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there is a greater proportion of pleasing and sels, wizards, and true lovers. He never ventur tender passages, with much less antiquarian de- to carry us into the cottage of the peasant, li tail, and, upon the whole, a larger variety of Crabbe or Cowper ; nor into the bosom of domu characters, more artfully and judiciously con- tic privacy, like Campbell; nor among creatur trasted. There is nothing so fine, perhaps, as the of the imagination, like Southey or Darwin. Su battle in Marmion, or so picturesque as some of personages, assuredly, are not in themselves the scattered sketches in the Lay of the Last Min interesting or striking as those to which o strel; but there is a richness and a spirit in the poet devoted himself; but they are far less fam Lady of the Lake, which does not pervade either liar in poetry, and are therefore more likely of these poems; a profusion of incident, and a engage the attention of those to whom poetry shifting brilliancy of colouring, that reminds familiar. In the management of the passion us of the witchery of Ariosto, and a constant again, he pursued the same popular and comp elasticity and occasional energy, which seem to ratively easy course. He raised all the most f belong more peculiarly to the author himself. miliar and poetical emotions, by the most obvio
At this period Mr Scott had ontstripped all his aggravations, and in the most compendious ar poetical competitors in the race of popularity. judicious way. He dazzled the reader with t] The mighty star of Byron had not yet risen; and splendour, and even warmed him with the trai we doubt whether any British poet had ever had sient heat of various affections ; but he nowhe so many of his books sold, or so many of his verses fairly kindled him into enthusiasm, or melte read and admired by such a multitude of persons him into tenderness. Writing for the world in sò short a time as Walter Scott. Confident large (unlike Byron), he wisely abstained from a in the force and originality of his own genius, he tempting to raise any passion to a height to whic was not afraid to avail himself of diction and of worldly people could not be transported, an sentiment, wherever they appeared to be beauti- contented himself with giving his reader th ful and impressive, using them, however, at all chance of feeling as a brave, kind, and affection times, with the skill and spirit of an inventor; ate gentleman should often feel in the ordinar and, quite certain that he could not be mistaken course of his existence, without trying to breath for a plagiarist or imitator, he made free use of into him either that lofty enthusiasm which dis that great treasury of characters, images, and ex- dains the ordinary business and amusements pressions, which had been accumulated by the life, or that quiet and deep sensibility, which an most celebrated of his predecessors; at the same fits for all its pursuits. With regard to dictio time that the rapidity of his transitions, the no- and imagery, too, it is quite obvious that he ain velty of his combinations, and the spirit and va- ed not at writing in either a pure or very commo riety of his own thoughts and inventions, show style. He seems to have been anxious only! plainly that he was a borrower from any thing strike, and to be easily and universally under but poverty, and took only what he could have stood; and, for this purpose, to have called thi given if he had been born in an earlier age. The most glittering and conspicuous expressions of th great secret of his popularity at the time, and the most popular authors, and to have interwove leading characteristic of his poetry, consisted evi them in splendid confusion with his own nervor dently in this, that he made use of more com- diction and irregular versification. Indifferen mon topics, images, and expressions, than any whether he coins or borrows, and drawing wit original poet of later times; and, at the same equal freedom on his memory and his imagina time, displayed more genius and originality than tion, he went boldly forward, in full reliance on any recent author who had hitherto worked in a never-failing abundance, and dazzled, with hi the same materials. By the latter peculiarity, he richuess and variety, even those who are mot entitled himself to the admiration of every descrip- apt to be offended with his glare and irregola tion of readers; by the former he came recom- rity. There is nothing in Scott's poetry of the mended in an especial manner to the inexperi- severe and majestic style of Milton-or of th enced, at the hazard of some little offence to the terse and fine composition of Pope-or of th more cultivated and fastidious.
elaborate elegance and melody of CampbellIn the choice of his subjects, for example, he even of the flowing and redundant diction did not attempt to interest merely by fine obser- Southey; but there is a medley of bright image
vations or pathetic sentiment, but took the assist- and glowing words, set carelessly and loosely to | ance of a story, and enlisted the reader's curio- gether-a diction tinged successively with th
siry among his motives for attention. Then his careless richness of Shakspeare, the harshness and characters were all selected from the most com- antique simplicity of the old romances, the home dou dramatis personæ of poetry--kings, warriors, liness of vulgar ballads and anecdotes, and thi knights, outlaws, nuns, minstrels, secluded dam- sentimental glitter of the most modern poetry-
pasing from the borders of the ludicrous to those buskin, and to the dubious and captious shouts
and felicitous, must be felt by the most obtuse inAmong the peculiarities of Scott, as a poet, we tellect; yet we are not sure that its success would might notice his singular talent for description, be great on the stage, if for the stage it had ever and especially for that of scenes abounding in been designed. The beauties by which it charms notion or action of any kind. In this depart- and enchains attention in the closet -- those bright ment, indeed, he may be considered almost with and inpumerable glimpses of past times – those
out a rival, either among modern or ancient frequent allusions to ancient deeds and departed bards
; and the character and process of his de- heroes--the action of speech rather than of body, scriptions are as extraordinary as their effect is would be lost in the vast London theatres, where astonishing. He places before the eyes of his a play is wanted, adapted to the eye rather than readers a more distinct and complete picture, to the head or heart. The time of action equals, perhaps
, than any other artist ever presented by it is true, the wishes of the most limited critic; mere words; and yet he does not enumerate all the place, too, the foot of Halidon, and its barren ebe visible parts of the subject with any degree ascent, cannot be much more ample than the of minuteness, nor confine himself by any means space from the further side of the stage to the
to what is visible. The singular merit of his de- upper regions of the gallery; and the heroes who
other with this imperfect sketch of his poetical cha- batlle bụt its own.
