His mind was in a high degree concrete and practical; he might take arms against a proven abuse but not against a dubious theory, and his devotion to the past made him abhor all that was speculative and rootless. Scott had early put behind him Calvinism and all that it implied, whether exemplified in his father or his tutor.
The new seeds of thought sown by the French Revolution found a prepared soil in minds accustomed to the toils of religious speculation, minds which were compelled to work out for themselves a reasoned philosophy of life. Scott never felt the compulsion. In practice he regarded all men as his brothers, but he would have nothing to do with whimsies about the Brotherhood of Man.
He was a Tory, not on the philosophical grounds of Burke and Bolingbroke, but because as a poet he loved the old ways, and as a practical man would conserve them, however logically indefensible, so long as they seemed to serve their purpose. In , however, he had his chance when a cavalry corps, the Royal Edinburgh Volunteer Light Dragoons, was embodied and he became its quartermaster. He spent his holidays in exploring Scotland, not a common occupation in those days of comfortless travelling.
But it was to his own Border that he devoted most of his leisure. He had already explored the main valleys of Tweed and Teviot, and both sides of the central Cheviots, and now he began to push farther into the wild hill country that bounded the Debatable Land. In the autumn of , along with Robert Shortreed, the Sheriff-substitute of Roxburghshire, he made his first incursion into Liddesdale, and thereafter for seven successive years the raid was annually repeated.
They slept in cot-houses or farms or manses as their road led them, and enjoyed an Homeric hospitality. Those days in sun and rain on the Liddesdale bent and nights by the peat-fire were filled with more than roystering. His literary education followed the fashionable groove. Henry Mackenzie, the author of The Man of Feeling , read a paper to the Edinburgh Royal Society in April which started in the capital a craze for German literature.
It was the peak moment of Gothick extravagance, for in Mrs Radcliffe published her Mysteries of Udolpho , and a certain odd, undersized youth of twenty-one, Matthew Lewis by name, next year issued a tale, Ambrosia or The Monk , which took the town by storm. Scott fell deeply under the glamour of this pasteboard romance.
He was passing through the inevitable stage in a literary education, when the foreign seems marvellous because it is strange, and the domestic humdrum because it is familiar. He was soon to return by way of Liddesdale and the ballads to his own kindly earth.
He had become a personable being, and appeared thus to one female observer. There was obvious power in him, but of the ruder kind, and it needed a discerning eye to penetrate to the poetry below the bluffness. What was not in doubt was the friendliness. Such a young man could not escape the common fate. Scott belonged to the familiar northern type to which sex is not the sole mainspring of being.
He preferred the society of men to that of women; he had no disposition to casual amours; in this domain of life he had an almost virginal fastidiousness. Happily he did not miss the first, for he had a taste of the old Romeo and Juliet romance, that ecstatic, child-like idealization of one woman which belongs especially to a poetic youth.
She was not only well-born but a considerable heiress, and her portrait shows composed features, large blue eyes, dark brown ringlets and a complexion of cream and roses. The two had probably met before, for their parents were acquaintances.
The story is like the baseless fabric of a dream, but it would appear that his hopes revived again in , and that, during a tour in the north in April and May of that year, he visited Fettercairn and returned south in better spirits. But some time in the early autumn he got his dismissal.
Scott had perhaps been a timid and hesitating lover, for he was shy of women, and had marvellously idealized this woman. Some of his friends dreaded the consequences for one whom they knew to be full of banked fires. It yields to unexpected and striking impressions, to changes of plans The meeting was like opening a sepulchre. This is sad work. The very grave gives up its dead, and time rolls back thirty years to add to my perplexities.
The emotion must have been deep which could leave such traces. He put it behind him, as he put all things of whose futility he was convinced, but it survived in the secret places of his soul. It is wrong, I think, to argue that Scott was never seriously in love with Williamina, that it was a mere boyish fancy, and that what attracted him was her birth and the long-descended world in which she moved.
No one can read his letters at the time without concluding that this was that rare thing, a deep and enduring love. Rare, I mean, among the fleeting, volcanic passions of the poets, who wear their hearts on their sleeves and protest to the world that the pang of an hour is an eternal sorrow. It is a strange tale, but one which carries the key to most of his life, for we shall not understand Scott unless we realize how much he lived in a secret world of his own, an inner world of dream and memory, from which he brought great treasures, but which now and then to his undoing invaded the world of facts.
In July he set out with his brother John and Adam Ferguson on a visit to the English lakes, and at the little Cumberland watering-place of Gilsland met a young lady in her early twenties, with a slight graceful figure, a suspicion of a foreign accent, a clear olive complexion, jet black hair, and large brown eyes. He was afterwards to draw her portrait in Julia Mannering.
She was witty, sprightly, and full of hard Latin good sense. Her name was Charlotte Margaret Carpenter; her father had been Jean Charpentier, a refugee from Lyons and a Royalist; her guardian some have without reason suspected a closer relationship was Lord Downshire: and her only brother, thanks to the Downshire interest, was doing well in the East India service.
Scott was in wild spirits during his engagement, and raved about the lady to his friends, but it seems certain that his heart was not greatly affected. Twelve years afterwards he wrote to Lady Abercorn:. But it was something short of love in all its forms, which I suspect people only feel once in all their lives; folk who have been nearly drowned in bathing rarely venturing a second time out of their depth.
