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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
William Taylor of Norwich to Walter Scott, 14 December 1796

Vol I Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter I
Chapter II 1771-78
Chapter III 1778-83
Chapter IV 1783-86
Chapter V 1786-90
Chapter VI 1790-92
Chapter VII 1792-96
Chapter VIII 1796-97
Chapter IX 1798-99
Chapter X 1800-02
Chapter XI 1802-03
Chapter XII 1803-04
Vol. II Contents.
Chapter I 1804-05
Chapter II 1805
Chapter III 1806
Chapter IV 1806-08
Chapter V 1808
Chapter VI 1808-09
Chapter VII 1809-10
Chapter VIII 1810
Chapter IX 1810
Chapter X 1810-11
Chapter XI 1811
Chapter XII 1811-12
Vol. III Contents.
Chapter I 1812-13
Chapter II 1813
Chapter III 1814
Chapter IV 1814
Chapter V 1814
Chapter VI 1814
Chapter VII 1814
Chapter VIII 1814
Chapter IX 1814
Chapter X 1814-15
Chapter XI 1815
Chapter XII 1815
Vol III Appendix
Vol. IV Contents.
Chapter I 1816
Chapter II 1817
Chapter III 1817
Chapter IV 1818
Chapter V 1818
Chapter VI 1818
Chapter VII 1818-19
Chapter VIII 1819
Chapter IX 1819
Chapter X 1819
Chapter XI 1820
Chapter XII 1820
Vol. V Contents.
Chapter I 1820
Chapter II 1820-21
Chapter III 1821
Chapter IV 1821
Chapter V 1821
Chapter VI 1821
Chapter VII 1822
Chapter VIII 1822
Chapter IX 1822-23
Chapter X 1823
Chapter XI 1823
Chapter XII 1824
Chapter XIII 1824-25
Vol. VI Contents.
Chapter I 1825
Chapter II 1825
Chapter III 1825
Chapter IV 1825
Chapter V 1826
Chapter VI 1826
Chapter VII 1826
Chapter VIII 1826
Chapter IX 1826
Chapter X 1826
Chapter XI 1826
Vol. VII Contents.
Vol VII Preface
Chapter I 1826-27
Chapter II 1827
Chapter III 1828
Chapter IV 1828
Chapter V 1829
Chapter VI 1830
Chapter VII 1830-31
Chapter VIII 1831
Chapter IX 1831
Chapter X 1831-32
Chapter XI 1832
Chapter XII
Vol VII Appendix
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“I need not tell you, sir” (he writes), “with how much eagerness I opened your volume—with how much glow I followed the Chase—or with how much alarm I came to William and Helen. Of the latter I will say nothing; praise might seem hypocrisy—criticism envy. The ghost nowhere makes his appearance so well as with you, or his exit so well as with Mr Spenser. I like very much the recurrence of
‘The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
The flashing pebbles flee,’
but of William and Helen I had resolved to say nothing. Let me return to the Chase, of which the metric stanza style pleases me entirely—yet I think a few passages written in too elevated a strain for the general spirit of the poem. This age leans too much to the
Darwin style. Mr Percy’s Lenore owes its coldness to the adoption of this; and it seems peculiarly incongruous in the ballad where habit has taught us to expect simplicity. Among the passages too stately and pompous, I should reckon—

moirs of his own Life, have been kindly sent to me by his son, the well-known physician of Chelsea College; from which it appears that the reverend doctor, and more particularly still his wife, a lady of remarkable talent and humour, had formed a high notion of Scott’s future eminence at a very early period of his life. Dr. S. survived to a great old age, preserving his faculties quite entire, and I have spent many pleasant hours under his hospitable roof in company with Sir Walter Scott. We heard him preach an excellent circuit sermon when he was upwards of ninety-two, and at the Judges’ dinner afterwards he was among the gayest of the company.

‘The mountain echoes startling wake—
And for devotion’s choral swell
Exchange the rude discordant noise—
Fell famine marks the maddening throng
With cold Despair’s averted eye’—
and perhaps one or two more. In the twenty-first stanza I prefer Bürger’s trampling the corn into chaff and dust, to your more metaphorical, and therefore less picturesque, “destructive sweep the field along.” In the thirtieth, “On whirlwind’s pinions swiftly borne,” to me seems less striking than the still disapparition of the tumult and bustle the earth has opened, and he is sinking with his evil genius to the nether world as he approaches, dumpf rauscht es wie ein ferner meer—it should be rendered, therefore, not by “Save what a distant torrent gave,” but by some sounds which shall necessarily excite the idea of being hellsprung—the sound of simmering seas of fire—pinings of goblins damned—or some analogous noise. The forty-seventh stanza is a very great improvement of the original. The profanest blasphemous speeches need not have been softened down, as in proportion to the impiety of the provocation, increases the poetical probability of the final punishment. I should not have ventured upon these criticisms, if I did not think it required a microscopic eye to make any, and if I did not on the whole consider the Chase as a most spirited and beautiful translation. I remain (to borrow in another sense a concluding phrase from the
Spectator), your constant admirer,

W. Taylor, Jun.
“Norwich, 14th Dec. 1796.”