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return to the subject of Scotland, by quoting the lines, wherein Burns, excited by the same feeling which for a while abstracted me, elevates it above all the countries of the world.
“Their groves o' sweet myrtle let foreign lands reckon,
Where bright-beaming summers exalt the perfume,
Far dearer to me yon lone glen o' green breckan,
Far dearer to me are yon humble broom bowers,
For there, lightly tripping amang the wild flowers,
“Tho' rich is the breeze in their gay sunny vallies,
And cauld, Caledonia’s blast on the wave;
Their sweet scented woodlands that skirt the proud palace,
The slave's spicy forests, and gold bubbling fountains,
He wanders as free as the winds of his mountains,
These harmonious stanzas lead me to an exa. mination of the Caledonian melodies; but it has not been my intention to give more in this volume than a portion of the history of the poet of Coila: as a contrast to Ossian's voice of Cona, Burns invests himself with the name of the Voice of Coila ; that is to say, of Kyle, a district of Ayrshire, called so, according to tradition, from Coil, the king of the Picts.
TO M. PAUL DE LA ROCHE.
A LITTLE affair to settle with Mr. Archibald Constable detained me in Edinburgh a day longer than I intended ; and I was obliged to send and get back my luggage from the coach office, by a cadie.” Mr. Constable received me to a family breakfast; he had his young ladies at table, who appeared to me very charming, and must be wealthy matches. His drawing room is fitted up like that of a nobleman, with valuable paintings, the most remarkable of which is the great picture of Sir Walter Scott by Raeburn. Mr. Archibald and myself parted the best friends in the world, and I received from him in a parcel a volume of his own composing, which consists of a collection of all the poetry and epigraphs in the Scotch novels. We naturally talked much about Sir Walter, and the “Great Un/nown.” I was greatly pleased with hearing Mr. Constable repeat that Sir Walter was “the best of men.” Mr. Constable, as a publisher, may be well paid for saying so : but I have talked of Sir Walter Scott at Melrose, and in the environs; and there, beneath the thatched roof of the poor, as well as at Edinburgh, beneath the gilded ceilings of his library, Sir W. Scott is called the best of men. The wealthy do not obtain among the people a title such as this (and it is notinglorious) without conferring benefit. Mr. Constable, although brought up in the school of the Edinburgh Review, is not precisely a verbose critic. When I eulogised the literary merit of Sir Walter, he replied by a laconic phrase of approbation, or by that speaking look which sometimes animates the most austere, as well as the calmest physiognomy. He, however, expressed all his admiration and my own, in a decision, which posterity will probably ratify, although it proceeds from the lips of an interested person. “We may boast to our grand-children,” said he, “ of having been the contemporaries of four great men : Napoleon for war, James Watt for the mechanic arts, Sir Walter Scott for literature.”—Mr. Constable paused a moment, as if trying to recollect a fourth; but he did not name him; and I suppose he was betrayed by his memory. I shall, therefore, leave his name blank: besides the age is not finished; the competition remains open. I requested Mr. Constable to shew me some MS. of Sir Walter Scott, reminding him that he had promised, among the rest, to let me see that of Marmion. Unfortunately he had lent it the evening before. He shewed me an ancient receipt book of George Heriot, whose memoirs he has just published. He was, moreover, going to shew me some manuscript sheets of the author of Waverley; but he, no doubt, feared committing an imprudence, and found an ingenious Scotch evasion to elude the request. Mr. Constable made the following calculation in round numbers of the sale of the Scotch Novels, from the earliest down to Peveril of the Peak; they compose forty-six volumes in English, which cost upon an average 500 francs;* 20,000 copies of each novel have issued from the house of the publisher, amounting to 10,000,000 francs. Out of this sum Mr. Constable has paid the author 1,500,000 francs for copyright since 1814.f The first edition of each novel amounts to 10,000 copies. Then come the reprints, and the additions to the complete sets in various shapes. Sir Walter Scott has recently received a thousand guineas for the little poem of Halidon Hill alone. His poems, which have sold as well as his novels, have produced him near a million of franks. His biographies, his periodical contributions, his prefaces, his commentaries, have not been lost pages in point of profit. In fine, it may be calculated, that there are in the trade more than twenty millions (franks) worth of printed paper bearing the name of Walter Scott, without calculating the translations into French, German,
* The messengers stationed at the corners of the streets are called cadies. In the time of Smollet this body recruited its numbers among the highlanders. They were remarkable for the agility with which they ascended the lofty staircases of the houses. Their fidelity in delivering a parcel, or a billet dour, is still vaunted.
* More than 30,000 were sold of the earliest, Waverley. t Since writing this letter, Mr. Constable has published four new novels, and the author has received 40,000 francs more.
Italian, Spanish, Polish, &c. If the paper manufacturers do not some day erect a statue to the Scotch novelist, they are very ungrateful. Stirling.—The road from Edinburgh to Stirling is a charming well kept road; the mail is very commodious ; the mail is a privileged diligence. The coachman and the guard wear red liveries, In quitting Edinburgh, I passed through the charming village of Corstorphine. At a pretty bridge over the Almond River, Edinburghshire ends, and the eye embraces the fertile plains of East Lothian. The harvest has scarcely commenced. We have already passed the middle of August, and the ears are rather forward this year. We stopped at Linlithgow; this village is ill built, and only consists of a single street; the ruins of its old palace are situated on a little woody upland, the foot of which is bathed by a reservoir of clear water. Almost close to the castle is the Gothic church where James the Fourth had that miraculous apparition, related by Lindsay in the fourth canto of Marmion. The castle was formerly a royal residence. Poor Mary Stuart was born there; that name alone is like a talisman which imparts a value to these ruins and their mouldering dust. But the horn is blown; the coachman is on his box, and the horses prick up their ears on merely seeing the shadow of the whip depicted on the road beside them ; for they rarely require its contact. We are again on the road, and in Stir