SIR WALTER SCOTT.*
IN our Forty-fifth number (9th May, 1829), we took occasion from the Introduction to the Waverley Novels to describe a few of the incidents in what we may call Sir WALTER'S prose career. The volume now before us, which consists chiefly of Introductions to the various Poems, furnishes materials and opportunity for coma pletirl, after a certain fashion, his literary history, by giving, in a similar way the principal facts connected with his poetical • Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, Bart, Vol. XI. Edinburgh, MO. writings. Independent of the pleasure that we feel in giving honour to whom honour is due, by bearing testimony to the great genius and greater worth of the excellent author, the reperusal of his works comes to us not unaccompanied with something of the same feelings that it must have afforded to himself. Ever and anon, in recounting the history of his various works, he has to pause over the saddened recollection of many whose approbation encouraged and sweetened the labour of their composition : we, too, the listeners to his " wimpled tale," must now look round in vain for those friends who participated with us in the pleasure of their early perusal ; and thus many an image which death and distance have dimmed but not obliterated, starts up in melancholy association with the Lay and with Marmion, not less to the humble reviewer of their beauties than to the great author of them. In our last notice, we mentioned the fact of Sir WALTER'S early weakness of constitution, and the accident which chained him for a considerable time to a couch of sickness; and, by the amusement that was profusely administered to the suffering boy, gave a direc- tion to his talents which decided the future complexion of his life. Previous to his leaving the High School of Edinburgh, it appears he had committed the sin of rhyme, in some lines on a thunder- storm, which, like their subject, have passed away. They were praised, and the young poet was not a little proud of them, until a critic, in the most dangerous shape of a blue-stocking lady, nipped the bud of his fame and his vanity at once, by charging him, not with plagiary merely, but wholesale theft. The lines, Sir WALTER admits, were stolen piecemeal, as all schoolboy compositions are. The rude check which the merciless wit of an apothecary's wife (for such was the lady's rank) gave to his first essay, was so effec- tual in repressing future attempts to shine in verse, that for ten years after, he says he did not so much as rhyme "dove" to "love." His health, which had been so precarious, had in the mean time become completely reestablished, and indeed vigorous; for not- withstanding his severe lameness, he has occasionally, when a young man, walked thirty miles in a day. He was at that time a bold and successful sportsman ; and it was in his frequent excur- sions on foot and on horseback, with companions of similar addic- tions, that much of the knowledge of minute topography, so ob- servable in his numerous works, was gained. But a very few years ago, Sir WALTER could display a vigour and activity that few men of his age, however hale in limb, possess. 'We well remember seeing him, when the King visited Edinburgh in 1822, march up the Castle-hill with an elasticity of step that many younger and lighter persons might have envied. Nor can we avoid commemo- rating here, the spontaneous tribute paid to his great genius by the bar of Scotland on that memorable occasion. As Sir WALTER passed the stand where they were assembled, the whole of the bar- risters doffed their hats as by one common impulse, to give ho- mage to one who reflected so high honour on their most learned and talented body; and the Monarch of three kingdoms, who was then approaching, did not receive a reverence more profound nor homage more heartfelt than did the venerable author of Waverley. An accident, lucky for himself and for the public, put an end to the state of literary inertion that had been partly produced by the caustic of the apothecary's wife. In 1793, Mrs. BARBAULD, then Miss LETITIA AIKIN, happened to visit Edinburgh ; and, in a com- pany where several of Sir 'WALTER'S friends were present, she was induced, for their amusement, to read from a manuscript copy—for it had not then been published—the translation of BURGER'S Leonore, by Mr. TAYLOR of Norwich. The impression which that wild and heart-stirring tale made on Miss Aixix's hearers, was strong ; but unfortunately, with the exception of the burden, "Tramp, tramp, across the land they went," not a single stanza could the admirers of the ballad recollect, and copies were un- attainable. Sir WALTER had studied German in a way ; and when he heard of this wonderful tale, he naturally became impa- tient to possess it in the original. A copy of BURGER was with some difficulty procured ; and on the solicitation of a friend, Leonore was translated. The remembered stanza of Mr. TAYLOR'S translation Sir WALTER retained. To this translation—which is curious rather than valuable, for its predecessor had left nothing to be desired—Sir WALTER afterwards added one of the Wild Huntsman of the same author. The two poems were published in a thin quarto in 1796. This publication, "made at the earnest request of friends," was Sir WALTER'S first appearance in public as an author. It fell dead-born from the press, as DAVID HUME says of one of his essays ; and we rather think it met the fate it merited. The facility of ballad composition, translated or imitated, soon induced him, notwithstanding the failure of his first attempt, to try his hand again. The old tower of Smailholm was going rapidly to decay, and some mischievous vagrant had endeavoured to speed the march of Time by tearing the door of the building from its hinges. The disaster was made known to Sir WALTER; and, with a poet's reverence for " auld hauntit biggins," he hastened to petition his kinsman Mr. SCOTT, on whose property it stood, to interpose and save the edifice from total wreck. The Laird of Harden offered to do so if Sir WALTER would write a poem, the scene of which was to be laid near the building about whose fate he was so anxious. Glenfinlas was the issue.
