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peculiar tenderness for these animals, which it had ever since retained." The boy never completely recovered from his lameness, but his activity among his schoolfellows was remarkable, and, according to his own account, he was as mischievous as the wildest urchin of his acquaintance.
In his fourth year he was sent to Bath, in the care of his aunt, Miss Janet Scott, where he remained about a year. By this time, he tells us, his health had become much improved by the country life prescribed for him by his grandfather, although his leg was still shrunken and contracted. In a word, he, who in a city would probably have been condemned to hopeless invalidism, became a healthy, high-spirited, and, except for his lameness, a sturdy child.
While he lived at Bath he learned to read at a day school in the neighborhood, and profited much by the companionship of his aunt, who read aloud to him old English and Scottish ballads until he could repeat long passages by heart.
From Bath he returned first to Edinburgh, and then to Sandy-Knowe; and when about eight years old he was removed to Prestonpans, as it was thought that sea bathing might prove beneficial to his lameness. At Prestonpans little Walter Scott stayed for some weeks, and here became great friends with an old military veteran, Dalgetty by name, who had pitched his tent, after many campaigns, in that little village, where, though called by courtesy a captain, he lived upon an ensign's half pay. He was the original of Captain Dugald Dalgetty, whom, with his redoubtable war horse, Gustavus Adolphus, readers of The Legend of Montrose hold in pleasant remembrance. From Prestonpans, Scott was taken back to his father's
house in George's Square, Edinburgh, and, after having undergone the usual routine of juvenile instructions, he became, in 1779, a pupil in the Edinburgh high school. As a scholar he appears to have been by no means remarkable either for proficiency or for diligence; but his leisure hours were employed to good advantage in reading aloud to his mother, who had good natural taste and great feeling, and who succeeded in inculcating in his opening mind a discriminating love for literature.
In childhood Scott's hair was light chestnut, turning to brown in youth. His mouth was large and goodtempered, his eyes light blue, his eyebrows bushy. In spite of his lameness, he could climb rocks with the most daring, and he soon learned to ride. Out of school he was known as a leader in two different accomplishments: he I could tell his schoolfellows stories of wonderful adventures, which always held their attention; or he could lead them across the difficult path under the Castle to attack the boys of the town.
After a few years in Edinburgh, Scott's health again became delicate, and it was thought best that he should be sent to live with his aunt at Kelso, which he calls the most beautiful, if not the most romantic, village in Scotland. From this time the love of natural beauty became with Scott an insatiable passion.
It was while attending the grammar school at Kelso that he became acquainted with James and John Ballantyne. According to James Ballantyne, Scott was then devoted to antiquarian lore, and was certainly the best story-teller he ever heard. "In the intervals of school hours," says Ballantyne, "it was our constant practice to walk together by the banks of the Tweed, and his stories appeared to be quite inexhaustible." This friendship
with the Ballantynes continued through life, John having a share in the publication of many of Scott's works, while James was the printer of nearly all of them.
When Scott returned to Edinburgh his acquaintance with English literature was greatly extended; he had read much in history, poetry, voyages, and travels, and an unusual amount of fairy tales, eastern stories and romances; in short, he had been "driving through a sea of books, like a vessel without a pilot or a rudder.
After having been two years under the rector of the high school, Scott enrolled himself in 1783, for the humanity or Latin class under Professor Hill in the University of Edinburgh, and in the Greek class under Professor Dalzel; the only other class for which he matriculated at the university was that of logic, under Professor Bruce, in 1785. All this time he was constantly reading. He learned Spanish and read Cervantes; he learned Italian and read Tasso and Ariosto; he steeped his mind in mediæval romance and legend, and he still retained his fondness for the old ballads whose acquaintance he had first made in company with his Aunt Janet, when he was a boy of four years.
In 1786, however, he was apprenticed to his father for five years, in order to be initiated into the dry technicalities of conveyancing, for his father destined him for the law. The change was very great; Scott had the strongest aversion to the confinement and the dull routine of the office. His desk was usually supplied with a store of works of fiction, and the eagerness with which he sought out and read everything that had reference to knighterrantry would have won the warm sympathy of the Ingenious Hidalgo, Don Quixote of La Mancha.
About the second year of his apprenticeship he had the
misfortune to burst a blood-vessel, and was confined to his bed for many weeks. During this time, conversation was forbidden, and his only amusements were reading and playing chess. In these weeks of enforced idleness he added to his readings of poetry and romance the study of history, especially as connected with military events, and thus collected much material that was of ultimate use in the composition of his poems and novels. After this illness he enjoyed excellent health, and as his frame gradually hardened, he was rather disfigured than dis abled by his lameness. Excursions on foot or on horseback now formed Scott's favorite amusements, and wood, water, and wilderness had inexpressible charms for him. When he saw an old castle or a battle-field, his imagination immediately peopled it with combatants in their proper costumes, and his hearers were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of his description.
In 1791 Scott was admitted a member of the Speculative Society1 of the University of Edinburgh, and very shortly afterward was appointed its librarian and subsequently its treasurer and secretary.
The time of Scott's apprenticeship had now elapsed, and after some consideration he determined to prepare himself for the bar, for which purpose he diligently applied himself to the study of Roman civil law, as well as to the municipal law of Scotland. On the 10th of July, 1792, when just completing his twenty-first year, he was called to the bar as an advocate.
Lockhart tells us that Scott became a sound lawyer,
1 For a description of the Speculative Society, or "Spec.," see Robert Louis Stevenson's delightful essay, A College Magazine, published in Virginibus Puerisque; Memories and Portraits, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons.
and might have been a great one; Scott's father, on the other hand, told him that he was better fitted to be a peddler than a lawyer, so fond was he of tramping the country in search of noble scenery and historic associations. It was on such expeditions that Scott learned to know the speech and ways of the peasantry, whom he describes so well in his books. In Redgauntlet, one of the most interesting of Scott's novels, he gives us, in the person of Alan Fairford, a vivid picture of the tastes and occupations of this period of his life. The truth is, the love for antiquarian lore, which so impressed James Ballantyne, was still his ruling passion, while his necessities were not so great as to make an exclusive application to his profession imperative. Although he could speak fluently at the bar, his mind was not at all of a forensic cast, and he was too much the abstract scholar to assume readily the mental attitude of an adroit pleader.
The love of literature was strong in him, and in 1796, the year in which Burns died, he made his first appearance as a writer with a translation of Lenore, and the Wild Huntsman, from the German of Bürger, which met with a favorable reception from a somewhat limited public.
About this time there was widespread indignation in Scotland at the hostile menaces of France, and numerous bodies of volunteer militia were formed to meet the threatened invasion. In the beginning of 1799 a cavalry corps was formed under the name of the Royal MidLothian Regiment of Cavalry; Scott was appointed its adjutant, for which office his lameness was considered no bar. He was a very zealous officer, and highly popular in the regiment, and he always looked back upon this episode in his life with the greatest pleasure.