Imágenes de páginas
PDF

undefled from his white armor and banner, the latter bearing manded, after defeating Sir Edmund Howard, and even the a white cock, about to crow, as well as from his unstained loy circumstance of his returning unhurt, and loaded with spoil, alty and knightiy faith. His place of residence was Thurland from so fatal a conflict, rendered the propagation of any calumCastle

ny against him easy and acceptable. Other reports gave a still more romantic turn to the King's fate, and averred that James, weary of greatness after the carnage among his nobles, had gone

on a pilgrimage, to merit absolution for the death of his father, NOTE 4 S.

and the breach of his oath of amity to Henry. In particular,

it was objected to the English, that they could never show the Reckless of life, he desperate fought,

token of the iron belt; which, however, he was likely enough And fell on Flodden plain;

to have laid aside on the day of battle, as encumbering his perAnd well in death his trusty brand,

sonal exertions. They produce a better evidence, the monarch's Firm clench'd within his manly hand,

sword and dagger, which are still preserved in the Herald's Beseem'd the monarch slain.-P. 151.

College in London. Stowe has recorded a degrading story of There can be no doubt that King James fell in the battle the disgrace with which the remains of the unfortunate monof Flodden. He was killed, says the curious French Gazette, arch were treated in his time. An unbewn column marks the within a lance's length of the Earl of Surrey; and the same spot where James fell, still called the King's Stone. account adds, that none of his division were made prisoners, though many were killed ; a circumstance that testifies the desperation of their resistance. The Scottish historians record many of the idle reports which passed among the vulgar of

NOTE 4 T. their day. Home was accused, by the popular voice, not only of failing to support the King, but even of having carried him

The fair cathedral storm'd and took.-P. 151. out of the field, and murdered him. And this tale was revived This storm of Lichfield cathedral, which had been garriin my remembrance, by an unauthenticated story of a skeleton, soned on the part of the King, took place in the Great Civil wrapped in a bull's hide, and surrounded with an iron chain, War. Lord Brook, who, with Sir John Gill, commanded the said to have been found in the well of Home Castle ; for assailants, was shot with a musket-ball through the visor of which, on inquiry, I could never find any better authority than

his helmet. The royalists remarked, that he was killed by a the sexton of the parish having said, that, if the well were shot fired from St. Chad's cathedral, and upon St. Chad's Day, cleaned out, he would not be surprised at such a discovery. and received his death-wound in the very eye with which, he Home was the chamberlain of the King, and his prime favor had said, he hoped to see the ruin of all the cathedrals in Engite ; be bad much to lose (in fact did lose all) in consequence land. The magnificent church in question suffered cruelly of James's death, and nothing earthly to gain by that event: upon this, and other occasions; the principal spire being ruined but the retreat, or inactivity of the left wing which he com- | by the fire of the besiegers.

The Lady of the Lake:

A POEM, IN SIX CANTOS.

INTRODUCTION TO EDITION 1830. merry expedition of former days.' This poem, the

action of which lay among scenes so beautiful, and AFTER the success of “ Marmion," I felt inclined

so deeply imprinted on my recollection, was a lato exclaim with Ulysses in the “ Odyssey"

bor of love; and it was no less so to recall the Ουτος μέν δή άεθλος άλατος εκτετέλεσται.

manners and incidents introduced. The frequent Νύν αυτε σκοπόν άλλον.

Odys. x. 1. 5. custom of James IV., and particularly of James V., “ One venturous game my hand has won to-day

to walk through their kingdom in disguise, affordAnother, gallants, yet remains to play."

