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cism, and reduced my ballads back to the original The proposed publication of the “Tales of form, stripping them without remorse of those Wonder” was, from one reason or another, post“ lendings" which I had adopted at the suggestion poned till the year 1801, a circumstance by which, of others, an opportunity unexpectedly offered of of itself, the success of the work was considerably introducing to the world what had hitherto been impeded; for protracted expectation always leads confined to a circle of friends. Lewis had an- to disappointment. But besides, there were cirnounced a collection, first intended to bear the cumstances of various kinds which contributed title of “Tales of Terror," and afterwards pub- to its depreciation, some of which were imputalished under that of “Tales of Wonder.” As this ble to the editor, or author, and some to the was to be a collection of tales turning on the pre- bookseller. ternatural, there were risks in the plan of which The former remained insensible of the passion the ingenious editor was not aware. The super- for ballads and ballad-mongers having been for natural, though appealing to certain powerful emo- some time on the wane, and that with such alterations very widely and deeply sown amongst the tion in the public taste, the chance of success in human race, is, nevertheless, a spring which is pe- that line was diminished. What had been at first culiarly apt to lose its elasticity by being too much received as simple and natural, was now sneered pressed on, and a collection of ghost stories is not at as puerile and extravagant. Another objecmore likely to be terrible, than a collection of jests tion was, that my friend Lewis had a high but misto be merry or entertaining. But although the taken opinion of his own powers of humor. The very title of the proposed work carried in it an truth was, that though he could throw some gayety obstruction to its effect, this was far from being into his lighter pieces, after the manner of the suspected at the time, for the popularity of the French writers, his attempts at what is called editor, and of his compositions, seemed a warrant pleasantry in English wholly wanted the quality for his success. The distinguished favor with of humor, and were generally failures. But this which the “Castle Spectre” was received upon the he would not allow; and the “Tales of Wonder" stage, seemed an additional pledge for the safety were filled, in a sense, with attempts at comedy, of his new attempt. I readily agreed to con- which might be generally accounted abortive. tribute the ballads of “Glenfinlas" and of “The Another objection, which might have been Eve of Saint John," with one or two others of less more easily foreseen, subjected the editor to a merit; and my friend Dr. Leyden became also a change of which Mat Lewis was entirely incapacontributor. Mr. Southey, a tower of strength, ble,—that of collusion with his publisher in an added “The Old Woman of Berkeley,” " Lord undue attack on the pockets of the public. The William," and several other interesting ballads of “ Tales of Wonder” formed a work in royal the same class, to the proposed collection. octavo, and were, by large printing, driven out, as
In the mean time, my friend Lewis found it no it is technically termed, to two volumes, which easy matter to discipline his northern recruits. were sold at a high price. Purchasers murmured He was a martinet, if I may so term him, in the at finding that this size had been attained by the accuracy of rhymes and of numbers ; I may add, insertion of some of the best known pieces of the he had a right to be so, for few persons have ex- English language, such as Dryden's “ Theodore hibited more mastery of rhyme, or greater com- and Honoria,” Parnell's “Hermit," Lisle’s “ Pormand over the melody of verse. He was, there- senna King of Russia,” and many other popular fore, rigid in exacting similar accuracy from others, poems of old date, and generally known, which and as I was quite unaccustomed to the me- ought not in conscience to have made part of a chanical part of poetry, and used rhymes which set of tales, “ written and collected” by a modern were merely permissible, as readily as those which author. His bookseller was also accused in the were legitimate, contests often arose amongst us, public prints, whether truly or not I am uncerwhich were exasperated by the pertinacity of my tain, of having attempted to secure to himself Mentor, who, as all who knew him can testify, the entire profits of the large sale which he exwas no granter of propositions. As an instance of pected, by refusing to his brethren the allowanthe obstinacy with which I had so lately adopted ces usually, if not in all cases, made to the retail a tone of defiance to criticism, the reader will find trade. in the Appendix' a few specimens of the lectures Lewis, one of the most liberal as well as benerwhich I underwent from my friend Lewis, and olent of mankind, had not the least participation which did not at the time produce any effect on in these proceedings of his bibliopolist; but his my inflexibility, though I did not forget them at a work sunk under the obloquy which was heaped future period.
on it by the offended parties. The book was
termed “Tales of Plunder," was censured by 1 See Appendix, Note D.
reviewers, and attacked in
zines. A very clever parody was made on the When the book came out, in 1802, the imprint, style and the person of the author, and the Kelso, was read with wonder by amateurs d world laughed as willingly as if it had never ap- typography, who had never heard of such a place, plauded.
