ページの画像
PDF

ings of Messrs Ballantyne's creditors, a copy of which has lately been in private circulation. Hence the sudden, and, it must be added, rather awkward avowal of the authorship on the part of Sir Walter. As he was well aware that the circumstances would soon make their way through the press, he determined to catch at some little eclat, while yet there was time—some little credit for disclosing that himself, which all the world were soon to learn from others.

* These are items from the accounts.

“Value of Sir Walter Scott's literary property.

‘1. Copyright of published works, estimated at the rate obtained from Constable and Co. for similar works."

St Ronan's Well . . . . 1,300l. Redgauntlet . . . . . 1,300 Crusaders . . . . . . 2, ooo

“”. Eventual rights to works sold to Constable and Co. for which bonds to the extent of 7,800l. are granted, but for reasons above stated, no value can be rated in this state.”

“3. Works in progress.” As none of these are completed, no value put on them at present beyond what is before stated as due to Ballantyne and Co. for printing works in progress, and on the value of Messrs Constable and Co.'s paper on hand; but ultimately will be very valuable. See Appendix as to these works.

• In the debtor and creditor account of Consta

ble and Co. with Ballantyne and Co., the follow

ing item occurs on the credit side:–Sums advanced by Constable and Co. to Sir Walter Scott, being their two-third shares of sums stipulated to be paid in advance for two works of fiction not named, and not yet written, as per missives, dated 7th and a oth March, 1823. • These works being undelivered, it is consider

ed the author has an undoubted right to retain them," and impute the sums paid to account in

the general balance owing to Constable and Co. • In Appendix, No. II., being estimates of funds that may accrue to Ballantyne and Co. within a year, occur several curious particulars relative to Woodstock and the Life of Napoleon Bonaparte.

* “This price is that given for the subsequent editions, after the first of 10,000.”

* “It is a condition of these bonds, that if they are not paid, the copyrights revert to the author; so that, in spite of the failure of the granters, it is supposed they will be paid.”

3 * This alludes to the Life of Napoleon.”

4 * were the right the other way, it would be a very difficult matter to enforce it. An author of works of fiction is not to be delivered against his will; a legal process to force Sir Walter Scott to produce a couple of novels, would be the Caesarean operation in literature.”

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

3. Literary productions by Sir Walter Scott already finished, but not yet published, though in the course of publication, which may be safely stated at 1,000 o o * At the second meeting of creditors, held 3d February; . 1826, a resolution is entered, that the printing establishment should be continued, both as a source of profit, and as necessary for the publication of Sir W. Scott's works; who had requested of Mr Gibson to communicate, that he was to use every exertion in his power on behalf of the creditors; and by the diligent employment of his talents, and adoption of a strictly economical mode of life, to secure, as speedily as possible, full payment to all concerned. • The cause of the delay in the publication of the Life of Napoleon will be found in the following minute: o • ‘The circumstances connected with the two literary works, entitled Woodstock, and The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, having been considered; the trustees expressed their opinion, that so far as they understood the nature of the barWoodstock, 7,900 copies of which had been sold to Hurst and Robinson, at 6,500l. : but they be— ing unable to complete the bargain, they had been transferred to Longman and Co. on same terms. • The money had been paid, and was deposited with Sir W. Forbes and Co. to wait the issue of the decision as to the respective claims of Constable and Co. and Sir W. Scott's trustees, regarding this work. The remainder of the impression had been sold to Constable and Co.'s trustee at 18s. 6d. each copy, “at a credit of ten months from delivery, with five per cent. discount for any earlier payment, of which the trustees approved. In consequence of advice from Sir Walter Scott and Longman and Co., it had been thought advisable to restrict the first edition of the Life of Napoleon to 6,ooo, instead of 8,000 copies, as originally intended. • The excerpts contain a great number of items, which lay open the precise state of Sir Walter's private affairs: a hundred years hence they may be a great curiosity, and their publication may then be correct; at present it would certainly be indelicate and unhandsome, not only to the admirable writer himself, but also to several other private individuals. Every thing belonging to a great national genius is public property, and in the course of a short time these excerpts will be sought for with avidity, and published with as little hesitation as Mr Todd lately printed Milton's pecuniary squabbles with his mother-in-law.” The last, but not the a last best work of Sir Walter Scott, is his Life of NApoleon BonaPante, a production of which neither our limits, nor our inclinations, will allow us to say much. In an historical point of view it possesses few merits, and, we are constrained to admit, is equally - unworthy of the extraordinary character it treats | of, as of its author's splendid literary reputation. The extent and importance of the subject were calculated to afford an ample scope for the display of the very highest ability. A more exciting theme of narration—a fairer field of philosophical contemplation, was never before given

