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I novelty of their feelings towards it. Dulness and
I tameness are the only irreparable faults."

December 31st." With kindest wishes on the return of the season, I send you the last of the copy of Rokeby. If you are not engaged at home, and like to call in, we will drink good luck to it; but do not derange a family party.

"There is something odd and melancholy in concluding a poem with the year, and I could be almost silly and sentimental about it. I hope you think I have done my best. I assure you of my wishes the work may succeed; and my exertions to get out in time were more inspired by your interest and John's, than my own. And so vogue la galère. W.S."


"DEAR JAMES,-I send you to-day better than the third sheet of Canto II., and I trust to send the other three sheets in the course of the week. I expect that you will have three cantos complete before I quit this place on the 11th of November. Surely, if you do your part, the poem may be out by Christmas; but you must not daudle over your typographical scruples. I have too much respect for the public to neglect any thing in my poem to attract their attention; and Between the publication of "The Lady of the you misunderstood me much, when you supposed that Lake," which was so eminently successful, and that I designed any new experiments in point of composi- of "Rokeby," in 1813, three years had intervened. I tion. I only meant to say, that knowing well that the shall not, I believe, be accused of ever having atsaid public will never be pleased with exactly the same tempted to usurp a superiority over many men of thing a second time, I saw the necessity of giving a genius, my contemporaries; but, in point of populacertain degree of novelty, by throwing the interest | rity, not of actual talent, the caprice of the public had more on character than in my former poems, without certainly given me such a temporary superiority over certainly meaning to exclude either incident or de- men, of whom, in regard to poetical fancy and feelscription. I think you will see the same sort of diffe-ing, I scarcely thought myself worthy to loose the rence taken in all my former poems, of which I would say, if it is fair for me to say any thing, that the force in the Lay is thrown on style, in Marmion on description, and in the Lady of the Lake on incident."

3d November." As for my story, the conduct of the plot, which must be made natural and easy, prevents my introducing any thing light for some time. You must advert, that in order to give poetical effect to any incident, I am often obliged to be much longer than I expected in the detail. You are too much ike the country squire in the what d'ye call it, who commands that the play should not only be a tragedy and comedy, but that it should be crowned with a spice of your pastoral. As for what is popular, and what people like, and so forth, it is all a joke. Be interesting; do the thing well, and the only difference will be, that people will like what they never liked before, and will like it so much the better for the

shoe-latch. On the other hand, it would be absurd affectation in me to deny, that I conceived myself to understand, more perfectly than many of my contemporaries, the manner most likely to interest the great mass of mankind. Yet, even with this belief, 1 must truly and fairly say, that I always considered myself rather as one who held the bets, in time to be paid over to the winner, than as having any pretence to keep them in my own right.

In the meantime years crept on, and not without their usual depredations on the passing generation. My sons had arrived at the age when the paternal home was no longer their best abode, as both were destined to active life. The field-sports, to which I was peculiarly attached, had now less interest, and were replaced by other amusements of a more quiet character; and the means and opportunity of pursuing these were to be sought for. I had, indeed, for some years attended to farming, a knowledge of which

fort myself with the Spanish proverb, "Time and I against any two."

The difficult and indispensable point, of finding a permanent subject of occupation, was now at length attained; but there was annexed to it the necessity of becoming again a candidate for public favour; for, as I was turned improver on the earth of the every-day world, it was under condition that the small tenement of Parnassus, which might be accessible to my labours, should not remain uncultivated.

I meditated, at first, a poem on the subject of Bruce, in which I made some progress, but afterwards judged it advisable to lay it aside, supposing that an English story might have more novelty; in consequence, the precedence was given to "Rokeby."

is, or at least was then, indispensable to the comfort of a family residing in a solitary country-house; but although this was the favourite amusement of many of my friends, I have never been able to consider it as a source of pleasure. I never could think it a matter of passing importance, that my cattle or crops were better or more plentiful than those of my neighbours, and nevertheless I began to feel the necessity of some more quiet out-door occupation, different from those I had hitherto pursued. I purchased a small farm of about one hundred acres, with the purpose of planting and improving it, to which property circumstances afterwards enabled me to make considerable additions; and thus an era took place in my life, almost equal to the important one mentioned by the Vicar of Wakefield, when he removed from the Blue-room to the Brown. In point of neighbourhood, at least, the change of residence made little more difference. Abbotsford, to which we removed, was only six or seven miles down the Tweed, and lay on the same beautiful stream. It did not possess the romantic character of Ashestiel, my former residence; but it had a stretch of meadow-land along the river, and possessed, in the phrase of the landscape-gardener, considerable capabilities. Above all, the land was my own, like Uncle Toby's Bowling-green, to do what I would with. It had been, though the gratification was long postponed, an early wish of mine to connect myself with my mother earth, and prosecute those experiments by which a species of creative power is exercised over the face of nature. I can trace, even to childhood, a pleasure derived from Dodsley's account of Shenstone's Leasowes, and I envied the poet much more for the pleasure of accom-duced by the progress of society. We could read with plishing the objects detailed in his friend's sketch of his grounds, than for the possession of pipe, crook, flock, and Phillis to boot. My memory, also, tenacious of quaint expressions, still retained a phrase which it had gathered from an old almanack of Charles the Second's time (when every thing down to almanacks affected to be smart), in which the reader, in the month of June, is advised for health's sake to walk a mile or two every day before breakfast, and, if he can possibly so manage, to let his exercise be taken upon his own land.

