delineations, and the story, if not more skilfully conducted, is at least better complicated, and ex

tended through a wider field of adventure. The characteristics of both, however, are evidently the same ;—a broken narrative-a redundancy of minute descripti0n—bursts of unequal and energetic poetry——and a general tone of spirit and animation, unchecked by timidity or affectation, and unchastened by any great delicacy of taste, or elegance of fancy.

Tm-: LADY or THE LAKE is more polished in its diction, and more regular in its versification, than the author’s preceding poems; the story is constructed with infinitely more skill and address; there is a greater proportion of pleasing and tender passages, with much less antiquarian detail, and, upon the whole, a larger variety of characters, more artfully and judiciously contrasted. There is nothing sa fine, perhaps, as the battle in Marmion, or so picturesque as some of the scattered sketches in the Lay of the Last Minstrel; but there is a richness and a spirit in the Lady of the Lake which does not pervade either of these poems; a profusion of incident, and a shifting brilliancy of colouring, that reminds us of the witcbery of Ariosto, and a constant elasticity and occasional energy, which seem to belong more peculiarly to the author himself.

At this period Mr Scott had outstripped all his poetical competitors in the race of popularity. The mighty star of Byron had not yet risen ; and we doubt whether any British poet had ever had so many of his books sold, or so many of his verses read and admired by such a multitude of persons in so short a time as Walter Scott. Confident in the force and originality of his own genius, he was not afraid to avail himself of diction and of sentiment, wherever they appeared to be beautiful and impressive, using them, however, at all times, with the skill and spirit of an inventor; and, quite certain that he could not be mistaken for a plagiarist or imitator, he made free use of that great treasury of characters, images, and expressions, which had been accumulated by the most celebrated of his predecessors; at the same time that the rapidity of his transitions, the novelty of his combinations, and the spirit and variety of his own thoughts and inventions, show plainly that he was a borrower from any thing but poverty, and took only what he could have given if he had been born in an earlier age. The great secret of his popularity at the time, and the leading characteristic of his poetry, consisted evidently in this, that he made use of more common topics, images, and expressions, than any original poet of later times; and, at the same time, displayed more genius and originality than any recent author who had hitherto worked in


the some materials. By the latter peculiarity, he entitled himself to the admiration of everydescription of readers; by the former he came recommended in an especial manner to the inexperienced, at the hazard of some little offence to the more cultivated and fastidious.

In the choice of his subjects, for example, he did not attempt to interest merely by fine observatious or pathetic sentiment, but took the assistance ofa story, and enlisted the reader's curiosity among his motives for attention. Then his characters were all selected from the most common dramatis persona: of poetry—kings, warriors, knights, outlaws, nuns, miustrels, secluded damsels, wizards, and true lovers. He never ventured to carry us into the cottage of the peasant, like‘ Crabbe or Cowper; nor into the bosom of domes

tic privacy, like Campbell; nor among creatures Y

of the imagination, like Southey or Darwin. Such personages, assuredly, are not in themselves so interesting or striking as those to which our poet devoted himself; but they are far less familiar in poetry, and are therefore more likely to engage the attention of those to whom poetry is familiar. In the management of the passions, again, he pursued the same popular and comparatively easy course. He raised all the most familiar and poetical emotions, by the most obvious aggravations, and in the most compendious and judicious way. He dazzled the reader with the splendour, and even warmed him with the transient heat of various affections; but be nowhere fairly kindled him into enthusiasm, or melted him into tenderness. Writing for the world at large (unlike Byron), he wisely abstained from attempting to raise any passion to a height to which worldly people could not be transported, and contented himself with giving his reader the chance of feeling as a brave, kind, and affectionate gentleman should often feel in the ordinary course of his existence, without trying to breathe into him either that lofty enthusiasm which disdains the ordinary business and amusements of life, or that quiet and deep sensibility which unfits for all its pursuits. With regard to diction and imagery, too, it is quite obvious that he aimed not at writing in either a pure or very common style. He seems to have been anxious only to strike, and to be easily and universally understood; and, for this purpose, to have culled the most glittering and conspicuous expressions of the most popular authors, and to have interwoven them in splendid confusion with his own nervous diction and irregular versification. Indifferent whether he coins or borrows, and drawing with equal freedom on his memory and his imagination, he went boldly forward, in full reliance on a never-failing abundance, and dazzled, with his

