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[357]

To George S. Hillard.

Allerly, Melrose, Sept. 12, 1838.
again, my dear Hillard,—I am now the guest of Sir David Brewster,1 and am writing in my bed-room, which looks upon the Tweed and Melrose Abbey and the Eildon Hills. Abbotsford is a short distance above, on the opposite side; while the cottages of Lockhart, and that fast friend of Scott, Sir Adam Ferguson,2 are within sight. I spent the whole of to-day in rambling with Sir David about Melrose, noting all the spots hallowed by Scott's friendship or genius, and finally paying my pilgrimage to his tomb at Dryburgh Abbey. At dinner we had Sir Adam Ferguson himself and Mr. Todd,—the latter a Scottish judge, and an old friend of Sir Walter, as well as Sir Adam. I need not say to you how inexpressibly interesting was the whole day, passed in such company,—observing house after house in whose hospitality Sir Walter had taken pleasure, and whose plantations he had watched; then regarding, with melancholy interest, the simple sod, in the midst of some venerable ruins, which covers his precious dust. And what a crown was it, of the whole day, to dine among his chosen friends,—to hear their simple, heart-touching expressions of regard, and the numerous narrations, all untold in print, which serve to illustrate his character and genius! Sir Adam, with whose relation to Scott Lockhart's ungraceful biography must have made you familiar, is nearly seventy, but with an appearance at once hale and broken. The buoyancy of his spirits and the freshness of his countenance give him an aspect which is belied by his faltering step. He took great pleasure in a story, whether told by himself or another, and had a ready and exciting laugh always at command. He is certainly a capital story-teller himself, and, where Sir Walter was concerned, was supremely interesting. He told me a story of Scott and himself seeing the devil once, when they were taking some oysters and port wine; and assured me that Scott never saw Melrose by moonlight during all his life: and Sir David added that he had heard Scott say that twenty times. The truth was, Sir Walter would not go there by night for fear of bogles. Sir Adam vindicated his friendship with Scott by his love of whiskey; and because I did not show a strong relish for his potations of that liquor, he said that my palate was not yet Scotified. In truth, whiskey is the Scotch drink; and Brewster,—a most temperate man,—who has just returned from England, complained that, during a visit of more than a fortnight, he got nothing but wine. As Sir Adam left us, at the close of the evening, he most kindly invited me to come and see him, if I should again visit this part of the country.


1 1781-1868; an experimental philosopher, biographer of Sir Isaac Newton, and Principal of St. Leonard's College at St. Andrew's.

2 Sir Adam Ferguson was the eldest son of Dr. Adam Ferguson, the Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. At his father's house he and Sir Walter Scott became friends in boyhood, and the friendship continued till Sir Walter's death. Sir Adam served as a captain in Wellington's Peninsular campaigns. He was a prisoner for some time, and returned home when Scott was building Abbotsford. His friends were charmed with his wit and gallantry. He died Jan. 1, 1855, at the age of eighty-three. He is frequently referred to in Lockhart's ‘Life of Sir Walter Scott.’

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