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The proposed visit, however, had to be autumns excellent. But we must be thankful deferred in consequence of Dr. Hughes's to take you when duty and health permit. Our ill health, as the following letter shows. In motions are regulated by my official attenthis letter he denies in the most emphatic dance at the court which carry me to Edinway that he wrote the novels
. He suggests till 12 May therefore, and beg you to come as
burgh from 12 May to 12 July. I shall be here an alternative line of travel to the east coast
soon as you can. I would have been delighted route which he had advised in the previous
to see the young tourist and hope for that plealetter.
sure another day. Lady Scott joins in compli
ments to the Doctor and I always am Dear Mrs. DEAR MRS. HUGHES I received with much Hughes concern your melancholy account of Dr.
Most truly yours Hughes's health which threatens to deprive
Walter Scott Scotland of our promised pleasure in a visit
All the world knows Abbotsford is four miles from you. .::
from the capital city of Selkirk, lying on the I really assure you that I am not the author
north west road to Carlisle. We hope you will of the novels which the world ascribe to me so pertinaciously. If I were, what good reason
make your visit a week at the very least. should I have for concealing, being such a hackneyd scribbler as I am?
In the next (omitted here) he briefly Permit me to hope that your visit may pro
sketches for them some details of the northceed. If it does not, Lady Scott and I will re
ern part of their route. Then follow two gret both the disappointment and the cause. short notes (omitted), the one to Mr. You are now in a delightful country, Warwick Blackwood, the publisher, introducing Dr. and Kenilworth within reach and the North and Mrs. Hughes, and the other to Mrs. road free before you. But what is all this when Hughes, appointing a meeting in Parliaindisposition makes us alike weary of motion
ment Square. and of rest. I am always Dear Mrs. Hughes
The visit went off with utmost satisfacwith best regards to Dr. Hughes most truly yours
tion on the one side as on the other, as is Walter Scott
shown both by the entries in Mrs. Hughes's Edinburgh 16 May
diaries written by her while at Abbotsford, 1823
and also by the length and tenor of the letWe are stationary here till 12 July. ters that Sir Walter writes from the date of
this visit until near the end of his life. Note by Mrs. Hughes.— Addressed to me at Leamington, where we were staying for the bene
In spite of Sir Walter Scott's double fit of your Grandfather's health which was in a denial to her, in previous letters, of his austate too precarious to allow of our putting our de. thorship of “the far famed novels,” it is sign of visiting Scotland in execution that year.
certain that Mrs. Hughes kept her suspicions, which
may By the next letter in the series by Sir
have amounted to virtual Walter
, with its dissertation on the literary certainty, as keenly as ever; nor does she lion (omitted here as already published), it fail, in her Abbotsford journal of 1824, to
notice several occasions on which some would seem that all hope had been given up that the Hugheses would be able to suggestion about the novels was received make the Scotch tour that year.
with an “arch smile," and so on. The fact
is, as Lockhart says, that the mask grew to The following letter indicates that a rapid and unexpected improvement had
be worn more carelessly as time went on, taken place in the health of Dr. Hughes avowal of the authorship, he seldom took
so that at the last, before his distinct and that the journey to Scotland was again much trouble to repel any side hint conmooted.
cerning it. A brief extract or two from Abbotsford April 1st
Mrs. Hughes's journal will show the man1824
ner in which he received from his friends MY DEAR MRS. HUGHES I write in haste at that time a hint that they suspected his to say I have received your very acceptable authorship. letter. I rejoice in Dr. Hughes' recovered health and in the renew'd prospect of your May 4th. Abbotsford. Tom Purdie made the northern journey. I would almost have advised speech given to Andrew Fairservice during a the delay for a month or six weeks for our continuance of rainy weather in harvest time: Scotch springs are very chilly matters though "If there is one fine day in seven, Sunday is our summers are like our neighbours' and our sure to come and lick it up.” This Sir Walter
told us after tea yesterday, and Dr. Hughes turned Q. I hate all conversions of mere form; was so struck that he exclaimed involuntarily they are usually a change of garments, not the “Oh, that is in Rob Roy!” It was curious to heart. see the arch smile which lurked at the corner Wordsworth is a man and a gentleman every of Sir W.'s eye, and the beam from under his inch of him unless when he is mounted on his over-hanging brow, as he carelessly answered critical hobby horse and tells one Pope is no “Oh, I daresay it has been often said in a wet poet; he might as well say Wellington is no season."
