LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter V 1821

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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During Scott’s visit to London, in July, 1821, there appeared a work which was read with eager curiosity and delight by the public with much private diversion besides by his friends—and which he himself must have gone through with a very odd mixture of emotions. I allude to the volume entitled “Letters to Richard Heber, Esq., containing critical remarks on the series of novels beginning with Waverley, and an attempt to ascertain their author;” which was soon known to have been penned by Mr John Leicester Adolphus, a distinguished alumnus of the University then represented in Parliament by Sir Walter’s early friend Heber. Previously to the publication of these Letters, the opinion that Scott was the author of Waverley had indeed become well settled in the English, to say nothing of the Scottish mind; a great variety of circumstances, external as well as internal, had by degrees co-operated to its general establishment: yet there were not wanting persons who still dissented, or at least affected to dissent from it. It was reserved for the enthusiastic industry, and admirable ingenuity of this juvenile academic, to set the question at rest, by an accumulation of critical evidence which no
sophistry could evade, and yet produced in a style of such high-bred delicacy, that it was impossible for the hitherto ‘veiled prophet’ to take the slightest offence with the hand that had for ever abolished his disguise. The only sceptical scruple that survived this exposition, was extinguished in due time by Scott’s avowal of the sole and unassisted authorship of his novels; and now Mr Adolphus’s Letters have shared the fate of other elaborate arguments, the thesis of which has ceased to be controverted. Hereafter, I am persuaded, his volume will be revived for its own sake; but, in the meantime, regarding it merely as forming, by its original effect, an epoch in Scott’s history, I think it my duty to mark my sense of its importance in that point of view, by transcribing the writer’s own summary of its


Letter I.—Introduction—General reasons for believing the novels to have been written by the author of Marmion.

Letter II.—Resemblance between the novelist and poet in their tastes, studies, and habits of life, as illustrated by their works—Both Scotchmen—Habitual residents in Edinburgh—Poets—Antiquaries—German and Spanish scholars—Equal in classical attainments—Deeply read in British history—Lawyers—Fond of field sports—Of dogs—Acquainted with most manly exercises—Lovers of military subjects—The novelist apparently not a soldier.

Letter III.—The novelist is, like the poet, a man of good society—His stories never betray forgetfulness of honourable principles, or ignorance of good manners—Spirited pictures of gentlemanly character—Colonel Mannering—Judicious treatment of elevated historical personages—The novelist quotes and praises most contemporary poets, except the author of Marmion—Instances in which the poet has appeared to slight his own unacknowledged, but afterwards avowed productions.

Letter IV.—Comparison of the works themselves—All distinguished by good morals and good sense—The latter particularly shown in the management of character—Prose style—its general features—Plainness and facility—Grave banter—Manner of telling
a short story—Negligence—Scotticisms—Great propriety and correctness occasionally, and sometimes unusual sweetness.

Letter V.—Dialogue in the novels and poems—Neat colloquial turns in the former, such as cannot be expected in romantic poetry—Happy adaptation of dialogue to character, whether merely natural, or artificially modified, as by profession, local habits, &c.—Faults of dialogue, as connected with character of speakers—Quaintness of language and thought—Bookish air in conversation Historical personages alluding to their own celebrated acts and sayings—Unsuccessful attempts at broad vulgarity—Beauties of composition peculiar to the dialogue—Terseness and spirit—These qualities well displayed in quarrels; but not in scenes of polished raillery—Eloquence.

Letter VI.—The poetry of the author of Marmion generally characterised—His habits of composition and turn of mind, as a poet, compared with those of the novelist—Their descriptions simply conceived and composed, without abstruse and far-fetched circumstances or refined comments—Great advantage derived by both from accidental combinations of images, and the association of objects in the mind with persons, events, &c.—Distinctness and liveliness of effect in narrative and description—Narrative usually picturesque or dramatic, or both—Distinctness, &c. of effect, produced in various ways—Striking pictures of individuals—Their persons, dress, &c.—Descriptions sometimes too obviously picturesque—Subjects for painters—Effects of light frequently noticed and finely described—Both writers excel in grand and complicated scenes—Among detached and occasional ornaments, the similes particularly noticed—Their frequency and beauty—Similes and metaphors sometimes quaint and pursued too far.

