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the latter escaped unhurt. “ Dooms, Dauniel,” said Mathews when they next met, “ what a pity that it wasna your luck to get the game leg, mon ! Your Shirra wad hae been the very thing, ye ken, an' ye wad hae been croose till ye war coffined !” Terry, though he did not always relish bantering on this subject, replied readily and good - humouredly by a quotation from Peter Pindar's Bozzy and Piozzi:
“ When Foote his leg by some misfortune broke,
Says I to Johnson, all by way of joke,
Mathews's mirthful caricature of Terry's sober mimicry of Scott was one of the richest extravaganzas of his social hours; but indeed I have often seen this Proteus dramatize the whole Ballantyne group with equal success — while Rigdumfunnidos screamed with delight, and Aldiborontiphoscophornio faintly chuckled, and the Sheriff, gently smiling, pushed round his decanters.*
By the way, perhaps the very richest article in Mathews's social budget, was the scene alleged to have occurred when he himself communicated to the two Ballantynes the new titles which the Sheriff had conferred on them. Rigdum's satisfaction with his own cap and bells, and the other's indignant incredulity, passing by degrees into tragical horror, made a delicious contrast. [1839.]
Miss Seward died in March 1809. She bequeathed her poetry to Scott, with an injunction to publish it speedily, and prefix a sketch of her life; while she made her letters (of which she had kept copies) the property of Mr Constable, in the assurance that due regard for his own interests would forthwith place the whole collection before the admiring world. Scott superintended accordingly the edition of the lady's verses, which was published in three volumes in August 1810, by John Ballantyne and Co.; and Constable lost no time in announcing her correspondence, which appeared a year later, in six volumes. The following letter alludes to these productions, as well as a comedy by Mr Henry Siddons, which he had recently brought out on the Edinburgh stage; and lastly, to the Lady of the Lake, the printing of which had by this time made great progress.
“ To Miss Joanna Baillie.
Edinburgh, March 18, 1810. Nothing, my dear Miss Baillie, can loiter in my hands, when you are commanding officer. I have put the play in progress through the press, and find my publishers, the Ballantynes, had previously determined to make Mr Longman, the proprietor of your other works, the offer of this. All that can be made of it in such a cause certainly shall, and the booksellers shall be content with as little profit as can in reason be expected. I understand the trade well, and will take care of this. Indeed, I believe the honour weighs more with the booksellers here than the profit of a single play. So much for business. You are quite right in the risk I run of failure in a third poem; yet I think I understand the British public well enough to set every sail towards the popular breeze. One set of folks pique themselves upon sailing in the wind's eye—another class drive right before it; now I would neither do one or t'other, but endeavour to go, as the sailors express it, upon a wind, and make use of it to carry me my own way, instead of going precisely in its direction ; or, to speak in a dialect with which I am more familiar, I would endeavour to make my horse carry me, instead of attempting to carry my horse. I have a vain-glorious presentiment of success upon this occasion, which may very well deceive me, but which I would hardly confess to anybody but you, nor perhaps to you neither, unless I knew you would find it out whether I told it you or nò,—
• You are a sharp observer, and you
look Quite through the eyes of men.'—
" I plead guilty to the charge of ill-breeding to Miss ****
The despair which I used to feel on receiving poor Miss Seward's letters, whom I really liked, gave me a most unsentimental horror for sentimental letters. The crossest thing I ever did in my life was to poor dear Miss Seward; she wrote me in an evil hour (I had never seen her, mark that!) a long and most passionate epistle upon the death of a dear friend, whom I had never seen neither, concluding with a charge not to attempt answering the said letter, for she was dead to the world, &c. &c. &c. Never were commands more literally obeyed. I remained as silent as the grave, till the lady made so many enquiries after me, that I was afraid of my death being prematurely announced by a sonnet or an elegy. When I did see her, however, she interested me very much, and I am now doing penance for my ill-breeding, by submitting to edit her posthumous poetry, most of which is absolutely execrable. This, however, is the least of my evils, for when she proposed this bequest to me, which I could not in decency refuse, she combined it with a request that I would publish her whole literary correspondence. This I declined on principle, having a particular aversion at perpetuating that sort of gossip; but what availed it? Lo! to ensure the publication, she left it to an Edinburgh bookseller; and I anticipate the horror of seeing myself advertised for a live poet like a wild beast on a painted streamer, for I understand all her friends are depicted therein in body,
mind, and manners. So much for the risks of sentimental correspondence.
“ Siddons' play was truly flat, but not unprofitable; he contrived to get it well propped in the acting, and — though it was such a thing as if you or I had written it (supposing, that is, what in your case, and I think even in my own, is impossible) would have been damned seventy-fold, - yet it went through with applause. Such is the humour of the multitude; and they will quarrel with venison for being dressed a day sooner than fashion requires, and batten on a neck of mutton, because, on the whole, it is rather better than they expected; however, Siddons is a good lad, and deserves success, through whatever channel it comes. His mother is here just now. I was quite shocked to see her, for the two last years
have made a dreadful inroad both on voice and
person ; she has, however, a very bad cold. I hope she will be able to act Jane de Montfort, which we have long planned. Very truly yours,