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on, “ by request of friends,” to ind&ige his own vanity with which publications were then procured from the by publishing the translation of “ Lenoré,"") with cortinent. The worthy and excellent friend, of whon) 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, procured me Adelung's Dicmeans 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 much 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 Gera 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 Scotwhen 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 lannious and amiable friend of many years, William guage ; and although the dramas of Goethe, Schiller, Robert Spenser ; of Mr. Pye, the laureate of the day, and others, powerfully attracted one whose early atand many others besides. In a word, my adventure, tention to the German had been arrested by Macwhere so many pushed off to sea, proved a dead loss, kenzie's Dissertation, and the play of “ The Robbers," and a great part of the edition was condemned to the yet the ballad poetry, in which I had made a bold service of the trunk-maker. Nay, so complete was the essay, was still my favourite. I was yet more delighted failure of the unfortunate ballads, that the very exis- on finding, that the old English, and especially the tence of them was soon forgotten; and, in a news- Scottish language, were so nearly similar to the Ger. paper, in which I very lately read, to my no small man, not in sound merely, but in the turn of phrase, horror, a most appalling list of my own various publi- that they were capable of being rendered line for line, cations, I saw this, my first offence, had escaped the with very little variation. industrious collector, for whose indefatigable research By degrees, I acquired sufficient confidence to at. I may in gratitude wish a better object.3
tempt the imitation of what I admired. The ballad The failure of my first publication did not operate, called “ Glenfinlas” was, I think, the first original in any unpleasant degree, either on my feelings or poem which I ventured to compose. As it is supposed spirits. I was coldly received by strangers, but my to be a translation from the Gaelic, I considered myreputation began rather to increase among my own self as liberated from imitating the antiquated lanfriends, and, on the whole, I was more bent to show guage and rude rhythm of the Minstrel ballad. A the world that it neglected something worth versification of an Ossianic fragment came nearer to notice, than to be affronted by its indifference. Or the idea I had formed of my task ; for although conrather, to speak candidly, I found pleasure in the troversy may have arisen concerning the authenticity literary labour in which I had, almost by accident, of these poems, yet I never heard it disputed, by those become engaged, and laboured, less in the hope of whom an accurate knowledge of the Gaelic rendered pleasing others, though certainly without despair of competent judges, that in their spirit and diction they doing so, than in the pursuit of a new and agreeable nearly resemble fragments of poetry extant in that amusement to myself. I pursued the German language language, to the genuine antiquity of which no doubt keenly, and, though far from being a correct scholar, can attach. Indeed, the celebrated dispute on that became a bold and daring reader, nay, even transla- subject is something like the more bloody, though tor, of various dramatic pieces from that tongue. scarce fiercer controversy, about the Popish Plot in
The want of books at that time, (about 1796) was a Charles the Second's time, concerning which Dryden great interruption to the rapidity of my movements; has said — for the young do not know, and perhaps my own
“Succeeding times will equal folly call, contemporaries may have forgotten, the difficulty
Believing nothing, or believing all."
I Under the title of “ William and Helen."-ED
* 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 trans 3 The list here referred to was drawn up and inserted in the lated several other German plays, which yet remain in MS. Caledonian Mercury, by Mr. James Shaw, for nearly forty -ED. years past in the house of Sir Walter Scott's publishers, 6 The late George Constable, Esq. See Introduction to the Messrs. Constable and Cadell, of Edinburgh. -Ed. (See it in Antiquary, Waverley Novels, vol. v. p. iv.-Ed. Life of Scott, vol. x. pp. 260-276.)
e See Appendix, Note C.
The Celtic 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 ev cathedra. Generai English to do the Gaelic model justice. In one point, applause was in almost every case freely tendered, bat 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-shoot- At last, after thinking seriously on the subject, I ers of the present day.
wrote out a fair copy, (of Glenfinlas, I think,) and After “ Glenfinlas," I undertook another ballad, marked all the various corrections which had been called “ The Eve of St. John.” The incidents, except proposed. On the whole, I found that I had been rethe hints alluded to in the marginal notes, are entire- quired to alter every verse, almost every line, and the ly imaginary, but the scene was that of my early child- only stanzas of the whole ballad which escaped criti. hood. Some idle persons had of late years, during cism were two which could neither be termed good the proprietor's absence, torn the iron-grated door of nor bad, speaking of them as poetry, but were of a Smailholm Tower from its hinges, and thrown it down mere commonplace character, absolutely necessary the rock. I was an earnest suitor to my friend and for conducting the business of the tale. This unexpectkinsman, Mr. Scott of Harden, already mentioned, ed result, after about a fortnight's anxiety, led me to that the dilapidation might be put a stop to, and the adopt a rule from which I have seldom departed durmischief repaired. This was readily promised, on ing more than thirty years of literary life. When a condition that I should make a ballad, of which the friend, whose judgment I respect, has decided, and scene should lie at Smailholm Tower, and among the upon good advisement told me, that a manuscript was crags where it is situated. The ballad was approved worth nothing, or at least possessed no redeeming of, as well as its companion “ Glenfinlas ;” and I re- qualities sufficient to atone for its defects, I have gemember that they procured me many marks of atten- nerally cast it aside ; but I am little in the custom of tion and kindness from Duke John of Roxburghe, who paying attention to minute criticisms, or of offering gave me the unlimited use of that celebrated collec- such to any friend who may do me the honour to contion of volumes from which the Roxburghe Club de- sult me. I am convinced, that, in general, in removrives its name.
