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SKETCH

OF THE

LIFE OF SIR WALTER SCOTT.

of the chiularescribed Conandfather, Deni la his

SIR WALTER SCOTT was born on the 15th of dismissed, and young Walter consigned to the August, 1771, in a honse belonging to his father, care of a healthy peasant, who survived, to see at the head of the College Wynd, in the old town him famous, and to boast of her "laddie" being of Edinburgh. His father, Walter Scott, was, by what she called it " grand gentleman." profession, a Writer to the Signet-that is, a Owing to a fever in his eighteenth month, he solicitor or attorney, authorized to practice lost the use of his right leg, which never afterbefore the highest courts of Scottish judicature. wards recovered its natural strength or symHis mother was Anne Rutherford, eldest daugh I metry, and thus Scott, like his illustrious conter of Dr. John Rutherford, Professor of Medicine temporary, Byron, was troubled with-life long in the University of Edinburgh. Both on the lameness. Like Byron, also, though in an infather and mother's side, Sir Walter belonged to ferior degree, he endured no small amount of some of the oldest and most distinguished torture from the abortive atteinpts made to families in the south of Scotland. He was par- rectify his unfortunate deformity by artificial ticularly proud of his descent from the old Bor contrivances. der freebooters, whose exploits inade themi Sir Walter had a second providential escape better known than liked along the northern fron- from premature death, through the wickedness, tiers of England. In his autobiographical or, rather, madness, of another nurse. The followfragment, he writes: "My father's grandfather ing is his own account of this incident in his was Walter Scott, well known in Tiviotdale by childish history :-His grandfather, Dr. Ruther. the surname of Beardie. He was the second son ford, had prescribed country air for the health of Walter Scott, first Laird of Raeburn, who was of the child, and he was, accordingly, sent to the third son of Sir William Scott, and the grandson farm-house of Sandy-Knowe. “An odd inciof Walter Scott, commonly called in tradition dent," he writes, "is worth recording. It seems

Auld Watt of Harden. I am therefore lineally my mother had 'sent a maid to take charge of descended from that ancient chieftain, whose me, that I might be no inconvenience to the name I have made to ring in many a ditty, and family. But the damsel sent on that important from his fair dame, the "Flower of Yarrow,' mission had left her heart behind her, in the no bad genealogy for a Border minstrel."

keeping of some wild fellow, it is likely, who had The poet's father was nearly thirty years of done and said more to her than he was like to age when he married: and six children born to make good She became extremely desirous to him, between 1759 and 1766, all perished in in return to Edinburgh; and as my mother made a fancy. The last of these children, who died in point of her remaining where she was, she conchildhood, was also called Walter, which was the tracted a sort of hatred to poor me, as the cause prevalent family name. A suspicion that the of her being detained at Sandy-Knowe. This close situation of the College Wynd had been in | grew, I suppose, to a sort of delirious affection: some measure connected with the striking mor for she confessed to old Alison Wilson, the house. tality in his family, induced Sir Walter's father keeper, that she had carried me to the Craigs, to remove to the house which he ever after meaning, under a strong temptation of the devil, wards occupied in George's Square. This removal to cut my throat with the scissors, and bury me took place shortly after the poet's birth, and in the moss. Alison instantly took possession of the children born subsequently were generally my person, and took care that her confidant healthy. Of a family of twelve, of whom six should not be subject to any further temptation, lived to maturity, not one of them left descen so far as I was concerned. She was dismissed, dants, except Sir Walter himself, and his next, of course; and, I have heard, became afterwards and, to him, dearest, brother, Thomas Scott. a lunatic." We thus see how very near the