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richness and variety, even those who are most apt to be offended with his glare and irregularity. 'l‘here is nothing in Scott's poetry of the severe and majestic style of Milton—or of the terse and fine composition of Pope—or of the elaborate elegance and melody of Campbell—or even of the flowing and redundant diction of Southey; but there is a medley of bright images and glowing words, set carelessly and loosely together—a diction tinged successively with the careless richness of Shakspeare, the harshness and antique simplicity of the old romances, the homeliness of vulgar ballads and anecdotes, and the sentimental glitter of the most modern poetry— passing from the borders ofthe ludicrous to those of the sublime—alternately minute and energetic —-sometimes artificial, and frequently negligent, but always fullof spirit and vivacity—-ahounding in images that are striking, at first sight, to minds of every contexture—and never expressing a sentiment which it can cost the most ordinary reader any exertion to comprehend.

Among the peculiarities of Scott, as a poet, we might notice his singular talentfor description, and especially for that of scenes ahounding in motion or action of any kind. In this department, indeed, he may be considered _almost without a rival, either among modem or ancient bards; and the character and process of his descriptions are as extraordinary as their effect is astonishing. He places before the eyes of his readers a more distinct and complete picture, perhaps, than any other artist ever presented by mere words; and yet he does not enumerate all the visible parts of the subject with any degree of minuteness, nor confine himself by any means to what is visible. The singular merit of his clelineations, on the contrary, consists in this, that, with a few bold and abrupt strokes, he sketches a most spirited outline, and then instantly kindles it by the sudden light and colour of some moral affection. There are none of his fine descriptions, accordingly, which do not derive a great part of their clearness and picturesque effect, as well as their interest, from the quantity of character and moral expression which is thus blended with their details, and which, so far from interrupting the conception of the external object, very powerfully stimulate the fancy of the reader to complete it; and give a grace and a spirit to the whole representation, of which we do not know where to look for a similar example.

In addition to the poetical works above enumerated, we must mention a Trivial Poems and Travels, by P. Carey,» and - Halidon Hill,» a dramatic sketch, both published in 1820. In his preface to the latter work, the poet says, that his dramatic sketch is in no particular

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designed or calculated for the stage, and that any attempt to produce it in action will be at the peril of those who make the experiment. The truth is that, like most of the higher poetical spirits of the age, he has found out a far safer and surer way to equitable judgments and fame, than trusting to the hazardous presentment of the characters he draws, by the heroes of the sock and huskin, and to the dubious and captions shouts of the pit and gallery.

That llamoox Him. is a native, heroic, and chivalrous drama—clear, brief, and moving in its story—full of pictures, living and breathing, and impressed with the stamp of romantic and peculiar times, and expressed in language rich and felicitous, must be felt by the most obtuse intellect; yet we are not sure that its success would be great on the stage, if for the stage it had ever been designed. The beauties by which it charms and enchains attention in the Closet—those bright and innumerable glimpses of.past times—those frequent allusions to ancient deeds and departed heroes— the action of speech rather than of body, would be lost in the vast London theatres, where a play is wanted, adapted to the eye rather than to the head or heart. The time of action equals, it is true, the wishes of the most limited critic; the place, too, the foot of Halidon, and its barren ascent, cannot be much more ample than the space from the further side of the stage to the upper regions of the gallery ; and the heroes who are called forth to triumph and to die are native flesh and blood, who yet live in their descendants. It has all the claims which a dramatic poem can well have on .1 British audience; yet we always hoped it would escape the clutches of those who cut up quantities for the theatres.

The transferwhich the poet has avowedly made of the incidents of the battle of Homildon to the Hill of Halidon, seems such a violation of authentic history, as the remarkable similarity of those two disastrous battles can never excuse. It is dangerous to attempt this violent shifting of heroic deeds. The field of Bannockburn would never tell of any other victory than the one which has rendered it renowned : History lifts up her voice against it; nor can the Hill of Homildon tell the story of the Hill of I-lalidou, nor that of any other battle but its own.

