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there is a greater proportion of pleasing and sels, wizards, and true lovers. He never ventured teader passages, with much less antiquarian de- to carry us into the cottage of the peasant, like tail, and, upon the whole, a larger variety of Crabbe or Cowper; nor into the bosom of domes characters, more artfully and judiciously con- tic privacy, like Campbell; nor among creature trasted. There is nothing so fine, perhaps, as the of the imagination, like Southey or Darwin. Sucl battle in Marmion, or so picturesque as some of personages, assuredly, are not in themselves st the scattered sketches in the Lay of the Last Min- interesting or striking as those to which ou strel; but there is a richness and a spirit in the poet devoted himself; but they are far less fami Lady of the Lake, which does not pervade either liar in poetry, and are therefore more likely to of these poems; a profusion of incident, and a engage the attention of those to whom poetry i shifting brilliancy of colouring, that reminds familiar. In the management of the passions us of the witchery of Ariosto, and a constant again, he pursued the same popular and compaelasticity and occasional energy, which seem to ratively easy course.
He raised all the most fa belong more peculiarly to the author hinself. miliar and poetical emotions, by the most obviou
At this period Mr Scott had ontstripped all his aggravations, and in the most compendious ani poetical competitors in the race of popularity. judicious way. He dazzled the reader with th The mighty star of Byron had not yet risen; and splendour, and even warmed him with the tran we doubt whether any British poet had ever had sient heat of various affections; but he nowher so many of his books sold, or so many of his verses fairly kindled him into enthusiasm, or melter read and admired by such a multitude of persons him into tenderness. Writing for the world a in so short a time as Walter Scott. Confident large (unlike Byron), he wisely abstained from at in the force and originality of his own gevius, he tempting to raise any passion to a height to whic! was not afraid to avail bimself of diction and of worldly people could not be transported, and sentiment, wherever tbey 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 ordinary 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 hiin either that lofty enthusiasm which dis that great treasury of characters, images, and ex- dains the ordinary business and amusements o pressions, which had been accumulated by the life, or that quiet and deep sensibility, which ap most celebrated of his predecessors; at the same fits for all its pursuits. With regard to diction time that the rapidity of his transitions, the no- and imagery, too, it is quite obvious that he aim velty of his combinations, and the spirit and va- ed not at writing in either a pure or very commor riety of his own thoughts and inventions, show style. He seems to have been anxious only to 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 th given if he had been born in an earlier age. The most glittering and conspicuous expressions of thi great secret of his popularity at the time, and the most popular authors, and to have interwovet leading characteristic of his poetry, consisted evi- them in splendid confusion with his own nervou dently in this, that he made use of more com- diction and irregular versification. Iudifferem mon topics, images, and expressions, than any whether he coins or borrows, and drawing with original poet of later times; and, at the same equal freedom on his memory and his imaginatime, displayed more genius and originality than tion, he went bollly forward, in full reliance on any recent author who had hitherto worked in a never-failing abundance, and dauzled, with his the same materials. By the latter peculiarity, he richness and variety, even those who are most entitled himself to the admiration of every descrip- apt to be offended with his glare and irregulation 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 the enced, at the hazard of some little offence to the terse and fine composition of Pope-or of the more cultivated and fastidious.
elaborate elegance and melody of Campbell-or In the choice of his subjects, for example, he even of the Howing and redundant diction of did not attempt to interest merely by fine obser- Southey; but there is a medley of bright images vations or pathetic sentiment, but took the assist- and glowing words, set carelessly and loosely toance of a story, and enlisted the reader's curio- gether--a diction tinged successively with the siiy 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 homema(su dramatis personce of poetry-kings, warriors, liness of vulgar ballads and anecdotes, and the knights, outlaws, nuns, minstrels, secluded dam- sentimental glitter of the most modern poetry
buskin, and to the dubious and captious shouts of the pit and gallery.
