« AnteriorContinuar »
gentlemen at once.» The Author, as he is unconscious of any thing in the work itself (except perhaps its frivolity) which prevents its finding an acknowledged father, leaves it to the candour of the public to chuse among
circumstances peculiar to different situations in life, such as may induce him to suppress his name on the present occasion. He may be a writer new to publication, and unwilling to avow a character to which he is unaccustomed; or he may be a hackneyed author, who is ashamed of too frequent appearance, and employs this mystery, as the heroine of the old comedy used her mask, to attract the attention of those to whom her face had become too familiar. He may be a man of grave profession, to whom the reputation of being a novel-writer may be prejudicial; or he may be a man of fashion, to whoin writing of any kind might appear pedantic. He may be too young to assume the character of an author, or so old as makes it advisable to lay it aside.
The author of Waverley has heard it objected to this novel that, in the character of Callum Beg, and in the account given
by the Baron of Bradwardine of the petty trespasses of the Highlanders against trifling articles of property, he has borne hard, and unjustly so, upon their national character. Nothing could be further from his wish or intention. The character of Callum Beg is that of a spirit naturally turned to daring evil, and determined, by the circumstances of his situation, to a particular species of mischief. Those who have perused the curious Letters from the Highlands, published about 1726, will find instances of such atrocious characters, which fell under the writer's own observation, though it would be most unjust to consider such villains as representatives of the Highlanders of that period, any more than the murderers of Marr and Williamson can be supposed to represent the English of the present day. As for the plunder supposed to have been picked up by some of the insurgents in 1745, it must be remembered, that although the way of that unfortunate little army was neither marked by devastation nor bloodshed, but, on the contrary, was orderly and quiet in a most wonderful degree, yet no army marches
through a country in an hostile manner without some trespasses; and several, to the extent, and of the nature, jocularly imputed to them by the Baron, were really laid to the charge of the Highland insurgents, for which many traditions, and par- . ticularly one respecting the Knight of the Mirror, may be quoted as good evidence.
The title of this work has not been chosen without the grave and solid deliberation which matters of importance demand from the prudent. Even its first, or general denomination, was the result of no common research or selection, although, according to the example of my predecessors, I had only to seize upon the most sounding and euphonic surname that English history or topography affords, and elect it at once as the title of my work, and the name of my hero. But, alas! what could my readers have expected from the chivalrous epithets of Howard, Mordaunt, Mortimer, or
Stanley, or from the softer and more sentimental sounds of Belmour, Belville, Belfield, and Belgrave, but pages of inanity, similar to those which have been so christened for half a century past? I must modestly admit I am too diffident of my own merit to place it in unnecessary opposition to preconceived associations: I have therefore, like a maiden knight with his white shield, assumed for my hero, , WAVERLEY, an uncontaminated name, bearing with its sound little of good or evil, excepting what the reader shall be hereafter pleased to affix to it. But my second or supplemental title, was a matter of much more difficult election, since that, short as it is, may be held as pledging the author to some special mode of laying his scene, drawing his characters, and managing his adventures. Had I, for example, announced in my frontispiece, « Waverley, a Tale of Other Days,» must not every novelreader havę anticipated a castle scarce less than that of Udolpho, of which the eastern wing had long been uninbabited, and the keys either lost, or consigoed to the care of some aged butler or housekeeper, whose trembling steps, about the middle of the second volume, were doomed to guide the hero, or heroine, to the ruinous precincts? Would not the owl have shrieked and the cricket cried in my very title-page? and could it have been possible for me, with a moderate attention to decorum, to