Three other dramatic sketches have also appeared under the name of our author, during the last three years. it The House of Aspen » was an early manuscript production of the poet, which was only drawn from the obscurity, to which he had most judiciously consigned it, in order to give to one of the annual publications the éclat of Scott's name as a contributor. Fortunately for him, he could afford this

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sacrifice of fame to profit. The other two werex

published together under the titles of u The Doom of Devorgoil,~ amelodrama ; and -=Aucbindrane, or the Ayrshire Tragedy. -1 From the preface it-appears that both these pieces were written with a view to representation, and intended for the Adelphi 'l‘heatre, then under the management of the author’s friend, the late MrTerry. They were not, however, found calculated to produce effect on the stage ; and, though Auchindrane contains many passages of considerable poetic beauty, it would have been no injury to the author's fame had his anxiety to supply pieces for his friend's theatre not induced him to re-enter the abandoned track oifpoetic composition.

We cannot take leave of Sir Walter Scott, in his poetic character, without alluding to the exquisite fragments which, under the fictitious garb of extracts from 11 Old plays» he has prefixed as mottoes to thedifferent chapters of his various novels. In none of his regular poems has be displayed the depth of thought, happiness ofillustration, and exquisite propriety of expression, which abound in these passages.

It will scarcely be expected that, in this‘ rapid sketch, we should enter into a respective analysis of those works, so Well known, and so universally admired, by the appellation of the 11 Waverley Novels.- The painful circumstances which compelled their author to disclosehimselfare still fresh in the recollection a11d the sympathy of the public: the motives, or no motives, which induced him so long and so pertinaciously to abstain from avowing himself, it is not our province to criticise, nor do we wish to make a boast of having always believed what could scarcely be ever doubted, viz. that the Great Unknown and the author of Marmion were -1 one and indivisible.=

The annexed is a list of the novels in question, produced by this great author in the space of only sixteen years.

Waverley 1814 Guy Mannering 1815 The Antiquary . . . 1816 Tales of My Landlord,

First Series 1816

Second Series 1 818

Third Series . 1 819 Rob Roy , 1818 Ivanhoe . . 1820 The Monastery . 1820 The Abbot 1820 Kenilworth 1 $21 The Pirate . . . 1822 The Fortunes of Nigel 1822 Quentin Durward . 1823


Peveril of the Peak 1823 St I{onan's Well _ 1824 Redgauntlet . . . . 1824 Tales of the Crusaders 1825 Woodstock . . . . .. .‘ 1826 Chronicles of the Canongate 1827

Second Series 1828 Anne of Geierstein . 1829

It may, then, be fearlessly asserted that, since the time when Shakspeare wrote his thirty-eight plays in the brief space of his early manhood, there has been no such prodigy of literary fertility as the author of these novels. In a few brief years, he has founded anew school of -invention, and embellished and endowed it with volumes of the must: animated a11d original composition that have enriched British literature for a century—volumes that have cast into the shade all contemporary prose, and, by their force of colouring and depth of feeling, by their variety, vivacity, magical facility, and living presentment of character, have rendered conceivable to this later age the miracles of the mighty dramatist. Shakspeare is, undoubtedly, more purely original, but it must be remembered that, in his time, there was much less to borrow—and that he too has drawn freely and largely from thesources that were open to_liim, at least for his fable and graver sentiment; for his wit and h11mour, as well as his poetry, are always his own. In our times, all the higher walks of literature have been so long a11d so often trodden, that it is scarcely possible to keep out of the footsteps of some of our precursors; and the ancients, it is well known, have anticipated all our bright thoughts, and not only visibly beset all the obvious approaches to glory, but swarm in such

ambushed multitudes behind, that when we think -

we have gone fairly beyond their plagiarisms, and ho11es|ly worked out an original excellence of our own, up starts some deep-read antiquary, and makes out, much to his own satisfaction, that Heaven knows how many of these busy-bodies have been beforehand with us, both in the genus and the species of our invention. ‘ Although Sir Walter Scott is certainly in less l danger from, such detections than any other we have ever met with, even in him the traccsof imitation are obvious and abundant; a11d it is : impossible, therefore, to give him the same credit ‘ for absolute originality as those earlier writers, who, having no successful author to imitate, were obliged to copy directly from nature. In naming him along with Shakspeare, we mean still less to say, that he is to be put on a level with him, as to the richness and sweetness of his fancy, or that living vein of pure and lofty poetry which

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of his composition. On that level no other writ

has ever stood, or will ever stand; though we do think that there are fancy and poetry enough in the Waverley Novels, if not to justify the comparison we have ventured to suggest, at least to save it from being altogether ridiculous. The variety stands out in the face of each of them, arid the facility is attested, as in the case of

Shakspeare himself, both by the inimitable

freedom and happy carelessness of the style in which they are executed, and by the matchless rapidity with wihch they have been lavished on the public.

