Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

up my time so much, that I must bid you adieu for the present. Besides, I am summoned to attend a grand chasse, and I see the children are all mounted upon

Ever most the ponies. By the way, Walter promises to be a gallant horseman.

WALTER SCOTT." truly yours,

I shall close this chapter with a transcript of some Notes on the proof sheets of the “ Field of Waterloo.” John Ballantyne being at Abbotsford on the 3d of October, his brother the printer addressed the packet containing the sheets to him. John appears to have considered James's observations on the margin before Scott saw them; and the record of the style in which the Poet repelled, or yielded lo, his critics, will at all events illustrate his habitual good-naturé.

John Ballantyne writes on the fly-leaf of the proofs to his confidential clerk :-" Mr Hodgson, I beg these sheets and all the MS. may be carefully preserved just as they stand, and put in my father's desk. J. B."

James prefaces his animadversions with this quotation :

“ Cut deep and spare not.--Penruddock.

The Notes are these :

[ocr errors]

STANZA 1.-“ Fair Brussells, thod art far behind.”
James Ballantyne.- I do not like this line. It is tame, and the phrase "sar
behind,” has, to my feeling, some associated vulgarity.
Scott.Stet.
STANZA II.—“Let not the stranger with disdain

The architecture view."
James. These two words are cacophonous. Would not its do ?
Scott.-Th. is a bad sound. Ts. a much worse. Read their.

STANZA IV.-"A stranger might reply." James.-My objection to this is probably fantastical, and I state it only, because from the first moment to the last, it has always made me boggle. I don't like a stranger-Query, The questioned ”—The“ spectator”-“gazer,” &c. Scott. --Stranger is appropriate-it means stranger to the circumstances.

Stanza VI.-James.-You had changed “garner-house profound,” which I
think quite admirable, to garner under ground,” which I think quite otherways.
I have presumed not to make the change-must I ?
Scott.-I acquiesce, but with doubts ; profound sounds affected.
STANZA VIII.-" The deadly tug of war at length

Must limits find in human strength,
And cease when these are passed.

Vain hope ! &c.”
James.-I must needs repeat, that the deadly tug did cease in the case supposed.
It lasted longvery long; but, when the limits of resistance, of human strength
were past-that is, after they had fought for ten hours, then the deadly tug did

Therefore the “hope ” was not "vain.” Scott.—1 answer it did not, because the observation relates to the strength of those actually engaged, and when their strength was exhausted other squadrons were brought up. Suppose you saw two lawyers scolding at the bar, you might say this must have an end-human lungs cannot hold out-but, if the debate were continued by the senior counsel, your well-grounded expectations would be disappointed—" Cousin, thou wert not wont to be so dull !"

cease.

[ocr errors]

IBID.-“ Noř ceased the intermitted shot."
James.-Mr Erskine contends that “intermitted” is redundant.
Scott.—"Nor ceased the storm of shell and shot."
STANZA X.-".

Never shall our country say
We gave one inch of ground away,

When battling for her right.”
James. ---In conflict ?
John B.- Warring? I am afraid battling must stand.
Scott.-All worse than the text.

STANZA XI.-"Peal’d.wildly the imperial name.” James.-I submit with diffidence whether this be not a somewhat tame conclusion to so very animated a stanza ? And, at any rate, you will observe, that as it stands, you have no rhyme whatever to “The Cohort eagles fly.-You have no rhyme to Ay. Flew and fly, also, are perhaps too near, considering that each word closes a line of the same sort. I don't well like “ Thus, in a torrent,” either. If it were, “In one broad torrent,” &c., it strikes me that it would be more spirited.

Scott.-Granted as to most of these observations-Read, “in one dark torrent broad and strong,” &c. --The “imperial name ” is true, therefore must stand.

STANZA XII.-"Nor was one forward footstep stopped."
James.-This staggering word was intended, I presume, but I don't like it.
Scott.Granted. Read staid, &c.
IBID.“ Down were the eagle banners sent,

Down, down the horse and horsemen went."
James.—This is very spirited and very fine; but it is unquestionably liable to the
charge of being very nearly' a direct repetition of yourself. See Lord of the Isles,
Canto vi. St. 21:

Down ! down ! in headlong overthrow,

Horseman and horse, the foremost go,” &c. This passage is at once so striking and so recent, that its close similarity to the present, if not indeed its identity, must strike every reader; and really, to borrow from one's self, is hardly much better than to borrow from one's neighbours. And yet again, a few lines lower :

" As hammers on the anvils reel,

Against the cuirass clangs the steel.” See Lady of the Lake, Canto vi., Stanza 18

“ I heard the broadswords' deadly clang,

As if an hundred anvils rang."
Here is precisely the same image, in very nearly the same words.