About this time Monk Lxwis was engaged in getting up the Tales of Wonder, or "Tales of Plunder," as they were afterwards called ; which he published in 1801; and SCOTT was applied to for assist- ance. He contributed " Glenfinlas," the "Eve of St. John," and the "Fire King," long attributed, erroneously, to the pen of LEWIS. The letters of Limo, in the Appendix, are made up of minute, but in most cases very justifiable criticism, on the numerous inaceu- rate rhymes of his illustrious coadjutor. Eveu iii his most finished works, the Baronet has made it a rule never to sacrifice a good line to a sonorous one ; a rule that, in his vigorous verse, was per- haps allowable, although it has furnished occasion, to others, for irregularities of composition which nothing but thoughts of remarkable beauty and originality can compensate, and these but seldom.
Sir WALTER was now called on to determine a point of no small difficulty and importance. He was either to give up litera- ture, and its sweets—the more delightful, as up to that time they had been partaken in some measure in secret ; or he was to give up nearly all prospect of eminence in his profession. For, whe- ther it be that the study of the law is considered by the public to be of so engrossing a nature as to be incompatible with any other pursuit,—or whether it be looked on as inconsistent with the pos- session of talents of any kind,—certain it is, that in Scotland, at that time, and we may add in England, few arguments more pow- erful could be addressed to a zealous attorney, against the em- ployment of a youthful barrister, than his turn for literature of any kind, but above all, that vain and unprofitable kind of litera- ture called poetry. The march of intellect can scarcely be said to have reached our courts even yet : for, certainly, the only solid reason that ever we have been able to discover for an opinion very generally entertained, that our BROUGHAM and the JEFFREY of our neighbours are not so good lawyers as many of the small herd that whisk round them in silk and woollen, is that each of these shining lights possesses as much brains as would set up for life a round hundred of his plodding and puzzling compeers. If, how- ever, in 1830, the reputation of high talent be rather to be es- chewed than courted by the rising lawyer, much more was this the case thirty years ago. "The goddess Themis is, at Edinburgh, and I suppose everywhere else, of a peculiarly jealous disp-...sition. She will not readily consent to share her authority, and sternly demands from her votaries not only that real duty be carefully attended to and discharged, but that a certain air of business shall be observed even in the midst of total idleness. It is pru- dent, if not absolutely necessary, in a young barrister, to appear com- pletely engrossed by his profession ; however destitute of employment he may be, he ought to preserve, if possible, the appearance of full occupa- tion. He should at least seem perpetually engaged among his law-papers, dusting them, as it were ; and as Ovid advises the fair, Si minus arid puivis, tamen excute Perhaps such extremity of attention is more especially required, con- sidering the great number of counsellors who are called to the bar, and how very small a proportion of them are finally disposed, or find encou- ragement, to follow the laW as a profession. Hence the number of de- serters is so great, that the least lingering look behind occasions a young novice to be set down as one of the intending fugitives. Certain it is, that the Scottish Themis was at this time peculiarly jealous of any flirta- tion with the Muses, on the part of those who had ranged themselves under her banners. This was probably owing to her consciousness of the superior attractions of her rivals. Of late, however, she has relaxed in some instances in this particular, an eminent example of which has been shown in the case of my friend, Mr. Jeffrey, who, after long conducting one of the most influential literary periodicals of the age, with unquestionable ability, has been, by the general consent of his brethren, recently elected to be their Dean of Faculty, or President,— being the highest acknowledgment of his professional talents which they had it in their power to offer. But this is an incident much beyond the ideas of a period of thirty years' distance, when a barrister who really possessed any turn for lighter literature was at as much pains to conceal it, as if it had in reality been something to be ashamed of ; and I could men- tion more than one instance in which literature and society have suffered loss, that jurisprudence might be enriched.
