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“ I renounced my Greta excursion in consequence of having made instead a tour to the Highlands, particularly to the Isles. I wished for Wordsworth and you a hundred times. The scenery is quite different from that on the mainland — dark, savage, and horrid, but occasionally magnificent in the highest degree. Staffa, in particular, merits well its far-famed reputation : it is a cathedral arch, scooped by the hand of nature, equal in dimensions and in regularity to the most magnificent aisle of a gothic cathedral. The sea rolls up to the extremity in most tremendous majesty, and with a voice like ten thousand giants shouting at once. I visited Icolmkill also, where there are some curious monuments, mouldering among the poorest and most naked wretches that I ever beheld. Affectionately yours,
The “ lines of VIDA,” which “ Detector” had enclosed to Scott as the obvious original of the address to “ Woman” in Marmion, closing with
“ When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!”
end as follows ;-- and it must be owned that, if Vida had really written them, a more extraordinary example of casual coincidence could never have been pointed out
“ Cum dolor atque supercilio gravis imminet angor,
Fungeris angelico sola ministerio!”
Detector's reference is “ VIDA ad Eranen, El. II. v. 21;" — but it is almost needless to add there are no such lines —and no piece bearing such a title in Vida's works. Detector was no doubt some young college wag, for his letter has a Cambridge postmark,
Life of Miss Seward - Waverley resumed - Bal
lantyne's Critique on the First Chapters of the Novel — Waverley again laid aside --Unfortunate Speculations of John Ballantyne and Co.; History of the Culdees - Tixall Poetry; Beaumont and Fletcher — Edinburgh Annual Register, &c. - Scott's Essay on Judicial Reform His scheme of going to India - Letters on the War in the Peninsula Death of Lord President Blair—and of Lord Melville—Publication of the Vision of Don Roderick — The Inferno of Altesidora, &c.
In the course of this autumn appeared the Poetical Works of Miss Seward, in three volumes, with a Prefatory Memoir of her Life by Scott. This edition had, as we have seen, been enjoined by her last will — but his part in it was an ungrateful one, and the book was among the most unfortunate that James Ballantyne printed, and his brother published, in deference to the personal feelings of their part
He had been, as was natural, pleased and flattered by the attentions of the Lichfield poetess in the days of his early aspirations after literary distinction; but her verses, which he had with his usual readiness praised to herself beyond their worth, appeared when collected a formidable monument of mediocrity. Her Correspondence, published at the same time by Constable, was considered by him with still greater aversion. He requested the bookseller to allow him to look over the MS., and draw his pen through passages in which her allusions to letters of his own might compromise him as a critic on his poetical contemporaries. To this request Constable handsomely acceded, although it was evident that he thus deprived the collection of its best chance of popularity. I see, on comparing her letters as they originally reached Scott, with the printed copies, that he had also struck out many of her most extravagant rhapsodies about himself and his works. No collection of this kind, after all, can he wholly without value; I have already drawn from it some sufficiently interesting fragments, as the biographers of other eminent authors of this time will probably do hereafter under the like circumstances :
and, however affected and absurd, Miss Seward's prose is certainly far better than her verse.
And now I come to a very curious letter of James Ballantyne's, the date of which seems to fix pretty accurately the time when Scott first resumed the long - forgotten MS. of his Waverley. As in the Introduction of 1829 he mentions having received discouragement as to the opening part of the novel from two friends, and as Ballantyne on this occasion writes as if he had never before seen any portion of it, I conclude that the fragment of 1805 had in that year
been submitted to Erskine alone.
“ To Walter Scott, Esq., Ashestiel.
“ Edinburgh, Sept. 15, 1810. “ Dear Sir,
“ What you have sent of Waverley has amused me much; and certainly if I had read it as part of a new novel, the remainder of which was open to my perusal, I should have proceeded with avidity. So much for its general effect; but you have sent me too little to enable me to form a decided opinion. Were I to say that I was equally struck with Waverley as I was with the much smaller portion of the Lady, which you first presented to us as a specimen, the truth would not be in me; but the cases