gain between Sir Walter Scott and Constable and | to kindle the eloquence, to exercise the wisdom Co., the latter had no claim in law for the pro- and skill, or to stimulate the intellectual ambiceeds of either of these books; but think it de-ition of the historian. Yet, notwithstanding the sirable for all parties that they should be finish- unquestionable powers of the celebrated author ed, which should be communicated to Sir Walter; —notwithstanding the fame which he had a set and also, that he should be requested to give his upon the cast”—the magnitude of the occasion, aid to the sale of them to the best advantage.— and all the inspiring circumstances of the underMr Gibson was instructed to endeavour to con- taking, it would be vain to deny that the work, cert some arrangement with Constable and Co. upon the whole, is a failure. The book has, evifor consigning in some bank the price of the dently, been written in haste and with negliworks, until all questions concerning them were gence; the author has given himself no time decided.” either for the well-digested arrangement of facts,

• On the 26th May, 1826, a meeting was held, or profound reflexion on the great combinations when Mr Gibson reported particulars of sale of of political action. He has not, in simple lan

l

guage, studied his subject; but has put together an immense mass of materials, as rapidly as they accumulated under his hands, with little care in the selection, and no thought for their relative importance and measurement. It is, in short, a voluminous compilation, executed indeed with wonderful celerity, and adorned with brilliant passages, but nothing worthy either of the genius of Walter Scott or the true dignity of history. But the real cause of his failure in writing the history of our eventful times must not be traced either to ignorance or incapacity. It is too visible that lower considerations than the generous love of fame inspired the author. Hence, only, the haste, the negligence, the prolixity of the composition, the want of compres– sion, of reviewing, of deliberate arrangement.— At the same time, we should be guilty of great injustice if we failed to remark the extraordinary skill displayed by Sir Walter Scott in the relation of military events. Not only are the shifting alarums of the battle-field exhibited with all the eager animation, all the picturesque and dramatic energy of description, which were to be looked for from the Author of Waverley," but the plans of campaign, and the movements of armies, are explained in a clear and methodical style, which evinces a perfect acquaintance with the principles of strategy.-Finally, of the third volume we are bound to speak in terms of unqualified commendation. It forms the most exciting and delightful fragment of heroic biography with which we are acquainted."

• It is with much regret that we feel ourselves obliged to notice an unpleasant epistolary discussion, which has arisen between General Gourgaud and Sir Walter Scott, in consequence of some passages in the latter's « Life of Napoleon,” in which the general's fidelity to his late exiled master is more than called in question. To this charge the general, in a long letter inserted in the Paris journals, has given the", lie direct,” and termed the whole work a romance. Sir Walter has since published a spirited reply in the English newspapers, and produced copies of the official documents, etc., on which the passages in discussion v ere founded.

[graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

----o ADVERTISEMENT. INTRODUCTION. The poem now offered to the public is intended to The way was long, the wind was cold, illustrate the customs and manners which anciently The Minstrel was infirm and old; prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland. His wither d cheek, and tresses gray, The inhabitants, living in a state partly pastoral and Seem'd to have known a better day; partly warlike, and combining habits of constant de- The harp, his sole remaining joy, predation with the influence of a rude spirit of chi- Was carried by an orphan boy. valry, were often engaged in scenes highly susceptible The last of all the bards was he, of poetical ornament. As the description of scenery Who sung of Border chivalry. and manners was more the object of the author than a For, well-a-day! their date was fled, combined and regular narrative, the plan of the ancient His tuneful brethren all were dead; metrical romance was adopted, which allows greater And he, neglected and oppress'd, latitude, in this respect, than would be consistent with Wish’d to be with them, and at rest. the dignity of a regular poem. The same model No more, on prancing palfrey borne, offered other facilities, as it permits an occasional He caroll'd, light as lark at morn; alteration of measure, which, in some degree, author. No longer courted and caress'd, ises the change of rhythm in the text. The machinery High placed in hall, a welcome guest, also, adopted from popular belief, would have seemed He pour'd, to lord and lady gay, puerile in a poem which did not partake of the rude- The unpremeditated lay: ness of the old ballad or metrical romance. Old times were changed, old manners gone; For these reasons, the poem was put into the mouth A stranger fill'd the Stuarts throne; of an ancient minstrel, the last of the race, who, as he The bigots of the iron time is supposed to have survived the Revolution, might Ilad call'd his harmless art a crime. have caught somewhat of the refinement of modern A wandering harper, scorn d and poor, poetry, without losing the simplicity of his original He bet;8 d his bread from door to door; model. The date of the Tale itself is about the middle And tuned, to please a peasant's ear, of the sixteenth century, when most of the personages The harp a king had loved to hear. actually flourished. The time occupied by the action He pass'd where Newark's stately tower is three nights and three days. Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower: l