That HALIDON HILL is a native, heroic, and chivalrous drama-clear, brief, and moving in its story-full of pictures, living and breathing, and impressed with the stamp of romantic and peculiar times, and expressed in language rich and felicitous, must be felt by the most obtuse intellect; yet we are not sure that its success would be great on the stage, if for the stage it had ever been designed. The beauties by which it charms and enchains attention in the closet-those bright and innumerable glimpses of past times-those frequent allusions to ancient deeds and departed heroes-the action of speech rather than of body, would be lost in the vast London theatres, where a play is wanted, adapted to the eye rather than to the head or heart. The time of action equals, it is true, the wishes of the most limited critic; the place, too, the foot of Halidon, and its barren ascent, cannot be much more ample than the space from the further side of the stage to the upper regions of the gallery; and the heroes who are called forth to triumph and to die are native flesh and blood, who yet live in their descendants. It has all the claims which a dramatic poem can well have on a British audience; yet we always hoped it would escape the clutches of those who cut up quantities for the theatres.
Among the peculiarities of Scott, as a poet, we might notice his singular talent for description, and especially for that of scenes abounding in motion or action of any kind. In this department, indeed, he may be considered almost without a rival, either among modern or ancient bards; and the character and process of his descriptions are as extraordinary as their effect is astonishing. He places before the eyes of his there readers a more distinct and complete picture, perhaps, than any other artist ever presented by mere words; and yet he does not enumerate all the visible parts of the subject with any degree of minuteness, nor confine himself by any means to what is visible. The singular merit of his delineations, on the contrary, consists in this, that, with a few bold and abrupt strokes, he sketches a most spirited outline, and then instantly kindles it by the sudden fight and colour of some moral affection. There are none of his fine descriptions, accordingly, which do not derive a great part of their clearness and picturesque effect, as well as their interest, from the quantity of character and moral expression which is thus blended with their details, and which, so far from interrupting the conception of the external object, very power-two disastrous battles can never excuse. It is danfully stimulate the fancy of the reader to com- gerous to attempt this violent shifting of heroic plete it; and give a grace and a spirit to the deeds. The field of Bannockburn would never whole representation, of which we do not know tell of any other victory than the one which has where to look for a similar example. Walter rendered it renowned: History lifts up her voice Scott has many other characteristic excellencies, against it; nor can the Hill of Homildon tell the but we must not detain our readers any longer story of the Hill of Halidon, nor that of any other with this imperfect sketch of his poetical cha- battle but its own.
The transfer which the poet has avowedly made of the incidents of the battle of Homildon to the Hill of Halidon, seems such a violation of authentic history, as the remarkable similarity of those
passing from the borders of the ludicrous to those
To the list of poetical works given above, we have here to add two poems, at first published anonymously, but since acknowledged, viz. « The Bridal of Triermain, and a Harold the Dauntless; and, in 1822, a dramatic sketch called Halidon
It will scarcely be expected that, in this rapid sketch, we should enter into a respective analysis of those works, so well known, and so universally admired, by the appellation of the « Waverley Novels. The painful circumstances which compelled their author to disclose himself are still fresh in the recollection and the sympathy of the public: the motives, or no motives, which induced him so long and so pertinaciously to abstain from avowing himself, it is not our province to criticise, nor do we wish to make a boast of having always believed what could scarcely be ever doubted, viz. that the Great Unknown and the author of Marmion were « one and indivi
The annexed is a list of the novels in question,
In his preface to the latter, the poet says,
produced by this great author in the space of Heaven knows how, many of these busy-bodi only twelve years.
have been beforehand with us, both in the gen
and the species of our invention. Waverley
1814 Although Sir Walter Scott is certainly in lGuy Mannering
1815 danger from such detections than any other The Antiquary
have ever met with, even in hin the traces Tales of My Landlord,
imitation are obvious and abundant; and it First Series
impossible, therefore, to give him the same cr Second Series
dit for absolute originality as those earlier write Third Series .
