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rated, without my recollecting something positive on the subject. In another part of the same volume, Lord Byron is reported to have expressed a supposition that the cause of my not avowing myself the Author of Waverley may have been some surmise that the reigning family would have been displeased with the work. I can only say, it is the last apprehension I should have entertained, as indeed the inscription to these volumes sufficiently proves. The sufferers of that melancholy period have, during the last and present reign, been honoured both with the sympathy and protection of the reigning family, whose magnanimity can well pardon a sigh from others, and bestow one themselves, to the memory of brave opponents, who did nothing in hate, but all in honour.
While those who were in habitual intercourse with the real author had little hesitation in assigning the literary property to him, others, and those critics of no mean rank, employed themselves in investigating with persevering patience any characteristic features which might seem to betray the origin of these Novels. Amongst these, one gentleman, equally remarkable for the kind and liberal tone of his criticism, the acuteness of his reasoning, and the very gentlemanlike manner in which he conducted his inquiries, displayed not only powers of accurate investigation, but a temper of mind deserving to be employed on a subject of much greater importance; and I have no doubt made converts to his opinion of almost all who thought the point worthy of consideration'. Of those letters, and other attempts of the same kind, the author could not complain, though his incognito was endangered. He had challenged the public to a game at bo-peep, and if he was discovered in his “hiding-hole," he must submit to the shame of detection.
Various reports were of course circulated in various ways; some founded on an inaccurate rehearsal of what may have been partly real, some on circumstances having no concern whatever with the subject, and others on the invention of some importunate persons, who might perhaps imagine, that the readiest mode of forcing the author to disclose himself, was, to assign some dishonourable and discreditable cause for his silence.
It may be easily supposed that this sort of inquisition was treated with contempt by the person whom it principally regarded; as, among all the rumours that were current, there was only one, and that as unfounded as the others, which had nevertheless some alliance to probability, and indeed might have proved in some degree true.
'Letters on the Author of Waverley; Rodwell and Martin, London, 1822.
I allude to a report which ascribed a great part, or the whole, of these Novels to the late Thomas Scott, Esq., of the 70th Regiment, then stationed in Canada. Those who remember that gentleman will readily grant, that, with general talents at least equal to those of his elder brother, he added a power of social humour, and a deep insight into human character, which rendered him a universally delightful member of society, and that the habit of composition alone was wanting to render him equally successful as a writer. The Author of Waverley was so persuaded of the truth of this, that he warmly pressed his brother to make such an experiment, and willingly undertook all the trouble of correcting and superintending the press. Mr. Thomas Scott seemed at first very well disposed to embrace the proposal, and had even fixed on a subject and a hero. The latter was a person well known to both of us in our boyish years, from having displayed some strong traits of character. Mr. T. Scott had determined to represent his youthful acquaintance as emigrating to America, and encountering the dangers and hardships of the New World, with the same dauntless spirit which he had displayed when a boy in his native country. Mr. Scott would probably have been highly successful, being familiarly acquainted with the manners of the native Indians, of the old French settlers in Canada, and of the Brulés or Woodsmen, and having the power of observing with accuracy what, I have no doubt, he could have sketched with force and expression. In short, the author believes his brother would have made himself distinguished in that striking field, in which, since that period, Mr. Cooper has achieved so many triumphs. But Mr. T. Scott was already affected by bad health, which wholly unfitted him for literary labour, even if he could have reconciled his patience to the task. He never, I believe, wrote a single line of the projected work; and I only have the melancholy pleasure of preserving, in the Appendix ', the simple anecdote on which he proposed to found it.
'See Appendix, No III.
To this I may add, I can easily conceive that there may have been circumstances which gave a colour to the general report of my brother being interested in these works; and in particular that it might derive strength from my having occasion to remit to him, in consequence of certain family transactions, some considerable sums of money about that period. To which it is to be added, that, if any persons chanced to evince particular curiosity on such a subject, my brother was likely enough to divert himself with practising on their credulity.
