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before we come to the steady stream of correspondence beginning in 1821, are more or less occupied with the setting to music of the ballads, or discussions of the songs of the people; and we may take it as likely, I think, that the foundations of the long friendship between Mrs. Hughes and Sir Walter, laid by her charity to the starving
wrote to Mr. Atwood to express my thanks for the honour he has done my Lullaby in wedding it to his music. I have enclosed the notes of the original Gaelic air, procured after much of the High-land music is so wild and irregular enquiry and some difficulty, for the character that it is, I am informed, extremely difficult to reduce it to notes. I fear it would puzzle any one except Mrs. Hughes herself to write the
After a sketch from life by Gilbert Stuart Newton SIR WALTER SCOTT
dog, were cemented in discussion over the "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," in Mrs. Hughes's rendering of Sir Walter's ballads as set to music by Mr. Atwood or others, and the like pleasant topics in which they had a common interest.
To the next letter, written from Edinburgh on June 1 of the following year, 1808, he appends the music of the Gaelic air of the song.
MY DEAR MADAM I was honoured with your letters some time ago and immediately
words and music- they do sing however, and I hope, though I fear after more trouble than either words or tune are worth, you will at length be able to find out how. This ditty should have been sent in search of you long ago, but I really thought I must have waited till the Highlanders came down to get in the harvest, which they do as the Irish with you come over to the Hay making. Should you like the air I will endeavour to find you more Gaelic music for they have a tune and a song for almost everything that they set about. Marmion is much flattered by your approbation. He has been very successful with the public, 5000 copies being already disposed of.
The critics (I mean the 'professional critics) among all judges. They were borrowed of me have not I understand been so favourable as by a musical friend and never returned. Will to the Lay, but with this I laid my account you be so good as to make my best Complifor many causes.
ments to Mr. Atwood and at once thank him It would give me great pleasure could I for the personal attention of sending me the hope to see Miss Hayman and you this sum- copies and for thinking the poetry at all worthy mer but the chance which there was of this of his beautiful music. taking place seems daily more uncertain. I Believe me my dear Madam that the first believe now that my autumn will be spent in time I return to London it will give me the Ettrick Forest. I wish you could come there greatest pleasure to avail myself of your perand make our hills vocal with your melody. mission to visit Amen Corner and tire your Mrs. Scott would be delighted to see you, and goodness with my demands on your musical so should I to receive Dr. Hughes at my farm. powers. I am with great respect and regard Make my kindest compliments to him and Your very faithful humble believe me Dear Madam
servant Your obliged humble servant
Walter Scott Walter Scott 4th May Edin ist June 1801
After that there is a desert of silence for I hear with regret that Miss Hayman has
more than a decade,-a silence that surely been much affected by the loss of a relation.
must mean the loss of the letters, not the cessationofthecorrespondence,- with a sol
itary little oasis of a letter in 1813, begging Lamentevoli
Mrs. Hughes to convey the writer's thanks 56
to Mr. Atwood for the music to some other
This is the letter of 1813:
A GAELIC AIR
that your indisposition should have interfered
with your delightful musical talents is a general loss to your friends. I assure you I feel the very idea of it severely though it may be a very long time if indeed I ever again have the pleasure of hearing them exercised. A number of little personal concerns which made an occa
sional journey to London necessary have been The next is of date May 4, 1809, or
last year arranged and I do not foresee any nearly a year later. The “Glee” that he circumstance (unless my brother in law return speaks of here is “In Peace Love Tunes the
from India) which is likely to bring me far
south of the Tweed. London for itself I do not Shepherd's Reed,” which Mr. Atwood set like very much and the distance & bustle & to music.