ing even errors of a trivial or venial kind, the characThus I was set up for a poet, like a pedlar who has ter of originality is lost, which, upon the whole, may be got two ballads to begin the world upon, and I has that which is most valuable in the production. tened to make the round of all my acquaintances, About the time that I shook hands with criticism, showing my precious wares, and requesting criticism and reduced my ballads back to the original form, -a boon which no author asks in vain. For it may stripping them without remorse of those “ lendings" be observed, that, in the fine arts, those who are in which I had adopted at the suggestion of others, an no respect able to produce any specimens them- opportunity unexpectedly offered of introducing to the selves, hold themselves no: the less entitled to decide world what had hitherto been confined to a circle of upon the works of others; and, no doubt, with justice friends. Lewis had announced a collection, first into a certain degree ; for the merits of composition pro- tended to bear the title of “ Tales of Terror,” and af. duced for the express purpose of pleasing the world terwards published under that of “ Tales of Wonder.” at large, can only be judged of by the opinion of indi- As this was to be a collection of tales turning on the viduals, and perhaps, as in the case of Molière's old preternatural, there were risks in the plan of which woman, the less sophisticated the person consulted so the ingenious editor was not aware. The supernatumuch the better. But I was ignorant, at the time I ral, though appealing to certain powerful emotions
1 This is of little consequence, except in as far as it contra- 2 See the account of a conversation between Sir Walter dicts a story which I have seen in print, averring that Mr. Scott and Sir Thomas Lawrence, ip “ Cunningham's Lives of Scott of Harden was himself about to destroy this ancient British Painters," &c. vol. vi. 0. 236.-ED building; which nothing can be more inaccurate.
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 he ble, than a collection of jests to be merry or entertain would not allow; and the “ Tales of Wonder” were ing. But although the very title of the proposed work filled, in a sense, with attempts at comedy, which carried in it an obstruction to its effect, this was far might be generally accounted abortive. from being suspected at the time, for the popularity Another objection, which might have been more of the editor, and of his compositions, seemed a war- easily foreseen, subjected the editor to a charge of rant for his success. The distinguished favour with which Mat Lewis was entirely incapable,—that of colwhich the “ Castle Spectre” was received upon the lusion with his publisher in an undue attack on the stage, seemed an additional pledge for the safety of pockets of the public. The “ Tales of Wonder” formed his new attempt. I readily agreed to contribute the a work in royal octavo, and were, by large printing, ballads of " Glenfinlas” and of “ The Eve of Saint driren out, as it is technically termed, to two volumes, John," with one or two others of less merit; and my which were sold at a high price. Purchasers murfriend Dr. Leyden became also a contributor. Mr. mured at finding that this size had been attained by Southey, a tower of strength, added “ The Old Wo- the insertion of some of the best known pieces of the man of Berkeley,” “ Lord William," and several other 'English language, such as Dryden's “ Theodore ard interesting ballads of the same class, to the proposed Honoria,” Parnell's “ Hermit,” Lisle’s “ Porsenna collection.
King of Russia," and many other popular poems of In the meantime, my friend Lewis found it no easy old date, and generally known, which ought not in matter to discipline his northern recruits. He was a conscience to have made part of a set of tales, “written martinet, if I may so term him, in the accuracy of and collected” by a modern author. His bookseller rhymes and of numbers ; may add, he had a right was also accused in the public prints, whether truly to be so, for few persons have exhibited more mastery or not I am uncertain, of having attempted to secure of rhyme, or greater command over the melody of to himself the entire profits of the large sale which verse. He was, therefore, rigid in exacting similar he expected, by refusing to his brethren the allowaccuracy from others, and as I was quite unaccus- ances usually, if not in all cases, made to the retail tomed to the mechanical part of poetry, and used trade. 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 tes under the obloquy which was heaped on it by the tify, was no granter of propositions. As an instance offended parties. The book was termed “ Tales of of the obstinacy with which I had so lately adopted a Plunder," was censured by reviewers, and attacked in tone of defiance to criticism, the reader will find in newspapers and magazines. A very clever parody the Appendix a few specimens of the lectures which was made on the style and the person of the author I underwent from my friend Lewis, and which did not and the world laughed as willingly as if it had never at the time produce any effect on my inflexibility, applauded. though I did not forget them at a future period. Thus, owing to the failure of the vehicle I had cho
The proposed publication of the “ Tales of Wonder” sen, my efforts to present myself before the public as was, from one reason or another, postponed till the an original writer proved as vain as those by which I year 1801, a circumstance by which, of itself, the suc- had previously endeavoured to distinguish myself as a cess of the work was considerably impeded; for pro- translator. Like Lord Home, however, at the battle tracted expectation always leads to disappointment. of Flodden, I did so far well, that I was able to stand But besides, there were circumstances of various kinds and save myself; and amidst the general depreciation which contributed to its depreciation, some of which of the “ Tales of Wonder," my small share of the obwere imputable to the editor, or author, and some to noxious publication was dismissed without much centhe bookseller.