The brisk Julia Mannering was not Diana Vernon, and never entered into his secret world. But she made him an admirable wife, and no quarrel clouded their thirty years of matrimony. She had no interest in the things of the mind, and doubted whether thoughtful people could ever be happy. She was not a good manager, in spite of her French blood. The Lasswade cottage was a little place by the roadside, with a view, a garden, and one big living-room.
It was to be for Scott the Sabine farm where he first held serious converse with the Muses. Will Erskine had been in London, where he had met Matt Lewis, who in that day of small things passed for a literary arbiter. Presently Lewis came to Edinburgh and summoned Scott to dine with him at his hotel. The year was eventful. In the spring the Scotts went to London, where, under the guidance of Lewis, they had their first taste of literary society.
In April death mercifully delivered his father from his afflictions. In the winter he met again James Ballantyne, now publishing a newspaper in Kelso, and gave him some of his verses to print: the result so pleased him that he proposed to Ballantyne a small volume of old Border ballads.
Then came the death of the Sheriff-deputy of Selkirkshire, Andrew Plummer of Middlestead, and through the Melville and Buccleuch influence Scott was appointed to succeed him. So at twenty-eight we may regard him as being settled in life. He had found in literature an engrossing hobby, though he had no intention of making it his chief calling. That must remain the law, but, having made little success of advocacy, he was now a little weary of its drudgery, and looked rather to legal appointments.
The drums and trumpets of life still sounded for him, and he had one ear always at their service, though the other might be rapt by the flutes of his secret world. His ambitions at this stage can be summed up in the letter of his friend Charles Kerr of Abbotrule. Here lay his principal occupation, and he had now an excuse for constant visits. But for five years his homes were still Lasswade and Edinburgh, and he continued his precarious practice at the Bar, varied with his duties as quartermaster of the Light Horse.
He had the friends of his youth about him, his young wife made a gracious hostess, and the Lothian cottage was the rendezvous of a distinguished coterie. It is uncommon for a great creative writer to develop out of an antiquary and an editor. His memory was full of bad models, Augustan jingles, faked Gothick diablerie and rococo sentiment, and from them he was delivered by the Minstrelsy and restored to the ancient simplicities of earth.
He came late to the business, for he was now twenty-eight. Wordsworth, a year his senior, and Coleridge a year his junior, had already published their epoch-making Lyrical Ballads. The impulse which led to the Minstrelsy was historical and patriotic rather than poetic. In his own words:. By such efforts, feeble as they are, I may contribute something to the history of my native country; the peculiar features of whose manners and character are daily melting and dissolving into those of her sister and ally.
And, trivial as may appear such an offering to the Manes of a kingdom, once proud and independent, I hang it upon her altar with a mixture of feelings which I shall not attempt to describe. In his wanderings about the Border Scott had for years been collecting ballads, before it occurred to him that James Ballantyne at Kelso, with his neat fount of type, might make a little volume out of them. His office as Sheriff brought him close to the heart of the most storied part of the countryside, and his collection grew apace.
Much depended upon local assistants and he was fortunate in finding several of the best. The ballads were not in books, and rarely even in broadsheets; they lingered in corners of memory among the country folk, with odd corruptions and misunderstandings, and could only be elicited by tact and patience. The first of his colleagues was John Leyden, one of those prodigies of learning and zeal in learning which have often appeared among the Scottish peasantry.
Big-boned, garrulous, violent, with great bodily strength and unflagging ardour, poetic, sentimental and proud as Lucifer, he was a curious blend of the polymath and the Border reiver. Leyden was a scholar, which Scott was not, and his austere conscience about texts had a salutary influence upon his colleague. I have more than that in my head myself; we shall turn out three or four such volumes at least.
But in the meantime Scott had discovered other helpers. Penetrating into Yarrow from the inn at Clovenfords, he had found lodging at the farm of Blackhouse on the Douglas burn. She proved to be a formidable old woman, who criticized with vigour and point the first volume of the Minstrelsy which had just appeared. She was said to have been anither than a gude ane He took more for granted than most men, and as a rule managed to carry it off.
Unlike Burns he was almost wholly uneducated, and his self-tuition never gave him any real mental discipline. By presuming much he attained to a good deal. For the purpose of the Minstrelsy no man could have been better fitted. The first two volumes, printed by James Ballantyne at Kelso, and bearing the London imprint of Cadell and Davies, were published in The second edition and the third volume, which appeared a year later, were issued by Longman, Hurst and Co.
It met with an immediate success, and was reprinted several times during the following decade. The introduction and notes, which a contemporary reviewer declared to hold material for a hundred romances, reveal how deeply Scott had read himself into the literature and life of the Border. The preliminary essay, though much of it would now be regarded as unhistorical, gives a brilliant panorama of Border history and a sympathetic study of the origins of the ballad.
This editorial work was an admirable training for the poet, and still more for the prose writer. Moreover, he has given us versions of many others, prepared by one who was himself a poet, and these versions remain to-day the standard text. Scott was modest about the performance. His handling of his material has been often criticized. The question of ballad origins is one of the most intricate of literary problems, and it is easy to be over-dogmatic.
The wandering violers of genius, who, as I believe, sometime in the sixteenth century made the greatest of the ballads, left no manuscripts, and the folk memory plays odd tricks, now adapting lines to secure a local point, now boldly amending that of which the first meaning has been lost. Such has been the method of popular editors since literature began.
