisher as a proved fool, and the same voices would applaud the success which his boldness won.

        Actually, having taken the plunge, he re-insured a proportion of the risk in a very prudent manner. For some reason, he either did not approach Longmans, or they stood aside from a bargain which they may have felt should have come entirely into their own hands. But he sold a fourth of the risk to Miller, and another fourth to John Murray, both of Albemarle Street, so reducing his own stake, and securing the active interest of the London market.

        With such a bargain, and such an amount received, it was not surprising that, as the months passed and the poem remained unfinished, Scott sent it, canto by canto, to Ballantyne to be set up as an earnest of the progress that was being made.

        The urgent necessity for a substantial sum of money which had constrained Scott to conclude this sale, had no connection with the Border Press, nor with any personal enterprise. It was a trouble of the business which their father had built.

        In plain words, Tom was ruined. He was Scott's favourite brother, and there was no question that, to the limits of his ability and his financial resources, he would help him now. His own account of the trouble, written years afterwards in selected words, was that Tom "was unfortunate from engaging in speculation respecting farms, and matters out of the line of his proper business". Anyway, the trouble was acute, and must have been a matter of substantial sums, or the family resources and dispositions would have averted any open disaster. But, for the time, until matters could be adjusted, Tom retired to the Isle of Man. In fact, he never returned to Edinburgh, and provision for himself and his family would be an intermittent - even a constant - care for the rest of Scott's life, without any shadow of division entering into the close friendship of their correspondence in consequence. Tom, in the Isle of Man, did not resign himself to despair, nor waste his time in idleness. He was active in connection with the raising of a volunteer regiment there. In the end, he had his reward in an offer of a position as paymaster to the 70th regiment, which was afterwards gazetted to Canada. There he went, and there he remained till his death, seventeen years later.

        Now Scott had need of money on behalf of his brother's honour; even a personal need there may have been, for he had become surety for him in connection with an estate with which he had been dealing. The thousand guineas for an unwritten poem was a very welcome sum.

Chapter XXXV.

        In the early part of 1807, Scott again visited London, this time for a stay of several weeks, during which time his days were spent with regularity at the British Museum, as he had felt the need of utilising its resources in connection with the preparation of the Dryden volumes. Charlotte did not come with him on this occasion, the uncertain length of his absence, and the claims of her growing family, being the probable hindrances to an expedition she would not lightly miss.

        Naturally, he used the evenings to improve his London acquaintances; but the quietness of mind, and opportunities of solitude which his manner of life allowed, were utilised to put the earlier half of Marmion into form for the printers. The first three cantos were sent to Ballantyne, a few sheets at a time, in a series of envelopes which Lord Abercorn franked for his use, and the post-marks showed that the weekend habit was practised at that period, the packets being dispatched at those times from Lord Abercorn's Stanmore residence, or that of George Ellis at Sunninghill.

        But though the winter had seen the first three cantos developed to this stage, at which, though they might be subject to some final revisions, they were fit to be set in type, there is evidence that the completion of the poem was not only unwritten, but could have been no more than vaguely outlined in the author's mind, - which is not, of course, suggesting that he had not worked from the first on a fixed plot.

        His brother Thomas had handled the legal business of the Abercorn family, and while visiting Lord Abercorn in London, Scott successfully recommended another Edinburgh attorney, Mr. Thomas Gurthie Wright, who was of the circle of youthful lawyers around which the Light Horse regiment had first been founded, to take over the business, but there was probably more than friendship in this arrangement, and it may have been only one of many negotiations which Scott undertook to realise the goodwill of his father's firm.

        However that may be, he made arrangements to travel to Dumfries with Mr. Guthrie Wright during the summer, to meet Lord Abercorn, who would pass through that city on his way to Ireland, and give him the benefit of a personal introduction to his new client.

        Such meetings could not be arranged in those days with the exactness of a railway time-table. Not wishing to risk being too late, they arrived at Dumfries some days too soon. Scott probably did not mind that overmuch. They explored the ruins together in his usual manner. Sweetheart Abbey and Calaverock Castle were added to the countless list of such places that he already knew. While they explored, they talked. At least, Scott did, according to Guthrie Wright, almost incessantly, as he would on such occasions when his mind was free, and he had a congenial companion, whom he knew that he did not bore. He talked delightfully, with wit and humour, shrewd observation, and endless anecdote. He was not self-centred, or self-absorbed on such occasions, but occupied with matters outside himself. A good listener also, and ready at any moment to be interested in the pre-occupations of a companion's mind.

        He had the proofs of the first three cantos of Marmion with him, and perhaps the next in some form, and he read these to his companion. Gurthrie Wright listened with care, and was critical. He said the route by which Marmion travelled to Scotland had a startling originality. Scott said it would do well enough. Did Gurthie think he ought to have travelled by mail-coach? Gurthie said no to that, but why come by Gifford, Crichton Castle, Borthwick, and Blackford Hill, there having been no such road since the world began?

        Scott said, no doubt truly, that he had made him come that way because he didn't mean to miss the view from Blackford Hill, and that way it had got to be. Anyway, what did Gurthie consider the better route to have taken?

        Gurthie said if he'd come by Dunbar and the coast road he might have met fewer bogs; besides, he would have come to Tantallon Castle, and why shouldn't he have spent an interesting evening with old Archibald there?

        Scott answered that he shouldn't change the route. Marmion must come to Scotland by the way he was told, and get through as best he could. He may not have troubled about the better surface of the coast road, but the idea of a visit to Tantallon Castle allured his mind, for he went on talking about it, and, as we know, it was by the Dunbar route that Marmion made his return journey, Douglas undertaking to show him the best way home.

        We may conclude that, if Mr. Thomas Scott had been more prudent in his investments, the sixth canto of Marmion would never have been written in its present form. We should have had something else which will never be, but the situation which ended in the dramatic parting of Marmion and Douglas would not have arisen in Scott's mind, though the battle of Flodden might have been much as it now is. But this is, of course, an observation which might be made about anything. As one seed out of a million bears, so we live one out of a million possible lives that are before us at birth.

        As it was, Thomas Scott, safely entrenched from Scottish legal process in the island kingdom of Man, watched for posts to arrive on the weekly mail-boat, with news of Walter's battles on his behalf; and Walter, using his legal knowledge, and all the resources of his endless friendships, to transfer the derelict practice, gets an idea for Marmion as he loiters with a brother lawyer in the ruins round Dumfries. . . .

        In the later summer, we get another glimpse of the composition of this poem. The regiment was in its autumn training at Musselburgh, and Skene remembered how Quartermaster Scott would ride out with a party of their companions to Portobello, and how he would pace the great black horse he rode backwards and forwards along the sand at the tide's edge, in periods that would be broken suddenly by short reckless gallops that scattered spray from the charger's heels.

        Afterwards as they rode back to barracks, Scott would rein up to his side, and repeat the stanzas of the Flodden battle that he had composed. And so, month by month, the work grew.

        Many years after, when Scott wrote an introduction to this poem, he made the explicit statement that it was "finished in too much haste to allow me an opportunity of softening down, if not removing, some of its most prominent defects".

        He wrote in similar reminiscence of other of his longer poems and there can be no doubt that they left that impression on his mind. There is an immense technical labour in producing a narrative poem of such length? of the standard of lyric excellence which his own judgement required. As Gray laboured for half a life over a few dozen stanzas of his Elegy, so would Scott labour to produce the faultless beauty of the songs with which these poems are strewn, and so, had he had leisured time from a dozen other contending interests, had he not had the thought (as he says himself) of that thousand guineas already paid ever before his mind, he would have liked to labour till every stanza of Marmion should have been of a kindred excellence. Whatever years he might spend on these poems, circumstances would still hurry them to the press in the end, leaving him with a sense of frustration, of having parted with that which he should have made into a better thing.

        This idea of the hasty careless composition of these poems has grown until it is not unusual to depreciate them as of an obviously low or facile standard, and this error of judgement is easier because there is so little in English - indeed, in any - poetry with which to compare them. It is an error grown in an error's soil. They read so easily because they were so hardly written.

        These long periods of composition had another result, which the author did not consciously aim to reach by that path. They are, in fact, romances in lyric form. There is no difference between Marmion and Ivanhoe, except in the method of presentation. There may be a resulting difference, as there is in the same tune played on the violin and the organ: but the substance is similar. Sooner or later, it was almost certain that Scott would be drawn to the swifter, freer medium of the novel, the larger canvas that it allows. But the assumption that it was better adapted, even for his own purposes, does not sustain examination undamaged. The subsequent novels were more hastily imagined, more hastily composed. They were usually begun without knowing how they would end (which might not be a bad way), and they were written about as swiftly as a pen moves.

        The longer poems (except the Lay) did not merely differ in having carefully constructed plots; the time which was spent upon them was so much longer than on the novels that the characters were often more clearly defined, and were drawn with an almost miraculous economy of words. Anyone may observe this by considering the crowded characters of Marmion or The Lady of the Lake, and observing how few words are given to each, and how surely every word tells. In the same way, this concentration of powerful imagination upon a few stanzas produced descriptions of vivid beauty which the novels do not frequently challenge. Scott might have described a stag-hunt in prose, and would have done it well, but would it have been comparable with that on which his mind dwelt for the period which was required to narrate it in the vivid brevity of octo-syllabic stanzas?

      The stag at eve had drunk his fill
      Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
      And deep his midnight lair had made
      In lone Glenartney's hazel shade."

        Would a paragraph of Scott's fluent picturesque prose have made more vivid the wide silence of the solitary Highland night, and the shadowy stag that stooped his head beside the moving, moonlit waters? Could it have held the mind so that, to many of us, having read it once in youth, the whole canto is an enduring memory, for which we could still thank God, though all else but the heavens fell? For which we would lightly barter all the disquisitions (which is not saying all the lyrics and sonnets) that Wordsworth ever wrote under the delusion that he was his Deity's right-hand man?

        That Scott should have converted to prose was, sooner or later, a natural, almost an inevitable thing. That it had some advantages over verse, and enabled him to do some things which would have been impossible in the more difficult medium, may be true also. But it was a difference which bought its gains at a great price. And those who say that Scott "found his vocation" when he became a prose novelist, do not understand the matter on which they talk, for his vocations were never changed. He was a great romancer from the day when he constructed the plot of The Eve of St. John, and he was a greater poet to his life's end.

        The lyrics in Ivanhoe alone would have been enough to establish the first-rank fame of a separate poet. Allan-a-dale, and When Israel of the Lord beloved, would have been in every standard Anthology; but the results of his genius are obscured by their own profusion.

Chapter XXXVI.

        The closing months of 1807, when Marmion had been completed (if we regard it, as we should, as a separate and greater thing than its introductory epistles, the last of which was written in the Christmas atmosphere of Mertoun House), are not of remarkable incident, though there was no relaxation of Scott's multifarious activities. He had added to his other occupations - for a meagre honorarium, and a vague expectation of future political patronage, which bore no visible fruit - that of Secretary to a Parliamentary Commission for the improvement of Scottish Jurisprudence, over which Sir Ismay Campbell had been appointed President, and found its duties more onorous than he may have expected; and he was still writing articles for the Edinburgh Review. More than that, he was actually in correspondence with Robert Southey, in an endeavour to enlist him under the same banner, so that the Constable alliance must have had an outward aspect of stability, which (it might be thought) would be further strengthened, should the publication of Marmion justify the large sum which had been advanced upon it. But Southey would not join the circle of Edinburgh Review contributors. The Review had said that he was a poor poet, and that Wordsworth was rather worse, which was making three errors about two men, one of which Southey did not forgive. If Constable had seen Scott's part of this correspondence he would not have been pleased, though Jeffrey might not have minded at all. Jeffrey was an editor who went his own way, caring for few, and not much for them; but Constable was a bookseller, and a business man. He believed that Walter Scott was a good investment to have on his list, and he would go far to keep him. Southey would have nothing to do with the politics of the Edinburgh Review, and Scott would say nothing in their defence. The fear of invasion which had roused men of all parties to a common determination, had lessened after the naval strength of France had been broken at Trafalgar, but on the continent Napoleon was at the height of his power. Having all the great nations of Europe under his heel, he was now picking up crumbs. He overran Portugal. He occupied Rome, taking the shadow of Papal authority that was still there, to use it to his own ends. Only England remained, unbeaten and unafraid. What use was there, there were those who asked, in continuing such a war? Were we to meet the whole world in arms? It was a war we could never win. That was the line taken by the Edinburgh Review. The tide was high, and it still rose. Who could say that it neared the turn, as, in fact, it did? Such articles as appeared in the Edinburgh Review - defeatist rather than pacifist - weakened the courage of men, when fortitude was the greatest need. Scott hated them, and to see his name on the same cover. But Jeffrey cared nothing for that. . . . And, at last, toward the end of February, Marmion came out.

        The success of the new poem, both in literary circles and general popularity, was instant and beyond any precedent - if we except the one by the same author which had been published three years earlier. To have achieved such a triumph once, by whatever combination of merit and fortune, was marvel enough: to repeat it was a more unparalleled feat. It placed Scott at once in a more secure and permanent position, as a poet who could maintain the standard that he had once reached. The fact that the poem had substantial differences from the Lay, and was yet of the same order, increased the sense of capacity which the achievement gave. After this, it would be hard to say what its author could not do. There was general disputation as to which was the greater poem; and that such a point should be regarded as doubtful, after the reception of the earlier one, was praise enough for a second venture, which is always judged with greater severity, and especially so when the success of the first has been of an extraordinary kind. In the first poem he had utterly outdistanced the popularity of all contemporary poets: in the second he had to contend with the record he himself had set.

        The reception of Marmion by his brother-poets was generous, both in private correspondence and the public press; and their criticisms were sometimes more intelligent and discriminating than is much of that which it receives a century later.

        Leyden, it is true, wrote in an excitement of protest when the poem reached him in India. Leyden was an easily excitable man. He thought it out of focus that a statesman and a military leader of the sixteenth century should be a party to forgery. Others had said the same before he had the opportunity to do so. Scott, who was usually ready to agree when told that there were defects in what he wrote, allowed that he might have improved the plot, if he had had more sense - more time. He had, in fact, anticipated that this criticism would be made. The "gross defect ought to have been remedied, or at least palliated," 'he wrote in amiable agreement at a later date. But he adds that he had decided to let the tree lie where it had fallen. In fact, he allowed his own artistic judgement to override his anticipation of a criticism which is ill-founded, being based on errors both of logic and fact. For why should Marmion have been a typical rather than an exceptional character? And was forgery really an invention of a later century? It was not long after the period of Marmion that an Edinburgh tradesman would supply forgeries of the signatures of all public men at a reasonable tariff, or complete letters to those who could make profitable use of such documents. The date of the forgery of the Casket letters is not very much later, and these were procured, if not actually indited, by men of the half-political half-military class to which Marmion belonged.

        To forge letters, is, of course, against the spirit of chivalry; and this view, with its own intolerance, is well expressed by the aged Douglas:

      "A letter forged! St. Jude to speed!
      Did ever knight so foul a deed!
      At first in heart it liked me ill
      When the King praised his clerkly skill.
      Thanks to St. Bothan, son of mine,
      Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line:
      So swore I, and I swear it still,
      Let my boy-bishop fret his fill."

        Forgery is a crime of which there are instances in every age, and in all ranks of society that have been able to commit it, and Lord Archibald was right about there being only one absolute safeguard.

        The poem was more justly criticised in respect of the "introductions" which were interpolated between the cantos, and which introduced nothing but irrelevant matter, with a perfunctory tag at the end of each. To suggest that such intrusions relieve the concentration of the mind upon the principal subject is as absurd as it would be to say that such a book can be enjoyed best by those who are interrupted by constant callers. Its logical issue would be to print two books together in alternate chapters.

        It is true that the Lay was in a superficially similar form, but in that case there was a definite relation between the introductions and the main stream of the narrative, and there were natural transitions. Even so, they may be thought to be less than a certain gain. That Scott had been doubtful of the effect of these interjected epistles is shown by the fact that he had considered, and at one time half-resolved, to give them separate publication under the title of Epistles from Ettrick Forest. Issued in such form, they might have had considerable semi-private, and a limited public circulation, partly on their own merit, and partly on the author's reputation, and the biographical details which they contain. That Scott did not carry out this idea may be attributed to that thousand guineas that he had received for Tom's assistance a year ago. The bargain had been for a poem similar to the Lay. To remove these introductions would shorten it substantially, and reduce the measure of its superficial similarity, and if they had once been talked of, or intended, for it, to publish them separately would be open to the construction of attempting to obtain a profit on that which had been already sold. Mr. Ellis, with some knowledge of these circumstances, and with a decided opinion that the introductions were in the wrong place, suggested in subsequent correspondence that it might have been possible to lengthen the Marmion narrative to its own advantage. Perhaps it would. It is evident that it contains sufficient matter for a longer tale. We can suppose, from what Scott did subsequently, in what manner he would have enriched and extended it, had it been produced in a prose form. But poetry is not prose. To write good poetry is a work of time, and good narrative poetry, of the standard which Scott had set to himself, may be of every kind the most difficult, though to write it badly may be an easy thing. To have lengthened it substantially would have meant another year's work, to Constable's natural irritation, and a doubtful gain.

        As it was, Constable came out well, as did his partners in London. There was solid profit for them. It meant no further cash to Scott: nothing more than a present of a hogshead of claret from publishers who could afford to be generous. The first edition of 2,000 copies, published at £1. 11. 6., was sold out immediately. Larger, less expensive editions were to follow rapidly until a total of 30,000 copies had equalled the record of the Lay. - A total which was doubled with the next forty years, and remains an amazing circulation for such a poem, when the population of the United Kingdom, and the limits of education and reading habits at that time are remembered.

        And if the publishers had the gold, Scott had the reputation, which might, with judicious marketing, be turned into kindred coin. . . . He had not only got Marmion off his hands at this time, and so cancelled his debt with Constable in a way very greatly to that publisher's satisfaction, the long labour of the Dryden was also completed. It was actually published in London before the end of April, and already his part was over, as were the pleasant receipts of forty guineas per volume, which had become due to him eighteen times in the last two years.

        He was looking round for new worlds to conquer, and planning some intervening relaxation when the Court Session should end, and he could escape to the active leisure of Ashestiel, when, on returning from Court one midday to his study in the North George Street house, he found his copy of the April number of the Edinburgh Review on his desk, with this letter:

"Dear Scott,

        If I did not give you credit for more magnanimity than other of your irritable tribe, I should scarcely venture to put this into your hands. As it is, I do it with no little solicitude, and earnestly hope that it will make no difference in the friendship which has hitherto subsisted between us. I have spoken of your poem exactly as I think, and though I cannot reasonably suppose that you will be pleased with everything I have said, it would mortify me very severely to believe I had given you pain. If you have any amity left for me, you will not delay very long to tell me so. In the meantime, I am very sincerely yours, - F. Jeffrey."

        Mr. Jeffrey had remembered that he had a dinner engagement at the Scotts that evening, and had sufficient prudence or good manners to inform his host before coming of the nature of the article he had written. It was an attack on Marmion. Appearing in the Review to which Scott was a regular contributor, and from the editor's own pen, it was an extraordinary article. Lockhart thinks that it was honestly written, and, to an extent, he may have been right. He says that Jeffrey, feeling as he did, acquitted himself on this occasion in a manner highly credible to his "courageous sense of duty". In a limited sense, that may be true too. It was Jeffrey's nature to attack, to cavil. He was always prodigal of censure, but would measure praise with a meaner hand. Prejudice is not dishonesty, though they may arrive at the same place. Yet there are things in the review which are barely sane. Scott is actually accused of neglecting Scottish feeling and characters. It would be a waste of words to discuss such a proposition as that.

        Scott read the letter. He read the article. He wrote a short note to Jeffrey, and sent it to him by hand. He was quite right to say what he thought, though Scott hoped the booksellers wouldn't agree. He was to come to dinner, and put it out of his mind.

        Scott showed in sign that he cared. Probably he didn't. He was conscious of being sated with praise. He was of deliberate watchfulness at this time, lest he should lose his sense of proportion from this cause. He received Jeffrey with his usual cordiality. The position is different today. No-one now but a fool absolute could be conceited about writing a best-seller of any kind. If he should feel in danger of such an emotion, he would read a best-seller by another author, and understand what they are. But if Scott didn't care, Mrs. Scott felt differently. She was no more than coldly polite. She would not be rude to a guest, but her usual laughter was stilled. When she wished Mr. Jeffrey good-night, she made one cryptic reference. She said that she had heard that he had abused her husband in the Review . . . she hoped Mr. Constable had paid him well for writing the article.

        It was one of those remarks which have no obvious meaning, but which provoke thought. Constable had paid Scott very well for the poem. He paid Jeffrey's salary. There was comedy in the fact that he should be paying him to attack the poem, and possibly reducing its sales. Mrs. Scott's remark shows not only that she was more sensitive to any attack on her husband than he was himself: it shows that she saw how significant the incident was of that deep division which underlay the surface friendship which brought Jeffrey so frequently to the North Castle Street dinner-table.

        She might not share all her husband's enthusiasms. There might be some with which she was barely in sympathy. She was a French refugee, who had found asylum in England, and, for a husband, perhaps the greatest Scotsman of any time. As it has become fashionable with many to disparage Scott's poetry, so it has become fashionable to disparage his wife with indifferent, halting praise. But her pride in him, and her passionate loyalty, stand out too clearly to be ignored.

        The April number of the Review went on to London. A copy came, in due course, to the desk of Mr. John Murray, the London publisher who had ventured his money in a share of Marmion. He read that attack on the poem in Constable's own periodical with a puzzled wonder. He turned the pages to read one of those defeatist articles which were so alien from Scott's politics and temperament. He wondered thoughtfully how long the connection could last. . . .

        The attack on Marmion led to no immediate breach. Scott made it no cause of quarrel. With his usual magnanimity, he appeared to put it out of his mind. The danger of those who deal with such generosities is that they may suppose that they have no limit at all. The incident was, indeed, rather a symptom than a cause of division. But Scott's name ceased to appear on the cover of the Edinburgh Review. He offered Jeffrey no more articles, being, doubtless, sufficiently busy in other ways.

        What was Jeffrey's antipathy to Marmion, which broke out in this unmeasured way? Perhaps we need go no further than the introduction to the first canto to understand it, for in those two hundred and fifty lines Scott includes professions of his own literary and political faiths to which Jeffrey would react coldly, or with an active hostility.

        It is true that they contain the passage concerning Fox, who was the just-dead hero of the party to which Jeffrey gave his support, but even that would be read with a very moderate satisfaction. Fox is praised for various virtues, but most of all because, 'when Austria bent and Prussia broke', he had not counselled surrender to the common foe. It was as though you were to praise Ramsey McDonald for having joined the National Government, and expect a Communist to be grateful.

        Then there were the lines on Pitt. He and Fox had both died during the previous year, and Scott's appeal for charity over the one grave might equally be applied to the other. But the nature of the praise he gave was a challenge to all those who saw the salvation of the land to lie, not in the shattering of the sinister continental power, but in the granting of a wider measure of internal freedom.

        They felt no thrill of admiration on being assured that Pitt,

      "when the frantic crowd amain
      Strained at subjection's bursting rein,
      O'er their wild mood full conquest gained,
      The pride he would not crush restrained,
      Showed their fierce zeal a worthier cause,
      And brought the freeman's arm to aid the freeman's laws."

        Or the suggestion that his fortitude had saved the land from the horrors of invasion, for which he deserved a universal gratitude while

      "on Britain's thousand plains
      One unpolluted church remains."

        Nor would Jeffrey respond very readily to Scott's creed as to the inspirations through which great poetry is written

      "Pure love, that scarce its passion tells,
      Mystery, half-veiled and half revealed,
      And Honour, with his spotless shield."

        He might have said that Alexander Pope wrote some (to his mind) excellent poetry without being overmuch impelled by any of these inspirational forces. . . .

        And the whole spirit of Marmion, apart from these introductory epistles, was alien from his natural sympathies. It was less his intellect than his character which impeded an intelligent appreciation.

        Marmion is a poem of action. To a superficial glance, it may show no more than a glitter of steel and a sheen of silk; but it has the spiritual quality that is dominant in all Scott's romances, whether in prose or verse. It is always implicit that it matters little what is achieved or obtained, but that what we are and how we act matter much. In fact, no-one in Marmion does anything worth boasting about, Marmion least of all. We see him overthrown through moral cowardice by a weaker man: we see him go into battle, and then "dragged from among the horses' feet" in a dying condition. We believe in his battle-courage and battle-wisdom simply because Scott tells us it was so, and he can tell such things in a convincing way.

        The central theme of the Lay was that opposition can be overthrown by a service rendered. That of Marmion is magnanimity toward an enemy by those who were most deeply wronged. That of the Lady of the Lake was to be a king's surrender of the woman he loved to a successful rival. That of Rokeby, that rivalry in lose need not overcome friendship. That of the Lord of the Isles, the self-sacrifice of Isabel ("Then by the cross the ring she placed"). That of the light-hearted Bridal of Triermain, the overcoming of the temptations "spread by avarice, lust and power". Harold the Dauntless failed mainly, and as far as it did fail, because there was no sufficient nobility of theme to hold Scott's mind in concentration upon it. He tired, feeling that it was all about nothing.

        He is at his best on a battlefield, not because men are taking lives, but because they are giving their own.

        It is impossible to say how much he infected others with the heroism of his own mood, through the years of national calamities during which these great poems were written, and the whole nation read them. But if we weigh the moral forces which held the heart of Britain steadfast through the unslackening strain of the greatest struggle she has ever known, the inspiration of him who was a truly national poet will not be least in the scale.

        Carlyle could see no edification in the poetry of Scott, and those who think that their lives should be preoccupied in the saving of their own souls may find that he has little to offer. Scott is not often a conscious teacher, or a conscious prophet. He simply directs our minds to such things as are worth observing. He interprets his own ideals. If we would be of his standard, we must not only have love to live, we must have strength to die. Particularly, we must have strength to die.

He shows us the dusk falling over the Flodden Field, where

      "The stubborn spearmen still made good
      Their dark, impenetrable wood,
      Each stepping where his comrade stood
        The instant that he fell,"

and we may be content that he shows us a good thing. Or we may like Mr. Jeffrey's counsels in the Edinburgh Review to surrender while we can still make terms, however ignoble they may be, and leave Napoleon in possession of a prostrate Europe, and ourselves in such freedom as he would be likely to allow us.

        We may like one or other of these - but not both.

        And if we would understand the political atmosphere of that time, we must dismiss from our minds any comparison with the war of a later century, when the tests of endurance and courage, however severely they may have fallen upon some individuals, never came upon the nation with any severity. Or if we compare at all, we must imagine what it would have been if the long battle-line of France had been broken through: if the Italian armies had been shattered on the Venetian plains: if the German flag had been flying over a captured Paris, and the Austrian over a surrendered Rome: if the Germans had added to their own the strength of the French and Italian fleets, and menaced us with the invasion of a war-hardened army which might be ten times the number of any opposition which we could muster against it, - if we make such comparisons, and remember how, in our own day, if the line of battle in France should appear to falter, our own politicians would falter too, we may understand something of the shadow that lay over the Britain of an earlier century: a shadow that grew as the years passed, till it seemed to many that it would never lift; and something also of the valour of those who governed during those perilous years, facing a world of enemies abroad, and disaffections at home, with a resolution that never broke.

        It was this extremity of national tension which both inspired and responded to the patriotic outburst in the Lay - "Lives there a man with soul so dead," and it is implicit in Marmion's defiance of the threatened Scottish invasion:

      "But Nottingham hath archers good,
      And Yorkshire men are stern of mood,
      Northumbrian prickers wild and rude.
      On Derby hills the paths are steep;
      In Ouse and Tyne the fords are deep;
      And many a banner will be torn,
      And many a knight to earth be borne,
      And many a sheaf of arrows spent,
      Ere Scotland's king shall cross the Trent."

        And it inspires the dignity of Marmion's reply to the scornful attitude of Douglas,

      "And first I tell thee, haughty peer,
      He who does England's message here,
      Although the meanest in her state,
      May well, proud Angus, be thy mate,"

        and it rises to intenser flame as it describes how "groom fought like noble, squire like knight," when the out-manoeuvred Scottish army refused to admit defeat.

        It explains the final plea for a merciful judgement over Marmion's nameless grave:

      "When thou shalt find the little hill,
      With thy heart commune, and be still.
      If ever, in temptation strong,
      Thou left'st the right path for the wrong;
      If every devious step thus trod
      Still led thee further from the road;
      Dread thou to speak presumptuous doom
      On noble Marmion's lowly tomb;
      But say: 'He died a gallant knight,
      With sword in hand for England's right.'"

        The plea is as old as Christianity: 'Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone'. But is there not a familiar sound in the concluding reflection? Was not the plea of war-service urged in the law-courts of our own times, even after peace had returned, and even for offences which were subsequently committed?

        The same consciousness of the war-atmosphere, and the same attitude toward it, are shown in the allusions to Edinburgh in the Epistle to George Ellis which introduces the fifth canto.

        There is more than a perfunctory patriotism in its comparison to the warlike chastity of Britomart, and the allusion to the 'dauntless voluntary line' of the regiment which Scott had done so much to gather for its defense.

        The advocates of peace at any price must have found the tone of Marmion a distasteful thing. . . .

        The Introductory epistles, apart from the first, do not merit any extended reference. Their poetic level is not high. The third, addressed to William Erskine, is interesting for its reminiscences of the author's own childhood, and concludes with an intimation to Lockhart's "monitor" that he preferred to write his poems in his own way rather than that which Erskine considered most admirable, and proposed to continue to do so. The decision is no less emphatic because it is conveyed with the politeness which publicity required.

        The sixth, written to Richard Heber amid the Christmas festivities of Mertoun House, after the main poem was finished, and this addition only needed to complete the structure, has the vivacity of the atmosphere in which it was composed, and contains a vision of an old-time Christmas which deserves quotation, in spite of its length, both because it gives a picture of such forgotten scenes which is never likely to be surpassed, either in prose or verse, and because it is informed by Scott's instinctively democratic sympathies, and explains why, at the period of his ultimate prosperity, and surrounded by those who were dependent upon it, he was said by one of his servants to treat them all as though they were his blood-relations.

      "And well our Christian sires of old
      Loved when the year its course had rolled,
      And brought blithe Christmas back again,
      With all his hospitable train.
      Domestic and religious rite
      Gave honour to the holy night:
      On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
      On Christmas Eve the mass was sung:
      That only night, in all the year,
      Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
      The damsel donn'd her kirtle sheen;
      The hall was dress'd with holly green;
      Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
      To gather in the mistletoe.
      Then open'd wide the Baron's hall
      To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
      Power laid his rod of rule aside,
      And Ceremony doff'd his pride.
      The heir, with roses in his shoes,
      That night might village partner choose;
      The Lord, underogating, share
      The vulgar game of 'post and pair'.
      All hail'd, with uncontroll'd delight,
      And general voice, the happy night
      That to the cottage, as the crown,
      Brought tidings of salvation down.

      The fire, with well-dried logs supplied?
      Went roaring up the chimney wide;
      The huge hall-table's oaken face,
      Scrubb'd till it shone, the day to grace,
      Bore then upon its massive board
      No mark to part the squire and lord.
      Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
      By old blue-coated serving-man;
      Then the grim boar's head frown'd on high,
      Crested with bays and rosemary.
      Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell,
      How, when, and where, the monster fell;
      What dogs before his death he tore,
      And all the baiting of the boar.

      The wassal round, in good brown bowls,
      Garnish'd with ribbons, blithely trowls.
      There the huge sirloin reek'd; hard by
      Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
      Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce,
      At such high tide, her savoury goose.
      Then came the merry maskers in,
      And carols roar'd with blithesome din;
      If unmelodious was the song,
      It was a hearty note, and strong.
      Who lists may in their mumming see
      Traces of ancient mystery;
      White shirts supplied the masquerade,
      And smutted cheeks the visors made;
      But, Oh! what maskers, richly dight,
      Can boast of bosoms half so light!
      England was merry England, when
      Old Christmas brought his sports again.
      'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
      'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
      A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
      The poor man's heart through half the year."

Chapter XXXVII.

        It may be convenient at this point to turn somewhat aside, and somewhat backward, to consider the position of Scott's partnership in the printing business, and the nature of the commercial association into which he had entered.

        While Lockhart allowed that James Ballantyne might have many excellent qualities, which he spasmodically attributed to him, his presentations both of him and his brother John are of the nature of caricatures rather than portraits, and it is always necessary to examine his statements very narrowly in any matters into which they intrude; and if these be verified, it is still necessary to maintain an attitude of caution toward his inferences therefrom.

        While he represents John Ballantyne as having been of an habitual financial imprudence, he is content to paint the elder brother as financially incompetent; indolent; extravagant; and indifferent, if not hostile, to exact accounting.

        The trustees of James Ballantyne, after his death, resenting these presentations, set up the proposition that James was not merely innocent of such faults, but that he had lost a prosperous business, and a lifetime's savings, even including his wife's fortune, which he had been too trustful to protect, through Scott's reckless extravagance, and the levity of his financial expedients.

        Lockhart retorted, not merely by re-asserting the truth of the picture he had already drawn, but with the suggestion that there was much more which might have been said to James Ballantyne's detriment, which he had suppressed in a spirit of kindly reticence. He said that, from the very commencement of the partnership, James had drawn all, and more than all, the business profits for his private use, and that it was a matter for amazement that Scott, who was a good business man in many ways and kept careful control and account of his personal expenditure? should have been so blindly trustful of his business partner. He did not confine himself to general assertion. He gave figures. With the partners' capital accounts actually before him, bearing the joint signatures of Walter Scott and James Ballantyne, he stated that 'between Whitsuntide 1805 and Martinmas 1807, it appears that Scott's drafts on the business came to £306. 4. 3 - James Ballantyne's to £3,966. 4.1!!!" The marks of exclamation are his, and as the total capital of the business was only a few thousand pounds, they would appear to be justified. Both the amounts and proportions of these drawings appear to show that both partners were guilty of an excess of folly, though of widely different varieties. If Scott allowed the business to be drained in this manner of all the money he invested, it would be hard to imagine any subsequent foolishness of which he might not be capable.

        The Ballantyne Trustees replied by giving Lockhart the lie direct regarding these figures. They made a new counter-charge of their own that Scott had lent money to the business at an exorbitant interest.

        The controversy is curious, because the charges on both sides, asserted with confidence, and often supported with explicit figures, were entirely baseless. They are broadly refuted by the facts that Scott gave James, with some clearly expressed qualifications and occasional admonitions, a continued confidence through many financial vicissitudes, and that James wrote of him after his death as having been his lifelong benefactor.

        But fortunately, on this point at least, we are not limited to a weighing of probabilities, and an inferential judgement. We have the material for a final analysis, which acquits both Scott and James Ballantyne with an equal completeness, and leaves only Lockhart and the Ballantyne Trustees with their reputations for good sense or accuracy severely damaged in the course of the controversy.