and were astonished at the example of handThus, owing to the failure of the vehicle I had some printing which so obscure a town produced. chosen, my efforts to present myself before the As for the editorial part of the task, my atpublic as an original writer proved as vain as tempt to imitate the plan and style of Bishop those by which I had previously endeavored to Percy, observing only more strict fidelity concertdistinguish myself as a translator. Like Lord ing my originals, was favorably received by the Home, however, at the battle of Flodden, I did so public, and there was a demand within a short far well, that I was able to stand and save my space for a second edition, to which I proposed to self; and amidst the general depreciation of the add a third volume. Messrs. Cadell and Davies, “ Tales of Wonder," my small share of the ob- the first publishers of the work, declined the pubnoxious publication was dismissed without much lication of this second edition, which was undercensure, and in some cases obtained praise from taken, at a very liberal price, by the well-known the critics.
firm of Messrs. Longman and Rees of Paternoster The consequence of my escape made me nat- Row. My progress in the literary career, in which urally more daring, and I attempted, in my own I might now be considered as seriously engaged, name, a collection of ballads of various kinds, both the reader will find briefly traced in an Introdueancient and modern, to be connected by the com- tion prefixed to the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel." mon tie of relation to the Border districts in In the mean time, the Editor has accomplished which I had gathered the materials. The origi- his proposed task of acquainting the reader with nal preface explains my purpose, and the assist- some particulars respecting the modern imitations ance of various kinds which I met with. The of the Ancient Ballad, and the circumstances which edition was curious, as being the first work printed gradually, and almost insensibly, engaged himself by my friend and school-fellow, Mr. James Bal- in that species of literary employment. lantyne, who, at that period, was editor of a
W. S. provincial newspaper, called “The Kelso Mail.” ABBOTSFORD, April, 1830.
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 immorality. This, indeed, was no difficult task; for the objections rested entirely on expressions too strong, and words carelessly chosen, not on the sentiments, characters, or general 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 colors, 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 erposure 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 furnished 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 ex
ists in my possession as a fragment.]
M. G. LEWIS.-564.
In jastice to a departed friend, I have subjoined his own defence against an accusation so remorselessly persisted in. The following is an extract of a letter to his father :“MY DEAR FATHER,
Feb. 23, 1798. “ Though certain that the clamor raised against · The Monk' cannot have given you the smallest doubt of the rectitude of my intentions, or the purity of my principles, yet I am conscious that it must have grieved you to find any doubts on the subject existing in the minds of other people. To express my sorrow for having given yon pain 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, to make me regret having published the first edition of The Monk ;' but I have others, weaker, indeed, than the one mentioned, but still sufficiently strong. I perceive that I have put too much confidence in the accuracy of my own judgment; that convinced of my object being unexceptionable, I did not
“ The King sits in Dunfermling town,
Drinking the blood-red wine ; Where will I get a good skipper To sail this ship of mine ?!"
“ Der Kønig sitzt in Damfermling Schloss :
Er trinkt blutröthen Wein;
In like manner, the opening stanza of“ Child Waters," and many other Scottish ballads, fall as naturally and easily into
the German habits and forms of speech, as if they had origi- first idea that presents itself is, that his ears were polled ; be. nally been composed in that language:
even the ringing of the ears does not please. 12th, Skorer
and 'roar,' not rhymes. 'Soil' and 'aisle,' in the 13th, are “ About Yule, when the wind was cule,
not much better ; but 'head' and 'descried' are execrable. And the round tables began,
In the 14th, 'bar' and 'stair' are ditto ; and groping' is a Othere is come to our king's court
nasty word. Vide Johnson, ' He gropes his breeches with a Mony weel favor'd man."
monarch's air.' In the 15th, you change your metre, which
has always an unpleasant effect; and 'safe and receive “ In Christmessfest, in winter kalt,
rhyme just about as well as Scott and Lewis would. 16th, Als Tafel rund began,
* within' and 'strain' are not rhymes. 17th, 'hear' and Da kam zu König's Hoff and Hall
air,' not rhymes. 18th, Two metres are mixed; the same Manch wackrer Ritter an.
objection to the third line of the 19th. Observe that, in the
Ballad, I do not always object to a variation of metre; bet It requires only a smattering of both languages, to see at then it ought to increase the melody, whereas, in my opinion, what cheap expense, even of vocables and rhymes, the popu- in these instances, it is diminished. lar poetry of the one may be transferred to the other. Hardly " THE CHASE.-12th, The 21 line reads very harshly; and any thing is more flattering to a Scottish student of German; choir' and 'lore' are not rhymes. 13th, Rides' and side it resembles the unexpected discovery of an old friend in a are not rhymes. 30th, Pour' and 'obscure,' not rhymes foreign land.
