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Let us read a few lines addressed by
spring in strange places !” Crabbe to a Library :
Sir Walter Scott, who has been styled “the potent wizard of romance, at the waving of whose wand came trooping on the stage of life again, gallant knights and ladies fair, foaming chargers and splendid tournaments, with their Aashing armour and blazoned shields,” was also the poet who loved to sing of knightly deeds of valour and old traditional love-lays.
He was endowed with a wonderful facility of composition. His brain has been compared to a high-pressure engine, the steam of which was “up” as soon as he entered his study, which was generally at six o'clock in the morning. After three hours' labour came breakfast, and after that he resumed his studies till dinnertime.
Scott is believed to have acquired over half a million of pounds sterling by his various literary labours,—an amount altogether unapproached by any other author of ancient or modern times. His own life-story, so full of vicissitude and surprising incident, has been styled a greater marvel than any of his romantic fictions.
His severe literary toils were not intermitted even amid the heavy financial disasters which overtook him in connection with the failure of his publishers; but with heroic determination he persevered in the noble purpose of discharging these obligations. Having accomplished the herculean task, his physical strength began to fail ; and after a tour to Italy, he returned to Abbotsford, totally exhausted. When he arrived there, his dogs came about his knees, and he sobbed over them till he was reduced to a state of stupefaction. After lingering for two months, his mind became more clear, when he would ask to be placed at his desk, but the fingers refused to grasp the pen, and he sunk back, weeping. On the 21st of September, 1832, Sir Walter breathed his last.
Not long before he died, he said: “I have been, perhaps, the most voluminous author of the day, and it is a comfort to me to think that I have tried to unsettle no man's faith, to corrupt no man's principles, and that I have written nothing which, on my death-bed, I should wish blotted.”
Melrose he has consecrated by his genius, Abbotsford by his living presence, and Dryburgh is made sacred by his sleeping dust : while Nature herself may be said, in his own beautiful lines, to do homage to the memory of his muse :
Call it not vain ; they do not err,
Who say that when the poet dies,
And celebrates his obsequies :