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on, "by request of friends," to indulge his own vanity | with which publications were then procured from the
by publishing the translation of "Lenoré," with continent. The worthy and excellent friend, of whoni
that of "The Wild Huntsman," in a thin quarto." 2
I gave a sketch many years afterwards in the person
The fate of this, my first publication, was by no of Jonathan Oldbuck,5 procured me Adelung's Dic-
means flattering. I distributed so many copies among tionary, through the mediation of Father Pepper, a
my friends as, according to the booksellers, materially monk of the Scotch College of Ratisbon. Other wants
to interfere with the sale; and the number of trans- of the same nature were supplied by Mrs. Scott of
lations which appeared in England about the same Harden, whose kindness in a similar instance I have
time, including that of Mr. Taylor, to which I had had already occasion to acknowledge. Through this
been so mucn indebted, and which was published in lady's connections on the continent, I obtained copies
"The Monthly Magazine," were sufficient to exclude of Bürger, Schiller, Goethé, and other standard Ger-
a provincial writer from competition. However diffe- man works; and though the obligation be of a distant
rent my success might have been, had I been fortu- date, it still remains impressed on my memory, after a
nate enough to have led the way in the general life spent in a constant interchange of friendship and
scramble for precedence, my efforts sunk unnoticed kindness with that family, which is, according to Scot-
when launched at the same time with those of Mr. tish ideas, the head of my house.
Taylor (upon whose property I had committed the Being thus furnished with the necessary originals,
kind of piracy already noticed, and who generously I began to translate on all sides, certainly without
forgave me the invasion of his rights); of my inge-any thing like an accurate knowledge of the lan-
nious and amiable friend of many years, William
Robert Spenser; of Mr. Pye, the laureate of the day,
and many others besides. In a word, my adventure,
where so many pushed off to sea, proved a dead loss,
and a great part of the edition was condemned to the
service of the trunk-maker. Nay, so complete was the
failure of the unfortunate ballads, that the very exis-
tence of them was soon forgotten; and, in a news-
paper, in which I very lately read, to my no small
horror, a most appalling list of my own various publi-
cations, I saw this, my first offence, had escaped the
industrious collector, for whose indefatigable research
I may in gratitude wish a better object."

The failure of my first publication did not operate, in any unpleasant degree, either on my feelings or spirits. I was coldly received by strangers, but my reputation began rather to increase among my own friends, and, on the whole, I was more bent to show the world that it had neglected something worth notice, than to be affronted by its indifference. Or rather, to speak candidly, I found pleasure in the literary labour in which I had, almost by accident, become engaged, and laboured, less in the hope of pleasing others, though certainly without despair of doing so, than in the pursuit of a new and agreeable amusement to myself. I pursued the German language keenly, and, though far from being a correct scholar, became a bold and daring reader, nay, even translator, of various dramatic pieces from that tongue.*

The want of books at that time, (about 1796) was a great interruption to the rapidity of my movements; for the young do not know, and perhaps my own contemporaries may have forgotten, the difficulty

Under the title of " William and Helen."-ED

guage; and although the dramas of Goethé, Schiller, and others, powerfully attracted one whose early attention to the German had been arrested by Mackenzie's Dissertation, and the play of " The Robbers,” yet the ballad poetry, in which I had made a bold essay, was still my favourite. I was yet more delighted on finding, that the old English, and especially the Scottish language, were so nearly similar to the Ger man, not in sound merely, but in the turn of phrase, that they were capable of being rendered line for line, with very little variation."

By degrees, I acquired sufficient confidence to attempt the imitation of what I admired. The ballad called "Glenfinlas" was, I think, the first original poem which I ventured to compose. As it is supposed to be a translation from the Gaelic, I considered myself as liberated from imitating the antiquated language and rude rhythm of the Minstrel ballad. A versification of an Ossianic fragment came nearer to the idea I had formed of my task; for although controversy may have arisen concerning the authenticity of these poems, yet I never heard it disputed, by those whom an accurate knowledge of the Gaelic rendered competent judges, that in their spirit and diction they nearly resemble fragments of poetry extant in that language, to the genuine antiquity of which no doubt can attach. Indeed, the celebrated dispute on that subject is something like the more bloody, though scarce fiercer controversy, about the Popish Plot in Charles the Second's time, concerning which Dryden has said

"Succeeding times will equal folly call,
Believing nothing, or believing all."