40th, 'Spreads' and 'incades' are not rhymes. 46th, * Rends' and ascend' are not rhymes,
“WILLIAM AND HELEN.-In order that I may bring it
nearer the original title, pray introduce, in the first stanza, the NOTE D.
name of Ellenora, instead of Ellen. "Crusade' and sped,'
not rhymes in the 2d. 3d, 'Made' and 'shed' are not rhymes; EXTRACTS. FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE OF M. G. LEWIS.
and if they were, come too close to the rhymes in the 21, In -P. 569.
the 4th, * Joy' and 'victory' are not rhymes. 7th, The first My attention was called to this subject, which is now of an line wants a verb, otherwise is not intelligible. 13th, * Grace old date, by reading the following passage in Medwin's “ Ac- and bliss' are not rhymes. 14th, Bale' and 'hel are not count of Some Passages in Lord Byron's later Years," Lord rhymes. 18th, Vain' and 'fruitless' is tautology ; and as Byron is supposed to speak. “When Walter Scott began to a verb is wanted, the line will run better thus, ' And vain is write poetry, which was not at a very early age, Monk Lewis every prayer.' 19th, Is not to her absolutely necessary in corrected his verse: he understood little then of the mechani- the 4th line ? 20th, 'Grace' and bliss,' not rhymes. 25, cal part of the art. The Fire King, in the 'Minstrelsy of the Bale' and 'hell,' not rhymes. 22d, I do not like the word Scottish Border,' was almost all Lewis's. One of the ballads spent.' 230, O'er' and star. are vile rhymes. th, A in that work, and, except some of Leyden's, perhaps one of verb is wanted in the 4th line; better thus, 'Then whispers the best, was made from a story picked up in a stage-coach ; thus a voice.' 28th, Is not Is't thon, my love ?' better than I mean that of. Will Jones.'
My love ! my love!' 31st, If 'wight' means, as I conjee
ture, enchanted,' does not this let the cat out of the bag ? • They boil'a Will Jones within the pot,
Ought not the spur to be sharp rather than bright? In the And not much fat had Will.'
4th line, “Stay' and 'day' jingle together : would it not be
better, 'I must be gone e'er day ? 320,Steed' and bear “I hope Walter Scott did not write the review on Christa- are not rhymes. 34th, ' Bride' and 'bed,' not rhymes. 35th, 1 bel;' for he certainly, in common with many of us, is indebted * Seat' and ' await,' not rhymes. 39th, “ Keep hold' and ' sit to Coleridge. But for him, perhaps, “ The Lay of the Last fast' seem to my ear vulgar and prosaic. 40th, The 4th line Minstrel' would never have been thought of. The line, is defective in point of English, and, indeed, I do not quite
understand the meaning. 43d, Arose' and 'parsues are Jesu Maria shield thee well!'
not rhymes. 45th, I am not pleased with the epithet 'sapis word for word from Coleridge."
age;' and the latter part of the stanza is, to me, unintelligible. There are some parts of this passage extremely mistaken 49th, Is it not closer to the original in line 3d to say, · Swift and exaggerated, as generally attends any attempt to record ride the dead ?' 50th, Does the rain 'whistle ?' 55th, line 31, what passes in casual conversation, which resembles, in diffi- Does it express, Is Helen afraid of them ?' 59th, ‘Door culty, the experiments of the old chemists for fixing quick- and flower' do not rhyme together. 60th, Scared' and silver.
heard' are not rhymes. 63d, · Bone' and skeleton,' not The following is a specimen of my poor friend Lewis's criti- rhymes. 64th, The last line sounds ludicrous; one fancies the ! cism on my juvenile attempts at ballad poetry ; severe enough, heroine coming down with a plump, and sprawling upon her perhaps, but for which I was much indebted to him, as forcing bottom. I have now finished my severe examination, and upon the notice of a young and careless author hints which
pointed out every objection which I think can be suggested." the said author's vanity made him unwilling to attend to, but which were absolutely necessary to any hope of his ultimate
6th January, 1799. success.
“ WELLWYN, -99., Supposed 1799. "DEAR SCOTT, “ Thank you for your revised “Glenfinlas.' I grumble, but “Your last Ballad reached me just as I was stepping into say no more on this subject, although I hope you will not be my chaise to go to Brocket Hall (Lord Melbourne's), so I took so inflexible on that of your other Ballads ; for I do not despair it with me, and exhibited both that and Glenfalas with of convincing you in time, that a bad rhyme is, in fact, no great success. I must not, however, conceal from you, that rhyme at all. You desired me to point out my objections, nobody understood the Lady Flora of Glengyle to be a disleaving you at liberty to make use of them or not; and so guised demon till the catastrophe arrived ; and that the opinhave at Frederic and Alice.' Stanza 1st,'hies' and joys' ion was universal, that some previous stanzas ought to be inare not rhymes; the 1st stanza ends with joys;' the 20 be- troduced descriptive of the nature and office of the wayward gins with joying.' In the 4th there is too sudden a change Ladies of the Wood. William Lambe, too (who writes good of tenses, 'Hows' and 'rose.' 6th, 7th, and 8th, I like much. 9th, Does not ring his ears' sound ludicrous in yours? The
