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power, and an equal fertility of imagination, it displayed a wider conception and a more vigorous dramatic action. Between 1805 and 1808 the poet had been engaged in editing the works of Dryden, which, in 17 volumes, appeared almost simul. taneous with “Marmion," and gave evidence of the industry with which he was devoting himself to his literary occupations. Immediately on the completion of this he commenced a similar edition of the works of Swift, with which he was occupied during the succeeding four years—in the interim editing a number of smaller works for various publishers. This capacity for work, which at a later period was the world's wonder, Scott had now begun to indulge himself in. Notwithstanding the demands which his various occupations made upon his time, he never failed to find leisure sufficient to welcome the visitors whom his fame drew to Ashestiel from all quarters, and to join in all the sports and amusements peculiar to a country life. He had a young family growing up around him, to whom he was a most affectionate parent, entering with sympathy into all his children's schemes. A visitor at Ashestiel at this period writes :“ His conversation was more equal and animated than any man's that I ever knew. It was most characterised by the extreme felicity and force of his illustrations drawn from the whole encyclopædia of life and nature, in a style sometimes too exuberant for written narrative, but which to him was natural and spontaneous. A hundred stories, always apposite, and often in. teresting the mind by strong pathos, or eminently ludicrous, were daily told. These, and his recitations of poetry, which can never be forgotten by those who knew him, made up the charm that his boundless memory enabled him to exert to the wonder of the gaping lovers of wonders. But equally impressible and wonderful was the lan. guage of his warm heart.” In 1810, Scott's third great poem, “The Lady of the Lake,” was published, and received by an admiring public with an amount of sensation never hitherto accorded to any literary production. Its effect was instantly manifested by the rush of tourists to the districts mentioned in the poem, to an extent that dismayed the proprietors of the houses of entertainment in the various localities, whose primitive accommodation was utterly insufficient for the overflowing torrent.
So much was the romantic country of the Trossachs unknown, even in Scotland at that time, that a large proportion of the visitors were the author's own countrymen, who were then, for the first time, made aware of the beauties of natural scenery closely adjoining them. In the following year appeared the “Vision of Don Roderick,” the subject of which was inspired by the proceedings of the British armies in the Spanish Peninsula, who were then gallantly driving out and defeating the French invaders. Though the merits of this poem are inferior to those of its predecessors, it contains many fine passages, and may be accepted as a tribute to the brave men who were performing heroic achievements in the sacred cause of liberty and freedom. In the same year the poet began to gratify his passion for acquiring the position of a country gentleman by purchasing a small property on the banks of the Tweed for a sum of £4000, rejoicing in the euphonious name of Clarty Hole, which he made the nucleus of what afterwards became a considerable estate, to which he assigned the name of Abbotsford. The term for which he had rented Ashestiel had recently expired, and as the property contained a small house, the poet removed thither, and forthwith commenced operations for building a suitable dwelling around it; which, developing as it grew, eventually became the mansion as it now stands. From time to time, whilst the house was being erected, Scott purchased other adjoining properties until he had attained an estate of about 2000 acres at a cost of £70,000, to which must be added the cost of the erections, £20,000. The building of the mansion, of which the poet may be said to have been his own architect, occupied a space of more than twelve years, and when completed, formed a unique embodiment in stone of a poet's dreams. The summer of 1812 “was one of the busiest summers of his busy life.” Superintending the building of his house, planting trees in the grounds, (of which he said every one was planted by his own hand,) punctually attending to his duties as a Clerk of Session at Edinburgh, together with his sheriff's engagements, he found time to complete the poem of “Rokeby," which he had had for some time in hand, and which was published early in the following year (1813); the “Bridal of Triermain" appearing shortly afterwards. This latter poem did not bear the author's name, and was at first
believed to be the production of his friend, Mr. Erskine, although in the later editions it received the poet's acknowledgment. In the subsequent year appeared the “Lord of the Isles”: and with it the poetical career of Walter Scott may be said to have terminated. The three last poems, great as are their individual merits, lacked to some extent the romantic interest which characterised their predecessors; and, as poetical readers are ever a fickle public, the author could not but feel that his popularity was on the wane. The bright but erratic star of Lord Byron, which had at this time begun to appear above the horizon, was becoming the new favourite, and the poet, conscious of his own strength, decided to retire from the field with honour; and he was the more encouraged to do so by the unequivocal success which had attended the publication of “Waverley," which appeared in the same year with the “Lord of the Isles." This was the first of that wonderful series of imaginative works which has re-created the life and manners of the past, pourtrayed with a vividness which has eclipsed the laboured efforts of the most conscientious annalist. The wide field opened out before him by the reception of this