" Such, however, was not my case ; for the reader will not wonder that my open interference with matters of light literature diminished my employment in the weightier matters of the law. Nor did the solicitors upon whose choice the counsel takes rank in his profession, do me less than justice, by regarding others among my contemporaries as fitter to discharge the duty due to their clients, than a young man who was taken up with running after ballads, whether Teutonic or national. My pro- fession and I, therefore, came to stand nearly upon the footing on which honest Slender consoled himself with having established with Mistress Anne Page ; 'There was no great love between us at the be- ginning, and it pleased Heaven to decrease it on farther acquaintance.'"
Luckily, neither friends nor fortune stood in the way of Sir WALTER'S resolution to forego with a good grace a course where he was almost certain to be left behind, for one where he had at least the chance of success. His father, who might have opposed his choice, was no more ; and by means of those friends which, at that early period, he owed to his family rather than to himself, he had procured a permanent addition to his income in his appointment to the office of Sheriff of Selkirk, a situation of considerable ho- nour and of small labour. The consequence of this appointment was his removal from the cottage he had hitherto occupied on the Esk, to a house of larger dimensions on the Tweed. Ashiestal, to which he removed, and from which the rhyming epistles in Marmion were dated, is situated about seven miles above Abbots- ford, and in the county of Selkirk, "where his duties of Sheriff called on him to reside for a portion of the year. In 1801, the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border appeared; a work to whose success and reputation the late Dr. JOHN LEYDEN contributed not a little. As a Border work, it was most appro- priately printed by JAMES BALLArrryNE, a Border man. The general reader will recollect with what surprise he saw -on the titlepage of a work whose typographical elegance even that celebrated printer has hardly yet excelled, the imprint of so paltry and obscure a town as Kelso. The beauty of its getting up was no small part of the value of the Minstrelsy. Many- of the pieces are of doubtful merit, and very many of them had been published before. The volume of imitations, with all its attrac- tion of names, read heavily. Had it not been for the amusing notes supplied by Sir WALTER, even the first edition must have gone off slowly, as the second, which appeared in 1803, is admitted to have done. This was the first, we believe, but in the expe- rience of Sir WAI.rhn, not the last instance, in which the car of the poetic muse had been speededin its advance by the vigorous arm of her pedestrian sister. The subject of the Lay of the Last Minstrel, as well as its strue- hire, WM in a great measure accidental. The late Duchess of BUCCLEUCH—a lady whom all the wits small and great of Scot- land combined to flatter (fur when did wit refuse to bow at the shrine of beauty, or wealth, or rank, even when separately de- manding its worship, much less when the claim was made by the trinity of their combination ?) was deeply smitten with a love of the legendary lore with which the memories of many of the ancient dependants of her noble husband's family were filled. Among other tales that were willingly told to so noble an auditor, was that of " Gilpin Homer." She imagined she saw its capabilities of poetical embellishment, and laid her gentle commands on Saar to embellish it. The Sofa, proposed in sport as a subject to COWPER, led to the noblest domestic poem in the language : the story of " Gilpin Homer," proposed in somewhat of the same spirit to WALTER SCOTT, led to the first of the romantic tales in verse that England has to boast. And it is not undeserving of notice, as Sir WALTER observes, that a piece of machinery, which has been objected to as an excrescence in the poem, should have been in reality the occasion of its production. The irregular stanza in