        It appears, in the first place, that when James made his migration to Edinburgh toward the end of 1802, bringing his plant with him, he raised fresh capital to the amount of £1,000, half of which was a loan from Scott, and the remainder was in the form of an overdraft from the Royal Bank of Scotland for which Scott, and the Rev. Robert Lundie of Kelso, became "cautioners," or, as we should say, guarantors.

        With this capital, James continued to finance a growing business until the early part of 1805, when, following the successful printing of the Lay, he approached Scott with the information that the orders he was receiving were beyond his capacity to execute without further assistance, and a partnership was arranged in consequence.

        The basis of the partnership is quite simple, and disposes finally of Lockhart's suggestion that the absence of a Balance Sheet indicated financial laxity on either side. The existing plant and stock, together with a house in Foulis Close, being James Ballantyne's property, were valued at £2,090. 0. 0. It was agreed that this should be his contribution to the partnership assets, and that the outstanding book-debts should remain his property. He was also to discharge the liabilities up to that date. Scott cancelled the promissory note for £500 which he held, which was now valued at £580, including something over two years' interest which had accumulated upon it, and advanced £1,500 in cash. In this way, his capital was made up to a total of £2,080, being approximately equal to that of James.

        On this basis, it was agreed that James should have one third of the profits as remuneration for his management services, and that the remainder should be divided equally, in accordance with the amounts of their partnership capital.

        It will be observed from these particulars that the business was commenced without liabilities of any kind: with plant and stock and other property of an agreed value of over £2,000, and with £1,500 cash in the bank.

        It may be observed also that Lockhart, in his first allusion to this partnership, was inaccurate in representing, as he does, that Scott invested at this time the bulk of his inheritance from his uncle's estate. He had sold Rosebank for 5,000 guineas. He benefited beyond this sum as a residuary legatee. He invested £1,500. There is a wide margin between these figures.

        Beyond this, it may be observed that the principles of financial equity had been somewhat strained in James's favour, to arrive at a basis which would provide adequate additional capital, and yet enable him to appear as an equal partner. His overdraft with the Royal Bank of Scotland was not brought into account, and remained his private liability, the Bank being satisfied with the guarantees which they held. The cancellation of the promissory note which Scott had been holding was not precisely what it appeared to be. Had James repaid the money in cash to Scott, as he was entitled to claim, and had Scott then invested it in the business, his own capital outlay would have been precisely the same, but there would have been £2,080 instead of £1,500 in the partnership bank account. The method of the adjustment was therefore equivalent to the gift of £290 by Scott to his new partner, and had he insisted upon this being dealt with by a more severely logical method, and to the Royal Bank overdraft, for which he was already jointly responsible, being brought into the capital account, James would not have been able to sustain his claim to an equal partnership. Neither Lockhart, nor the Ballantyne trustees, chasing red-herrings of each others' imaginations, appear to have appreciated this difference. But while it is certain that an impartial accountant, had it been left to his decision, would have arranged the figures in a way less satisfactory to James Ballantyne's interests, there can be no doubt from the clear grasp which Scott shows, in letters which are still extant, of far more complicated financial settlements, that he knew what he was doing, and acted with an intentional generosity.

        The position resulting was that if Scott, having an independent income, did not draw his third share of the profits from the business, his capital interest would continually increase, and Ballantyne could only remain on a level footing if, or so far as, he could keep his own personal expenditure within the limit of the third part of the profits which was his remuneration for his services as manager. This must depend primarily upon how large the profits would be; and he had therefore the utmost incentive both to make such profits, and to keep down his private expenditure, if he desired to maintain an equality of interest in the business. In theory, he could have insisted upon his partner drawing out his own share of profits, but in practice this would not happen. A business growing as rapidly as this one did would be in continual need of additional support, and it was no doubt a substantial relief that Scott did not require to draw heavily upon it.

        The circumstances being as they were, Lockhart's charge that James drew so exorbitantly during the first two-and-a-half years is an attack equally upon his honour and his business capacity. It is made worse by the fact that Scott, as we shall see later, was giving it additional financial support, and if it were true, it might be hard to decide which partner it convicted of the greater folly: the one who wasted the money, or the one who allowed him to do so, and went on filling the hole.

        The fact is that Lockhart's charge was false; and though it would do him injustice to suppose the falsehood deliberate, it is impossible to acquit him of the grossest carelessness; nor can we avoid the conclusion that, if the figures had appeared at a first glance to reflect upon Scott in the same way, he would have given them a second (which was all that was necessary) before founding similar conclusions upon them.

        It is of minor importance that the amount that he states was drawn by Scott during the period, £306. 4. 3., is inaccurate, though it must be corrected, for if we have figures at all they should be the right ones. Scott's capital account, as it was finally signed by both partners, shows that he drew these amounts -

    1805 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £ . . . s . . . d
    Oct. 10th . . . To Cash . . . . 20 . . . 0 . . . 0
    Nov. 8th. . . . . " . . " . . . . . .30 . . . 0 . . . 0

    May 13th . . . . " . . " . . . . . .50 . . . 0 . . . 0
    June-Nov. . . . . " . . " . . . . . 75 . . . 0 . . . 0
    Dec.-Mch. . . . . " . . " . . . . . 75 . . . 0 . . . 0
    Sept. . . . . . . . . " . . " . . . . .131 . . . 4 . . . 3
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ---------------------
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £381 . . . 4 . . . 3

        It will be seen that there is a discrepancy of £75, Lockhart having, apparently, made a hasty abstract, and overlooked one of the two £75 items.

        During the same period, on May 13th, 1806, Scott had invested a further sum of £1,000. The profit had been calculated half-yearly; his third share for the two-and-a-half years had amounted to a gross total of £1,142. 15. 1., and his capital interest in the business had risen to £3,702. 17. 6. The apparent discrepancy of £66. 13. 4. is one third of the salary of James's younger brother, John, who, as we shall see, was employed in the last year of the period with which we are dealing, under a bargain that two-thirds of his salary should be paid from James's share of the profits.

        Now for James. It will be remembered that he neither transferred the book-debts due to himself to the new partnership, nor did it undertake his prior liabilities, but, under a method which is most common in such circumstances, and of an obvious convenience, these book-debts were collected by the partnership business, and the liabilities were discharged through its bank account, the totals of such receipts and payments being set off against one another by the usual method in James Ballantyne's capital account. The total £3,966. 4. 1. which Lockhart gave as the amount which James drew out of the business during the period with which we are dealing includes the payment of the liabilities which were outstanding when the partnership commenced. It is true, and it is only fair to Lockhart to say, that the totals carried to James's capital account do not show these payments separately from his personal drawings, but it is a poor defense to an error of this nature and magnitude, in view of the fact that the account shows on the opposite side for May, 1805, a credit of £1,668. 9. 11. for book-debts collected up to that date, and entries for much smaller amounts, but of kindred character, occur during subsequent periods.

        The gratuitous charge brought by Lockhart against James Ballantyne that he drew improperly for his personal use, or any other cause, during the early years of the partnership, must be dismissed as groundless, and condemned as having been recklessly brought. The counter-charge made by the Trustees against Scott that he had loaned money to the business at extortionate interest will be found on examination to be equally baseless.

        We may observe, as the years passed and the business grew, that James Ballantyne was confronted by a double difficulty. He had to ask Scott to increase his capital investment, and he had to endeavour to raise his own to a similar figure, so that his claim to a full two-thirds of the profits should not be jeopardised. Looking ahead, we find that on the 13th December, 1809, the partners met and signed a joint memorandum, the substance of which was that Ballantyne agreed that he would draw in future £900 annually, and Scott agreed that he would draw £450, and they mutually agreed that whatever profit there should be beyond these sums should be added to the business capital. At this time it was agreed that Scott's partnership capital amounted to £3,842. 9. 8., and that James's was so closely similar that they could be accepted in future as identical figures. How had this equality been reached? In the first place, the profits were good. They were now from £1,500 to £2,000 a year. In the second, Scott had somewhat increased his drawings and had received £700 during the last annual period with which they were dealing. In the third, it was due to the method of bookkeeping which had been applied to additional capital which had been brought into the business from various sources.

        Scott had found £2,000. Of this, £800 had been his own money, and £1,200 had been lent by his elder brother, Captain John Scott. It was agreed that this £2,000 should not be added to Scott's capital account, but should be credited with interest at the rate of 15% per annum.

        James had also obtained further capital from among his own friends. There was £500 from Mr. Creech, £500 from Miss Mary Bruce, and £600 from his brother, Alexander Ballantyne. These monies were not treated by the same method that was applied to the extra capital supplied by or through Walter Scott. They were added to James Ballantyne's capital, the origin of the sums being frankly stated in the ledger, but the transactions being treated as monies personally lent to James, and re-lent by him to the firm.

        The effect of this method was that the firm was not properly responsible for the interest due to the lenders of these sums, for which James had to provide out of the profits which he drew, (as he was still doing for the £500 which had been advanced to him by the Royal Bank), whereas an agreed 15% interest - £300 - was charged upon the profits before they were allocated to the partners on account of the £2,000 which had been found by Walter Scott and his brother.

        It was this difference of method, and the rate of interest agreed, which caused Ballantyne's Trustees to retort to Lockhart's attacks that Scott had acted harshly in his financial transactions with the firm. There was ignorance of accountancy and lack of expert advice on both sides of the controversy, and a common folly of supposition that they could do good to their own side by discrediting the other, which was the actual reverse of the truth, and for which attitude Lockhart was initially responsible.

        There is a passage in his first reply to the Ballantyne Trustees, which explains, though it does not justify, the attitude he adopted:

        "Had the reader been left to take his ideas of these men from the eloquence of epitaphs - to conceive of them as having been capitalists instead of penniless adventurers - men regularly and fitly trained for the calling in which they were employed by Scott, in place of being the one and the other entirely unacquainted with the prime requisites for success in such callings - men exact and diligent in their proper business, careful and moderate in their personal expenditure, instead of the reverse; had such hallucinations been left undisturbed, where was the clue of extraction from the mysterious labyrinth of Sir Walter's fatal entanglements in commerce? It was necessary, in truth and justice, to show, - not that he was without blame in the conduct of his pecuniary affairs - (I surely made no such ridiculous attempt) - but that he could not have been ruined by commerce, had his partners been good men of business. It was necessary to show that he was in the main the victim of his blind overconfidence in the management of the two Ballantynes. In order to show how excessive was the kindness that prompted such overconfidence, it was necessary to bring out the follies and foibles, as well as the better qualities of the men."

        This is an example of how a good case may be ruined by bad advocacy, for it is evident that the attempt to represent James Ballantyne as a 'penniless adventurer,' or even as a man without ordinary business abilities, will not survive examination, and if even a partial defence of Scott's business or financial activities must depend upon such premises being established, it is no better than a lost cause. In fact, the 'clue of extrication' does not primarily concern the character of the Ballantynes, in his relations with whom Scott was a dominant rather than a dominated partner, nor should a biographer assume, in advance of examination, as Lockhart evidently did, that it must be 'ridiculous' to suppose the possibility that a man who loses money should not be blamed.

        The bad advocacy was not all on one side. The Ballantyne Trustees could have made out a much simpler and stronger case in James Ballantyne's defence if they had avoided the random counter-attacks upon Scott's character and business methods which were natural enough under the provocation they had received, but which sustain examination no better than those which had aroused their wrath.

        The capital arrangements which they attacked show no more than a natural effort on the part of James Ballantyne to maintain his own interest in the business on an equality with that of his partner, and a generous willingness on the part of Scott to facilitate this position.

        The gathering of capital from various sources for the assistance of a growing business was done in the manner which was customary at the time, before the principle of limited liability had been legally recognised, and we may best appreciate the equities of the position if we compare it with that which would almost certainly have developed under similar circumstances today.

        Assuming that the business had been registered as a limited company when James came to Edinburgh, to enable him to obtain from Scott and others the capital which he required; that the same investments had been made subsequently by all parties; that he had received the same remuneration as managing director that he drew under that heading from the partnership profits; and accepting the total capital figure which was agreed over the signatures of Walter Scott and James Ballantyne on Dec. 13th, 1809, the Shareholders' Register would have shown the following holdings:

      Walter Scott . . . . . . . 4650
      John Scott . . . . . . . . 1200
      James Ballantyne . . . 2250
      Alexander Ballantyne 600
      William Creech . . . . . 500
      Mary Bruce . . . . . . . . 500
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . --------
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9700

        The above position is subject to some more or less counterbalancing qualifications, an analysis of which will show that any differences would almost certainly have been to James Ballantyne's disadvantage. These are (a) the Company might have taken over the overdraft at the Royal Bank of Scotland, in which case his shareholding would have been £500 less than is shown above, (b) he would probably have received a progressive salary as Managing Director, which might or might not have exceeded the proportion of profits which he drew under this heading, but (c) he would not have been receiving so much in the final division of profits, out of which the capital holding shown above was sustained through the intervening years. Finally, part of the capital might have been invested in the form of debentures or preference shares, at fixed rates of interest, which would have been to the relative advantage of James Ballantyne and other ordinary shareholders while the business showed good profits. But, subject to these minor qualifications, the position would have been substantially as is shown above. The profit for the year ending September 29th, 1809, after providing for the management remuneration, but before deducting the interest credited to the Scott family, was £1,400. 3. 4. which is equal to 14.5% upon the invested capital. This amount, whether drawn in dividend, or left in the business, would have been the property of the shareholders in proportion to the amount of their holdings, so that John Scott would have benefited to almost exactly the same percentage, with the important difference that he would have had a proprietary interest in the business, and that, instead of Ballantyne remaining an equal partner, he would have been in the position of holding less than a quarter of the capital, and, even if he had had the undivided support of the shareholders whom he had introduced, they could still have been outvoted by Walter Scott alone, even without his brother's support.

        Scott had, in fact, by 1809, a preponderating financial stake in the business, and the arrangements made show that he refrained from emphasising this position to his partner's detriment.

        It is due to James Ballantyne to notice also that during the preceding four years he must have lived within the limits of the two-thirds profit which he received, out of which he had also provided whatever rate of interest he had undertaken to pay to William Creech, Miss Bruce, and his brother, as these successive investments were received, together with the interest upon the £500 overdraft which remained in his own name; for the amount of his capital, after all deductions had been made, remained somewhat larger than at the commencement of the partnership.

        It has seemed desirable to state these facts in careful detail, because of the reckless nature of Lockhart's allegation that James Ballantyne had wasted in personal extravagance the capital which Scott provided, which was made with these figures before him. It must have been from James's capital account that he abstracted the figure of £3,966. 4. 11. which he used to support the charge, and it seems to be no more than a fair conclusion that his evidence is unworthy of acceptance on any financial question, unless it can be confirmed from independent sources.

        The allegation that James was a 'penniless adventurer' doubtless seemed a more serious one to Lockhart's mind than Scott would have recognised it to be, and it is obviously less serious than that of wastefulness when the control of capital came into his hands, but, serious or not, it is of a demonstrable falsity. A close analysis shows that he must have been substantially solvent when he left Kelso, and came to Edinburgh at Scott's urgent suggestion. He had done work at his Kelso press which was the admiration of London publishers, and which justified the removal. His character and reputation were such that a prominent Kelso resident was prepared to guarantee his bank account at that time. The business which he established in Edinburgh, with Scott's assistance, was consistently profitable during the period, 1802-9, with which we are now dealing.

        There is not a shred of evidence that Scott and James Ballantyne had a word of difference, or that either gave the other cause of complaint during all these years. Long afterwards, when misfortune had done its utmost to part them, Scott still wrote and spoke of James Ballantyne as of a valued and trusted friend. After his death, James wrote of him as his "dear friend and benefactor" toward whom his emotions had been to the last those of "respect and love".

        Lockhart thought he did service to Scott by making proofless assertion that during these early years James Ballantyne had been robbing him by what would have been an almost crazy scale of extravagance, and that Scott had shown himself to be a blindly confident fool; to which we have seen that Ballantyne's Trustees retorted with counter-charges of a similar quality.

        'Save me from my friends,' might be a common cry from Dryburgh Abbey, and from a humbler grave.

Chapter XXXVIII.

        Enter John Ballantyne. He was a younger brother of James. He had been in London, but returned to Kelso in 1795, when his father took him into partnership. He married in 1797, after which his father transferred the tailoring branch of the Kelso business entirely to him. In 1805 he closed this business and migrated to Edinburgh, where his brother gave him a situation as bookkeeper, with Scott's consent, at a salary of £200 per annum. So far, the facts are agreed.

        As to how he came to Edinburgh, Lockhart's first account is this:

        "John Ballantyne a younger brother of Scott's school-fellow, was originally destined for the paternal trade of a merchant - (that is to say a dealer in everything from fine broadcloth to children's tops) - at Kelso. The father seems to have sent him when very young to London, where, whatever else he may have done in the way of professional training, he spent some time in the banking-house of Messrs. Currie. On returning to Kelso, however, the 'department' which more peculiarly devolved upon him was the tailoring one. His personal habits had not been improved by his brief sojourn in the Great City, and the business, in consequence (by his own statement) of the irregularity of his life, gradually melted to nothing in his hands. Early in 1805, his goods were sold off, and barely sufficed to pay his debts. The worthy old couple found refuge with their ever affectionate eldest son, who provided his father with some little occupation (real or nominal) about the printing office; and thus John himself again quitted his native place under circumstances which, as I shall show in the sequel, had left a deep and painful trace even upon that volatile mind. He had, however, some taste, and he at least fancied himself to have some talent for literature; and the rise of his brother, who also had met with no success in his original profession, was before him. He had acquired in London great apparent dexterity in book-keeping and accounts. He was married by this time; and it might naturally be hoped that with the severe lessons of the past, he would now apply sedulously to any duty that might be entrusted to him. The concern in the Canongate was a growing one, and James Ballantyne's somewhat indolent habits were already severely tried by its management. The Company offered John a salary of £200 a year as clerk, and the destitute ex-merchant was too happy to accept the proposal.

        "James had serious deficiencies as a man of business, and John was not likely to supply them. A more reckless, thoughtless, improvident adventurer never rushed into the serious responsibilities of commerce; but his cleverness, his vivacity, his unaffected zeal, his gay fancy always seeing the light side of everything, his imperturbable good-humour, and buoyant elasticity of spirits, made and kept him such a favourite, that I believed Scott would as soon have ordered his dog to be hanged, as harboured, in his darkest hour of perplexity, the least thought of discarding 'jocund Johnny'."

        The Trustees of James Ballantyne, though mainly concerned with the reputation of the elder brother, disputed the accuracy of this statement in numerous particulars: Regarding the position of the parents, and the circumstances under which John came to Edinburgh, they gave Lockhart the lie direct. They said that John did not arrive in Edinburgh in a destitute condition, nor was it true that his goods had ever been 'sold off'. They said that he disposed of his Kelso business deliberately, after it had been arranged that he should occupy the position of book-keeper in Edinburgh, and went there to take up an appointment which he had already received.

        It is fair to notice that most of Lockhart's statements in the above quotation are of a nature which, after the lapse of a quarter of a century, it would be impossible to refute. Who could disprove (or how could Lockhart have known?) that James had been 'rather indolent' at that remote period? But the points on which he was challenged were capable of some verification. Being asked to justify them, he made this reply:

        "The Pamphleteers speak of the father of the Ballantynes as a man 'in easy if not affluent circumstances'. At some period of his life he may have been so, with reference to the scale of things at such a place as Kelso, and his station there. His shop was one of a kind still common in little country towns - the keeper of such a shop is vulgarly styled a 'Johnny Allthings'.

        "The second son (Rigdumfunidos) was on his return from London 'entrusted', says the pamphlet, with one department of the business. This 'department' was the tailoring one - and I have been told that Rigdum was considered as rather an expert snip among the Brummells and D'Orsays of Kelso.

        . . . I inferred - from John's language about his 'goods and furniture with difficulty paying his debts' - that at the time he was 'left penniless', the shop at Kelso was shut up altogether, and that, as happens almost always in similar cases in Scotland, the 'goods' etc., were disposed of by auction. The Pamphleteers may or may not be right in contradicting me upon these particulars - but of what consequence are they?"

        Perhaps they were not of much consequence, but it is a poor defence coming from the man who thought them to be sufficiently so to "infer", and then write them down as facts, with the evident intention of disparaging the man of whom he wrote. Even when convicted of something approaching invention, he has not the grace to apologise. He endeavours to turn the point of the attack by emphasising that John had been a tailor, - even that he had had the reputation of being a good tailor is the occasion of a sneer.

        The name 'Rigdumfunidos' was given by Scott to John Ballantyne in a spirit of good-humoured intimacy: it is repeatedly used by Lockhart in one of sustained contempt.

        He appears to suggest that you cannot libel a tailor, - not to matter, that is. He had been painting a picture of Sir Walter Scott. If John Ballantyne could be a useful figure in the background, should he not be of any colour which the picture required?

        There remain a number of allegations in the first-quoted paragraph which may be true or false, and are beyond testing; but what claim has Lockhart to be believed, as a result of examining statements which can be verified?

        It is a fact, of whatever significance, that John lent £300 to the firm shortly after the date of his arrival in Edinburgh.

        Lockhart is discredited as a biased and inaccurate witness, impulsed on his own confession by a curious delusion that it was to the benefit of Scott's reputation to discredit those whom he trusted in a lifelong business association. It does not logically follow that the Ballantynes were free from human frailties or human faults. We have to ask Lockhart to stand down from the witness-box, and judge the panorama of events as it unfolds before us, with unprejudiced minds.

Chapter XXXIX.

        In the spring of 1808, the plant of the Border Press - substantially increased since the day when James carted his presses to Edinburgh - was working at its utmost capacity to meet Constable's orders for Marmion, while fulfilling the requirements of its other customers. James was "rather indolently"? managing this busy and successful business, and maintaining his reputation for beautiful and accurate work. He may have sat too much in his own office, giving more attention to the care of his proof-correcting, and the style of his bindings, and less to the oversight of his work-people, than a man of meaner or less artistic temperament would have been likely to do. But to suggest that he neglected these requirements of the business he had built up would go beyond the evidence or the probabilities. He liked a good meal when he got home at night. He showed some tendency to increase his weight.

        John, a small alert man, whom no-one would ever accuse of indolence, was dealing with the accounts, with the knowledge of finance and bookkeeping which he was said to have acquired in London.

        Scott was working, as even he may never have worked before. The London booksellers - the two in Albemarle Street, Murray and Miller, in particular, and Murray most of all - were competing eagerly for his editorial services, and he had taken on a quantity of work suggestive of an audacity of enterprise outweighing judgement, but that, as we look back, we see that he had not overestimated his own capacity. He was editing three volumes of the Sadler State Papers: he was editing a huge accumulation of the Somers Tracts - a labour of four years and thirteen ponderous volumes, which Ballantyne was already commencing to print as they were prepared for his hands. He had undertaken with Murray to complete in its original style a novel (Strutt's Queeny-hoo Hall) which the author's death had left unfinished.

        Also, for Constable, he was editing Carleton's Memoirs of the War of the Spanish Succession, and the Memoirs of Robert Cary. He was still friendly with the Edinburgh publisher, but he did not take him into his confidence as to his general undertakings or plans.

        Constable went up to London himself to convoy the second delivery of Marmion, and superintend its distribution. Doubtless, he had other business there. Naturally, he talked to Murray and Miller, his partners in the Marmion venture. He learnt the extent to which they were employing Scott's energies, which he had not previously guessed. He went back to Edinburgh a frightened man.

        Constable at this time appears to have felt that he had a first claim upon Scott's output, for no reason that is easy to discover, unless it were that the circumstances under which he made the advance on Marmion placed Scott under an obligation to him. If so, it would be the kind of plea which Scott would be very quick to recognise, even though inclination might pull in other directions. Now Constable felt that it was no use to grumble at what was already fixed up: he must find something to occupy Scott's time in earnest. He knew that he had talked of a new edition of Swift as a congenial enterprise. He went back and made a munificent offer. Scott was to edit Swift's complete works in the style in which he had done the Dryden volumes for Miller, but the remuneration was to be increased. Sixty guineas per volume. Fifteen hundred for the complete work. Scott signed the contract with a light heart. It was a happy, strenuous time.

        Early in May, letters were going out right and left from Ashestiel soliciting material for the life of Swift, and the editing of his works. The new enterprise was started with as much energy as though other occupations did not exist. It is hard to visualise the study at Ashestiel, to which the dogs came, and to which the four children were always licensed intruders, and which appeared so neatly ordered to other visitors. It must have had a crowded appearance at this period. But Scott had an extraordinary capacity for organisation and method. He made a rule at this time that every letter he received should have a reply on the same day, unless the nature of its contents should render this impracticable, and he held to this till health and energy failed. It was already no light burden, for strangers wrote from all parts of the country: admiring letters on which he must pay postage and answer courteously: letters for advice and guidance on literary matters which he would not refuse; begging letters in endless variety which had suitable but generous responses: letters enclosing manuscripts (on which the postage would be heavy at that time) which he was expected to read, and to advise on their publication. He sent some of these to Constable, and more that were brought to him by needy authors in person, for which Constable was less than grateful. He said that he cared more for Scott's own bairns than for his adopted children.

        There is another direction for which some credit may be given for the ordered state of the study and the smoothness of Scott's life in this and subsequent years of over-strenuous labours. He was not one to pose, or to treat his work as of a portentous seriousness, as lesser artists may be inclined to do. He would not be late for meals, and is said to have been the easiest author with which to live of which there is any record for comparison. But Charlotte was always near, with a loving uninterfering watchfulness. It was only during her last illness, many years later, that he realised that a study fire does not put on its own coal.

        It may have been owing to the extent and variety of the editorial work he had undertaken that he appears to have spent this summer almost entirely at home, but there was a constant succession of visitors, who found him to be of an apparent leisure, at least after the midday meal, and ready for the active outdoor sports and expeditions for which the literary labours of the earlier day seem to have left him in a condition of undiminished vitality.

        Joanna Baillie came from London to spend a short holiday at Ashestiel, and to talk to Sophia of the day when, if her parents would bring her with them, she would show her the sights of London. Sophia was eight now, and had learnt to ride out with her father, and to get as few bruises as possibly when tumbling off a mountain pony. All the children were taught to ride as soon as their walking lessons were over. Scott, who found miraculous leisure for everything, gave much time to his children. He gained the understanding and confidence which is so difficult between one generation and another, and which so many parents fail to reach. He seemed never to lack time to talk with them, or to join their games. He ruled them with a gentle firmness, and a word of displeasure meant more than a blow would have done in many households of that period. He would never hear of boarding schools. A child's place should be with its own parents, in its own home. He thought conduct even more important than education. Hardihood must be learnt, at whatever risk.

        He appears, at this time, to have had only one intolerance, which his width of understanding, and sympathy with the weaknesses of human nature, did not enable him to overcome. He could not endure cowardice, though a man might fall short in almost any other way, and still ask for his aid. His brother Tom's financial disaster did not weaken the bond of friendship between them. Rather he exerted himself on his behalf as though those difficulties were his own. His brother Daniel had disgraced the family name and strained its patience in various ways before Scott used his friendship with George Ellis to get him an appointment on a Jamaican estate. But Daniel failed to act with ordinary courage in some emergency of disorder, and came home, having been dismissed with contempt. He came home broken with dissipation, and his mother took him in and nursed him till he died, as he did soon after this date. She had had dead babies enough, but she had to learn that there may be worse sorrows for motherhood than an infant's grave. She must do what she could for the child she bore, but Walter would not forgive this last episode. He would not see Daniel again while he was alive. He would not go to his funeral when he died. He would not wear mourning for him, though he usually conformed to that ugly custom. Many years afterwards, he expressed a deep regret for this attitude. He wrote the Fair Maid of Perth to illustrate his realisation that even cowardice may be uncontrollable. Daniel left a child, illegitimate and derelict, when he died. His mother took it into her home, and Scott showed it kindness from the first, and provided for it subsequently as though it had been his own.

        It was during this summer that he established another enduring friendship of momentous consequences - that with John Morritt, of Rokeby. Mr. Morritt came on a visit to Edinburgh, travelling further north. He was a friend of the Hamiltons. He knew George Ellis. He had introductions to Scott, who met him in Edinburgh. There was an immediate and mutual liking. Scott gave him the time which he seemed always to possess in such miraculous quantities. He took him (walking) to see his friends at Dalkeith. He turned aside to see how the new tenants were keeping the cottage at Lasswade. He told Morritt of the happiness of those first married years of limited income and many activities, which had been spent in the earlier home. He recalled how he had made the dining-table with his own hands.

        Morritt had no time then to visit Ashestiel, thirty miles to the south, but promised to do so on his return journey, which in the later summer, he did.

        He retained vivid memories of that visit. He spent a happy week with a man of great literary fame who knew that life is more important than literature. He was shown Melrose, and St. Mary's Loch, in the usual routine. He observed that Scott was the "cherished friend and kind neighbour" of all the inhabitants of the district. He was taken "to dance with Border lasses on a barn floor" at Farmer Laidlaw's harvest-home. This Laidlaw was a (distant) kinsman of Scott's friend of that name. His farm stretched up to the garden at Ashestiel, separated only by the gorge and stream that bounded the eastern side. Morritt observed Scott's entrance to this convivial gathering. He says: "His wife and happy young family were clustered round him, and the cordiality of his reception would have unbent a misanthrope."

        His visit extended over Sunday, and he had the different experience of seeing Scott read prayers at the morning service, which he held in his own drawing-room. The parish church was eight miles away. Roads were rough in those days. Scott let it be known that all who would could attend on these occasions. Presbyterian neighbours gradually overcame their antipathy to the English prayer-book till the "parlour-chapel" was inconveniently crowded.

        After the morning prayers, it was customary on Sundays for the whole family to go walking together at this time of year, and picnic in the summer woods. The dogs came, but no-one might ride, for Scott had made it a strict rule that all domestic animals must have a day of rest. In other ways, he drove the Scottish customs of Sabbath observance with a light rein, remembering the severity of his own childhood experiences, and the conclusion he had formed that "it did none of us any good".

        There were happy days in this summer of 1808, and while they passed, John Murray, in London, had been thinking hard.

Chapter XL.

        John Murray had a bold plan. He had dreamed for some time that it might be possible to establish a periodical which would rival the Edinburgh Review, and now the idea took shape. He had decided that, if he could obtain Scott's support, it would be a practicable scheme. He noticed that Scott had ceased to contribute to Constable's magazine. He remembered that extraordinary attack on the Marmion which it had contained, even while Constable and he had been busy marketing the poem. He read articles in it clamouring for peace at any price, exalting the prowess of the French armies as of an invincible quality, and threatening revolution in England if the war should continue. What would Scott think when he read them? Murray saw much, and he guessed more.

        Having resolved to open the campaign, he acted with his characteristic caution and circumspection. He decided that Scott could best be approached through the Ballantyne connection. He wrote to James, discussing printing orders. His action raises additional doubt as to whether Scott's interest in the firm was the close secret that Lockhart represents it to have been. Anyway, that is what Murray did, and James rose to the bait.

        Murray conducted his approach with skill. Having suggested business of sufficient importance to justify an interview, it would have been natural for James to come to London, which he was evidently willing to do. But that would not have suited Murray at all. He wanted to meet Scott. Yet he would not go to Edinburgh, nor disclose his plans, till he was better acquainted with the position. Printer and publisher agreed to meet each other midway. They chose Ferrybridge in South Yorkshire, where the coaching-road crossed the Aire, and, when they met, Mr. Murray mentioned a project that he had in mind of a new Novelist's Library of a comprehensive kind, such as would be dear to any printer's heart. They discussed paper and types. But, beyond that, Murray kept his thoughts to himself. He said nothing of the Quarterly Review that he had in mind. He let James Ballantyne talk, drawing him out. James may have been no less circumspect than he, though he may have talked more. He made no secret of his opinion that Scott was becoming less friendly with Constable. It was Constable and Hunter now, and Scott and Hunter had exchanged angry words. He believed that Scott would need little persuasion to set up a publishing house in Edinburgh in competition with Constable, particularly if he had a good connection in London (such as Murray would be). What did Mr. Murray think of that? Mr. Murray was not discouraging. Ballantyne became detailed. He mentioned Scott's idea of an Edinburgh Annual Register, which he had suggested when the Border Press was first set up. Constable had discouraged) but Scott had always persisted in that idea. He hinted that Scott was already thinking of another poem in the Marmion style. There was the possibility of a novel. . . . Did not Mr. Murray think that it might be worth while to come to Edinburgh, and talk things over there? Mr. Murray did. They went back together.

        Murray arrived in Edinburgh in October. The autumn term had begun, and the Clerk of Session had left Ashestiel for his home in North Castle Street. Scott received him with cordiality. Murray talked of the Edinburgh Review, and Scott told him not only that he had ceased to contribute to it, but that he regarded an article in the current number with so much dislike that he had decided to cancel his subscription. During the following month, Constable received a note from Scott with this intimation: "The Edinburgh Review had become such as to render it impossible for me to contribute to it. - Now, it is such as I can no longer continue to receive or read it." Constable must have received this clear though ungrammatical letter with more annoyance than surprise. He scrawled "Stop!!!" against the name of Walter Scott on the subscribers' register.

        Murray went back to London having given James Ballantyne, in addition to the prospect of substantial orders, a promise that if a publishing business should be started in competition with Constable he would act as its London agent. He had received a promise from Scott to give his support to the projected quarterly, and to enlist the aid of George Ellis, Morritt, Heber, and other literary friends of their political sympathies.

        Rumours of the projected competition must have reached Constable, and Scott's part in the matter may have become known to him. In any event, he could not doubt that Murray would solicit, and would receive his support.

        Good relations must have been strained to breaking-point by this development, under whatever circumstances, but the actual breach came through the intervention of Constable's partner. Mr. Hunter was an almost fanatical Whig; and Scott's politics were particularly obnoxious to him. He was also a competent business man. He had introduced capital to Constable's business, and valuable connections. He meant to make it pay. He examined the Scott contract relating to Swift with a critical and disapproving eye. There was no time-limit. He decided that it was a most unsatisfactory document.

        But after reflection he reached the conclusion that, while it imposed no time-limit during which the work must be completed, there was an implied obligation that Scott would not take on any further contracts of the same kind in the meantime. He saw Scott, handling the situation in a firm and businesslike manner, to which he found that the author did not respond in the right way. He appears to have had more than one interview, ending without cordiality on either side. The work was, in fact, making good progress, but Scott was never easy to drive, and his courtesy of manner may have misled Mr. Hunter as to the nature of the man with whom he was dealing. In any case, the moment was inopportune. On Jan. 2nd, 1809, Scott wrote a formal letter to Constable & Co., offering to cancel the deed relating to the Swift edition, if they thought on reflection that they had committed themselves too hastily.

        Constable was in a state of consternation at this development, but there is pride as well as anger in his reply. He would not cancel the contract. Scott had attached too much importance to an "unguarded expression". He suggested that 'the misrepresentations of interested persons' were keeping them apart.

        Lockhart thinks, and may be right, that this is an allusion to John Ballantyne, but, even if so, it may not have been a well-founded imputation.