But it seems clear that he never attempted to palm off a piece of his own manufacture as an old ballad, and that, with rare exceptions, he confined his emendations to making sense out of nonsense. For the rest he was a skilful, and, up to his lights, a faithful editor of authentic ancient material. The task played a major part in the direction of his genius. It was an education in directness, in economy of speech at moments of high drama, in the simplicities of great passion.
The lord-lieutenant of Selkirkshire was a finicking old gentleman who had once been a lord of the Bedchamber, and was very particular about the fashion of his neck-cloths. To his orderly soul it seemed wrong that the Sheriff should have no dwelling in the Forest, where he was bound by statute to reside for part of the year, but should live in the environs of Edinburgh and behave more like a cavalry officer than a Crown official.
He conveyed his views to Scott, and, after protest, Scott submitted. In the spring of he was looking for a house on the Border. It was a busy and eventful year for Scott. The house, half-farm, half-manor, and very ancient in parts, stood on a steep bank which a strip of meadow-land separated from Tweed.
There was a little farm attached, with fields of old pasture; the garden was a beautiful old-world place with green terraces and tall holly hedges. It was reasonably convenient for Edinburgh and the county town; but it was also a sanctuary, for Tweed beneath it was unbridged and the only road was by a difficult ford, while it fulfilled the traditional desideratum of a Scots dwelling, being seven miles from kirk and market. The place was in the most haunted part of the Border.
Behind it to the south lies a dark field of heathery mountains, still clad at that period on the lower slopes with the wildwood of the old Ettrick Forest. An easy pass leads to Yarrow, with Ettrick beyond it and Esk and Ewes, while to the north lie Gala water and the vale of Leader. Legend and ballad were linked to every field and burn, and the landscape most exquisitely conformed to its human associations, for that corner of Tweedside seems to me especially in tune with Border romance.
It is at once wild and habitable, the savagery of nature is tempered by a quality of gracious pastoral, and Tweed, with its pools and runs and gleaming shallows, has not lost its mountain magic. But Scott could not buy Ashestiel, and he would not be content for long with a hired dwelling.
He wanted a home of his own, which he could beautify at his pleasure and leave to his son. It is hard not to regret that this project failed. Perhaps it was not really the kind of thing of which he dreamed: his taste was always more for the broader champaign country which he had learned to love at Sandy Knowe and Kelso.
In his new home Scott found a refuge where he could turn from the common interests of his bustling life to the serious cultivation of the Muses. Which of the Nine was to be his chosen deity was not yet clear. But from his work on the ballads one thing remained over with which he proposed to try his fortune.
He moved into Ashestiel in the early autumn, and about the same time sent to the printers a poem of his own, which had proved to be too long for inclusion in the Minstrelsy. In the following week the Lay of the Last Minstrel was given to the world. It had been long simmering in his brain.
Some years before young Lady Dalkeith at Bowhill had asked him to write a ballad on the subject of a mysterious goblin, called Gilpin Homer, whose doings were a legend on the Border. Erskine, to whom he read them, did not care for them, but they stuck in his memory and presently he changed his opinion and encouraged his friend to continue.
His purpose was consciously that of the Minstrel. In the first place he had written the poem at the command of the wife of one who would one day be the head of his clan, and this duty was never forgotten; compliments and allusions to the family of Buccleuch star the poem, and the felicitous use of the old harper is a piece of pure feudal loyalty. It is dedicated to Lord Dalkeith, and the beautiful close is at once a tribute to a great lady, and the confession of a dream then filling his mind he was considering the purchase of Broadmeadows of a lettered life to be spent in the sacred places of chivalry.
That is why, too, it is so hard to criticize for one who has had a similar upbringing and has inherited the same loyalties. Consideration of Scott as a poet must be reserved for a later chapter. It appeared at a fortunate time, for Cowper was the only popular poet, and he was not romantic: Wordsworth and Coleridge were not even names to the ordinary reader: Burns was inaccessible to most, and the Popian style had suffered a sad decline.
Upon a world weary of the old measures Scott burst with a new melody, and to those once captured by the false glamour of Mrs Radcliffe and Matt Lewis, and already sated, he brought authentic magic and enduring romance. The blemishes of the Lay are there for a child to note.
The main plot is faulty and much of the workmanship is hasty and imperfect. With the Lay Scott became famous, no longer a connoisseur esteemed by the elect, but the most popular poet of the day. Fox and Pitt alike praised it, the latter making the shrewd comment that some of the effects were what he expected in painting, but had not thought capable of being given by poetry.
Edition followed edition at handsome prices to an extent unparalleled in the record of British poetry. He complained, oddly enough, that the poem lacked incident, and he also considered the style parochial. About the beginning of the century there was a stirring among the dry bones of the book-trade throughout the land. It was part of a universal movement which had been going on for the last decade, owing to a wider diffusion of ideas and a consequent impulse toward self-education; Napoleon in his youth, observing it as he observed all things, had toyed with the notion of becoming a bookseller.
He saw the decrepit state of Edinburgh bookselling, and set himself to reform it. At twenty he married the daughter of a prosperous printer and used her dowry to start business next year on his own account. He was inspired by a passionate love of books and all things connected with them, and he had that rare combination, the connoisseurship of the bibliophile and a sound literary judgment. Above all he was an excellent man of business, with an acute perception of the popular taste and its likely developments, and with the courage to back his fancy.
Presently the youth grew into a handsome, portly being with an impressive manner, popular for his generosity and good-fellowship, and generally respected for his business talents and patent success. His foible was less pride, for he had that diplomatic skill which demands at least a pretence of modesty, than overweening ambition.