Letter VII.—Stories of the two writers compared—These are generally connected with true history, and have their scene laid in a real place—Local peculiarities diligently attended to—Instances in which the novelist and poet have celebrated the same places they frequently describe—these as seen by a traveller (the hero, or some other principal personage) for the first time—Dramatic mode of relating story—Soliloquies Some scenes degenerate into melodrame—Lyrical pieces introduced sometimes too theatrically—Comparative unimportance of heroes—Various causes of this fault—Heroes rejected by ladies, and marrying others whom they had before slighted—Personal struggle between a civilized and a barbarous hero—Characters resembling each other—Female por-
traits in general—Fathers and daughters—Characters in
Paul’s Letters—Wycliffe and Risingham—Glossin and Hatteraick—Other characters compared.—Long periods of time abruptly passed over—Surprises, unexpected discoveries, &c.—These sometimes too forced and artificial—Frequent recourse to the marvellous—Dreams well described—Living persons mistaken for spectres—Deaths of Burley, Risingham, and Rashleigh.

Letter VIII.—Comparison of particular passages—Descriptions—Miscellaneous thoughts—Instances, in which the two writers have resorted to the same sources of information, and borrowed the same incidents, &c.—Same authors quoted by both—the poet, like the novelist, fond of mentioning his contemporaries, whether as private friends or as men publicly distinguished—Author of Marmion never notices the Author of Waverley (see Letter III.)—Both delight in frequently introducing an antiquated or fantastic dialect—Peculiarities of expression common to both writers—Conclusion.”

I wish I had space for extracting copious specimens of the felicity with which Mr Adolphus works out these various points of his problem. As it is I must be contented with a narrow selection—and I shall take two or three of the passages which seem to me to connect themselves most naturally with the main purpose of my own compilation.

“A thorough knowledge and statesmanlike understanding of the domestic history and politics of Britain at various and distant periods; a familiar acquaintance with the manners and prevailing spirit of former generations, and with the characters and habits of their most distinguished men, are of themselves no cheap or common attainments; and it is rare indeed to find them united with a strong original genius, and great brilliancy of imagination. We know, however, that the towering poet of Flodden-field is also the diligent editor of Swift and Dryden, of Lord Somers’s Tracts, and of Sir Ralph Sadler’s State Papers; that in these and other parts of his literary career he has necessarily plunged deep into the study of British history, biography, and antiquities, and that the talent and activity which he brought to these researches have been warmly seconded by the zeal and liberality of those who possessed the amplest and rarest sources of information. ‘The muse found him,’
as he himself said long ago, ‘engaged in the pursuit of historical and traditional antiquities, and the excursions which he has made in her company have been of a nature which increases his attachment to his original study.’ Are we then to suppose, that another writer has combined the same powers of fancy with the same spirit of investigation, the same perseverance, and the same good fortune? and shall we not rather believe, that the labour employed in the illustration of
Dryden has helped to fertilize the invention which produced Montrose and Old Mortality? . . . . .

“However it may militate against the supposition of his being a poet, I cannot suppress my opinion, that our novelist is a ‘man of law.’ He deals out the peculiar terms and phrases of that science (as practised in Scotland) with a freedom and confidence beyond the reach of any uninitiated person. If ever, in the progress of his narrative, a legal topic presents itself (which very frequently happens), he neither declines the subject, nor timidly slurs it over, but enters as largely and formally into all its technicalities, as if the case were actually ‘before the fifteen.’ The manners, humours, and professional bavardage of lawyers are sketched with all the ease and familiarity which result from habitual observation. In fact, the subject of law, which is a stumbling-block to others, is to the present writer a spot of repose; upon this theme he lounges and gossips, he is discinctus et soleatus, and, at times, almost forgets that when an author finds himself at home and perfectly at ease, he is in great danger of falling asleep.—If, then, my inferences are correct, the unknown writer who was just now proved to be an excellent poet, must also be pronounced a follower of the law: the combination is so unusual, at least on this side of the Tweed, that, as Juvenal says on a different occasion—
Hoc monstrum puero, vel mirandis sub aratro
Piscibus inventis, et fœtæ comparo mulæ.’
Nature has indeed presented us with one such prodigy in the author of
Marmion; and it is probable, that in the author of Waverley, we only see the same specimen under a different aspect; for, however sportive the goddess may be, she has too much wit and invention to wear out a frolic by many repetitions. . . . . .