ed me the hint of an incident, which never fails to The ancient manners, the habits and customs of be interesting, if managed with the slightest adthe aboriginal race by whom the Highlands of dress or dexterity. Scotland were inhabited, had always appeared to I may now confess, however, that the employme peculiarly adapted to poetry. The change in ment, though attended with great pleasure, was their manners, too, had taken place almost within not without its doubts and anxieties. A lady, to my own time, or at least I had learned many par- whom I was nearly related, and with whom I lived, ticulars concerning the ancient state of the High- during her whole life, on the most brotherly terms lands from the old men of the last generation. I of affection, was residing with me at the time when had always thought the old Scottish Gael highly the work was in progress, and used to ask me, what adapted for poetical composition. The feuds and I could possibly do to rise so early in the morning political dissensions, which, half a century earlier, (that happening to be the most convenient time to would have rendered the richer and wealthier part me for composition). At last I told her the subof the kingdom indisposed to countenance a poem, ject of my meditations; and I can never forget the the scene of which was laid in the Highlands, were anxiety and affection expressed in her reply. “Do now sunk in the generous compassion which the not be so rash,” she said, “my dearest cousin. You English, more than any other nation, feel for the are already popular-more so, perhaps, than you misfortunes of an honorable foe. The Poems of yourself will believe, or than even I, or other parOssian had, by their popularity, sufficiently shown, tial friends, can fairly allow to your merit. You that if writings on Highland subjects were qual stand high-do not rashly attempt to climb higher, ified to interest the reader, mere national preju- and incur the risk of a fall; for, depend upon it, a dices were, in the present day, very unlikely to favorite will not be permitted even to stumble interfere with their success.

with impunity." I replied to this affectionate exI had also read a great deal, seen much, and postulation in the words of Montroseheard more, of that romantic country, where I was in the habit of spending some time every autumn;

" He either fears his fate too much,

Or his deserts are small, and the scenery of Loch Katrine was connected

Who dares not put it to the touch with the recollection of many a dear friend and

To gain or lose it all."'s

1 " These Highland visits were repeated almost every sum-author first entered the romantic scenery of Loch Katrine, of mer for several successive years, and perhaps even the first of which he may perhaps say ho has somewhat extended the them was in some degree connected with his professional busi repntation, riding in all the dignity of danger, with a front ness. At all events, it was to his allotted task of enforcing the and rear guard, and loaded arms.'” - Life of Scott, vol. i. execution of a legal instrument against some Maclarens, refracto- p. 193. ry tenants of Stewart of Appin, brother-in-law to Invernahyle, ! 2" The lady with whom Sir Walter Scott held this conver that Scott owed his introduction to the scenery of the Lady of sation was, no doubt, his aunt, Miss Christian Rutherford ; the Lake. "An escort of a sergeant and six men,' he says, there was no other female relation dead when this Introduction "was obtained from a Highland regiment lying in Stirling; was written, whom I can suppose him to have consulted on and the author, then a writer's apprentice, equivalent to the literary questions. Lady Capulet, on seeing the corpse of honorable situation of an attorney's clerk, was invested with Tybalt, exclaims,-the superintendence of the expedition, with directions to see

Tybalt, my cousin ! oh my brother's child !'" that the messenger discharged his duty fully, and that the gal

LOCKHART, vol. iii. p. 251. lant sergeant did not exceed his part by committing violence Lines in praise of women.-Wishart's Memoirs of Monor plunder. And thus it happened, oddly enough, that the trose, p. 497.

* If I fail," I said, for the dialogue is strong in struck his hand on the table, and declared, in a my recollection, “it is a sign that I ought never to voice of censure calculated for the occasion, that have succeeded, and I will write prose for life: the dogs must have been totally ruined by being you shall see no change in my temper, nor will I permitted to take the water after such a severe eat a single meal the worse. But if I succeed, chase. I own I was much encouraged by the spe

cies of revery which had possessed so zealous a • Up with the bonnie blue bonnet,

follower of the sports of the ancient Nimrod, who The dirk, and the feather, and a'!'”

had been completely surprised out of all doubts Afterwards, I showed my affectionate and anx- of the reality of the tale. Another of his remarks ious critic the first canto of the poem, which rec- gave me less pleasure. He detected the identity onciled her to my imprudence. Nevertheless, of the King with the wandering knight, Fitz-James, although I answered thus confidently, with the when he winds his bugle to summon his attendants. obstinacy often said to be proper to those who bear He was probably thinking of the lively, but somemy surname, I acknowledge that my confidence | what licentious, old ballad, in which the denouewas considerably shaken by the warning of her ment of a royal intrigue takes place as follows: excellent taste and unbiased friendship. Nor was

“ He took a bugle frae his side, I much comforted by her retractation of the un

He blew both loud and shrill, favorable judgment, when I recollected how likely

And four-and-twenty belted knights

Came skipping ower the hill, a natural partiality was to effect that change of

Then he took out a little knife, opinion. In such cases, affection rises like a light

Let a' his duddies fa', on the canvas, improves any favorable tints which

And he was the brawest gentleman it formerly exhibited, and throws its defects into

That was amang them a'. the shade.

