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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Walter Scott to Anna Seward, [September 1807]

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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“Since I was favoured with your letter, my dear Miss Seward, I have brought the unpleasant transactions to which my last letter alluded pretty near to a conclusion, much more fortunate than I had ventured to hope. Of my brother’s creditors, those connected with him by blood or friendship, showed all the kindness which those ties are in Scotland peculiarly calculated to produce; and what is here much more uncommon, those who had no personal connexion with him or his family, showed a liberality which would not have misbecome the generosity of the English. Upon the whole, his affairs are

“See Miss Seward’s Letters, vol. vi. p. 364.

put in a course of management which I hope will enable him to begin life anew with renovated hopes, and not entirely destitute of the means of recommencing business.

“I am very happy—although a little jealous withal—that you are to have the satisfaction of Southey’s personal acquaintance. I am certain you will like the Epic bard exceedingly. Although he does not deign to enter into the mere trifling intercourse of society, yet when a sympathetic spirit calls him forth, no man talks with more animation on literary topics; and perhaps no man in England has read and studied so much with the same powers of making use of the information which he is so indefatigable in acquiring. I despair of reconciling you to my little friend Jeffrey, although I think I could trust to his making some impression on your prepossession, were you to converse with him. I think Southey does himself injustice in supposing the Edinburgh Review, or any other, could have sunk Madoc, even for a time. But the size and price of the work, joined to the frivolity of an age which must be treated as nurses humour children, are sufficient reasons why a poem, on so chaste a model, should not have taken immediately. We know the similar fate of Milton’s immortal work, in the witty age of Charles II., at a time when poetry was much more fashionable than at present. As to the division of the profits, I only think that Southey does not understand the gentlemen of the trade, emphatically so called, as well as I do. Without any greater degree of fourberie than they conceive the long practice of their brethren has rendered matter of prescriptive right, they contrive to clip the author’s proportion of profits down to a mere trifle. It is the tale of the fox that went a hunting with the lion, upon con-
AUGUST, 1807.125
dition of equal division of the spoil; and yet I do not quite blame the booksellers, when I consider the very singular nature of their mystery. A butcher generally understands something of black cattle, and wo betide the jockey who should presume to exercise his profession without a competent knowledge of horse-flesh. But who ever heard of a bookseller pretending to understand the commodity in which he dealt? They are the only tradesmen in the world who professedly, and by choice, deal in what is called ‘a pig in a poke.’ When you consider the abominable trash which, by their sheer ignorance, is published every year, you will readily excuse them for the indemnification which they must necessarily obtain at the expense of authors of some value. In fact, though the account between an individual bookseller and such a man as Southey may be iniquitous enough, yet I apprehend that upon the whole the account between the trade and the authors of Britain at large is pretty fairly balanced; and what these gentlemen gain at the expense of one class of writers, is lavished, in many cases, in bringing forward other works of little value. I do not know but this, upon the whole, is favourable to the cause of literature. A bookseller publishes twenty books, in hopes of hitting upon one good speculation, as a person buys a parcel of shares in a lottery, in hopes of gaining a prize. Thus the road is open to all, and if the successful candidate is a little fleeced, in order to form petty prizes to console the losing adventurers, still the cause of literature is benefited, since none is excluded from the privilege of competition. This does not apologize for Southey’s carelessness about his interest—for,
—‘his name is up, and may go
From Toledo to Madrid.’


“Pray, don’t trust Southey too long with Mr White. He is even more determined in his admiration of old ruins than I am. You see I am glad to pick a hole in his jacket, being more jealous of his personal favour in Miss Seward’s eyes than of his poetical reputation.

“I quite agree with you about the plan of young Betty’s education, and am no great idolater of the learned languages, excepting for what they contain. We spend in youth that time in admiring the wards of the key, which we should employ in opening the cabinet and examining its treasures. A prudent and accomplished friend, who would make instruction acceptable to him for the sake of the amusement it conveys, would be worth an hundred schools. How can so wonderfully premature a genius, accustomed to excite interest in thousands, be made a member of a class with other boys!”