SIR WALTER SCOTT,
novelist, writes to
"Miss Seward knew Dr Johnson well... There was a story she told me respecting the Sage's marriage with the widow Porter. He had been quite candid with the lady, and had pointed out to her all his disadvantages. `I told her,' he said, `that I was as poor as a rat, and destitute of any settled profession; that I was blind and ugly, and moreover of a family which was dishonoured by the execution of a near relative.' She replied most candidly that all these drawbacks made no difference to her choice; that she was not much richer than myself, and she was resolved to trust to heaven's blessing and my talents for a sufficient income; that if I was unsightly, she was no longer young, and it was not for my good looks that she gave me preference. Finally that, although she had not had an uncle who had been hanged, yet she enjoyed the relationship of more than one near relative who richly deserved it."
1 February 1901
records the last journey of Queen Victoria (pictured) who died on 22 January
"We steamed out, and took up our position between the last British ship and the first foreign ships of war, on the south side of the double line down which the procession was to pass. The day was one of glorious sunshine, with the smoothest and bluest of seas. After a while a black torpedo destroyer came dashing down the line signalling that the Alberta was leaving Osborne and from every ship, both British and foreign, boomed out the minute guns for close on an hour before the procession reached us. The sun was now (3pm) beginning to sink, and a wonderful golden pink appeared in the sky and as the smoke slowly rose from the guns it settled in one long festoon behind them, over Haslar, a purple festoon like the purple hangings ordered by the King.
Then slowly down the long line of battleships came eight torpedo destroyers, dark gliding forms, and after them the white Alberta looking very small and frail next to the towering battleships. We could see the motionless figures standing round the white pall which, with the crown and orb and sceptre, lay upon the coffin. As slowly and as silently as it came the cortege passed away into the haze; with the solemn booming of the guns continuing every minute till Portsmouth was reached."