“A striking characteristic of both writers is their ardent love of rural sports, and all manly and robust exercises. But the importance given to the canine race in these works ought to be noted
as a characteristic feature by itself. I have seen some drawings by a Swiss Artist, who was called the
Raphael of cats; and either of the writers before us might, by a similar phrase, be called the Wilkie of dogs. Is it necessary to justify such a compliment by examples? Call Yarrow, or Lufra, or poor Fangs, Colonel Mannering’s Plato, Henry Morton’s Elphin, or Hobbie Elliot’s Kilbuck, or Wolf of Avenel Castle: see Fitz-James’s hounds returning from the pursuit of the lost stag—
‘Back limped with slow and crippled pace
The sulky leaders of the chase’
or swimming after the boat which carries their Master—
‘With heads erect and whimpering cry
The hounds behind their passage ply.’
See Captain Clutterbuck’s dog quizzing him when he missed a bird, or the scene of ‘mutual explanation and remonstrance’ between ‘the venerable patriarchs old Pepper and Mustard,’ and Henry Bertram’s rough terrier Wasp. If these instances are not sufficient, turn to the English blood-hound assailing the young Buccleuch—
‘And hark! and hark! the deep-mouthed bark
Comes nigher still and nigher;
Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound,
His tawny muzzle tracked the ground,
And his red eye shot fire.
Soon as the wildered child saw he,
He flew at him right furiouslie. . . . .
I ween you would have seen with joy
The bearing of the gallant boy. . . . .
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
At cautious distance hoarsely bayed,
But still in act to spring.’
Or Lord Ronald’s deer-hounds, in the haunted forest of Glenfinlas—
‘Within an hour return’d each hound;
In rush’d the rousers of the deer;
They howl’d in melancholy sound,
Then closely couch beside the seer. . . . .
Sudden the hounds erect their ears,
And sudden cease their moaning howl;
Close press’d to Moy, they mark their fears
By shivering limbs, and stifled growl.
Untouch’d the harp began to ring,
As softly, slowly, oped the door,’ &c.
Or look at Cedric the Saxon, in his antique hall, attended by his greyhounds and slowhounds, and the terriers which ‘waited with impatience the arrival of the supper; but with the sagacious knowledge of physiognomy peculiar to their race, forbore to intrude upon the moody silence of their master.’ To complete the picture, ‘One grisly old wolf-dog alone, with the liberty of an indulged favourite, had planted himself close by the chair of state, and occasionally ventured to solicit notice by putting his large hairy head upon his master’s knee, or pushing his nose into his hand. Even he was repelled by the stern command, “Down, Balder, down! I am not in the humour for foolery.”’

“Another animated sketch occurs in the way of simile.—‘The interview between Ratcliffe and Sharpitlaw had an aspect different from all these. They sate for five minutes silent, on opposite sides of a small table, and looked fixedly at each other, with a sharp, knowing, and alert cast of countenance, not unmingled with an inclination to laugh, and resembled, more than any thing else, two dogs, who, preparing for a game at romps, are seen to couch down, and remain in that posture for a little time, watching each other’s movements, and waiting which shall begin the game.’

“Let me point out a still more amusing study of canine life: While the Antiquary was in full declamation, Juno, who held him in awe, according to the remarkable instinct by which dogs instantly discover those who like or dislike them, had peeped several times into the room, and, encountering nothing very forbidding in his aspect, had at length presumed to introduce her full person, and finally, becoming bold by impunity, she actually ate up Mr Oldbuck’s toast, as, looking first at one, then at another of his audience, he repeated with self-complacence,
“Weave the warp, and weave the woof,”
“You remember the passage in the
Fatal Sisters, which, by the way, is not so fine as in the original—But, hey-day! my toast has vanished! I see which way—Ah, thou type of womankind, no wonder they take offence at thy generic appellation!” (So saying, he shook his fist at Juno, who scoured out of the parlour.)’

“In short, throughout these works, wherever it is possible for a dog to contribute in any way to the effect of a scene, we find there the very dog that was required, in his proper place and attitude. In Branksome Hall, when the feast was over,
‘The stag-hounds, weary with the chase,
Lay stretched upon the rushy floor,
And urged, in dreams, the forest race
From Teviot-stone to Eskdale-moor.’
The gentle Margaret, when she steals secretly from the castle,
‘Pats the shaggy blood-hound
As he rouses him up from his lair.’
When Waverley visits the Baron of Bradwardine, in his concealment at Janet Gellatley’s, Ban and Buscar play their parts in every point with perfect discretion; and in the joyous company that assembles at Little Veolan, on the Baron’s enlargement, these honest animals are found ‘stuffed to the throat with food, in the liberality of Macwheeble’s joy,’ and ‘snoring on the floor.’ In the perilous adventure of Henry Bertram, at Portanferry gaol, the action would lose half its interest, without the by-play of little Wasp. At the funeral ceremony of Duncraggan (in the
Lady of the Lake), a principal mourner is
——‘Stumah, who, the bier beside,
His master’s corpse with wonder eyed;
Poor Stumah! whom his least halloo
Could send like lightning o’er the dew.’
Ellen Douglas smiled (or did not smile)
——‘to see the stately drake,
Lead forth his fleet upon the lake,
While her vexed spaniel from the beach,
Bayed at the prize beyond his reach.’

