Article Title

Scott's Last Words


Walter Scott’s dying words as recounted by J. G. Lockhart, widely accepted by in the Victorian period, have since been seen as largely fabricated. In 1938, H. J. C. Grierson blamed Lockahart’s “pious myth” on a “lady relative” of Scott’s anxious to deflect future detractors who might vilify Scott as irreligious. The concerened lady, unnamed by Grierson, was Mrs Harriet Scott of Harden, one of Scott’s first confidants, early adviser on literary matters, and later nearby neighbour at Mertoun House. Her positive influence on Scott, still underestimated, is hardly that of the “evangelical lady” featured regularly in post-Grierson Scott biographies. This article discusses the epitaph Scott wrote at Harriet’s request for her fourth son, Rev. George Scott Harden, an Anglican clergyman in England, along with moral/religious components in other shorter poems by Scott, Scott’s own “religious” position, the convention of “last words,” and Lockhart’s narrative methods as biographer. New evidence is provided relating to what may actually have happened during the final weeks at Abbotsford.