        Scott's reply speaks for itself.

12th Jan. 1809.


        To resume for the last time the disagreeable subject of our difference, I must remind you of what I told Mr. Constable personally, that no single unguarded expression, much less the misrepresentation of any person whatever, would have influenced me to quarrel with any of my friends. But if Mr. Hunter will take the trouble to recollect the general opinion he has expressed of my undertakings, and of my ability to execute them, upon many occasions during the last few months and his whole conduct in the bargain about Swift, I think he ought to be the last to wish his interest compromised on my account.

        Apart from the Swift, which went on to completion in due course, the break was now absolute, and had an appearance of finality. From the wording of the letters above quoted, it is clear that Scott had a personal interview with Constable between their dates, and the nature of some of the differences which had accumulated to part them is shown in a letter written to Miss Seward at Lichfield a couple of months later.

        Miss Anne Seward was a poetess whose reputation has not survived. She had more words than ideas, and her feelings were not controlled by an adequate intelligence. But she was sentimentally fluent, took herself seriously, and had established her own valuation in many minds. She had a voluminous correspondence with those of literary prominence in her own time. She had written effusively admiring letters to Scott from the date of the publication of the Border Minstrelsy. They were letters of the kind that he intensely disliked, but he had replied with politeness. When he had been returning from London in March 1807 - two years earlier - she had prevailed upon him to travel through Lichfield, and pay her a call.

        After that, she wrote to Cary, telling him inter alia that the "proudest boast of the Caledonian muse" had expressed an absurd opinion about the Divine Comedy, which we may believe if we will.

        Now, in March 1809, Scott wrote to her in these terms:

        "Constable, like many other folks who learn to undervalue the means by which they have risen, has behaved, or rather suffered his partner to behave very uncivilly towards me. But they may both live to know that they should not have kicked down the ladder till they were sure of their footing. The very last time I spoke to him on business was about your poems. I understood him to decline your terms; but I had neither influence to change his opinion, nor inclination to interfere with his resolution. He is a very enterprising, and I believe a thoroughly honest man, but his vanity sometimes overpowers his discretion."

        In most of these remarks Scott is simply expressing his own feelings. They have no direct relation to the publication of Miss Seward's poems, but it is clear that she had sent them to Scott with a request that he would use his influence with Constable to publish them, and that Constable was not grateful for the opportunity. It is a position in which we can sympathise with both men - and with the lady also. But that is not the end of the tale, for Miss Seward had made a will, of which we shall hear more. She might have altered it, with better opportunity, after reading this letter, but it can scarcely have reached her hands, for it is dated March 19th, and on the 25th she was dead.

        It is curious that Constable spoke of Scott very much in the tone in which Scott wrote of him, and with kindred metaphors. 'There is such a thing as rearing an oak until it can support itself.'

        There is exaggeration in both metaphors. Constable certainly had not reared the oak. Scott had put profits into Constable's pockets, and had done important editorial work for which he had refused to charge, which made Hunter's complaints more unreasonable and hurtful than they might otherwise have been, but the ladder by which Constable had climbed was primarily his own business ability, and the success of the Edinburgh Review.

        Lockhart suggests that the breach had been engineered by John Ballantyne. But there is no shred of supporting evidence. It is clear that political differences underlay it; and, individually, Hunter, Jeffrey, and Murray each played a hand in the game. But, primarily, it appears to have been Scott's own decision and his own plan. With an audacious self-confidence, and with the supporting knowledge that he had, so far, carried to success every plan he had made, he had decided that, as he had already fostered a successful printing business, he would be a publisher also. He would found a publishing house to rival Constable in Edinburgh. Murray should be his London agent, and Murray should have his support in the London Quarterly, which, under Gifford's editing, might be of as high a literary standard as the Edinburgh, and of a different political complexion.

        Immediately after he wrote the letter to Constable signifying that the correspondence was closed, he developed his plans with characteristic energy. A publishing house was started in Hanover Street under the style of John Ballantyne & Co., of which John was to be manager, and Scott and James Ballantyne the remaining partners.

        Lockhart condemns this enterprise as a mad folly from the start, which is saying no more than that it was not permanently successful. Lockhart wrote with a knowledge of following events, which he used in place of the business judgement which he did not possess. Anything which succeeds will be "sagacious" at its inception: anything which fails will be "rash," and probably condemned with more contemptuous adjectives. Constable advanced Scott a thousand guineas on an unwritten poem without incurring Lockhart's sarcasm, because he finally got what he paid for, and everyone came off well. Where facts are lacking, confident assertion will be sufficient to fill the gap. It is difficult to find, in all Lockhart's endless pages, any intelligent sympathetic appreciation of a business position as it then was, without reference to a future which could not have been foreseen at the time.

        Now he wanted a culprit for the foundation of this publishing business, and he selected John Ballantyne. As we have seen? he is always inclined to attribute Scott's actions to outer influences, rather than his own decisions. He now represents that Scott embarked upon a disastrous publishing venture under the urgent influence or John Ballantyne, who was to be given its control, and whom he describes as 'a person without capital, and neither by training nor by temper in the smallest degree qualified for such a situation.' The degree to which John was suitable for such a position must he a matter of opinion, but the question of whether the inception of the business was due to his urgency is one of fact. The causes already shown appear sufficient, and John's name is not even mentioned in any surviving correspondence or other documents in this connection. The Trustees of James Ballantyne challenged this account of the venture, in which they said that Scott had been the initiating as well as the dominant spirit, and Lockhart replied that he had drawn the conclusion that John was at the bottom of the business because "he was an exceedingly vain, presumptuous and aspiring little fellow." He added: "Was I to forget the old rule Cui fuit bonum? But the point is of no consequence."

        In plain English, he had made the suggestion without an ounce of evidence, and replies with abusive language, and the ' Does it matter?' which is he usual retort when convicted of inventions which are at least as disparaging to Scott as John Ballantyne, and which, fortunately for the memories of both, have no foundation of fact or even of probability. If Lockhart meant no more than that John was glad to get the opportunity of serving Scott's plans and justifying his own abilities in the management of a new business, and that he may have over estimated what those abilities were, it is not a serious accusation in itself, the sting lying in the sneer with which it is said. But Scott had known John for a considerable time at this date, and if he made the egregious blunder of selecting one who was utterly unsuited for the position, it would reflect upon himself, even without the added suggestion that he was a tool in the 'little fellow's' hands. (The utterly irrelevant allusion to John's stature is an unfortunate, but characteristic, example of Lockhart's controversial methods.)

        There is absolutely no evidence as to John having any part in the matter until the deed of partnership was executed in January, but James kept a diary, and some entries in it are creditable to him, and supply strong confirmation of the course of events having been as is suggested by the evidences already given. There was an occasion in December when he called to see Constable, was well received, and booked a substantial order, but he shortly afterwards left the shop hurriedly when Constable and Hunter were together, because he did not want to quarrel, and would not listen in silence to Hunter's abuse, not of himself but his friends. He records Constable's irritated suspicions as to the reason of Murray's visit to Edinburgh, and his own realisation that the political gulf between Scott and Hunter and the Edinburgh Review were rendering business relations increasingly difficult to maintain, but he appears to have been concerned to lessen friction rather than to create it.

        There was one curious point of dispute between Constable and himself, about which they argued vainly, but on which we know that Constable must have been wrong. We know that Scott had had the idea of an "Edinburgh Register" in his mind ever since he persuaded James to set up business in the capital city. It appears that James and Constable had had a conversation about the possibilities of such a publication when they had been travelling together earlier in the year. Now it was being talked of again, and Constable, wishing to discourage the project, put to James the disconcerting suggestion that he could not honourably have anything to do with it without his consent, because he (Constable) had originated the idea! Constable was evidently in a state of self-delusion on this point, and James shows in his diary that he was worried by a suggestion which he knew to be untrue, but might find it hard to disprove. This was in December.

        We get a glimpse in the diary also of Scott's house in North Castle Street, as the storm-centre upon which other parties converge. Scott sends to James to come to him to discuss the position. As he is leaving, Constable is at the door, probably for that final interview, and James turns aside into the dining-room, lest they should meet in the hall. . . .

        The deed of partnership, which the partners agreed to leave in Scott's custody, provided that the new firm should start with a cash capital of £2,000, half of which was to be found by Scott, and £500 each by the other two. James had no free capital outside the printing business, which certainly could not afford to lose that amount even if James could have drawn it without reducing his capital below the partnership level. For the time, Scott lent him the money, finding £1,500 in all. That is as far as the documentary evidence goes. Lockhart says this: "Scott appears to have found all the capital, at any rate his own, half share, and one fourth, the portion of James, who, not having any funds to spare, must have become indebted to someone for it. It does not appear from what source. John acquired his, the remaining fourth." It will be observed that the first part of this statement is false, by its own conclusion. But John had been cast for the part of impecuniosity. It is true that he had advanced £300 to the printing business some time previously, and that £600 of James's capital had been found by Alexander, another brother, who was still trading in Kelso, but Lockhart will have it that they were a penniless family, and this idea must be sustained. Now John (appears to have) invested £500 without difficulty. It does not matter to us how such sums came into his hands. He may have burgled. He may have forged. Quite possibly, he may have borrowed, though a clerk with a family to provide for, and earning £200 a year, would not easily obtain such an advance unless he were of better character than Lockhart will allow. He may have done any of these things, but there is not a shred of evidence that he did, and, if that does not matter to us, Lockhart's method of presenting the case, if we are to go forward in his guidance, certainly does.

Chapter XLI.

        Some premises in Hanover Street were promptly taken for the accommodation of the new firm or John Ballantyne & Co. and John himself, the 'vain, presumptuous, and aspiring little fellow', said goodbye to his wife, and climbed on to the London coach we may suppose with what high dreams, to interview John Murray and others in the important capacity of the Edinburgh publisher who was to control the Scottish distribution of the new Quarterly Review (of which the first number was to be published in April), and who had Mr. Scott's support in the endeavour to establish an Edinburgh business which would challenge the somewhat autocratic monopoly which Constable now held in the northern capital.

        He was not to be left to his own unsupported efforts. Mr. and Mrs. Scott were following by sea, so soon as the Court should rise. They stayed, in fact, for about two months, renewing associations with old friends and forming new ones in political and literary circles, in which Scott now had a securely founded reputation. He saw the new Review successfully launched with three articles from his own pen, and went back very confidently to resume control of the increased responsibilities to which he had committed himself. We may suppose that James Ballantyne, who had been left to hold the fort alone, without even the help of John's bookkeeping abilities in the always more or less complicated finances of the printing business, and without Scott's financial aid to be called upon in emergency, would be glad to see him return. But, for the moment, there was little cloud in the financial sky.

        John Morritt had been in London while Scott was there, and tells one anecdote which is sufficiently characteristic to be worth recording. There was a gathering at which Scott and Coleridge were present, and poems, published and unpublished, were being recited and criticised. It was the kind of assembly that Scott tolerated rather than liked, though he would play the game in a good-tempered and very capable way.

        On this occasion there was an element present which was disposed to exalt the compositions of the English pot, in comparison with those of his Scottish rival, which Scott took with his usual good humour; but when after a time he was asked to favour the meeting with an example of his own occasional poetry, he replied that he had nothing which it would be worth their while to hear. But he had read some verses recently in a provincial paper which he would repeat as an example of what good poetry should really be.

        This he did, and the verses he gave were criticised somewhat mercilessly, until, when a member of the company pointed out that one line which he admired was sheer nonsense, and Scott was exerting himself to defend it, Coleridge exclaimed in desperation: 'For Heaven's sake, leave Mr. Scott alone. I wrote that poem myself.' It was 'Fire, Famine, and Slaughter,' on which Scott performed this feat of casual memory, and incidentally exposed the hollowness of the critical judgements in which such coteries indulge.

`        For the most part, he regarded the lionising which is? perhaps, the worst penalty of successful authorship, as a part of the game which, if it gave pleasure to others, it would be bad manners to decline. He would ask his hostess at times if he were expected to roar, or if he could consider himself among friends, and would lead the conversation accordingly. He endured, in the same spirit, the endless and ever increasing crowd of travellers who brought introductions or framed excuse to call upon him at Ashestiel or in Edinburgh; only showing a rare resentment if he thought that visitors failed to show sufficient courtesy to his wife, and to remember, in his own phrase, that it is possible to become an author and remain a gentleman.

        The Scotts travelled back by road in the company of Mr. Morritt, who was returning to his Yorkshire home, and who persuaded them to break the journey at Rokeby, where they fell in love - as who would not? - with the beauties of Rokeby Park, and the wooded hills among which the Greta joins the Tees. Scott heard the traditions of the Civil War which are associated with the district, and talked of a poem to be - which was the almost customary reward of those who entertained him in hall or castle. He may have been already framing some of the songs which will make the name of Rokeby famous while the language endures, but, for the moment, he had another poem on hand, which he expected to occupy all the time that other engagements would leave him till the year should end. He had planned that The Lady of the Lake should be ready by the end of the year, and, for once, he was to prove approximately equal to his own forecast. He had fixed its locality in that wild region into which he had penetrated as a youth with a file of bayonets behind him, and he had probably outlined its plot, and, imagined its characters, for none of all his poems was to show clearer conception, or superior artistic unity. It gives the impression throughout that the last line was foreseen before the first was written. But his immediate requirement was to renew and correct his memories of the region of Loch Katrine and Ben-ledi. Almost as soon as he and Charlotte arrived at Ashestiel, they left again. Scott had a short and busy period in Edinburgh, during which we may suppose that James had something to report as to the progress of the printing business, and John to receive many instructions as to the development of the publishing enterprise, and then Charlotte and he spent July in the district which was to be the scene of the new poem, making their headquarters mainly at Buchanan House, from which centre, in the company of Mr. Macdonald Buchanan, Scott explored the locality. He wrote the first canto while in the midst of the scenery which it describes, actually riding the whole course which the chase was supposed to take, that he might verify its possibility, and reading this part of the poem to Lady Louisa Stewart and others before leaving the district. . . .

        But we must turn aside at this point to give brief attention to a matter which has been mentioned already - that of Miss Seward's will.

        This lady had been a voluminous writer of letters. She had met most of the literary celebrities of the times, and she used to write about them to each other, and elsewhere, usually, though not always, in terms of very fulsome praise, and with detailed descriptions. The letters were full of personalities, and she appears to have regarded them as of sufficient importance to preserve them in duplicate, for she had approached Scott during the previous year, and asked him to undertake to edit them after her death.

        But this he had explicitly declined to do, telling her in plain though courteous language that he did not think that such letters should be published at all. However, he had undertaken to use his influence with Constable to induce him to print her collected poems, with a result which we have seen already.

        Knowing that Scott had refused to have anything to do with the letters, but had been more complaisent toward the poems, and not knowing that Constable had refused publication of the latter, which must have failed to please her, she made a will shortly before she died, leaving her letters to Constable and her poems to Scott, with injunctions that they should be published after her death. She even directed that Scott was to have the honour of writing a biography to preface the poems, and it is characteristic of Scott's weaker side that he does not appear to have thought of declining the monstrous obligation which had been thrust upon him. But, in a letter to Joanna Baillie, he exposed his feelings:

        "The despair which I used to feel on receiving poor Miss Seward's letters whom I really liked, gave me a most unsentimental horror for sentimental letters. I am now doing penance for my ill-breeding, by submitting to edit her posthumous poetry, most of which is absolutely execrable. This, however, is the least of my evils, for when she proposed this bequest to me, which I could not in decency refuse, she combined it with a request that I would publish her whole literary correspondence. This I declined on principle, having a particular aversion at perpetuating that sort of gossip; but what availed it? Lo! to ensure the publication, she left it to an Edinburgh bookseller: and I anticipate the horror of seeing myself advertised for a live poet like a wild beast on a painted streamer; for I understand all her friends are depicted therein in body, mind, and manners."

        What availed it, indeed? What will it ever avail to protest in the name of decency against the publication of random or poisonous gossip, if and when it can be done with profit and legal impunity? Yet, for the moment, Scott had his way. The provisions of the will led to correspondence between Constable and himself. They parleyed courteously from their opposite camps. It appeared that Constable accepted the lady's legacy. He saw money in those gossiping letters, being right on that point, as he usually was. But he offered Scott an opportunity of going over them, and striking out the numerous references to himself, which he very gladly did. It was left to Lockhart to publish both the above letter, and one of the silly effusions to which Scott objected so strongly. It is not the only occasion on which we are left to wonder whether it was Lockhart's skull or his skin which was of an unusual thickness.

        Mr. James Ballantyne learnt that he would have the pleasure of printing Miss Seward's poems, and Mr. John that he would have the profit of publishing them. There is no record of what they said.

Chapter XLII.

        Scott had a good deal of correspondence with Joanna Baillie during this year, when we are confronted with another of his multifarious activities. He was using money and influence - not unsuccessfully - to bring one of her plays on to the Edinburgh stage.

        He had always loved the theatre, and it will be remembered how, in earlier youth, he had given broken heads to those who disturbed its peace. Charlotte loved it also, with the passion of her own race. They had made many theatrical friendships while in London together, particularly with Mrs. Siddons, and John Kemble. Now Scott exerted himself to arrange that Kemble's nephew, Henry Siddons, should acquire the lease of the Edinburgh theatre. He purchased a share himself, becoming an acting trustee. He stipulated that Joanna Baillie's play The Family Legend should be the first to be presented under the new management. He was always true to his friends.

        He threw himself into the preparations of this play with the energy of an unoccupied man. He attended the rehearsals: he arranged the costumes: he wrote a prologue. Whether through his efforts and popularity, or on its own merits, it had an unusual success for an author whose plays were less acted than read. Scott, writing to London, could exult in the good news that he was able to send.

        There was at least one direction in which we may be sure that the play would be kindly treated. For at this time James Ballantyne had won a recognised authority as a dramatic critic in Edinburgh - an 'authority', Lockhart says, with his inevitable sneer, 'supremely gratifying to himself'. But a man does not become an authority in dramatic criticism without some other qualities than a capacity for self-congratulation.

        It was as an actor in the company that produced this play that Scott made the acquaintance of Daniel Terry. Lockhart records of this actor, famous for himself, and of a more famous name, that 'he and the Ballantynes were constant companions', and it is, perhaps, for this reason that he presents his admiration of Scott in a spirit of impossible caricature. Though he is generous enough to allow, with an amusing subtlety of distinction, that the actor "had the manners and feelings of a gentleman".

        Amid these extraneous activities, the Lady of the Lake made steady progress, and was raising high expectations among those who heard parts of it read as its composition proceeded: the Swift editing was substantially advanced: the Sadler papers went to the press, and were finally off his hands: several volumes of the Somers tracts, a huge labour by which he ultimately earned a total of £1,300, were completed, and the Memoirs of Robert Cary was also a finished thing.

        Financially, the publishing business must have brought in little, and required much. But this is usual with publishing businesses in their first year. What it owed would be mainly to the printing house, which would not be an oppressive creditor, and, by the methods of finance which were usual at this period, of which an extended explanation will be required, this position would not be quickly felt.

        Anyway, there was the new poem to come, concerning which it had been arranged that Scott's price should be 2,000 guineas. A fourth of this was to come from Miller, who would purchase the same proportion of the copyright that he had done previously from Constable (at a smaller figure) when Marmion was published. By this means, his distributing facilities would be enlisted. Murray would act as agent for John Ballantyne & Co., on the terms of the general agreement existing between them. The poem would be published through the previous channels, and (in London) with all the previous advantages, but the John Ballantyne Company, after paying Scott the agreed fee, should have a large and continuing profit - if the success of the Lay and Marmion could be achieved for a third time, and those who had seen parts of the new poem were inclined to think that it would.

        Scott had done a graceful thing in instructing John to ask Constable for the benefit of his advice as to the quantity which should be printed for a first impression, and on other details, and Constable gave some generous help. Both Scott and he may have felt a recovered goodwill since that exchange of courtesies over the Seward letters. Constable may have looked ahead. Scott may have reflected that to confer a favour may make an enemy, where to ask one will make a friend. Few men object to know that their advice will be valued. Scott once said that wherever he had lived he had always been on good terms with the most difficult of his neighbours. He had found that, with sufficient patience, a side could always be found from which a man could be approached successfully. Certainly, he had acted with wisdom now.

        All this year, as earlier, he had been fulfilling the duties of Clerk of Session without remuneration, as he must expect to do while Mr. Home lived. But Home was an old man. He might not wish him to die, yet when he totalled his growing income, and weighed against it the responsibilities which he was undertaking, he might reasonably consider that a further £1,000 or £1,500 a year would be his at no distant date.

        The beginning of 1810 was a happy time. Scott felt that his many activities were well under control. There was little at this period that he did not feel equal to undertake or to overcome. The Lady of the Lake went to the press.

Chapter XLIII.

        The Lady of the Lake was published in London early in May, and met with a chorus of approbation louder and more united than had been those which welcomed the earlier poems.

        That George Ellis would write of it enthusiastically in the Quarterly might be expected, but, surprisingly, in the Edinburgh, even Balaam blessed.

        Those who read it then had not done so when they were young. It came to them as a new thing, this poem that made music of Highland names. They read the chase in the first canto, and knew, if they knew English poetry, that it could offer nothing to put beside it. Probably it never will. They read the following cantos, and found them to be of a kindred freshness, though with different excellences. There were passages in Marmion, even apart from the battle canto, which rivalled anything in the later poem, but here was a more sustained, a more equal altitude. The magic of the Lay might never be recaptured, but here was a different beauty, and a more perfect whole. The annoying interludes of Marmion had been wisely abandoned for the briefer beauty of opening and closing lyrics. The octosyllabic metre, while less varied, less experimental, than that of the Lay, was now handled with a practised ease, which had the narrative quality of concentrated and cadenced prose. Those who would not be easily converted from their traditional respect for the decasyllabic line, as the necessary medium for English narrative poetry, made some protests in public against Scott's continued adherence to the shorter metre, and his correspondence shows that these views were expressed more freely and urgently in private letters, though usually with the argument that he who had done marvels already would do miracles with a better tool.

        He replied, without taking the correspondence over-seriously, that it was inclination rather than judgement which had controlled his decision. Yet he offered sound argument in its support. The ten-syllable line may be incomparable for many purposes, but for narrative - is it quite so sure? He instanced a passage from Pope's Iliad in which there is a two-syllable padding in every line. He might have asked whether his own verse would have gained in any material prosodic quality had he lengthened it in the same way:

      The stag at eve had drunk his something fill,
      As something danced the moon on Monan's rill,
      And something deep his midnight lair had made,
      Something in lone Glenartney's hazel shade.

        It is possible that such a poem would have been equally admired: it is less probable that it would have been equally read.

        The wizardry of Scott's poetry is an undissectible secret, and no-one except Macaulay, and he only partially, and with obvious plagiarisms, has been able to put his tools to a kindred use. Yet we may see that his own imagination, the particular quality of knowledge which he had gathered, a universality of sympathy which has been seldom equalled except by the greatest poets, a prosodic skill which tends to conceal itself - all these things are informed by an instinctive ideality, a love of noble living, which made his poetry a separate individual thing. And we may observe something of the prosodic principles, conscious or unconscious, on which he worked, and by which his results were reached.

        There is the quality which we have observed already, in which his subsequent prose romances as a whole were to be markedly inferior - the direct and often monosyllabic force and concentrated brevity of the narrative, especially in its conversational parts.

        Having an enormous vocabulary under control, he was able to produce such results with a delusive aspect of ease, and sometimes even of carelessness, the latter appearance arising from the fact that however great might be his care to achieve beauty of form, he always put matter first, if there were a conflict between the two which he was unable to reconcile.

        On this point, he may be contrasted with Tennyson, who, in the same difficulty, would always make the opposite choice, with the result that he would pile ornamentation upon his narrative poetry until the tale itself would sink beneath its burden, as where he concluded with the statement that -

      "he that told the tale in older time
      Says that Sir Gareth wedded Lyonors,
      But he that told it later says Lynette."

- and if you care which it was, it is something which (for several beautiful pages) the author had ceased to do.

        An equal contrast of method, in which the same poets are at the extremities of difference, may be observed in their use of metaphor or simile. Tennyson frequently interrupts his narrative to insert metaphors, often of great beauty, and sometimes of a length of several lines. They may be good in themselves, but they weaken the force of the narrative, distracting the reader's mind. For example:

      "But at the flash and motion of the man
      They vanish'd panic-stricken, like a shoal
      Of darting fish, that on a summer morn
      Adown the crystal dykes at Camelot
      Come slipping o'er their shadows on the sand,
      But if a man who stands upon the brink
      But lift a shining hand against the sun,
      There is not left the twinkle of a fin
      Betwixt the cressy islets white in flower;
      So, scared but at the motion of the man,
      Fled all the boon companions of the Earl."

        Scott never does this. His metaphors, whether hackneyed or of an original beauty, are always brief, and always tend to concentrate attention, and intensify imagination.

        Consider the subtlety of contrast, and the force of the illustration as showing the bearer's fixity of purpose in the five-word simile -

      "But still, as though with parting life,
      Firmer he grasped the cross of strife."

        Consider the rising intensity of the three-fold simile which prepares us for Roderick's dying effort to revenge his wound:

      "Like adder darting from his coil
      Like wolf that dashes through the toil,
      Like mountain-cat who guards her young,
      Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung."

        Here, as always in situations of emotional intensity, Scott puts the simile first: the act itself is the culmination. But if it be a moment when we are to pause and watch, it will come afterward, delaying the mind upon the scene to which it has been directed, as in -

      "So forth the startled swan would swing:
      So turn to prune his ruffled wing."

        And we may learn something of the art of poetic narrative by the skilful economy of the sustained metaphor of the 'forest' of spears, made darker by contrast of the bright sunshine in which the battle is fought.

      "Their centre ranks, with pike and spear
      A twilight forest frowned

      How shall it keep its rooted place
      The spearmen's twilight wood?
      Like reeds before the tempest's frown,
      That serried grove of lances brown
      At once lay levelled low.

        As illustration of Scott's terseness of diction in these poems it may be observed that when Macaulay borrows, he always lengthens. For examples, we need go no further than the page from which the above abstracts are taken, for Macaulay's borrowings were of a routine frequency.

        Scott has:

      "I see," he cried, "their column shake,
      Now, gallants, for your ladies' sake,
      Upon them with the lance."

        Macaulay lengthens the last two of these lines into:

      "Now by the lips of those you love, fair gentlemen of France,
      Charge for the golden lilies, upon them with the lance."

        Scott has:

      "So did that deep and darksome pass
      Devour the battle's mingled mass."

        Macaulay lengthens to:

      "And fliers and pursuers are mingled in a mass
      And far away the battle goes rolling through the pass."

        Comparing these paraphrases it may be agreed that there is something to be said for the superior narrative vigour of a shorter line.

        There is one point in these narrative poems at which Scott achieved a success which is unique in the literature of our civilisation.

        The accurate and adequate description of a battle has always been a matter of almost insurmountable difficulty, both to the poet and the historian.

        Even its geography, however limited, its chronology, however short, are difficult to rescue from the confusion over which the cloud of battle rose into a blinded sky. A man who emerges whole from that ordeal may have no certain memory of his own part, and still less of what others may have done, or when they did it in relation to the other confusions around him. Or should memory avail, courage and cowardice may unite in an equal silence. Men may be slow to say 'I was first over the wall', or 'I lay flat in the ditch', and their comrades, having their own activities or preoccupations, may have failed to observe either of these incidents. The reconstruction of the battle-drama is the work of many tongues, among which flattery finds its voice, and envy strikes from behind.

        The poet, aiming to recreate it emotionally, in a unity of portraiture, has an added difficulty, - that of separating the individual from the crowd, and yet not giving him a grotesquely disproportionate stature.

        In the old days of hand-to-hand fighting, the leaders did stand out in an individual prominence. They were usually better horsed, better armed, and better trained, than were those they led into battle, and they were often of exceptional physical strength. The rank-and-file of the opposing force would be inclined to give way before them, or would try to win fame at their life's price. Such men must be opposed, if at all, by those of equal eminence in the opposing ranks, and the fall of one might mean a local rout, or even a decisive turn in the whole tide of the battle.

        The oral traditions, or even the written records of great conflicts, would centre round the meeting of such champions, and its songs would be of a similar substance. The Iliad fighting is all of this character, and resembles the distorted perspective of a primitive painting, in that the contending armies are reduced to the vagueness of surrounding shadows. For many centuries, epic and ballad poetry followed the Homer tradition. The impressionist method, of which Campbell's Hohenlinden may be considered a classic example, is much harder to do well, and is of quite recent origin.

        It may be scarcely an exaggeration to say that only Scott, in the whole range of the world's literature, has described these old battles in a correct perspective, and with the emotional intensity which such a subject requires, though the crude vigour of Drayton's Agincourt approaches actuality by the same path.

        Thus, the urgent message of the dying Marmion to his brother-leader does not say that he has been outflanked, or has lost a hill. Stanley will understand the desperation of the position when he learns that -

      "Tunstall lies dead upon the field,
      His lifeblood stains the spotless shield.
      Lord Howard is down: my life is reft:
      The Admiral alone is left."

        But around this strife of leaders, Scott keeps the roar of the whole battle constantly in our ears.

      "The Border slogan rent the sky
      A Home! A Gordon! was the cry
      Loud were the clanging blows.
      Advanced - forced back - now low - now high -
      The pennon sunk and rose."

        The roar of the Border slogan is the index of the desperation of the English position. Before the era of uniforms, friend and foe were not always easy to distinguish on a broken field. Men shouted of who they were. Men who were outnumbered by their foes had a natural tendency to keep quiet. Badge or armlet, if worn at all, could easily be cast aside. A Staffordshire billman, who could save his life by shouting 'A Gordon!' for ten minutes in a lusty voice till he got to a safer part of the field, might think it well worth the price. At the least he would move with a quiet mouth.

        So the fight slackens, as the English right wing gives way, and the victorious Borderers, shouting and plundering, close in toward the English centre, until the English left under Stanley, which had already broken the Highlanders to which it was opposed, curves inward upon the Scottish centre, upon which the whole battle line pivots round, as the strife bursts into a fresh intensity.

      "The war that for a space did fail
      Now trebly thundering swelled the gale,
      And Stanley was the cry."

        But is not the coming of an individual warrior that turns the tide of the battle. It is because he can "With Chester charge and Lancashire" that the success of the Scottish right has been won in vain.

        The description of Flodden was an imaginative re-creation of a real battle, and as such may always keep its place, unequalled even by Scott's subsequent description of Bannockburn, but in the skirmish at the entrance of the Trossachs pass Scott was using his unhindered imagination, and its perfection is of a different kind. Clearness of conception, vivid brevity of description, and that all-including imaginative sympathy without sentimental weakness which is Scott's peculiar excellence, combine to give it a solitary eminence, to which it is difficult to discover a seriously-competing poem. We are at one in a dozen lines with the feelings of the flying archers as "For life, for life, their flight they ply", with the exultant rush of the Highlanders, and with the anxious doubt of Mar, as he watches the approaching charge. We understand the necessity for the ruthless order by which he saves his command from annihilation.

      "Down, down," cried Mar, "your lances down!
      Bear back both friend and foe,"

(we do not understand Scott unless we understand that he would have given the same order under the same circumstances, and would have expected those who died by it to approve the decision), and we feel apprehension give place to confidence the spearmen as now 'closely shouldering side by side' they await the confused rush which is bearing down upon them.

        We may depreciate Scott's poetry if we will, by that shallow method of criticism which condemns it for not being many things at which it does not aim, as we may condemn an elephant for the absence of airy grace, or complain that a butterfly has no bulk, but it remains secure in its own wizardry, an unmatched and unapproachable thing.

Chapter XLIV.

        Having finished the Lady of the Lake, and even before the success of its publication, Scott was looking round for the inspiration of a new poem. He was drawn in three directions at once, an invitation from the Laird of Staffa, Macdonald Buchanan's brother, to visit the further Highlands suggesting the possibility of another Scottish poem with wilder and more desolate backgrounds: he had in memory the promise he had given to Morritt that he would make the district of Greta Bridge the scene of a major poem: and, perhaps strongest of all, he had the desire to make some memorable literary use of the Peninsular struggle which he had been watching since its commencement with an interest that nothing would avert. Charlotte found cause for protest in the size and variety of the maps which accompanied their coach journeys together, and the difficulty of diverting Walter's attention to her more important self when he was engaged in studying them. Now he proposed that he should pay a visit to the seat of war, to gain the local colour which he required. Charlotte thought that he would be more likely to get other less desirable things. She thought of diseases, bullets, drownings at sea. He was much better where he was. She may have been right about that. It is hard to imagine Scott under such circumstances in the discreet rear. Anyway, she had her way. Scott says that he felt it would have been wrong to gratify his own curiosity at the cost of Charlotte's distress.

        So John Miller, a young barrister friend of Lincoln's Inn, with whom he might have sailed, set out alone to spend the long vacation in Portugal, and came back safely, and lived to become a K.C., which may be taken to indicate that Scott might have done the same, but the details make it less sure.

        John Miller said he had had a good time. He had landed in Oporto, and travelled through a silent land, desolated by the ruins of war, on the track of the English army, and had then very unexpectedly met it face to face, for it was in full retreat. In fact, it was just turning to bay upon a pursuit which had become inconveniently close. As Mr. Miller was on the spot, he could lend a hand. There was a rifle to spare. He took an amateur's part in the battle of Busaco on the next day.

        Charlotte, when she heard the tale, may have felt even more satisfied with the result of her own tears than she had done previously. So Scott never landed in the Peninsular, though he was to pass Gibraltar in a King's frigate before he died, and must take such satisfaction as he could from the letters of his friend Fergusson, now an officer in Wellington's army, telling how he would read Scott's battle-poetry to men who lay flat while the bullets passed.

        When John Miller set sail for Oporto, Scott started off in the opposite direction; for the call of the Highlands had proved stronger than Mr. Morritt's pressing invitation, and Charlotte's barouche had set out from Ashestiel with a pair of good horses, to take the risks of the Highland roads, loaded with Scott and herself, and Miss Hannah Mackenzie (a sister of Scott's friend, Colin, of whom we should have seen more than we have - but his friends were so many), and another close family friend and distant relative, Mrs. Apreece at this time, to be Lady Davy later, and Sophia, who was now in her eleventh year, and judged old enough to come, and last, but by no means least, there was Wallace, the dog. It is Wallace now, not Camp; for Camp died in that January a year ago when Constable was making his last effort for peace and James was turning into the dining-room to let him pass, and he had been buried by winter moonlight in the little garden behind the house in North Castle Street, amid the tears of the household, and leaving a memory in a child's mind that she had never seen her father looking so sad.