With the satisfaction of having attained the fulfilment of an early and long-cherished hope, I commenced my improvements, as delightful in their progress as those of the child who first makes a dress for a new doll. The nakedness of the land was in time hidden by woodlands of considerable extent-the | smallest of possible cottages was progressively expanded into a sort of dream of a mansion-house, whimsical in the exterior, but convenient within. Nor did I forget what is the natural pleasure of every man who has been a reader; I mean the filling the shelves of a tolerably large library. All these objects I kept in view, to be executed as convenience should serve ; and, although I knew many years must elapse before they could be attained, I was of a disposition to com

If subject and scenery could have influenced the fate of a poem, that of "Rokeby" should have been eminently distinguished; for the grounds belonged to a dear friend, with whom I had lived in habits of intimacy for many years, and the place itself united the romantic beauties of the wilds of Scotland with the rich and smiling aspect of the southern portion of the island. But the Cavaliers and Roundheads, whom I attempted to summon up to tenant this beautiful region, had for the public neither the novelty nor the peculiar interest of the primitive Highlanders. This, perhaps, was scarcely to be expected, considering that. the general mind sympathizes readily and at once with the stamp which nature herself has affixed upon the manners of a people living in a simple and patriarchal state; whereas it has more difficulty in understanding or interesting itself in manners founded upon those peculiar habits of thinking or acting, which are pro

pleasure the tale of the adventures of a Cossack or a Mongol Tartar, while we only wonder and stare over those of the lovers in the "Pleasing Chinese History," where the embarrassments turn upon difficulties arising out of unintelligible delicacies peculiar to the customs and manners of that affected people.

The cause of my failure had, however, a far deeper root. The manner, or style, which, by its novelty, attracted the public in an unusual degree, had now, after having been three times before them, exhausted the patience of the reader, and began in the fourth to lose its charms. The reviewers may be said to have apostrophized the author in the language of Parnell's Edwin :

"And here reverse the charm, he cries,
And let it fairly now suffice,

The gambol has been shown."

The licentious combination of rhymes, in a manner not perhaps very congenial to our language, had not been confined to the author. Indeed, in most similar cases, the inventors of such novelties have their reputation destroyed by their own imitators, as Acteon fell under the fury of his own dogs. The present author, like Bobadil, had taught his trick of fence to a

hundred gentlemen, (and ladies,1) who could fence very nearly, or quite as well as himself. For this there was no remedy; the harmony became tiresome and ordinary, and both the original inventor and his invention must have fallen into contempt, if he had not found out another road to public favour. What has been said of the metre only, must be considered to apply equally to the structure of the Poem and of the style. The very best passages of any popular style are not, perhaps, susceptible of imitation, but they may be approached by men of talent; and those who are less able to copy them, at least lay hold of their peculiar features, so as to produce a strong burlesque. In either way, the effect of the manner is rendered cheap and common; and, in the latter case, ridiculous to boot. The evil consequences to an author's reputation are at least as fatal as those which come upon the musical composer, when his melody falls into the hands of the street ballad-singer.

Of the unfavourable species of imitation, the author's style gave room to a very large number, owing to an appearance of facility to which some of those who used the measure unquestionably leaned too far. The effect of the more favourable imitations, composed by persons of talent, was almost equally unfortunate to the original minstrel, by showing that they could overshoot him with his own bow. In short, the popularity which once attended the School, as it was called, was now fast decaying.

ed; and there was some appearance of that labour of the file, which indicates that the author is conscious of the necessity of doing every justice to his work, that it may pass warrant. Lord Byron was also a traveller, a man whose ideas were fired by having seen, in distant scenes of difficulty and danger, the places whose very names are recorded in our bosoms as the shrines of ancient poetry. For his own misfortune, perhaps, but certainly to the high increase of his poetical character, nature had mixed in Lord Byron's system those passions which agitate the human heart with most violence, and which may be said to have hurried his bright career to an early close. There would have been little wisdom in measuring my force with so formidable an antagonist; and I was as likely to tire of playing the second fiddle in the concert, as my audience of hearing me. Age also was advancing. I was growing insensible to those subjects of excitation by which youth is agitated. I had around me the most pleasant but least exciting of all society, that of kind friends and an affectionate family. My circle of employments was a narrow one; it occupied me constantly, and it became daily more difficult for me to interest myself in poetical composition:—

"How happily the days of Thalaba went by !"