1819. who, having no successful author to innitate, we 1818.
obliged to copy directly from nature. In nami Ivanhoe
1820. him along with Shakspeare, we mean still less The Monastery
say, that he is to be put on a level with lim The Abbot
1820. as to the richness and sweetness of his fancy, Kenilworth
1821. that living vein of pure and lofty poetry whi The Pirate
1822. flows with such abundance through every pa The Fortunes of Nigel 1822.
of his composition. On that level no other writ Quentin Durward
1823. has ever stood, or will ever stand; though we Peveril of the Peak
1823. think that there are fancy and poetry enough St Ronan's Well
1824. the Waverley Novels, if not to justify the con Redgauntlet
1824. parison we have ventured to suggest, at least Tales of the Crusaders
save it from being altogether ridiculous. Woodstock .
variety stands out in the face of each of then
and the facility is attested, as in the case of Shal It may, then, be fearlessly asserted that, since speare himself, both by the inimitable freedor the time when shakspeare wrote his thirty-eight and happy carelessness of the style in wbich the plays in the brief space of his early manhood, are executed, and by the matchless rapidity wit 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 keep years, he has founded a new school of invention, ing our chronology in order, be permitted to sa and embellished and endowed it with volumes a word or two on the most popular of thes of the most animated and original composition works. that have enriched British literature for a centu- The earlier novelists wrote at periods when so ry-volumes thai have cast into the shade all ciety was not perfectly formed, and we find tha contemporary prose, and, by their force of co- their picture of life was an embodying of thev louring and depth of feeling, by their variety, own conceptions of the beau idéal. Heroes al vivacity, magical facility, and living presentment generosity, and ladies all chastity, exalted above of character, have rendered conceivable to this the vulgarities of society and nature, maintain, later age the miracles of the mighty dramatist. througli eternal folios, their visionary virtues Shakspeare is, undoubtedly, more purely origi- without the stain of any moral frailty, or the de nal, but it must be remembered that, in his gradation of any human necessities. But this time, there was much less to borrow --and that high-flown style went out of fashion as
the he too has drawn freely and largely from the mass of mankird became more informed of eachi 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 bave 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 uni. scarcely 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 characters in Gil vious approaches to glory, but swarm in such Blas and Tom Jones 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 bonestly 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 own satisfaction, that, soul, and that every man who reads them is
ether us be in the
ers in d so mach
- will ke nd accu e humm
obliged to confess to himself, that, in similar cir-
Celtic clans on the one hand,—and the dark,
proved into a genuine description, and that again
Thas Alexander and Cyrus could never have existed in human society - they are neither French, nor English, nor Italian, because it is enly allegorically that they are men. Tom Jones might have been a Frenchman, and Gil Blas an Englishman, because the essence of their characters in human nature, and the personal situation of the individual, are almost indifferent to the success of the object which the author proposed to himself; while, on the other hand, the characters of the most popular novels of later times are Irish, or Scotch, or French, and not, in the abstract, men.-The general operations of nature are circumscribed to her effects on an individual daracter, and the modern novels of this class, compared with the broad and noble style of the earlier writers, may be considered as Dutch pictures, delightful in their vivid and minute details of common life, wonderfully entertaining to the close observer of peculiarities, and highly creditable to the accuracy, observation, and humour of the painter, but exciting none of those more exalted feelings, and giving none of those higher views of the human soul, which delight and exalt the mind of the spectator of Raphael, Corregio, or Murillo.
The feudal principalities had been extinguished in the South for near three hundred years, and the dominion of the puritans from the time of the Restoration. When the glens of the central Highlands, therefore, were opened up to the gaze of the English, it seemed as if they were carried back to the days of the Heptarchy: when they saw the array of the West Country whigs, they might imagine themselves transported to the age of Cromwell. The effect, indeed, is almost as startling at the present moment; and one great source of the interest which the novel of Waverley possesses is to be sought in the surprise that is excited by discovering, that in our own country, and almost in our own age, manners and characters existed, and were conspicuous, which we had been accustomed to consider as belonging to remote antiquity, or extravagant romance.
