Certain events are remembered and mourned for generations, so there are others, happy and interesting in themselves, which must continue to give satisfaction long after they are over, and long after those concerned in them have passed away. And certainly among things pleasant to remember is the story of Sir Walter Scott’s visit to Ireland in July 1825, when he received so warm a greeting from the country and spent those happy hours with Miss Edgeworth at Edgeworthstown. Fortunately for us, Lockhart was one of the party. Anne Scott, and Walter the soldier, and Jane Scott the bride, were also travelling in Sir Walter’s train. The reception which Ireland gave Sir Walter was a warm-hearted ovation. ’It would be endless to enumerate the distinguished persons who, morning after morning, crowded to his levee in St. Stephen’s Green,’ says Lockhart, and he quotes an old saying of Sir Robert Peel’s, ’that Sir Walter’s reception in the High Street of Edinburgh is 1822 was the first thing that gave him (Peel) a notion of the electric shock of a nation’s gratitude.’ ’I doubt if even that scene surpassed what I myself witnessed,’ continues the biographer, ’when Sir Walter returned down Dame Street after inspecting the Castle of Dublin.’
From ovations to friendship it was Sir Walter’s inclination to turn. On the 1st August he came to Edgeworthstown, accompanied by his family. ’We remained there for several days, making excursions to Loch Oel, etc. Mr. Lovell Edgeworth had his classical mansion filled every evening with a succession of distinguished friends. Here, above all, we had the opportunity of seeing in what universal respect and comfort a gentleman’s family may live in that country, provided only they live there habitually and do their duty. . . . Here we found neither mud hovels nor naked peasantry, but snug cottages and smiling faces all about. . . . Here too we pleased ourselves with recognising some of the sweetest features in Goldsmith’s picture of “Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain."’ Oliver Goldsmith received his education at this very school of Edgeworthstown, and Pallas More, the little hamlet where the author of the vicar of Wakefield first saw the light, is still, as it was then, the property of the Edgeworths.
So Scott came to visit his little friend, and the giant was cheered and made welcome by her charming hospitality. It was a last gleam of sunshine in that noble life. We instinctively feel how happy they all were in each other’s good company. We can almost overhear some of their talk, as they walk together under the shade of the trees of the park. One can imagine him laughing in his delightful hearty way, half joking, half caressing. Lockhart had used some phrase (it is Lockhart who tells us the story) which conveyed the impression that he suspects poets and novelists of looking at life and at the