“I will close this growing catalogue of examples with one of the most elegant descriptions that ever sprang from a poet’s fancy:

‘Delightful praise! like summer rose,
That brighter in the dew-drop glows,
The bashful maiden’s cheek appeared,
For Douglas spoke, and Malcolm heard.
The flush of shame-faced joy to hide,
The hounds, the hawk, her cares divide;
The loved caresses of the maid
The dogs with crouch and whimper paid;
And, at her whistle, on her hand,
The falcon took his favourite stand,
Closed his dark wing, relaxed his eye,
Nor, though unhooded, sought to fly.’
* * * * *

“Their passion for martial subjects, and their success in treating them, form a conspicuous point of resemblance between the novelist and poet. No writer has appeared in our age (and few have ever existed) who could vie with the author of Marmion in describing battles and marches, and all the terrible grandeur of war, except the author of Waverley. Nor is there any man of original genius and powerful inventive talent as conversant with the military character, and as well schooled in tactics as the author of Waverley, except the author of Marmion. Both seem to exult in camps, and to warm at the approach of a soldier. In every warlike scene that awes and agitates, or dazzles and inspires, the poet triumphs; but where any effect is to be produced by dwelling on the minutiæ of military habits and discipline, or exhibiting the blended hues of individual humour and professional peculiarity, as they present themselves in the mess-room or the guard-room, every advantage is on the side of the novelist. I might illustrate this position by tracing all the gradations of character marked out in the novels, from the Baron of Bradwardine to Tom Halliday: but the examples are too well known to require enumeration, and too generally admired to stand in need of panegyric. Both writers, then, must have bestowed a greater attention on military subjects, and have mixed more frequently in the society of soldiers, than is usual with persons not educated to the profession of arms.

“It may be asked why we should take for granted that the writer of these novels is not himself a member of the military profession? The conjecture is a little improbable if we have been right in concluding that the minuteness and multiplicity of our author’s legal details are the fruit of his own study and practice; although the same person may certainly, at different periods of life, put on the helmet and the wig, the gorget and the band; attend courts and lie in trenches; head a charge and lead a cause. I cannot help suspecting, however (it is with the greatest diffidence I venture the remark), that in those warlike recitals which so strongly interest the great body of readers, an army critic would discover several particulars that savour more of the amateur than of the practised campaigner. It is not from any technical improprieties (if such exist) that I derive this observation, but, on the contrary, from a too great minuteness and over-curious diligence, at times perceptible in the military details; which, amidst a seeming fluency and familiarity, betray, I think, here and there, the lurking vestiges of labour and contrivance, like the marks of pickaxes in an artificial
grotto. The accounts of operations in the field, if not more circumstantial than a professional author would have made them, are occasionally circumstantial on points which such an author would have thought it idle to dwell upon. A writer who derived his knowledge of war from experience would, no doubt, like the Author of
Waverley, delight in shaping out imaginary manoeuvres, or in filling up the traditional outline of those martial enterprises and conflicts, which have found a place in history; perhaps, too, he would dwell on these parts of his narrative a little longer than was strictly necessary; but in describing (for example) the advance of a party of soldiers, threatened by an ambuscade, he would scarcely think it worth while to relate at large that the captain ‘re-formed his line of march, commanded his soldiers to unsling their firelocks and fix their bayonets, and formed an advanced and rear-guard, each consisting of a non-commissioned officer and two privates, who received strict orders to keep an alert look-out:’ or that when the enemy appeared, ‘he ordered the rear-guard to join the centre, and both to close up to the advance, doubling his files, so as to occupy with his column the whole practicable part of the road,’ &c. Again, in representing a defeated corps retiring and pressed by the enemy, he would probably never think of recording (as our novelist does in his incomparable narrative of the engagement at Drumclog) that the commanding officer gave such directions as these—‘Let Allan form the regiment, and do you two retreat up the hill in two bodies, each halting alternately as the other falls back. I’ll keep the rogues in check with the rear-guard, making a stand and facing from time to time.’ I do not offer these observations for the purpose of depreciating a series of military pictures, which have never been surpassed in richness, animation, and distinctness; I will own, too, that such details as I have pointed out are the fittest that could be selected for the generality of novel-readers; I merely contend that a writer practically acquainted with war would either have passed over these circumstances as too common to require particular mention, or if he had thought it necessary to enlarge upon these, would have dwelt with proportionate minuteness on incidents of a less ordinary kind, which the recollections of a soldier would have readily supplied, and his imagination would have rested on with complacency. He would, in short, have left as little undone for the military, as the present author has for the legal part of his narratives. But the most ingenious writer, who attempts to discourse with technical familiarity on arts or pur-
suits with which he is not habitually conversant, will too surely fall into a superfluous particularity on common and trivial points, proportioned to his deficiency in those nicer details which imply practical knowledge.” . . . . . . .

