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Random Reminiscences of Sir Walter Scott
Of the Ettrick Shepherd, Sir Henry Raeburn, &c., &c.


I found this 2 part article in Tait's Edinburgh Magazine of 1844 which starts...

The value of reminiscences of eminent men must he in proportion to the opinion entertained of the writer’s powers and opportunities of observation, and of his good faith as an accurate reporter and chronicler. The reminiscences we have to present to our readers, connected with Scott and “ The Shepherd,” bear intrinsic evidence of their genuineness in every sentence. Yet we deem it the most satisfactory, and also the most simple and direct mode of procedure, to permit Sir Walter Scott himself to introduce the individual who here recalls his sayings and doings; and who, without being blind to his weaknesses, appears to cherish his memory with the most devoted and grateful respect. To few individuals could Sir Walter Scott have appeared under an aspect more uniformly kind and benignant than he must have done to Mr. Morrison. Their acquaintance commenced in1803—an early period of Scott’s brilliant career; and eighteen years afterwards, we find him thus cautiously and characteristically describing the author of the subjoined Reminiscences, in whose prosperity he at all times took no ordinary interest. Mr. Morrison’s name does not, we believe, once occur in Mr. Lockhart’s Memoirs of Scott; but this is an oblivion which he shares with many other of Sir Walter’s early friends; and it is one of small consequence, save that it renders this explanation necessary :—

MR. WALTER SCOTT TO MR. ROSCOE OF LIVERPOOL.

Dear Sir,—I should not have presumed to give the bearer an introduction to you on my own sole authority ; but as he carries a letter from General Dirom of Mount Annan, and as I sincerely interest myself in his fortunes, I take the liberty of strengthening (if I may nse the phrase) the General’s recommendation, and, at the same time, of explaining a circumstance or two which may have some influence on Mr. Morrison’s destiny.

He is a very worthy, as well as a very clever man; and was much distinguished in his profession as a civil engineer, surveyor, &c., until he was unlucky enough to lay it aside for the purpose of taking a farm. I should add that this was done with the highly laudable purpose of keeping a roof over his father’s head, and maintaining the old man in his paternal farm. At the expiry of the lease, however, Mr. Morrison found himself a loser to such an amount that he did not think it prudent to renew the bargain, and attempted to enter upon his former profession. But being, I think, rather impatient on finding that employment did not occur quite so readily as formerly, he gave way to a natural turn for painting, and it is as an artist that he visits Liverpool. I own, though no judge of the art, I think he has mistaken his talents; for, though he sketches remarkably well in outline, especially our mountain scenery, and although he was bred to the art, yet so long an interval has passed, that I should doubt his ever acquiring a facility in colouring.

However, he is to try his chance. But be would fain hope something would occur in a city where science is so much in request, to engage him more profitably to himself, and more usefully to others, in the way of his original profession as an engineer, in which he is really' excellent. I should be sincerely glad, however, that he throve in some way or other, as he is a most excellent person in disposition and private conduct, an enthusiast in literature, and a shrewd entertaining companion in society.

I could not think of his carrying a letter to you without your being fhlly acquainted of the merits he possesses besides the painting, of which I do not think well at present; though, perhaps, he may improve.—I am, Sir, with very great respect, your most obedient servant,

Walter Scott.
Edinburgh, 1st June, 1821.

In Liverpool, Mr. Morrison, as will afterwards be seen, met with the kindest reception from Mr. Ros-coe, who returned him Sir Walter Scott’s introductory letter, as a document of more value to himself than to any one else. Before coming to the Reminiscences, and in order to throw a little more light upon the character of their writer, and his connexion with the distinguished individuals from whom they derive their interest, we copy from the original MS. of the Ettrick Shepherd, the following rhymed epistle and epitaph, addressed to Mr. Morrison while he was engaged on Some piece of professional business with Mr. Telford in North Wales.

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