which the Lay was written, has been traced to COLE- RIDGE; but the connexion was not made out until the publica- tion of the present volume. While Sir WALTER was pondering on his work, he received a visit from STODDART, afterwards editor of the Times, next of the New Times, and lastly Judge of Malta— a man whose literary, political, and judicial honours, have in a great measure merged in that wicked one bestowed on him for his revilings of NAPOLEON by the author of the Every Day Book. STODDART was then engaged on a work on Scotland, in which Sir WALTER'S knowledge of localities was of great service to him. In return, he communicated to Sir WALTER a more intimate knowledge of SOUTHEY and COLERID GE, and the poets of their school, than a Scotch country lawyer could easily obtain ; and above all, from the stores of a singularly retentive memory, he made him acquainted with the wildest of COLERIDGE'S wild pro- ductions, Christabel ; which was not given to the disappointed public until several years after. The rhythmus of Christabel de- termined Sir WALTER in his choice of the irregular stanza of the Lay ; and the very marked success of the first, and we may add the best of his poems, fully justified the choice. Part of the Lay was shown to JEFFREY ill iViS. (a favour which he amply repaid in his elegant and favourable critique of it): it was approved ; and, so sanctioned, the remainder of the poem was finished at the rate of a canto a-week. For this poem Sir WALTER received 500/. which his publishers afterwards increased to 6001.; a considerable sum in those days, when we take into account the risk that so untried an experiment on the public taste presented ; but most amply justified by the enormous sale, in a few years, of no less than thirty thousand copies. The fame of the Lay pro- cured for its author the friendship of PITT and the com- mendation of Fox. PITT'S friendship was interrupted by his death ; whether his professions would have issued in any substan- tial act of kindness to Sir WALTER, it is impossible to say. The only favour the latter ever had to ask of him, was the appointment in reversion to the office which he still holds, of Clerk of Session. In fact, at that time the office was in the gift of the person who held it ; and he was allowed to bargain with his successor for the appointment, the confirmation of the Government being little more than an act of routine. The terms on which Sir WALTER received it, were the gratuitous performance of the duties during his prede- cessor's life. The patent was signed before PITT'S death ; but the reservation of the emoluments to the existing occupant, as stipu- lated, had been accidentally omitted. Lord SPENCER was applied to, and the error was immediately corrected, and Sir WALTER was installed in consequence. A few years after, a superannuation act enabled his predecessor to give up the fees which he had to that time retained, and the poet entered on the full enjoyment of a lucrative and respectable office. It is, we think, most gratifying, that even for a formal favour, the author of Waverley was not indebted to a party which, in its zeal for the suppression of opi- nions that still survive to annihilate it and its friends together, saw fit to crush the humble aspirations of poor BURNS, and to whose persecuting spirit the premature death of that glorious creature may not unjustly be assigned. It would have been most unfortu- nate if so great a man as SCOTT had been protected inhis career of fame by the miserable faction which murdered the most gifted poet that ever Scotland produced before him. The success of the Lay was great beyond all expectation ; but Sir WALTER was not blind to the obvious truth, that as much of it was due to the novelty of the form as to the worth of the sub- stance of the poem. He was aware that a second piece of the same kind must no longer look for that indulgence which the first had received ; and he determined, in consequence, to finish the next with much more care than he had bestowed on the Lay. But
"The best-laid schemes of mice and men Gang aft agley."