• Sir Walter Scott's second publication was a translation of 2 This thin quarto was published by Messrs. Manners and Goethe's drama of Goetz of Berlichingen with the Iron Hand, Miller of Edinburgh.-ED.

which appeared in 1799. He about the same time translated several other German plays, which yet remain in MS.

3 The list here referred to was drawn up and inserted in the
Caledonian Mercury, by Mr. James Shaw, for nearly forty-ED.
years past in the house of Sir Walter Scott's publishers,
Messrs. Constable and Cadell, of Edinburgh.-ED. (See it in
Life of Scott, vol. x. pp. 260-276.)

5 The late George Constable, Esq. See Introduction to the Antiquary, Waverley Novels, vol. v. p. iv.—ED. • See Appendix, Note C.


The Celtis people of Erin and Albyn had, in short, speak of, that though the applause of the many may a style of poetry properly called national, though Mac-justly appreciate the general merits of a piece, it is Pherson was rather an excellent poet than a faithful not so safe to submit such a performance to the more editor and translator. This style and fashion of poe-minute criticism of the same individuals, when each, try, existing in a different language, was supposed to in turn, having seated himself in the censor's chair, give the original of "Glenfinlas," and the author was has placed his mind in a critical attitude, and delivers to pass for one who had used his best command of his opinion sententiously and ex cathedra. General English to do the Gaelic model justice. In one point, applause was in almost every case freely tendered, but the incidents of the poem were irreconcilable with the the abatements in the way of proposed alterations and costume of the times in which they were laid. The corrections, were cruelly puzzling. It was in vain ancient Highland chieftains, when they had a mind to the young author, listening with becoming modesty, "hunt the dun deer down," did not retreat into soli- and with a natural wish to please, cut and carved, tary bothies, or trust the success of the chase to their tinkered and coopered, upon his unfortunate ballads own unassisted exertions, without a single gillie to it was in vain that he placed, displaced, replaced, help them; they assembled their clan, and all partook and misplaced; every one of his advisers was disof the sport, forming a ring, or enclosure, called the pleased with the concessions made to his co-assessors, Tinchell, and driving the prey towards the most dis- and the author was blamed by some one, in almost tinguished persons of the hunt. This course would every case, for having made two holes in attempting not have suited me, so Ronald and Moy were cooped to patch up one. up in their solitary wigwam, like two moorfowl-shooters of the present day.

After "Glenfinlas," I undertook another ballad, called "The Eve of St. John." The incidents, except the hints alluded to in the marginal notes, are entirely imaginary, but the scene was that of my early childhood. Some idle persons had of late years, during the proprietor's absence, torn the iron-grated door of Smailholm Tower from its hinges, and thrown it down the rock. I was an earnest suitor to my friend and kinsman, Mr. Scott of Harden, already mentioned, that the dilapidation might be put a stop to, and the mischief repaired. This was readily promised, on condition that I should make a ballad, of which the scene should lie at Smailholm Tower, and among the crags where it is situated.' The ballad was approved of, as well as its companion "Glenfinlas ;" and I remember that they procured me many marks of attention and kindness from Duke John of Roxburghe, who gave me the unlimited use of that celebrated collection of volumes from which the Roxburghe Club derives its name.

