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Return to the banks of the Tweed-Abbotsford-The StudyBiographical Sketch of Sir Walter Scott-His Early life-Residence in the Country-Spirit of Romance-EducationFirst Efforts as an Author-Success of 'Marmion'-Character of his Poetry-Literary Change-His Novels-Pecuniary Difficulties--Astonishing Efforts-Last Sickness-Death and


LEAVING the Ettrick, we proceed once more in the direction of the Tweed, which we soon reach. How sweetly the river winds through this wooded region-quick and even impetuous in its flow, but so translucent that the white pebbles at the bottom are distinctly visible. What a picture of peaceful enjoyment is presented by that shepherd boy, leaning against the rock, and basking himself in the sun, while his sheep are nibbling the short grass on the edge of the water. But yonder is Abbotsford, with its castellated walls and pointed gables, shooting up from a sylvan declivity on the banks of the river, which almost encircles the place with a graceful sweep, and contrasts beautifully with the deep-green foliage of the straggling clumps of trees. But every traveller in Scotland visits Abbotsford, and therefore we say nothing about its singular construction, its curious ornaments, its ancient relics, its broad-swords and battle-axes, its coats armorial, oak carvings and blazoned windows, its old

portraits and fine library. We will not describe the door taken from the old Tolbooth in Edinburgh, nor the pulpit from which Ralph Erskine preached ; nay more, we shall not even moralize on "the broad-skirted blue coat, with metal buttons, the plaid trowsers, heavy shoes, broad-brimmed hat and stout walking stick," the last worn by "the Great Magician of the north," when he took to his bed in his last illness. We will pass, however, into his study, a room about twenty-five feet square, containing a small writing table in the centre, on which Sir Walter was accustomed to write, and a plain arm-chair, covered with black leather, on which he sat. A subdued light enters from a single window, and a few books lie on the shelves, used chiefly for reference. By the permission of the good lady who has charge of the house, we are permitted to seat ourselves, and linger here for an hour, calling up the memory of the most wonderful genius that Scotland has ever produced.

The father of Sir Walter Scott was a writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, an excellent and highly respectable man. His mother, Anne Rutherford, a noble and gentle-hearted woman, was the daughter of a physician, in extensive practice, and Professor of Medicine in the University of Edinburgh. By both parents he was remotely connected with some ancient and respectable Scottish families, a circumstance to which he frequently referred with satisfaction. He was born on the 15th of August, in the year 1771. In consequence of lameness and a delicate state of health, produced by a fall, he

was sent, in early life to Sandyknowe, a romantic situation near Kelso, and placed under the care of his grandfather. Here he fortified his constitution by long rambles on foot and on horseback among the picturesque scenery and old ruins of the neighborhood. Smallholm, a ruined tower, and the scene of Scott's ballad, "The Eve of St. John's," was close to the farm, and beside it were the Eildon Hills, the ruins of Ercildoune, the residence, in ancient times, of Thomas the Rhymer, Dryburgh Abbey, the "silver Tweed," with its storied banks, and other localities renowned in song and story. It was here also that he delighted in supplying his memory with the tales of his nurse, and some old grandames, deeply versed in the traditions of the country. All these left indelible impressions on


young imagination, and nursed the latent germ of poetry and romance, so late, but so beautiful in its flowering. Subsequently he resided with another relation at Kelso. Here, under the shadow of a great platanus or oriental palm tree, in an old garden, he devoured "Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry," and permitted his fancy to wander at will amid the scenes of Border romance. This explains, in some degree, the peculiar characteristics of his first poems. and that fine strain of romantic feeling which runs through his tales. Speaking of this matter, he says himself: "In early youth I had been an eager student of ballad poetry, and the tree is still in my recollection beneath which I lay and first entered upon the enchanting perusal of 'Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry,' although it

has long perished in the general blight which affected the whole race of oriental platanus, to which it belonged. The taste of another person had strongly encouraged my own researches into this species of legendary lore. But I had never dreamed of an attempt to imitate what gave me so much pleasure. Excepting the usual tribute to a mistress's eyebrow, which is the language of passion rather than poetry, I had not for ten years indulged the wish to couple so much as love and dove, when finding Lewis in possession of so much reputation, and conceiving that, if I fell behind him in poetical powers, I considerably exceeded him in general information, I suddenly took it into my head to attempt the style by which he had raised himself to fame." He refers to the same thing in the following lines:

"Thus, while I ape the measure wild,

Of tales that charmed me-yet a child,
Rude though they be, still with the chime
Return the thoughts of early time;
And feelings roused in life's first day,
Glow in the line, and prompt the lay;

Then rise those crags, that mountain tower,
Which charmed my fancy's wakening hour.
Though no broad river swept along,
To claim perchance heroic song;

Though sigh no groves in summer gale,
To prompt of love a softer tale,
Yet was poetic impulse given

By the green hill and clear blue heaven.
It was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliffs were rudely piled,
But ever and anon between

Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green;

And well the lovely infant knew
Recesses where the wall-flower grew,
And honey-suckle loved to crawl
Up the low crag and ruined wall.

I deemed such nooks the sweetest shade
The sun in all its round surveyed;

And still I thought that shattered tower
The mightiest work of human power;
And marvelled as the aged hind,

With some strange tale bewitched my mind,
Of foragers who, with headlong force

Down from that strength had spurred their horse,
Their southern rapine to renew

Far in the distant Cheviot's blue,

And home returning filled the hall,
With revel, wassail-route and brawl.-
Methought that still with tramp and clang
The gateway's broken arches rang;
Methought grim features seamed with scars,
Glared through the window's rusty bars.
And even by the winter hearth;
Old tales I heard of woe or mirth,
Of lovers' sleights, of ladies' charms,

Of witches' spells, of warriors' arms;

Of patriot battles won of old

By Wallace wight and Bruce the bold;
Of later fields of feud and fight,

When pouring from their Highland height,
The Scottish clans in headlong sway,
Had swept the scarlet ranks away.

While stretched at length upon the floor,

Again I fought each combat e'er,

Pebbles and shells in order laid
The mimic ranks of war displayed;

And onward still the Scottish lion bore,

And still the scattered Southron filed before.

In addition to this, young Scott was a perfect helluo librorum. He had access to a large library filled with romances, histories, biographies, and so

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