An accident called for the appearance of Marmion, without leaving to its author the leisure requisite for carrying his prudent intentions into execution. Some of its parts were composed with great care, but a large portion of it was thrown off with extreme rapidity, compelled by the necessity of early publication. It was soon perceived to be of a more unequal texture than even its pre- decessor. It did not, indeed, require very great critical powers to pick out numerous passages which might have been without much difficulty composed after the old rule—a thousand verses stans pede in uno ; but with these were mixed descriptions of a beauty to which the range of English poetry did not then offer any parallel. The Battle was warmly panegyrized by the Edinburgh Review, but not more than it deserved. We cannot even yet read it over, for the twentieth time, without that quickening of the pulse and tingling of the nerves that it might be suppood were felt by those who mingled in the real strife of the fatal day of Flodden. Mar- mion brought its author 1000/. and a hogshead of claret. Be- tween 1805 and 1823, the publishers sold thirty-five thousand copies of it. The act of Iliarinion, on which the catastrophe hinges, being a crime of a commercial rather than of a military age, and yet more of a cautious and prudent, than of a proud, bold, and overbearing character, was greatly blamed by many. Dr. LEYDEN sent Sir WALTER a severe letter from India on the subject. We rather think, that the lone. abeyance of De Wilton's honours, and the very insignificant part which he plays throughout the tale, was an offence of much higher magnitude than the forgery committed by the lord of " Lutterward and Fon- tenaye." The public took it, however, for better or for worse ; and the poet, wisely determined that, condemn him who might, he would not condemn himself, let it go for better or for worse as he had at first published it. The history of the Lady of the Lake we must tell in the author's own words.
"The Poems of Ossian had, by their popularity, sufficiently shown; that if writings on Highland subjects were qualified to interest the reader, mere national prejudices were, in the present day, very unlikely to inter- fere with their success.
"I had also read a great deal, and heard more, concerning that roman- tic country, where I was in the habit of spending some time every autumn ; and the scenery of Loch Katrine was connected with the recol- lection of many a dear friend and merry expedition of former days. This poem, the action of which lay among scenes so beautiful, and so deeply imprinted on my recollections, was a labour of love, and it was no less so to meal the manners and incidents introduced. The frequent custom of James IV., and particularly of James V., to walk through their kingdom in disguise, afforded me the hint of an incident which never fails to be interesting, if managed with the slightest address or dexterity.
"I may now confess, however, that the employment, though attended with great pleasure, was not without its doubts and anxieties. A lady, to whom I was nearly related, and with whom I lived, during her whole life, on the most brotherly terms of affection, was residing with me at the time when the work was in progress, and used to ask me, what I could possibly do to rise so early in the morning (that happening to be the most convenient time to me for composition). At last I told her the subject of my meditations; and I can never forget the .anxiety and affec- tion expressed in her reply. • Do not be so rash,' she said, my dearest cousin. You are already popular—more so, perhaps, than you yourself will believe, or than even I, or other partial friends, can fairly allow to your merit. You stand high, do not rashly attempt to climb higher, and incur the risk of a fall ; for, depend upon it, a favourite will not be per- mitted even to stumble with impunity.' I replied to this affectionate ex- postulation in the words of Montrose— 'Re either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small, Who dares not put it to the touch,
To gain or lose it all.'