Scott.--I have altered the expression, but made a note, which, I think, will vindicate retaining the simile.

STANZA XIII.--"As their own Ocean-rocks hold stance.John.—I do not know such an English word as stance. Scott. Then we'll make it one for the nance.

IBJD." And newer standards fly.”
James.- I don't like newer.
Scott." And other standards fly."

IBID." Or can thy memory fail to quote,

Heard to thy cost the vengeful note.”
James.-Would to God you would alter this quote!
John.-Would to God I could !—I certainly should.-
Scott.“ Or can thy memory fail to know,

Heard oft before in hour of wo.”

Or

“Or dwells not in thy memory

Heard frequent in thine hour of ill."
STANZA XV.--"Wrung forth by pride, regret, and shame.”
James.- I have ventured to submit to your choice

“Wrung forth by pride, and rage, and shame.”
Regret appearing a faint epithet amidst such a combination of bitter feelings.
Scott.-Granted.
IBID." So mingle banner, wain, and gun,

Where in one tide of horror run

The warriors,” &c. James.-In the first place, warriors running in a tide, is a clashing metaphor; in the second, the warriors running at all is a little homely. It is true, no doubt; but really running is little better than scampering. For these causes, one or both, I think the lines should be altered.

Scott.You are wrong in one respect. A tide is always said to run,--but I thought of the tide without attending to the equivoque, which must be altered. Read,

“Where the tumultuous flight rolls on.” STANZA XVI." found gallant grave.” James.—This is surely a singular epithet to a grave. I think the whole of this stanza eminently fine; and, in particular, the conclusion. Scott."

found soldier's grave. STANZA XXI.-—Redoubted Picton's soul of fire.” James. ---From long association, this epithet strikes'me as conveying a semiludicrous idea.

Scott.—It is here appropriate, and your objection seems merely personal to your own association.

IBID." Through his friend's heart to wound his own." James.-Quære-Pierce, or rather stab-wound is faint. Scott. -“Pierce."

STANZA XXI.-—“Forgive, brave fallen, the imperfect lay." James. -Don't like, “ brave fallen " at all ; nor appropriate praise," three lines aftor. The latter in particular is prosaic. Scott." Forgive, brave dead."

The dear earned praise."

CHAPTER XII.

Poem of the Field of Waterloo published-Revision of Paul's Letters, &c. Quarrel

and Reconciliation with Hogg--Football Match at Carterhaugh-Songs on the Banner of Buccleuch-Dinner at Bowhill-Design for a Piece of Plate to the Sutors of SelkirkLetters to the Duke of Buccleuch-Joanna Baillie-and Mr Morritt-1815.

THE poem of " the Field of Waterloo" was published before the end of October; the profits of the first edition being the author's contribution to the fund raised for the relief of the widows and children of the soldiers slain in the battle. This piece appears to have disappointed those most disposed to sympathize with the author's views and feelings. . The descent is indeed heavy from his Bannockburn to his Waterloo : the presence, or all but visible reality of what his dreams cherished, seems to have overawed his imagination, and tamed it into a weak pomposity of movement. The burst of pure native enthusiasm upon the Scottish heroes that fell around the Duke of Wellington's person, bears, however, the broadest marks of " the Mighty Minstrel."

-“Saw gallant Miller's fading eye Still bent where Albyn's standards fly, And Cameron, in the shock of steel,

Die like the offspring of Lochiel," &c. ;and this is far from being the only redeeming passage. There is one, indeed, in which he illustrates what he then thought Buonaparle's poorness of spirit in adversity, which always struck me as pre-eminently characteristic of Scott's manner of interweaving, both in prose and verse, the moral energies with analogous natural description, and combining thought with imagery

“ Or is thy soul like mountain tide,

That swelled by winter storm and shower,
Rolls down in turbulence of power,

A torrent fierce and wide;
Reft of these aids, a rill obscure,
Shrinking unnoticed, mean and poor,

Whose channel shows displayed
The wrecks of its impetuous course,
But not one symptom of the force

By which these wrecks were made !" The poem was the first upon a subject likely to be sufficiently hackneyed; and, having the advantage of coming out in a small cheap form-(prudently imitated from Murray's innovation with the tales of Byron, which was the death-blow to the system of verse in quarto) -it attained rapidly a measure of circulation above what had been reached either by Rokeby or the Lord of the Isles.