The subject of our memoir was an uncommonly world was being deprived of the Lay of the healthy child; but he had nearly died, in conse Last Minstrel," * Marmion," the "Lady of the quence of his first wet-nurse, being afflicted with Lake," and the "Waverley Novels." consumption-a circumstance which she chose to It was at Sandy-Knowe, the residence of his conceal; though, to do so, was murder both to paternal grandfather, that the first consciousherself and her infant charge. She, however, ness of existence dawned upon him. "I rewent privately to consult Dr Black, the cele- collect distinctly," he says, " that my sitnabrated professor of chemistry, and he put the I tion and appearance were a little whimsical. child's father upon his guard. The woman was Among the odd remedies resorted to, to aid my

ed from that ring in maut Yarrow," desce I have mame, the Border withirty yearn to

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lameness, some one had recommended that so never wanted subjects of dispute; but our disoften as a sheep was killed, I should be stripped putes were always amicable.' and swathed up in the skin, warm as it was After being three years under the public school flayed from the carcass of the animal. In this tuition of Luke Fraser, he was turned over" to Tartar-like habiliment, I well remember lying Dr. Adam, the rector. He afterwards attended upon the floor of the little parlour in the farm the Grammar School, Kelso, where he first behouse, while my grandfather, a venerable old came acquainted with James and John Ballan man with white hair, used every excitement to tyne, who afterwards became his partners and make me try to crawl. I also distinctly remem publishers of some of his most celebrated works. ber the late Sir George MacDougal joining in He returned to Edinburgh, and entered the this kindly attempt. He was, God knows how, College, in November, 1783. Scott's university a relation of ours ; and I still recollect him in his career was not a brilliant one. His progress in old-fashioned military habit (he had been colonel the Latin language was slow and halting; and as of the Grays), with a small cocked-hat, deeply for Greek, he contracted an invincible repuglaced, and embroidered-scarlet waistcoat, and a nance to that noble tongue. Among his class-fellight-coloured coat, with milk-white locks, tied in lows, he was known as the "Greek Blockhead :" military fashion, kneeling on the ground before and this circumstance coming to his knowledge, me, and dragging his watch along the carpet, to embittered him still further against the study of induce me to follow it. The benevolent old the languages of the greatest poets and sages of soldier, and the infant, wrapped in his sheepskin, antiquity. "All hopes of my progess," he wonld have afforded an odd group to uninterested writes, “in the Greek were now over: insoinuch spectators. This must have happened in my that, when we were required to write essays on third year, for Sir George MacDougal and my the authors we had studied, I had the audacity grandfather both died after that period."

to produce a composition in which I weighed In his fourth year, he was taken to Bath, that Iloměr against Ariosto, and pronounced him he might partake of the beneficial effects of the wanting in the balance. I supported this heresy medicinal waters of that place, then the most by a profusion of bad reading and flimsy argufashionable of English watering-places. It does | ment. The wrath of the professor was extreme, not appear that his leg was improved by the while, at the same time, he could not suppress his waters; and after a year's residence in Bath, he surprise at the quantity of out-of the-way knowwas taken back to Edinburgh, between which ledge which I displayed. He pronounced upon city and the farm of Sandy-Knowe, he “whiled me the severe sentence that dunce I was, and away, till about his eighth year, when he was dunce was to remain.'" This verdict, however, sent to Preston-pans, for the benefit of sea the worthy Professor Dalzell lived to laugh at, bathings. Here he remained for some weeks, and recall, when after years had shown that the under the care of an aunt; and here he became boy, who is a very bad Greek scholar, may, as a acquainted with an old soldier of fortune, named man, attain to very eminent distinction as a Dalgetty, who had served in the German wars, writer in his own mother tongue. His distaste and whose name, character, and exploits he for Greek became so confirmed that in a short afterwards reproduced in the inimitable Major time he forgot the very letters of the Greek Dugald Dalgetty of The Legend of Montrose.'". alphabet; but he managed to keep up a tolerable From Preston-pans, he was led back to his fainiliarity with Latin-not by the study of the father's house, in George Square, which con school classics, but by the perusal of George Butinned to be his established residence until his channan's "History of Scotland," Mathew Paris, marriage, in 1797.