        There are many records of this journey, in recollections that were written afterwards, and long letters that were written at the time, and if we go with them at all we must go to a book's length, so, as we have other matters with which to deal, it may be better not to start at all. It is a long tale of the wild scenery that they saw, and the new friends they made, and how Scott would leave the carriage during the day, and wander his own ways, and come up with them again at night, having walked far; till they came to Oban, and put to sea. And after that there were the wilder Hebrides, and long rowing against strong tides, and warm, primitive hospitalities, and the adventure in which Sophia lost her peebles and shells, and Charlotte lost her shoes. - It is a long tale, and we must be content that they were safely back at Ashestiel in September, and to observe Walter Scott, now resuming the morning work at his desk and the active physical exercises of the later day with a recruited energy, searching an old desk for fishing-flies, and coming on those chapters of a projected novel which he had once shown to William Erskine, and more or less forgotten as the result of his doubtful criticism, or, more probably, through the pressure of more congenial or more urgent work.

        Now he hesitates again. His desk is loaded with work. He has three new poems dimly outlined in his mind, either of which may be a goldmine if he can bring it to a good end. It is near the time when he must go back to Edinburgh to add the Court attendances four or five days a week to the other claims upon his time. . . . Yet he is tempted to try. . . . It might be a success. . . . Anyway, there will be no harm in letting James Ballantyne have a look at it, and seeing how it strikes him. . . .

        So James had those commencing chapters of Waverley, read them carefully over, and sent this reply:

Sept. 15th, 1810.

Dear Sir,

        What you have sent of Waverley has amused me much; and certainly if I had read it as part of a new novel, the remainder of which was open to my perusal, I should have proceeded with avidity. So much for its general effect; but you have sent me too little to enable me to form a decided opinion. Were I to say that I was equally struck with Waverley as I was with the much smaller portion of the Lay, which you first presented to us as a specimen, the truth would not be in me: but the cases are different. It is impossible that the small part of a fine novel can equally impress one with the decided conviction of splendour and success as a small part of a fine poem. I will state one or two things that strike me. . . . The account of the studies of Waverley seems unnecessarily minute. There are few novel readers to whom it would be interesting. I can see at once the connection between the studies of Don Quixote, or the female Quixote, and the events of their lives; but I have not been able to trace betwixt Waverly's character and his studies such clear and decided connection. The account, in short, seems to me too particular; quite unlike your usual mode in your poetry, and less happy. It may be, however, that the further progress of the character will defeat this criticism. The character itself I think excellent and interesting, and I was equally astonished and delighted to find in the last-written chapter, that you can paint to the eye as well in prose as in verse.

        Perhaps your own reflections are rather too often mixed with the narrative - but I state this with much diffidence. I do not mean to object to a train of reflection arising from some striking event, but I don't like their so frequent occurrence. The language is spirited, but perhaps rather careless. The humour is admirable. Should, you go on? My opinion is clearly - certainly. I have no doubt of success, though it is impossible to guess how much. . . ."

        From this point the letter diverted to business matters. The criticism asked for, and candidly given, seems to have been very similar, but perhaps less discouraging, than that which had been received from William Erskine several years earlier. Scott had made an enormous reputation as a poet: to foretell that he would duplicate it as a novelist would be more than James could be expected to do, - certainly not from those chapters of Waverley. Yet he was definite in advising the continuation of the work. He had "no doubt of success". It seems a straining of probabilities, even though we suppose Scott to have been more easily influenced by others than he may actually have been, to attribute the fact that he did not continue Waverley with immediate energy to the receipt of this letter.

        In any case, it is sound criticism, honestly and clearly stated. The pace of the opening chapters of Waverley is extremely slow. It is like a study in still life. From the method by which Scott had won success, it was not merely an alteration from verse to prose. It altered swiftness of presentation to a leisurely stroll. To say not merely that it was good in itself but that it would have the immense popularity of the poems would be an unreasonable audacity, even had a complete book been under consideration. And, as we know, when Waverley was completed later, the pace quickened, though the literary style may not have improved.

        The letter went on to report and advise on business matters. It is admirable in construction, as James Ballantyne's letters usually are, and its contents are worth some consideration in view of Lockhart's assertion that Scott was not treated frankly in business matters, on points on which it was essential that he should be informed correctly. Lockhart appears to have made this assertion under the impression that it was essential to Scott's reputation that he should have been deceived. Scott would have given Lockhart no thanks for the attempt to defend him in such a way, and, in fact, there appears to be no evidence to justify the assertion, nor need to have made it. Scott's reputation is founded on firmer grounds, and the truth, for all concerned, is a better thing.

        If James did not discourage the continuation of Waverley in explicit words, it is possible that the next paragraph in his letter may have tended to turn the mind of the reader back to the poems he already had in embryo in his mind, and it may even have been deliberately intended to do so, for he went on to report that he had just got the eleventh edition of the Lay off his hands that week, and that while he was completing the fifth edition of the Lady, the orders had exhausted it, so that a sixth must be put in hand immediately.

        Here, at least, was a gold-mine of certain yield. And the remainder of the letter showed that gold might soon be a needed thing. For it discussed the publishing business, which, apart from the success of the Lady, and the routine control of the Scottish distribution of the new Quarterly, and other agency business for Murray, was not doing well. Indeed, several of the major enterprises which had been undertaken threatened serious loss. As to the responsibility for their inception, there is no doubt. It belonged to Scott. They were his ideas. On such points he was clearly the driving force of the firm, as well as the partner with the greatest financial interest. There is no evidence that the other partners had differed, when the books had been put in hand. It is possible that a more experienced publisher than John would have made better sales. Constable might have done so. He probably would. But it is fair to remember that the principal of these projects had been condemned and refused by him. It is fair to observe also that the success of these books largely depended upon Murray and other London booksellers, and that it was they who were unable, or unwilling, to sell. Of the restless energy of John's efforts, of his desperate struggle to reach success, there is no more doubt than of his personal devotion to Scott, which was of an almost dog-like quality, and lasted to his life's end. He might be more sanguine than James, less ready to admit the approach of failure, more fertile of excuse and expedient, more capable of the self-deception which may deceive associates without the deliberate intention of doing so, and these qualities may have acted under the strain of future difficulties in their natural directions, but for the present position of the publishing business he had a very limited responsibility.

        Now James is explicit and detailed in his report. He mentions first that the Sadler publication (in the success of which they were less directly interested, John Ballantyne & Co., not being the publishers) was not going well. He attributed this to a hostile review in the Edinburgh. He thought it had killed the book.

        Then there was the Beaumont and Fletcher. This was an edition which was being edited by an otherwise impecunious German named Weber, who was under Scott's patronage. The man's poverty did not condemn him, nor (in itself) did his nationality. But the latter raises a suspicion that he may not have been particularly well qualified for the task he had undertaken, and the former that Scott's kindliness may have warped his judgement, as it was apt to do. Constable had declined this expensive enterprise in emphatic words. John Ballantyne found that his brother's excellent printing did not enable him to sell the volumes that were now coming through the press at regular intervals.

        Next, there was the History of the Culdees by Dr. Jamieson. Scott considered it a most capable work, and was probably right. Few others put themselves into a position to dispute this judgement, or seemed likely to do so. The Culdees were a section of the ministers of the Kirk of Scotland, of an earlier day. There was an absence of excitement concerning them during the progress of the Peninsular War.

        Worst of all (at the moment) appeared to be the 'Tixall Poetry?' about which James wrote with no lack of clarity:

        "I hope you will agree with John and me that this Aston business ought to be got rid of at almost any sacrifice. We could not even ask a London bookseller to take a share, and a net outlay of nearly £2,500 upon a worse than doubtful speculation is surely 'most tolerable, and not to be endured."

        It is not to be understood from this protest that a sum of £2,500 had been already expended. It was the direction in which they were going unless a prudent decision should cut the loss. But the total outlay upon the various publications put in hand during the past year must have been very large. Miss Seward's poems may have seemed a safe investment beside some of these others, but that also had been consuming wages, and incurring debts at the paper mills, for which the returns would prove a very inadequate set-off.

        And, overshadowing all, there was that mighty project of the Annual Edinburgh Register, - an idea which seems to have been as vague as its name, and which was never even annual in its production, though two volumes were now about to be issued, and it was destined to be continued for many years, and to include much good material, and contributions by many famous writers, - at a loss which James Ballantyne estimated at not less than £1,000 annually. It was well both for printing and publishing houses that Scott's own works went as they did.

        The publishing business benefited only from the Lady of the Lake, but, though Scott had sold the copyright of the earlier poems, the printing orders still came onto James's desk, and a very valuable separate printing connection had been built up by Scott's influence, and the quality of James's productions, which was helping to balance the scales. But a point has come at which the finances of these two business enterprises, in which Scott was the senior partner and the directing spirit, though his other activities might divorce him from them for long periods, must have a separate chapter.

        Now Scott read this letter with the knowledge that he would be back in Edinburgh almost immediately: questions of policy might well wait till he could have James and John together in his North Castle Street study. Those who came to these conferences in doubt or despondency usually separated in better spirits when Scott's vigorous optimism and practical sagacity had been applied to their confronting difficulties. It must all wait its time.

        Two months later? he wrote to Joanna Baillie from Edinburgh. He spoke of his deficiencies as a practical farmer. He could overwork himself, but to drive others was less congenial. The difficulty of making farming pay was as great then as it usually is. But the land at Ashestiel had not been sufficient to make its farming a very serious issue. He had given more thought to coursing hares than to ploughing land.

        Now the lease of Ashestiel would soon be over, and he was already thinking of removal, though his letter does not make direct allusion to such a possibility.

        But it has one significant sentence. He did not care overmuch for farming, but "planting and pruning of trees I could work at from morning till night, and if ever my poetical revenues enable me to have a few acres of my own, that is one of the principal pleasures I look forward to".

        So he dreamed: and, so far he had found that he could make his dreams come true. . . .

        It must have been about this time that young Walter, now entering his tenth year, came home from the Edinburgh High School in a battered condition, the result of a furious onslaught upon certain boys who had called him "The Lady of the Lake," probably intending no insult; but he had not heard of the poem, and supposed that they accused him of some girlish quality? to which blows were the best reply. One of Scott's friends asked the boy if he were not conscious that great people congregated round his father more than others, and why he thought it was, and Walter thought, and answered that he supposed that his father could see a hare on its form more quickly than anyone else.

        The story is linked with that of James Ballantyne, who asked Sophia about this time what she thought of The Lady of the Lake, and received an answer that she had not read it, as her father had told her that there was 'nothing so bad for young people as reading bad poetry'.

        Sophia, two years older, and with a girl's observation, would no doubt have passed a better examination than Walter on her father's occupations, but the trivial anecdotes reveal a healthy freedom from the atmosphere which makes an absurdity of so many literary households.

        They gain in force from the intimate relations which Scott always maintained with his children. He would not ever part with them to boarding-schools. They appear to have accompanied almost every transit between Edinburgh and Ashestiel, however short. Walter went to the High School when they were in Edinburgh, and Scott found time to give him regular lessons in Latin himself. A Miss Miller had been engaged as governess for the younger children. She had been chosen with Scott's usual success in judging character, and continued in the household for many years.

Chapter XLV.

        Lockhart states that "between 1805 and the Christmas of 1809, Scott invested in the Ballantyne firms not less than £9,000," and that there had probably been a further demand on his purse during the following year, which was now drawing to its close.

        There is no doubt that the amount of his advances was increased during 1810, - there is a specific credit of £1,500 to the publishing business in June, which has a suggestive resemblance to the amount which he was to have received for the three-fourths interest in the Lady of the Lake, which the firm had agreed to purchase. This may be no more than coincidence, but it is evident that if the firm paid him for the copyright, they received a loan to an equal amount, so that the whole profit of the poem was available to assist in financing the other ventures they had undertaken.

        But the accuracy of the figure which Lockhart gives is, at least, questionable. It appears probable that he made up the figure by including this £1,500 advanced six months later, and the £500 lent to James Ballantyne when the publishing, business was formed. By the inclusion of these figures we can arrive at approximately £9,000 thus:

Partnership capital as agreed with . . . . . . . . . . . . . £ . . . s. . . . d.
James Ballantyne on Nov. 25th, 1809 . . . . . . . . . . 3,842 . . . 9 . . . 8

Loan capital - ditto-
(including £1,200 from Captain John Scott) . . . . . .2,000 . . . 0 . . . 0

Capital first invested in John Ballantyne & Co. . . . 1,000 . . . 0 . . . 0

Loan to James Ballantyne re same . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 . . . 0 . . . 0

Further Capital advanced in June, 1810. . . . . . . . . . 1,500 . . . 0 . . . 0
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -------------------------
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .£ 8,842 . . . 9 . . . 8

        But it will be noticed that this total includes the amount advanced by Captain John Scott, and it must not be understood from these figures that Scott was out-of-pocket to such an amount - or anything approaching it - over the period in question. If he had invested substantial capital, he had received (at least from the printing business) substantial income against it. His drawings since 1805, after deducting Captain John's interest, cannot have been less than £1,500, according to detailed evidence which is still available.

        On balance, the net amount which he was out of pocket during the whole period must have been substantially less than that which he had inherited from Captain Robert Scott. Of course, the drawing of profits should not be regarded as a set-off to capital investment, and his capital stake in these enterprises can be correctly given as £9,000 at this period, but, if we are to have a correct perspective, we must recognise that his investment had (so far) justified itself. The printing business had been consistently profitable. On the other hand, it had grown at a rate which had caused it to suffer from lack of capital almost from its commencement, and for this reason, and owing to the methods by which it had been financed (which were quite usual at that period) Scott was probably liable for substantial sums in addition to the capital which he had actually invested, and which might have embarrassed him seriously had he been required to find them at short notice.

        To enable this to be understood, and to appreciate the developments of later years, it is necessary to give some explanation of the business methods by which a firm in good credit would commonly over come any temporary financial stringency. The usual, almost the routine expedient under such circumstances was to discount a bill, either with your own bankers, or with professional bill discounters, who did a large, and quite reputable business of this kind.

        By the same method, immediate cash was obtained upon transactions for which long credit was given. The printer would give a long-dated bill for the paper he purchased, and the paper-merchant would discount it with his bankers for immediate cash: the printer, having made delivery to the publisher of the books ordered, would draw a long-dated bill upon him, and realise upon it in the same way. Practically, they assigned their book-debts to the banks, who advanced money upon them by which fresh trade could be financed in its turn. In the event of such bills falling due before provision could be made to meet them, they could often be renewed for further periods with the goodwill of all concerned; but this was a delicate operation, depending upon mutual confidence, so that the greater the necessity the more difficult it might be. It was sometimes done quite openly: sometimes in such ways that the banks concerned could regard it as a fresh transaction if they cared to do so, but were, in fact, well aware of its actual nature, at which they thought it well not to look too closely: and sometimes, when credit tottered, with elaborate evasions, to prevent the real nature of the arrangement becoming evident to those who would have declined to support it.

        So far as these documents represented actual trading transactions, and were supported by the solid assets of those who signed them, they were of an evident utility in facilitating and extending credit. But they were capable of being, and were in fact, used more extensively and in more dangerous ways, though these might also be recognised by the commercial customs of the time, and with the tacit consent of the banks, which was liable to be withdrawn at any sign of financial weakness, often with immediately disastrous consequences.

        Bills of Exchange are said to have been invented by some Hebrew genius in the Middle Ages, with the recondite object of making it difficult for a ruler to seize a financier's wealth without incurring the risk that he might be emptying the pocket of his best friend. But the idea is so simple, and is of such obvious utility to any commercial system founded on the practice of usury, that it is difficult to suppose that it had not been operated in earlier periods.

        For purely financial purposes, and especially in transactions of international magnitude, it is evident that these documents could be used to conceal the actual ownership of wealth, to transfer it from one country to another, and to make it difficult to alienate it, with any certainty as to where the loss would fall. But with such uses we are not concerned. These documents, of whatever origin, had been found to be of general commercial utility, and it is the ways in which they were so used, in connection with the affairs of the firms with which we are dealing, which it is necessary to understand.

        It is evident from what has been said already, that a Bill of Exchange is of the nature of a post-dated cheque, but, unlike a cheque, for which funds should normally have been provided when it is issued, because it is intended for immediate payment, it is not a business necessity, nor a requirement of honour that a man who 'accepts' - that is, signs - a bill should have means at that time to meet it. There is, indeed, an opposite presumption, or why should he select this manner of discharging his obligation? But there is an obvious presumption that he has a reasonable certainty of having sufficient funds available when the date of payment shall arrive.

        This must depend in part upon the prudence and sagacity with which his transactions are arranged, but it is evident that, under any circumstances a business which is largely dependent upon such financing is in a precarious position. While trade is good, all may go well, but if a change should come, it may not only he faced with the difficulties of the moment, but if its customers fail to meet the bills which have been received from them, which have been discounted months before, and are regarded as closed transactions, it may be called upon with an unexpected suddenness to make good such obligations - to return the money borrowed upon bills which it had every reason to regard as good, but which have proved to be worthless.

        It is also evident that much larger credits may be given and received under such a system than would be possible, or than would be considered prudent, if the whole account remained open and increasing, with no payment being received upon it.

        Yet, if it be soundly based, it facilitates trade, and to the bankers, who provide and risk the capital involved, it has the attraction that all the parties whose names appear upon the bills are equally liable to them, and their risk of final loss is reduced accordingly.

        The position may be compared to that of a number of mountain climbers who are roped together. They may climb farther than they otherwise could, and with an increased security, but each member of the party is dependent upon the discretion of others, as much as upon himself, for his own safety, and should an accident come it may be of a greater magnitude.

        So much for the use of bills in connection with actual trading in which substantial value is given. But at the period with which we are dealing (in which, it is necessary to remember, the system of limited liability, with its encouragement to the private investor to support commercial enterprises had not been instituted) it was a common practice to raise capital by the discounting of bills which were of a purely financial kind. It was, indeed, a method of investment which was clearly understood and extensively practiced. In moderation, and providing that the capital so obtained could be profitably utilised, it might be argued that it was not only sound in itself, but the cheapest and best way in which such financial support could be obtained.

        The Balance Sheet of James Ballantyne & Co. at the end of the first partnership year shows that in addition to the capital which James had brought in the shape of plant and stock (and a house in Foulis Close), and the cash which Scott had provided, a sum of £450 had been obtained by this method. It is possible that it had been obtained at a lower interest than was paid (for instance) to William Creech for the £500 which he lent in a more permanent way. It is possible that James obtained it by signing a bill in the name of the firm without disclosing that Scott was a partner, which he was under no obligation to do. It is more probable than anyone discounting such a bill would enquire, and would have been truly informed as to who the partners were. It is about equally likely that Scotts name actually appeared on the bill - that Scott accepted it in favour of the firm, in which case it would have been easy to discount, and the rate of interest might have been lower. In any event it was a partnership liability, which, in the event of financial crisis, Scott would have been called upon to pay.

        So far, the printing business had prospered. It had brought in a substantial income, and it was now doing better than ever. Yet its obligations must have been heavy in proportional to the moderate capital on which it was supported.

        During the past five years Scott had been making a large income from his literary work. He was in easy, if not affluent circumstances. But it is improbable that he had made substantially more than he had spent, and any capital resources which were at his disposal at the time that Thomas's difficulties became acute would certainly have been used in that direction. We shall see during the following year that, when a round sum was needed, financial arrangements were necessary for the raising of the whole amount.

        The home at Ashestiel had not been carried on very economically. It was roomy, and often had many guests. To suggest extravagance would be inaccurate. Scott, through his whole life, maintained a severe economy in his personal expenditure. He commenced at an early date to put down everything which he spent on himself, and he continued his practice through life. But, as fortune came, he bought books, old armours, and the kinds of curiosities in which he delighted with a free hand, and he was not one who would bargain prices in a niggardly way.

        Charlotte ran the house much in the same spirit. It was certainly well ordered. It is improbable that the tradesmen's accounts were closely examined, or that questions of overcharges were often raised. It might be said that the management was good if no question of finance entered into it. And it was a house of wide charities; if there were any within walking distance who did not benefit from it, it was because they were in no need of its help.

        Indeed, Scott's gifts and loans were a continual drain upon his resources. The total which he paid out in such ways during his life must have reached an almost incredible figure. Not that he was reckless or indiscriminate in his generosities, but if he saw a need - and there were many in these war-time years - it was his instinct to help, which was only restrained in cases where his judgement told him that it would be a vain thing.

        It is clear that during these years there had been numerous, and sometimes sudden calls from the printing business for his financial help - or for the use of his name on a bill, which (for the moment) might be nearly the same thing, and that the capital investments which are credited from time to time, or the amounts shown to be drawn against profits, are not solitary payments, but represent the balance of more or less numerous payments and repayments during the period. So far, he had mastered circumstance, but he was not one whose life would ever glide on in a smooth way.

        In this autumn his correspondence shows signs of restlessness which may have had other causes than the fact that a removal from Ashestiel was an approaching necessity. The Lady of the Lake had done well. He had told Miss Baillie that if his poetic ventures were ever sufficiently profitable he would buy a place of his own. But was that likely? Such a poem as that was could not be produced in less than a year, or perhaps two. It might bring him £2,000. But how long could he expect to continue such successes? How many times? It was a precarious hope. Now, amid the three poems he had in view, he was concentrating upon The Vision of Don Roderick. It would have a topical interest, that of Spain and the Peninsular War. It would have the variety of being written in the Spenserian stanza. It might be a great popular success, - or it might not. And just now he had a chance of going to India, and the excitement of a new life.

        Lord Melville's son, Lord Dundas, who was his personal friend, was likely to go out as Governor-General to India. If Scott wished for an appointment with him, it would be easy to get. It would mean throwing up the prospects of the Clerkship, about which he was rather tired of waiting for the income of a man who did not die. It would mean selling out his interest in a good printing business, and in a publishing one about which he was already realising that it might be difficult to carry it on, and more so to end it without ruinous loss. It would give him some more important occupation than that of Sheriff of Selkirkshire. He could still write, if he would. He wrote to Tom, still in the Isle of Man, and relying upon him for news of many things in his native town, to which he could not safely return:

        "were Dundas . . . willing to take me with him . . . I would not hesitate to pitch the Court of Session and the booksellers to the Devil, and try my fortune in another climate".

        That was in November. It was in the following month that Lady Forbes - Williamina Stuart - died. It is possible that this brought the events of fifteen or twenty years ago back to his mind with a new vividness, and was responsible for the plot of Rokeby, and for the fact that he now put the composition of that poem definitely before the one for which the background was to be supplied by the Hebrides that he had just visited.

        But almost immediately after this date, there came an improvement in his financial circumstances in an unlooked-for way.

        It will be remembered that he had been acting as Secretary to a Government Commission which had been considering reforms in Scottish Judicial Procedure. That Commission had now completed its work, and reported upon it. Scott disliked some of its recommendations, which were intended to bring Scottish and English practices into closer harmony. He was jealous of Scottish independence and prestige, and he thought the English procedure was likely to be adopted in directions in which it was inferior to that of the Northern Kingdom. He wrote an article for the first number of the Edinburgh Annual Register to this effect.

        He may have been right or wrong, but there was one point of reform which they recommended, which was put into operation almost immediately, to his personal benefit.

        The whole system by which Clerks of Session were paid by fees, and allowed to sell or delegate their positions, was swept away. They were to be paid salaries while in office, and pensions when they retired. Mr. Home was of an age at which he could claim a pension, which was granted to him. Scott was an acting Clerk. He received an immediate salary of £1,300 a year. With this substantial addition to his income of a permanent character, not conditional upon public favour or the profits of commercial enterprise he felt that he would be justified in buying himself a home.

        The idea of India, if he had ever entertained it seriously, faded away.

Chapter XLVI.

        The Vision of Don Roderick was published in July, 1811. It had been very hastily completed, at the call of charity. Early in the year a committee had been formed in London to raise a fund in aid of the Portuguese whose homes had been burned and desolated during Massena's campaign. Massena was in retreat when the spring came, with Wellington on his heels, but he withdrew from a wasted land. The cause was one which would be sure to arouse Scott's sympathies, and he had promised to subscribe the whole profits of the first edition of his new poem. The edition sold readily, and the fund benefited accordingly, but the poem never reached nor deserved the popularity of its predecessors. It was well constructed, competently written, and contains a few memorable lines, if not stanzas. But it is of a commonplace texture, even if its commonplace be of a superlative kind. Those who had said that Scott would do better if he should use a longer line may have thought their argument refuted by this poem, but it really proves nothing beyond the facts that Scott could use any length of line with an easy mastery, and that he could not write as good poetry when he was in a hurry as when he had ample time for the work. If we look at the Vision, it is easy to give it praise: it would have made the name of a smaller man. But if we compare it with such a poem as the Lay, then the praise dies. Scott himself seems to have been little concerned for the fate of this poem. It was scarcely off his hands before he was concentrating again upon the unfinished Rokeby. He had also found the place that he was resolved to buy, - a stretch of land on the south bank of the Tweed, which was of no great beauty, and a house that was poor enough; but they were the raw material that he thought to mould to his own liking. The raising of the necessary purchase money was a difficulty which he felt equal to overcome. But it would be necessary that James should know and assist his plans. On May 12th - before the Vision was actually published - he wrote to him:

        "My lease of Ashestiel is out. I have, therefore resolved to purchase a piece of ground sufficient for a cottage and a few fields. There are two pieces, either of which would suit me, but both would make a very desirable property indeed. They stretch along the Tweed, on the opposite side from Lord Somerville, and could be had for between £7,000 and £8,000 - or either separate for about half the sum. I have serious thoughts of one or both, and must have recourse to my pen to make the matter easy. The worst is the difficulty which John might find in advancing so large a sum as the copyright of a new poem; supposing it to be made payable within a year at farthest from the work going to press, - which would be essential to my purpose. Yet the Lady of the Lake came soon home. I have a letter this morning giving me good hope of my Treasury business being carried through: if this takes place, I will buy both the little farms, which will give me a mile of the beautiful turn of Tweed above Gala-foot - if not, I will confine myself to one. It is proper John and you should be as soon as possible apprised of these my intentions, which I believe you will think reasonable in my situation, and at my age, while I may yet hope to silt under the shade of a tree of my own planting. I hope this Register will give a start to its predecessors; I assure you I shall spare no pains. John must lend his earnest attention to clear his hands of the quire stocks, and to taking in as little as he can unless in the way of exchange; in short, reefing our sails, which are at present too much spread for our ballast."

        We may suppose that James became thoughtful after reading this letter. A new poem which would have the success of Marmion or the Lady would be good for his own presses, and for the publishing business, which, in the end, should be well able to pay the author £2,000 from the resulting profits. But it could not find such a sum in advance. That was a sure thing. Not, at least, in cash.

        The concluding sentences were reasonable enough, yet they held an intimation of an ominous kind. The 'quire stock' was the quantity of the various books they had published for which there was no present demand. They would not be bound until ordered, or might be sold to the London trade in that condition, and sent to be bound there. John was to struggle to improve the financial position by reduction of the publishing stock. It was the right policy under any circumstances, but, coming in this letter as it did, it could be taken as an intimation that Scott wished the business in future to stand on its own legs. It shows also how clearly he realised that his own peace and fortune were also in that 'reefing of sails' of which he saw the necessity, but which John might find it hard to contrive.

        Finally, there is the promise of special effort to make the next number of the Register attractive. It is to be so good that it will not only sell itself, but give a spurt to the demand for the earlier volumes, of which so many are still on the Hanover Street shelves: a hard thing for any periodical volume to do.

        Lockhart remarks sagely that Scott would have been more prudent to delay his purchase until the poem was written, and the Clerkship salary a settled thing. Perhaps he would, but Scott did not play the game of life in that spirit, or he would not have been Scott at all, nor been able to write poems which would bring in £2,000. Lockhart's paragon of prudence, who would yet have been Scott, having his splendid successes, but never taking a splendid risk, is a monstrous impossibility. Besides, the event justified itself.

        We may observe also that the lease of Ashestiel would not extend itself till the poem should be complete. The Scotts must have somewhere to go. We may observe further that Scott, practical in his audacities, only bought half the land on which his heart was set. He paid £4,200, of which £2,000 was found by his brother John, on a mortgage which was well secured, and the bulk of the remainder raised on the security of the unwritten poem. Scott entered into a contract with John Ballantyne & Co. to sell the copyright of Rokeby for £2,000. The firm gave long-dated bills for that sum, which Scott endorsed and discounted. It is a transaction at which a bank would look doubtfully today, but methods of finance were somewhat different at that time, and, besides, Scott was Scott an author with an enormous reputation, and a record of sustained successes. He was also a man of many friends, including those who were at the head of the Edinburgh banking world, and he had a character that inspired confidence. If James Hogg, or any other Scottish poet, had attempted such a transaction he might have faced a bank manager who gazed at him with stony eyes.

        The leaving of Ashestiel must have occasioned some regrets, but they appear to have been expressed by others rather than those who were most concerned. Miss Baillie wrote that she hoped to come to Scotland to see the new home when it should be ready, but she would never forget, and would hope to visit that which she had first known: she alluded to the affection a man must always feel for his first love. But the first love of the Scotts was not Ashestiel, but the Lasswade cottage. They may never have thought of the former as a permanent home. It was where they would be for the lease's length. After that had not Scott always dreamt of walking on his own land? He had thought of buying Broadmeadows when Lasswade had to be given up, and had put the idea aside so that the printing business might be established. Now he looked forward to larger prospects, standing on surer ground. Regrets at leaving Ashestiel faded before the excitement of the idea that they would own their own home, and that it would be formed to their own will.

        Yet they had done much to Ashestiel, and James Hogg, prosaically practical in his verbal wisdom as he was unpractical in his life, expressed a thought which would be common to many when he wrote that he had been sorry to read the news of the removal in the papers, after Scott had been "at so much trouble and expense" in making Ashestiel "a complete thing". No doubt Ashestiel had been improved while the Scotts lived there. So had Lasswade before. So, doubtless, would be any place to which they should go next. Scott was a dreamer, no doubt. But he was of those who make their dreams come true.

        The place he had bought was called Cartly Hole, (Commonly written Clarty Hole, which is wrong.) - an opprobrious name. That was easy to change. The land had once belonged to the Abbot of Melrose: it faced a ford in the Tweed. Abbotsford would be a good choice.

        The house itself would be more expensive to change. So would the land. The place, though no longer an abbot's property, had still been in ecclesiastical hands. It was bought from the Rev. Dr. Douglas, holder of the living of Galashiels, who had not resided on the property, nor given it any care. It was a small and dirty house, with a midden on one side, and a foul pond in front. The land was ill-fenced, and ill-drained. Some of it was rough, furze-covered, never brought under cultivation. It was bare of trees, except for one narrow ridge of unsightly firs, which had won for itself the name of the Haircomb. Scott looked at it with contented eyes. He could plant here to his own will. What did it matter if the price were two hundred pounds above the market value, or a hundred below? Or that there had been a rather heavy price to pay for the discounting of those Rokeby bills? Scott was never one to care for money for its own sake. He had the thing that he would.

        At this time, though there might be an occasional flutter of trouble in the finances of the Edinburgh firms, if we will ignore the prophetic visage of Lockhart, shaking his head in a prudent doubt over everything which is done, we must see Scott as he was, one of the most enviable of the millions of living men. He had robust health, an unexhausted and seemingly inexhaustible vitality; he had a loving wife, who gave ready co-operation and found her happiness in the same life as himself; he had healthy and happy children; he had varied and congenial occupations; he had a great reputation, and many friends. If he wrote of self-sacrifice, and noble living, was it not an easy thing to do? He stood on the safe shore, giving high counsels to those who struggled against the tide. He had no use for a coward. He would not wear mourning when Daniel died. But who knew that he would have done better in the same place? What test of courage or faith had he ever had?

Chapter XLVII.

        Cartly Hole might be a bare and unattractive property when Scott first walked upon it, but it was rich in traditional associations, and it was a spot to which he had already given immortality in the Lay. Readers will remember the repeated allusions to the historic feud between the Kerrs (or Carrs) of Cessford and the Scotts of Buccleuch, which had caused so much bloodshed, and left so many place-names in Roxburghshire.

        In 1529, in an effort to stay the continual bloodshed of a feud in which murder was repaid by murder in an unending sequence, the heads of the two houses signed a bond of amity in which each undertook to perform regular pilgrimages to pray for the souls of their fallen enemies, but even this effort for peace proved futile. It is to this abortive "bond" that allusion is made in the first canto of the Lay.

      "Can piety the discord heal,
        Or stanch the death-feud's enmity?

      Can Christian lore, can patriot zeal,
        Can love of blessed charity?

      No! vainly to each holy shrine,
        In mutual pilgrimage, they drew;

      Implored, in vain, the grace divine
      For chiefs their own red falchions slew;
        While Cessford owns the rule of Carr,

      While Ettrick boasts the line of Scott,
        The slaughter'd chiefs, the mortal jar,

      The havoc of the feudal war,
        Shall never, never be forgot."

        The feud had commenced in a fierce political Border quarrel for the possession of the person of the boy-king, James V. It had culminated in a struggle known as the battle of Melrose, in which the Scotts and their allies had been badly beaten. They had been chased by their victorious enemies, Carr of Cessford heading the pursuit, until one of Buccleuch's retainers (an Elliot, curiously enough, for the Elliots were a Liddesdale clan, and supporters of the Douglas faction) had turned upon the pursuers, and given Cessford a mortal wound; and his death had put an end to the chase.

        It is a result of this feud which is the theme of the Lay. Margaret's lover was unendurable to her mother, because he

      "against her father's clan
        With Carr in arms had stood

      When Mathouse burn to Melrose ran
        All purple with their blood."
    And it is the dark memory of this conflict which comes to the night-riding Deloraine:

        "Now Bowden Moor the march-man won,
          And sternly shook his plumed head,

        As glanced his eye o'er Halidon;
          For on his soul the slaughter red

        Of that unhallow'd morn arose,
          When first the Scott and Carr were foes.

        When royal James beheld the fray,
          Prize to the victor of the day;

        When Home and Douglas, in the van,
          Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan,

        Till gallant Cessford's heart-blood dear
          Reek'd on dark Elliot's Border spear."

            The spot where Cessford was killed and the pursuit ended became known as Turnagain, and was on the actual ground that Scott now bought. He would look over the Tweed to Melrose Abbey, which he had immortalised in the same Lay.

    Chapter XLVIII.

            Either the completion of the purchase of Abbotsford took place too late in the year for the alterations which the house urgently needed to be put in hand before the following spring, when Ashestiel must be left, and residence, under whatever conditions, taken up there, or it was a deliberate decision not to incur any considerable expenditure until it could be personally superintended.

            However that be, little appears to have been done during the autumn, and when the winter came, there was the usual migration to North Castle Street, and Tom Purdie was left in charge of house and stock at Ashestiel in the usual way.

            Perhaps the position may have been influenced by the fact that the Clerk of Session's salary did not commence until January, 1812. After that date there would be a quarterly payment of £325, which would be a clear addition to Scott's previous income, and could be relied upon with a regularity which is not a feature of the profits of literary work.