soldier because he wears a blue greatcoat and
not a coat of burnished mail. In like manner, when he was showing, as I owe you among many things the honour he delighted in showing, the country about of a most obliging letter from the Duke of Abbotsford, he lightly turned off any com
Buckingham about the M.S. supposed of Swinment on the similarity of this or that scene
ton. I hope the Duchess will make out her with some described in the novels - as Mrs.
tour; the best way of inducing her Grace to Hughes“ saw a glen and cleft in the green that our hospitality, such as it is, is never osten
honour us by looking our way is to assure her hills exactly answering the description of tatious and therefore no inconvenience to ourthe road to Glendinning."
selves. I think it is not without a smile that one Charles will I am sure be grateful for Mr. can read in the following letter that the Hughes's patronage and I trust he will profit "abuse of wine is now unknown in good by the acquaintances he may procure him at society” in Scotland:
Oxford. I know nothing so essential to give the
proper tone to a young mind as intercourse MY DEAR MRs. Hughes I have to offer you with the learned & the worthy. Charles does my best thanks for two letters, the last partic- not leave me till October. In the mean time I ularly welcome as it assured us of your safe hope to have a visit from my“gay Goss-hawk” arrival at your resting place without our good Walter the only one of my family whom you and kind Dr. Hughes having suffered any do not know and who is a fine fellow in his own convenience from the journey. I was rather way and devoted to his profession. anxious on the occasion, for my wife accuses Thank you for the verses on old Q; 1 they me of the three sins which beset a Scotch are both witty and severe yet give him little Landlord, overwalking, over talking and over more than his due for he was a most ingenifeeding the guests whom I delight to honour. ously selfish animal. I have given the music As for over talking that must be as it may- to Sophia? in the first place, who will impart over walking is now a little beyond my strength it to her more idle sister. Besides, both Mama 3 and over feasting I always regulate by the in- and Anne have been at Abbotsford for three clinations of my guests, and Dr. Hughes is so weeks during which time I have not seen them. moderate in that respect that there is no fear I was never half the time separated from my of any one hurting him. Not that I ever was wife since our marriage saving when I have much of a bon vivant myself, but in our cold been "forth of Scotland” as our law phrase country, although abuse of wine is now un- goes. I quite agree with you that Byron's known in good society, yet the use of the good merits and the regrets due to his inimitable creature is more than with you in the South, genius should supersede every thing else that for which climate & manners are an apology. envy may wish to dwell upon. Our lake-friends
I am very happy you have made your pil- were narrow-minded about his talents and even grimage well out & seen those you must have about his conduct, much of which might be been interested in seeing. I am particularly indefensible but only attracted loud and viruobliged for the hint you have given me about lent stricture because of the brilliancy of his Southey. I thought he had taken me en gui- powers. gnon, though I could not guess why. I know To swear no broader upon paper to a lady, he has owed me a letter since 1818, and when the deuce take your Mr. Whitgreave. He may he made a tour through Scotland with Telford call himself Mr. Higgins.now, if he will, withthe Engineer never looked near me although out being challenged by him of Higginsnot far from my door. But it is of little conse- Neuch, who is gone to the shades below, where quence who is in fault when no unkindness is the race of Higgins as well as of Percies & meant and so I will write to him very soon and Howards must descend. His successor is called I thank you kindly for having been the good Mr. Burn Calender which I hope will satisfy natured friend who when, as I think Richard- your ear. I would be quite delighted to become son says, the parallel lines are in danger of run- proprietor at any reasonable rate of the old ning along side of each other for ever gives one chimney piece. It would however be necessary of them a chop out of its course and makes that someone on the spot be employed on my them meet gain. I am sorry Mrs. 0. P. has behalf--an expert joiner who compleatly unpast into the next letter of the Alphabet and derstands his business, to take it down & pack
it with saw dust & shavings (or what do you a mile distant. The allusion to the name of Higcall them in English, I mean planings of wood) gins relates to Sir Walter having been much amused in a proper case, and it might be sent by sea at my indignation on finding that the proprietor of from Liverpool to Glasgow where there is daily
the ancient castle of Creighton bore that most ple. communication, & Lockhart would cause
5 A very curious old chimney piece at Stokesly someone there to send it through the canal to
Castle near Ludlow, belonging to Lord Craven. Edinburgh, for old a material must be ten
The mansion is in utter decay, & I had heard the der & very easily broken. A few guineas will chimney piece had been once offered to Sir F. Cunbe no object to me to secure this point, so the liffe; I was in hopes it could have been procured packing is carefully attended to.