and other Monkish chroniclers. His progress in The poet's father, though an exceedingly af mathematics, moral philosphy, and metaphysics fectionate parent, was a strict disciplinarian in was much more satisfactory, and the celebrated the management of his household; but Sir Wal Dugald Stewart was led to entertain a very high ter, owing to his infirmity, was an exceptionally opinion of his pupil. indulged child. In the earlist efforts at his cdu *In 1785, he entered into indentures with his cation, he was, to a great extent, allowed to father, and for a time attempted to make himfollow the bent of his own inclinations. He self at home upon the dry and barren wilderness mildly complains of the austere observance of of forms and conveyances. It was in the disthe Scottish Sabbath in his father's house; but charge of his duties as a writer's (solicitor) he adds, “My week-day tasks were very agree apprentice that he first penetrated to the able. My lameness and my solitary habits had Highlands, and formed those friendships, among made me a tolerable reader; and my hours of the surviving of 1745, which laid the foundation leisure were usually spent in reading aloud to for one great class of his works. At this time my mother Pope's translation of Homer, which, he became a ravenous devourer of works of roexcepting a few traditionary ballads, and the mantic fiction. He says: "The whole Jemmy songs in Allan Ramsay's Evergreen,' was the and Jenny Jessamy tribe I abhorred; but all that first poetry which I perused."

was adventurous and romantic, I devoured withIn 1778, he was sent to the second class of the out much discrimination; and I really believe I Grammar, or High School, of Edinburgh, then have read as much nonsense of this class as any taught by Mr. Luke Fraser-"a good Latin man now living." scholar. and a very worthy man." But Scott It was resolved that Scott should qualify himmade no great figure at the High School. All self for the highest branch of the law; and achis exertions were desultory, and little to be de cordingly, having gone through the prescribed pended on; and in all the branches of juvenile preparations, he was admitted a member of the instruction, he was surpassed by hundreds of Society of Advocates that is, called to the bar" boys of whom the world has never heard.

-on the lith of July, 1792. But his education was not solely entrusted Convivial habits were then greatly indulged to High-School lessons. He had a tutor at among the young men of Edinburgh, whether home-a fanatical, but otherwise amiable, young candidates for the bar, solicitors, or barristers, man, who condescended to dispute with his medical students, or divinity students; and Scott youthful charge on divinity, church history, the I partook profusely in the juvenile bacchanalia of Covenanters, and so forth."1,"writes the poet, the day, and continued to take a plentiful share “with a head on fire for chivalry, was a Cava in such jollities down to the time of his marriage. ller; my friend (the tutor) was a Roundhead. I Drinking habits were, at that time, far more prewas a Tory, and he was a Whig; I hated Pres valent among all classes, both in England and in byterians, and admired Montrose, with his vic Scotland, than is the case in our days; and Scott, torious Highlanders; he liked the Presbyterian throughout his snbsequent career, was devontly Ulysses-the dark and politic Argyle; so that we thankful to the Providence that had saved him

they were selshed the anis hopes terme high

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from becoming the victim of intemperance, like moon was over, they went to reside in a lodging too many of his contemporaries. In after years, | in George Street, Edinburgh. His parents were he frequently said to young friends and acquaint not at Arst favourable to the match; but, after ances, * Depend upon it, of all vices, drinking is the first fortnight, they were satisfied that she the most imcompatible with greatness." But the | had the sterling qualities of a good wife, though remembrance of his own narrow escape made her manners and ideas, owing to her French him indulgent to those who had been less for- education, were not of a kind to amalgamate tanate. There was nothing of the proud, self-, well with those of her husband's parents. complacent Pharisee, or intolerant ascetic, in Miss Carpenter was not his first love. When Scott. The weakness of others he always re- in his nineteenth year, he fell deeply in love with garded with a kindly and pitying eye. Thus, in a young lady, the daughter of a friend of his thefulness of his fame, we find him defending John family. Wilson ("* Christopher North"), who was then The lady reciprocated his passion; but old (1820) a candidate for the chair of moral philo-Walter Scott, the poet's father, interposed, by sophy, in the University of Edinburgh, from the | warning her parent of what was going on becharge of unfitness, brought against him on ac tween the young folk, and the result was that count of Wilson's well-known convivial habits. | they were separated. Through several long "The only point of exception," writes Scott to years he nourished the dream of an ultimate Wilson, "is that, with the fire of genius, he has union with this lady; but his hopes terminated possessed some of its eccentricities; but did he on her being married to a gentleman of the highever approach to those of Henry Brougham, who est character, to whom several very affectionis the god of Whiggish idolatry?"

