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"I n to get y od I think, fost certainly never gun
grand scale Think of t he
barrel on Sena Revont in 1820. Hins ce the complimente by
marta s iren by their to who had died a short time previously in India. start of two sons and two daughte
e Shia, WAS Urrin the same
polic League. But he too had been carried off his feet. His credit exploded, and with the shock the printing-house of Ballantyne fell. Scott writes in his Diary on the day of Ballantyne's visit, announcing his intended stoppage: “I felt rather sneaking as I came home from the Parliament House; felt as if I were liable monstrari digite in no very pleasing way. But this must be borne cum ceteris; and thank God, however uncomfortable, I do not feel despondent." Yet the same entry contains words only two lines before, of different import. Speaking of the death of an old friend, he says: “I cannot choose, but wish it had been Sir W. S." This death of independence was indeed far worse than the pangs of physical dissolution to a being like Sir Walter Scott. He had not borne the yoke in his youth; but now in his fifty-fifth year, honoured above all contemporaries with the homage of the spirit, and having sensibilities so delicately acute, as to have secured this eminence by their display, he must now -digite monstrari-be pointed at with the finger as a bankrupt !
The first effect of the disclosure of his partnership with Ballantyne, and consequent ruin of his estate, was to draw out the universal sympathy of his friends. Many a touching exhibition of kindly feeling in those days brought tears of reciprocated affection to his eyes. But it was not to weeping the idealist now addressed himself. It was to work. His creditors unanimously agreed to his proposal to place his effects in trust for their benefit. “This,” says he, “is handsome and confidential, and must warm my efforts to get them out of the scrape. I will not doubt, -to doubt is to lose.” And thus the noble spirit struggled on until the fight should be won. But that was not to be until after the hero's death had consummated the self-sacrifice.
At the time when his misfortunes came "in battalions," Scott was inditing the letters of Malachi Malagrowther-a name aptly indicating the stiffress of their subject. That is, whilst the banks of Scotland were setting their dogs at him, Sir Walter was fighting their battles. He won again. The banks escaped government interference for twenty years through his public spirit. Then his “Life of Napoleon "engrossed his fagging hours. The lighter ones were given to fancy. “Woodstock," and “St. Ropan's Well,” were his consolations.
IIis misfortunes revealed not only the real solidity of Scott's greatness of character and fame, but it also tore up the last shreds of the mystery that had hitherto bung around “the author of Waverley." His friends had long known the truth, and delicacy alone prevented familiarities with himself on the subject. Mr. Adolphus, by the publication of a volume of letters proving the identity of the “Great Unknown" with the author of “Mar. mion," had exhibited the truth in the world of letters. The exposure of the affairs of Constable and Ballantyne rendered any further mystery impossible, and Scott at a public dinner in Edinburgh, where he presided, consented to the verdict long since given by the public. In replying to Lord Meadowbank, who nad proposed his health in terms alluding to the revelation of the mystery, Scott pleaded guilty before the judge, and made a full confession.
Immediately afterwards, another shock is sustained by the sufferer in the death of his wife. He bears it manfully. But his humour is all gone. “This is no his ainsel.” Time and travel, however, gradually restore him. Work, work, work, is still his consolation. In two years he distributes £40,000 amongst his creditors. The time once occupied by the entertainment of the visitors who flocked to see him, is now spent in labour and retirement. His family is scattered, all but his daughter Anna. His dogs alone remain the same. The unobtrusive and affectionate company of these humble friends was dear to him to the last.
But as his years and labours increased, the health of Scott gave way. In February 1830, he had an attack of paralysis, and in November another. His friends noticed with apprehension symptoms of decaying vigour. On the declaration in the end of the year of a second dividend to his creditors, which reduced his encumbrances by one half, his personal property at Abbotsford was presented to him by them. He considered this worth £10,000 to his family, but to himself the gratification was increased by innumerable associations, as well as the sense of pleasure arising from the proof that his honourable exertions were highly appreciated by those for whom they were made. He hud already retired from his office as Clerk of Session, upon an allowance of £800 a year, which the government offered to supplement by a pension to the amount of the salary he relinquished. But independence was valued more than income, and the proposition was declined. Slight shocks of paralysis were recurring, and his friends could not avoid the disclosure, that not only the hand which held, but the mind that flowed through his pen, was failing. He is loath to believe it. Yet his diary admits the possibility of such a thing. On the 27th April 1831, he writes : “My bodily strength is terribly gone, perhaps my mental too." He had for some time exchanged his horse for a pony. Now lie had to be lifted into the saddle. His aspect was altered, bis person shrunk, and all but the lustre of the eye spoke of impend. ing dissolution. He resolved to spend the winter of 1831 at Naples. The government intimated to him that a frigate should