‘The prince of darkness is a gentleman.’†

“Another point of resemblance between the Author of Waverley and him of Flodden Field is, that both are unquestionably men of good society. Of the anonymous writer I infer this from his works; of the poet it is unnecessary to deduce such a character from his writings, because they are not anonymous. I am the more inclined to dwell upon this merit in the novelist, on account of its rarity; for among the whole multitude of authors, well or ill educated, who devote themselves to poetry or to narrative or dramatic fiction, how few there are who give any proof in their works, of the refined taste, the instinctive sense of propriety, the clear spirit of honour, nay, of the familiar acquaintance with conventional forms of good-breeding, which are essential to the character of a gentleman! Even of the small number who, in a certain degree possess these qualifications, how rarely do we find one who can so conduct his fable, and so order his dialogue throughout, that nothing shall be found either repugnant to honourable feelings or inconsistent with polished manners! How constantly, even in the best works of fiction, are we disgusted with such offences against all generous principle, as the reading of letters by those for whom they were not intended; taking advantage of accidents to overhear private conversation; revealing what in honour should have remained secret; plotting against men as enemies, and at the same time making use of their services; dishonest, practices on the passions or sensibilities of women by their admirers; falsehoods, not always indirect; and an endless variety of low artifices, which appear to be thought quite legitimate if carried on through subordinate agents. And all these knaveries are assigned to characters which the reader is expected to honour with his sympathy, or at least to receive into favour before the story concludes.

“The sins against propriety in manners are as frequent and as glaring. I do not speak of the hoyden vivacity, harlot tenderness, and dancing-school affability, with which vulgar novel-writers always deck out their countesses and principessas, chevaliers, dukes,

King Lear, Act III. Sc. 4.

and marquises; but it would be easy to produce, from authors of a better class, abundant instances of bookish and laborious pleasantry, of pert and insipid gossip or mere slang, the wrecks, perhaps, of an obsolete fashionable dialect, set down as the brilliant conversation of a witty and elegant society: incredible outrages on the common decorum of life, represented as traits of eccentric humour; familiar raillery pushed to downright rudeness; affectation or ill-breeding over-coloured so as to become insupportable insolence; extravagant rants on the most delicate topics indulged in before all the world; expressions freely interchanged between gentlemen, which, by the customs of that class, are neither used nor tolerated; and quarrels carried on most bombastically and abusively, even to mortal defiance, without a thought bestowed upon the numbers, sex, nerves, or discretion of the bystanders.

“You will perceive that in recapitulating the offences of other writers, I have pronounced an indirect eulogium on the Author of Waverley. No man, I think, has a clearer view of what is just and honourable in principle and conduct, or possesses in a higher degree that elegant taste, and that chivalrous generosity of feeling, which, united with exact judgment, give an author the power of comprehending and expressing, not merely the right and fit, but the graceful and exalted in human action. As an illustration of these remarks, a somewhat homely one perhaps, let me call to your recollection the incident, so wild and extravagant in itself, of Sir Piercie Shafton’s elopement with the miller’s daughter. In the address and feeling with which the author has displayed the high-minded delicacy of Queen Elizabeth’s courtier to the unguarded village nymph, in his brief reflections arising out of this part of the narrative, and indeed in his whole conception and management of the adventure, I do not know whether the moralist or the gentleman is most to be admired: it is impossible to praise too warmly either the sound taste, or the virtuous sentiment which have imparted so much grace and interest to such a hazardous episode.

“It may, I think, be generally affirmed, on a review of all the six-and-thirty volumes, in which this author has related the adventures of some twenty or more heroes and heroines (without counting second-rate personages), that there is not an unhandsome action or degrading sentiment recorded of any person who is recommended to the full esteem of the reader. To be blameless on this head is one of the strongest proofs a writer can give of honourable principles implanted by education and refreshed by good society.