            Anyway, so it was. The migration to Abbotsford took place at Whitsuntide. The distance was about five or six miles, which family and effects must traverse by road, as was the only way at that time. There was the carriage for Mrs. Scott, Miss Miller, the two younger children, and as much else as it would hold. There were ponies for Sophia and Walter to ride. Scott had his horse. The cows and dogs came on their own legs. The establishment provided one or two other horses and farm vehicles, and sufficient additional ones had to be hired or borrowed. Of course, Tom Purdie and his household came. So did Peter and his. It was a patriarchal procession. Banners and fishing-rods, muskets and spears, swords, bows, and targets, were among the endless details that were brought forth to be loaded on the over-burdened carts, or distributed among a dozen 'rosy ragged peasant children' who were eager to carry them. An old helmet provided safe transit for a brood of turkey chicks.

            So they forded the Tweed. . . .

            Lockhart's financial prudence might have delayed the purchase of Abbotsford, but a prudence of another kind might have said that provision for the necessary migration had been left till too late a day. The place was hardly large enough as it stood to take in those who came. What would it be when the windows were out, and the roof being raised, and the cottage which was to take in the household staff still only half built?

            Scott's intention was not at this time to build a great house, nor to incur any heavy expense. But he must have it large enough to entertain his friends. He had written to Joanna Baillie, with whom he kept up a regular correspondence, that his intention was to enlarge it till it could accommodate his own family and still have two spare bedrooms, with dressing-rooms attached, each of which could 'on a pinch have a couch bed'. He said he could not give up his rule of 'accommodating all the cousins and duniwastles, who will rather sleep on chairs, and on the floor, and in the hayloft, than be absent when folks are gathered together'. But a limited space would provide for many by that method. He remembered once when there had been thirty-two persons under the roof of Ashestiel, which ten were enough to fill. . . .

            Between Whitsuntide and July the family lived at Abbotsford as they best could, and Scott spent five days of each week in Edinburgh, and two there. Then he was able to put in full time on the spot. The alterations were of his own design. He did much labour with his own hands. There was one room in which everyone was obliged to live. He had his desk in the window, overlooking the Tweed. Charlotte nailed up a curtain behind his chair to give him such privacy as she could for his morning writing. Miss Miller and the four children did lessons at the other end.

            He had twelve men employed on the house at this time, and after lunch he left his desk, and did a man's share.

            He had been working on Rokeby in Edinburgh during the earlier year, and must now press it forward with the knowledge that it was to earn the money for the house he had already bought, and that James was anxiously enquiring for a date at which he would be able to bring it out. Apart from that, he was less pressed than usual with miscellaneous work. The Swift, to which he had given a large portion of time during the previous year, was still on his hands, and the Annual Register was a more or less constant preoccupation, but there was little besides these, and another poem which had seized his imagination, and for which he had again pushed aside that of the Highlands which had been intended for precedence two years ago.

            This was The Bridal of Triermain, the genesis of which is of interest, as showing the slow growth of these poems which have been supposed to be so randomly written. A year ago, in an effort to invent attractive features for the Register, he had inserted a passage of verse which was entitled 'In imitation of Walter Scott'. (In the present year, with the same object, he inserted the whole of Don Roderick, instead of using it in a popular edition, when the quarto one was exhausted.) These stanzas, which appeared to be an abstract from a longer poem, remained of ambiguous authorship, but Scott had encouraged an idea that they were an attempt by William Erskine to imitate him. They show that the idea of the poem must, even at that date, have taken form, and some substance. Now, in the midst of his other occupations, he had revived it in earnest, and its composition went forward when that of Rokeby halted, as it was too much inclined to do. For he had an idea respecting the Bridal by which his sense of humour and of adventure equally gratified. He would complete and publish it anonymously. It should be the common rumour (with Erskine's assent) that he (Erskine) was the actual author. What public would it gain, apart from the prestige of his own name? How would Jeffrey review it? The idea of mystifying Jeffrey was particularly attractive.

            Erskine lent himself to the joke. He wrote a foreword, purporting to be by the anonymous author, containing some Greek quotations, which Scott would be unlikely to use.

            The deception of the poem itself is a very skilful thing. Scott did not parody or imitate his own style: he varied it, as only a master of prosody would have been able to do. He introduced new cadences. He adopted a lighter, gayer tone than he was accustomed to use in such poetry.

        "Where is the maiden of mortal strain
        That may match with the Baron of Triermain?"

            Anyone could see that it was like Scott, but those who were good judges would see the difference too. They would see that it was the work of another mind, which had been influenced by Scott's poetry. There was the difference in tone, which was unmistakable: a gay, gallant tone that at times approached flippancy:

        "Within trumpet sound of the Table Round
          Were fifty champions free,

        And they all arise to fight that prize -
          They all arise but three.

        Nor love's fond troth, nor wedlock's oath,
          One gallant could withhold,

        For priests will allow of a broken vow
          For penance or for gold.

    *        *

        And still these lovers' fame survives
          For faith so constant shown, -

        There were two who loved their neighbours' wives,
          And one who loved his own."

            Scott pushed on with it with a light heart.

            But Rokeby moved with more difficulty. He wanted it to equal, if not excel, anything he had done previously. He had evolved a good plot, with some excellent situations. He was ornamenting it with some of the best lyrics he ever wrote. He felt that it would be good - in parts. But the Yorkshire scenery, the locations of the incidents, were not as clear in his mind as were the Highland mountains or the Lowland moors of his earlier poems. He had not the same richness of material on which to draw. He wrote to Morritt, asking for detailed descriptions and topographical detail to refresh his own memory.

            Morritt wrote back urging him to come himself. Surely it would be worth while to spend a month in the district which was to be the scene of the poem? He knew how welcome Mrs. Scott and he would be to spend as long as they would.

            Scott was frank in reply. He did not see how he could come. He was short of money as well as time. He was superintending the work at Abbotsford, doing what he could with his own hands. It progressed well enough, but as the work advanced his funds diminished alarmingly. No. He must stay where he was. What he wanted to know was whether there were any old ruins near Rokeby such as would suit the topography of the poem. He wanted an old church, which should be easy to find. If possible, a robber's cave. . . .

            Morritt replied with fresh urgency. A written description would be a poor substitute for a personal inspection. As to any financial occasion for having the poem out by Christmas, it was a pity that haste should mar it. He had five or six hundred pounds at the Bank for which he had no present use, - if a loan of such amount would render Scott independent of the booksellers, it would be very willingly made. Morritt added, with an adroit courtesy, that it was no great merit to offer such accommodation now that Scott had got rid of his 'Old Man of the Sea' - the undying Home.

            The offer and invitation in combination were irresistible. The loan was accepted on the security of some of James Ballantyne & Co.'s bills, and a week later Abbotsford was left to the workmen and Tom Purdie's care, only Miss Miller and the two younger children remaining at home.

            Scott set out on horseback. Charlotte came in the carriage. Sophia and Walter mounted their ponies.

            They rode through Flodden, to find a landlord grateful for the increased custom that Marmion had brought to his counter, and Scott gave him a parodied quotation from that poem - 'Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and PAY' to hang over his door.

            They stayed a week at Rokeby, Scott finding the cave he wanted in the Brignall quarries, and the church in the ruined abbey of Egglestone. He showed the Bridal to Morritt - now more than half done. But that was under a promise of confidence. It was to be 'a trap for Jeffrey', of which no hint must leak out. No-one else in England, not even George Ellis, was taken into this confidence. Scott planned that the two poems should come out on the same clay, to increase the improbability that they were by the same hand, and to invite reviewers' comparisons. But that proved impracticable. Rokeby had to be published at the first possible moment, and the Bridal was not ready on that date. The trap for Jeffrey failed also, for that self-confident critic chose this time for visiting America, but, apart from these details, the plan worked as Scott had meant that it should. . . .

            There are two anecdotes of about this period which are of little importance, except as showing the sensitiveness to his personal honour which contrasted with Scott's indifference to literary reputation. The one relates to what is probably the only occasion on which he cut a man publicly, Lord Holland being the individual who had this unexpected rebuff. He was introduced to him when on a visit to Edinburgh, and had the unpleasant experience of meeting a man who looked without response at his outstretched hand, and turned silently away. A reconciliation ultimately followed, and there was cordial correspondence in later years, but the occasion of this episode was a matter on which Scott must have felt deeply, though few would have done so by the political ethics then prevailing.

            The fact was that, as Clerk of Session, he had the patronage of several minor offices, which, as they fell vacant, he could bestow upon whom he would, and, some years earlier, he had given one of these to his brother Tom. This was no breach of custom, and he afterwards instanced it as evidence of his scrupulous integrity that it was an office bringing in only £250 a year, while another of a much more lucrative character he had bestowed on a stranger, as the more suitable applicant.

            The office, like many others at that period, was one which could be, and commonly was, delegated by the actual holder, who paid a substitute for discharging such duties as it entailed. Tom had done this, and when, as Lockhart says (with a discretion of speech which he would not have used regarding one of the Ballantynes, had they ever been in similar difficulties,) he 'soon after found it convenient to withdraw for a time to the Isle of Man,' it did not affect the continuance of the office - a point on which Scott had no longer either responsibility or control.

            But a Bill was brought in shortly afterwards to abolish this, and numerous other similar offices, which included compensating those who held them. Under the provisions of this Bill, Tom would become entitled to a small annuity. But when the measure went into Committee in the House of Lords, the Earl of Lauderdale had protested against this payment, alleging that it was an instance of political jobbery, as Scott had known, when he appointed his brother to the office, that it was about to be abolished, and that the appointment had been made with the sole object of entitling him to claim compensation under such circumstances.

            The accusation was certainly false, and had no substance of probability. It was probably forgotten as soon as the debate was over. It was not even a serious one, by the political standards of the time. Had Scott acted in that spirit, it would have been, on all sides, regarded as a natural thing, and it is doubtful whether actual proof would have made any difference to the practical unanimity with which the Lords approved the terms of the Bill. But when Lord Lauderdale moved his amendment to eliminate the provision respecting Mr. Thomas Scott's compensation, one solitary peer - Lord Holland - spoke in its support. Scott took this as an attack upon his personal honour, and it was unfortunate that Lord Holland should have encountered him only a few weeks later.

            "I remembered his part in your affair," Scott wrote to his brother, "and cut him with as little remorse as an old pen." Jeffrey, standing by, was surprised to observe the incident. He had never known Scott personally rude to anyone, nor did he again in many years of later acquaintance. It was an occurrence that he would not easily have believed, if he had not seen it. It showed that hidden core of inflexibility in Scott's character, which was so rarely, and then so disconcertingly bared.

            The other incident is of a different kind, and belongs to the summer of 1812, when Lord Byron was introduced to the Prince Regent, and that peculiar gentleman confided to him an admiration for Scott's poetry which seems to have been of a very genuine kind. Byron told his publisher, Murray; and Murray thought that the incident could be used to heal the offence of Byron's attack three years before, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, upon the senior poet.

            It was, in fact, mild and good-tempered in comparison with some of the gibes which were included in that impish poem, and had it been merely an attack upon Scott's literary standing, it would have been disregarded or long-since forgotten. But the concluding lines had asserted a charge of a different kind:

        "And thinkest thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
          On public taste to foist they stale romance,
        Though Murray with his Miller may combine
          To yield thy muse just half-a-crown a line?
        No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
          Then bays are sear, then former laurels fade.
        Let such foregoe the poet's sacred name,
          Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame.
        Still for stern Mammon may they toil in vain,
          And sadly gaze on gold they cannot gain!
        Such be their meed, such still the just reward
          Of prostituted muse and hireling bard!
        For this we spurn Apollo's venal son,
          And bid a long 'goodnight to Marmion'."

            The attack had Byron's usual glittering shallowness, and deserved no answer but silence. The poet who is not pleased to get a good price from his publisher (unless he be of independent wealth) may be still unborn, though it is a form of trouble which afflicts few. That a desire for gain was the inspiration of Scott's genius was, of course, an absurd suggestion. Yet it was a fact that he had needed money when Marmion was written - for a purpose which he was not likely to make widely public. It was known to his friends that he had resented Byron's imputation, though he had restrained himself from any public reference. Now Murray's efforts succeeded in healing the breach.

            Scott wrote:

            "The poem, my Lord, was not written upon contract for a sum of money - though it is too true that it was sold and published in a very unfinished state (which I have since regretted), to enable me to extricate myself from some engagements which fell suddenly upon me, by the unexpected misfortunes of a very near relation. So that, to quote statute and precedent, I really come under the case cited by Juvenal, though not quite in the extremity of the classic author -

    Esurit, intactam Paridi nisi vendit Agaven

            As for my attachment to literature, I sacrificed for the pleasure of pursuing it very fair chances of opulence and professional honours, at a time of life when I fully knew their value; and I am not ashamed to say that in deriving advantages in compensation from the partial favour of the public, I have added some comforts and elegancies to a bare independence. I am sure your Lordship's good sense will easily put this unimportant egotism to the right account, for - though I do not know, the motive would make me enter into controversy with a fair or unfair literary critic - I may be well excused for a wish to clear my personal character from any tinge of mercenary or sordid feeling in the eyes of a contemporary of genius Your Lordship will likewise permit me to add, that you would have escaped the trouble of this explanation, had I not understood that the satire alluded to had been suppressed, not to be reprinted. For in removing a prejudice on your Lordship's own mind I had no intention of making any appeal by or through you to the public, since my own habits of life have rendered my defence as to avarice or rapacity rather too easy."

            Lord Byron answered in a spirit of unreserved apology and withdrawal, such as could not fail to remove any feeling which Scott might have had up to this time. He said that Scott's explanation was "too kind not to give pain". The relations of the two alien-natured poets were always afterwards of a cordial character. However diverse were the characters of the poets of the day, and however bitterly they might differ among themselves we may observe that Scott made friends of them all. Southey, Hogg, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Campbell, Moore and a host of others of equal differences, but lesser fame - he was the friend of each, and the substantial benefactor of more than one of the number.

            It was in the early August of 1812 that he received a letter at Abbotsford from James Ballantyne, in which he alluded to an accumulating pressure of financial difficulties which were worrying his brother, about whose health he was concerned, on receipt of which Scott wrote:

            "Dear John,

            I have a letter from James, very anxious about your health and state of spirits. If you suffer the present inconveniences to depress you too much you are unjust to us all. I am always ready to make any sacrifices to do justice to engagements, and would rather sell anything or everything, than be less than true men to the world."

            James was looking forward to the new poem for substantial aid to the finances of both firms, which, mainly as the result of the heavy stock of publications on hand, were being supported by the discounting of bills to an extent of which, even now, Scott may not have been fully aware. Yet the Balance Sheets, and other financial statements which were supplied to him on his own instructions at short intervals, must have given him a view of the position which was broadly accurate, though John's valuations and forecasts might be of a more sanguine complexion than would have been endorsed by an impartial accountant.

            Still, they all knew what was wrong. They had too much stock. The position would gradually right itself, if they could maintain credit in the meantime. That was the vital thing.

            Scott had promised James that Rokeby should be finished in time for publication to take place at the beginning of the year. He supposed that to be the way in which he could give the most efficient help. He kept his word about that.

    Chapter XLIX

            Rokeby was published on January 12th, 1813, and the first quarto edition of 3,000 copies was sold immediately (This is the figure Scott gave Morritt at the time. Writing seventeen years later, when his memory was not always exact on dates and figures, he puts it at half the quantity. Anyway, the total sale, including octavos, was ten thousand within three months of publication). So far so good. Scott was anxiously aware of how much the security of his commercial interests was staked upon the success of this poem. On that date, as he sat in Court, and some long-drawn case gave him the leisure for correspondence, he scribbled a note to Morritt to give him the good news. He added: "I am heartily glad of this, for now I have nothing to fear but a bankruptcy in the Gazette of Parnassus; but the loss of five or six thousand pounds to my good friends and school companions would have afflicted me very much." He goes on to talk of a christening dinner which James Ballantyne was giving in the usual custom of celebrating the birth of these poems, at which many friends, including the Duke of Buccleuch, would be present. (The Duke died during the month, and we must think of Scott's lifelong friend, The Earl of Dalkeith, by that title henceforward.)

            The letter shows that, since his return to Edinburgh, Scott has become sufficiently conversant with the affairs of the publishing firm to realise that a failure to sell out the first edition of this poem must have disastrous consequences. The amount he mentions need not be taken too literally; it probably included his brother's capital in the printing firm, and Scott's "friends and school companions" were so numerous that it would be hard to arrange an overdraft, or discount a bill, or buy a few score reams of printing paper, without taking or receiving an obligation from them. Yet the amount is some indication of the extent to which the two firms were now financed from sources supplemental to the partners' capital. Morritt, as we know, had been added - may be said to have added himself - to the list of those who had Ballantyne bills in their safes. It would be good news to him that the commercial skies cleared, though he would care even more about the success of the poem on other grounds, for, the scene being laid in his own estates, he regarded it almost as a personal thing. He would care very much for Scott's welfare also, being a friend of a good kind.

            The news was good - yet it was not good enough. The sale of 3,000 copies would bring in a retail price of 4,500 guineas. The publishing and printing houses would receive about two-thirds of this sum, of which more than half would be gross profit. But they had given Scott £2,000 - in bills - to purchase the copyright. In the end, it would be worth more than that. But the bills would soon be due - and numerous others, which had nothing to do with this poem.

            If Scott had staked much on the sale of the first edition, he may not have been unduly rash, for in view of the popularity of his previous poems, that was an almost certain thing. It was the demand for the cheaper octavos which were to follow which would make the difference between a moderate and a great financial success. And these - as Scott was to find during the following weeks - did not go off as he had hoped that they would. There was an immense sale. For any other poet it would have been of a phenomenal kind. But it was not equal to any of his three previous experiences. There was a definite turn of the tide.

            The reason for this may have lain in the poem itself, or in the competition of Byron's new popularity, to which it is usually attributed, but the fact was one that the Ballantynes had to face in anxious conference. Indeed, it is evident that no sale, however phenomenal, either of this poem, or of the Bridal which followed two months later, would have enabled them to vanquish the difficulties that were now before them.

            Lockhart accuses the Ballantynes of having deliberately concealed the true position of both businesses at this time from their senior partner. The accusation, at least as far as John is concerned, may not be entirely without foundation, but some of the evidences which he offers do not go as far as the inferences which he asks us to make.

            The winter of 1812-13 was a period of severe depression and restricted credits. England, for twenty years, had been engaged in almost continuous and exhausting war. Looking back, we can see that there were, even then, signs that the peace for which Europe longed would not be much further deferred. Napoleon was back in Paris, leaving the skeletons of his army on the frozen plains of Russia. In the Peninsula, Wellington had done well. The signs to us seem unmistakably clear. But if France were exhausted, she was facing exhausted foes. Napoleon would hear of no surrender: no compromise. In Paris, he gathered strength again. Even the sailors were fetched out of the fleet to swell the ranks of the new army that he would raise. On the Vistula, Murat recovered the fragments of the Grand Army, as best he could. By the spring, Napoleon would take the field again with 350,000 men. On the 2nd of May he would shatter once again at Lutzen the allied strength of his foes.

            The financial history of this period is closely similar to that of a century later. During the last stages of the European struggle, national debts rose to what appeared to those who endured them to be fantastic heights. Finance appeared an impossible nightmare, from which men would wake at last to they knew not what frightful reality. All Europe owed debts to England which it was never likely to pay. Like the later experience, the financial crises of the war were less acute, and less disastrous in their consequences, than was that which came after a few years of recovered peace (which we shall also encounter in a later chapter), but they seemed bad enough at the time. In the publishing trade, failures were numerous during the early part of 1813. Every one that occurred made it more difficult for those that remained to continue trading. If a firm were rumoured to be doing badly, and depended for its existence upon renewing its bills, its chance of survival would be small indeed.

            Interpreting such facts as we have in the light of probabilities, the position of John Ballantyne & Co. at the time when Scott was writing cheerfully to Morritt, may be stated thus:

            During the first period of its existence it had ordered large quantities of its new publications from James Ballantyne & Co. for which, at first, it had made some cash payments, but for the bulk of which it had given bills, which had been discounted by the printing firm. Had it been able to dispose of sufficient quantities of its stock it should have been able to pay these bills as they fell due, but its sales had never reached such an amount. So far as credit was as available, the bills were renewed, and their amount grew.

            At this time the printing business was (on paper) still prosperous - indeed, increasingly so, if these obligations of John Ballantyne & Co. would ever be met. It had established a valuable connection. It was doing work on a large scale for several London publishers. (Southey's Kehama, for instance, was printed by the Ballantyne press.) The large editions of Miss Seward's poems, the huge Beaumont & Fletcher, the History of the Culdees, the successive volumes of the Annual Register - all these and a dozen other publications, large and small, were extra work for the printing business, and would swell its legitimate profits - if John Ballantyne & Co. ever paid.

            When it became evident that the sale of these editions would be slower and more difficult than had been anticipated, the putting in hand of new books was severely restricted. To that extent the policy of "reefing sail" had been adopted at least a year ago. But that restriction did not sell the large quantities already printed. It did not pay John Ballantyne's salary, nor all the weekly expenses of the Hanover Street premises: the wages of the Hanover Street staff. If sales were made beyond the requirements of these recurring expenses, it is improbable that they reduced the outstanding liability as much as it was increased by the deliveries of the successive volumes of the Beaumont and Fletcher and the Edinburgh Register, which were still coming through the press.

            And all this time it will be observed that John Ballantyne & Co. need be incurring no liabilities except to the printing business, to which firm it gave its bills as the stock was delivered. It was James Ballantyne & Co. that had to pay out the wages, that had to buy the paper and types by which these books were produced, and that had to discount the bills it received in order that these liabilities might be discharged. So long as John Ballantyne & Co.'s credit were maintained, and the amount of these bills were not increased, they might steer through the storm, and find calmer water at last.

            But John Murray had withdrawn his agency. The Quarterly Review was an established success. No-one could alter that now. The arrangement had served its purpose. He had tired of trying to sell stock which no-one wanted to buy. He may have decided that John Ballantyne was less successful as his Scottish agent than a more experienced publisher would be likely to be. He may have had more specific cause for complaint.

            Anyway, so it was. Scott does not seem to have felt that there was anything to resent. His personal relations with Murray were as friendly as before. But it must have been an almost fatal wound. It removed the most reliable source from which those weekly expenses at Hanover Street would be met. It was a thing that could not be concealed, that must have damaged the credit of the business beyond even John's ingenuity to explain away.

            Even so, a superficial consideration might conclude that, for the moment, it should be able to hold its own, with the help of these 3,000 copies of Rokeby which were delivered from the printing works as the year closed, and for which such satisfactory payments in drafts, and good, discountable bills, would be coming in from the London trade. So Scott evidently thought. But suppose that it was by anticipation of the publication of Rokeby that James and John (particularly John) had been putting off payments already due? Suppose it were in anticipation of this time of abundant money that they had been persuading bankers or trade creditors to renew bills?

            James had told Scott plainly that it was vital that the poem should be out by the end of the year, and Scott had done his part. So had James. It had been set up as it reached his hands. His preparations had been made. It came out of the press promptly and well. But how many were watching for this event, and in what mood?

            It might actually have been easier to carry on if the publication of Rokeby had been delayed. They might, on that pretext, have been able to persuade creditors to renew their bills to a larger total than the cash that they now received. But creditors might ask today - if you do not pay us now, how will you in six months' time? From the later editions of Rokeby? But there would soon be a rumour in the trade that the cheaper editions of Rokeby were going somewhat slowly. . . . That is, compared with anticipations.

            John may have made promises to the firm's bankers, also, that when this money came in from the Rokeby sales there would be a reduction in the accommodation they had been receiving. That is a very probable thing. For as to the relations of John Ballantyne & Co. with its bankers we have one sinister fact recorded in John's fragmentary autobiography, which he wrote many years later. It reads:

            "1811. - Bills increased to almost fearful degree. Sir Wm. Forbes & Co. shut their account. No bank would discount with us, and everything leading to irretrievable failure."

            It is practically certain here that the date is an error. For 1811 we should read 1812. It seems most probable that the trouble with Forbes & Co. occurred in the autumn of 1812, and John must either have concealed it from Scott entirely, or given some explanation which minimised its importance at the time.

            And, under all, we have to keep steadily in mind, there moved this adverse current of world-finance which no man could foresee, or control. It was a tide in which many stronger swimmers than these two firms would go down; which two, indeed, apart from the imponderable element of Scott's character and resources, had no chance at all.

            Fighting for their lives, they carried on until the Bridal was published with some success, in spite of its anonymity, in the early part of March, and shortly after that a position developed in which it became evident that considerable money must be found at once if they were to continue trading.

            It appears certain that the active partners had struggled to overcome their difficulties without worrying Scott with all the details of the position; and that he now felt that if he had been informed earlier, he could have dealt with it more competently than they had been able to do, for he was not one to express such feelings, and with the indignation which he certainly showed, without some substantial reason. He blamed John Ballantyne particularly. In fact, matters might have gone further on the downhill grade, had not demands been made upon him direct of such nature and amount that concealment, even had it been desired, was no longer possible, at which, with his customary energy, he lost no time in investigating and facing the crisis that had arisen.

            On March 16th, John sent him, in accordance with his instructions, a very long and detailed statement of the financial position, with particular reference to those liabilities which had become of a critical urgency.

            Lockhart, having the whole of this statement before him, gave two abstracts, the second of which is obviously of the nature of a personal footnote:

            "This business has always been more or less difficulted by all its capital, and £3,000 more, being lent the printing office, and the necessity of keeping up this advance by discounting it from time to time. The profits of the office being nearly commensurate to the drafts made on it, and the supplies of materials from year to year, this debt, once constituted, has never been reduced. . . ."

            "Dear Sir

            I have read over this melancholy statement, and have in truth nothing to add to it. Amidst my vexation and apprehension, it is some consolation that I cannot charge myself with undue negligence in my department. I have nothing to add but my hope that I may not wholly lose your countenance and regard, which has for many years been the pride of my life. "

            Four days later, John wrote to Scott again, saying:

            "I know for my part that I have lived upon the £300 allotted, and can live . . . on much less . . . I think any money you choose to raise should be applied in liquidation of the printing office's debts, as it seems to me impossible that it can continue to maintain, even for a period, a loan to the office of £5,000. "

            Lockhart selected these abstracts as evidence that the printing business was in debt, without legitimate excuse, to the publishing office for a huge sum, which position he attributes to the reckless private expenditure of James. He discredits John's assertion that he had lived within his salary. He says he had met people (twenty years later) who thought that John had spent four times as much.

            In fact, John's evidence is never to be believed unless it can be used to discredit James, when he at once becomes a reliable witness! But do these passages from John's statement really bear the implication that Lockhart places upon them?

            When the publishing business was started it had a substantial sum of cash in the bank. The printing business was straining its resources to finance the orders it already had. The publishing business placed very large orders with it, entailing heavy expenditure in wages and other directions long before there could be actual deliveries of goods. The publishing firm would naturally make advances, under these circumstances, first in cash, and afterwards in bills, against the orders in hand. To the extent at any date at which these payments on account exceeded actual deliveries, the printing firm would appear to he 'in debt' to the publishing firm on the books of both. It is a position which might almost have been assumed, without evidence, and is supported by a Balance Sheet of the publishing business which John drew up for Scott's information in 1810, which shows the printing business as in its debt for £928 at that earlier period.

            These transactions are quite consistent with the normality of the position and would not require or deserve such detailed analysis, were it not for the accusations of personal extravagance and deception which Lockhart made against the Ballantynes, and of blind credulity against Scott himself, which degrade and obscure the simpler truth of the mistakes which were made, and the characters of those who were associated in these difficulties.

            John Ballantyne did not conceal from Scott that the printing business was indebted (on paper) to the publishing office. He set it out plainly and periodically. If Scott did not understand, and did not trouble to enquire, as to the nature of the transactions which produced that position, if all the capital which he provided for the publishing business were really being transferred to the printing firm, so that it could be wasted by James in extravagant living, and Scott did not understand or enquire as to what was happening with these figures before him, then he deserves such sympathy as an imbecile should receive, but not more.

            To recognise that is not to suggest that John Ballantyne or anyone else was impeccable in character, or infallible in judgement. John's correspondence suggests that he was something of an opportunist, he is sometimes more plausible than convincing, but the underlying causes that produced the position are clear enough, and are not radically disparaging to anyone of the three most concerned. Whatever be thought of John's correspondence, that of Scott and James Ballantyne is about equally creditable to both, and James, in particular, has a gift of clarity which few business men would equal.

            On March 22nd, a few days later than the letters above quoted, he sent Scott his own statement of the position of the printing business, and concluded his letter with this paragraph:

            "It is thus evident that the bookselling could be supported only by credit: and the best mode would have been for us to have limited it as much as possible. But, unfortunately, as it now appears, we did not. We embarked upon various speculations, some of which - those in which you were concerned as author or editor - had great success - others the fair average the bookseller expects; but a third class, and that class unfortunately the largest in amounts though not the most numerous with no success at all corresponding to the expense laid out upon them. Of these, Beaumont and Fletcher, and the Register, have been the heaviest hitherto. By these adventures nearly £15,000 (perhaps more) of stock has been created without any capital whatever; and therefore that sum must be due by us to sundries. . . . Having said all that occurs, I shall conclude with assuring you that you will find in John and me the most implicit compliance with whatever you shall propose, either for the general welfare of the business, or your own security. Whatever you propose I am confident it will be proper for us to agree."

            That seems to put the position with a clearness and equity which Lockhart certainly fails to reach. James does not defend himself from any charge of personal extravagance, and it is evident that none has been made against him. Without imputation against anyone, he goes to the root of the trouble, and takes his share of the blame. He recognises that the whole enterprise owes its success, almost its existence, to Scott, as well as that its embarrassments arise from projects that he initiated, and which they had all approved.

            It was a position in which quarrelling and recrimination would have been a likely issue. The temper in which the crisis was faced was highly creditable to the characters of all concerned: it was left to Lockhart, twenty years later, to introduce posthumous imputations of bad faith and folly, which the evidence does not support, and Scott's reputation did not require.

    Chapter L

            On investigating the position with which he was now confronted, Scott found that the one hope of saving it, so far as the resources of the two firms were concerned, lay in an immediate realisation of the publishing stock. There was only one man in Edinburgh who might possibly be willing, and who had the means or credit, for such a speculation. That was Archibald Constable. Scott suggested that they should approach him at once. His partners said that they had already done this, and negotiations proceeded. Scott said he would deal with that matter himself. He went to see Constable. Fortunately, the obnoxious Hunter had left the firm. He found that, though Constable might not have shown a disposition to come to brisk terms with the Ballantynes, he was quite ready to deal with him.

            By May 18th, when the news of Lutzen was spreading consternation through Europe, and the financial crisis in England was at its height, he was able to feel that, for the time at least, he had saved the position. Constable had bought one fourth share in the remaining Rokeby copyright for £700. He had picked out a quantity of stock that he was prepared to buy, of which some 800 copies of Don Roderick, 300 sets of the Annual Register, and a large quantity of De Foe's novels have the appearance of being the most saleable items. He gave £1,300 for these, making £2,000 in all. Scott calculated that Constable would make a large profit on the transaction, which he did not grudge him, but a young man, Robert Cadell, whom Constable had just taken into partnership in place of the obnoxious Hunter, bore witness subsequently that it was sold off at a heavy loss, and this is more probably true.

            The amount received, though a mere fraction of the total liabilities that had to be faced, was sufficient to discharge such obligations as were of a critical urgency; and it was now definitely agreed that the publishing business was to be given up. It was the right decision to take, and Scott had shown wisdom as well as courage in the way in which he had faced the crisis. John was to make it his sole occupation to market the heavy quantities of stock that would still be on the Hanover Street shelves. He was to collect the outstanding accounts as quickly as he could. Beyond that, there was to be no more trading. As accounts were collected, or stock sold, the remaining liabilities were to be paid off. Scott could feel that he had done the right thing, though it was a confession of failure, and likely to mean very heavy loss to himself. He had at least turned the helm toward a quiet harbour, though he might still be steering through stormy seas. By itself, the printing business should be able to recover its position.

            It might be clear that it was the right course to take, but it had one danger. For this decision to wind up the business, and the bargain with Constable, would become known to the trade, and the credit of John Ballantyne & Co. would be a dead thing. Henceforward, it would be a race between the rate at which John could collect accounts and sell stock, and the dates at which the now-floating bills would fall due, with such help as the printing business could give, or Scott, at the worst, provide. It was a struggle in which the odds were against John Ballantyne. He may have calculated how many thousand pounds worth of that stock he would have to sell before the year ended, and no-one knew better than he - perhaps no-one knew quite so well - how difficult it would be. But on this 18th day of May, he, too, may have felt the relief of a crisis past. He was in London, where he had gone to collect accounts and endeavour to renew some credits there, when he received a letter from Scott of that date: "For the first time for many weeks," he read, "I shall lay my head on a quiet pillow," - and then in its concluding words:

            "Adieu, my dear John. If I have ever expressed myself with irritation in speaking of this business, you must impute it to the sudden, extensive, and unexpected embarrassments in which I found myself involved all at once. If to your real goodness of heart and integrity, and to the quickness and acuteness of your talents, you added habits of more universal circumspection, and, above all, the courage to tell disagreeable truths to those whom you hold in regard, I pronounce that the world never held such a man of business. These it must be your study to add to your other good qualities. Meantime, as some one says to Swift, I love you with all your failings. Pray make an effort and love me with all mine. Yours truly W.S.

            P.S. James has behaved very well during this whole transaction, and has been most steadily attentive to business. I am convinced that the more he works the better his health will be. One or other of you will need to be constantly in the printing-office henceforth - it is the sheet-anchor.

            They are words written in a mood of relief: at an ended crisis, generous in what they allow, and, for that very generosity, the more serious in what they impute. Yet, at their most serious implication, they are not such as Scott would have written to a man with whom he had been associated in business for several years, and who had finally been revealed as a proved knave or a proved fool. . . .

            Something of the condition of the country, the business atmosphere, in which these "heavy skirmishes" - it is Scott's phrase - had taken place, may be judged from a letter which he wrote to Southey in the previous June, when he was living during weekends in a "gardener's hut" at Abbotsford, and doing his duty as Sheriff to keep order in Selkirkshire. It is the letter of a man who held no brief for the master against the workman, whose sympathies were always for the under-dog, but who saw his country threatened with foes abroad and revolution from below, and who saw also that such revolution, at such a time, would bring a thousand times more miseries to the world than it would be likely to cure. It must be remembered that, for good or evil, there was no police force as we understand it in those: days. Men lived freer lives than we can easily imagine, or are soon likely to experience again. Order depended, in the country districts, almost entirely upon the energy of the Sheriff and, indirectly, upon his personal popularity, and the readiness with which voluntary helpers would come to his call. And Scott was determined that, while he was Sheriff of Selkirkshire, there should be order in at least one county in Scotland.