The way in which they are here represented must at once have satisfied every reader, by an internal tact and conviction, that the delineation had been made from actual experience and observation;-experienced observation employed perhaps only on a few surviving relics and specimens of what was familiar a little earlier, but generalized from instances sufficiently numerous and complete, to warrant all that may have been added to the portrait.
The great traits of clannish dependence, pride, and fidelity, may still be detected in many districts of the Highlands, though they do not now adhere to the chieftains when they mingle in gecentury; and the author judiciously fixed up-neral society; and the existing contentions of on the era of the Rebellion in 1745, not only as burghers and antiburghers, and cameronians, ericing his pages with the interest inseparably though shrunk into comparative insignificance, attached to the narration of such occurrences, but and left indeed without protection to the ridicule s affording 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 distinguished the different classes of persons who Gifted Gilfillan, or Ebenezer Cruickshanks. The then 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 lar in the national character. That unfortunate traditional; nor is there any thing in the whole contention 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 valry in the mountains, and vulgar fanaticism in talents of Sir Walter, than the extraordinary fithe plains; and startled the more polished parts delity and felicity with which all the inferior of the land with the wild but brilliant picture of agents in the story are represented. No one who the 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
The object of WAVERLEY was evidently to present a faithful and animated picture of the manBers and state of society that prevailed in the part t of the island in the earlier part of
with their various tempers and dialects, can per- I ly have ventured in a sketch that was pure ceive the full merit of those rapid and charac- ideal. The reader, too, who by these or st teristic sketches; but it requires only a general finer indications, speedily comes to perceive th knowledge of huinan vature, to feel that they he is engaged with scenes and characters that a 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 th flexibility of hand which has touched, for in- are unfolded, and regards with a keener interi 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 an i savage imperturbability of Dugald Mahony, who structive exposition of human actions and ene stalks grimly about with his battle-axe on his gies, and of all the singular modifications whi 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 Mandering is a production ! Evau Maccombich, and the pride, gallantry, ele- below Waverley, it is still a work of consideral 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, but 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 m as the puritanism of Gillillan and Cruickshanks, i chinery and effort; the incidents are less pat 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 supernatur 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 i ages in the history are fair representations of been called the mighty magician, was nes classes that are still existing, or may be remen- 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 gho collections do not extend quite so far back as the and goblins in dark ages, as in Macbeth a year 1715.
Uamlet. When he introduces a witch in Hen 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 drear nius, but that he had also virtue enough to be of a murderer, in Richard II., it was because I true to nature throughout, and to content him- representation was morally probable; but he o self, even in the marvellous parts of his story, ver thought of making these fancies actual ager with copying from actual existences, rather than in an historical scene. There are no ghosts froin the phantasms of his own imagination. The Henry VIU., and no witches in the Merry Wis charm which this communicates to all works that of Windsor (except the merry ladies); and whe deal in the representation of human actions and in one of his comedies, he chuses to wander o characters is more readily felt than understood, of nature, he modestly calls his drama a dreai and operates with unfailing efficacy even upon and mixes up fairies, witches, mythology, ai those who have no acquaintance with the origi- common life, as a brilliant extravaganza, whil nals from which the picture has been borrowed. affects no historical nor even possible truth, ai It requires no ordinary talent, indeed, to chuse which pretends to represent neither actual n such realities as may outshine the bright imagi- possible nature. Not so Guy Manvering: nations of the inventive, and so to combine them brings down witchery and supernatural agent as to produce the most advantageous effect; but into our own times, not to be laughed at by th when this is once accomplished, the result is sure better informed, or credited by the vulgar; bi to be something more firm, impressive, and en- as an active, effective, and real part of his mi gaging, than can ever be produced by mere fic- chinery. It treats the supernatural agency t tion. There is a consistency in nature and truth, as a superstition, but as a truth; and the result the want of which may always be detected in the brought about, not by the imaginations of me happiest combinations of fancy; and the con- deluded by a fiction, but by the actual operation sciousness of their support gives a confidence and of a miracle, contrary to the opinion aud belief o 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 blaine a boldness of touch, upon which he would scarce- there are two or three marvellous dreams au