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Although few poets have, during life, enjoyed so great a popularity as that of Sir Walter" Scott; although his works are, if not entire, at least in separate volumes, to be found in all the houses of Edinburgh; although his name, familiar with all, is associated with all that is national in Edinburgh, Sir Walter Scott, in default of rivals, has his maligners and detractors. The whigs reproach him, some with imparting the false colouring of fancy to the tyranny of the Stuarts, others with always siding with the powers that be; the ardent and sombre presbyterians impute it to him as a crime, that he has slandered the founders of their church, through an affectation of impartiality. With some, Scott is a ministerial anti-liberal; with others a freethinker in matters of religion. It is pretended, that if the Review were not published under the auspices of his bookseller, Constable, the Axistarchuses of Scotland would have been less enthusiastical in their eulogiums, and more bitter in their censures on the man who has restored Scotland to the rank of nations, by continually occupying Europe with the subject of independent Scotland. In fact, his poems, like his novels, compose poetical protests against the act of union; and of all flatteries, this is the one most calculated to humour the national pride; accordingly, the grateful public sympathize with the glory of Scott, as if it were their own. His appearance in a public place excites an approving murmur round him, and at the theatre unanimous applauses have more than once burst forth, to do honour to the poet of Scotland. This kind of suffrage is sufficient to console him for the buzzing of some literary and political insects; through good or evil report his name is that which is most often pronounced in his country, and that which foreigners are in a more especial manner interested in meeting there.
If I had not been assured that Sir Walter Scott was as remarkable for his affability as for his talent, I do not know how I should have been able to surmount my natural timidity in introducing myself to him. It is true, that I indulged in the fancy that I possessed some exclusive titles to his attention, and that a sort of intellectual commerce already existed between us; but even these credentials were occasionally matters of greater discouragement. The Italian proverb, of Traduttore Traditore came to my mind. Was it not an unpardonable act of presumption in me, to have caused Marmion and The Lady of the Lake to speak in prose? And did that prose, rapidly thrown off in short moments of leisure, deserve to furnish me with a title of introduction? I had, nevertheless, no other, in yielding implicit credit to my friends, who had persuaded me that they were sufficient. At length I made up my mind: for to return without having seen Sir Walter Scott, was to fail in accomplishing the chief object of my journey. I was invited to breakfast in the morning with the wise and amiable Professor Thomson. At nine, I directed my way along the magnificent terraces of George-street, bounded at one extremity by the elegant column of Lord Melville, and on the other by the church of St. George, which might have been a more faithful copy of St. Paul's, London. Approaching this edifice, Castle-street opens to the right and left in George-street; to the left arises in imposing serenity, the old citadel, which the eye frequently encounters in Edinburgh; and on the right is seen the sea, the fluctuating azure of which still more frequently salutes the view from various quarters, notwithstanding the new houses which daity join the ranks of ^buildings protracting their lines from the end of the New Town, as far as the shore. It is in this eminently picturesque street (Castle-street), on the sea side, thar Sir Walter Scott's house stands. I ascended the steps of the exterior door, in some trepidation, and pulled the bell, as I read on the plate of the knocker, the name and title of the poet,—Sir Walter Scott, Baronet. The door is opened: Sir Walter is at home.
I might, after Tristram Shandy's manner, retain you in the passage to draw your attention to the
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cleanliness of the house ; the livery of blue turned up with yellow of the powdered lacquey, announcing affluence; but I did not remark these minutiae till afterwards; and in the sitting room to which I was introduced, I beheld nothing but the individual, in a morning dress, who was seated at his desk. This was Sir W. Scott; he rose, approached me, and with graceful unaffectedness took, and opened the note, in which his friend Laing, the bookseller, told him in six lines, that a young French doctor (naming me) desired the pleasure of an introduction, in order to present him a copyof some of his poems which he had translated.'HLOu will naturally think that, although so short a note was soon read, I had time to study all the features, and play of the physiognomy of Sir Walter. Whether it was that I fancied him to appear pleased with my homage, or that when I had before met him, the fatigue of walking, perspiration, and dust, had somewhat altered his countenance, it now appeared to me, that his tranquil cast of head possessed all the majesty which Chantry's bust has developed; and when, with a polite smile, he requested me to take a chair, that smile displayed a charming amenity. "It seems, Sir," said he, "that I am under obligations to you. I consider it as an honour to be not unknown as a poet in France."
"You are known, loved, and admired there," I replied; "but the cause is, also, because you are read there in your native tongue. My feeble translation may have enabled some readers to comprehend you, and supply some guess of your qualities to others; but it is little worthy of you; if, however, you will do me the honour of accepting it as a tribute, I should feel great pleasure in presenting it."
Sir W. Scott.—" I will accept it with thanks. It will, besides, give pleasure to Lady Scott. Permit me to introduce you to her; and do us the honour of breakfasting with us."
"I am sorry I cannot, being previously engaged at Professor Thomson's."
Sir W. S "You must come again, then, and
give us our turn. Do you intend to make any stay in Scotland?''
"From six weeks to two months; one of the objects of my voyage is already accomplished, since I have seen^owr own romantic town, and its poet; but I am curious to visit the greater part of the places he has celebrated;
'From lone Glenartney's hazel shade,
Sir W. Scott.—"You already are familiar with the names of our country."
"The Lady of the Lake has taught them to Europe. I propose to follow the itinerary of that poem; but if you would have the goodness to give me any additional instructions, I should be happy to receive them."'
Here Sir Walter Scott briefly described to me