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maintenance of a horse or two." Moreover, he had already other interests besides love and law. Not to mention for the present his chase after Border ballads, there was politics, and there were his German classes and his yeomanry training.
Throughout his life Scott was a keen Tory and an ardent patriot. During the period of the war with the French revolutionary Government the two things tended to become one: they certainly were so in Scott's mind. He gave an early exhibition of his zeal when he headed a party of young lawyers who by main force drove out of the Edinburgh theatre a band of Irish medical
students who had called for revolutionary tunes and done their best to make "God save the King" inaudible. He claimed to have broken three of the "Democrats'" heads, and was one of five who were bound over to keep the peace. In the same autumn he hurried back from the country to be present at the trial of a man named Watt, who had plotted to seize Edinburgh Castle and proclaim a republic; and not long afterwards we hear of him as an active special constable. As he grew older Scott's Toryism mellowed and broadened, but his patriotism waxed ever greater and greater as the struggle with France became less political and more national.
The German language, when Scott learned it, was not, as it is now, considered chiefly worth knowing for the opportunities it afforded to men of business and te students of physical science. It was then valued as the language of Goethe and Schiller and of some lesser writers of romantic ballads. Scott grudged the labour of acquiring it by grammar and dictionary, and fell into some difficulties by his reliance upon Anglo-Saxon and Lowland Scotch. However, he was soon able so far to catch its spirit as to produce sympathetic verse translations of Bürger's wild ballads in a volume which was his first venture in the world of letters. The work inspired him with a passion to acquire a skull and pair of crossbones; and these were duly obtained from Bell, the anatomist, and became one of the curiosities of the Abbotsford collection. Scott's German studies cemented
his acquaintance with two of his closest lifelong friends, William Erskine and James Skene of Rubislaw. The former attracted him largely on account of the opposition he presented to his own character and temperament, being not only an exact classic, but a man of delicate health and sedentary tastes who could barely ride a horse. Skene, on the contrary, resembled his friend in character, and in his love of horsemanship.
It was probably his loyal enthusiasm which, next to his kin to the Duke of Buccleuch, gained Scott his appointment in 1799 to the Sheriffship of Selkirkshire. Two years earlier his project of a corps of Scottish volunteer cavalry, to serve against the French in any part of the island where they might be required, was sanctioned by Government, and he himself became Quartermaster of the force, in which Skene and Forbes of Pitsligo served as cornets. He was known among his brother officers as "Earl Walter," and his charger bore the name of Lenore," the title of one of the German ballads which he had spiritedly translated. The daily drill of this energetic force took place at five in the morning-and this at Edinburgh, not while they were in quarters at Musselburgh! But many of the most stirring verses of Marmion were struck out of the Quartermaster's brain as he galloped along the sands between Portobello and Musselburgh. Before that time came, however, he had composed, under the inspiration of a recitation by Skene of a celebrated German war-song, his Song of the Edinburgh Light
Dragoons, which was enthusiastically adopted by the corps as their troop-song. Scott was a great favourite with the yeomanry officers for his high spirits and conversational gifts; and his military duties brought him into connection not only with the sons of the head of his own clan, but also with his old schoolfellow Robert Dundas, son of Pitt's colleague, Henry Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville. Other members of the family also exerted their influence with the dispenser of Scottish patronage; and so Scott obtained a fixed income with a dignified position and light duties. He remained "the Shirra" to the countryside for the rest of his life.
LTHOUGH the time was not yet come when, by the acquisition of a more lucrative office in addition to his Sheriffdom, Scott was able entirely to abandon his practice in the courts, yet the death of his father removed one considerable obstacle. Even before he was unconsciously "making himself" as poet and novelist by more considerable excursions, both Highland and Lowland, than those which used to give the old man so much uneasiness in the earlier prentice days, we hear of two expeditions into Northumberland, during the first of which Flodden Field, and in the course of the second the Saxon church at Hexham, were visited. More important than these were the "raids into Liddesdale, where once the redoubtable Douglases bore sway from their stronghold of Hermitage Castle. For seven successive years Scott and his companion, the lively little Sheriff-substitute of Roxburghshire, wandered about in this region, where there were no inns nor tollbars-indeed, scarcely roads; for no wheeled carriage had ever been seen till Scott drove his new gig into it. They were entirely dependent upon the hospitality of the countryside, and generally slept in one bed. From