And we'll go no more a-roving," &c.1 I remember that about the same time a friend This discovery, as Mr. Pepys says of the rent in started in to “heeze up my hope," like the “sports- his camlet cloak, was but a trifle, yet it troubled man with his cutty gun," in the old song. He was me; and I was at a good deal of pains to efface bred a farmer, but a man of powerful understand any marks by which I thought my secret could be ing, natural good taste, and warm poetical feeling, traced before the conclusion, when I relied on it perfectly competent to supply the wants of an with the same hope of producing effect, with which imperfect or irregular education. He was a pas the Irish post boy is said to reserve a “trot for the sionate admirer of field-sports, which we often pur- | avenue." sued together.

I took uncommon pains to verify the accuracy As this friend happened to dine with me at of the local circumstances of this story. I recolAshestiel one day, I took the opportunity of read- lect, in particular, that to ascertain whether I was ing to him the first canto of “The Lady of the telling a probable tale, I went into Perthshire, to Lake," in order to ascertain the effect the poem see whether King James could actually have ridwas likely to produce upon a person who was but den from the banks of Loch Vennachar to Stirling too favorable a representative of readers at large. Castle within the time supposed in the Poem, and It is, of course, to be supposed that I determined had the pleasure to satisfy myself that it was quite rather to guide my opinion by what my friend practicable. might appear to feel, than by what he might think! After a considerable delay, “The Lady of the fit to say. His reception of my recitation, or pre- | Lake" appeared in May, 1810; and its success was lection, was rather singular. He placed his hand certainly so extraordinary as to induce me for the across his brow, and listened with great attention moment to conclude that I had at last fixed a nail through the whole account of the stag-hunt, till in the proverbially inconstant wheel of Fortune, the dogs threw themselves into the lake to follow whose stability in behalf of an individual who had their master, who embarks with Ellen Douglas. so boldly courted her favors for three successive He then started up with a sudden exclamation, times, had not as yet been shaken. I had attained, perhaps, that degree of public reputationemn occasions. I was in any case conscious that I at which prudence, or certainly timidity, would could not long hold a situation which the caprice, have made a halt, and discontinued efforts by rather than the judgment, of the public, had bewhich I was far more likely to diminish my fame stowed upon me, and preferred being deprived of than to increase it. But as the celebrated John my precedence by some more worthy riyal, to Wilkes is said to have explained to his late Ma sinking into contempt for my indolence, and losing jesty, that he himself, amid his full tide of popu- my reputation by what Scottish lawyers call the larity, was never a Wilkite, so I can, with honest negative proscription. Accordingly, those who truth, exculpate myself from having been at any choose to look at the Introduction to Rokeby, in the time a partisan of my own poetry, even when it present edition, will be able to trace the steps by was in the highest fashion with the million. It which I declined as a poet to figure as a novelist; must not be supposed, that I was either so un- as the ballad says, Queen Eleanor sunk at Charinggrateful, or so superabundantly candid, as to de Cross to rise again at Queenhithe. spise or scorn the value of those whose voice had It only remains for me to say, that, during my elevated me so much higher than my own opinion short pre-eminence of popularity, I faithfully obtold me I deserved. I felt, on the contrary, the served the rules of moderation which I had remore grateful to the public, as receiving that from solved to follow before I began my course as a partiality to me, which I could not have claimed man of letters. If a man is determined to make a from merit; and I endeavored to deserve the par-noise in the world, he is as sure to encounter abuse tiality, by continuing such exertions as I was ca and ridicule, as he who gallops furiously through a pable of for their amusement.

