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and vivacity of his nature. In spite of his lameness, he was throughout life exceptionally agile and fond of active sports. Eventually he attained what he calls “the greatest blessings which earth can bestow, a sound and healthy mind with a good constitution."
Education. — After his grandfather's death in 1775 Walter was sent to various health resorts, and became 80 much improved that at the age of seven he entered the Edinburgh high school. Before this, however, he
. had received stanch Presbyterian training, and, what was more to his taste, learned many a border ballad. At the high school he was a somewhat idle pupil, though, under the inspiration of the rector, Dr. Adam, he received some praise for poetical translations of Vergil and Horace. It is needless to add that the learned schoolmaster claimed for himself most of the credit for his scholar's later achievements in literature. A tutor at home instructed the children in French and church history, besides furnishing an antagonist in the endless debates where Walter was a fiery Jacobite - taking his politics “ as Charles II. did his religion, from an idea that the cavalier creed was the more gentlemanlike of the
With the schoolboys his good nature and lively story-telling made him a prime favorite.
After leaving the high school, a few months with his aunt at Kelso, one of the most picturesque spots in all Scotland, gave time to become acquainted with Spenser, the open sesame of so many poets, and with odd plays of Shakespeare; most of all, it was during this vacation that he discovered Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry. Under
a spreading plane tree in his Aunt Janet's garden were born some of the brain children, that, grown to maturity, became the family whose eldest was the Minstrel of Branksome Tower, and the youngest, sad Count Robert of Paris.
From 1783 to 1786 Scott was in college at Edinburgh. There, as usual, he neglected the prescribed studies, to become absorbed in the acquisition of a vast amount of miscellaneous knowledge, especially knowledge concerning our older English poets, and concerning unfrequented nooks of mediæval history. On May 15, 1786, the young student was apprenticed to his father for five years, under a mutual bond of forty pounds. It was the fashion then for every youth of good parts to study for the bar or divinity, and to this rather uncongenial apprenticeship he owed much of the methodical, painstaking habit which carried him through his later years. Moreover, he made good literary capital out of the humors of the law, and found time to read fluently Spanish, Italian, and German. At this period occurred also the only interview with his one rival in the hearts of his countrymen, Robert Burns, whom he thought to resemble "a very sagacious country farmer of the old Scotch school."
Introduction to the Highlands. For several successive years business called Scott on trips to the Western Highlands; it was on one of these legal errands, while accompanied by six men and a sergeant who was armed with pistols and anecdotes of Rob Roy, that Walter Scott first saw Loch Katrine. And during the months when he was nominally confined within the city, every spare hour was occupied with tramping the surrounding country in search of romance and antiquarian lore. During these years, as always, he was a social favorite, and Scotch whiskey joined with love of excitement sometimes led to a carousal a weakness which his innate manliness soon overcame.
To the Bar. - In 1792 he was called to the Bar, practising with fair success for fourteen years. Afterwards he was Clerk of Sessions at Edinburgh and was Sheriff of Selkirkshire from 1799 to the end of his life.
Love and Marriage. — About two years before his call to the Bar, Scott offered his umbrella, at the door of Greyfriars Church, to a charming young lady. Although the umbrella was returned after the shower, the heart of the lender remained in the hold of the borrower, and for six years Scott hoped for a marriage with her. For some reason this never took place, and the lady eventually married one of his best friends. Within a year he became engaged to Mademoiselle Charpentier, the orphan of a French royalist. She was pretty and lively, and, while far from being her husband's equal, made a loving wife, braver than people expected when adversity swept away their fortune.
First Writings. The romantic revival in Germany fascinated him, and his first writings were translations of German poems, beginning with Bürger's blood-curdling Lenore. Next he edited The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, which he had been collecting since his college excursions into Liddesdale. Eight hundred copies were sold within a year after its publication in 1802, and the literary world at once recognized the promise of the book.
The Lay of the Last Minstrel. These imitations of old ballads were the prelude to purely original work, and before Cadyow Castle was finished, Scott was already beginning The Lay of the Last Minstrel. The legend of a goblin page suggested by Lady Dalkeith (afterward Duchess of Buccleugh) became the nucleus of a great metrical romance. The author expressed his own chivalrous devotion to his friend by representing her as the Lady of Branksome, and himself as a wandering harper who sings the Lay of her house and the magic powers of his own wizard namesake, Michael Scott. The success of the poem was something marvellous. Although the plot lacks unity, and one is not entirely clear as to the precise doings of either the goblin page or William of Deloraine, there is sufficient charm in the style, the beautiful descriptive passages, and the mediæval flavor.
Marmion. - The Lay was followed three years later by Marmion, and before the end of 1815 by The Lady of the Lake, Rokeby, The Bridal of Triermain, The Lord of the Isles, and many lesser poems. Marmion is usually considered the best of all in poetic power and well-balanced, artistic construction. Much of it was composed on horseback, and one feels the gallop of the flying hoofs in its onward rush. The description of the Battle of Flodden Field is by many critics ranked second only to Homer.
The Lady of the Lake. The Lady of the Lake appeared in 1810. When one knows that its price was two guineas, about ten dollars, the sale seems incredible some two
thousand copies within a year after publication. It being just before the excursion season, all Great Britain set off to view the scenery of Loch Katrine, and every innkeeper and coach owner in the Trosachs made his fortune. One person alone suffered. Scott's little son came home from school badly battered and tearful. “Well, Wat,” said his father, “what have you been fighting about to-day?” The boy shamefacedly muttered that he had been called a 6 lassie.” 6 Indeed !” said Mrs. Scott, “this was a terrible mischief, to be sure." “You may say what you please, mamma, but I dinna think there is a waufer [shabbier] thing in the world than to be a lassie, to sit boring at a clout (patch].” It seems that some of his comrades had nicknamed him The Lady of the Lake, and, not knowing the reason, the little fellow had resented the insult, after the manner of his ancestors.
Later Poems. Rokeby and The Lord of the Isles were received, and deservedly, with much less favor than their more effective predecessors. This fact, combined with the meteoric brilliancy of Lord Byron's appearance in the literary horizon, aroused in Scott the feeling that his poetic vein was exhausted. The charm of novelty have ing passed, it is probable that he was partially correct in this judgment so far as it concerned his romances in verse. Nevertheless some of his finest work is found in those lyrics which are embedded in the Waverley novels. Among the best of these little gems are County Guy (in Quentin Durward), Rebecca's song (in Ivanhoe), and Proud Maisie. Only one more long poem was pub