It may be mentioned, that while the paternity of these novels was from time to time warmly disputed in Britain, the foreign booksellers expressed no hesitation on the matter, but affixed my name to the whole of the novels, and to some besides to which I had no claim.
The volumes, therefore, to which the present pages form a Preface, are entirely the composition of the author by whom they are now acknowledged, with the exception, always, of avowed quotations, and such unpremeditated and involuntary plagiarisms as can scarce be guarded against by any one who has read and written a great deal. The original manuscripts are all in existence, and entirely written (horresco referens ) in the author's own hand, excepting during the years 1818 and 1819, when, being affected with severe illness, he was obliged to employ the assistance of a friendly amanuensis.
The number of persons to whom the secret was necessarily intrusted, or communicated by chance, amounted, I should think, to twenty at least, to whom I am greatly obliged for the fidelity with which they observed their trust, until the derangement of the affairs of my publishers, Messrs. Constable and Co., and the exposure of their accompt books, which was the necessary consequence, rendered secrecy no longer possible. The particulars attending the avowal have been laid before the public in the Introduction to the Chronicles of the Canongate. The preliminary advertisement has given a sketch of the pur
of this edition. I have some reason to fear that the Notes which accompany the Tales, as now published, may be thought too miscellaneous and too egotistical. It may be some apology for this, that the publication was intended to be posthumous, and still more, that old men may be permitted to speak long, because they
cannot in the course of nature have long time to speak. In preparing the present edition, I have done all that I can do to explain the nature of my materials, and the use I have made of them; nor is it probable that I shall again revise or even read these tales. I was therefore desirous rather to exceed in the
portion of new and explanatory matter which is added to this edition, than that the reader should have reason to complain that the information communicated was of a general and merely nominal character. It remains to be tried whether the public (like a child to whom a watch is shown) will, after having been satiated with looking at the outside, acquire some new interest in the object, when it is opened, and the internal machinery displayed to them.
That Waverley and its successors have had their day of favour and popularity must be admitted with sincere gratitude; and the author has studied (with the prudence of a beauty whose reign has been rather long) to supply, by the assistance of art, the charms which novelty no longer affords.
Farther explanation respecting the Edition is the business of the publishers, not of the author; and here, therefore, the latter has accomplished his task of Introduction and explanation. If, like a spoiled child, he has sometimes abused or trifled with the indulgence of the public, he feels himself entitled to full belief, when he exculpates himself from the charge of having been at any time insensible of their kindness.
FRAGMENT OF A ROMANCE WHICH WAS TO HAVE BEEN ENTITLED,
THOMAS THE RHYMER.
The sun was nearly set behind the distant mountains of Liddesdale, when a few of the scattered and terrified inhabitants of the village of Hersildoun, which had four days before been burned by a predatory band of English Borderers, were now busied in repairing their ruined dwellings. One high tower in the centre of the village alone exhibited no appearance of devastation. It was surrounded with court walls, and the outer gate was barred and bolted. The bushes and brambles which grew around, and had even insinuated their branches beneath the gate, plainly showed that it must have been many years since it had been opened. While the cottages around lay in smoking ruins, this pile, deserted and desolate as it seemed to be, had suffered nothing from the violence of the invaders; and the wretched beings, who were endeavouring to repair their miserable huts against nightfall, seemed to neglect the preferable shelter which it might have afforded them, without the necessity of labour.
Before the day had quite gone down, a knight, richly armed, and mounted upon an ambling hackney, rode slowly into the village. His attendants were--a lady, apparently young and beautiful, who rode by his side upon a dappled palfrey; his squire, who carried his helmet and lance, and led his battlehorse, a noble steed, richly caparisoned. A page and four yeomen, bearing bows and quivers, short swords, and targets of a span breadth, completed his equipage, which, though small, denoted him to be a man of high rank.
He stopped and addressed several of the inhabitants whom
" It is not to be supposed that these fragments are given as possessing any intrinsic value of themselves; but there may be some curiosity attached to them, as to the first elchings of a plate, which are accounted interesting by those who have, in any degree, been interested in the more finished works of the artist.