ate allusions occur in one of the greatest of his Scott was called to the bar in 1792. He did not works. set to work to procure himself much practice in Scott's literary efforts began at a very early nis profession. For some time after his admis- age. But it is probable that the first of his poesion into the society of " Advocates," he applied tical effusions that ever appeared in print was with great earnestness to the study of Gerinan. his spirited translation from the German, of

In 1797, he first met Miss Carpenter, who was Burger, of the ballad of "Lenore" and the Wild destined to become Lady Scott. The place of Huntsman." first meeting was near Gilsland, in Cumberland, These translations were published in 1796, and where Scott was sojourning for a few weeks. were admired by competent judges, on account

Charlotte Margaret Carpenter was the daugh- of their felicitous blending of true poetic fire ter of Jean Charpentier, of Lyons, a devoted with fidelity to the original. French Royalist, who held office under the From this year, until the date of his death, in Government, and who had been driven from 1832, it may be said that Scott's muse never France in consequence of the overthrow of the rested. His was the most indefatigable and promonarchy of the Bourbons, Miss Carpenter, Ilific pen in Europe. Metrical romance, ballad, when Scott first saw her, "had the features of a song, historical, or romantic novel, essay, history, regular beauty, and was rich in personal at political pamphlet, biographies of departed celetractions." She had a form that was light as a brities, dramas, flowed with almost unbroken fairy's; a complexion of the clearest and lightest regularity from his teeming brain. olive; eyes, large, deep-set, and dazzling, of the Shortly after his translations from the German tinest Italian brown; and a profusion of silken were published, his " War Song of the Edinburgh tresses, black as the raven's wing. Her address Light Dragoons," a version of Goethe's tragedy of hovered between the reserve of a young English "Goets von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand," and woman who had not mingled largely in general a drama, which he called the House of Aspen." society, and a certain natural archness and gaiety His first original ballads were "Glentinlas," the that suited well with the accompaniment of a ** Eve of St. John," "The Gray Brother," the French accent. A lovelier vision could hardly * Fire-King," "Bothwell Castle," "The 'Shepbe imagined; and from that hour, the fate of the herd's Tale," "Fragments," &c.;-all these were young poet was fixed.