We must now, however, for the sake of keeping our chronology in order, be permitted to say a word or two on the most popular ofthese works.

The earlier novelists wrote at periods when society was not perfectly formed, and we find that their picture of life was an embodying of their own conceptions of the beau ideal. Heroes all generosity, and ladies all chastity, exalted above the vulgarities of society and nature, maintain, through eternal fulios, their visionary virtues, without the stain of any moral frailty, or the dcgradation of any human necessities. But this high-flown style went out of fashion as the great mass of mankind became more informed of each other's feelings and concerns, and as nearer observation taught them that the real course of human life is a conflict of duty auddesirc, of virtue and passion, of right and wrong: in the descrip

tion of which it is difficult to say whether uni

form virtue or unredeemed vice, would be in the greater degree tedious and absurd.

The novelists next endeavoured to exhibit a general view of society. The characters in Gil Bias and Tom Jones are not individuals, so much as specimens of the human race; and these delightful works have been, are, and ever will be, popular; because they present lively and accurate delineations of the workings of the human soul, and that every man who reads them is obliged to confess to himself, that, in similar circumstances with the personages of I.e Sage and Fielding, he would probably have acted in the way in which they are described to have done.

From this species the transition to a third was natural. The first class was theory—it was improved into a genuine description, and that again led the way to a more particular classificationa copying not of man in general, but of men of a peculiar nation, profession, or temper, or to go a step further-—of individuals.

Thus Alexander and Cyrus could never have existed in human society —— they are neither French, nor English, nor Italian, because it is only allegorically that they are men. Tom Jones


7 iiglishman, because the essence of their characters in human nature, and the personal situation of the individual, are almost indifferent to the success of the object which the author proposed to himself; while, on the other hand, the characters of the most popular novels of later times are Irish, or Scotch, or French, and not, in the abstract, men.-—The general operations of nature are circumscribed to her effects on an individual character, and the modern novels of this class, compared with the broad and noble style of the earlier writers, may be considered as Dutch pictures, delightful in their vivid and minute details of common life, wonderfully entertaining to the close observer of peculiarities, and highly creditable to the accuracy, observation, and how mour of the painter, but exciting none of those more exalted feelings, and giving none of those higher views of the human soul, which delight and exalt the mind of the spectator of Raphael, Correggio, or Murillo. ad

The object of Wavnacny was evidently to present a faithful and animated picture of the inanners and state of society that prevailed in the northern part of the island in the earlier part of last century; and the author judiciously fixed upon the era of the Rebellion in 1745, not only as enriching his pages with the interest inseparably attached to the narration of such occurrences, but as affording a fair opportunity for bringing out all the contrasted principles and habits which distinguished the different classes of people who then divided the country, and formed among themselves the basis of almost all that was peculiar in the national character. That unfortunate contention brought conspicuously to light, and for the last time, the fading image of feudal chivalry in the mountains, and vulgar fanaticism in the plains; and startled the more polished parts ofthe land with the wild but brilliant picture of the elevated valour, incorrnptible fidelity, patriarchal hrotherhood, and savage habits, of the Celtic clans on the one hand,—and the dark, untractable, and domineering bigotry of the covenaulers on the other._ Both forms of society had indeed been prevalent in the other parts of the country, but had there been so long superseded by more peaceable habits, and milder manners, that their vestiges were almost effaced, and their very memory nearly forgotten.