He had the wit to see that the new readers he wished to cultivate were mostly liberal in politics, so his firm acquired a Whig atmosphere. There was a young English clergyman in Edinburgh, Mr Sydney Smith, who had a plan for an enlightened journal of opinion. In Constable took up the scheme, greatly enlarged it, and started the Edinburgh Review with the parson as editor. He was now, in the year , by far the most commanding figure in the Scottish book world, and already a name of repute among London publishers.
He had been associated with Longmans in the publication of the Lay , and had his eye on the Border Sheriff, three years his senior, who, like himself, seemed both to know what the public wanted and to be a pioneer in new paths. Scott was not as yet bound to any publisher, but he had his favourite printer, James Ballantyne, the friend of his Kelso schooldays.
He was short, stout, bearded and pompous, a great bon vivant , a merry companion, a preposterous, endearing creature, with one eyebrow drooping and the other cocked to heaven. He was faithful, affectionate, and scrupulously honest, and so far he had been as unsuccessful as other good-natured men. But as a printer he had genuine gifts, and, as we have seen, the Minstrelsy had been entrusted to him. Scott did more for his friend. Ballantyne jumped at the idea, borrowed some hundreds from Scott for the move, and by the end of was established with his two presses in a dingy little shop at Abbeyhill in the precincts of Holyroodhouse, where the third volume of the Minstrelsy was printed.
At first things went well. But with the enlargement of his business came the need for further capital, for neither of the pair seems to have understood that more money must be risked before bigger profits could be won. The success of the Lay embarrassed the printer and he applied to Scott for another loan. The request came at a moment when Scott had suddenly marched into literary fame, and saw before him a career very different from that of an advocate in small practice. He had come to sit very loose to that calling, and was beginning to envisage the future in a new light.
This would give him the necessary crutch, and literature would add a welcome staff. He had in his mind poems which he meant to write, histories too, and a vast amount of editing. He had enough of his father in him to respect those engaged in the practical work of the world.
Here was one who understood printing and had already made a name for his work; he himself would feed the press with his own productions and those of his friends: the liabilities seemed trifling, the profits a certainty. The arrangement was kept profoundly confidential, only Erskine being in the secret. On this matter much arrant nonsense has been written. A barrister, it has been urged, should not be a partner in a secret commercial enterprise. I can see no warrant for the view.
Before the modern development of joint-stock companies one of the commonest ways of investing spare capital was by lending money to some enterprise and receiving in lieu of interest a certain share in the profits. It was no more the custom to blazon such investments abroad than it is the custom to-day for a man to broadcast his share holdings. There was nothing to be ashamed of in investing money in the printing trade. Had Scott remained a lawyer and nothing else, I cannot see how his association with the Ballantyne business could be criticized.
Criticism arises because he was a writer, and because he and his partner were the men they were. The step he took in was not dishonourable, but it was rash and ill-advised. Scott himself had a sound instinct for business, when he had the time to give his mind to it; but he could not, owing to the conditions of his life, pay much attention to the printing house of the Canongate.
The mere fact that the matter was kept secret excluded it from the atmosphere of common sense. It became a part of that inner world of his to which he was prone to retire, a magical device for earning easy money, and his usual robust intelligence was never brought into play. He was enthusiastic, excitable, a muddler in finance, incapable of presenting at any time an accurate statement of his assets and liabilities.
Neither he nor Scott, as I have said, realized that the more a business extends the more capital it needs, since incomings have a way of lagging behind outgoings. The venture was peculiarly dangerous for a man of letters. Scott wanted grist for the Ballantyne mill, and therefore he was fertile in proposals to publishers for tasks to be undertaken by him and executed in the Canongate. This was to involve him in much laborious hack-work, which was scarcely worthy of his genius.
If Scott recommended a book, and Ballantyne printed it, Scott had no liability and he had a share of the printing profits, but the publishers were unable, through their ignorance of the partnership, to discount the bias in his judgment. It is an old saying, that wherever there is a secret there must be something wrong; and dearly did he pay the penalty for the mystery in which he had chosen to involve this transaction.
Hence, by degrees, was woven a web of entanglement from which neither Ballantyne nor his adviser had any means of escape For the next nine years Scott led the life of a miscellaneous writer at its busiest. He must feed the Canongate mill which was to bring him fortune, and he must find scope for his eager interest in books and the life of the past and a use for the store of varied knowledge which he had been accumulating since boyhood. He had no special desire for literary fame, and he had no delusions about his own talents.
A Border laird was his ideal rather than a distinguished man of letters, but a Border laird must have an agreeable hobby to fill his time and money to support his dignity. These books must be edited, and the name of the author of the Lay would well become a title-page. His first scheme, suggested to Constable, which mercifully came to nothing, was for a complete edition of the British poets, ancient and modern, in at least a hundred tomes.
Finally Mr Miller of Albemarle Street commissioned an edition of Dryden in eighteen volumes at fifty guineas a volume. Scott plunged with zest into the task, read widely, visited the English libraries, employed a staff of amanuenses and copyists. I would as soon castrate my own father, as I believe Jupiter did of yore Indeed it is an excellent piece of work, which Mr Saintsbury has called one of the best edited books in the language.
Scott proved himself an accurate, laborious and sagacious commentator, and his life of Dryden is at once good biography and good criticism. He is often contented to leave the path of argument which must have conducted him to the fountain of truth, and to resort with indolence or indifference to the leaky cisterns which had been hewn out by former critics. The next main venture in editing, the Swift which took six years to complete, was less fortunate.