"'If! fail,' I said (for the dialogue is strong in my recollection), it is a sign that I ought never to have succeeded, and I will write prose for life ; you shall see no change in my temper, nor will I eat a single meal the worse. But if I succeed,
Up with the bonnie blue bonnet. The dirk, and the feather, and a' I ' "
Sir WALTER had a friend—a keen sportsman, a person of feel- ing and taste, but of no higher education than most of the readers of theLady of the Lake might be supposed to possess. To this friend one day after dinner he read over the first canto, with a view not so much to discover his opinion of its merits, as to watch the impression it made upon him. The sportsman listened with most rapt attention, until the poet came to that passage where the Knight of Snowdown's dogs take the water after their master, when he started up and exclaimed aloud against the manifest dan- ger to the hounds from taking the water after so hard a run. The experiment was decisive. Of all Sir WALTER'S poetical works, the Lady of the Lake has been the most extensively popular. It con- tains, indeed, no passage equal to the Battle in Mandan ; but, as a whole, the interest is much better sustained than in that noble but irregular poem. There were many causes which might have in- duced Sir WALTER to close his poetical career with the Lady of the Lake • and perhaps, for his fame, it would have been as well that he had done so, for the succeeding poems of Rokeby, and the Lord of the Isles, if they did not detract from his high reputation, certainly did not add to it. Of the confessed failure of Rokeby, he gives the following theory. "The cause of my failure had, however, a far deeper root. The man- ner, or style, which, by its novelty, attracted the public in an unusual de- gree, had now, after having been three times before them, exhausted the patience of the reader, and began in the fourth to lose its charms. The reviewers may be said have apostrophized the author in the language
of Parnell's Edwin : 'And here reverse the charm, he cries, And let it fairly now suffice, The gambol has been shown.'
"The licentious combination of rhymes, in a manner not perhaps very congenial to our language, had not been confined to the author. Indeed, in most similar cases, the inventors of such novelties have their reputa. tion destroyed by their own imitators, ad Action fell under his own dogs.
The present author, like Bobadil, had taught his trick of fence to a hun- dred gentlemen (and ladies), who could fence very nearly, or quite, as well as himself. For this there was no remedy ; the harmony became tire- some and ordinary; and both the original inventor and his invention must have fallen into contempt, if he had not found out another road to public favour. What has been said of the metre only, must be consi- deredlo apply equally to the structure of the poem and of the style. The very best passages of any popular style are not, perhaps, susceptible of imitation, but they may be approached by men of talent ; and those who are less able to copy them, at least lay hold of their peculiar features, so as to produce a burlesque instead of a serious copy. In either way, the effect of it is rendered cheap and common ; and, in the latter case, ridi- culous to boot. The evil consequences to an author's reputation are at least as fatal as those which befal a composer, when his melody falls into the hands of the street ballad-singer.
"Of the unfavourable species of imitation, the author's style gave room to &very large number, owing to an appearance of facility to which some of those who used the measure unquestionably leaned too far. The effect of the more favourable imitations, composed by persons of talent, was almost equally unfortunate to the original minstrel, by showing that they could overshoot him with his own bow. In short, the popularity which once attended the school, as it was called, was now fast decaying. "Besides all this, to have kept his ground at the crisis when Rokeby ap- peared, its author ought to have put forth his utmost strength, and to have possessed at least all his original advantages, for a mighty and unexpected rival was advancing on the stage—a rival not in poetical powers only, but in that of attracting popularity, in which the present writer had preceded
better men than himself. The reader will easily see that Byron is here meant; who, after a little velitation of no great promise, now appeared as a serious candidate, inthe First Canto of Childe Harold. I was astonished by the power evinced by that work, which neither the Hours of Idleness nor the dish' Bards and Scotch Reviewers had prepared me to expect from its author. There was a depth in his thought, an eager abundance in his diction, which argued full confidence in the inexhaustible resources of which he felt himself possessed ; and there was some appearance of that labour of the file, which indicates that the author is conscious of the ne- cessity of doing every justice to his work, that it may pass warrant.
* * There would have been little wisdom in measuring my force
with so formidable an antagonist; and I was as likely to tire of playing the second fiddle in the concert, as my audience of hearing me."