            Southey had been expressing his fear that unrest and misery and misrule might bear fruit in a revolution, before which all ordered government would be swept away; and Scott replied from Edinburgh on the 4th June, 1812:

            "You are quite right in apprehending a Jacquerie; the country is mined below our feet. Last week, learning that a meeting was to be held among the weavers of the large manufacturing village of Galashiels, for the purpose of cutting a man's web from his loom, I apprehended the ring-leader and disconcerted the whole project, but in the course of my enquiries imagine my surprise at discovering a bundle of letters and printed manifestos, from which it appeared that the Manchester Weavers' Committee corresponds with every manufacturing town in the South and West of Scotland, and levies a subsidy of 2/6 per man (an immense sum) for the ostensible purpose of petitioning Parliament for the redress of grievances, but doubtless to sustain them in their revolutionary movements. An energetic administration which had the confidence of the county should soon check all this. . . ."

            We are not, of course, to understand that a single 2/6 was an 'immense sum', even by the standards of those days, but that such a levy would accumulate one far greater than the promotion of any petition could require. The fact that the half-starved weavers could be induced to contribute so largely was also an ominous sign of the strength of a discontent which had no outlet to express itself at the polling-booth.

            Scott, it may be said, took the standpoint of the traditional Tory, but that is disputable, unless, indeed, we place a high interpretation upon what that standpoint is. It may be doubted whether he would have seen any prospect of social salvation in placing equal voting power in all adult hands. It was an experiment which had not been tried, and even some of those who are best satisfied with its results today might have hesitated to prescribe it as an immediate remedy for the conditions, and for the population, of that period. But, primarily, Scott blamed the Government, not the mob, if disorders came. Had the power been in his hands, he would have attacked every social evil with the same practical ideality with which he was now planning to drain and ditch and plant fair woodlands on that derelict Abbotsford land.

            In his fullest, most prosperous days, when his dream of Abbotsford had come true, and the whole world was at his feet, he had not only the care to order that the boot-boy should be allowed free time to continue his studies, but to have him once a week in his own room to instruct and encourage him in the efforts he was making to improve his mind. Had the government of the day consisted of such as he, there would have been no fear of revolution among the weavers of Manchester or Galashiels.

    Chapter LI

            The financial crisis in the affairs of the Ballantyne firms was sufficiently severe to oblige Scott to put other plans out of his mind, until the treaty with Constable gave a respite to the sharp pressure of immediate anxiety. But with his successful conclusion of this bargain his thoughts reverted immediately to a project which had been stayed by this disagreeable interlude. Side by side with the production of the two poems which had just been published, he had, as we know, been maturing the plan of another, the scene of which was to be the remote Highlands. Parts of it were already written. As the two others were dismissed from his mind, he had concentrated immediately upon the one that remained, and had formed a confident hope that he could make it equal to - perhaps that it could even surpass - his previous triumphs. He was not discouraged by the comparative failure of Rokeby. He thought that that could be attributed in part to the scene and character of the poem, and in part to Byron's competing popularity. The first objection would not apply to the new one, the scenes of which would be in the Scotland where he felt that his strength lay; as to the second, he was resolved not to be driven from the field without an effort to retain his championship. He felt that he had an attractive plot. He would introduce a description of Bannockburn, Scotland's most famous victory. He read over the parts of the poem already drafted and felt that they had a good sound. He would call it the Nameless Glen. . . .

            The idea that this poem should win back any ground that Rokeby had lost was linked with another project which he hoped rather than expected to carry through. Behind the land which he had bought along the Tweedside there was a hilly, treeless waste, stretching southward to a desolate mountain lake, known as the Cauldshiels Loch. The owner was willing to sell - at a price - and Scott was keener to buy. He saw the possible beauties of those barren hills, if they were planted in his own way. With some difficulty, they had arrived at a tentative price - £5,000. Constable had once given him a thousand guineas for an unwritten poem at a time when his reputation had not been as firmly based as it was now. Why should he not try again for a higher price?

            Doubtless, when he had been negotiating with Constable to save himself and his partners from the shadow of an impending bankruptcy, he had mentioned that he had another poem in hand. Doubtless, Constable had had the thought of an ultimate bargain concerning it. But, even in that extremity, Scott had not thrown it into the scale. He had another use for that. He might have sleepless nights, but he held to the ultimate purpose he had in view with the tenacious courage which had brought him through so many previous adventures of life, physical and commercial, and of other varieties.

            Now he lost no time in opening the negotiation. He told Constable frankly why he wanted the money. £5,000 he must have. That, therefore, was the poem's price. Constable thought not. It was far too high. They argued in correspondence. Each of them wished to deal, and neither would give way.

            It has been used as an evidence of Scott's financial recklessness that he should have attempted such a deal within three weeks of the experience through which he had passed, but it is difficult to see any logical basis for this accusation. Audacious it may have been. But to exchange a few sheets of verse for the title deeds of a freehold property does not decrease the financial stability of the man who is able to pull it off. Freehold land is usually regarded as an investment of a rather conservative kind. Now suppose that Constable had had £5,000 worth of freehold land, and had sold it to buy a poem, and the poem had turned out a dud? What would Lockhart have said to that?

            But, in fact, the deal was not made. Scott, with the knowledge of the continued profits of the Lay and Marmion, in which he had no further copyright interest, and on the Lady of the Lake, in which he had, would not give way. The price was £5,000. Constable would not give way either. In fact, it is almost certain that the figure, though he did not say so, was beyond his means. Of course, he could have given bills. Almost certainly the settlement would have taken that form, had it been made at all. Even in the financial atmosphere of those days, bills with Constable's name, and Scott's, upon them, might have been good enough to obtain the money - at a price.

            But bills have to be met. Constable would sometimes take a bold risk, but he was far from being reckless in his financial adventures. Otherwise, he would not have weathered the commercial crisis of this period, and been able to give help to others, while so many publishing firms were failing in London.

            But Scott meant to have the land, and though he would not give way concerning a price that he had once named, he may have felt a scruple of honour in offering the poem elsewhere after the help which Constable had just given. In the end, they came to an amicable bargain, but that is part of a later tale. The name had been changed as the correspondence proceeded. It was to be The Lord of the Isles.

            Scott found other means of buying the land. After all, there was a good deal of money in the family. Land is not a bad security on which to lend. In July, he had got what he would. All the way from the Tweed to Cauldshields Loch, he could walk over his own land.

            Whatever trouble there might have been during the last few weeks, it is evident that Scott did not regard himself as a poor man, nor the future with any fear. He had an assured income of £1,600 a year from his official appointments. If he were willing to give a sufficient proportion of his time to articles and editorial work he could get something like a further £1,000 a year from the publishers. Probably more. He might hope for further large sums for future poems. He could hope that when Hanover Street was finally closed he would again be in receipt of profits from the printing business, from which from £500 to £750 had been accruing due to him in the past with approximate regularity. But even without that, even it he lost the £9,000 - or whatever it was - that he had invested in these enterprises, he was not a poor man. And there was Charlotte's smaller separate income, as a last ditch in the rear.

            As to the publishing business, the arrangement was clear and simple. John was to realise all he could, and endeavour to meet liabilities as they fell due, without troubling Scott further. But if he could see that he might be short, there was to be no more loss of credit. No more discreditable episodes such as those in which Court processes and attorneys had figured in the immediate past. No more dishonoured bills. He was to let Scott know in good time, and the needed amount should be made up.

            Scott left Edinburgh for Abbotsford on July 12th, the Session being over. On the evening of July 23rd there was a messenger with an urgent letter from John at the door. He was short of £350 which must be banked tomorrow if credit were to be saved. The youth had ridden thirty miles with that letter: he would have to ride thirty miles back. Scott allowed him a few hours' sleep and started him of at dawn with the 'order' - the cheque, as we should say - that the situation required.

            The next day he wrote to John Ballantyne -

    "Dear John,

            I sent you the order and have only to hope it arrived safe and in good time. I waked the boy at three o'clock myself, having slept little, less on account of the money than of the time. Surely you should have written, three or four days before, the probable amount of the deficit, and, as on former occasions, I would have furnished you with means of meeting it. These expresses, besides other inconveniences, excite surprise in my family and in the neighbourhood. I know of no justifiable occasion for them but the unexpected return of a bill. I do not consider you as answerable for the success of plans, but I do and must hold you responsible for giving me, in distinct and plain terms, your opinion as to any difficulties which may occur, and that in such time that I may make arrangements to obviate them if possible."

            A sharp note, but not unreasonable. It was evident that these calls for help were becoming rather frequent. Scott must derive what consolation he could from the thought that the liabilities of John Ballantyne & Co. were getting less with each payment that was made.

            John might have said that, if he did not call out till the eleventh hour, it was because he did not want to trouble Scott at all. In this case he had thought he could obtain a renewal of bills which Sir William Forbes had refused. He had been too sanguine, it may be said, but it may be a good fault, and he was careful in his own way. We have seen how James represented him as being ill with anxiety a year ago. But the fact was that banking credit was being restricted in all directions. It may have been a necessary consequence of many failures. It was producing more. Friendly firms, holding Ballantyne bills, might promise John that they should be renewed, perhaps with a small reduction of the amount, and then find at the last moment that their bankers would veto the promised accommodation. It was a tempest in which many strong ships were foundering. What chance was there for John Ballantyne & Co., damaged and ill-equipped, and self-doomed to an early end? If we have any imagination, any knowledge of business under such conditions, we may spare a thought of sympathy for John Ballantyne at the daily helm; and for James also, inextricably entangled with the other firm by that nightmare of bills that seemed always to be falling due, and the wages to be found every Saturday morning, and those uncertain London remittances. . . .

            As we watch the course of these events, as they will develop during the following months, we may also ask ourselves whether, or how far, it could have been a continuing secret that Scott was a partner in these labouring firms. The more closely we examine the facts the stronger the suspicion may grow that to discuss the ethics of the position on that assumption is to waste time on a baseless myth.

            The fact was that John had an almost impossible task. A publishing business depends mainly, for current income, upon the new books which it is bringing out. To sell the old -stock fast enough to pay off all those thousands of pounds of accruing liabilities, now that credit was lost, and bills were almost impossible to renew . . . well, John was finding that it couldn't be done.

            Perhaps Scott understood this well enough. He may have felt that the burden of disposing of that stock would fall on him in the end. There would be no use in saying that now. Let John do what he could, without discouragement. But these last-minute appeals must be stopped. Had that messenger come a few days later, Scott would have been away in Nithsdale. What would have happened then?

            The Scotts were going to Nithsdale, to Drumlanrig Castle, on the invitation of the Duke of Buccleuch, who had just inherited that estate, in addition to those that came to him when his father died. They were to have a week there, and then Scott was to meet the Marquis of Abercorn at Carlisle, on that old business of Tom's administration of the estate. But he had given John his Drumlanrig address, and there were two more urgent messengers there during the week.

            One concerned some renewal bills on which Scott's name was imperative. The other was a cry for help concerning the rates on the Hanover Street premises, for the recovery of which legal process was threatened.

            When the second came, Scott decided that he could not safely go on to Carlisle without knowing more of the position in Edinburgh. He wrote to John to meet him at Abbotsford, and set out for home.

            The interview that took place there was sufficiently reassuring to allow him to go on to Carlisle with a quieter mind than he might otherwise have had, and to transact his business there, which was of a personal importance, for there was a large sum of money due to his father's estate, which had been in Tom's hands, or invested in the Abercorn property - we need not turn aside to probe the details of that - which by Scott's or Gurthie Wright's exertions, or by the process of time, was to be repaid at the end of the year. Scott was to benefit personally to a substantial sum, and he would have no difficulty in discovering a direction in which it could easily be used. It was already evident that the winding up of John Ballantyne & Co. was going to be a worrying and expensive business.

            John's optimism had given Scott such immediate reassurance that he had decided to carry out a previous purpose to go on to Rokeby, being so near, and have a few days with Morritt. At Penrith he found another letter had been sent forward by John to await him there. Another cheque went to Edinburgh. Scott rode on to Brough, and there had found a letter from Morritt, telling him of the serious illness of his wife. It was doubtful whether it would prove a well-chosen time for such a visit; it was certain that the affairs of the publishing business required his attention. This condition of being asked for cheques by express messenger about twice a week was intolerable in every way. Besides, look at the cost. The plan of realising the stock while the creditors sat round and waited was not going to prove a success. Scott turned his horse, and rode back to Edinburgh, determined to cut the knot.

            Once again, Constable was taken into confidence, and far more completely than before. Scott may have been too ready to anticipate that the efforts of the Ballantynes would be equal to maintaining their floating credits while the slow realisation of stock reduced the total. He may have acted as most men would have hesitated to do in buying those barren hills behind Abbotsford a few weeks after the first extremity of crisis had been overcome. But when he came on the scene it was in no hesitant mood, nor as one whom circumstance would find it easy to overwhelm. John's optimistic assurance at Abbotsford, followed almost immediately by the letter to Penrith, had decided him that the position could not continue. A cheerful optimism may be a very valuable quality for a partner to have. John had been fertile - possibly even too fertile - of expedients in the days while it had been possible to screen with a bold front of prosperity the financial exigencies of the hour, and when it may have seemed almost as important that the sleeping partner should not be dissatisfied or disturbed as that there should be no cause for such feelings, if the truth were bare. But John's expedients were about done.

            Now Scott had two schedules prepared, and laid before Constable. One was a complete list of the stock. The other was the liabilities of John Ballantyne & Co., including obligations to bankers, and the bills on which, either as drawers or acceptors, its name appeared. These figures may not be available now, but it is evident from the subsequent facts that the stock would have been more than sufficient to discharge the liabilities if it could have been realised at anything like its nominal wholesale value. Unfortunately, that was a large 'if'.

            Constable studied the list of stock. It was a huge total. He studied the list of floating liabilities with experienced eyes. He considered his resources. He said he was sorry. The problem was beyond his means.

            Scott's plan appears to have been that the whole stock should have been handed over to Constable's control, against which he should have made himself responsible for the liabilities, for which, with the support of his name, extended times of payment might have been arranged, and Scott in turn would be responsible to him. In future, Scott and Constable would have dealt direct. John was to be eliminated entirely. He must seek other employment. Scott meant to put an end to those twice-weekly expresses. Or, at the worst, that they should come in future from James rather than John.

            Alternately, he would doubtless have been glad to sell the whole stock to Constable outright, and face the position with a finality which could be secured in no other way. It contained much that was of value, if it could be marketed without haste, and there was probably no-one in the trade, either in London or Edinburgh, who could have done it better than he. But Constable was firm in refusal. It was too large a risk for him to take.

            Yet he would do what he could. He earnestly desired to secure Scott as an author. There was that new poem The UnKnown Glen, or whatever it was called, which was to be the greatest that Scott had written, on the horizon. Beyond that, he seems to have acted in a spirit of genuine goodwill. The idea that John was to go out of the trade would not make the proposals any less attractive. It is probably that he never liked John, and certain that John disliked him, and would not hesitate to do him an ill turn if the wheel of circumstance gave opportunity at some future time.

            Constable said that he would do what he could. He would take a substantial portion of the stock, at his own price, but, if Scott wished to feel that the position was relieved with any approach to finality, there must be provision of a much larger sum than he would be able to undertake.

            Scott saw that as clearly as he. He wrote a letter to his friend the Duke of Buccleuch, who had now returned home. It was mainly about an offer of the Poet Laureateship which he had just received. It was an honour which he did not particularly covet, and there was the fact to consider that there were many greater poets alive than he, who got less reward. It would bring in (he was told) about £300 a year. He was already receiving £1,600 from official sources. Was it fair to take more, while other poets had none? His inclination was to refuse it, and suggest Robert Southey as the more suitable.

            On the other hand, was it a discourtesy to the Crown to reject the offered honour? It was a question of etiquette, and, in that aspect, an affair of the clan, of which the Duke was the head. What did Buccleuch think?

            He mentioned, in a brief opening paragraph, that he was in financial difficulty with the printing business, and must ask for his friend's help. He thought the actual finding of money could be avoided if the Duke would guarantee his account for £4,000, and that he could manage matters in such a way that there would be no risk of ultimate loss. Otherwise, he must sell his copyrights, which he was anxious to avoid.

            The Duke replied promptly. His letter was also mainly occupied with the Laureateship question, on which he agreed with Scott. Let Southey have it. It could be done without breach of etiquette, if it were done in the right way.

            So Southey, instead of Scott, became the English Laureate. There was correspondence, in which Southey said the right things as we may be sure that he would. Scott put the matter as one of poetic merit. "I am not such an ass," he wrote, "as not to know that you are the better in poetry." Probably Southey observed, in the discreet rear of his mind, that Scott was a good judge.

            As to the bank guarantee, the Duke made nothing of it at all. He was a wealthy man. As the Earl of Dalkeith he had been Scott's life-long and intimate friend. So, almost equally, was the Duchess. Scott may probably have told something of these troubles when he received those two unwelcome letters at Drumlanrig, and made hasty change of his plans to return to Abbotsford. Buccleuch merely said that he didn't quite know how these things were done, so would Scott oblige him by drawing up "the paper" himself, and sending it to him to sign?

            Within two or three days the whole matter was completed. Scott insured his life for the amount of the guarantee, that the Duke should not lose if he died. If he lived, he felt confident that no-one need lose through him.

            Consequences, says the proverb, are God's comments. Scott was one who had acted from boyhood as the friend of all around him, from most of whom he took little, while he gave much.

            We may observe, through all the changes of his life, that he never lacked friends of the right kind.

            Between most men, after the past differences of Constable and himself, there would have been an established enmity. Now Constable was carting stock that he did not want over to his own warehouse, and giving bills to supplement the assistance of that £4,000 guarantee. It may have been a business transaction. No doubt it was. But would that deal have been carried through if John Ballantyne had been the negotiator?

            The bulk of the stock was still on the shelves and in the cellars at Hanover Street. Seeing how little difference even these wholesale disposals to Constable appeared to make, Scott must have realised how much difficulty was still before him. He may have called himself fool as he thought of the sanguine spirit in which he had edited those books, and allowed their printing. He was not one to deceive either himself or others. Yet we may observe him as one who gave battle to difficulties in a bold and confident way. In May he had first known the truth of the financial dangers in which the two firms were involved. Promptly and energetically, he had taken such steps as overcame the immediate crisis. In July, he had put these troubles aside to acquire the land at Abbotsford on which his heart was set. In August, he was back in Edinburgh facing the new difficulties there in a spirit that had conquered again.

            He rode back to Abbotsford, where Tom Purdie was planting trees, with the confidence that he had mastered circumstance, as Charlotte had been so very sure that he would. In whatever difficulty they might be, she was always sure about that.

            It was no more than a detail that he had used all the £4,000, and all Constable's money, to relieve the position in Edinburgh, and that he rode back with an empty purse. Nor was he one to care that the planting of trees is not an immediately remunerative occupation. Looking at those desolate barren hillside fields, it was so obvious that it was the right thing to do. . . .

            It was during the extremity of the Ballantyne crisis that the Rev. C. R. Maturin, being in urgent financial difficulties, wrote to Mr. Walter Scott for help, and received a kind letter and a cheque for fifty pounds.

    Chapter LII.

            The suggestion that Scott, in these business difficulties of the Ballantyne firms, was the duped victim of unscrupulous and incompetent men, will not bear investigation, nor would he ever have set up such a contention, nor (we may confidently presume) would he have thanked anyone for presenting him in such a guise of credulity. But the particular accusation of duplicity as advanced by Lockhart against John Ballantyne is one of those lies which are made more deadly by a percentage of truth. Scott did consider that John had shown a lack of frankness in regard to earlier difficulties. He thought that, if he had been earlier informed, he could have dealt with them in different and better ways, and that, if he had done so, the later troubles would have been entirely avoided, or would have been of minor dimensions.

            On August 20th, 1813, when he was receiving those too frequent calls for instant help, to which he objected so strongly, he wrote:

            "The evil of this business is having carried on the concern so very long - until its credit was wholly ruined - before having recourse to my assistance; for what I have done ought to have cleared it, if the business had been in a situation to help itself. But I will not do in my own case what I have condemned in others - this is, attempt to support a falling business beyond the moment when it appears rational to hope for its being retrieved. I have no debts of my own of any consequence, except such as have been incurred in this unlucky business."

            And two days later:

            "I have every wish to support the credit of the house - but if we are to fall behind £1,000 every month, over and above what has been calculated and provided for, who can stand it?"

            There is here a specific statement, and a definite charge in letters addressed, not to third parties, but to John himself, that Scott's financial trouble was entirely due to the publishing business, and that this trouble could have been avoided had John been franker at an earlier date. Scott would not have been likely to make such a charge without grave reason, and the known facts support it.

            But Lockhart, having this basis on which to build, has gone far beyond anything that Scott suggested at any time. He is specific and detailed in his accusation that John had been deceiving Scott with faked Balance Sheets from the first - with accounts that criminally and even transparently false, and that Scott was so infatuated, so blindly foolish, that even this terrible experience did not open his eyes to the real character of the men with whom he was dealing, so that James still went on his career of incompetent, indolent extravagance, and John continued to hoodwink him with faked accounts till the end of their respective lives.

            It is evident that Lockhart made this charge in a spirit of honest prejudice, because, as with that grotesque tale or James's reckless drawings during the early years of the printing business, he betrays himself by the accounts which he puts forward in evidence, in a manner in which no-one who understood what he was writing about would have had the audacity to do.

            The first of these accounts appears to have been supplied in June 1810, and was probably made up to the previous Whitsuntide.

    Engagements . . £ 7,549 .11 . 0 . . . . Sundry Credits.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Book Debts,
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stock, etc.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £11,455 . 4 . 0
    Balance in Trade
    in favour of
    J. B. & Co. . . . . £3,905 . 13 . 0
    . . . . . . . . . . . .----------------------------------------------------

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £11,455 . 4 . 0 . . . . . . . . . £11,455 . 4 . 0

            This Balance Sheet, as we should call it, was, of course, set out in more detail, but that is how Lockhart states it, and I am following his figures, and his argument. He might have given details, and urged that the valuation of the stock was too high, and that reserves should have been made which were not there, and he might have been right, but he does not do this, because he is advancing a much more serious charge - that the account was faked, and was faked deliberately to deceive his partner, which it succeeded in doing. This is what he says: -

            "Now how is this 'balance of trade in favour of John B. & Co.' constituted? Read and wonder.

      Original stock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £2,000
      Loan from Mr. Scott. . . . . . . . . £1,500
      Profit (besides supporting
      the establishment) . . . . . . . . . . . . £405 . . . 13 . . . 0
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . --------------------
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £3,905 . . . 13 . . . 0

            "Both the £2,000 original stock, and the loan of £1,500 ought, so everybody sees, to have figured on the debit side of the page; and the £405. 13. 0., and no more, should have stood as balance of trade.

            "I am sorry to bother you so much with figures, but it is really necessary to pause a moment on this audacity. This bookkeeper wishes to persuade Scott that the Company is flourishing, and he bravely claims for the credit side of his sheet, first the original stock of £2,000, and then Mr. Scott's loan £1,500. Why, according to this mode of computing, the more the Company borrowed, the more was the balance of trade in its favour! . . . How Sir Walter could have shut his eyes to anything so plain - or seeing it, why he did not draw back from the desperate hazard in which he had already invested the bulk of his capital with such managers - may be matter of wonder, and of deep regret."

            The answer to the first paragraph of this amazing nonsense is that the amounts do appear on the debit side, which, as Lockhart says, in the only sane phrase which the comment contains, is the place where they ought to be.

            The answer to the second is that John does not claim them for the credit side, and if we are to conclude that Lockhart does not know the difference between debit and credit, and is only trying to say that which ever side they are on, they ought to be on the other, then it does not help him, for they are on the right side, and the only side on which they could be in any account prepared by a man who understood what he was doing.

            The account was prepared and worded according to the manner which was customary among Edinburgh accountants at the time, and could neither have deceived an intelligent partner, nor an intelligent child, on the point on which Lockart's comment is concerned. The 'balance of trade' is the amount of capital invested in the business plus the profit, or minus the loss subsequently incurred. Scott knew that £3,500 had been invested in the business, and if it now showed a favourable balance of £3,905, the profit was £405. Had the capital been stated separately on the same side of the account, and had there also been a balance of £3,905, then there would have been net profit of that amount, but that is not the case. The capital is shown nowhere else on the account. What had become of it, if it were not in this item? If Scott couldn't find his own capital on such an account, or observe its absence, it would have not been worth while to show him any figures at all.

            But had John been knave enough (or perhaps fool would be a better word) to put the capital on the other side, as Lockhart would have had him do, the balance of apparent profit would not have been £405 but £7,405!

            In fact, the charge is grotesque, and it is waste of words to discuss it further.

            But Lockhart gives a subsequent account (Whitsuntide 1811) in more detail, and bases upon it a more plausible charge.

            This is the account, as he has it:

    Engagements . . . £10,453 . . . Book Debts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £4,718
    Balance in Trade . . 4,364 . . . Stock at sale Prices . . . £10,800
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less 10% . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,080 . £9,720
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ----------
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cash in hand . . . . . . . £379
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ---------- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ----------
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £14,817 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £14,817

            With this account John sent a sanguine letter, suggesting that it would allay Scott's uneasiness, as it showed a substantial improvement in the capital figure, It will be observed that it is in the same form as that of the previous year, and Lockhart appears not to have observed that the capital figure is in the same place as before, but he now objects (a) that a large part of the book debts were probably bad, as to which there is not a shred of evidence, nor much probability, nor do we even know on what basis they were valued, and (b) that the stock is grossly overvalued, because a mere 10% from the sale price is an absurdity for any publisher to deduct. So it is. And as the whole basis of this account is the value of the stock in question, if Scott really asked anxiously for an account, and then didn't trouble himself as to how it was valued, or why, then he was an absolute fool. There is no more to be said.

            But there are abundant evidences that Scott was not such a fool as that, as, indeed, few men are; and a moment's thought suggests a probable explanation of what this valuation is, and why it is stated in that form.

            The books of which this stock consist were all printed by James Ballantyne & Co., and sold by them to John Ballantyne & Co., who resold them to the retail trade. John was a partner in the second firm, but not in the first. Almost the first question to be discussed when the publishing firm was formed would be the basis on which the printing firm would transfer stock to it, as the possibility of John showing a profit would depend primarily upon the margin on which he had to work.

            The probability is that this margin was agreed at 10%; the 'sale price' is the wholesale figure at which John is to sell to the trade, and the 10% is the agreed margin between that price and that at which the printing firm charges in to him. The questions of whether that was a well-considered basis on which to value the stock, and whether the account was calculated to allay anyone's fears are quite separate ones. The charges which Lockhart makes are that the accounts were fraudulent, were made up with the intention of deceiving the senior partner, and did so deceive him, and these charges utterly fail. They must have been quite clear to Scott, and they gave him the information for which he asked in an absolutely straightforward way.

            It is due also to John Ballantyne to notice this, that if the stock were, in fact, charged to his firm by the printing firm less 10%, and he valued it in his accounts on that basis, then it did not improve those accounts by a single penny while it remained unsold. So far was it from a case of writing up the stock to deceive his partner, that if he had had £5,000 of stock in from the printing business the day before, his item of 'engagements' would have been increased by exactly the same amount, and his balance would remain the same. It is also due to him to recognise that this interpretation supports his argument that the publishing business was paying, to this extent, that he could not have shown an appreciation of capital unless the amount of the stock which he actually had sold had been sufficient for the 10% margin upon it to cover his salary and the other Hanover Street expenses, and to leave a balance on the right side. That is what he means to make clear on the earlier account when he claims a profit "besides supporting the establishment". That result he had achieved. The weak point was that the printing firm was manufacturing stock beyond his capacity to sell, and beyond the capacity of either firm to finance, and was constantly delivering and charging it to him, and drawing bills upon him for it, and that is plain enough on his account for a child to see. That was the mistake which was realised on all sides when it was too late to avert its consequences. Having no experience of publishing, they had overestimated their selling capacity. It was a bad mistake, for which a heavy price had to be paid. James puts the case clearly and fairly and without recrimination, in his letter quoted on p. 309.

            For that first mistake, it may be agreed that Scott had the largest share of responsibility, and there is no evidence that he would have denied it. His one complaint against his partners, and particularly against John, was that when they found difficulty in renewing the bills by which the capital was largely provided they should have informed him before untoward incidents happened, through which the credit of both firms was permanently damaged; and that if they had done this he contended that he would have made the necessary provision, which would have been a vastly smaller sum than was needed after the damage had been done.

            That was his one steady complaint, and it appears to have been the sole grievance he had. It was left to Lockhart, when all the three partners were dead, to invent tales of extravagance and fraud, which have no foundation in fact, and which the circumstances do not require.

            The stock, which should certainly not have been manufactured in such quantities, was not bad in itself, and a more experienced firm, with a better selling organisation, might have shown better results. Having been printed, Scott showed a determination that it should be sold, rather than pulped, in which we shall see that he succeeded in the end, in his own way. It consisted of such publications as these:

            Hume's History of England with Smollett's continuation (16 Vols)
            Jamieson's History of the Culdees
            Kerr's Voyages (17 Vols)
            Edinburgh Annual Register
            "Popular Romances "
            Beaumont & Fletcher (14 Vols)
            Tales of the East (3 Vols)
            Seward's Poems (3 Vols)
            Grahame's British Georgics
            Castle of Otranto
            De Foe's Novels
            They were mostly works of solid value, but they were not readily marketable in the quantities in which they had been produced.

    Chapter LIII.

            The Duke of Buccleuch's guarantee, and the sales to Constable, had enabled substantial reductions to be made in the liabilities of the publishing company, but did not prevent there being great difficulty in dealing with those that remained. There were two things that had become clear in commercial circles: it was a dying business, and it was one the creditors of which could get paid if they made themselves sufficiently troublesome. The wonder is not that there was a good deal of worry under these circumstances, but that (even allowing for the fact that the printing business was still being carried on) the major liabilities could be kept floating at all.

            The position is sufficiently indicated by a letter from Mr Morritt which reached Scott by express messenger when he was in Edinburgh in November. There was a rumour in London that John Ballantyne & Co had failed, and that Scott was heavily involved. It was a detailed report. The liabilities were put at £20,000. Morritt hoped it was not true, but he evidently thought that it was. If it were not too late, would Scott without delaying for further correspondence, draw upon him for any amount - any amount - that the circumstances required?

            We may observe again that Scott had some good friends. We may doubt anew whether Scott's partnership in these firms was the closely-guarded secret that it has become customary to allege.

            Scott was able to relieve his friend's mind with an assurance that the rumour was false, but that it was true that the firm was being liquidated as fast as possible. He was aiming to get clear of these commercial entanglements. He did not mention the Duke's guarantee, but he alluded vaguely to the fact that he had insured his life for £4,000, which would be to the advantage of his family if he should die before such matters were straightened.

            So it would: for it would pay off an overdraft which had taken the place of £4,000 of debt. He was sincere, too, in his intention of retiring, both from the printing and publishing firms. He had not allowed the relief which came from the guarantee to alter the programme regarding the publishing business. John was to become an auctioneer. Scott had written several weeks earlier offering to retire from the printing firm, if James could find a new partner, even though it would mean sacrifice of all the capital he had invested in that concern. But he had said that he would do nothing to damage James's interests, and the new partner did not appear.

            Scott thanked Morritt with a good will, but did not accept the offer for further assistance. For the moment, he felt that he had the position sufficiently under control. . . .

            It is at this time that Mr Weber comes to the front of the stage for a brief hour. He may be remembered as the German refugee scholar whom Scott had first befriended ten or more years ago, and who had edited the Beaumont & Fletcher which Constable had refused to publish, and which now constituted a substantial proportion of the Hanover Street stock.

            No doubt, Scott had anticipated that the edition would sell. He may even have hoped for a substantial profit. But it is equally certain that he would never have thought of financing a new edition of those Elizabethan dramatists if he had not wished to find congenial occupation for a German refugee. Neither is there any doubt that, during those years of editing, Weber had been living at Scott's expense. When that work was over, Scott still found him occupation. In fact, by this time, he had become almost one of the family at North Castle Street. He was a man of many amiable qualities, and might have been supposed to be of a very harmless disposition. But lately he had degenerated. He had taken to drinking heavily. Scott appears to have made a serious effort to pull him up. He did not want to turn him adrift. He could not have a drunken man about the house. He warned him that there must be a change, and, at the same time, with characteristic kindliness, he took to keeping him for dinner when his work was done, lest he should employ his time in a worse way. That was the position when the Scott family left Edinburgh as usual to spend Christmas at Mertoun House.

            On the afternoon of the day that they returned, Scott sat in his library. He was working on the Swift that he had been editing so long for Constable. It was nearly complete now. Weber sat at the other end of the room, engaged on some labour of transcription. The short January afternoon darkened, and Scott paused in his work to ring for candles. He looked up, and saw that Weber was not writing. His eyes were fixed upon him with the fierce menace of insanity. "Weber," he asked, "what's the matter with you?"

            They were divided by the breadth of the table which filled the centre of the room. Scott had had it made in imitation of one that he had admired at Rokeby. Massively built, it had a desk at each end, all in one piece, and small drawers round it down to the floor.

            The broad table was covered with bundles of letters and legal documents, proofs and manuscripts, all neatly tied in the red-tape which his father's office had taught him to use. There was a small movable table at his side, bearing the works of reference which his occupation required. All round, from floor to ceiling, except where the French windows opened on to the tiny lawn, there were shelves of books, well-bound, well-ordered, numbered and indexed. If one were lent, there would be a wooden blank in its place, bearing the record of where it was.

            Besides those tables, and the chairs on which they sat, there was one chair for the use of any invited visitor, and the heavy well-railed ladder-steps which Scott must use if he would climb to the higher shelves, and there should be no-one at hand to help.

            There was no other furniture in the quiet soft-carpeted room.

            Comfort, competence, order - above all, order. The room expressed and explained the immense industry of the man who had formed it to what it was. A man who was not often hurried by circumstance. "Weber, what's the matter with you?"

            Weber got up, and crossed the room. He had two loaded pistols in his hands. He laid one before Scott. He said he had been accused of insobriety. There was only one way in which such an insult could be avenged. He wanted them to exchange shots - at once.

            Scott did not rise. If he recognised the deadly peril which confronted him, his nerves were equal to the occasion. He said, Yes, of course. But they mustn't do anything to alarm Mrs Scott or the children? Weber could see that? Suppose they walked out after dinner together, and found a quiet spot in which they could fight it out? And suppose they put the pistols away safely in the meantime? As he spoke, he pulled open a drawer in the desk. He put into it the pistol which Weber handed to him. Weber made no protest. He laid his pistol beside it. Yes, he said, that would be the best way. Quietly, the drawer was locked. Weber went back to his desk. The lights were brought, and the two men resumed their work in the silent room.

            When Scott went to dress for dinner, he took the opportunity to send a note to a friend of Weber to come at once. Weber was quiet at the meal. Everything seemed normal, until Scott, who had kept the whisky decanter near to his own hand, instead of passing it over in the usual way, mixed two weak glasses, and handed one to Weber. The man started up in a burst of anger, controlled himself with difficulty, and sat down, as Charlotte asked whether he were feeling unwell. No, he said, he had spasms. He emptied the glass, and pushed it back to Scott to be filled again. As he did so, the friend for whom Scott had sent entered, and Weber rose and rushed from the room, and hatless into the street. He was put into a strait-jacket that night, according to the ghastly custom of the time, in a condition of raving lunacy.

