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The result of this rule too, evinced its wisdom-it banished the author, and introduced the man—the kind-hearted, cheerful, and unassuming companion ; in looking back to the intercourse with whom, while there is much to remember, there is still more to love.
On the third question, he was also a model to authors. Against the attacks of critics he was resolved to arm himself with the triple brass of Horace: “to laugh, if the jest were a good one, or if not, to let it buzz and hum itself asleep.” The publication of his second poem, "Marmion," furnished him with a fair trial of the strength of his defensive armor. To the criticism of Jeffrey, his only reply was in the style of the ancient autocrat, an invitation to dinner, which the great critic, “who had done nothing in hate, but all in honor," and whose bitterness towards any man was never more than skin-deep, accepted, as good humoredly as it was given ; though he acknowledged afterwards, in conversation, that he found the “womankind," as Monkbairns terms them, “less placable, as was natural, than the poet himself.” Alluding one day in conversation to himself, on this point, Sir Walter laughingly said to me, with his peculiarly comic and inimitable expression of countenance—“ Ab sir! it is long since I gave up singing the old song of what will the world say, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Mayor."
If, as a poet, Scott were happy in the possession of such splendid talents, still happier was he as a man, in the enjoyment of such a temper : the result was a life of peace, as well as fame. He was not only among the greatest of the great, but the happiest of the happy. No controversy, no envy, no enmity, to the very last hour of his life; the good approved, and the talented admired him, whom all admitted to be “the Muses judge and friend ;" while the envious and the irritable soon ceased to attack one whom they found they had no power to annoy. Such was the blessing attendant upon good sense and a tranquil mind, in that
which is proverbially the most irritable of professions; and if Scott had left to literary men no other legacy than this, he would yet be deserving of everlasting remembrance, for having taught them how to live together “like brethren in unity.” It were not easy here to find a parallel in the history of poets, and even holier laborers might in this take a lesson, and learn from one who could cultivate the flowers of literature, without being wounded by their many thorns, how that more heavenly plant, whose flowers are thornless, and whose leaves balm, might be planted in peace by the still waters, and its fruits gathered in the spirit of brotherly kindness.
But in this matter Scott owed more, perhaps, to felicity of nature, than he was himself aware of; for never did man show in his ordinary deportment, more of those gentle qualities which sweeten life and banish envy-which cannot give, and therefore never take offence. He seemed to me to have his dwelling within the circle of his own happy benevolent imaginings, and when he came forth, it was not like the Baron bold, with visor barred and spear in rest, seeking cause of offence with all whom he chanced to meet-but rather like the minstrel, of his own sweet and simple picture.
He was kind and courteous, even to those whose youth would have been to many the apology for neglect, and devoted himself to their entertainment, with an assiduity and sweetness of manner, that I need not say, sunk deep in the heart of a parent.
With scarcely a single exception, of all his eminent contemporaries I heard him speak, always with respect, generally in admiration, never in censure. Whenever he quoted, it was to commend; wherever he criticized, it was to point out beauties; or, when he spoke of those whose genius
vice had degraded, or error led astray, it was with sorrow, and almost with tears.
“ Marmion” was our author's second great work; published about two years after the first. Its reception was for a moment doubtful; it trembled for a while under the condemnation of the great reviewer, “Good night to Marmion,”– but it was only to gather up its strength. Its boldness, fire, and imagery; its Homeric action, and more than Homeric painting, in spite of all the defects of an imperfectly developed plot : these merits, together with the accidental claims of a new and highly popular school of poetry, soon bore down all critical objections, and like a torrent, which some rock has for a moment stayed, it but rushed on, when that rock was surmounted, with redoubled power over all meaner obstacles. But with all its merits Marmion is, in one respect, unquestionably inferior to its predecessor. The introductions to its cantos do not harmonize with the poem, like the Minstrel's bold or tender preludes—which, if with the author, we resemble them to a frame, binding together the parts of the picture—are yet, we may add, like those rich carvings of some ancient artists, which rival in beauty and value even the pictures they are made to encircle. Still, however, the battle scene at Flodden-field has no equal in the Lay of the Minstrel, for that graphic power which makes us moved spectators in the scene.
