Sir Walter Scott’s Sundial

Sir Walter Scott’s Sundial

Walter Scott (1771-1832) was 26 years old when he married Charlotte Carpenter on Christmas Eve, 1797. With his new bride, he came to Lasswade Cottage in Scotland and vowed that he would “make his riverside home the sweetest spot beneath the stars.” Having carefully designed his gardens and lawns, he went to work, as his biographer Lockhart points out, to produce “the works that laid the imperishable foundations of all his fame.” 

After his lawns were ready at their new home, Scott installed a vertical sundial which he had designed and ordered before his marriage. Having seen a Greek inscription on Dr. Samuel Johnson’s watch – The Night Cometh – Scott had that portion of John 9:4 engraved on his sundial. The entire verse reads: 

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”

Both Johnson and Scott understood that the daylight does not last forever; and they both dreaded the Night. Australian author F.W. Boreham tells us that they “trembled lest the Night should fall before they had finished the work which they had been appointed to do.”
When the Night came to Sir Walter Scott, he asked Lockhart to read to him from one of his 9,000 volumes. 

“Read to me!” he said. 

“From what book shall I read?” asked Lockhart. 

“Need you ask? There is but one!” 

Lockhart opened the Bible to the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John and read Jesus’ words:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

“This is a great comfort – a great comfort,” he murmured before he entered into eternity.

For the Christian, Boreham reflects, “The Night comes; and with the Night come weariness and restfulness and tired hands gently folded….In the sunshine of life’s morning, high noon is not a fixture. The brightest day wears away to evening at last.”

“Therefore,” said the Apostle Paul, “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).


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