Thus I was set up for a poet, like a pedlar who has got two ballads to beg n the world upon, and I hastened to make the round of all my acquaintances, showing my precious wares, and requesting criticism -a boon which no author asks in vain. For it may be observed, that, in the fine arts, those who are in no respect able to produce any specimens themselves, hold themselves no, the less entitled to decide upon the works of others; and, no doubt, with justice to a certain degree; for the merits of composition produced for the express purpose of pleasing the world at large, can only be judged of by the opinion of individuals, and perhaps, as in the case of Molière's old woman, the less sophisticated the person consulted so much the better. But I was ignorant, at the time I

This is of little consequence, except in as far as it contradicts a story which I have seen in print, averring that Mr. Scott of Harden was himself about to destroy this ancient building; than which nothing can be more inaccurate.

At last, after thinking seriously on the subject, I wrote out a fair copy, (of Glenfinlas, I think,) and marked all the various corrections which had been proposed. On the whole, I found that I had been required to alter every verse, almost every line, and the only stanzas of the whole ballad which escaped criticism were two which could neither be termed good nor bad, speaking of them as poetry, but were of a mere commonplace character, absolutely necessary for conducting the business of the tale. This unexpect ed result, after about a fortnight's anxiety, led me to adopt a rule from which I have seldom departed during more than thirty years of literary life. When a friend, whose judgment I respect, has decided, and upon good advisement told me, that a manuscript was worth nothing, or at least possessed no redeeming qualities sufficient to atone for its defects, I have generally cast it aside; but I am little in the custom of paying attention to minute criticisms, or of offering such to any friend who may do me the honour to consult me. I am convinced, that, in general, in removing even errors of a trivial or venial kind, the character of originality is lost, which, upon the whole, may be that which is most valuable in the production.

About the time that I shook hands with criticism, and reduced my ballads back to the original form, stripping them without remorse of those "lendings" which I had adopted at the suggestion of others, an opportunity unexpectedly offered of introducing to the world what had hitherto been confined to a circle of friends. Lewis had announced a collection, first intended to bear the title of "Tales of Terror," and afterwards published under that of "Tales of Wonder." As this was to be a collection of tales turning on the preternatural, there were risks in the plan of which the ingenious editor was not aware. The supernatural, though appealing to certain powerful emotions

2 See the account of a conversation between Sir Walter Scott and Sir Thomas Lawrence, in "Cunningham. s Lives of British Painters," &c. vol. vi. v. 235.-ED

would not allow; and the "Tales of Wonder" were filled, in a sense, with attempts at comedy, which might be generally accounted abortive.

very widely and deeply sown amongst the human race, some gaiety into his lighter pieces, after the manner
is, nevertheless, a spring which is peculiarly apt to lose of the French writers, his attempts at what is called
its elasticity by being too much pressed on, and a col-pleasantry in English wholly wanted the quality of
lection of ghost stories is not more likely to be terri-humour, and were generally failures. But this be
ble, than a collection of jests to be merry or entertain-
ing. But although the very title of the proposed work
carried in it an obstruction to its effect, this was far
from being suspected at the time, for the popularity
of the editor, and of his compositions, seemed a war-
rant for his success. The distinguished favour with
which the "Castle Spectre" was received upon the
stage, seemed an additional pledge for the safety of
his new attempt. I readily agreed to contribute the
ballads of "Glenfinlas" and of "The Eve of Saint
John," with one or two others of less merit; and my
friend Dr. Leyden became also a contributor. Mr.
Southey, a tower of strength, added "The Old Wo-
man of Berkeley," "Lord William," and several other
interesting ballads of the same class, to the proposed

Another objection, which might have been more easily foreseen, subjected the editor to a charge of which Mat Lewis was entirely incapable,—that of collusion with his publisher in an undue attack on the pockets of the public. The "Tales of Wonder" formed a work in royal octavo, and were, by large printing, driven out, as it is technically termed, to two volumes, which were sold at a high price. Purchasers murmured at finding that this size had been attained by the insertion of some of the best known pieces of the English language, such as Dryden's "Theodore and Honoria," Parnell's "Hermit," Lisle's "Porsenna King of Russia," and many other popular poems of old date, and generally known, which ought not in conscience to have made part of a set of tales," written and collected" by a modern author. His bookseller was also accused in the public prints, whether truly or not I am uncertain, of having attempted to secure to himself the entire profits of the large sale which he expected, by refusing to his brethren the allowances usually, if not in all cases, made to the retail trade.