“The correctness in morals is scarcely more remarkable than the refinement and propriety in manners, by which these novels are distinguished. Where the character of a gentleman is introduced, we generally find it supported without affectation or constraint, and often with so much truth, animation, and dignity, that we forget ourselves into a longing to behold and converse with the accomplished creature of imagination. It is true that the volatile and elegant man of wit and pleasure, and the gracefully fantastic petite-maitresse, are a species of character scarcely ever attempted, and even the few sketches we meet with in this style are not worthy of so great a master. But the aristocratic country gentleman, the ancient lady of quality, the gallant cavalier, the punctilious young soldier, and the jocund veteran, whose high mind is mellowed, not subdued by years, are drawn with matchless vigour, grace, and refinement. There is, in all these creations, a spirit of gentility, not merely of that negative kind which avoids giving offence, but of a strong, commanding, and pervading quality, blending unimpaired with the richest humour and wildest eccentricity, and communicating an interest and an air of originality to characters which, without it, would be wearisome and insipid, or would fade into commonplace. In Waverley, for example, if it were not for this powerful charm, the severe but warm-hearted Major Melville and the generous Colonel Talbot would become mere ordinary machines for carrying on the plot, and Sir Everard, the hero of an episode that might be coveted by Mackenzie, would encounter the frowns of every impatient reader, for unprofitably retarding the story at its first outset.

“But without dwelling on minor instances, I will refer you at once to the character of Colonel Mannering, as one of the most striking representations I am acquainted with, of a gentleman in feelings and in manners, in habits, taste, predilections; nay, if the expression may be ventured, a gentleman even in prejudices, passions, and caprices. Had it been less than all I have described; had any refinement, any nicety of touch been wanting, the whole portrait must have been coarse, common, and repulsive, hardly distinguishable from the moody father and domineering chieftain of every hackneyed romance-writer. But it was no vulgar hand that drew the lineaments of Colonel Mannering: no ordinary mind could have conceived that exquisite combination of sternness and sensibility, injurious haughtiness and chivalrous courtesy; the promptitude, decision, and imperious spirit of a military disciplin-
arian; the romantic caprices of an untameable enthusiast; generosity impatient of limit or impediment; pride scourged but not subdued by remorse; and a cherished philosophical severity, maintaining ineffectual conflicts with native tenderness and constitutional irritability. Supposing that it had entered into the thoughts of an inferior writer to describe a temper of mind at once impetuous, kind, arrogant, affectionate, stern, sensitive, deliberate, fanciful; supposing even that he had had the skill to combine these different qualities harmoniously and naturally, yet how could he have attained the Shaksperian felicity of those delicate and unambitious touches, by which this author shapes and chisels out individual character from general nature, and imparts a distinct personality to the creature of his invention? Such are (for example) the slight tinge of superstition, contracted by the romantic young Astrologer in his adventure at Ellangowan, not wholly effaced in maturer life, and extending itself by contagion to the mind of his daughter,” &c. &c.

—It would have gratified Mr Adolphus could he have known when he penned these pages a circumstance which the reperusal of them brings to my memory. When Guy Mannering was first published, the Ettrick Shepherd said to Professor Wilson, “I have done wi’ doubts now. Colonel Mannering is just Walter Scott, painted by himself.” This was repeated to James Ballantyne, and he again mentioned it to Scott who smiled in approbation of the Shepherd’s shrewdness, and often afterwards, when the printer expressed an opinion in which he could not concur, would cut him short with—“James—James you’ll find that Colonel Mannering has laid down the law on this point.”—I resume my extract—

“All the productions I am acquainted with, both of the poet and of the prose writer, recommend themselves by a native piety and goodness, not generally predominant in modern works of imagination; and which, where they do appear, are too often disfigured by eccentricity, pretension, or bad taste. In the works before us there is a constant tendency to promote the desire of
excellence in ourselves, and the love of it in our neighbours, by making us think honourably of our general nature. Whatever kindly or charitable affection, whatever principle of manly and honest ambition exists within us, is roused and stimulated by the perusal of these writings; our passions are won to the cause of justice, purity, and self-denial; and the old, indissoluble ties that bind us to country, kindred, and birth-place, appear to strengthen as we read, and brace themselves more firmly about the heart and imagination. Both writers, although peculiarly happy in their conception of all chivalrous and romantic excellencies, are still more distinguished by their deep and true feeling and expressive delineation of the graces and virtues proper to domestic life. The gallant, elevated, and punctilious character which a Frenchman contemplates in speaking of ‘un honnête homme,’ is singularly combined, in these authors, with the genial, homely good qualities that win from a Caledonian the exclamation of ‘honest man!’ But the crown of their merits, as virtuous and moral writers, is the manly and exemplary spirit with which, upon all seasonable occasions, they pay honour and homage to religion, ascribing to it its just pre-eminence among the causes of human happiness, and dwelling on it as the only certain source of pure and elevated thoughts, and upright, benevolent, and magnanimous actions.