for Sir Walter, but Lord Craven having refused it By the way, Mrs. Patterson who experienced to Lady Denbigh was with regret obliged also to your bounty is now, she writes me, in a toler- deny the request. able way of providing for her family and, to her credit, with a very grateful feeling for kind
On their way south from Abbotsford in ness shewn, assures me she is extricated from
1824 Dr. and Mrs. Hughes looked in at her difficulties and in no need of farther assis
Keswick upon Southey. Naturally their tance than good wishes. Her eldest son is taken
talk would turn and return to the great off her hands and promises to succeed well. So true it is that moderate assistance will often help Scotsman, and no doubt Southey told Mrs. those effectually who are really willing to help Hughes, who was an old friend, that the themselves. I begin to be ashamed of my let- bonds of friendship that had once been ter, for as your friend Mungo says “ Adod it is woven close between himself and Sir Wala tumper.” I will stifle this modesty however ter had grown very slack. Southey appears in respect I very seldom trespass upon the to have deemed himself a little slighted by patience of my correspondents unless they are
Sir Walter, who had omitted to answer a in a hurry for answers & moreover because I letter, and Sir Walter, in turn, as the above had so many kindnesses to acknowledge. I go to Abbotsford on Saturday for three or four
letter shows, was a little hurt that his old days which will be a great refreshment. Re
friend had made no effort to see him when member me most kindly to the Doctor & be- he was on tour in Scotland. It was just lieve me always
one of those foolish drifts asunder, caused most respectfully yours
by none or purely fanciful reasons, that
Walter Scott require a sympathetic hand to close it up, Edinburgh
and such a hand Mrs. Hughes applied. 16 June 1824
The success of the application is fully
proved by the letter to Southey published On looking at your letter this morning I find
in Lockhart. the chimney piece must be asked from Lord
To this gracious letter (which perhaps Craven and about this I feel much delicacy. I am not fond of obligations & do not know his
Sir Walter of intention rendered the more Lordship in the slightest degree. Besides there appealing by the reference in its postscript is a sort of affront in asking a man for a curi- to the distressful state of illness through osity of this kind, as your request must be which he had passed in the long interval founded upon the supposition that he has not of silence in their correspondence) Southey himself taste enough to value it. If he would —“in his way as agreeable as possible, take better care of it himself it would answer
although it is a different way from Sir Walmy purpose. If I had any friend to sound Lord
ter's,” says Mrs. Hughes's journal-reCraven it would be a different matter.
sponded no less cordially; and so "the
parallel lines” were brought to meet Notes by Mrs. Hughes. -1 A satirical poem many again. years before on the supposed death of the old Duke of Queensberry.
“Mrs. O. P." who“ has past into the next 2 Mrs. Lockhart, his eldest daughter.
letter of the Alphabet” is Mrs. Opie, who 3 Sir Walter was in the habit of calling Lady had become a Quaker. Mrs. Hughes says Scott “ Mama."
of her in her journal written at Keswick : 4 This alludes to an account which I had sent him of a visit I had made on our road home to see
"He (Southey) had just received a letMoxley Hall near Wolverhampton, one of the
ter from Mrs. Opie formally announcing houses of refuge for Charles ad after his escape her reception into the Society of Friends. from the battle of Worcester. Mr. Whitgreave, the I may well say formally, for she had lineal descendant of the loyal owners, who at the adopted the language of her new friends, peril of his life sheltered his Sovereign, had so neglected the old mansion that it was fallen into
and thee'd and thou'd her old friend most utter decay, & had built a large modern house at unmercifully."