ther

i The Jolly Beggar, attributed to King James V.--Herd's select coteries, as they advanced at press. Common fame was Collection, 1776.

loud in their favor; a great poem was on all hands anticipaI believe the shrewd critic here introduced was the poet's Ited. I do not recollect that any of all the author's works was excellent cousin, Charles Scott, now laird of Knowe-south. ever looked for with more intense anxiety, or that any one of The story of the Irish postillion's trot he owed to Mr. Moore." them excited a more extraordinary sensation when it did ap-Life of Scott, vol. iii. p. 253.

pear. The whole country rang with the praises of the poet3" Mr. Robert Cadell, who was then a young man in train crowds set off to view the scenery of Loch Katrine, till then ing for his profession in Edinburgh, retains a strong impression comparatively unknown, and as the book came out just before of the interest which the Lady of the Lake excited there for the season for excursions, every house and inn in that neigh

two or three months before it was on the counter. James borhood was crammed with a constant succession of visitors. 1 Ballantyne,' he says, ' read the cantos from time to time to It is a well-ascertained fact, that from the date of the publica

village, must reckon on being followed by the curs It may be that I did not, in this continued course in full cry. Experienced persons know, that in of scribbling, consult either the interest of the pub- stretching to flog the latter, the rider is very apt lic or my own. But the former had effectual means to catch a bad fall; nor is an attempt to chastise a of defending themselves, and could, by their cold malignant critic attended with less danger to the ness, sufficiently check any approach to intrusion; author. On this principle, I let parody, burlesque, and for myself, I had now for several years dedi- and squibs, find their own level; and while the cated my hours so much to literary labor, that I latter hissed most fiercely, I was cautious never to should have felt difficulty in employing myself catch them up, as school-boys do, to throw them otherwise; and so, like Dogberry, I generously back against the naughty boy who fired them off, bestowed all my tediousness on the public, com- wisely remembering that they are, in such cases, forting myself with the reflection, that if posterity apt to explode in the handling. Let me add, that should think me undeserving of the favor with my reign(since Byron has so called it) was markwhich I was regarded by my contemporaries, ed by some instances of good-nature as well as pa" they could not but say I had the crown," and had tience. I never refused a literary person of merit enjoyed for a time that popularity which is so such services in smoothing his way to the public as much coveted.

were in my power; and I had the advantage, I conceived, however, that I held the distinguish-| rather an uncommon one with our irritable race, ed situation I had obtained, however unworthily, to enjoy general favor, without incurring permarather like the champion of pugilism,' on the con- nent ill-will, so far as is known to me, among any dition of being always ready to show proofs of my of my contemporaries. skill, than in the manner of the champion of chiv

W.S. alry, who performs his duties only on rare and sol- ABBOTTSFORD, April, 1830.

tion of the Lady of the Lake, the post-horse duty in Scotland rose in an extraordinary degree ; and indeed it continued to do so regularly for a number of years, the author's succeeding works keeping up the enthusiasm for our scenery which he had thus originally created.'

“Lowe to the same correspondent the following details : * The quarto edition of 2050 copies disappeared instantly, and was followed, in the course of the same year, by four editions in octavo, viz. one of 3000, a second of 3250, and a third and a fourth each of 6000 copies ; thus, in the space of a few months, the extraordinary number of 20,000 copies were disposed of. In the next year (1811) there was another edition of 3000; there was one of 2000 in 1814; another of 2000 in 1815; one of 2000 again in 1819; and two, making between them

2500, appeared in 1825. Since which time the Lady of the
Lake, in collective editions of his poetry, and in separate issues,
must have circulated to the extent of at least 20,000 copies
more. So that, down to the month of July, 1836, the legiti-
mate sale in Great Britain has been not less than 50,000
copies.'"-Life of Scott, vol. iii. p. 248.
1 “In twice five years the greatest living poet,'

Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 'uis an imaginary thing," &c.

Don Juan, canto xi, st. 55. ?" Sir Walter reign'd before me,' &c.

Don Juan, canto xi. st. 57.

The Lady of the Lake.

TO THE

MOST NOBLE

JOHN JAMES MARQUIS OF ABERCORN,

&c. &c. &c.
TUS POEM IS INSCRIBED BY

THE AUTHOR.