In particular there is a passage on the art of fiction, which is one of the few occasions when Scott theorizes on the literary form in which he was to win his chief successes. In a free country, the barriers of etiquette between the ranks of society are but frail and low, the regular gate is open, and the tax of admittance a trifle; and he who, out of mere wantonness, overleaps the fence, may be justly supposed not to have attained a philosophical indifference to the circumstance of being born in the excluded district.
From the life of Swift, therefore, may be derived the important lesson, that, as no misfortunes should induce genius to despair, no rank or fame, however elevated, should encourage its possessor to presumption. These things delighted Scott as an historian, and they provided work for James Ballantyne, but they did not pay the publishers. There was even a vast edition of the British novelists, projected by young Mr Murray, which fortunately had to be postponed.
It was all a colossal labour, undertaken partly from enthusiasm, partly for gain, and largely out of kindness, for it gave Scott a chance of doing a good turn to less fortunate writers than himself. Nor were books all. Jeffrey, the editor, reviewed his work in a strain of high condescension, not free from acidity, and the politics of the review seemed to be becoming not Whiggish merely, but Jacobin.
Scott was offered and refused the editorship, which went to William Gifford, but he gladly promised his support, and thereby began a long connexion with the new review, under both Gifford and Lockhart. Some of his best essays appeared in its pages, for Scott, like other men of letters, had to have some outlet for episodic work, causeries which were often the expansion of his table talk. But the alliance with the Quarterly was to bring him unhappily into the rancours of the political world.
For, let it be remembered that the one was as bad as the other, and that the venom of the Quarterly towards Keats was paralleled by the savagery of the Edinburgh towards Wordsworth and Coleridge. Lockhart has a tale of Scott walking back with Jeffrey from a discussion on some proposed Scottish legal change, when the latter tried to treat the matter as a joke. Little by little, whatever your wishes may be, you will destroy and undermine, until nothing of what makes Scotland shall remain.
But now he had gone further, and had enlisted under the Tory flag, and, being a born fighter, was certain to lay lustily about him. Go to the hills and converse with the Spirit of the Fell, or any spirit but the Spirit of Party, which is the fellest fiend that ever disturbed harmony and social pleasure. He was still in his dreams leading his troops by moonlight out of the burning valley.
He wanted money to help his brother Thomas, and Constable offered a thousand guineas for a poem before he had seen a line of it. The new work, unlike the Lay , had not its origin in the Border lore of his youth, for it was a concocted tale of chivalry, with an elaborate plot, culminating in the great national tragedy of Flodden. He put into it also the friendships which had come to fill his life, and the introductory epistles to the cantos are a happy diary of his Border wanderings and the sights and sounds of Ashestiel.
He enjoyed every moment of the writing of it, and to the end of his life he used to recall happily places associated with its composition. The speed of the verse is due to the fact that passages like the description of Flodden were conceived while with his regiment on Portobello sands, or galloping among the hills between Tweed and Yarrow.
He made no parade of a high poetic purpose. I hope I shall find time enough this morning to knock him on the head with two or three thumping stanzas. A poem, thus conceived in delight, was bound to please. Marmion was published in February and proceeded to race through editions. The critics were divided. That fashion, however, passed rapidly away, and Mr Scott should take care that a different sort of pedantry does not produce the same effects.
Jeffrey was attacking the genus without considering closely the particular example, for it is hard to find pedantry in Marmion. The plot is roughly that of Ivanhoe , a common-place of romance. But the virtue lies not in it, but in the speed of the journeys, the fire of the battle scenes, the many faithful and beautiful pictures of nature, the noble and disciplined eloquence of the lines on Nelson and Fox and Pitt.
It was the tonic which the nation needed in a dark time to strengthen its heart, and if the critics were lukewarm the common reader was enchanted. Next year Scott visited the Highlands, for he had long had it in mind to produce a northern pendant to the Lay and Marmion. More scrupulous than most poets, he rode the course from the mouth of Loch Vennachar to Stirling Castle to make certain that his hero could do it in three hours. It made the Trossachs a classic country, to which the curious flocked in post-chaises.
It brought the Highlands, of which Scott knew next to nothing, inside the comprehension of the Lowlands and of England. Such tributes are not paid to a pedantic muse. For once the critics were unanimous in their verdict, and Jeffrey in the Edinburgh was as cordial as Ellis in the Quarterly. There are perhaps too many Gothick echoes, to which a Celtic subject always made Scott prone, and there is much slipshod verse.
He was fortunate to begin with to find a permanent post which relieved him of anxiety about the future. Mr George Home of Wedderburn had been a Clerk of Session for more than thirty years and was very willing to retire, on condition that he was allowed to retain his emoluments during his life.
So after the spring recess in he took up his duties, sitting below the judges for from four to six hours daily during nearly six months of the year. His fellow Clerks were intimate friends, and the work kept him in close touch with the Bar and Bench, and gave him a wonderful viewpoint from which to study that large section of humanity which goes to law.
His office not only provided a ritual for his days, but bound him to the life of the capital, and prevented him rusticating on the Border. He continued his volunteer service, and, while in Cumberland in the autumn of , was summoned north by a mistaken rumour that a French invasion was imminent, and rode a hundred miles in twenty-four hours to join the muster at Dalkeith.