sure, and in some cases obtained praise from the critics. The former remained insensible of the passion for The consequence
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 di- and modern, to be connected by the common tie of ininished. What had been at first received as simple relation to the Border districts in which I had gathered and natural, was now sneered at as puerile and extra- the materials. The original preface explains my purvagant. Another objection was, that my friend Lewis pose, and the assistance various kinds which I met bad a high but mistaken opinion of his own powers of with. The edition was curious, as being the first humour. The truth was, that though he could throw work printed by my friend and school-fellow, Mr.
James Ballantyne, who, at that period, was editor of · See Appendix, Note D.
a provincial newspaper called “ The Kelso Mail."
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, in graphy, who had never heard of such a place, and which I might now be considered as seriously en. were astonished at the example of handsome printing gaged, the reader will find briefly traced in an Intro. which so obscure a town produced.
duction prefixed to the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel.” As for the editorial part of the task, my attempt to In the meantime, the Editor has accomplished his imitate the plan and style of Bishop Percy, observing proposed task of acquainting the reader with some only more strict fidelity concerning my originals, was particulars respecting the modern imitations of th: favourably received by the public, and there was a Ancient Ballad, and the circumstances which grademand within a short space for a second edition, to dually, and almost insensibly, engaged bimself in which I proposed to add a third volume. Messrs. that species of literary employment. Cadell and Davies, the first publishers of the work,
W. S. declined the publication of this second edition, which ABBOTSFORD, pas undertaken, at a very liberal price, by the well- April, 1880.
Monk;' but I have others, weaker, indeed, than the one men.
tioned, 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.
that, convinced of my object being unexceptionable, I did not
sufficiently examine whether the means by which I attained This failure applies to the repairs and rifacimentos of old that object were equally so; and that, upon many accounts, I ballads, as well as to complete imitations. In the beautiful have to accuse myself of high imprudence. Let me, however, and simple ballad of Gil Morris, some affected person has obserre, that twenty is not the age at which prudence is most stuck in one or two factitious verses, which, like vulgar per- to be expected. Inexperience prevented my distinguishing sons in a drawing-room, betray themselves by their over what would give offence; but as soon as I found that offence finery. Thus, after the simple and affecting verse which pre
was given, I made the only reparation in my power-I carepares the readers for the coming tragedy,
fully revised the work, and expunged every syllable op
which could be grounded the slightest construction of im. “ Gil Morrice sat in good green wood,
morality. This, indeed, was no difficult task; for the objecHe whistled and he sang;
tions rested entirely on expressions too strong, and words *0, what mean a' yon folk coming,
carelessly chosen, not on the sentiments, characters, or gene My mother tarries lang?'"
ral tendency of the work ;-that the latter is undeserving cen
sure, Addison will vouch for me. The moral and outline of wone such “vicious intromitter" as we have described, (to use
my story are taken from an allegory inserted by him in the a barbarous phrase for a barbarous proceeding,) has inserted
Guardian,' and which he commends highly for ability of inthe following quintessence of affectation :
vention, and propriety of object.' Unluckily, in working it
up, I thought that the stronger my colours, the more effect “ His locks were like the threads of gold
would my picture produce; and it never struck me, that the Drawn from Minerva's loom;
exhibition of vice in her temporary triumph, might possibly His lips like roses drapping dew, His breath was a' perfume.
do as much harm, as her final exposure and punishment could
do good. To do much good, indeed, was more than I expected “ His brow was like the mountain suow,
of my book; having always believed that our conduct depends Gilt by the morning beam;
on our own hearts and characters, not on the books we read, His cheeks like living roses blow,
or the sentiments we hear. But though I did not hope much His een like azure stream.
benefit to arise from the perusal of a trifling romance, written
by a youth of twenty, I was in my own mind convinced, that “ The boy was clad in robes of green,
no harm could be produced by a work whose subject was fur. Sweet as the infant spring;
nished by one of our best moralists, and in the composition of And, like the mavis on the bush,
which, I did not introduce a single incident, or a single chaHe gart the valleys ring."
racter, without meaning to illustrate some maxim universally
ists in my possession as a fragment.)
M. G. LEWIS.-P. 562
In justice to a departed friend, I have subjoined his own
NOTE C. defence against an accusation so remorselessly persisted in. The following is an extract of a letter to his father :
GERMAN BALLADS.-P. 565. “ MY DEAR 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 scarca on the subject existing in the minds of other people. To ex- ly distinguished from each other. For example, press my sorrow for having given you pain is my motive for now addressing you, and also to assure you, that you shall not “ The King sits in Dunfermling town, feel that pain a second time on my account. Having made
Drinking the blood-red wine; you feel it at all, would be a sufficient reason, had I no others,
• Where will I get a good skipper to make me regret having published the first edition of The
To mail this ship of mive?"