ARGUMENT. The Scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the Vicinity of Loch Katrine, in the Western Highlands of Perthshire. The time of Action includes Six Days, and the transactions of each Day occupy a Canto,

1 Published by John Ballantyne & Co. in 4to., with en- | the same chivalrous scenes; but we cannot help thinking, that gravel frontispiece of Saxon's portrait of Scott, £2 28. both his glory and our gratification would have been greater, May, 1810.

if he had changed his hand more completely, and actually given 2 " Never, we think, has the analogy between poetry and us a true Celtic story, with all its drapery and accompaniments painting been more strikingly exemplified than in the writings in a corresponding style of decoration. Such a subject, we of Mr. Scott. He sees every thing with a painter's eye. What are persuaded, has very great capabilities, and only wants to be ever he represents bas a character of individuality, and is introduced to public notice by such a hand as Mr. Scott's, to drawn with an accuracy and minuteness of discrimination, make a still more powerful impression than he has already efwhich we are not accustomed to expect from verbal description. fected by the resurrection of the tales of romance. There are Mach of this, no doubt, is the result of genius; for there is a few persons, we believe, of any degree of poetical susceptibility, quick and comprehensive power of discernment, an intensity who have wandered among the secluded valleys of the Highand keenness of observation, an almost intuitive glance, which lands, and contemplated the singular people by whom they are nature alone can give, and by means of which her favorites are still tenanted with their love of music and of song-their hardly enabled to discover characteristic differences, where the eye of and irregular life, so unlike the unvarying toils of the Saxon dolness sees nothing but uniformity ; but something also must mechanic-their devotion to their chiefs--their wild and lofty be referred to discipline and exercise. The liveliest fancy can traditions--their national enthusiasm--the melancholy grandonly call forth those images which are already stored up in the eur of the scenes they inbabit--and the multiplied superstitions memory ; and all that invention can do is to unite these into which still linger among them-without feeling, that there is new combinations, which must appear confused and ill-defined, no existing people so well adapted for the purposes of poetry, if the impressions originally received by the senses were deficient or so capable of furnishing the occasion of new and striking inin strength and distinctness. It is because Mr. Scott usually ventions. delineates those objects with which he is perfectly familiar, "We are persuaded, that if Mr. Scott's powerful and that his touch is so easy, correct, and animated. The rocks, creative genius were to be turned in good earnest to such a the ravines, and the torrents, which he exhibits, are not the im subject, something might be produced still more impressive perfect sketches of a hurried traveller, but the finished studies and original than even this age has yet witnessed."'-JEFof a resident artist, deliberately drawn from different points of FREY, Edinburgh Review, No. xvi. for 1810. view ; each has its true shape and position; it is a portrait ; it | “The subject of The Lady is a common Highland irruption, has its name by which the spectator is invited to examine the but at a point where the neighborhood of the Lowlands affords exactness of the resemblance. The figures which are com- the best contrast of manners--where the scenery affords the no bined with the landscape are painted with the same fidelity. blest subject of description--and where the wild clan is so near Like those of Salvator Rosa, they are perfectly appropriate to to the Court, that their robberies can be connected with the the spot on which they stand. The boldness of feature, the romantic adventures of a disguised king, an exiled lord, and a lightness and compactness of form, the wildness of air, and the high-born beauty. The whole narrative is very fine. There careless ease of attitude of these mountaineers, are as congenial are not so many splendid passages for quotation as in the two to their native Highlands, as the birch and the pine which former poems. This may indeed silence the objections of the darken their glens, the sedge which fringes their lakes, or the critics, but I doubt whether it will promote the popularity of heath which waves over their moors."'-Quarterly Review, the poem. It has nothing so good as the Address to Scotland, May, 1810.

| or the Death of Marmion."-MACKINTOSH, in his Diary, ** It is honorable to Mr. Scott's genius that he has been able 1811, see his Life, vol. ii. p. 82. so interest the public so deeply with this third presentment of “The Lay, if I may venture to state the creed now estab

« AnteriorContinuar »