It will scarcely be expected that, in this rapid To the list of poetical works given above, we sketch, we should enter into a respective anabare bere to add two poems, at first published lysis of those works, so well known, and so uniagonymously, but since acknowledged, viz. « The versally admired, by the appellation of the « WaBridalof Triermain," and a Harold the Dauntless ;» verley Novels. The painful circumstances which and
, in 1822, a dramatic sketch called «Halidon compelled their author to disclose himself are still KellIn his preface to the latter, the poet says, fresh in the recollection and the sympathy of the that bis dramatic sketch is in no particular de- public: the motives, or po motives, which insigned or calculated for the stage, and that any duced him so long and so pertinaciously to abattempt to produce it in action will be at the peril stain from avowing himself, it is not our province of those who make the experiment. The truth (w criticise, nor do we wish to make a boast of 13 that, like most of the higher poetical spirits of having always believed what could scarcely be
age, he has found out a far safer and surer ever doubted, viz. that the Great Unknown and Kay to equitable judgments and fame, than trust the author of Marmion were « one and indivi. ang to the bazardous presentment of the charac- sible.» sers be draws, by the heroes of the sock and
The annexed is a list of the novels in question,
produced by this great author in the space of Heaven knows how, many of these busy-bodies only twelve years.
have been beforehand with us, both in the genus
and the species of our invention. Waverley
1814 Although Sir Walter Scott is certainly in less Guy Mannering
danger from such detections than any other we The Antiquary
have ever met with, even in hin the traces of Tales of My Landlord,
limitation are obvious and abundant; and it is First Series
impossible, therefore, to give him the same creSecond Series
dit for absolute originality as those earlier writers, Third Series .
who, having no successful author to imitate, were 1818.
obligerl to copy directly from nature. In naming Ivanhoe
him along with Shakspeare, we mean still less to The Monastery
say, that he is to be put on a level with him,
1820. as to the richness and sweetness of his fancy, or
1822. flows with such abundance through every part The Fortunes of Nigel 1822.
of his composition. On that level no other writer Quentin Durward
1823. has ever stood, or will ever stand ; though we do Peveril of the Peak
think that there are fancy and poetry enough in St Ronan's Well
1824. the Waverley Novels, if not to justify the comRedgauntlet
1824. parison we have ventured to suggest, at least to Tales of the Crusaders 1825.
save it from being altogether ridiculous. The Woodstock.
