« PreviousContinue »
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE AMERICAN EDITION
COMPLETE WORKS OF SIR WALTER SCOTT
THE writings of Walter Scott will be referred to hereafter as marking an era in English literature. With a genius expansive as the broad field of letters, his was the intellectual capacity to master every subject it approached. Familiar with the accumulated knowledge of dead ages, he brought to his task, whatever were its nature, a mind richly stored with all that was beautiful and apt for illustration, description, or analogy.
Criticism has failed in its attempt to confine the acknowledged superiority of Scott to any distinctive range of subjects. The reader who finds surpassing beauty and thrilling pathos in the "Lay” and “Marmion," before he records his admiration will recall the graphic force and splendid imagery of “ Waverley" and “Ivanhoe.”—Though in the simple and natural sketches of the “Lives of the Novelists,” he becomes entranced by the wizard power of the writer, yet will he not forget that the historic page which tells of Bruce, or Napoleon, bears an evidence of the writer's genius equally brilliant and enduring.
Scott's great and peculiar merit is admitted to be his invincible truth to nature. In the regions of poetry and romance, with an imagination that never slumbers, and which gives light and life to every picture of its creation, there is still a naturalness that wins upon the heart, till fiction becomes reality. It is here that the magician's power is felt, though the arm that lifts the wand is unseen. On the busy, life-like pages of biography, his deep knowledge of human character, and universal benevolence of disposition, are alike discernible. Charity