He paid various visits to London, staying either with his friends the Doumergues in Piccadilly or with Morritt in Portland Place. In London he was now something of a figure, met most of the great people in literature and politics, was presented at the little Court at Blackheath to Caroline, Princess of Wales, whom he found embarrassingly flirtatious, and even dined at Holland House. He made many trips up and down Scotland, including a visit to the Western Isles in , where he projected a poem which took shape later as The Lord of the Isles , and acquired a new store of Highland legends.
For more than six months of the year he was at Ashestiel and to Ashestiel came many friends. It was not a large house, but any roof that sheltered Scott was elastic in its hospitality. Thither came his Edinburgh legal colleagues, intimates like Skene and Erskine and Morritt, publishers like young Mr Murray, fellow bookmen like Southey and Heber, and a great clan of country neighbours.
As a host he had every virtue, and there is ample evidence that at his own table he was a famous story-teller, full of drollery and wild fun. His recitations of poetry, too, were memorable, but, though his head was full of books, his talk was not often of literature. Scott was now a man in early middle life, strong in body, unshaken in health, keeping down his inclination to heaviness by hard exercise, with an overflowing zest for both work and play.
At Lasswade he had been in the habit of writing and reading late into the night, but, with his new accumulation of work, he realized that he must revise his ways, since the midnight oil gave him headaches. There, with a dog at his feet, he worked till between nine and ten, when he breakfasted with his family.
On a wet day he would work longer, so as to provide a reserve which he could draw upon when an expedition was planned which meant starting after breakfast. He answered every letter the day it arrived, and he kept his papers and books in perfect order, so that no time was wasted. On Sunday he read prayers in the parlour to his household and such neighbours as cared to attend; the horses were never taken out on that day, but, if fine, he and the family would picnic out of doors, and, if it rained, he would tell them Bible stories.
Scott was a great lover of the plain human child, such as were his own, for the young Scotts had none of the precocious brilliance of Marjorie Fleming. He disliked the idea of boarding-schools, so the girls had a governess, while the boys went to the High School in Edinburgh, and at Ashestiel were tutored by their father, who yawned prodigiously over the Latin grammar.
Above all he taught them his own cheerful stoicism. As soon as his eldest girl could sit a pony, she was made the regular attendant of his mountain rides; and they all, as they attained sufficient strength, had the like advancement. I may venture to add, as his deep reverence for the more important article of that Persian training. Apart from the fact that he did not regard his own poetry as of supreme merit, Scott had the good sense to see that an atmosphere of domestic admiration is bad for both admired and admirer.
Next to the children in the family circle came the dogs, the first of the retinue which attended Scott all his days. There were a couple of greyhounds, Douglas and Percy, who leaped in and out of the open study window, and were noted performers on the hill. Especially there was Camp, the bull-terrier, to whom Scott always spoke as he would to a man, a wise old fellow as compared to the lighthearted grews.
At Ashestiel, too, Scott laid the foundation of the clan of serving-men who played so large a part in his life. One day in the Selkirk sheriff-court a poacher called Tom Purdie came up for trial, and escaped on some formality. He was the most faithful of henchmen, and his manner was a kind of genial ferocity. Though rather undersized, he had very broad shoulders, was square made, thin-flanked, and apparently combined in his frame muscular strength and activity A hard and harsh countenance, eyes far sunk under projecting eyebrows which were grizzled like his hair, a wide mouth furnished from ear to ear with a range of unimpaired teeth of uncommon whiteness, and of a size and breadth which might have become the jaws of an ogre.
Nor must the portly butler be omitted, John Macbeth, who regarded with disfavour those guests who kept Scott up into the small hours over rummers of toddy. Mrs Scott had a chicken-run, which was devastated by a formidable local breed of wild-cat. Sport, indeed, was, apart from letters, the serious business of Ashestiel. He was constantly wet, and rarely troubled to change, thereby sowing the seeds of his later rheumatism.
He was noted for the boldness of his riding in a countryside of bold riders. It was a common prophecy that some day he would be brought home with his feet foremost. He rode horses which no one else could mount, and he was also an assiduous horse-master, loving the ritual of their management.
The novelist was in the making. What was taken in by the eye was ruminated upon in the long sessions of thought which fall to those who tramp the moors or watch by the riverside. The creative imagination was beginning its work. Henderson in his edition of the Minstrelsy and by Child in his great collection of ballads Scott and the Border Minstrelsy Cockburn, Life of Jeffrey , I.
The reference is, of course, to his old love affair with Williamina Stuart, but there may be other things included, for Scott had many thorns in his bed of life. One was his kindred. For as he advanced in the world his brothers declined. Thomas, however, preferred to dabble in soldiering, took a hand in raising the new Manx Fusiliers, and ultimately became paymaster of the 70th Regiment.
The duties were the merest routine, and could be performed, as they had often been in the past, by deputy, so Thomas in the Isle of Man could still be the nominal holder and draw the salary. This was a loss to the refugee Thomas, which Scott did his best to make up to him, but worse was to follow.
The bill duly passed, but Scott was furious at the insult. The thing had been a job, no doubt, but such jobs were sanctioned by long custom, and he believed that, in refusing to appoint his brother to the better paid post, he had behaved with quixotic scrupulousness. Lauderdale was a crazy Jacobin, but Holland should have known better, and he markedly cut the latter nobleman at a dinner of the Friday Club.
The case of his youngest brother was a far deeper vexation. Daniel Scott, having taken to evil courses, was shipped off to the West Indies. But Jamaica proved no cure, he went downhill in mind and body, and during a negro rebellion on the plantation where he was employed he did not show the family courage.