In the meantime, my friend Lewis found it no easy matter to discipline his northern recruits. He was a martinet, if I may so term him, in the accuracy of rhymes and of numbers; 1 may add, he had a right to be so, for few persons have exhibited more mastery of rhyme, or greater command over the melody of verse. He was, therefore, rigid in exacting similar accuracy from others, and as I was quite unaccustomed to the mechanical part of poetry, and used rhymes which were merely permissible, as readily as Lewis, one of the most liberal as well as benevolent those which were legitimate, contests often arose of mankind, had not the least participation in these amongst us, which were exasperated by the pertina-proceedings of his bibliopolist; but his work sunk city of my Mentor, who, as all who knew him can testify, was no granter of propositions. As an instance of the obstinacy with which I had so lately adopted a tone of defiance to criticism, the reader will find in the Appendix1 a few specimens of the lectures which I underwent from my friend Lewis, and which did not at the time produce any effect on my inflexibility, though I did not forget them at a future period.

The proposed publication of the "Tales of Wonder" was, from one reason or another, postponed till the year 1801, a circumstance by which, of itself, the success of the work was considerably impeded; for protracted expectation always leads to disappointment. But besides, there were circumstances of various kinds which contributed to its depreciation, some of which were imputable to the editor, or author, and some to the bookseller.

under the obloquy which was heaped on it by the offended parties. The book was termed "Tales of Plunder," was censured by reviewers, and attacked in newspapers and magazines. A very clever parody was made on the style and the person of the author and the world laughed as willingly as if it had never applauded.

Thus, owing to the failure of the vehicle I had chosen, my efforts to present myself before the public as an original writer proved as vain as those by which I had previously endeavoured to distinguish myself as a translator. Like Lord Home, however, at the battle of Flodden, I did so far well, that I was able to stand and save myself; and amidst the general depreciation of the "Tales of Wonder," my small share of the obnoxious publication was dismissed without much censure, and in some cases obtained praise from the critics.

The former remained insensible of the passion for The consequence of my escape made me naturally ballads and ballad-mongers having been for some time more daring, and I attempted, in my own name, a on the wane, and that with such alteration in the pub-collection of ballads of various kinds, both ancient lic taste, the chance of success in that line was diminished. What had been at first received as simple and natural, was now sneered at as puerile and extravagant. Another objection was, that my friend Lewis had a high but mistaken opinion of his own powers of humour. The truth was, that though he could throw

1 Sec Append x, Note D.

and modern, to be connected by the common tie of relation to the Border districts in which I had gathered the materials. The original preface explains my purpose, and the assistance of various kinds which 1 met with. The edition was curious, as being the first work printed by my friend and school-fellow, Mr. James Ballantyne, who, at that period, was editor of a provincial newspaper, called "The Kelso Mail."

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When the book came out, in 1802, the imprint, known firm of Messrs. Longman and Rees of Pater Kelso, was read with wonder by amateurs of typo- noster Row. My progress in the literary career, 10 graphy, who had never heard of such a place, and were astonished at the example of handsome printing which so obscure a town produced.

As for the editorial part of the task, my attempt to imitate the plan and style of Bishop Percy, observing only more strict fidelity concerning my originals, was favourably received by the public, and there was a demand within a short space for a second edition, to which I proposed to add a third volume. Messrs. Cadell and Davies, the first publishers of the work, declined the publication of this second edition, which was undertaken, at a very liberal price, by the well

which I might now be considered as seriously en
gaged, the reader will find briefly traced in an Intro-
duction prefixed to the "Lay of the Last Minstrel."
In the meantime, the Editor has accomplished his
proposed task of acquainting the reader with some
particulars respecting the modern imitations of the
Ancient Ballad, and the circumstances which gra
dually, and almost insensibly, engaged himself in
that species of literary employment.