discomfort of lodgings prevents me from see
ing very much of the few friends whose society MY DEAR MRS. HUGHES Ten thousand is its greatest charm. So that I fear it will be thanks for Mr. Atwood's Glee and the kind long before I can profit by your kind invitation. expressions which make your attention more You will be interested to learn that the author valuable. I do now perfectly remember that of the note on Littlecote Hall is Lord Webb either one or two copies reached me through Seymour, brother of the Duke of Somerset; it Mr. Longman's house, but as they reached us is certainly an admirable description of the old at our farm we had no means of ascertaining mansion. Mr. Hawes is at the most perfect their merit which I understand stands high liberty to print any part of Rokeby which he
chuses to set to music. My publishers have of the beginning of the regular series of had large offers from musical composers to the letters to Mrs. Hughes that have been make a monopoly of these things by granting preserved. the privilege of publication to one Composer These dates are the dates of publication only, but I have always set my face against such proposals as an unhandsome thing from the
of the various works. Besides these there professors of one fine art to those of another.
were of course an immense number of more Of Mr. Hawes's qualifications I am no judge, or less interesting publications that I have but I am sure your voice and taste will make not mentioned, notably the delightful his music appear to an advantage which “Tales of my Landlord,” in three series, neither the notes or the words could have by and contributions to the “Edinburgh Rethemselves.
view" and other magazines. Mrs. Scott begs me to offer her best compli
Among the most noteworthy incidents of ments; we should be truly happy could we his life, other than literary publication, that Aatter ourselves with a prospect of meeting by occurred in this interval was his removal your taking a Northern trip. In the summer our country is pleasant & I need not say how from Ashestiel to Abbotsford in 1812 ; the happy we should be to see you.
offer of the poet-laureateship, which he Believe me my dear Mrs. Hughes
declined, by the prince regent in 1813; his Your most respectful
acceptance of a baronetcy in 1818; and his & much obliged humble servant election to the presidency of the Royal So
Walter Scott ciety of Edinburgh in 1820. Edinb 25 January
Such may be taken as the title-headings
of a few of the more important chapters in And after this there is a blank till 1821. his life from 1807 to 1821. He had not
In the desert interval relieved by this sol- yet revealed his authorship of the unrivaled itary oasis, the writer had grown out of a novels to more than a select one or two, lion strong and vigorous indeed, but still who kept the secret with a faithfulness that young and of more promise than perform- is not a little remarkable. Nevertheless, the ance (though of the latter there had been identity of the Great Unknown was very more than a little and of remarkable qual- shrewdly suspected in many quarters. Mrs. ity), into so big a lion that he had only Hughes, indeed, took the liberty, on which to get up and roar himself out as the au- perhaps only a very intimate friend, and thor of the "Waverley Novels” to become one of the other sex, could venture without at once the biggest lion in all the world. impertinence, of asking him in so many There were not wanting, as is well known, words whether he had in truth a hand in those who suspected him of this authorship the authorship of the “Waverley Novels." long before the roar was given, and among In 1821 had already appeared Mr. Adolthem, as is very evident from the first pre- phus's “ Letters to Richard Heber, Esq.," served of the connected series of these let- being criticisms on the earlier novels of the ters, was his old friend Mrs. Hughes. But Waverley series, with a very shrewd indictbefore we go on to have a look at the ment of Sir Walter Scott as their author. series I will jot down a few brief notes of Sir Walter, while slyly commending the inthe literary chronology of Sir Walter Scott, genuity and criticisms of the writer, in the in order to give an idea of the growth of introduction to “The Fortunes of Nigel" the lion during these years.
(published the following year), still preserves There was "The Lay" in 1805, “Mar- his incognito and wishes "the wit, genius, mion" in 1808, "The Lady of the Lake" and delicacy of the author engaged on a in 1810, “The Vision of Don Roderick" in subject of more importance," and adds:"I 1811, “Rokeby” in 1812, “The Bridal of shall continue to be silent on a subject Triermain" in 1813, “Waverley” in 1814, which, in my opinion, is very undeserving “The Lord of the Isles” in 1815, “The the noise that has been made about it, and Antiquary” in 1816, “Rob Roy” in 1817, still more unworthy of the serious employ"The Heart of Midlothian "in 1818, “The ment of such real ingenuity as has been Bride of Lammermoor," "The Legend of displayed by the young letter-writer." Montrose,” and “Ivanhoe” in 1819, “ The Certainly the most interesting point in Monastery” and “The Abbot” in 1820, the following letter is Sir Walter's distinct “Kenilworth” and “The Pirate" in 1821; disavowal - denial even is not too strong a which brings us pretty well up to the date word for it-of the charge or suggestion that
he had written the “Waverley Novels.” that I must have seemed very ungrateful in Whenever put to the question, he unblush- leaving your kind remembrances unacknowingly denied that he had anything whatever ledged. You mistake when you give me any to do with the novels.
