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'TIS SIXTY YEARS SINCE.
Under which King, Bezonian? Speak, or die!
Henry IV, Part II.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
TIS SLXTY YEARS SINCE.
45. Willard Thorp, friend. Gifr.
The title of this work has not been chosen without the grave and solid deliberation which matters of importance demanded from the prudent. Even its first, or general denomination, was the result of no com mon 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 whith his white shield, assumed for my hero WAVERLEY, an uncontaminated name, bearing with its sound little of good or evil, except
ing what the reader shall be hereafter pleased to affix
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,“ Wavera ley, a tale of other days," must not every novel read. er have anticipated a castle scarce less than that of Udolpho, of which the castern wing had long been uninhabited, and the keys either lost or consigned 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 introduce any scene more lively than might be introduced by the jocularity of a clownish but faithful valet, or the garrulous narrative of the heroine's fille-de-chambre, when rehearsing the stories of blood and horror which she had heard in the servants' hall? Again, had my title borne 56 Waverley, a Romance, from the German, head so obtuse as not to image forth a profligate abbot, an oppressive duke, a secret and mysterious association of Rosicrucians and Illuminati, with all their properties of black cowls, caverns, daggers, electrical machines, trap-doors, and dark lanterns? Or, if I had rather chosen to call
work “ Sentimental Tale;" would it not have been a sufficient
of a heroine with a profusion of auburn hair, and a harp, the soft solace of her solitary hours, which she fortunately finds always the means of transporting from castle to cottage, although she herself be sometimes obliged to jump out of a two-pair-of-stairs window, and is more than once bewildered on her journey, alone and on foot, without any guide but a blowzy peasant girl, whose jargon she hardly can understand?
Or, again, if my Waverley had been entitled “A Tale of the Times,” wouldst thou not, gentle reader, have demanded from me a dashing sketch of the fashionable world, a few anecdotes of private scandal thinly veiled, and if lusciously painted, so much the better; a heroine from Grosvenor Square, and a hero from the Barouche Club, or the Four-in-hand, with a set of subordinate characters from the elegantes of Queen Anne-street East, or the dashing heroes of the Bow-street Office? I could proceed in proving the importance of a title page, and displaying at the same time my own intimate knowledge of the particular ingredients necessary to the composition of romances and novels of various descriptions: but it is enough, and I scorn to tyrannize longer over the impatience of my reader, who is doubtless already anxious to know the choice made by an author so profoundly versed in the different branches of his art..
By fixing, then, the date of my story sixty years before this present 1st November, 1805, I would have my readers understand that they will meet in the following pages neither a romance of chivalry, nor a tale of modern manners; that my hero will neither have iron on his shoulders as of yore, nor in the heels of his boots, as is the present.fashion of Bond-street; and that my damsels will neither be clothed “in purple and in pall,” like the Lady Alice of an old ballad, nor reduced to the primitive nakedness of a modern fashionable at a route. From this my choice of an era the understanding critic may farther presage, that the object of my tale is more a description of men than manners.
A tale of manners, to be interesting must either refer to antiquity so great as to have become venerable, or it must bear a vivid reflection of those scenes which are passing daily before our eyes and are interesting from their novelty. Thus, the coat of mail of our ancestors, and the triple-furred pelisse of our modern beaux, may, though for very different reasons, be equally fit for the array of a fic