Three eyewitness accounts of Scott have been preserved together with the manuscript of this book: namely, Macrone’s notes of a conversation with Galt, which, as we have seen, were transcribed, not quite accurately, and published by Hamilton Baird Timothy in 1972,1 and a pair of short memoirs, which do not appear to have been published, by the physician Sir Andrew Halliday and the watercolourist Thomas Heaphy, evidently copied from the originals by someone other than Macrone. The following transcriptions are literal.
In the year [blank in manuscript] I happened to be at Edinr and calling on Wm Erskine – it came on so heavy a shower that I was unable to go out for some time. – When Erskine to amuse me, mentioned that he had a play of Scotts which had been offered to one of the London theatres, and rejected:2 launching at the same time into some animadversions on the manner in which the great theatres were conducted. – The MSS I perfectly recollect was [sic] lying on his table.3 – he took it up, and read several scenes which he thought uncommonly fine. Every body knows, who knew the man that Wm Erskine (afterwards Lrd Kinedder) was full of taste and possessed a singular and elegant elocution. – The scene4 that I chiefly remember was that in which the heir of Aspen endeavours to discover if his mother was concerned in the murder of his father – and we both agreed that with Mrs Siddons it would have been very sublime, and was certainly very dramatic – The play
1. Hamilton B. Timothy (1972), ‘Galt on Scott’, Library Review, vol. 23, no. 8, pp. 323–5.
2. The House of Aspen, rejected by Kemble in October 1800 (Johnson, Edgar (1970), Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown, 2 vols, New York: Macmillan, vol. I, p. 179).
3. There appears to be a superscription at the end of this word, which, if not a mere slip of the pen, makes it, properly, ‘tabletop’.
4. Macrone originally wrote ‘chief scene’.