published in the years 1797, 1798. Sir Walter's own appearance at this time was He now began the preparations for his first described as highly prepossessing. A lady of important work-"The Minstrelsy of the Scothigh rank. who well remembered him, said tish Border;" the first two volumes of which "young Walter Scott was a comely creature." He | appeared in 1802 The third volume was pubhad a fresh, brilliant complexion; his eyes were lished in the course of the following year. In clear, open, and well-set, with a changeful radi 1804, the metrical romance of " Sir Tristrem"was ance, to which teeth of the most perfect regul. published. At this time, Scott's income, arising larity and whiteness lent their assistance; while from il small patrimony, his office as sheriff, his the noble expanse and elevation of his brow literary protits, was nearly, if not quite, £1,000 å gave to the whole aspect a dignity far above the year. charm of mere features. His smile was delight In 1806, “The Lay of the Last Minstrel' was ful, and expressed a peculiar intermixture of published. This work compelled the public to tenderness and gravity, with playful innocence, I recognise Scott as one of the greatest poets of hilarity, and humour. His figure, excepting the the day. The " Lay' is an unequal performance: blemish in one limb, was eminently handsome: it containg many passages which, for mingled in height, he was much above the average stan- fire, fancy, and brilliancy, are unsurpassed by dard, and his form was cast in the very form of anything that he subsequently produced. a young Hercules. His head was set on with In the same year he entered into partnership singular grace: the throat and chest were after with Mr James Ballantyne; undertook to edit the truest model of the antique; the hands were an edition of the British poets; Dryden's life and delicately finished, and the whole outline was works, and the novel of " Waverley," which, that of extraordinary vigour, without a touch of however, was not published for several years clumsiness. Speaking of this period of his life, I afterwards In 1808, Marmion," in the opinion in after years, he said, “It was a proud night of many, his greatest poem, was published. In with me when I first found that a pretty young 1810, the Lady of the Lake," unquestionably the woman could think it worth her while to sit and most popular of his poetical efforts, was given to talk with me, hour after honr, in a corner of the the world. Then followed, in quick succession, ball-room, while all the world were capering in "Don Roderick" (1811), 'Rokeby (1812), the our view."

" Bridal of Friermain" (1813), &c. &c. At this On the 24th of December, 1797, Walter Scott time his income from various sources was about and Charlotte Margaret Carpenter were married £2,100 a-year. At the same time he was offered in St. Mary's Church, Carlisle. When the honey- the Poet-Laureatship by the Prince-Regent.

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Scott, who was keenly sensitive to the ridicule, (1824). In 1826, he began his “Life of Napoleon declined the place-partly because he knew that | Bonaparte," and completed various reviews he should be * well quizzed "if he accepted such memoirs, &c. In 1826, the novel of - Woodstock," an office, and partly on the ground that he | Chronicles of the Cannongate," "Letters of would be engrossing a "petty omnolument which Malachi Malagrowther," a political treatise, night do real service to a poorer brother of the written in a shrewd, semi-sarcastic strain, in the Muse." The Laureatship, which Scott refused, spirit of an "uncompromising right forward was at once offered to, and accepted by, Robert Scott of the old school," and various minor Southey.

works were published. In this brief memoir, we can do little more than Next year, 1829, saw the publication of the give the dates of the rest of his most important "Life of Napoleon Bonaparte," "Tales of a works.

Grandfather," " Essays on the Planting of Waste In 1814, “Waverley," begun nine years pre Lands," "Prose Miscellanies," and other miscelviously, and twice laid aside, was published. It laneous books. took the whole novel-reading world by delight In 1828, he was busy in preparing a new edition ful surprise, so original was its style, so fresh of the poetry, with biographical prefaces, and a and natural its characters, and so deliciously | uniform reprint of the novels, each to be introdifferent the entire spirit and composition of the duced with an account of the hints on which it work from the stereotyped insipidity of the vast had been founded, and illustrated throughout by majority of the novels in vogue prior to the ap historical and antiquarian annotations. The pearance of Scott as a competitor in the ample same year, the charming novel of "The Fair field of prose fiction.

Maid of Perth" was published. In 1829, Anne Next year, 1815, saw the publication of the of Gierstein," a "History of Scotland" in Lard“Lord of the Isles," a magnificent narrative ner's Encyclopædia, review of "Ancient Scottish poem, having for its theme the dangers and History," "Tales of a Grandfather " (third achievements of the heroic Robert Bruce, in the series), were published. The following year struggle for Scottish independence against the (1830), was occupied with a great deal of misformidable Edward the First of England. The cellaneous library work-the principal of which same year, “ Guy Mannering," one of the most was “Auchindrane, or the Ayrshire Tragedy," popular and delightful of all his prose fictions, "Essays on Ancient Poetry," and "Imitations was published.

of the Ancient Ballad," "Letters on DemonoScott had now found out that his strength lay logy." 1831 witnessed the publication of " Count in this style of composition; and henceforward Robert of Paris "and "Castle Dangerous"- both his mental energies were mainly exerted in the of them a melancholy falling off from the Guy construction of novels illustrative of national | Mannering" and "Ivanhoe," which marked the manners and customs, or romances, in which zenith of his intellect. Scott's last attempts at memorable and important historical events and romance-writing were made at Naples, a few personages were described with a vigour and months before his death. Here he began and picturesqueness altogether new in English lite finished a novel, which he called “The Siege of rature.

