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spite of calomel, at work again, and rejoicing in the absence of visitors. Before the end of the year he had begun the preface to the new edition of his novels and had been busy writing for the new editor of the Quarterly; and on the last day of it he was able once more to take a good sharp walk. He now thought that he had put everything straight for Ballantyne and Co., though still anxious about Constable, as the accounts from London continued "most disastrous."

On the same day (January 5th) there was something still more ominous. Returning from a walk, the writer sat down to his work, when to his horror and surprise he found himself able neither to write nor spell, putting down one word for another and writing nonsense. He attributed this to his not having slept off the anodyne taken the day before, but it was in reality a symptom of serious illness. He was then sitting for his portrait to John Prescott Knight, and expresses himself as very tired of the operation, which he had submitted to no less than three times in the preceding year-to Newton for Lockhart, to Leslie for Ticknor, and to Wilkie for his picture of George IV. at Holyrood. He pathetically remarks of Knight's portrait that the features are too pinched. There were visitors at Abbotsford for the last time for many months from January 9th to January 13th, 1826. They included Mathews the actor and his son. Work till one or two; then an hour or two's walk in the snow; then lighter work or reading, late dinner, and singing or chat in the evening: such was the order of

the day. But though the time passed pleasantly enough in such company, Scott was not sorry when it dispersed, "being one of those whom too much mirth always inclines to sadness."

A few days later came "an odd mysterious letter from Constable" in London, which caused Sir Walter much disquiet still he continued to struggle with his apprehensions. Finally, after dining the night following his arrival in Edinburgh, with his friend Skene, he learnt the decisive news. Early next morning Scott sent for the latter, who found him examining papers. He rose with outstretched hands and said, "Skene, this is the hand of a beggar. Constable has failed, and I am ruined de fond en comble. It's a hard blow, but I must just bear up; the only thing which wrings me is poor Charlotte and the bairns." We have lately* We have lately* heard how, when the pressure of his terrible misfortunes still lay heavy upon his spirits, Sir Walter sought refuge with his friend's child, little Felicia Skene, and found relief in listening to her fairy stories.

The liabilities of the three houses-Constable, Hurst and Robinson, and Ballantyne and Co. (that is, Scott)amounted to over half a million. The two former went into the Bankruptcy Court and paid compositions; but Scott immediately resolved to assign his property to trustees, and to do his utmost to pay his creditors in full. So early as the third day after the news of the crash he confides to his "Gurnal": "I feel quite com

* Felicia Skene of Oxford, by E. C. Rickards. Murray, 1902.

posed and determined to labour. There is no remedy." The same day he finished twenty printed pages of Woodstock! Vain the attempt to estimate the amount of blame which should be meted out to Scott, as compared with Ballantyne and Constable, for the catastrophe! Recent criticism has not supported Lockhart's view that he was quite unaware how things were going; and it has never been explained how a man, so exact about his personal expenses, could have been so loose in his commercial dealings as head of a printing firm. Ballantyne was certainly inefficient as a master-printer, and Constable, we know, did not trouble about accounts; but it seems probable that Scott used for Abbotsford money which should have been applied to the printing business, and followed John Ballantyne's example in making use of unsound financial devices. However, no one has ever impeached the integrity of any of the three; and we may leave to accountants the investigation of the complicated bill-transactions which proved so


We are here concerned only with the heroic struggle which Scott undertook, rejecting all offers of loans from rich friends and poor and any temptation to legal liquidation. This last he would have advised for a client; "but for this in a court of honour I would deserve to lose my spurs." He would involve no friend, his own right hand should do it. "May man be kind! May God be propitious!" All his hope lay in the continued indulgence of the public. Walking with "Good

Samaritan James Skene in Princes Street Gardens, the heroic man told his friend that he experienced a sort of determined pleasure in confronting the very worst aspect of the sudden reverse-"in standing as it were in the breach that has overthrown my fortunes, and saying, 'Here I stand, at least an honest man.' And he expressed the deepest thankfulness for the preservation of what he regarded infinitely more than world's gear, his reason, for which he had sometimes of late begun to tremble.

The creditors, to his great satisfaction, did not attempt to attack his settlement of Abbotsford on his son. But the establishment, of course, had to be cut down to a minimum; while the Edinburgh house was entirely given up, the Clerk of Session contenting himself with bachelor quarters. "In all my former changes of residence, it was from good to better; this is retrograding," is part of the sad entry in the Journal on the day of removal. "I leave this house for sale, and I cease to be an Edinburgh citizen, in the sense of being a proprietor, which my father and I have been for sixty years at least. So farewell, poor 39, and may you never harbour worse people than those who now leave you," it goes on. The only consoling incident in the Edinburgh "flitting" was the getting rid of "a set of most wretched daubs of landscapes in great gilded frames," the works of an amateur artist which Scott had been fain to accept from an amiable old lady of his acquaintance. He thought it would be a good joke to circulate a report that they

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were his own earlier attempts, which, however, he admits to have been infinitely worse art!

At Abbotsford Will Laidlaw was no longer required as bailiff, but remained at Kaeside as amanuensis. It was in writing to this faithful friend to announce to him the end of his duties as factor that Scott finely said he"felt like the Eildon Hills, quite firm, though a little cloudy." Tom Purdie also was released from farm duty, and now only attended his master in his walks. Scott found him an immense comfort-"just the thing, kneaded up between the friend and servant, as well as Uncle Toby's bowling-green between sand and clay," and felt no more constraint in leaning upon his arm than in riding upon a pony. The valet Dalgleish absolutely refused his dismissal, and took his reduced wages as a matter of course. The lavish hospitality came to a sudden stop. Sir Walter professed great contentment at the saving of time, though in noting that no stranger had broken bread in his house (save an amanuensis once) for more than two weeks, he adds: "This happened never before since I had a house of my own." In the matter of personal expenses he writes early in March: "In the meantime, now I am not pulled about for money etc., methinks I am happier without my wealth than with it. Everything is paid. . . . Since 17th January I have not laid out a guinea, out of my own pocket, save two or three in charity, and six shillings for a pocket-book." Note the exceptions.

We must now see what beginnings Scott was making


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