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Tales of My Landlord without the magic words, “by the author of Waverley.” But the shortcomings of the Dwarf were more than balanced by the excellencies of its companion, and so great was their combined success that Scott received from Murray a grateful letter, ending :
“ Heber says there are only two men in the world—Walter Scott and Lord Byron. Between you, you have given existence to a third, ever your faithful servant, JOHN MURRAY." In answer to this he affected to deny the authorship (it must be remembered that the Ballantynes always acted for the anonymous novelist), and offered to confirm the disavowal by himself reviewing Tales of My Landlord in the Quarterly—an offer which he thought should carry as much conviction as to their true paternity as had Solomon's method of deciding between the two women the ownership of the child.
The review, with the help of Erskine, was actually written, and appeared a month later. Scott was particularly anxious to reply to the charges, made by Dr. McCrie, Knox's biographer, that the author of Old Mortality had not treated the Covenanters fairly; and was, besides, glad of any expedient for perpetuating the mystery of the authorship of the novels. Regarding this last point, though Erskine may in truth have written the bulk of the review and Scott only have transcribed it, making occasional suggestions, there can be no mistaking the source from which came the joke about the
recent “Transatlantic confessions,” namely, the report that Thomas Scott had written Waverley in Canada.
"A critic may be excused,” says the Quarterly reviewer, seizing upon the nearest suspicious person, on the principle happily expressed by Claverhouse, in a letter to the Earl of Linlithgow. He had been, it seems, in search of a gifted weaver, who used to hold forth at conventicles : I sent for the webster, they brought in his brother for him ; though he, may be, cannot preach like his brother, I doubt not but he is as wellprincipled as he, wherefore I thought it would be no great fault to give him the trouble to go to jail with the rest!”” In The Black Dwarf Scott's foot is again upon the Border, and whatever may have been the imperfections in the hurried execution of the tale, the episode of Hobbie Elliot's raid for the rescue of his sweetheart and the revenge of his burned homestead has its interest as a spirited picture of that rough-and-ready justice once practised on the marches.
HE year in which Rob Roy was written was one of great physical suffering for its author, who
then had his first attacks of that severe cramp in the stomach, which afterwards gave him so much trouble. “I have been so very ill since I wrote to you,” he tells Joanna Baillie in March, 1817, “that all around expected to have seen the last of me.” And it took him three or four days to recover from the profuse bleeding and liberal blistering with which the doctors "brought the disease to reason,” using their patient “as monarchs do a rebellious province.” He was now obliged to take exercise three or four hours before noon and two after dinner; and therefore his output for these twelve months, though far from meagre, was not equal to that of his busiest years. Meanwhile the new house at Abbotsford was fast rising; the planting was done ; and the estate was rounded off by additional purchases. He also settled in a cottage at Kaeside Hogg's friend William Laidlaw, who became at once the Laird's factor (or bailiff) and the author's counsellor and assistant.
Another pleasant feature of this year was the visit to Abbotsford of Washington Irving, who came with an
introduction from Thomas Campbell, the poet. The account given by the American author of his reception, and of his host, his family and his dogs, is one of the best existing pictures of Scott's country life. . When Irving's postchaise drove up and his card had been sent in, all the dogs in the place came out barking furiously, and were very soon followed by their master, limping up the gravel-walk, aiding himself by a stout walking-stick, yet moving rapidly and with vigour. By his side was old Maida, the stag-hound, “of most grave demeanour,” who thought it inconsistent with his dignity to join in the clamour of his companions. “Before Scott reached the gate, he called out in a hearty tone, welcoming me to Abbotsford, and asking news of Campbell. Arrived at the door of the chaise, he grasped me warmly by the hand. Come, drive down, drive down to the house; ye're just in time for breakfast, and afterwards ye shall see the wonders of the Abbey.'” The guest soon found himself at home, and his morning visit was prolonged to a stay of several days. Scott excused himself from accompanying him to Melrose that morning on the plea of “household affairs ”—he really wanted to get a chapter of Rob Roy written ; but deputed his son Charles to take him in charge, he himself heading a family party (including dogs) which took the guest for a ramble on his return. At the Abbey old Johnny Bower, the custodian, was very full of the Sheriff, who he said, when he came with his great folks to visit the ruins, would “stand and crack an' laugh" with him "like
an auld wife," adding—"and to think that of a man that tas such an awfu' knowledge o' history!”
During the subsequent walk, the stranger noticed that Scott would often pause in conversation to notice his dogs, “and speak to them as if rational companions." Besides Maida, there was Hamlet, a black greyhound, who was originally named Marmion, and the setter Finette, “the parlour favourite,” as well as “a little shamefaced terrier,” of whose sensitiveness his master was fond of telling stories. “ His domestic animals were his friends.
Everything about him seemed to rejoice in the light of his countenance," comments Irving. The future author of The Sketch-Book was somewhat disappointed with the bareness of the hills, “so destitute of trees that one could almost see a stout fly walking along their profile”; but Scott defended them on this very ground, contrasting to their advantage his own “honest grey hills” with the rich ornamented garden land about Edinburgh, and ending his harangue with a thump of his stick upon the ground and the ever memorable words, “If I did not see the heather, at least once a year, I think I should die.” At the same time he fully admitted the charms of woodland scenery,
declaring that there was nothing he should like more than to be in the midst of a grand wild original forest, with the idea of hundreds of miles of untrodden forest around him.
The sight of the two Misses Scott, Sophia and Anne, -- bounding lightly like young fawns ” after their morn