“This then is common to the books of both writers; that they furnish a direct and distinguished contrast to the atrabilious gloom of some modern works of genius, and the wanton, but not artless levity of others. They yield a memorable, I trust an immortal accession to the evidences of a truth not always fashionable in literature, that the mind of man may put forth all its bold luxuriance of original thought, strong feeling, and vivid imagination, without being loosed from any sacred and social bond, or pruned of any legitimate affection; and that the Muse is indeed a ‘heavenly goddess,’ and not a graceless, lawless runagate,
‘άϕρήτωρ, άϑέμιστος, άνέστιος’—

“Good sense, the sure foundation of excellence in all the arts, is another leading characteristic of these productions. Assuming the author of Waverley and the author of Marmion to be the same person, it would be difficult in our times to find a second equally free from affectation, prejudice, and every other distortion or depravity of judgment, whether arising from ignorance, weakness, or corruption of morals. It is astonishing that so volumi-
nous and successful a writer should so seldom be betrayed into any of those ‘fantastic tricks’ which, in such a man, make ‘the angels weep,’ and (è converso) the critics laugh. He adopts no fashionable cant, colloquial, philosophical, or literary; he takes no delight in being unintelligible; he does not amuse himself by throwing out those fine sentimental and metaphysical threads which float upon the air, and tease and tickle the passengers, but present no palpable substance to their grasp; he aims at no beauties that ‘scorn the eye of vulgar light;’ he is no dealer in paradoxes; no affecter of new doctrines in taste or morals; he has no eccentric sympathies or antipathies; no maudlin philanthropy, or impertinent cynicism; no non-descript hobby-horse; and with all his matchless energy and originality of mind, he is content to admire popular books, and enjoy popular pleasures; to cherish those opinions which experience has sanctioned; to reverence those institutions which antiquity has hallowed; and to enjoy, admire, cherish, and reverence all these with the same plainness, simplicity, and sincerity as our ancestors did of old.

* * * * * * *

“I cannot help dwelling for a moment on the great similarity of manner apparent in the female portraits of the two writers. The pictures of their heroines are executed with a peculiar fineness, delicacy, and minuteness of touch, and with a care at times almost amounting to timidity, so that they generally appear more highly finished, but less boldly and strikingly thrown out, than the figures with which they are surrounded. Their elegance and purity are always admirable, and are happily combined, in most instances, with unaffected ease and natural spirit. Strong practical sense is their most prevailing characteristic, unaccompanied by any repulsive air of selfishness, pedantry, or unfeminine harshness. Few writers have ever evinced, in so strong a degree as the authors of Marmion and Waverley, that manly regard, and dignified but enthusiastic devotion, which may be expressed by the term loyalty to the fair sex, the honourable attribute of chivalrous and romantic ages. If they touch on the faults of womankind, their satire is playful, not contemptuous; and their acquaintance with female manners, graces, and foibles is apparently drawn, not from libertine experience, but from the guileless familiarity of domestic life.

“Of all human ties and connexions there is none so frequently brought in view, or adorned with so many touches of the most affecting eloquence by both these writers, as the pure and tender
relation of father and daughter. Douglas and Ellen in the
Lady of the Lake will immediately occur to you as a distinguished example. Their mutual affection and solicitude; their pride in each other’s excellencies; the parent’s regret of the obscurity to which fate has doomed his child; and the daughter’s self-devotion to her father’s welfare and safety, constitute the highest interest of the poem, and that which is most uniformly sustained; nor does this or any other romance of the same author contain a finer stroke of passion than the overboiling of Douglas’s wrath, when, mixed as a stranger with the crowd at Stirling, he sees his daughter’s favourite Lufra chastised by the royal huntsman.