Meanwhile the revison of Paul's Letters was proceeding; and Scott had almost immediately on his return to Abbotsford concluded his bargain for the first edition of a third novel- The Antiquary—to be published also in the approaching winter. Harold the Dauntless, 100, was from time to time taken up as the amusement of horæ subsecivo. As for Scott's out of doors 'occupations of thal autumn, sufficient light will be thrown on them by the following letter; from which it is seen that he had now completed a rather tedious negociation with another bonnet-laird, and definitively added the lands of Kaeside to the original estate of Abbotsford.

"To Miss Joanna Baillie, Hampstead.

“ November 12, 1815, Abbotsford. “I have been long In acknowledging your letter, my dear friend, and yet you have not only been frequent in my thoughts, as must always be the case, but your name has been of late familiar in my mouth as a household word. You must know that the pinasters you had the goodness to send me some time since, which are now fit to be set out of the nursery, bave occupied my mind as to the mode of disposing of them. Now, mark the event; there is in the middle of what will soon be a bank of fine young wood, a certain old gravel-pit, which is the present scene of my operations. I have caused it to be covered with better earth, and gently altered with the spade, so as, if possible, to give it the air of one of those accidental hollows which the surface of a hill frequently présents. Having arranged my ground, I intend to plant it all round with the pinasters, and other varielies of the pine species, and in the interior I will have a rustic' seat, surrounded by all kinds of evergreen shrubs (laurels in particular), and all varieties of the holly and cedar, and so forth, and this is to be called and entitled Joanna's Bower. We are determined in the choice of our ornaments by necessity; for our ground fronts (in poetic phrase) the rising sun, or, in common language, looks to the east; and being also on the north side of the hill-(don't you shiver at the thought ?)—why, to say trulh, George Wynnos and I are both of opinion that nothing but evergreens will flourish there; but I trust I shall convert a present deformity into a very pretty little hobby-horsical sort of thing. It will not bear looking at for years, and that is a pity : but it will so far resemble the person from whom it takes name, that it is planted, as she has written, for the benefit as well of posterity as for the passing generation. Time and I, says the Spaniard, against any two; and, fully confiding in the proverb, I have just undertaken another grand task. You must know, I have purchased a large lump of wild land, lying adjoining to this little property, which greatly more than doubles my domaids. The land is said to be reasonably bought, and I am almost certain I can turn it to advantage by a little judicious expenditure; for this place is already allowed to be worth twice what it cost me; and our people here think so little of planting, and do it so carelessly, that they stare with astonishment at the alteration which well planted woods make on the face of a country. There is, besides, a very great lemptation, from the land running to within a quarter of a mile of a very swect wild sheet of water, of which (that is, one side of it) I have every chance to become proprietor : this is a poetical circumstance not to be lost sight of, and accordingly I keep it full in my view. Amid these various avocations, past, present, and to come, I have not thought much about Waterloo, only that I am truly glad you like it."' I might, no doubt, have added many curious anecdotes, but I think the pamphlet long enough as it stands, and never had any design of writing copious notes.

"I do most devoutly hope Lord Byron will succeed in his proposal of bringing out one of your dramas; that he is your sincere admirer is only synonymous with his being a man of genius; and he has, I am convinced, both the power and inelination to serve the public, by availing bimself of the treasures you have laid before them. Yet I long for some yet untasted spring,' and heartily wish you would take Lord B. into your counsels, and adjust, from your yet unpublished materials, some drama for the public. In such a case, I would, in your place, conceal my name till the issue of the adventure. It is a sickening thing to think how many angry and evil passions the mere name of admitted excellence brings into full activity. I wish you would consider this hint, and I am sure the result would be great gratification to the public, and to yourself that sort of satisfaction which arises from receiving proofs of having altained the mark at which you aimed. Of this last, indeed, you cannot doubt, if you consult only the voices of the intelligent and the accomplished; but the object of the dramatist is professedly to

« AnteriorContinuar »