variety stands out in the face of each of them,
and the facility is attested, as in the case of ShakIt may, then, be fearlessly asserted that, since speare himself, both by the inimitable freedom the time when Shakspeare wrote his thirty-eight and happy carelessness of the style in which they plays in the brief space of his early manhood, are executed, and by the matchless rapidity with there has been no such prodigy of literary ferti- which they have been lavished on the public. lity as the author of these novels. In a few brief
We must now, however, for the sake of keepyears, he has founded a new school of invention, ing our chronology in order, be permitted to say and embellished and endowed it with volumes a word or two on the most popular of these of the most animated and original composition works. that have enriched British literature for a centu The earlier novelists wrote at periods when 50ry-volumes that have cast into the shade all ciety was not perfectly formed, and we find that contemporary prose, and, by their force of co- their picture of life was an embodying of their louring and depth of feeling, by their variety, own conceptions of the beau idéal. Heroes all vivacity, magical facility, and living presentment generosity, and ladies all chastity, exalted above of character, have rendered conceivable to this the vulgaritics of society and nature, maintain, later age the miracles of the mighty dramatist. through eternal folios, their visionary virtues, Shakspeare is, undoubtedly, more purely origi- without the stain of any moral frailty, or the denal, but it must be remembered that, in his tion of any human necessities. But this time, there was much less to borrow—and that high-flown style went out of fashion as the great he too has drawn freely and largely from the mass of mankird became more informed of each sources that were open to him, at least for his fable other's feelings and concerns, and as nearer oband graver sentiment; for his wit and humour, servation taught them that the real course of huas well as his poetry, are always his own. In man life is a conflict of duty and desire, of virtue our times, all the higher walks of literature have and passion, of right and wrong: in the descripbeen so long and so often trodden, that it is tion of which it is difficult to say whether uniscarcely possible to keep out of the footsteps of form virtue, or unredeemed vice, would be in the some of our precursors; and the ancients, it is greater degree tedious and absurd. well known, have anticipated all our bright The novelists next endeavoured to exhibit a thoughts, and not only visibly beset all the ob- general view of society. The cliaracters in Gil vious approaches to glory, but swarm in such Blas and Tom Joncs are not individuals so much ambushed multitudes behind, that when we think as specimens of the human race; and these dewe have gone fairly beyond their plagiarisms, lightful works have been, are, and ever will be, and honestly worked out an original excellence popular: because they present lively and accuof our own, up starts some deep-read antiquary, rate delineations of the workings of the human and makes out, much to his owa satisfaction, that, soul, and that every man who reads them is
skiiged to confess to himself, that, in similar cir- Celtic clans on the one hand, -and the dark, cumstances with the personages of Le Sage and untractable, and domineering bigotry of the coTidling, he would probably have acted in the venanters on the other. Both forms of society
a which they are described to have done. had indeed been prevalent in the other parts of 1 From this species the transition to a third was the country, but had there been so long superstard. The first class was theory-it was im- seded by more peaceable habits, and milder manpered into a genuine description, and that again ners, that their vestiges were almost effaced, and In the way to a more particular classification, their very memory nearly forgotten. 1opping not of man in general, but of men of The feudal principalities had been extinguished a pealiar nation, profession, or temper, or to go in the South for near three hundred years, and a step farther-of individuals.
the dominion of the puritans from the time of Thus Alexander and Cyrus could never have the Restoration. When the glens of the central existed in human society – they are neither Highlands, therefore, were opened up to the gaze French, nor English, nor Italian, because it is of the English, it seemed as if they were carried caly allegorically that they are men. Tom Joves back to the days of the Heptarchy: when they might have been a Frenchman, and Gil Blas an saw the array of the West Country whigs, they Esglishman, because the essence of their charac- might imagine themselves transported to the age kesin btaman nature, and the personal situation of Cromwell. The effect, indeed, is almost as of the individual, are almost indifferent to the startling at the present moment; and one great incess of the object which the author proposed to source of the interest which the novel of Wabezelf; while, on the other hand, the charac- verley possesses is to be sought in the surprise pes of the most popular novels of later times are that is excited by discovering, that in our own lik, or scotch, or French, and not, in the ab- country, and almost in our own age, manners trach, mien. – The general operations of nature and characters existed, and were conspicuous, arcumscribed to her effects on an individual which we had been accustomed to consider as bearacter, and the modern novels of this class, longing to remote antiquity, or extravagant rouspared with the broad and noble style of the mance. arber writers, may be considered as Dutch pic- The way in which they are here represented turs, delightful in their vivid and minute details must at once have satisfied every reader, by an of onmon life, wonderfully entertaining to internal tact and conviction, that the delineation the close observer of peculiarities, and highly had been made from actual experience and obserritable to the accuracy, observation, and hu- vation ;-experienced observation employed perzaur of the painter, but exciting none of those haps only on a few surviving relics and specimens * exalted feelings, and giving none of those of what was familiar a little earlier, but gene
per views of the human soul, which delight and ralized from instances sufficiently numerous and salt the mind of the spectator of Raphael, Cor- complete, to warrant all that may have been addor Murillo.