credit for being concerned with these far famed There are many who express surprise
novels, but I am not the less amused with the that he should act as he did. The ethics of hasty dexterity of the good folks of Cumnor
and its vicinity getting all their traditionary the case are between a man and his own
lore into such order as to meet the taste of the conscience. More than one man has said public. I could have wished the author had to me: “Well, I suppose that if I wanted chosen a more heroical death for his fair victo keep a secret I should do as Sir Walter tim. It is some time since I received and acScott did; but I should not have suspected knowledged your young student's very spirited him, having the transparently simple and verses. I am truly glad that Oxford breeds such perfectly veracious character that he had, nightingales and that you have an interest in
them. I sent my letter to my friend Longman to do it."
and as it did not reach you can only repeat my He probably said to himself: "It is ab
kindest and best thanks. I would be most surd if a man may not keep his own secret.
happy to know your son and hope you will The only way I can keep this secret is to contrive to afford me that pleasure. deny that I wrote the novels. Therefore I With best compliments to Dr. Hughes and am going to deny it.”
sincere regret that I have so often found Amen This is a position that another great Corner untenanted I am with sincerity literary man, of equally deep religious sen
Dear Mrs. Hughes timents, equally strong natural sense, but
Your much obliged humble servant
Walter Scott with much more of the habit of analysis of ethical points, has asserted and upheld. It is, of course, the novel of “KenilDr. Samuel Johnson's argument is that worth” to which he refers in this letter. whereas you may tell a lie to keep the se- How far he was sincere in his wish th cret that another has confided to you "the author had chosen a more heroical under promise that you will not reveal it, death for his fair victim” it is not very easy so you may lie to keep your own secret, on to say. The death of Amy Robsart, falling the ground that you have implied to your- through the trap-door left unfastened by the self a previous promise not to tell it. That villains Foster and Varney, as she rushes this is a theory liable to abuse, it is not out of the chamber in response to Varney's possible to deny. At the same time it is an imitation of Essex's summons, is dramatic ingenious justification of the maxim, which enough, if not precisely “heroical.” It is common sense tells us is a just one, that a a more pathetic ending to the pathetic life, man is at full liberty to keep his own secrets more touching and more terrible, than if the safe from impertinent inquiries. It is not heroine had met her death struggling like impossible that Sir Walter may have taken an Amazon with her captors. Possibly Sir for his own justification the argument of the Walter's critical speech is meant merely by great doctor.
way of maintaining his character as a memFurther, I do think that if Sir Walter ber of the general public reading the work once made up his mind to deceive the of the unknown author. world in the matter, it was really more in As for his note about the good people of accordance with his character-more hon- Cumnor getting their legendary lore into est, if the word is not out of place in the order to fit the book, this is in reference connection- to tell a straightforward, un- to Mrs. Hughes's telling him in her previhesitating lie than to beat about the bush ous letter that the landlord of the Red Lion with evasions that would not have served in Cumnor had put up a new sign—“The their purpose and could seem more like Black Bear, late Giles Gosling." truth only to a feeble judgment and a con- In Chapter XIII of "Kenilworth" this science prone to self-deception.
