The Scottish Regalia, His Knighthood, King George IV's Visit, 1818-1826

Scott, an ardent patriot, was highly pleased when, in 1818, the Scottish Regalia - the Crown and Sceptre, and the Sword of State presented by Pope Julius II to James IV in 1507 - were again exposed to the light of day as the great dusty chest where they had lain so long was opened in his presence. To Scott and his daughter it was like the finding of the Holy Grail.

Then in 1820 his elder daughter Sophia married J. G. Lockhart, Scott's later biographer. (Their daughter Charlotte, born in 1828, married in 1847 J. R. Hope. Their daughter, born in 1847, married in 1874 the Hon. J. Constable-Maxwell. Their son, born in 1875, married in 1918 and his two daughters, Patricia and Jean, still live at Abbotsford, the home of their illustrious ancestor.)

In this same year, 1820, he visited London, and was created a Baronet. Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities offered him a doctor's degree and all these honours were well merited. He was back in London the next year for the coronation of King George IV. Returning from the Coronation after 2 a.m. he was caught in the crowd and a sergeant of the Scots Greys, not recognising him, forbade him to go on. Scott's young companion, fearing for him in the pressure of the crowd, loudly exclaimed: 'Take care, Sir Walter Scott.' The dragoon, hearing the hallowed name, said: 'What! Sir Walter Scott? He shall get through. Make room, men, for Sir Walter Scott, our illustrious countryman.' The men answered: 'Sir Walter Scott. God bless him', and in a moment he was in safety.

Another great success to be credited to Sir Walter was when King George IV visited Scotland in 1822, the first reigning monarch to do so since Charles I in 1641. On meeting Scott, the king exclaimed: 'Sir Walter Scott: the man in Scotland I most wish to see.' The royal visit was an outstanding success. The monarchy won new popularity in Scotland and brought the Highlands into closer relation with the Lowlands especially as the king had worn a kilt of Royal Stuart Tartan, a custom followed by his successors. For all this Scott deserves the chief credit. Scott had obtained a promise that Mons Meg, that historic cannon, should come back to Edinburgh Castle and that the peerages forfeited during the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite Risings should be restored. He did great work for the unification of Scotland, which strengthened the pride taken in her gallant history.

All these years, from 1812 onwards, Abbotsford was growing under Sir Walter's watchful care. His immense activity had weakened his hardy frame, though he was still producing the Waverley novels and carrying on with his legal work. In 1825 he began to keep a journal. It is perhaps one of the most complete expressions of a human being we possess. The greatest figure Scott ever portrayed is in the Journal and it is himself Christmas, 1824, saw a great house warming at Abbotsford. Gifts had poured in from the king, his other friends, business associates and his tenants and retainers. It was perhaps the happiest event in Scott's life, and may have given him the great courage he needed to fight and overcome the great storms and distresses about to break on and over him.


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