April, 1830.

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Monk;' but I have others, weaker, indeed, than the one mentioned, but still sufficiently strong. I perceive that I have put

THE PRODUCTION OF MODERN AS ANCIENT BALLADS. too much confidence in the accuracy of my own judgment;

-P. 557.

THIS failure applies to the repairs and rifacimentos of old ballads, as well as to complete imitations. In the beautiful and simple ballad of Gil Morris, some affected person has stuck in one or two factitious verses, which, like vulgar persons in a drawing-room, betray themselves by their over finery. Thus, after the simple and affecting verse which prepares the readers for the coming tragedy,

"Gil Morrice sat in good green wood,
He whistled and he sang;
'O, what mean a' yon folk coming,
My mother tarrics lang?'"

cone such "vicious intromitter" as we have described, (to use
a barbarous phrase for a barbarous proceeding,) has inserted
the following quintessence of affectation :-

"His locks were like the threads of gold
Drawn from Minerva's loom;
His lips like roses drapping dew,
His breath was a' perfume.

"His brow was like the mountain snow,
Gilt by the morning beam;
His cheeks like living roses blow,
His een like azure stream.

"The boy was clad in robes of green,
Sweet as the infant spring;
And, like the mavis on the bush,
He gart the valleys ring."

that, convinced of my object being unexceptionable, I did not sufficiently examine whether the means by which I attained that object were equally so; and that, upon many accounts, I have to accuse myself of high imprudence. Let me, however, observe, that twenty is not the age at which prudence is most to be expected. Inexperience prevented my distinguishing what would give offence; but as soon as I found that offence was given, I made the only reparation in my power-I carefully revised the work, and expunged every syllable on which could be grounded the slightest construction of im morality. This, indeed, was no difficult task; for the objec tions rested entirely on expressions too strong, and words carelessly chosen, not on the sentiments, characters, or gene ral tendency of the work;-that the latter is undeserving censure, Addison will vouch for me. The moral and outline of my story are taken from an allegory inserted by him in the 'Guardian,' and which he commends highly for ability of invention, and propriety of object.' Unluckily, in working it up, I thought that the stronger my colours, the more effect would my picture produce; and it never struck me, that the exhibition of vice in her temporary triumph, might possibly do as much harm, as her final exposure and punishment could do good. To do much good, indeed, was more than I expected of my book; having always believed that our conduct depends on our own hearts and characters, not on the books we read, or the sentiments we hear. But though I did not hope much benefit to arise from the perusal of a trifling romance, written by a youth of twenty, I was in my own mind convinced, that no harm could be produced by a work whose subject was fur. nished by one of our best moralists, and in the composition of which, I did not introduce a single incident, or a single character, without meaning to illustrate some maxim universally allowed. It was then with infinite surprise, that I heard the outcry raised against the " *





[I regret that the letter, though once perfect, now only a ists in my possession as a fragment.]


M. G. LEWIS.-P. 562

In justice to a departed friend, I have subjoined his owu defonce against an accusation so remorselessly persisted in. The following is an extract of a letter to his father:




Feb. 23, 1798. "Though certain that the clamour raised against The Among the popular Ballads, or Volkslieder, of the celebraMonk' cannot have given you the smallest doubt of the recti- ted Herder, is (take one instance out of many) a version of tude of my intentions, or the purity of my principles, yet I the old Scottish song of "Sir Patrick Spence," in which, but am conscious that it must have grieved you to find any doubts for difference of orthography, the two languages can be scarceon the subject existing in the minds of other people. To ex-ly distinguished from each other. For examplepress my sorrow for having given you pam is my motive for now addressing you, and also to assure you, that you shall not feel that pain a second time on my account. Having made you feel it at all, would be a sufficient reason, had I no others, Lo make me regret having published the first edition of The

"The King sits in Dunfermling town,
Drinking the blood-red wine;
'Where will I get a good skipper
To sail this ship of mine?**

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