Scott's chief nonfictional works in this last phase of his life were
Life of Napoleon (1827) and Tales of a Grandfather
(1828), stories from Scottish history. His novels he kept on doggedly writing
almost until the end with inevitably deteriorating quelity. He resigned
his clerkship of session in 1830 and was given a retirement allowance of
800 libres annually. The trustees allowed him to keep for himself the profits
from Tales of a Grandfather and other ninfictional works,
and he was far from living a life of poverty. But his health was breaking.
His rash engagement in politics in Jedburgh on the antireform side in March
1831 like an earlier and less severe one in February 1830, but it was the
beginning of the end. The government put a frigate at his disposal for
a Mediterranean cruise in search of health, but the voyage was marked by
further strokes, and he was brought home to die. The sight of his beloved
Border country briefly revived his awareness, and he died at Abbotsford,
after a long period of semiconsciousness, on September, 21, 1832. He had
no dying words for posterity, his alleged last words to Lockhart.
He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Walter, on whose death (1847) the title became extinct.
Of the progress of Scott's tangled financial affairs, all that need be said is that the publisher Robert Cadell, after a variety of maneuvers, took over both Scott's liabilities and Scott's copyrights and made a fortune as a result.
It continued until well into the 20th century, when critics of the novel began to demand of a novelist a greater awareness of the demands of fictional art than Scott had ever had the time to develop.
Scott invented the historical novel, and he invented the tourist's view of Scotland. Later readers and critics fastened on the high romantic aspect of his view of the past and ignored that disturbing double vision that resulted from the tension between his love of "the crowded hour of glorious life" and his shrewd awareness of its impossibility and even undesirability in the modern world. It is that double vision that modern criticism sees as the source of his greatest strength as a novelist.