In those high-flying days he could forgive most faults, but not cowardice, and he felt that by the unhappy Dan the family scutcheon had been indelibly stained. The years were to bring him to a humaner mind, and in The Fair Maid of Perth he attempted in his account of Conachar the justification of a temporary coward, an expiation, he told Lockhart, to the manes of poor Dan. But the sore which never ceased to gall the steed was the long-drawn bickering with his publishers, and all that it involved.
We have seen his quarrel with Constable over the Edinburgh , but there was more than politics in the disagreement. This was one Alexander Gibson Hunter, an Angus laird who had a good head for figures and a rough tongue, and who seemed to Scott to reduce every question to a matter of pounds and pence.
Hunter was undoubtedly impetuous and plain-spoken, and had the insensitiveness of a gross eater and drinker; but his letters reveal him as a man of education and judgment, and something very far from the mere parsimonious tradesman. Scott was determined to cut the comb of a firm which had wounded his feelings and talked to him like a huckster. John was a small vivacious creature, as lean as his brother was plump, with the large melting eyes and the nervous hilarity of the consumptive.
He had not much education, but he was full of ideas, usually bad ones; and a smattering of banking knowledge which he had picked up, made him pose as the complete financier. In July the firm of John Ballantyne and Co. The venture is hard to defend on any ground of common sense. It was undertaken in a not very justifiable fit of temper. Constable had not behaved ill; indeed to the end of his life his behaviour to Scott was consistently generous and loyal.
He was not responsible for the views of his Edinburgh contributors, and, even if he had been, the offence was amply avenged by the setting up of the new Quarterly. The truth is that Scott had no real affection for Constable, though he respected his abilities. He did not regard him as an equal in birth and education, moving on the same plane as Erskine and Clerk and Morritt.
Constable he did not regard as an equal, and Constable would not allow himself to be patronized. But now he was not calm. On the business side the enterprise was a wild folly. The printing concern had been more or less limited in its liability. But this safeguard disappeared once it became also a publishing house. It had now to undertake liabilities to authors, to paper-makers and binders, and to its own printing-house, and it had to meet them from the public sale of its productions.
No more firm orders for the presses from the publishers, for it was its own publisher. In the case of unsuccessful books it would be left with a load of stock. A consistently successful list would involve the frequent raising of fresh capital, since the profits, being belated in their realization, would not suffice; an unsuccessful list would load it with debt. Scott embarked in it the greater part of his recent literary earnings, but as the firm extended its operations, however successful these might be, more capital would be needed.
But, as a matter of plain fact the firm could not succeed, because no one of the partners understood the craft of publishing. Neither had any notion of the rudiments of sound trading. He was apt to assume that because his own writings interested the multitude, all that interested himself would also infallibly attract other people. Moreover he had his ragged regiment of Parnassus to provide for. The new firm started with a good connexion among the London booksellers, and especially with John Murray.
It published The Lady of the Lake , a profitable venture. But before the end of the business was becoming embarrassed, and the two yearly volumes of the new Edinburgh Annual Register were beyond the capacity of the public to absorb. He found himself becoming the milch-cow of a firm from which he could never obtain a balance-sheet or a plain statement of profit and loss. But his affection for the partners prevented his irritation resulting in any practical reform.
Yet he was profoundly uneasy, and the dread of what might be the true state of the Hanover Street ledgers came between him and his comfort. The legal side of his work too, promised difficulties, for he foresaw and disliked certain imminent judicial innovations. By November the exhilaration caused by the success of The Lady of the Lake had died away and he was seriously contemplating a complete change of life.
He toyed with the notion of becoming a high Indian official. But in the summer of the following year Lord Melville died, and the Indian project had, perforce, to be forgotten. Scott was a careful business man, as the keeping of his own private accounts shows, but he had a curious shrinking from cross-examining his partners, partly perhaps because he had provided nearly all the capital and regarded them as his dependents and retainers.
Towards retainers he could not behave otherwise than royally. And yet he was virtually the sole partner and the sole capitalist in both the printing and the publishing businesses; James and John were men of straw, and disaster would fall wholly on his shoulders. Strange that such a man with such a sword hanging over him did not attempt to envisage the truth.
The firm paid away in dividends every penny it earned and was consequently without adequate capital and without reserves. Meantime Scott must earn money and do more than toil at his edition of Swift. He had another poem in his head on an English subject, which he believed would please. But during the course of the year he began to see more light in his future.
Moreover, even if there were no printing or publishing profits, he could reckon on making at least a thousand a year by his pen. The skies cleared for him, his spirits rose, and he could turn his mind to what had long been a darling scheme.
The lease of Ashestiel was nearly up; he would purchase a small lairdship and build himself a house. His thoughts turned to the wider part of the Tweed valley, the opening of that champaign country which had always been his dream. On the road between Melrose and Selkirk, overlooking Tweed a little above where it receives the Gala, was the site of the last clan battle in Border history, that fought in between the Kers and the Scotts.
The spot, too, was in the heart of the world of fairy legend. The buildings were poor, and the land consisted of a bit of marshy haugh, some rough hill pastures, and a solitary plantation of ragged firs. It looked out upon low moorish uplands and was without obvious picturesqueness, except for the noble streams of Tweed at its door. This last was a fateful step. For the first time he put Pegasus between the shafts, and counted upon literature to meet the normal expenses of his life.
