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Glendearg was the name actually borne (some years later than the date of the story) by a tower at the head of the glen known as Fairy Dean. It was the traditional associations of this lovely bit of Tweedside with the fairies which tempted Scott to introduce that "resort of distressed authors since the days of Horace"-the supernatural-in the person of the White Lady of Avenel. Yet here is the weakest part of the book. Neither a good nor a bad spirit, she is eminently ridiculous. Her tricks of legerdemain with sham graves and table-shifting seem mere nonsense to a reader of to-day.
Again, the true glories of Melrose will ever be connected rather with the singer of The Lay of the Last Minstrel than with the author of The Monastery. Scott has himself left on record a protest against the notion that he had in his prose romance tried to present a landscape copied from nature, and in particular has cautioned the curious in localities against spending their time looking for the fountain and holly trees of the White Lady. Strange that he should have failed for the first time when inspired by the neighbourhood and memories of his own Border country! He was to some extent himself conscious of it; but that there had been any falling off in the financial success of his latest venture was unfortunately concealed from him. It was perfectly right, as Lockhart says, to keep such a thing from him in later days, when Scott was overwhelmed with age and misfortune; but he could well have borne it while still scarcely past his prime, and in need of some
check upon the tendency to prodigal expenditure into which Abbotsford led him.
Scott spent the greater part of the spring in London, where he not only received his new title but also sat to Sir Thomas Lawrence for a portrait to be placed in the royal gallery at Windsor. When the new baronet kissed the King's hand, George IV. told him that he should always reflect with pleasure that Sir Walter Scott's was the first creation of his reign. Such an honour had never before been paid to literature. The recipient was certainly not unduly elated, to judge from a communication made to his friend Morritt after his return to the north. The only difference which the dignity "inflicted on" him made, was, he said, that "servants bow two inches lower, a door opens three inches wider, and there it rests, except that in Scotland my degree places me among the old ladies at the head of the table and obliges me to carve, at which office I am very awkward, and regret the real days of chivalry when all this labour devolved upon the esquires." In the same letter he declares that he thought London "incredibly tiresome," though he had had "one delightful evening with the Duke of Wellington, and heard him fight over Waterloo and his other battles with the greatest good humour."
It was during this visit, too, that Chantrey modelled that fine bust of the great writer, which, in the words of his first biographer, "alone preserves for posterity the cast of expression most fondly remembered by all who
ever mingled in his domestic circle." Allan Cunningham, whom Scott had known when he was a working stonemason, was sent by the sculptor to No. 15, Piccadilly, the house of the surgeon-dentist to the Royal Family, an old friend of Lady Scott's family, where the novelist always stayed till Lockhart came to London. "Allan Cunningham, I am glad to see you," said the great man, holding out both his hands; and when the envoy brought out something about the pleasure he felt in touching the hand that had charmed him so much, he smiled comically and commented, "Ay, and a big brown hand it is." Before leaving town Scott paid a visit in company with John Wilson Croker to Woolwich Arsenal in order to see Sir William Congreve's new rockets, on which occasion, according to Croker, people were much more intent upon a sight of the celebrated novelist than upon viewing either the rockets or the foreign princes who came to inspect them.
Sir Walter took to his new son-in-law, whose literary tastes afforded him some compensation for his own sons' deficiencies in that respect. In one of his letters to his elder son, a subaltern in a Hussar regiment, he makes a jesting offer of a present of £20 to the young man (who had a liberal allowance) if he will write back word who Walter the Penniless (a leader of the first Crusade) was, and where he marched to! The Lockharts were provided with a pretty little house on the Abbotsford estate, which came to be known as Chiefswood Cottage; and the future biographer had thus plenty of opportunity for
gaining an intimate knowledge of his subject. Scott, by acquiring over his son-in-law parental rights, was able to restrain his dangerous propensity to satire, and he performed a great service this summer for his friend John Wilson (the future "Christopher North") by getting him, chiefly by personal influence and personal effort, the chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh. Meanwhile Sir Walter himself had received the further honour of an offer from each of the two great English Universities of an honorary degree. He was never able to present himself; but nothing prevented him from accepting later on a dignity which placed him at the head of the intellectual world in Scotland, the Presidency of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, never before conferred upon one who had no scientific attainments. Among men of science he was already intimate with the inventor of the Safety Lamp; and his connection with the Royal Society soon enabled him to add to the list of his friends the name of the illustrious optician, Sir David Brewster, who lies buried at Melrose.
Nothing daunted by the want of success which attended The Monastery, the novelist now tried the bold experiment of a sequel. The supernatural machinery was eliminated and the monastic element made subordinate to the historic interest surrounding the romantic escape of Queen Mary from Lochleven and her subsequent defeat at Langside. The result was decidedly successful, as such a gallant rally deserved to be. The idea of The Abbot came into Scott's head during a visit
to Chief Commissioner Adam at Blair-Adam, a seat in the neighbourhood of the castle on the lake where the ill-fated Queen of Scotland was forced to sign her abdication, and whence she broke forth only to encounter defeat and to suffer lifelong captivity in a foreign land. "Well, they may say what they will-many a true heart will be sad for Mary Stewart, e'en if all be
Zoch Zeven Castle
true men say of her," the author makes one of his
The story itself, too, is well enough, especially the