            So we have the tale. It has an aspect of truth, except that Weber's reaction to his friend's appearance needs explanation, and suggests that there may have been previous outbursts, and that it had an implication of restraint, which he was instant to understand. He was placed in an asylum at York, where he died four or five years later, Scott, of course, paying the bills.

            Punctuated by this brief but lively incident, Scott worked with his customary energy during these winter days. He had received additions to his private resources, which had assisted a step further in the reduction of those endless Hanover Street liabilities, and the clearing of the political horizon had given its indirect help to business conditions. Leipzig had been fought and lost, and a half-incredulous Europe had seen the invincible arms of France flung backward across the Rhine.

            Resolute for success, Scott planned in a clear mind. He was pushing on with the Lord of the Isles (it was decided that that should be its title now) with a determination to hold his ground against Byron's growing popularity. But, while he did this, he planned another line of attack if he should be defeated there. At last, he was working on Waverley with the definite purpose of publication. But he was resolved that it should be an anonymous effort. The reason for this decision may not have been entirely clear, even to his own mind. There is no doubt that he liked these adventures in anonymity.

        "Yet why a second venture try?"
        "A warrior thou, and ask me why!"

            There is a fundamental element of Scott's character implicit in those two lines. All its strength, its love of hazardous living, - its weakness, if you will. All the chivalrous audacities which Lockhart thought so splendid when they went right, and so 'painful' it they went wrong. There may be many who dream, as Scott dreamt, but he had found that he could make his dreams come true.

            Yet there may have been good sense, as well as the spirit of adventure, in this decision. Waverley might succeed or fail, but if the new poem were as great a success as the best of its predecessors, it would not matter much either way, nor would Scott have complicated the greatness of his reputation by the writing of an indifferent novel.

            He may have thought of Lord Howard's argument in the Lay

          "for if he gain
        He gains for us, but if he's crossed
        'Tis but a single warrior lost."

            He could always acknowledge it afterwards if he would.

            But probably stronger than any of these arguments, certainly more consciously operative in his own mind, would be the desire to see how the novel would be received on its own merits, without the prestige of his name to influence its regard.

            How many - or how few - must the secret include? There was William Erskine. He had seen the first chapters already. There was no escape there. There was, of course, Charlotte. It would go no further with her. He could always rely on Charlotte to play any game that he would, in his own spirit. It was less certain that she would read the book when it appeared. Neither of them worried about that.

            There was James Ballantyne. He, also, had seen the earlier chapters. He must know. So must John. It would be the simplest way in the end. Besides, someone had got to copy the MS. Scott's hand was too well known in the publishing offices. It was before the era of typewriters. John could do that. He was not yet finding a gold-mine in the business of auctioneering, and Scott was resolute that he should not be a charge on the publishing firm, beyond his services in regard to any stock he could actually sell. He must work on commission now, it at all, for that business.

            All the same, he had got to be provided for. Scott regarded that as naturally as that he should pay for Weber in the York asylum. He could not let John Ballantyne, or his family, want. He would as soon have let one of his dogs starve. Let John copy the book.

            Beyond these, he made one confidant, though not till after publication. Then he wrote to John Morritt, sending him the book and asking his opinion concerning it. Morritt was far enough removed from the gossip of Edinburgh, and of a character that made it a safe thing to do.

            The first volume was completed, and John had copied it by the time at which its author's life was at the jeopardy of Mr Weber's pistols. It was set up in the printing office, and John was commissioned to offer it to Constable as an anonymous work. It may have been recognised that he could lie better than James.

            Constable listened. What he thought he kept to himself. He said he would take a few days to consider it. At the end of that time he offered £700 for the copyright of the complete novel. According to the sales of fiction in those days, it was an extraordinarily liberal offer. John conveyed it to Scott, who was not content. He said shrewdly that it was either too much - or too little. "If our fat friend had said £1,000, I should have been staggered."

            Constable, like James, was laying on flesh as the years passed, and, unlike James, had a large framework on which to build. John went back to their fat friend, and talked again. Finding the offer was not accepted, Constable must have known who was the author with certainty, if he had doubted, to think which would go very nearly to calling him a fool. But he was a man who would not readily bid up from a price he had once named. It was because of that that the bargain about the Lord of the Isles was still in suspense. He may have thought that it would be difficult for John to maintain the fiction of anonymity, and get such an offer elsewhere.

            If Scott meant it to be understood that his figure was £1,000, it led to nothing. Constable would not go above £700. Scott was equally firm in declining it. In the end, it was agreed that there should be no payment at all. Publisher and author should share the profits equally. Constable would have done better for himself had he given way.

            Having no prospect of immediate money to come from the Waverley MS., Scott did not put it aside, but he finished other things first. He got the Swift finally off his hands. It had been an immense labour, carried out with his usual thoroughness, annotated extensively, and including much of the Dean's work which his own industry had discovered. He must have been glad when it left his desk. He earned £200 by writing articles on Chivalry and the Drama, for Constable's supplement to his Encyclopaedia Brittannica. Then he turned to Waverley, and finished it in a few weeks. The many volumed Swift appeared in June. On the 4th. of that month, he commenced upon the two remaining volumes of Waverley, which were set up in type as they were written. He reckoned that his own work upon it was finished on July lst., and with such celerity did the printing-office proceed that it was actually published within a week of that date. Morritt's three volumes were mailed to him on the 9th. For an indolent, unbusiness-like man, as Lockhart will have him to be, James seems to have managed his printing-works with considerable ability. The speed with which publication was carried through is often as remarkable as the quality of the work which was done under such conditions. It is not surprising that James Ballantyne & Co. had a good reputation in the trade.

            The time in which Scott said that he wrote the major portion of the book - about twelve pages a day - is surprising, but not incredible. It is modified by a remark in an earlier letter to Morritt in which he mentions that, in the early days, in addition to writing the opening chapters, he had 'sketched other passages'. It is supported by the tale of the convivial gentleman in an adjoining house, who had to change places with his host, because he could overlook a window in which he saw a hand write. Through the length of the summer evening it never stopped. Page after page was written and laid on the heap beside the hand, but it still went on. His host said that was Walter Scott's house. You could see that hand every night. That was in June 1814. Young Lockhart, then a student for the Scottish bar, was one of that drinking-party. He could fix the date afterwards because he had only been in Edinburgh on a short visit on that occasion. Scott had his legal duties to attend to at that time of year. He wrote Waverley in the evenings, when his work was done.

            It may have been no more than a natural haste to get the book out as fast as possible, or it may have been one of those experimental audacities in which Scott delighted, which caused it to be published in the "dead season". Publishers were even more sure then than they are now that all books ought to be published in one congested spate, as far as possible at the same time of year. An anonymous novel would not then be smothered by the out-pouring flood, it would be hurried forward with them on the tide of success. Publishers were as sure of that then as they now are that the sale of a book ought not to continue for more than six or eight weeks.

            Had Scott given Waverley to a London publisher, he would have held it back till September. He would have said that he was not fool enough to get it out at the wrong time of year.

            But Scott was doing his own publishing (with Constable's co-operation) on this occasion. It came out in July.

            The first edition was 1,000 copies. Three small octavo volumes at £1. ls. 0d. the set. In five weeks they were sold out. In August, a bolder policy printed 2,000 more. But before then indeed, before he had had time to learn more than the local Edinburgh opinion of this anonymous novel - Scott had gone off on a holiday where, for a few weeks, he would hear little of such events. He had joined a Commission to Inspect the Northern Light Houses. This Commission consisted of William Erskine (now Sheriff of the Orkneys) and three other good friends, who found it to be a duty of their office to sail once a year around the northern coasts and islands of Scotland to survey their charge.

            Scott was glad to join such a party, for now that Waverley was off his hands he meant to finish the poem without more delay. If the novel failed, it would be a needed thing, and if it succeeded - well, it would be no worse for that.

            He had a good two months holiday in the narrow quarters of the little ship that wound its way among the Hebrides' thousand islands and round the Orkneys and Shetlands, and must give a passing glance at every lighthouse on the mainland coast. He got the local colour he wanted for the new poem (for he had found his first Hebrides holiday had given him sufficient material), and he gained a knowledge of the Orkneys which would make a novel of a future day.

            The head of the expedition was an engineer, Stephenson, already of a growing fame, with whom he was specially glad to talk. He said you could gain more from these "professional men of talent" than from the wit of more conventional celebrities. The party came back with the record of six weeks which had passed without a word of discord. "Each," Scott made record, "seemed anxious to submit his own wishes to those of his friends. The consequence was that, by judicious arrangement, all were gratified in their turn, and frequently he who made some sacrifices to the views of his companions was rewarded by some unexpected gratification calculated particularly for his own amusement. We had constant exertion, a succession of wild and uncommon scenery, good humour on board, and objects of animation and interest when we went ashore: - Sed fugit interea - fugit irrevocabile tempus."

            It was a condition of good-natured kindliness which seems to have been natural among company of which Scott formed a part.

            Owing to the wandering nature of the expedition, and the localities visited, it had been impossible, as the posts were then, to receive any regular correspondence, and even Scott's own letters must have been dispatched irregularly, though it was his rule, on the few occasions when their holidays were not together, that Charlotte should not be disappointed of her expectation of a letter by every post.

            Yet one piece of news reached him a few days before his return, to be confirmed as he landed in the Clyde by a heartbroken letter from his friend, the Duke of Buccleuch, to say that his wife was dead. Fugit irrevocabile tempus, indeed. It was a friend's sorrow, and his own too. The two families had been on terms of very close intimacy in the old days of visiting between Lassswade and Dalkeith House. The Duke did not survive this bereavement for many years. His young son would reign in his place.

            Long after, Scott, a ruined widowed man, of broken health, walking with such difficulty that he would notice, with a gallant smile at the absurdity, that a flock of sheep could pass him, would visit the boy-duke at Drumlanrig, and old memories would return of when he had taken his young wife to visit the boy's parents there, and he would write that night in his diary:

            "God bless him! His father and I loved each other well, and his beautiful mother had as much of the angel as is permitted to walk this earth. I see the balcony from which they welcomed poor Charlotte and me, long ere the ascent was surmounted, streaming out their white handkerchiefs from the battlements. There were four merry people that day; - now one sad individual is all that remains."

            But he had other thoughts as he drove post-haste from Glasgow to Edinburgh, where he must pause for a few hours to see Constable and the Ballantynes, before he rode on to Abbotsford. He came back to triumph. Anonymous, out of season, it might be, but the novel was a sure success. Critics, hesitating, differing, cancelling each other out in the usual way, were yet agreed about that. Waverley was a new thing, as the Lay had been nine years ago. The 3,000 copies were gone. Constable said the book was still in demand. If James would print another 1,000, he would take a third. So it was agreed. They were large figures in those days. In November they would be printing again.

            Constable wanted to talk about the new poem also, and, at last, he found Scott ready to meet his terms. Refusing Scott's price £5,000, he had finally offered £1,500 for a half-share. That had been some months ago. Lockhart says it might have been settled then, but for Ballantyne's efforts to add a condition about taking over more stock, concerning which Scott now gave way. He adds "It may easily be believed that John's management during a six weeks absence had been such as to render it doubly convenient to the poet to have this matter settled." If we take John Ballantyne at Lockhart's valuation it is easy to believe anything, or at least anything bad; but, otherwise, it is rather puzzling to imagine what he had done. He was in business now as an auctioneer. The sign of John Ballantyne & Co., Booksellers, was kept up for many years, but, in fact, the firm was dead. There was only stock to be realised, and floating bills to be paid off. In another place Lockhart hints that Constable had given help in some financial difficulty (luring Scott's absence, and, if this were so, we can understand that Scott would feel an obligation of honour not to delay further in closing the deal. But then, Lockhart hints that John, from whatever despicable motive, had concealed Constable's friendly services from Scott's knowledge. In fact, Lockhart attacks John from so many angles that when he knocks him off the bench with a blow on one side of his head, he is apt to knock him back with a blow on the other, as Mr Squeers did with his hopeful son.

            John can do nothing right. It is his duty to sell a huge stock, for the existence of which he has a minor responsibility, and to assist in keeping afloat a ghastly list of liabilities, for which his share of responsibility is about the same. Neither of them is a simple matter to undertake. If he fails to sell the stock - isn't it just what you'd expect from a man like that? If he is persistent in his efforts to get Constable to buy it - doesn't it show what sort of a man he is? If he can't keep the liabilities afloat any longer, - hasn't Lockhart told us from the first that he is no good? If he wriggles along, with a renewal here, and an instalment there, isn't it just the sort of thing with which you would expect such a man to be occupied? But even Lockhart admits that he had one virtue, if such we call it. He loved Scott like a dog, and for that we might forgive him for more than there may be occasion to do. At least, Scott, who was most concerned, seems to have found forgiveness easy.

            Lockhart allows that John was a good auctioneer. Scott used to be a frequent visitor at his new auction-rooms in Princes Street on sale days when in Edinburgh. He helped the bidding, and sometimes bought. That, Lockhart suggests, is why John was "really one of the most plausible and imposing of the Puff tribe". He gives praise with a sneer. John hesitated, in Scott's presence, to develop his propensity to be a bad auctioneer to its natural dimensions!

            When Lockhart gives us facts, we need to examine his inferences with care, as they are not always logical. When he gives us inferences without facts, we need to be more careful yet. We shall nester know what happened in Edinburgh while Scott sailed in the Northern seas. We may think what we will.

    Chapter LIV.

            There might be many to guess correctly who the author of Waverley might be, but a guess, however confident, is different from a known thing. Other rumours, other speculations, had place. Some even suggested that the author might be Tom Scott, now in Canada with the 7lst. Scott wrote, telling him this. Of course, he didn't wish to saddle him with a book that he had never seen, but still - Tom might keep a shut mouth. And why shouldn't Tom write a book? Why not, at least, the outline of a Canadian tale, with local scenery, local dialect, local customs marked out, and Scott would "cobble" it into shape, and it would be published in Tom's name, and confusion would be worse confounded than it was now. Anyway, it might put money into Tom's pocket. Possibly £500. And, anyway, he shouldn't do it for nothing. Let Tom send on such notes, such skeleton of a tale, as he would, and he could draw on Scott for £100 at the same time, at fifty days from sight, and he would find that it would be met.

            But unfortunately for the possibility of a good book, and the certainty of a good joke, Tom didn't rise to the bait.

            Scott had other letters to write almost immediately that he got back to Abbotsford, of a different character from that which he dispatched to Canada.

            The settlement in Edinburgh had left his own pocket empty, as such adjustments were apt to do. But he thought that he had, at least, arranged so that he would escape further financial demands from that direction for some months to come, while he would be finishing the poem, and writing a second novel which was already projected in his mind, and he was even wrong about that, in an unexpected way. And, for the first time, there was a serious difference, and a sharp correspondence with James Ballantyne.

            If we take these troubles in exact chronological order, James must come first. It may be remembered that, in the first years of a growing business, he had borrowed several amounts to supply capital which had been urgently needed, and it had been treated on the books as though he had himself provided it, so that his stake in the business should appear equal to that of Scott. These amounts were liable to be called in at agreed notice, to his obvious embarrassment, or that of the firm - or, more probably, both. In fact, more than one of these items had been called for, and - more or less - repaid. The difficulties with the John Ballantyne bills, and the persistent rumour of failure which had attached at one time to the name of that firm, could not fail to affect the credit of one that was allied to it so closely. And this damage to its credit had come, as we know, at a period of national financial crisis, when all business had been difficult to carry on. James had had a bad time. It is to his credit - and that of his partners in different ways and degrees - that he had pulled through as he had. He had shown a bold front to the world, had continued to turn out good work with regularity, had been supported with good orders both from London and Edinburgh, and had survived while many concerns of far greater original resources had fallen beside the way. The firm had had a good deal of banking accommodation, largely, no doubt, through Scott's influence, and had strained it to the utmost, as is inevitable under such conditions. Its London customers, like those in its own city, paid almost entirely by long-dated bills, as was the general trade custom at that time. When the amount of these bills got too large, and the state of the publishing trade in London too precarious, for it to be easy to discount them separately, an arrangement had been made with Sir William Forbes & Co. to pool them in one account, which could be drawn on to a percentage only of the total deposited, and to an agreed maximum. As bills matured and if they were met, about which there would be a constant anxiety, new credit would be released. To estimate the resources of a coming month under such circumstances would be a matter of elaborate calculation, and partial guesswork. The liabilities that would have to be met, and the wages that would have to be paid, would be much easier to work out.

            Through these difficulties, with many anxious arguments at the bank, many expedients and evasions, many last-minute borrowings, James had carried on and pulled through. He appears to have avoided, in the main, troubling his senior partner with the details of these worries, though John knew them well enough, and doubtless gave what help he could.

            James may have been influenced in his reticence mainly by the knowledge that Scott had his hands overfull already with the affairs of the John Ballantyne bills, and a loyal desire not to worry him further. He may otherwise have been restrained by the fact that the difficulties were increased through his own capital being diminished, by the forced return of the borrowed items of which it had been partly composed. He made new borrowings where he could, but this had become harder to do, partly because credit was shaky, partly because people had less to lend.

            He had also committed an irregularity of procedure in relation to those early borrowings, the nature of which he never appears to have been able to appreciate properly, and concerning which he defended himself strenuously when Scott became aware of it, and took the view which any lawyer, and any competent business man (and Scott was both) would be inclined to do.

            Although these monies had appeared on the books as James's personal capital, he had given the lenders the firm's bills in acknowledgement.

            He said he had done it in good faith, never thinking of concealment. If Scott had not known, it was only because he had not asked.

            He said (with probable truth) that he could never have got these amounts at all if he had refused the firm's signature, and that, at the time, the money had been so much needed that he had only been conscious of the importance of getting it. Scott had seen the need for the additional capital as clearly as he at the time, and if he had mentioned that the firm's acknowledgement was required he was sure that he would have raised no difficulty.

            All these things may have been true, even including James's contention that he had acted with absolute good faith; but they did not touch the real point at all. If these amounts were loans to the firm, for which it was responsible, they should have been entered on the firm's books, and should not have gone to James's capital account. They had enabled James to claim a proportion of profit which may have been more than the interest he paid for them. The fact that that interest was paid by him, not by the firm, so far as his own book-keeping showed, was conclusive on this point. He had treated them, and had the benefit of them, as though they were personal loans to himself. He couldn't have it both ways.

            Among these items, there had been a sum of £600 which he had borrowed from his younger brother, Alexander, now in business at Kelso, to which there had been some more recent additions. Now Alexander had his own difficulties, and while Scott had been inspecting lighthouses, he had asked for the return of the money, which James had told him that he couldn't have. Alexander didn't wish to embarrass his brother, but he had his own need. He held the firm's bills, on which he could have sued. Being brothers, they wouldn't talk about that. But, being brothers, Alexander did expect that James would do what he could. There was the property at Foulis Close. Could he have a mortgage on that? So he had asked, or so James had offered to him. James thought it a good plan. He would not give it without Scott's consent, but he seems to have thought that he would get that without difficulty. Instead of that, Scott met the request with an emphatic veto. He went further. He said that James had no right to have given his brother the firm's bills. He must get them back at once, and substitute his personal paper, - which was not easy for James to do. But Scott was firm, and in the end, he had his way, Alexander abandoning the legal position which he certainly held for the more precarious one of a personal claim on his brother, rather than be the cause of an acute quarrel between Scott and James which seemed otherwise unavoidable.

            James sent Alexander copies of his letters to Scott and Scott's replies, so that Alexander might see how serious the position was. He wrote covering letters to Alexander, in which he invites him to notice how clearly he has the best of the argument, and how unreasonable Scott can be. It is a point on which few who read them will be likely to concur.

            But James brought forward one argument which was ingenious, though not convincing. It may be remembered that Scott had made a loan of £3,000 to the firm in its early days, of which £1,200 had been supplied by his brother John. It appears that when that £1,200 was advanced Scott had stipulated that (if his brother required) it should be secured by a mortgage upon the plant, to which James had agreed. There had never been such a mortgage, but there was the fact. Scott had wanted to protect his brother, and James had agreed at once! James had wanted to protect his, and there was all this row!

            The reply was obvious. The whole of Scott's £3,000 had been a loan to the firm in addition to the capital he had invested level with James. The amount found by Alexander was part of the capital credited to James. But James would not see that.

            It may have been the stubbornly illogical nature of James's correspondence on this subject that roused Scott to extremities of expression very unusual in his own letters. On September 24th we find him writing:

            "All those who advanced money to me would be equally glad, I promise you, to be paid, and I can hardly keep some of them quiet. Yet their money to five times the amount was equally advanced to the concern. . . ."

            He added a footnote:

            "I wish to God that you could send me £25 or £30 just now, as I am almost penniless. You know where my last quarter from Exchequer went.

            The allusion to the amounts which had been advanced by Scott's own friends points to the fact that Morritt was not the only one who was now holding renewals of the John Ballantyne bills. These bills had been given by John Ballantyne & Co. to James Ballantyne & Co. in payment for printing of that wretched stock. James Ballantyne & Co. were still responsible for them. As it had become impossible to renew them in banking or commercial quarters, Scott had placed some of theme with his own signature upon them, among his friends, till the stock could be sold.

            Within three weeks of the letter quoted there was a new trouble arising from Abbotsford, 'Charles Erskine wishes his money, as he has made a purchase of land - paid he must be forthwith, as his advance was friendly and confidential'.

            It appears that Charles Erskine had not actually discounted bills. He had lent £500, and some long-dated bills had been deposited with him as collateral security. Scott goes on to instruct John to obtain the money by a further sale of stock. If Constable jibs, he must negotiate it with Murray or Longmans in London. He can offer them a new novel, if necessary, from the unknown author of Waverley. He is to get to work at once, and let Scott know what he can do. One way or other, the money has got to be found.

            John acknowledged the letter promptly. He would carry out his instructions. He had another subject on which to write. There had been a poinding in Edinburgh. In other words, the bailiffs had been in on James Ballantyne's premises. It was an affair of taxes. James had been away in Kelso (probably to argue with Alexander) and John had been sent for, to pay them out.

            It was the kind of incident which Scott found it hard to endure. In his personal transactions he paid promptly. He might run risks, but even his audacities had order, method, and foresight. He knew that it was such incidents which destroy credit. It might mean another £1,000 to be found during the next few months. Was he not always telling both James and John to let him know in good time, and he would see that such incidents did not occur? People talk in Edinburgh. He may have felt a personal sensitiveness, for it is almost impossible to think that his connection with the firm was not very widely known. It is significant that in the controversy with James and Alexander's loan, James never appears to have suggested that there was a secrecy about Scott's partnership, though it was an argument which would have been useful, if it were true; and he writes to his brother without reserve, or suggestion of confidence, treating it as a known thing.

            Under all the circumstances, Scott's reply to John may be described as mild:

    "17th Oct. 1814.

    Dear John,

            I received your letter with the astonishing news of James's utter disregard to his own credit. He promised to let me have account of his prospects, and consult me upon the management of his cash affairs, but he has kept his word but lamely. He is even worse than you, for you generally give a day or two's notice at least of the chance of dishonour, and this poinding is little better. His Kelso expedition has proved a fine one."

            He may have written to James with added vigour, for we have James's reply, which is more agitated than coherent, and far worse constructed than his letters usually are. He says to Scott in effect: "I am in the trenches. You are at headquarters, thirty miles away. What do you know of wounds?"

    "23rd October 1814.

    Dear Sir.

            I received your packet containing the preface to Waverley, and copy for the poem. It is quite needless to say anything more of the poinding. It is one of fifty things which happen to sour the temper, and I by no means wonder that you see the matter under an aspect different from that in which I regard it, and apply to it epithets which do not strike me as justly belonging to it. Meantime, I trust the printing will cease to be that burthen which hitherto it has been. As to my own expenditure, I have not yet been able to take the funds for it with anything like regularity. On the contrary, often when I had appropriated a sum to pay my own little accounts, have I been forced to turn it into the channel of wages or bills. To this irritation I have no other hope than to be long subject. One glance will show that it cannot be otherwise. But as to despondency, I once more say that I know nothing about it; and as to these taxes, they figured in my mind as no more than fifty other equal difficulties that at this moment press upon it equally. Had I ever had it in my power (I mean since I took up these affairs) to have a little before me, the case would have been different. In the way of retrenchment, I do whatever I can. There are some objects which I do not retrench, simply because it is likely my mother has not long to live, and because I have not the fortitude to make her last days less happy than they have been. This, I must confess, compels me, to one or two extravagances, particularly my gig and my horse.

            . . . There is another claim for £25, made up of old taxes due four years back on a place I had at Newhaven. I could just as soon pay the national debt at present, poind where they will. 'A poor thing, Sir. - Poor, miserable poor!' As to borrowing, I have pretty well got the better of shame but really I don't know anybody that would trust me. The cause of all this is, to myself at least, perfectly clear and sufficient - beginning in debt, without capital, and always heavily in advance."

            Knowing Scott, we may easily guess that this letter had no ungenerous reply. Perhaps he paid the penalty of his irritation in the settlement of the Newhaven tax! These matters were over now, but the £500 for Charles Erskine remained to be found, and as to that John had an idea.

            He had failed with Constable, with whom he most often did fail. Constable was a man who could only be got to say yes with great difficulty, if he had once said no. He was sometimes almost too quick to say no to John. He may have preferred to be asked by Scott himself. He may have thought that the slower he was in taking over that wretched stock, the more good bargains for poems and novels it would enable him to make. He may have thought that if he didn't, no-one else would. Anyway, he said no now, and John loved him even less than before.

            He wrote to Scott suggesting that while an unwritten novel by the author of Waverley would be a good bait for the London publishers, a new edition of Waverley itself (which was now needed) would be even better. So, no doubt, it would; and there was no legal obstacle. The deals with Constable had been for each separate edition as it came out. But neither Scott nor Constable had really understood the bargain in that spirit, whatever might be its strict legal interpretation. It had been a joint adventure, in which they shared the profits by a percentage agreed at the start. It was understood to be Constable's book in the trade. Had a rival firm brought it out, he would probably have had apoplexy, for he was getting to be a heavy, full-blooded man. Was he not known in London as the Napoleon of the book-trade? In Scott's own circles, was he not called the Czar? That a rival firm should publish one of his own books!

            John chuckled to himself, thinking that he would please Scott with an unexpectedly good sale of Culdees, and the Eastern Tales, and other treasures which the trade would not appreciate at their true worth, and do Constable one in the eye at the same time. And then he got Scott's reply, and his face fell:

    "Dear John,

            Your expedients are all wretched so far as regards me. I never will give Constable, or anyone, room to say I have broken my word with him in the slightest degree. If I lose everything else, I will at least keep my honour unblemished; and I do hold myself bound in honour to offer him Waverley, while he shall continue to comply with the conditions annexed."

            So there was no use in saying any more about that. John approached Longmans, they bought the required stock, and Charles Erskine had the £500. Longmans were to have the London publishing of the next novel, and Constable was to have it in Edinburgh. Constable, though he had refused the stock, was brought into the deal to that extent by Scott's wish. The whole matter had to be arranged through John, for, if Scott had not written Waverley, what concern was it of his?

    Chapter LV.

            The Lord of the Isles was finished on Christmas Day, 1814, and published about three weeks later. It had not been easily written, - had, indeed, in its later stages, been a matter of forcing, rather than spontaneous growth. Yet Scott thought well of it, and expected success. He meant it to be the last of these long narrative poems, but he meant the curtain to fall upon a final triumph. On January 19th before he could know anything of its reception, he wrote to Morritt: "It closes my poetic labours upon an extended scale".

            It was true that he had another such poem - Harold the Dauntless - on hand. It had been on hand for some time. But that - if it were ever finished - was to be published as by the author of the Bridal of Triermain. He had begun it in the same light, lilting, flippant rhythm that made the most serious things sound rather like a joke of a new kind:

        "Woe to the realms that he wasted! For there
        Was shedding of blood, and rending of hair,
        Rape of maiden, and slaughter of priest,
        Gathering of ravens and wolves to the feast.

        When he hoisted his banner black,
        Before him was battle, behind him wrack,
        And he burned the churches, that heathen Dane,
        To light his band to their barks again."

            Quite a cheerful note. But somehow, it wasn't easy to keep it up. Perhaps in another mood - at a later day.

            But the Lord of the Isles was a different matter. He had put all his best into that poem. It was true that the sales of Rokeby, large as they were, did not nearly reach those of the earlier poems, but he had a theory about that. He said that the Lay was a poem of style, Marmion of description, the Lady of the Lake of incident, and Rokeby of character. And people did not care for character in a poem.

            The distinctions hold some truth, though not much. But the comparative failure of Rokeby was not because it was a poem of character, nor because Byron had a growing popularity. It was because it was of comparatively poor quality.

            Rokeby, separately considered, is a poem which it is easy to praise. It contains splendid scenes. The burning of Rokeby Castle, the interrupted execution - they are Scott at his (almost) best. But the general level is not merely unequal to such parts as these, it is definitely below that of the earlier poems. Its failure is not because it is a poem of character, although it is true that character is portrayed in a new way. In the Lady of the Lake, it is indicated with a brevity which is genius. It is clearly drawn with few lines. Here is character more consciously filled in. It approaches nearer to the style by which, in the prose novels, Scott was to win a different success. But there were large parts of it which lacked the old spontaneity, which were more or less mechanically written, which suggested that, like Southey and Wordsworth and other of his contemporaries, Scott was in danger of degenerating into a professional poet.

            Rokeby was little more than a good novel in rhyme, and Scott's earlier romantic poems are much greater than that. It is redeemed by one or two scenes of the old wizardry, and by its incomparable lyrics, in which Scott excelled himself. It has nothing like that first of all literary ballads, Alice Brand, which was thrown carelessly, as a kind of extra, into the Lady of the Lake; but otherwise its lyrics compare with those of any of the previous poems. Apart from the lyrics, it is inferior, particularly on its technical side: it is inferior in the melody of words.

            Had Scott seen more clearly that the comparative failure of Rokeby was not a fault of fickleness on the part of the public; nor of character replacing incident (it has plenty of that); nor of Byron's competition; but resulted from the inferior texture of the poem itself, there might have been a better prospect of the new victory at which he aimed. And yet, perhaps - in part - he did see it. And he certainly made a deliberate effort to recover the old freedom and the old power.

            That was just what was wrong. It was a deliberate effort of genius, and the spontaneity of genius is a better thing.

            Yet it was far from failure. It is a much better poem than Rokeby: there can be no doubt of that. Its plot is at least equally good. In some respects the two plots are complementary. Rokeby is a tale of two men who could still be of a mutual generosity, although they were rivals in love. The Lord of the Isles is the even less probable one of two women who could show the same spirit to one another, though they loved the same man. They both illustrate the wide gulf there is between Scott's ideality, and that of our contemporary novelists. They would have us understand that love is a force before which all barriers should go down. It is Scott's continual theme that honour is more than love.

            The plot is so good, and so adroitly handled, that we may be tempted to regret that Scott did not give it the length and freedom of a prose presentation. The idea of a woman disguising herself in a page's dress is one of which Scott, like Shakespeare, was always fond, but it has never been better handled than it is here, perhaps because Edith never shows any masculine attributes. She is still a timid girl, and when she shows courage, it is in a woman's way.

            The conception of her being sentenced to be hanged by her own brother, and holding back from the word that would save her life lest it should betray, not her lover, but the man she loves, is one of the finest in romantic literature. But the whole poem is splendid in imagination. The scene of the interrupted wedding: the Abbot's curse that was changed to blessing: the night-scene in Cormac's hut: the scene in Isabel's cell: the interrupted execution: the description of Bannockburn: - if these be failure, what should we require to call it success? And yet if we compare it with the earlier poems, all the nobility, all the high qualities of imagination may be here, but something of the old magic is gone. It is a splendid effort: but the others were not efforts; and - significantly - it has only one lyric. There is nothing of song, except the Brooch of Lorn.

            The description of Bannockburn is something which: only Scott could have done. It is immaterial that he was probably misled by tradition as to the actual tactics of the battle. He gives us battle-poetry which is incomparable, except for one other - his own Flodden, and before that it must recede to a second place.

            And yet - it has its own excellence, and its closing scene is of a good kind. Let Wordsworth (having finished the writing of great poetry) write rhymed prose for thirty years if he will. Scott prefers to make his exit in a different way. He shows us Argentine riding back to die, and his own song dies on that most tender note of mourning for his dead friend, the Duchess of Buccleuch.

    Chapter LVI.

            A week after the publication of the Lord of the Isles, Scott sent to James Ballantyne to call upon him at North Castle Street. Scott sat at his desk in the library, and James took the visitor's chair.

            "Well, James, I have given you a week. What are people saying about the Lord of the Isles?"

            James was not quick to reply.

            "Disappointment?" Scott queried.

            The printer's silence was sufficient answer. He says that Scott looked 'rather blank for a few seconds'. It was not what he had expected to hear. Then he recovered his cheerfulness. "Well, well, James, so be it. But you know we mustn't droop, for we can't afford to give over." He said goodnight to James, and turned back to the third volume of Guy Mannering. If the poem had failed, he must have the novel out all the sooner. It was published within three weeks of that night.

            A month later, after an interval of six years, he set out for a visit to London. (Charlotte came with him on this occasion, and Sophia also (on an invitation from Joanna Baillie, with whom she would stay, and who would show her the sights), for he came on holiday now. Not to work at the Museum, or to visit booksellers, but to take the respite that a man may who can look back on a long warfare that has ended in victory. For he was now as sure of his position as of himself. In the financial sky there might still be clouds, but they were breaking apart. For Guy Mannering had duplicated - had even exceeded - the success of Waverley. Published anonymously, without the prestige of his name, they had won for him the assurance of a second fortune, and a second throne. To write poetry is a precarious thing. A wayward, difficult art. To need money, and to depend on poetry to bring it, is to be doomed indeed. The public could have two novels a year if they wanted. Or three. But he would take a holiday first.

            They stayed as usual with M. Dumerge, Charlotte and he. They had a brilliant reception. He might know that the Lord of the Isles was not selling as the earlier poems had done, but it had an immense sale, none the less. During the six years of his absence, his fame had grown, had matured. Everyone had read him now. The mystery of the novels - to which the answer was not hard to guess - gave an added glamour to the poet's name.

            And it was a different London from that of six years ago, when it had been under the shadow of prolonged and unvictorious war. Last year it had been gay with triumph. Napoleon was in Elba. The voices in the Edinburgh Review that had counselled surrender and foretold defeat had become silent then. In Vienna, where men divided the world anew, England had the first voice.

            Now, before Scott reached London, there was a new excitement. Napoleon had escaped from Elba. No-one doubted what the end would be. But would he be able to fan the ashes of strife to a new flame? News had not been awaited with such eagerness in the darkest days of the war.

            It was not only in literary circles that the Scotts were feted. Ministers of State were glad to welcome the famous author who had used his great influence consistently through times of critical unrest on the side of established order: the highest of social circles sought to recognise the poet whose flame of patriotism had been an inspiration to England in her war-weariest hours. Byron sought opportunity to meet him: the Prince Regent delighted to do him honour.

