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FIELD OF WATERLOO,
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
A NEW EDITION, WITH THE AUTHOR'S LATEST CORRECTIONS
THE LORD OF THE ISLES.
I could hardly have chosen a subject more popular in Scotland, than any thing connected with the Bruce's history, unless I had attempted that of Wallace. But I am decidedly of opinion, that a popular, or what is called a taking title, though well qualified to ensure the publishers against loss, and clear their shelves of the original impression, is rather apt to be bazardous than otherwise to the reputation of the author. He who attempts a subject of distinguished popularity, has not the privilege of awakening the enthusiasm of his audience; on the contrary, it is already awakened, and glows, it may be, more ardently than that of the author himself. In this case, the warmth of the author is inferior to that of the party whom he addresses, who has, therefore, little chance of being, in Bayes's phrase, " elevated and surprised” by what he has thought of with vore enthusiasm than the author. The sense of th: ioined to the consciousness of striving against
'de, made the task of composing the promewhat heavy and hopeless; but, like in “As You Like It," I was to wrestle
und not neglect any advantage. In
a most agreeable pleasure-voyage, which I have tried to commemorate in the Introduction to the new edition of the “ Pirate,” I visited, in social and friendly company, the coasts and islands of Scotland, and made myself acquainted with the localities of which I meant to treat. But this voyage, which was in every other effect so delightful, was in its conclusion saddened by one of those strokes of fate which so often mingle themselves with our pleasures. The accomplished and excellent person who had recommended to me the subject for “ The Lay of the Last Minstrel," and to whom I proposed to inscribe what I already suspected might be the close of my poetical labours, was unexpectedly removed from the world, which she seemed only to have visited for purposes of kindness and benevolence. It is needless to say how the author's feelings, or the composition of his trifling work, were affected by a circumstance which occasioned so many tears and so much sorrow. True it is, that “The Lord of the Isles” was concluded, unwillingly and in haste, under the painful feeling of one who has a task which must be finished, rather than with the ardour of one who endeavours to perform that task well. Although the Poem cannot be said to have made a favourable impression on the public, the sale of fifteen
*[See a note to the lines superscribed “Pharos loquitur," included in volume 1st; and see also “ Fragments of a Tour in the Hebrides,” &c., printed in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1812.]
' (Harriet, Duchess of Buccleuch, died 24th August, 1814. Sir Walter Scott received the mournful intelligence while visiting the Giant's Causeway, and immediately returned home.]