The Minstrel gazed with wishful eye—
No humbler resting-place was nigh.
With hesitating step, at last,
The embattled portal-arch he pass'd,
Whose ponderous grate and massy bar
Had oft roll d back the tide of war,
But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.
The duchess' inark'd his weary pace,
His timid mien, and reverend face,
And bade her page the menials tell,
That they should tend the old man well:
For she had known adversity,
Though born in such a high degree;
In pride of power, in beauty's bloom,
Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb.

When kindness had his wants supplied, And the old man was gratified, Began to rise his minstrel pride: And he began to talk anon, Of good Earl Francis,” dead and gone, And of Earl Walter,” rest him God! "A braver ne'er to battle rode; And how full many a tale he knew Of the old warriors of Buccleuch; And, would the noble duchess deign To listen to an old man's strain, Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak, He thought, even yet, the sooth to speak, That, if she loved the harp to hear, He could make music to her ear.

The humble boon was soon obtain'd; The aged Minstrel audience gain'd. But when he reach'd the room of state, Where she with all her ladies sate, Perchance he wish'd his boon denied : For when to tune his harp he tried, His trembling hand had lost the ease Which marks security to please; And scenes, long past, of joy and pain, Came wildering o'er his aged brain— He tried to tune his harp in vain. The pitying duchess praised its chime, And gave him heart, and gave him time, Till every string's according glee Was blended into harmony. And then he said, he would full fain He could recal an ancient strain, He never thought to sing again. It was not framed for village churls, Iout for high dames and mighty earls; He had play'd it to King Charles the Good, When he kept court in Holyrood; And much he wish'd, yet fear'd to try The long-forgotten melody. . Amid the strings his fingers stray'd, And an uncertain warbling made, And oft he shook his hoary head.

Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, Duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded in 1685.

* Francis Scott, Earl of Buccleuch, father to the duchess.

* walter, Earl of Buccleuch, grandfather to the duchess, and a celebrated warrior.

But when he caught the measure wild,
The old man raised his face, and smiled;
And lighten’d up his faded eye
With all a poet's ecstasy
In varying cadence, soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords along:
The present scene, the future lot,
His toils, his wants, were all forgot:
Cold diffidence and age's frost
In the full tide of song were lost;
Each blank, in faithless memory void, .
The poet's glowing thought supplied;
And, while his harp responsive rung,
'T was thus the LATEst MINSTREL sung.

the

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO I.

- I. The feast was over in Branksome tower, (1) And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower; Her bower that was guarded by word and by spell, Deadly to hear and deadly to tell— Jesu Maria shield us well! No living wight, save the Ladye alone, Had dared to cross the threshold stone.

II. The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all; Knight, and page, and household squire, Loiter'd through the lofty hall, Or crowded round the ample fire. The stag-hounds, weary with the chace, Lay stretch'd upon the rushy floor, And urged in dreams the forest race, From Teviot-stone to Eskdale-moor. III. Nine-and-twenty knights of fame Hun; their shields in Branksome-hall; (2) Nine-and-twenty squires of name Brought them their steeds from bower to stall; Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall Waited dutcous on them all: They were all knights of mettle true, Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.

1W. Ten of them were sheathed in steel, With belted sword, and spur on heel: They quitted not their harness bright, Neither by day, nor yet by night: They lay down to rest With corslet laced, Pillow'd on buckler cold and hard; They carved at the meal With gloves of steel, And they drank the red wine through the helmet barr'd.

« 前へ次へ »