            In this atmosphere, those past difficulties about the Ballantyne bills shrunk to their true insignificance: the provision of the money for that Kaeside land to the east of Abbotsford did not seem likely to be difficult to arrange. . . .

            He met Byron in John Murray's drawing-room in Albemarle Street. There had been doubts, in Scott's mind at least, as to whether there were common ground on which they could meet congenially. Not that he failed in generosity of appreciation. James Ballantyne had found him reading the Giaour a few nights after he had conveyed the news that the Lord of the Isles was a comparative failure in the view of the trade. Byron had sent the book, with a graceful inscription: To the Monarch of Parnassus, from one of his subjects. James asked if he might borrow it, and it had been handed over with the reflection: 'James, Byron hits the mark where I don't even pretend to fledge my arrow'. But they differed widely in politics, in religion, and in ideals of the conduct of life.

            Yet, in fact, when they met, they were good friends. Scott's sympathetic tolerance, which forgave all, and yet conceded nothing, conquered, as it so often did. They talked of many things, and he concluded that Byron had no very fixed opinions either in religion or politics. He told him that he thought, in the end, he would 'retreat upon the Catholic faith', and become austere in his penances. Byron showed Scott his best side, as most men did. Scott wrote afterwards that he had 'Always continued to think that a crisis of life was arrived, in which a new career of fame was opened to him, and that had he been permitted to start upon it, he would have obliterated the memory of such parts of his life as friends would wish to forget'.

            The Prince Regent entertained him more than once. He had an incongruous, but obviously genuine admiration for Scott's poetry. Scott's opinion of the Regent may be understood from the fact that he declined to give it. But he thought of two things which it would be possible to say when he was asked, and he said them both.

            An absurd tale got into circulation that the Prince had asked him explicitly whether he were the author of Waverley and that he had given a solemn denial. James heard it, and when Scott got back to Edinburgh, he asked him if it were true. Scott said no. He did not know what he should have said in such circumstances, but 'I was never put to the test'. He added that the Prince had a reputation for good manners: which is in itself enough to dispose of such a tale, yet it lives on to this day.

            Scott's duties as Clerk of Session took him back to Edinburgh, and he was there when Waterloo was fought. He was eager to visit the continent, and that battle having been sufficiently decisive in its results to quieten Charlotte's objection, he set off as soon as the Court rose in the company of three of his younger Abbotsford neighbours. John Scott of Gala, Robert Bruce, and Alexander Pringle.

            They took coach to Harwich, travelling through Cambridge, where two of the party had recently taken their degrees, stayed there overnight and preserved Scott's incognito successfully, but he was recognised by the master of the Harwich packet, who drank his health so often that they felt it was due to Providence, rather than to him, that they landed safely on the quay at Helvoestleys.

            Scott had taken a holiday of several months - almost the only one of his adult life - from any serious literary work, and he now recommenced it in earnest. He had a contract with Constable to write an account of his experiences and impressions abroad, and he did this in the form of daily letters, which it was his habit to send to Charlotte when they were parted. He wrote them as a series supposed to be sent by an elderly bachelor to various relatives and friends. They all went to Charlotte first, and then to whoever was afterwards intended to have them, Captain John, or Christian Rutherford, Lord Somerville or Dr. Douglas of Galashiels, (from whom Abbotsford had been purchased), on the understanding that they would be passed on to William Erskine and James, who were entrusted with the excision of private matter, and any other changes which might be needed in preparing them for the press. They were published in the following January under the style of Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk, and had a sale of eight or nine thousand copies. That paid for the tour, with a good margin. Scott also wrote a rather long poem, The Field of Waterloo, for charity. The proceeds were to go to the families of the men who had been killed in the battle. Its only justification is the object for which it was written. It has a vigorous passage descriptive of the repulse of the Old Guard, apart from which it is worthless. It shows the kind of thing that he would have done frequently if he had degenerated into a laureate, or any other form of professional poet. Scott could not write a good poem (other than a brief lyric) without years of working upon it. No-one can.

            On this tour, Scott met most of the monarchs, soldiers, and statesmen, who had been most prominent in the later years of the war, and were now looking after the interests of their countries or themselves in the settling of a peace which was giving them almost equal anxieties. He met the Duke of Wellington, to whom he offered something as near to hero-worship as he did to any living man. He was introduced to the Czar of Russia at a dinner given by the Earl of Cathcart. The Czar may have heard of him before, or he may not. The Earl had done his best to explain Mr Scott's many excellences before the introduction. He had presumably said something about Scott's energy in raising that Yeomanry regiment which had (in fact) never been any use, unless its existence had encouraged the Government to send other troops abroad. The Earl may not have made himself very clear. Many languages met in Paris in those days, and mistakes were common. The Czar understood that Mr Scott was a vaguely important, vaguely valiant man. He was anxious to be polite. Mr. Scott wore the official uniform of the Sheriff of Selkirkshire. He was splendid in red and blue. He was plainly lame. The Czar enquired in what action he had taken his wound? Scott replied that he had not been wounded: he had been lame from childhood. The Czar said that the Earl had already informed him of Mr Scott's distinguished military career. Scott looked at the Earl, and the Earl looked worried. He tried to assist the situation by saying that he had served in a sense, - in a Yeomanry regiment - a kind of landsturm. The Czar observed that he had at last encountered a modest man. "Under what commander had he served?" "Under M. le Chevalier Rae." "In what actions had he been?" Scott said gravely that he had been present at the battle of the Cross Causeway, and the affair of Moredun Mill. The Czar was politely impressed. If he did not know the names of all the glorious victories of his gallant allies, he was not likely to reveal his ignorance. . . . Scott caught sight of Lord Cathcart's face, and realised that the conversation had better change. Laughter might have been hard to explain.

            But Scott's great conquest was Platoff, the Cossack Hetman, whom he met at the same dinner. They could not speak a word in common, and who or what he supposed Scott to be is beyond guessing. Someone may have told him that he wrote Mazeppa. Anyway, he jumped off his horse next morning in the Rue de la Paix, and left his escort staring, while he ran to Scott, kissing his cheeks. With an interpreter's help, he invited him to see his Cossacks reviewed, which Scott was pleased to do. The Hetman would lend him a most quiet horse. So the Hetman did, and Scott saw the review, but he had no idea what it was all about.

            Scott came back through London with Scott of Gala, while their two friends went on to Switzerland. He met Charles Matthews and Daniel Terry there, and there was probably a good business reason for this, for Terry produced a play next spring called Guy Mannering, which had a long run, and was revived frequently for many years afterwards, to the probable profit of the author of that anonymous novel.

            He stopped at Kenilworth, among other places, on the way back, and examined the castle ruins with care, and arrived home at the Abbotsford cottage (it was still a cottage in these days) somewhat later than he had been expected. He found James Skene there, having come on a friendly call, supposing that he had been already back, and James Ballantyne, who had brought particulars from Edinburgh of how business had gone during his absence, and whom Charlotte had kept till he should arrive, and between business and friendship, and all the domestic chatter, he sat down in the drawing-room without noticing that Charlotte and the girls had renovated it, and newly upholstered the furniture to surprise him on his return, till the maddened women couldn't keep silence any longer. And after that he was so full of apologies that he couldn't talk of anything else. . . .

            And in the morning there was trouble of another kind, for since it had become plain that the Yeomanry regiment was never likely to see active service, Scott had sold his chargers, except Daisy, a pure-white horse of which he was particularly fond, partly because he would stand so absolutely still to be mounted and his lameness caused him a particular awkwardness in getting on or off a horse, though, when he was once up, we was a better rider than most.

            But now Daisy put his ears back, and reared and threw him when he had one foot in the stirrup. He was as quiet as ever when Tom Purdie mounted him, and he had been well-conducted in his master's absence. Peter had ridden him regularly into Melrose with the post-bag, to give him exercise. But he was determined that Scott should not ride him again, and after a week of abortive trials, even of experimenting with Tom Purdie in some of Scott's clothes, to which Daisy made no objection, the fact had to be recognised and the horse sold.

            It was an inexplicable puzzle, and Scott sold the horse with lasting regret. He felt that he would never have - would never have occasion to have - another blood-horse of that quality again. Henceforward he would be riding a cob. It was as though the chapter of his youth had closed.

            But he bought the Kaeside land, on which his heart was set, and he wrote to Joanna Baillie that Walter (who was fourteen now) could ride well, and he went into Edinburgh and made a contract with Constable for another novel, which was to be called the Antiquary, and on which he could get to work at once.

            And then there came an opportunity for "Master Walter Scott, younger of Abbotsford" to make a public show of the skill in horsemanship of which his father had boasted, for the old feud between Selkirk and Yarrow - between Buccleuch and Home - was revived in a solemn football match which was made occasion for a semi-military pageant, at which Walter carried the banner of Buccleuch. And Scott wrote a ballad for the occasion, and James Hogg wrote another, and probably thought (and may have been right) that his was the better of the two.

            It was on this occasion that the more distinguished members of the company were invited to dinner at Bowhill, and the Ettrick Shepherd, who was included in that category, would have sat down at the children's table in error, but that Scott took his arm, and explained that that one was reserved for the 'little lords and ladies', and unfortunately Hogg didn't hear the word 'little' and thought indignantly that there was a table there at which he was not considered good enough to sit. And though Scott put him between himself and Scott of Harden, the Shepherd sulks audibly in his autobiography at the fancied insult. But he did not quarrel with Scott on this occasion, because he had done so only last winter, about a similar misunderstanding, so that, when he had fallen ill, Scott had been obliged to help him with an elaborate obliquity through a halter on the North Bridge; and Hogg had afterwards written in abject apology, never hoping to be forgiven, and Scott had told him to drop it, and come to breakfast. So it would have been rather soon to start quarrelling again, especially when it had to be all on one side, because Scott never would quarrel with the Ettrick Shepherd, let him behave as he would.

    Chapter LVII.

            It is at the close of 1815 that James Ballantyne appears on the stage in a new part. The fact that a printer is associated in business with a man of genius is no sufficient reason why his private affairs should be subsequently exposed, and his letters, though obviously of a most confidential and personal character, published after his death. Having said this, it is bare justice to Lockhart to add that it was the Trustees of James Ballantyne who were primarily responsible for this publicity. It is a fact that, in February 1816, Scott took over the entire ownership of the printing business, and James became his manager, and this position continued for about five years. The Trustees held certain accounts which were agreed at the time, and thought that their publication would disparage Scott. Lockhart was easily able to show that this idea was baseless, and he had some justification for publishing certain private letters of James to Scott, which was an indecency which he had not previously intended to commit. He was foolish enough to retort, with some provocation, and with his usual incapacity to understand figures, making charges against James Ballantyne which are nearly as groundless as those which the Trustees made against Scott, and he was provoked to expose an incident which occurred during James's subsequent management of the business which is detrimental to his memory, though there is something to be said on James's side which Lockhart was not careful to observe. When recriminatory charges have been flung backwards and forwards it is better to examine the facts, of whatever nature, rather than to pass them in silence, if only because the truth is most often the cleaner thing. In this case the circumstances in which James resigned his partnership are entirely creditable to all concerned.

            James, a shy middle-aged man who had never married, had fallen in love with a girl much younger than himself. She was a Miss Hogarth, one of six children. Her father, a gentleman farmer, had a considerable fortune. He intended to provide substantially for his girls when they married. When he observed that his daughter was receiving James's attentions with some complacency, his son, Mr George Hogarth, who was a Writer to the Signet, had a business talk with the Canongate printer, and James told him straightforwardly about the financial difficulties of the firm, and, particularly, about those John Ballantyne bills, for the whole of which he was responsible, even including those for which Scott had provided through the Duke of Buccleuch's guarantee. It does not appear that he made any secrecy of the fact of Scott being a partner, nor that Scott expected him to do so.

            Mr Hogarth took the position very seriously. He did not forbid the marriage. He even allowed a date to be tentatively fixed. Both he and his daughter (unlike Lockhart) seem to have liked James.

            But on one point Mr Hogarth was firm. He was not going to give his daughter money which might be used, sooner or later, to pay John Ballantyne bills. James said that he reckoned that his capital in the business was practically gone. Very well. There would be no question of paying him out. Let his partner release him. Mr Hogarth did not ask that James should have a fortune of his own, but only that he should be clear of these business complications. Let Mr Scott say that he would accept sole responsibility for the liabilities of the printing and publishing firms, and James could marry the girl. Otherwise not.

            James wrote to Scott, laying the position before him. He wrote with great frankness about his own feelings, and all that the decision would mean to him. He was writing an intimate letter, addressed to a man of his own age, whom he had learnt to trust and respect, and of whose sympathy he was sure. He could have had no thought that it would ever be exposed to strangers' eyes.

            He said frankly that he had no right to that for which he asked, but it was Mr Hogarth's request, not his. As he had no means outside the business, Scott could not, by releasing him, increase the real responsibility that he already had. He would work for the business as manager with the same energy as in the past, and his remuneration - in fact, everything, if the main point were conceded - could be as Scott thought best. There would be no argument about that.

            We have no record of Scott's reply. It is clear that it was not a refusal. James had said that Scott, being a lawyer, would best know how such an arrangement could be carried out. Anything which Scott prepared he would be ready to sign. But, being a lawyer, Scott may have seen difficulties which did not occur to James's mind. Difficulties of giving James the effectual release which both James and Mr Hogarth were so ready to trust him to do. And accounts must be prepared. From whatever reason, the matter dragged. The date first fixed for the wedding had to be given up. It was put forward to February 1st. As that day approached, James wrote to Scott a somewhat pathetic letter. He was a middle-aged man, without means, or personal attractions to offer a women so much younger than himself, who had a fortune (if not a large one) to bring to him. He had a fear that, if the date of the marriage were postponed again, it would never take place.

            It appears to have been in response to this appeal that Scott wrote a memorandum in which he said, so far as the John Ballantyne bills were concerned:

            "the burthen must be upon you and me - that is, on the printing office. If you will agree to conduct this business henceforward with steadiness and care, and to content yourself with £400 a year from it for your private purposes, its profits will ultimately set us free. I agree that we should grant mutual discharges as booksellers" - (we should say publishers) - "and printers. I agree farther that the responsibility of the whole debt should be assumed by myself alone for the present - providing you, on your part, never interfere with the printing profits, beyond your allowance, until the debt has been obliterated or put into such a train of liquidation that you see your way clear, and voluntarily assume your station as my partner, instead of continuing to be, as you now must consider yourself, merely my steward, bookkeeper, and manager in the Canongate."

            Having agreed the principle, Scott entrusted the preparation of the necessary deed, and the details of the arrangement, to Mr George Hogarth, a conclusive evidence both of the spirit in which he met the call which had been made upon his generosity, and the direction from which it came.

            The condition which Scott himself made, for which James had not stipulated - for which he could not in decency have asked - that he could claim to be reinstated as a partner at any time should he think it to his advantage, is equally conclusive in its evidence that Scott was not himself aiming to acquire the sole ownership. - And five years later, James invoked this clause, and was admitted to partnership again.

            But the conditions of the dissolution, though broadly generous, were not flabby. Scott was always definite in these matters, both in what he gave, and what he required. James was to do certain things within his capacity, and he was, in particular, to remain responsible for the £3,000 which Scott and his brother had advanced to the firm in addition to Scott's partnership capital. This amount was to be left over indefinitely, but James was to insure his life in Scott's favour, so that it would be adjusted at his death, - if the premiums were kept up.

            So far good. It might be thought that there is nothing in these events about which Scott's friends could subsequently attempt to disparage James, or James's friends to disparage Scott. But naturally, and indeed inevitably, accounts were prepared showing the liabilities with which the agreement dealt. Even in these figures there was nothing surprising or inconsistent with the events of which we already know. A competent accountant might have examined them, and said: "If the parties most concerned are agreed, how can human ingenuity contrive to make trouble here?"

            But a time came when James's Trustees and then Lockhart examined these figures with an equal determination to make trouble, and an almost equal incompetence to understand them. Lockhart had given the first provocation by a series of almost reckless libels, and frequent sneers in his Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott, and the Trustees were anxious to hit back with any weapon that they were able to find. In this account, the John Ballantyne bills which were still outstanding, and the acceptances of the printing business, were grouped together in one figure, and entered as Scott's liability. That, as he was assuming sole responsibility, was the correct, and may be said to be the only possible way in which they could be entered at all, but the Trustees leapt to the absurd conclusion that this figure represented accommodation bills which Scott had obtained for his own use, and became hysterical in denunciation of the way in which a prosperous printer had been exploited by his unscrupulous partner. It was sheer nonsense, as an accountant's pupil would see at once in his first year, and Lockhart ridiculed it as it deserved. Unfortunately, he went further. He fastened upon that £3,000 which it had been agreed should be continued as a liability, however dormant, from James to Scott, and boldly asserted that it justified his previous assertion that James had ruined the printing business by a wild extravagance of personal expenditures. But he forgot the length of time that the business had been established. Even assuming that this £3,000 represented personal expenditure, which it did not, it would still have done little to support Lockhart's previous charges, for, if they were substantially accurate, James would not have been likely to have owed the business such a sum at the end of twelve years. It would have been more nearly £25,000.

            But James was married to Miss Hogarth and the date arranged, and no doubt Scott went to the wedding, and James was proud of the presence of the 'life-long benefactor' whom he 'loved and honoured', whose generosity had made the marriage a possible thing: and Scott went with the happy consciousness of having done that which was equally wise and right, and they had a merry time, untroubled by the thought that they had given subject for the slanders of smaller men.

            . . . The other matter which Lockhart discovered and exposed in somewhat natural retaliation against the quite groundless accusation that Scott had used the credit of the partnership business for his own accommodation, is of a different substance.

            It appears that shortly after James ceased to be a partner in the firm it became absolutely necessary to his younger brother, Alexander, that he should have back the money that he had lent to James, which had been part of James's original capital in the business, and for which he, with an irregularity which he never appears to have been able to appreciate clearly, had given the firm's acceptances in the first instance.

            When Alexander pressed for the return of the money now, Scott was not informed of a matter which did not strictly concern him, and which had been the cause of the single instance of friction between them in the past, but James went to John, who undertook to raise the amount on bills which James gave again in the firm's name; which John succeeded in doing.

            When the first of these bills became due, being for £200, it was dishonoured.

            Scott, probably through his legal associations, appears to have had channels through which he was almost instantly aware of anything which might happen detrimental to the credit of the printing business. He heard that one of its bills had been dishonoured, at a time when the credit of the business was being solidly re-established, and when he was the sole proprietor. It was a bill of which he had no knowledge, which he had neither signed nor authorised, which ought not to exist. He sent for James, and learnt that he was out of town. He sent for John, and found John knew all about it, though the knowledge had been kept from him. John made as little of it as he could. He said the bill was now paid. His clerk had been to the bank, and put it right. James could explain about the existence of the document, and it was just bad luck that it had been dishonoured, for which no-one was really to blame.

            Scott wrote to James for an explanation, and received a long written reply, in the course of which he made a frank admission of the whole circumstances:

            "The £200 bill lately dishonoured was given by me for an equal sum advanced by him, and paid by me to Alexander. The remainder of the sum was made up in the same manner, and I have the absolute promise of the persons through whom I raised it (Manners & Miller) that they will aid me in retiring the bills granted to them till it shall be convenient to me to retire them finally. . . .

            "I was aware that the bill was due on Monday last. I had a letter from John on the morning of Friday, saying that he was to be at Abbotsford on that day on his way home, and that he would be in Edinhurgh on Saturday. I left Edinburgh for Carfrae on Saturday morning, leaving £200 enclosed in a letter for John to pay the bill, in the event of his failing to procure the cash in another quarter. In place of arriving on Saturday, John staid till Wednesday - a circumstance wholly out of my contemplation. The bill, of course, was dishonoured, to my unspeakable vexation and sorrow. John's man however, got scent of the money which I left, and proffered it at the bank, just too late to save noting."

            James's letter, both in its admissions and explanations, is clear and explicit. John assumed a somewhat different attitude. He attempted to take the blame on to himself, but in such a way as to suggest that there wasn't much to take. He said it had all been done on his own advice, and he had been as completely unaware as James himself of there being any irregularity in drawing such bills, or he wouldn't have suggested it. He added:

            "In truth, his own name would have done as well, for this bill was paid to Cadell, not for value received, but as additional security over other assets, under which he took on himself the payment of claims on me while I was absent. Of course, the circumstance will never occur again. I am sure the Bank are entirely satisfied that the money lay for payment from the Saturday preceding."

            The lucidity of these explanations is not absolute, and they include one or two statements the exact accuracy of which it is possible to doubt, but so far as James was concerned, they did show that he had not neglected the bill. It had not been renewed, because he had been prepared to pay it. It appeared that he had raised the money with great difficulty, actually borrowing a final amount from his father-in-law to make it up.

            Scott considered these circumstances, and in the end his anger cooled. But he felt that he had been badly treated, and he used some straight words. Suppose that he had died, and that James had had to give his explanations to strangers? Did he realise that he had issued a forged bill; There being this series, of which he had only learnt by a mischance, how many more might there not be?

            As to that, James gave assurances, which were believed, and were true. Beyond that, he merely protested that he had had no dishonourable intention, which was plain enough from the way in which he had been dealing with the obligation, and that he had not realised the serious nature of the irregularity.

            In considering this defense, it is only fair to observe that James had not only been a partner, but in sole control of the business for many years. He still had the right to sign on the firm's behalf. We can see how it appeared to him. In the end, the cloud passed, and Scott and he were as good friends as before. It is incomprehensible to Lockhart. When words fail, marks of exclamation must take their place. Yet Scott may have been the better judge of his fellow-men.

    Chapter LVIII.

            The Antiquary was begun in the last weeks of 1815, and published in the following May. Its first success was even greater than that of the two previous novels. It had an immediate sale of 6,000 copies. But this sale was a tribute to its predecessors rather than its own merit. Criticism, when it came, hesitated in praise. Scott had his own doubt. He had written to Terry 'It wants the romance of Waverley, and the adventure of Guy Mannering, and yet there is some salvation about it for if a man will paint from Nature he will be likely to amuse those who are daily looking at it.'

            But the hesitation did not last. Steadily and surely the current of its quieter excellence carried it to its deserved place. For of the three novels, it is, as a whole, the most satisfying: the surest in delineation of character: the most natural in its dialogues: the smoothest in continuity: the most consistent in tone.

            These distinctions may be the result of a more practiced art, or they more probably had another, or an additional cause. Waverley was written at different times, with long intervals. It shows differences of texture, and cracks where it is joined. Memory strove to revive old imaginations, and imagination works best at its free will. Scott had a belief that his best work was done swiftly, which was only partly true, and, so far as it appeared to be so, the swiftness was a quality rather than a cause. But when he threw aside a work that was half done, he found it difficult to continue it afterwards on the same note, and the new imagination moved less freely, hampered by the memory of the old, which was of a diminished vitality.

            The genesis of Guy Mannering is more doubtful. It appears certain that it owes material parts of its plot to a ballad sent to Scott by Mr Joseph Train, a Supervisor of Excise at Castle-Stewart, with whom he formed a friendship while inspecting lighthouses, and this ballad did not reach him till November 1815, by which evidence it would appear that the book was written within a very short period. But the scenery which it describes is that which Scott visited early in 1793, when he was preparing the defence of the too-lively McNaught, and it is a curious fact that some of the names in the novel correspond with those of the witnesses in that trial. It seems at least probable that some materials for, or portion of, the book had been in existence from an earlier period. We know that Scott had expressed to James Ballantyne an intention of following Waverley with a historical novel of earlier date, and it seems more probable that Train's ballad would have changed his intention if it offered additional plot for some existing material, than if it brought an entirely new idea to his mind.

            However that be, it seems clear that the Antiquary was written continuously, and, although rapidly enough, at a period of comparative mental leisure, and with little editorial or other work in competition.

            The only incident that punctuates this period is the death of Captain John Scott, which cannot have been a very sharp grief, for the brothers had little in common, though they were always on terms of mutual goodwill. John left about £6,000 - half to Walter, and half to Tom, they being his only surviving brothers.

            Tom, in Canada, must have found such a sum a very welcome addition to his limited resources. Scott would find it almost equally welcome. It did not come to him in cash, but it cancelled the mortgage on the first purchase of Abbotsford land, and the £1,200 loan to the printing business, which the recent arrangement with James had transformed into his private responsibility. The relief which the removal of these charges made must have increased both his capacity for, and confidence in, the acquisition of further patches of the land around Abbotsford, on which his heart was set. . . . He wrote to Tom, advising him of the amount by which he would benefit under their brother's will. He added that there was a further £3,000 which would fall due to Tom at their mother's death. These things being so, would not Tom like to come home? He would do all that a brother could to find him a good position. But he added that such positions were now hard to get. The government was enforcing economy in all directions. It was not like it had been during the war.

            As he got the Antiquary off his hands, Scott decided upon another adventure in anonymity. He had in mind the writing of the novel of which he had talked to James before he decided to put Guy Mannering first. It was to be a historical romance of Claverhouse and the Covenanters, and the battle of Bothwell Bridge. This would be different from the tales of more or less contemporary manners with which the name of the author of Waverley was associated. Why not project a series of such historical tales to be linked under a common title, Tales of my Landlord, and try whether a separate and third anonymity would win a fourth success? That would best be done through a publisher other than Constable, and, as far as the author could contrive it, a change in his own style. With this object, John was instructed to approach Mr. Blackwood, a young Edinburgh bookseller who was now acting as Murray's Scottish agent, and suggest that they should undertake this new anonymous series, which, they were informed in confidence, was by the author of Waverley, but of which connection they were to make no public announcement. The terms offered, and readily accepted, were that the author should receive half the profits, and that Murray should take a £500 parcel of the unending Hanover Street stock. So far, the facts appear to be simple, natural, and requiring no further explanation. But to Lockhart's mind they supplied fresh evidence of the villainy of John Ballantyne, and the charges which he makes against him in this connection are so gross, and their foundations appear to be so extremely flimsy, that it seems best to state them in his own words:

            "After the first and more serious embarrassments had been overcome, John was far from continuing to hold by his patron's anxiety for the total abolition of their unhappy co-partnership. He, unless when some sudden emergency arose, flattered Scott's own gay imagination, by representing everything in the most smiling colours; and though Scott, in his replies seldom failed to introduce some hint of caution - such as 'Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia' - he more and more took home to himself the agreeable cast of his Rigdum's anticipations, and wrote to him in a vein as merry as his own - e.g. - 'As for our stock,

    "'Twill be waring awa', John,

    Like snaw-wreaths when it's thaw, John,' " etc.

            John could never have forgotten that it was to Constable alone that his firm had more than once owed its escape from dishonour; and he must have known that, after the triumphant career of the Waverley series had once commenced, nothing could have been more easy than to bring all the affairs of 'back-stock, etc.' to a close, by entering into a distinct and candid treaty on that subject in connection with the future works of the great Novelist either with Constable or with any other first-rate house in the trade: but he also knew that, were that unhappy firm wholly extinguished, he must himself subside into a clerk of the printing company. Therefore, in a word, he appears to have systematically disguised from Scott the extent to which the whole Ballantyne concern had been sustained by Constable - especially during his Hebridean tour of 1814, and his Continental one of 1815 - and prompted and enforced the idea of trying other booksellers from time to time, instead of adhering to Constable, merely for the selfish purposes - first, of facilitating the immediate discount of bills; - secondly, of further perplexing Scott's affairs, the entire disentanglement of which would have been, as he fancied, prejudicial to his own personal importance.

            It was resolved, accordingly, to offer the risk and half profits of the first edition of another new novel - or rather collection of novels - to Mr. Murray of Albermarle Street, and Mr. Blackwood, who was then Murray's agent in Scotland; but it was at the same time resolved, partly because Scott wished to try another experiment on the public sagacity, but partly also, no question, from the wish to spare Constable's feelings, that the title-page of the 'Tales of my Landlord' should not bear the magical words 'by the Author of Waverley.' "

            It reads speciously enough, but there is hardly a sentence in this page of poisonous nonsense which does not contain or suggest a lie, and the accusations made against John Ballantyne with such careless levity, - that he 'systematically disguised' Constable's conduct to his own principal, and that he acted with the 'selfish purpose' of 'further perplexing' Scott's affairs, are of the standard of conduct for which Dante placed the most despicable of human sinners with Judas in the lowest hell. Scott was his benefactor, his employer, his friend. Human degradation cannot go much lower than in the deliberate betrayal of a trust created by such relations. This is not a life of John Ballantyne (who had his faults) and it might be inopportune to turn aside, even to relieve him of a transparently baseless charge; but a large measure of misconception as to Scott's character and business capacity has been built upon this fiction of Lockhart's that he was continually hoodwinked by the knaveries of those to whom he gave a life-long confidence, and for this reason it may be worth while to tabulate some of the errors of fact or logic which this accusation contains:

            First, there was no excessive optimism in foreseeing that the stock would be cleared. (Lockhart recognises this himself, in a later sentence). In fact, it was cleared entirely, at no distant date.

            Second, it is not clear that it could be dealt with to the best advantage through a single channel. There is an opposite presumption. By placing parcels of a stock which consisted of large quantities of a comparatively few books now with Constable, now with Longman, and now with Murray, the widest channels of distribution were opened.

            Third, it is not obvious that it would have been a sound business proposition to negotiate a forward contract for further Waverley novels, on a basis which would have entirely cleared the Hanover Street stock, even if Constable would have agreed, which cannot be assumed with confidence. He was always difficult to drive. The contracts which were ultimately made for further novels, and the final bargain regarding the stock, suggest a directly contrary conclusion.

            Fourth, it was not a fact that the conclusion of the sale of this stock would automatically cause John to subside into the position of a clerk to the printing firm, nor would occasional large transfers of stock, which took place at intervals of months or years, have been sufficient to save him from such a fate. The suggestion ignores the fact that he was now engaged in business as an auctioneer.

            Fifth, the strength of John's position with Scott was not, at this time, based upon these occasional disposals of stock, but upon the fact that he was acting as his literary agent. Most authors find it an advantage to have such a representative, and Scott's complicated anonymities, both in prose and verse, rendered it an absolute necessity to him.

            Sixth, it is difficult to know what is meant by the vague accusation that John concealed Constable's services in sustaining "the whole Ballantyne concern" during Scott's absences. It is extremely unlikely that Constable did anything of the kind. It is equally improbable that the Ballantynes could have concealed such a circumstance from Scott on his return, even had they had any adequate reason for desiring to do so. Scott and Constable frequently met.

            In fact, the whole accusation proves on examination to be devoid not only of proof, but of any basis of probability. It is wildly unlikely that the idea of a separate series of anonymous novels originated with John Ballantyne, rather than with Scott, and if there were to be such a series, it was an obvious advantage to find a separate publisher, which Scott doubtless told John to do. He may have told him to use the opportunity to get rid of some more of that difficult stock, or John may have mentioned it first. It is a point of no importance, because it would be in both their minds. It is certain that there was not any intention of throwing Constable overboard, for he had already been taken into the secret of the authorship of the Waverley novels; and Scott was not foolish enough to start a new anonymity with the intention of dropping the one which he had already made a success. That would have been a pointless stupidity. Obviously, he intended to carry on both, side by side.

            Nor is it likely that Constable would be more difficult to manage because another channel had been opened through which novels could be published. But at this time Constable was so far from being willing to agree to everything that was asked, that he was showing his own strength, and his own independence in an unexpected way. He was cold-shouldering James Ballantyne & Co., and placing his printing orders in other directions. Even with the novels themselves, he had taken up the position that it must not be assumed that they would be printed at the Canongate works. It was a matter for estimate and negotiation.

            He was entirely within his right in this attitude, which may have had several significances. He may have thought that the importance of the orders which he placed with James had been insufficiently appreciated, and that it should be made clear that favours were not all on one side; or he may have found that prices had been raised against him as orders had come to be regarded as matters of routine rather than negotiation, and it may have been no more than a skirmish between James and himself as to what type-setting is worth; or it may have been that the change was less in Constable's policy than in surrounding circumstance. For twelve months, the war to end war had been over. Expert statesmen were re-partitioning Europe into new areas of enduring peace. In England, everyone was going to work less in future, and enjoy more. What else is peace, what else is victory, for? It is a recurring insanity, when the discords of battle cease. There was no statesman of sufficient wisdom to sound a warning note: none to propose that the nation shall be organised for peace, as it had been for war: to call for an effort which it might have been willing to make. They told it to slumber now, with a promise of pleasant dreams.

            Perhaps this casually-mentioned trouble, the fact that Constable was distributing his orders more widely than he had done during the war, is the most portentous fact which emerges from these negotiations. It is the cloud, small as a man's hand, rising in the skies of post-war - prosperity, that ten years hence will be black with financial storm.

            But as to the random charge against John Ballantyne that he was bent on prolonging the publishing business even to Scott's detriment, or that he must otherwise subside to the position of his brother's clerk, they may be refuted from Lockhart's own pen, for when he subsequently wrote his pamphlet to Sir Adam Fergusson in reply to the Ballantyne Trustees (p.55), being busy with a different argument, and forgetting what he had written before, he says, of the time of James's marriage:

            "Johnny's separate business as an auctioneer was now in a promising state, and all concerned were equally desirous of finally closing the bookselling and publishing adventure."

            And the idea that Scott was a puppet in John Ballantyne's hands is sufficiently refuted by his own letter of instructions dated April 29th 1816, addressed to John Ballantyne, while the negotiations proceeded, in the course of which he says: "James has made one or two important mistakes in the bargain with Murray and Blackwood," and goes on to give minute instructions as to the number of copies on which they shall have copyright, the length of credit which may be given, and other details, and adds:

            "If they agree to these conditions, good and well. If they demur, Constable must be instantly tried; giving half to the Longmans, and we drawing on them for their moiety, or Constable lodging their bill in our hands. . . . I do not limit you to terms, because I think you will make them better than I can do. But he must do more than others, since he will not or cannot print with us. For every point but that, I would rather deal with Constable than any one; he has always shown himself spirited, judicious and liberal. Blackwood must be brought to the point instantly; and whenever he demurs, Constable must be treated with care, for there's no use in suffering the thing to be blown on. At the same time, you need not conceal from him that there were some proposals elsewhere, but you may add, with truth, I would rather close with him.

    Yours truly
    W. S.

            P.S. I think Constable should jump at this affair; for I believe the work will be very popular."

            In this, as in all his correspondence with the Ballantynes, and generally in his business letters, Scott shows himself to have a clear grasp of affairs, and a will to control the negotiations in which his agents are occupied. He is capable of large deliberate generosities, but he handles even these with a firm hand. We may notice how, in the letter just quoted, in dealing with a contingent negotiation which it was never necessary to open, he safeguards himself in advance against the possibility that Constable, as the intermediary with Longmans, might have retained their bills, and given Scott his own for the whole amount, - thereby depriving him of the security of Longman's name, and retaining discountable paper which would have given Constable the use of the money until his own bills to Scott should. have become due for payment.

    End of Part I