ed to the portrait. The object of Waverley was evidently to pre- The great traits of clandish dependence, pride, 1a faithfal and animated picture of the man- and fidelity, may still be detected in many dism and state of society that prevailed in the tricts of the Highlands, though they do not now znhern part of the island in the earlier part of adhere to the chieftains when they mingle in geest century; and the author judiciously fixed up-neral society; and the existing contentions of mean the era of the Rebellion in 1745, not only as burghers and antiburghers, and cameronians, enriching his pages with the interest inseparably though shrunk into comparative insignificance, dached to the narration of such occurrences, but and left indeed without protection to the ridicule * əffording a fair opportunity for bringing out of the profane, may still be referred to as comall the contrasted principles and habits which plete verifications of all that is here stated about tsinguished the different classes of persons who Gifted Gilfillan, or Ebenezer Cruickshanks. The ten divided the country, and formed among traits of Scottish national character in the lower themselves the basis of almost all that was pecu- ranks can still less be regarded as antiquated or le in the national character. That unfortunate traditional; nor is there any thing in the whole etention brought conspicuously to light, and compass of the work which gives us a stronger for the last time, the fading image of feudal chi- impression of the nice observation and graphical tdry in the mountains, and vulgar fanaticism in talents of Sir Walter, than the extraordinary fi#plains; and startled the more polished parts delity and felicity with which all the inferior é the land with the wild but brilliant picture of agents in the story are represented. No one who te elevated valour, incorruptible fidelity, patri- has not lived long among the lower orders archal brotherhood, and savage habits, of the of all descriptions, and made himself familiar with their various tempers and dialects, can per-| ly have ventured in a sketch that was pur ceive the full merit of those rapid and charac- ideal.' The reader, too, who by these or teristic sketches; but it requires only a general finer indications, speedily comes to perceive t knowledge of human nature, to feel that they he is engaged with scenes and characters that must be faithful copies from known originals; copied from existing originals, naturally lend and to be aware of the extraordinary facility and more eager attention to the story in which flexibility of hand which has touched, for in- are unfolded, and regards with a keener inter stance, with such discriminating shades, the va- what he no longer considers as a bewildering rious gradations of the Celtic character, from the ries of dreams and exaggerations, but as au savage imperturbability of Dugald Mahony, who structive exposition of human actions and en stalks grimly about with his battle-axe on his gies, and of all the singular modifications why shoulder, without speaking a word to any body, our plastic nature receives from the circumstan to the lively unprincipled activity of Callum Beg, with which it is surrounded. the coarse unreflecting hardihood and heroism of Although Guy Mannering is a production Evau Maccombich, and the pride, gallantry, ele- below Waverley, it is still a work of considera gance, and ambition of Fergus himself. In the merit. Its inferiority to Waverley is, howes lower class of the Lowland characters, again, the very decided, not only as to general effect, bu vulgarity of Mrs Flockhart and of Lieutenant every individual topic of interest. The story Jinker is perfectly distinct and original, as well less probable, and is carried on with much as the puritanism of Gilbllan and Cruicksbanks, chinery and effort; the incidents are less na the depravity of Mrs Mucklewrath, and the slow ral; the characters are less distinctly painu solemnity of Alexander Saunderson. The Baron and less worth painting ; in short, the whole to of Bradwardine, and Baillie Macwheebie, are ca of the book is pitched in an inferior key. ricatures no doubt, after the fashion of the cari- The gratuitous introduction of supernatu catures in the novels of Smollett, -unique and agency in some parts of this novel is certainly extraordinary; but almost all the other person- be disapproved of. Even Shakspeare, who ages in the history are fair representations of been called the mighty magician, was de classes that are still existing, or may be remem- guilty of this mistake. His magic was employ bered at least to have existed, by many whose re- in fairy-land, as in the Tempest; and his gha collections do not extend quite so far back as the and goblins in dark ages, as in Macbeth a year 1745.
Hamlet. When he introduces a witch in Her The successful reception of Waverley was ow- VI., it is because, historically, his representati ing not only to the author's being a man of ge- was true; when he exhibits the perturbed drea nius, but that he had also virtue enough to be of a murderer, in Richard III., it was because true to nature throughout, and to content him- representation was morally probable; but he self, even in the marvellous parts of his story, ver thought of making these fancies actual age with copying from actual existences, rather than in an historical scene. There are no ghosts from the phantasms of bis own imagination. The Henry VIII., and no witches in the Merry Wit charm which this communicates to all works that of Windsor (except the merry ladies); and wh deal in the representation of human actions and in one of his comedies, he chuses to wander characters is more readily felt than understood, of nature, he modestly calls his drama a drea and operates with unfailing efficacy even upon and mixes up fairies, witches, mythology, a those who have no acquaintance with the origi- common life, as a brilliant extravaganza, wh nals from which the picture has been borrowed.'affects no historical nor even possible truth, a It requires no ordinary talent, indeed, to chuse which pretends to represent neither actual such realities as may outshine the bright imagi- possible nature. Not so Guy Manpering: nations of the inventive, and so to combine them brings down witchery and supernatural agen as to produce the most advantageous effect; but into our own times, not to be laughed at by when this is once accomplished, the result is sure better informed, or credited by the vulgar; 1 to be something more firm, impressive, and en- as an active, effective, and real part of his m gaging, than can ever be produced by mere fic- chinery. It treats the supernatural agency tion. There is a consistency in nature and truth, as a superstition, but as a truth; and the resale the want of which may always be detected in the brought about, not by the imaginations of m happiest combinations of fancy; and the con- deluded by a fiction, but by the actual operati sciousness of their support gives a confidence and of a miracle, contrary to the opinion and belief assurance to the artist, which encourages him all the parties concerned. occasionally to risk a strength of colouring, and The ANTIQUARY is not free from this blam a boldness of touch, upon which he would scarce- there are two or three marvellous dreams au