“In Rokeby the filial attachment and duteous anxieties of Matilda form the leading feature of her character, and the chief source of her distresses. The intercourse between King Arthur and his daughter Gyneth, in The Bridal of Triermain, is neither long, nor altogether amicable; but the monarch’s feelings on first beholding that beautiful ‘slip of wilderness,’ and his manner of receiving her before the queen and court, are too forcibly and naturally described to be omitted in this enumeration.

“Of all the novels, there are at most but two or three in which a fond father and affectionate daughter may not be pointed out among the principal characters, and in which the main interest of many scenes does not arise out of that paternal and filial relation. What a beautiful display of natural feeling, under every turn of circumstances that can render the situations of child and parent agonizing or delightful, runs through the history of David Deans and his two daughters! How affecting is the tale of Leicester’s unhappy Countess, after we have seen her forsaken father consuming away with moody sorrow in his joyless manor-house! How exquisite are the grouping and contrast of Isaac, the kind but sordid Jew, and his heroic Rebecca, of the buckram Baron of Bradwardine and the sensitive Rose, the reserved but ardent Mannering, and the flighty coquette Julia! In the Antiquary, and Bride of Lammermoor, anxiety is raised to the most painful height by the spectacle of father and daughter exposed together to imminent and frightful peril. The heroines in Rob Roy and the Black Dwarf are duteous and devoted daughters, the one of an unfortunate, the other of an unworthy parent. In the whole story of Kenilworth there is nothing that more strongly indicates a master-hand than the paternal carefulness and apprehensions of the churl Foster; and among the most striking scenes in A Legend of Montrose, is that in which
Sir Duncan Campbell is attracted by an obscure yearning of the heart toward his unknown child, the supposed orphan of Darnlinvarach.”

It would be impossible for one to follow out Mr Adolphus in his most ingenious tracings of petty coincidences in thought, and, above all, in expression, between the poet of Marmion and the novelist of Waverley. His apology for the minuteness of his detail in that part of his work, is, however, too graceful to be omitted: “It cannot, I think, appear frivolous or irrelevant, in the enquiry we are pursuing, to dwell on these minute coincidences. Unimportant indeed they are if looked upon as subjects of direct criticism; but considered with reference to our present purpose, they resemble those light substances which, floating on the trackless sea, discover the true setting of some mighty current: they are the buoyant driftwood which betrays the hidden communication of two great poetic oceans.”

I conclude with re-quoting a fragment from one of the quaint tracts of Sir Thomas Urquhart. The following is the epigraph of Mr Adolphus’s 5th Letter:—

“O with how great liveliness did he represent the conditions of all manner of men! From the overweening monarch to the peevish swaine, through all intermediate degrees of the superficial courtier or proud warrior, dissembled churchman, doting old man, cozening lawyer, lying traveler, covetous merchant, rude seaman, pedantick scolar, the amorous shepheard, envious artisan, vain-glorious master and tricky servant;——He had all the jeers, squibs, flouts, buls, quips, taunts, whims, jests, clinches, gybes, mokes, jerks, with all the several kinds of equivocations and other sophistical captions, that could properly be adapted to the person by whose representation he intended to inveagle the company into a fit of mirth!”

I have it not in my power to produce the letter in which Scott conveyed to Heber his opinion of this work. I know, however, that it ended with a request
that he should present
Mr Adolphus with his thanks for the handsome terms in which his poetical efforts had been spoken of throughout, and request him, in the name of the author of Marmion, not to revisit Scotland without reserving a day for Abbotsford; and the Eidolon of the author of Waverley was made, a few months afterwards, to speak as follows in the Introduction to the Fortunes of Nigel: “These letters to the member for the University of Oxford show the wit, genius, and delicacy of the author, which I heartily wish to see engaged on a subject of more importance; and show, besides, that the preservation of my character of incognito has engaged early talent in the discussion of a curious question of evidence. But a cause, however ingeniously pleaded, is not therefore gained. You may remember the neatly-wrought chain of circumstantial evidence, so artificially brought forward to prove Sir Philip Francis’s title to the Letters of Junius, seemed at first irrefragable; yet the influence of the reasoning has passed away, and Junius, in the general opinion, is as much unknown as ever. But on this subject I will not be soothed or provoked into saying one word more. To say who I am not, would be one step towards saying who I am; and as I desire not, any more than a certain Justice of Peace mentioned by Shenstone, the noise or report such things make in the world, I shall continue to be silent on a subject which, in my opinion, is very undeserving the noise that has been made about it, and still more unworthy of the serious employment of such ingenuity as has been displayed by the young letter-writer.”*

* See Waverley Novels, vol. xxvi., p, xxxiv.