Wayland Smith legend is most explicitly re
ferred to. Sir Walter in his letter to Mrs. Waterloo Hotel Tuesday. March 7
Hughes implies that the latter had spoken 1821
of a general clearing and polishing up of MY DEAR MRS. HUGHES I have been so their old traditions by the people of Cumcompletely harassed by business and engage- nor and its neighborhood, with a little dovements since I came to this wilderness of houses tailing to fit the story of “Kenilworth,”
as we know that they had polished up the In both these letters he speaks of the Wayland Smith monument.
well-doing at the university of Mr. John When “Kenilworth” was
was "on the Hughes, son of his correspondent. The stocks” it had been the author's intention book referred to in the first letter is the to send it out under the name of “Cumnor “Itinerary of Provence and the Rhone,” Hall," and it was only under persuasion of honorably mentioned in the preface to Constable, the publisher, that he adopted “Quentin Durward.” His reference to his the title under which it won its favor. work in laying out Abbotsford, as “finish
ing a sort of a romance of a house,” well MY DEAR MRS. Hughes I heartily con- describes it in a phrase. Of course he was gratulate you on the rising reputation of your continually making improvements and adson, which has spread from Oxford to this side ditions. In his next letter he refers to of the Tweed. The book you so kindly design Abbotsford in like manner as “this whimfor me will reach me safely if sent under cover sical place which I have christened Conunto Francis Freeling Esq, Post Office, who will forward it under an official frank. I have been
drum Castle." busied all this season in finishing a sort of a romance of a house here, built in imitation of MY DEAR MRS. HUGHES I have this moan old Scottish manor house, and I think I ment your letter promising me the very great have attained not unsuccessfully the scram- pleasure of seeing Dr. Hughes and you in Scotbling stile of these venerable edifices. I beg my land, and write in haste to say that I hope you best respects to Dr. Hughes, and am with a will come to Abbotsford for a day or two at great sense of your kindness in thinking of me least before roth May when I have to go to Dear Madam
town to attend our courts officially for two very much your obliged months. Remember town in Scotland means,
Edinb. If you come the East road you should
Walter Scott not go by Alnwick but by Wooler Cornhill and Abbotsford 14th Novr.
Kelso- the last town is about fifteen miles from 1822
me- the country beautiful. I sincerely hope My address becomes next week Edinburgh you will make your visit a little more early than alas! alas!
you propose, for I should like to show you the
lions of our own country myself. Had you MY DEAR MRS. HUGHES Amidst much less
come the west road by Carlisle you pass Sel
kirk which is only four miles from Abbotsford. agreeable employment I have the great pleasure of perusing my young friend's very enter
Should it be impossible for you to come in taining account of his tour. It is not only
the beginning of May I would recommend that written with talent but with the taste and feel
you postpone your journey till towards the
middle of June. You will then have the best ing of an elegant scholar and the ideas and sentiments of a gentleman and greatly in
weather for the Highlands for which May is creases the personal wish I feel to take him by oak. We would then do the honours of Edin
rather too early there being no leaves on the the hand especially in my own country. Abbotsford is now a good deal more than doubled burgh and supposing you to return by Carlisle in point of [accommodation) and will I trust by from Edinb as we go to Abbotsford for four
about 12 July we should form your first stage next summer be ready for the occupation of all of you when you are disposed to venture to the months at that time. You really must see this land of cakes. ...
whimsical place which I have christened Co
nundrum Castle. Your son should certainly visit our land of heath and mountain, with so fine an eye and
I will sincerely be glad to see the young
Oxonian when his leisure permits, but young talent for describing natural beauty. We can
folks travel lighter than words. I shall have not certainly compare to Switzerland yet I have heard people of taste say that the Scots scenery
hopes of showing you my eldest hope six feet
two inches high and “bearded like the pard." from being brought nearer to the eye was in
At worst you will be sure of us in Edinb some places fully as imposing though not in fact on the same enormous scale. But all this after the 11th May but I hope in that case you
will stay till we go back to Tweedside in July. Mr. Hughes must explain to me when he comes
With best respects to Dr. Hughes I am always to see me. In the meantime with kindest com
Yours with most sincere regard & respect pliments to Dr. Hughes and the said tourist
Walter Scott I am ever my dear Madam
1823 Edinh 11 Dec 1822
Lady Scott joins in kind compliments