We confess we have a different theory. We think that if Lord Bums had never exceeded the Hours of Idleness, still Rokeby would have gone down. Some of the causes of its want of suc- cess will doubtless be found in the small interest of the tale, in the extravagance of the conception of the ruffian hero, and some of the other actors ; but the grand and abiding sin of Rokeby was its extreme length. We spoke of the notes to the Border Banstrelsy as excellent: the same may be said of those on the Lay, Marmion, and the Lady of the Lake. Sir WALTER does not content himself with mere explanations of his text, or its allusions, like most of his predecessors and contemporaries: he deviates every now and then into short essays on collateral topics, which areelmost always instructive, and, without any exception, full of amusement. In many instances, indeed, it would be difficult to say whether the verse or thir commentary is most interesting. Whether he had exhausted is- materials, or had not leisure for the Work, certain it is, that withthis kind of attraction Rokeby is most scantily supplied. None of the other poems are nearly so long; none of them certainly have so few or so dry and barren an- notations. So obvious was this on its first publication, that we well recollect the common rumour, that the copyright had been estimated by the line • and the pressing into the volume of such a mass of songs and ballads, not in the slightest degree connected with the story, went far to confirm it. The materials of much of the scenery introduced into the Lord of the Tsles were collected by Sir WALTER in a voyage along the West coast of Scotland, in one of his Majesty's revenue vessels, which was noticed in the journals of the day. Much of what he observed during that trip was afterwards wrought up in the admirable tale of the Pirate. The Lord of the Isles was concluded in heaviness of spirit, occasioned by the death of the youthful Duchess of BUCCLEITCH, the first and much-loved friend of the poet. As a whole, we should reckon it below even Rokeby, through the greater part of which there runs a vigour and elasticity that tend to palliate its worst faults, while the Lord of the Isles seldom rises above the level of careful insipidity. The best test perhaps of the relative value of the five poems, may be found in the strength and distinctness of the impressions they have left on their readers. It is now more than a dozen of years since we perused any of them, yet of the first three we can recollect not only the fable, but most of the incidents ; of Rokeby we have an imperfect recollection ; but of the Lord of the Isles nearly every trace has passed from -our minds, nor could we at this moment mention one name in the whole poem, those only excepted that we know from our histo- rical recollections must have figured in it. In the interval between the publication of Rokeby and the Lord of the Isles, Sir WALTER removed from Ashiesteil to Abbotsford ; which house, with a farm on which it stands, he had purchased with the price paid by the public for the happiness which he had for many years been employed in conferring upon them. Of the two other poems that appeared about the same time, the Bridal of Triermain and Harold the Dauntless—the one of which was commonly given to the late Mr. ERSKINE of Kinedder, and the other to JAMIE HOGG—we shall not attempt to speak, for we never happened to read either of them. These are the last works of magni- tude published by Sir WALTER, with the exception of those which we shortly noticed three or four weeks ago, the Doom of Devorgoil and the Ayrshire Tragedy. We intended, in this article, to discuss the general merits of Sir WARMER Scorr's poetry ; but the bulk into which it has already swelled, renders it impossible for us to say but a few words. Sir WALTER'S poetry has-been, by the greater number of critics and readers, compared with that of Lord BYRON ; and having been discovered to be, in some particulars, inferior to the more elabo- rate passages of the Childe and of Juan, it has been too hastily concluded that its great popularity was more the result of acci- dent, and of the absence of competitors for public favour, than of its real merits. Such a judgment is, apparently, confirmed by the fact, that a smaller number of reprints have been called for, of late years, than from Sir WALTER'S great reputation might reasonably have been expected. It is a small objection to any man of genius to say, that he is not the first and greatest that the age has produced ; and even if this were true of Sir WALTER as a poet—if it were true that Lord BYRON had risen higher, it must be confessed by all, that every other poet of the day had, by the test of popularity, fallen infinitely short of him. Those who found their judgment on the absence of numerous editions of Sir WAS,. TER'S poetical works, would do well to recollect, that an edition of ten or twelve volumes, even of the most valuable and most esteemed work, is no every-day affair. Such editions are, in fact, fitted for libraries rather than for private collections, except among the wealthy ; and there is not, at this present moment, we believe., one respectable library in the world, on the shelves of which SCOTT'S poetical works are not to be found. On the whole, we do not think that their first reception, though it was calculated to forestall, in some measure, the demands of many years to come, was greater than their merits deserved; nor do we think that any writer of modern days has a better title (setting aside the admitted claim of his novels) or a fairer prospect of living his century, than the worthy and amiable author of the Lay.