No-be it heresy or not--in my opinion, it is not to be found in Homer. The tumult of the eddying fight—the clouds of dust and smoke" the pennon as it sunk and rose”—the rushing steed,“ housing and saddle bloody red”—the “ Marmion to the rescue”-these constitute such a picture, as I know not where to find a parallel; and have always made my heart leap within me, though removed by many degrees from that ancestral land, above all, at that sorrowing appeal of the poet
And why stands Scotland idly now-
Lord Byron's quarrel with the poem, was, that the booksellers were willing to give, and the author to receive, one thousand guineas as the price of the copy. It may serve to mark the increasing patronage of authorship since that day, to mention that our celebrated countryman, Cooper, is now understood to realize, for each one of his novels, at least four times that sum which could arouse the ire of a lord, when viewed as the remuneration of one, whom he himself regarded as seated on the throne of poetry.
A third step in his poetic career, carried Scott to the summit of popular favor—it was like the last bound of Neptune's steeds. A fourth (to be bombastic with Longinus) would have carried him beyond the limits of earth. This was the "Lady of the Lake," which, though written earlier, was not published until the summer of 1810.
This poem was, as he himself tells us, "a labor of love," though readers might have guessed as much, from its felicitous execution. He took great pains to identify the local circumstances of the story, to which, as a tourist, I would here willingly bear witness, having found it (speaking in all simplicity) the best map and guide book, by which to thread the mazes of that romantic section of country. Each mountain, glen, and silver lakerose, glimmered, or lay, just where he had pictured them—the Trosach's rugged jaws, I knew, as it were, by instinct; but when I came to where
amid the copse ʼgan peep A narrow inlet, still and deep,”
so minutely accurate was the picture, that it seemed to me, I should have recognized Loch Katrine in whatever quarter of the world I had met it. The pibroch and the Gaelic boatsong were there too, to greet us—the rock and the slanting oak identified Ellen's isle--and to complete the illusion, her sylvan bower, with all its rude and martial accompaniments, greet the tourist as he lands. For this last, he is indebted to
the taste or pride of Lord Willoughby, to whom the island belongs : though the merit of its addition is more than balanced by his desecration of the woods that “ frown upon Loch Katrine, and weep upon Achray.” They were under the woodman's axe as we passed ; and although Sir Walter smiled at the youthful zeal of those who indignantly told him of it, yet could I not help thinking, he esteemed it an unkinder cut than any the critics had given him. Such poetry made the scenes it commemorated classic ground for the tourist. I did not wonder, therefore, at what he laughingly told us he received soon after its publication; a petition mixed with remonstrance from their neighbors of Loch Lomond, that he would perform the same kind office for their nobler lake.
But in such a poem, local description is a minor beauty ; it was a fidelity of which all could judge that made and upholds it so universal a favorite. The tender, the romantic, the lovely, and the fair, whether in the material or moral creation, are images that need no outward model for the heart to recognize their truth; they dwell within the breast, even of him who never felt their power, and he who awakens them to life is the true poet : such need no critic to uphold them he wins every voice who can bring tears into every eye. Now with such touches of nature this poem abounds, and it is the surest pledge of its lasting reputation. To the
cup of honor was now full; another drop would have made it to overflow, and like all things human, which can never remain at stay, it began to decline. The poem of Rokeby followed in 1813. The Lord of the Isles in 1815, and the Bridal of Triermain, with Harold the Dauntless, in 1916, which last may be termed the close of Scott's poetic career.
It will be the lot of some future critic to analyze the causes of this rapid decline of popularity ; to determine how far the poet, how far the public were in fault-to me it has always seemed that the author's powers were then in what may be