Yet, though conscious that I must be, in the opinion of good judges, inferior to the place I had for four or five years held in letters, and feeling alike that the latter was one to which I had only a temporary right, I could not brook the idea of relinquishing literary occupation, which had been so long my chief diversion. Neither was I disposed to choose the alternative of sinking into a mere editor and commentator, though that was a species of labour which I had prac tised, and to which I was attached. But I could not

Besides all this, to have kept his ground at the crisis when "Rokeby" appeared, its author ought to have put forth his utmost strength, and to have possessed at least all his original advantages, for a mighty and unexpected rival was advancing on the stage-a rival not in poetical powers only, but in that art of attracting popularity, in which the present writer had hitherto preceded better men than himself. The read-endure to think that I might not, whether known or

er will easily see that Byron is here meant, who, after a little velitation of no great promise, now appeared as a serious candidate, in the "First two Cantos of Childe Harold." I was astonished at the power evinced by that work, which neither the "Hours of Idleness," nor the "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," had prepared me to expect from its author. There was a depth in his thought, an eager abundance in his diction, which argued full confidence in the inexhaustible resources of which he felt himself possess

concealed, do something of more importance. My inmost thoughts were those of the Trojan Captain in the galley race,

"Non jam, prima peto, Mnestheus, neque vincere certo
Quanquam O!-sed superent, quibus hoc, Neptune, dedisti;
Extremos pudeat rediisse: hoc vincite, cives,
Et prohibete nefas." -EN. lib. v. 194.

I had, indeed, some private reasons for my "Quanquam O!" which were not worse than those of Mnes

"Scott found peculiar favour and imitation among the fair sex: there was Miss Halford, and Miss Mitford, and Miss Francis: but, with the greatest respect be it spoken, none of his imitators did much honour to the original, except Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, until the appearance of the 'Bridal of Triermain' and 'Harold the Dauntless,' which, in the opinion of some, equalled, if not surpassed, him; and lo! after three or four years, they turned out to be the Master's own compoitions."-BYRON's Works, vol. xv. p. 96.

"These two Cantos were published in London in March 1812, and immediately placed their author on a level with the very highest names of his age. The impression they created was more uniform, decisive, and triumphant, than any that

had been witnessed in this country for at least two generations. I awoke one morning,' he says, and found myself famous.' In truth, he had fixed himself, at a single bound, on a summit, such as no English poet had ever before attained, but after a long succession of painful and comparatively ne glected efforts.”—Advertisement to BYRON's Life and Works, vol. viii.

8 "I seek not now the foremost palm to gain;
Though yet-but ah! that haughty wish is vain!
Let those enjoy it whom the gods ordain.
But to be last, the lags of all the race!-
Redeem yourselves and me from that disgrace."

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The Scene of this Poem is laid at Rokeby, near Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire, and shifts to the adjacent fortress of
Barnard Castle, and to other places in that Vicinity.

The Time occupied by the Action is a space of Five Days, Three of which are supposed to elapse between the end
of the Fifth and beginning of the Sixth Canto.

The date of the supposed events is immediately subsequent to the great Battle of Marston Moor, 3d July, 1644.
This period of public confusion has been chosen, without any purpose of combining the Fable with the Military or
Political Events of the Civil War, but only as affording a degree of probability to the Fictitious Narrative now
presented to the Public.2




THE Moon is in her summer glow,
But hoarse and high the breezes blow,
And, racking o'er her face, the cloud
Varies the tincture of her shroud;
Or Barnard's towers, and Tees's stream,3
She changes as a guilty dream,

1 Dec. 31, 1812.

2 "Behold another lay from the harp of that indefatigable minstrel, who has so often provoked the censure, and extorted the admiration of his critics; and who, regardless of both, and following every impulse of his own inclination, has yet raised himself at once, and apparently with little effort, to the pinnacle of public favour.

A poem thus recommended may be presumed to have already reached the whole circle of our readers, and we believe that all those readers will concur with us in considering Rokeby as a composition, which, if it had preceded, instead of following, Marmion, and the Lady of the Lake, would have contributed, as effectually as they have done, to the establishment of Mr. Scott's high reputation. Whether, timed as it

When conscience, with remorse and fear,
Goads sleeping Fancy's wild career.
Her light seems now the blush of shame,
Seems now fierce anger's darker flame,
Shifting that shade, to come and go,
Like apprehension's hurried glow;
Then sorrow's livery dims the air,
And dies in darkness, like despair.
Such varied hues the warder sees
Reflected from the woodland Tees,
Then from old Baliol's tower looks forth,
Sees the clouds mustering in the north,

now is, it be likely to satisfy the just expectations which that
reputation has excited, is a question which, perhaps, will not
be decided with the same unanimity. Our own opinion is in
the affirmative, but we confess that this is our revised opinion,
and that when we concluded our first perusal of Rokeby, our
gratification was not quite unmixed with disappointment.
The reflections by which this impression has been subsequent-
ly modified, arise out of our general view of the poem; of the
interest inspired by the fable; of the masterly delineations of
the characters by whose agency the plot is unravelled; and of
the spirited nervous conciseness of the narrative."-Quarterly
Review, No. xvi.


3 See Appendix, Note A.


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