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The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 8 April 1820

Chapter I: 1813
Chapter II: 1814
Chapter III: 1815
Chapter IV: 1816
Chapter V: 1817
Chapter VI: 1818
Chapter VII: 1819
Chapter VIII: 1820
Chapter IX: 1821
Chapter X: 1822
Chapter XI: 1824-33
Chapter XII: 1833-35
Chapter XIII: 1806-40
Chapter XIV: Appendix
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
April 8, 1820.

You have probably read the new novel of “The Monastery,” and have doubtless been pleased with many parts of it, though it seems generally considered as a failure, and as a whole it has certainly many defects. But it contains many passages which none but Scott could have written. Among these, the two monks, Boniface and Eustace, and the Reformer (Henry Warden) have given me the greatest pleasure. Some of the earlier appearances of the Spirit (provided such supernatural beings are to be allowed) have considerable merit; and several of the subordinate characters, especially Christy of the Clinthill, are very good. But the coxcomb of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Sir Piercy Shafton (besides being an anachronism), is quite intolerable. On the whole it seems to me to hold a respectable rank in the second class of these remarkable novels.

Their great author, who arrived very lately to
Walter Scott
receive his title, is now here enjoying his honours, and apparently in excellent health and spirits. He is going back to marry his
daughter to Mr. Lockhart, a writer in Blackwood’s Magazine, and the principal author of “Peter’s Letters,” in which he has given a particular account of Playfair, Jeffrey, &c., with none of whom he is acquainted. This work and his connection with Blackwood’s Magazine have fixed a certain stigma on him; and though he is an advocate and sufficiently pleasing in his manners, he is hardly noticed or spoken to by the Whig lawyers, who give the tone at Edinburgh. He will now be the leading wit, next to his father-in-law, of the Tories.

The marriage, Scott says, must necessarily take place this month, on account of the Caledonian superstition relative to marriages solemnized in May. Such a circumstance, he says, would dwell on his daughter’s imagination, and if anything unfortunate occurred would be productive of serious consequences.