The graceful ruins of Dryburgh Abbey nestle secluded in woodland by the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders.
In April 1826, Scott saw his wife, Charlotte, buried at the abbey. Six years later in 1832 he was laid to rest alongside her.
Scott’s later years were plagued with financial difficulties, after the collapse of his printers left him owing £130,000. Rather than give up his home at Abbotsford, he determined to write his way out of debt. He worked all hours, publishing book after book. His health suffered under the strain. In 1830, he wrote that sometimes he could "wish for the rest of Dryburgh and the shadow of the Evening."
In his last year, he travelled to Italy and Malta for the health benefits of a warmer climate. After a final stroke, he turned for home. He died at Abbotsford on 21 September 1832.
Listen to 'Must Not Complain'
Listen to an extract from a letter from Scott to his friend Mrs Scott of Harden, 6th March 1832, from Naples.
Read 'Must Not Complain'
I should have said something of my health, but have nothing to say, except that I am pretty well, and take exercise regularly, though as Parson Adams says, it must be of the vehicular kind. I think I shall never ride or walk again. But I must not complain, for my plan of paying my debts, which you know gave me so much trouble some years since, has been, thank God, completely successful; and, what I think worth telling, I have paid very near £120,000, without owing any one a halfpenny—at least I am sure this will be the case by midsummer. I know the laird will give me much joy on this occasion, which, considering the scale upon which I have accomplished it, is a great feat.
I wish I were better worthy the kindness of the public ; but I am at least entitled to say " 'Twas meant for merit, though it fell on me." Also some industry and some steadiness were necessary. I believe, indeed, I made too great an exertion, but if I get better, as seems likely, it is little enough for so happy a result. The young people have been very happy—which makes me think that about next spring I will give your couple a neighbourly dance…
- Your somewhat ancient, but very sincere friend, Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years
In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.
'Must Not Complain' has been performed by Edinburgh actor Gavin Paul, who is looking forward to visiting some of these important historical sights.