Malta," and a shorter tale, “Bizarro." Of About this time, the more fiery and dazzling these feeble efforts of a fast-expiring genius, his poetical genius of Byron had risen above the son-in-law and biographer says, "neither of literary horizon. Scott was among the very these novels will, I hope, see the light." first to percive and acknowledge the superior Scott, though justly and naturally proud of the splendour of the younger Bard; and it is a literary calling, was mainly ambitious of becomstriking proof of the strong good sense and magna ing the owner of an immense landed estate-a mimons spirit which were prominent characteris noble baronial mansion, and the founder of a tics of his nature, that, without one apparent long line of territorial proprietors. To realize pang of envy or regret, he should have gently this dream of his life, he toiled as laboriously as withdrawn from any show of competition with any galley-slave; and, thanks to his fine genius Byron into a department of literature in which and herculean power, he earned an immense he then was, and still is, without any rival by sum of money-altogether, not much, if any, less whom his sovereignty as the monarch of prose than £200,000. The lion's share of this enormous fictionists is in the least imperilled.

sum was expended in the purchase and improveBut though henceforward his genius was ment of the Abbotsford estate, and the rebuildmainly devoted to novels and historical romances, ing of the mansion, which he fondly hoped would, he never wholly abandoned the enchanted region for many a generation, after he had slept with of metrical coinposition. Thus we find him, in his fathers, be the principal country residence 1815, writing a poem on "The Field of Waterloo," of a wealthy and powerful family of the name ---a signal failure, by the way. Next year, the of Scott, and which the Border Minstrel, Walter, "Antiquary," probably the most humorous of would be the founder. aul his prose works, was published. In 1817, The purchase of Abbotsford took place in 1811. "Harold the Dauntless," a inetrical story de Next year he removed from Ashetiel, a neighscriptive of some of the Danish invaders of Eng bouring estate, and took up his abode in his new land, and their ravages. This year also wit mansion, on the building and furnishing of nessed the publication of "Rob Roy." In 1818, which he had expended an immense sum. Here appeared the “lleart of Midlothian," which, he was inundated with an incessant stream of even for his works, obtained an extraordinary visitors, many of whom were men and women, degree of popularity. Next year, 1819, the illustrious in art, science, literature, or arms,

Bride of Lammermoor," the "Legend of from every other country in Europe and Montrose," and in December of the same year, America ; but the great majority were utterly ** Ivanhoe," were given to the world. Of all his obscure persons, whose animating motive was works, “ Ivanhoe " was the one which was the mere vulgar curiosity, and with whose intrusion extensively circulated and most generally ad he would have have gladly dispensed, though mired in England.

they all received a courteous welcome. Of the remaining twelve years of his life, the 1 Scott paid repeated visits to London, where following are the principal works: The "Monas he was always a most welcome guest, and extery" (1820), the "Abbot" (1820), “Kenilworth " perienced the most cordial hospitality from and the "Pirate" (1821), the "Fortunes of the most illustrious men of all parties. In the

Nigel” and “Peverel of the Peak" (1822), course of his London visits, he frequently dined, "Quentin Durward," St. Ronan's Well," " Es supped, and caroused with the King, George says on Romance," " Macduff's Cross" (1823), IV, who was exceedingly partial to him. Sir - Red Gauntlet," and "Tales of the Crusaders" | Walter's was the first baronetcy bestowed by

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