Abbotsford made a sketch much more full than she allowed
10 Sep. 1824 us to see. The western tower where the bell MY DEAR MRS. Hughes Many thanks to hangs is perhaps a little exalted in height above you for all your kindness. I am not in the least the rest of the house, although I am by no disappointed about the chimney piece or sur- means sure that this criticism is just. By the prised that Lord Craven should (even without way I see I made it in the first page. any apology) have declined a request which a I should feel in despair at the idea of robstranger had no title to make. Though a pro- bing you of your Pallas 3 but that Dr. Hughes fessed Pedlar in antiquarian [matters] I really can so well spare Wisdom or its prototype, and feel none of the paltry spirit of appropriation that I on the other hand would be much which induces many of that class to disjoin obliged to any one to improve the slender curiosities from the place to which they are stock which nature has given me and should fitted by association for the poor gratification therefore make Minerva the goddess of my of calling them their own. The chimney piece private chapel. at Stokesly is of ten times the value which it I sincerely hope this will find the Dr. concan be any where else and it was only the idea tinuing in the enjoyment of tolerable good that it was neglected and going to decay (which health and your son flourishing and prosperI am happy to understand is erroneous) that ing. Charles is approaching the awful time could have induced me to accept your tempting which sends him to the banks of the Isis, and offer to mediate for it in my favour.
must exchange moor-fowl shooting and ponyI had written thus far three weeks since when breaking for reading and studies. I hope some I was involved in one of those currents of petty indulgence in the one here has not interfered interruptions and avocations in which it has with his propensities towards the other. The been my frequent lot to make shipwreck of drawing of Moxley Hall put me in mind of much valuable time and which particularly has Prior's lines occasioned frequent gaps in my correspondence. All your valued drawings? (that is “ Oh Moxley, Oh Moxley, if this be a hall your son's) came quite safe, and will serve to The same with the building will presently fall.” do yeoman service in illustrating my favourite Clarendon. The view of Abbotsford is, I think, I almost wish mine would fall too, for it keeps quite accurate except that perhaps the belfry me a little too full of company, though all tower has rather more than its due share of of them are people that I like to see. But this height & importance, but this is a trifle. is the go-about time for our English friends,
By the way I have discovered that the affect- and to make amends our winters and springs ing ballad about the Stuons 2 is not quite origi- are solitary enough. I expect Mr. Canning nal. The great author has not disdained to here in about a fortnight. My kindest rememborrow the verse about “my dog & I" from a brances and those of all the family attend Dr. song in D'Urfeys collection elegantly called Hughes, and I am with regard “Pills to purge melancholy.” It shows that as
Dear Madam a Justice of Peace may be obliged to his kins
yours truly man for a man, as Slender vaunteth, so a
Walter Scott great bard may sometimes be indebted for a thought or a stanza.
Notes by Mrs. Hughes.—1 Drawings of Boscobel, This letter has been written by instalments
Moxley Hall & White Ladies which your father had
made for Sir Walter, as well as one of Abbotsford like a man in distressed circumstances endea
from a rough sketch I had brought from Scotland. vouring to pay his debts honestly, while your 2 The old ballad of “George Ridler's oven" goodness has so far overwhelmed me with fur- which begins with a chorus in which “ The Stones” ther obligations that I am in no small danger (called in the Gloucestershire dialect Stuons) is of compleat bankruptcy. So if you see my repeated through the whole Air before the ballad name in the Gazette as a defaulter in corre- begins. Sir Walter had been particularly amused spondence you must not be surprised. The with this quaint ditty. chief cause of this ungracious insolvency has
3 A head of Pallas enamelled on Copper which been Woman-Woman that seduces all man
is now in the little Armoury at Abbotsford & is a
curious Antique. kind. The male animals I can leave to stray about Abbotsford by themselves, but my ten- Canning, however, did not make out his derness of heart often leads me to wait on my visit, not a little, as it would seem, to Sir lady visitors in their rambles and this is a sad Walter's regret, although he had lately been consumption of time. I am quite surprised at the dexterity with which Mr. Hughes has made making complaints not a few of the waste out such a complicated mansion as Abbotsford, of his time caused by the many visitors that commonly called Conundrum Castle, without already flocked to Abbotsford, notwithany disproportions which can indicate his not standing that the authorship of the wonderhaving seen the place, but I think his Mama ful novels still was unacknowledged.
(To be continued)