1 Now Lord Melbourne.-ED.
verses himself, and, therefore, may be allowed to judge those ideas, either in the color of the wings, or some point of costume of other people), was decidedly for the omission of the last equally important; so Lewis, who was otherwise fond of the stanza but one. These were the only objections started. I Ballad, converted it into the Elfin King, and wrote a Cloud thought it as well that you should know them, whether you King himself, to finish the hierarchy in the way desired. attend to them or not. With regard to St. John's Eve, I like There is a leading mistake in the passage from Captain Medit much, and, instead of finding fault with its broken metre, I win. “The Minstrelsy of the Border" is spoken of, but what approve of it highly. I think, in this last ballad, you have is meant is the “ Tales of Wonder." The former work conhit off the ancient manner better than in your former ones. tains none of the Ballads mentioned by Mr. Medwin-the latGlenfinlas, for example, is more like a polished tale, than an ter has them all. Indeed, the dynasty of Elemental Kings old Ballad. But why, in verse 6th, is the Baron's helmet were written entirely for Mr. Lewis's publication. hacked and hewed, if (as we are given to understand) he had My intimate friend, William Clerk, Esq., was the person who assassinated his enemy? Ought not tore to be torn ?
heard the legend of Bill Jones told in a mail-coach by a sea seems to me not English. In verse 16th, the last line is word captain, who imagined himself to have seen the ghost to which for word from Gil Morrice. 21st, ' Floor' and bower' are it relates. The tale was versified by Lewis himself. I forget not rhymes,”' &c. &c. &c.
where it was published, but certainly in no miscellany or publiThe gentleman noticed in the following letter, as partaker in cation of mine. the author's heresies respecting rhyme, had the less occasion I have only to add, in allusion to the passage I have quoted, to justify such license, as his own have been singularly accu- that I never wrote a word parodying either Mr. Coleridge or rate. Mr. Smythe is now Professor of Modern History at Cam- any one else, which, in that distinguished instance, it would bridge.
have been most ungracions in me to have done ; for which the
reader will see reasons in the Introduction to “ The Lay of the "LONDON, January 24, 1799. Last Minstrel." “I must not omit telling you, for your own comfort, and that of all such persons as are wicked enough to make bad
"LONDON, 3d February, 1800. rhymes, that Mr. Smythe (a very clever man at Cambridge) “DEAR SCOTT, took great pains the other day to convince me, not merely that “I return you many thanks for your Ballad, and the Exa bad rhyme might pass, but that occasionally a bad rhyme tract, and I shall be very much obliged to your friend for the was better than a good one !!!!!! I need not tell you that • Cloud King.' I must, however, make one criticism upon the he left me as great an infidel on this subject as he found me. Stanzas which you sent me. The Spirit, being a wicked one,
must not have such delicate wings as pale blue ones. He has “M. G. Lewis." nothing to do with Heaven except to deface it with storms ;
and therefore, in • The Monk,' I have fitted him with a pair of The next letter respects the Ballad called the “ Fire King," sable pinions, to which I must request your friend to adapt his stated by Captain Medwin to be almost all Lewis's. This is Stanza. With the others I am much pleased, as I am with an entire misconception. Lewis, who was very fond of his your Fire King ; but every body makes the same objection to idea of four elementary kings, had prevailed on me to supply it, and expresses a wish that you had conformed your Spirit to a Fire King. After being repeatedly urged to the task, I sat the description given of him in . The Monk,' where his office down one day after dinner, and wrote the “ Fire King," as it is to play the Will o' the Wisp, and lead travellers into bogs, was published in the “Tales of Wonder.” The next extract &c. It is also objected to, his being removed from his native gives an account of the manner in which Lewis received it, land, Denmark, to Palestine; and that the office assigned to which was not very favorable ; but instead of writing the greater him in your Ballad has nothing peculiar to the · Fire King,' part, he did not write a single word of it. Dr. Leyden, now but would have suited Arimanes, Beelzebub, or any other no more, and another gentleman who still survives, were sit- evil spirit, as well. However, the Ballad itself I think very ting at my side while I wrote it; nor did my occupation pre- pretty. I suppose you have heard from Bell respecting the vent the circulation of the bottle.
copies of the Ballads. I was too much distressed at the time Leyden wrote a Ballad for the Cloud King, which is men- to write myself,”' &c. &c. tioned in the ensuing extract. But it did not answer Mat's
“M. G. L."