The feudal principalities had been extinguished in the South for near three hundred years, and the dominion of the puritans from the time of the Restoration. When the glens of the central Highlands, therefore, were opened up to the gaze of the English, it seemed as if they were carried back to the days of the Heptarchy: when they

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saw the array of the West Country whigs, they might imagine themselves transported to the age of Cromwell. The effect, indeed, is almost as startling at the present moment; and one great source of the interest which the novel of Waverley possesses is to be sought in the surprise that is excited by disco" ing, that in our own country,and almost in win age, manners and characters existed, am e conspicuous, which we_had been accustomed to consider as belonging to remote antiquity, or extravagant romance. , The way in which they are here represented must at once have satisfied every reader, by an internal tact and conviction, that the delineation had been maideiifrom actual experience and obserQvation;-experienced observation employed per:-ihaps only on a few surviving relics and specimens hf what was‘ familiar a little earlier, but gene' ralized from instances sufficiently numerous and complete to warrant all that hay have beenadded to the portrait. 1,4. : The great traits of_??g§i;.:li dependence, pride, nd fidelity, may still be detected in many districts of the Highlands, though they do not now adhere to'the chieftains when they mingle in general society; and the existing contentions of burghers and antiburghers, and Cameroninns, though shrunk into comparative insignificauce, and left indeed without protection to the ridicule of ‘the profane, may still be referred to as complete verifications of all that is here stated about Gifted Gilfillan, or Ebenezer Crnickshanks. The traits of Scottish national character in the lower ranks can still less be regarded as antiquated or traditional ; nor is there any thing in the whole compass of the work which gives us a stronger impression of the nice observation and graphical talents of Sir Walter, than the extraordinay fidelity and felicity with which all the inferior agents in the story are represented. No one who has not lived long among the lower orders of all descriptions, and made himself familiar with their various tempers and dialects, can perceive the full merit of those rapid and characteristic sketches; but it requires only a general knowledge of human nature to feel that they must be faithful copies from known originals; and to be aware of the extraordinary facility and ‘flexibility of hand which has touched, for instance, with such discriminating shades, the various gradations of the Celtic character, from the savage imperturbability of Dugald Mahony, who stalks grimly. about with his battle-ax on his shoulder, without speaking a word to. any body, to the lively unprincipled activity of Callum Beg, "ithc coarse unreflecting hardihood and heroism of Evan Maccombicb, and the pride, gallantry, elegance, and ambition of Fergus himself. In the .


lower class of the Lowland characters, again, the vulgarity of Mrs Flockhart and of Lieutenant

Jinker is perfectly distinct and original, as well ,

as the puritanism of Gilfillan and Cruickshanks, and the slow soleumity of Alexander Saunderson. The Baron of Bradwardine, and Baillie Macwheeble, are caricatures no doubt, after the fashion of the caricatures in the novels of Smollett,—unique and extraordinary ; but almost all the other personages in the history are fair representations of classes that are still existing, or may be remembered at least to have existed, by many whose recollections do not extend quite so far back as the year 1745.

The successful reception of \Vaverley was owing not only to the author's beinga man of genius, but that he had also virtue enough to be true to nature throughout, and to content himself, even in the marvellous parts ‘of his story, with copying from actual existences, rather than from the phantasms of his own imagination. The charm which this communicates to all works that deal in the representation of human actions and characters is more readily felt than understood, and operates with unfailing efficacy even upon those who have no acquaintance with the originals from which the picture has been borrowed. It requires no ordinary talent, indeed, to chuse such realities as may outshine the bright imaginations of the inventive, and so to combine them as to produce the most advantageous effect; but when this is once accomplished, the result is sure to be something more firm, impressive, and engaging, than can ever be produced by mere fiction. There is alcon istency in nature and truth, the want of whi _ jays be detected in the happiest combination "fancy; and the consciousness of their support gives a confidence and assurance to the artist, which encourages him occasionally to risk a strength of colouring, and a boldness of touch, upon which he would scarcely have ventured in a sketch that was purely ideal. The reader, too, who by these or still finer indications, speedily comes to perceive that he is engaged with scenes and characters that are copied from existing originals, naturally lends a more eager attention to the story in which they are unfolded, and regards with a keener interest what he no longer considers as a bewildering series of dreams and exaggerations, but as an instructive exposition of human actions and energies, and of all the singular modifications which our plastic nature receives from the circumstances with which it is surrounded.

Although Gur MANNERING is a production far below Waverley, it is still a work of considerable merit. Its inferiority to Waverley is, however, very decided, not only as to general effect, but in

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