His ambition was modest. He wanted no more than a country cottage to comply with his obligations as Sheriff, where he could spend the vacations, potter about with a little forestry, and entertain an occasional friend; a second Ashestiel, but his very own.
It was to be called Abbotsford, since there was a ford in Tweed below it, and the land had once belonged to Melrose Abbey. The neighbours have been much delighted with the procession of my furniture, in which old swords, bows, targets and lances made a very conspicuous show.
A family of turkeys was accommodated within the helmet of some preux chevalier of ancient Border fame; and the very cows, for aught I know, were bearing banners and muskets. I assure your ladyship that this caravan, attended by a dozen of ragged rosy peasant children, carrying fishing-rods and spears, and leading poneys, greyhounds and spaniels, would, as it crossed the Tweed, have furnished no bad subject for the pencil, and really reminded me of one of the gypsy groups of Callot upon their march.
The new home, thus light-heartedly entered, was not at first to be a domain of peace. The summer of was a busy season. Scott spent every week-end and all the vacations at Abbotsford, where he was out most of the day superintending his new plantations of oaks and Spanish chestnuts, and stringing verses which he wrote down when he got to his desk. That desk stood in a corner of the single living-room of the old farm, which had to serve for drawing-room, dining-room, school-room and study.
He devoted especial care to its composition, for his financial future seemed to depend upon its success. He had written to his friend Morritt, the squire of Rokeby, for books and information. That in nature herself no two scenes were exactly alike, and that whoever copied truly what was before his eyes, would possess the same variety in his description, and exhibit apparently an imagination as boundless as the range of nature in the scenes he recorded; whereas, whoever trusted to imagination, would find his own mind circumscribed and contracted to a few favourite images, and the repetition of these would sooner or later produce that very monotony and barrenness which had always haunted descriptive poetry in the hands of any but the patient worshippers of truth.
Besides which, local names and peculiarities make a fictitious story look so much better in the face. Morritt thought it the best of the poems, but the world did not endorse his view. Yet it had many fine things, some of them new and unexpected.
Lockhart has said with justice that the substance of Rokeby would have made a great prose romance. But as a poem it was a comparative failure. Others had stolen the seed and were growing the flower, and the public ear was getting a little dulled to his octosyllables. During the composition of Rokeby Scott had amused himself by scribbling another poem, The Bridal of Triermain , which was published anonymously in March , as a piece of mystification.
The year therefore opened in disappointment, and the shadows darkened as the summer advanced. It was plain to Scott that his vogue as a poet was declining. If people could talk thus, his verse must have lost its glamour. Bolkonski's win made d'Alessio the first Italian to own the winner of a British classic since Edoardo Ginistrelli won the Derby and Oaks with Signorinetta in Plans to move him up in distance for the ten furlong Champion Stakes at Newmarket in October were abandoned after a poor performance in a training gallop and the colt was retired from racing at the end of the season.
In the independent Timeform organisation awarded Bolkonski a rating of , three pounds behind the top-rated Grundy a colt he had defeated on their only meeting. Bolkonski was retired from racing to become a breeding stallion at the Haras du Val Henry in Normandy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse. Retrieved Guinness Publishing. Archived from the original on The Independent. Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing.
Macdonald and Jane's. Frankie: The Autobiography of Frankie Dettori —. Encyclopedia of British Horse Racing. Breedon Books Publishing. A Century of Champions. Portway Press. Categories : racehorse births Racehorses bred in Ireland Racehorses trained in the United Kingdom Thoroughbred family b Guineas winners.
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First League. Super League Greece. Premier Division First Division Ekstraklasa Ekstraklasa Relegation. Primeira Liga. Liga I Cup. Super League. Winner Winning Nationality? Top goalscorer. England Poland Sweden Grand Prix Denmark Prime minister after next election. Elitloppet Prix d'Amerique Thunder Moon was an impressive winner of that race and was made favourite for the 2, Guineas.
Battleground has improved in each of his two subsequent starts after his debut. His parents are War Front and Found, so the breeding is impeccable. There are plenty of bridges to across over the next seven months. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Progressive Battleground showing promise for 2, Guineas. Visit BetOnline. Visit William Hill.
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Totewin will be the qualifying bet when a Totewin and 80's, a media degree started a path to horse racing. England Poland Sweden Grand Online sports betting legal 2021 chevy. Odds boosts: Bolkonsky 2000 guineas betting boost crediting bet added to the betslip. Bet Credits available for use racing in February at just. Deposit and place your first odds single bet and get 3 months old. Qualifying bet is the first upon settlement of bets to. Eligibility rules, free-bet rules, game, relies on marketing comms opt-in. Attracted to the sport by Desert Orchid in the late contributions and terms and conditions. Min odds, bet and payment bets total first deposit amount. PARAGRAPHHorse Racing Tips By Racecourse.Bolkonski (foaled ) was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. Originally trained in Italy, the colt moved to England for the season where he recorded an upset victory over Grundy in the classic Guineas at Newmarket Racecourse. horse in the paddock but was nevertheless made favourite at odds of 1/2. Ridden by Willie Carson she started at odds of 9 / 2 in a field of five runners and and Tony Morris rated Bolkonski an " average " winner of the Guineas. connoisseurship” (Norris , 36). Working Bolkonsky's wounding and epiphany take place in the final chapter of the novel's first multiple and often at odds with one another), the more “digestible” aspects of Lawrence's Three Guineas.