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KOTE to the whole of the Poems, at the end of the Voletana
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR
SIR WALTER Scott was born in Edinburgh on the 15th of August, 1771, the same day which gave birth to Napoleon the Great. The father of Sir Walter was a writer to the Signet; a man of extensive business, of integrity, sincerity, and benevolence of disposition, and for a long time he was an elder in the church of Old Grey Friars. He died in the 70th year of his age. His paternal grandfather was Mr. Robert Scott, farmer, at Sandyknow, in the vicinity of Smailholm Tower, in Roxburghshire. Dr. John Rutherford, maternal grandfather of the subject of this memoir, and one of the pupils of Boerhaave, was the first professor of physic in the university of Edinburgh, to which office he was elected in 1727, and which he resigned in 1766.
"I was (says Scott) an uncommonly healthy child; but had nearly died in consequence of my nurse being ill of a consumption, which she chose to conceal. The woman was dismissed, and I was consigned to a healthy peasant, and showed every sign of health until I was about eighteen months old. One night, however, I exhibited a great reluctance to be put to bed; and after being chased round the room, I was with difficulty consigned to my dormitory. In the morning I was affected with fever; and in the course of three days afterwards, it was discovered I had lost the power of my right leg.” The most able physicians were consulted; and by the advice of his grandfather, Dr. Rutherford, Scott was ultimately sent to reside at the farm-house of Sandy-know, the residence of his paternal grandfather. Sir Walter remained lame for life; but his activity among his school--fellows was nevertheless remarkable; for, according to Scott's own account, he was as mischievous as the wildest urchin of his acquaintance. In his fourth year he was sent to Bath, in the care of his aunt, where he remained about a year. By this time his health had become a good deal confirmed by that imperceptible exercise to which he had been subjected by the good sense of his grenatather; and although his limb was much shrunken and contracted,
by degrees he began to stand, to walk, and to run. From Bath he returned to Sandy-know; and when about eight years of age, he was removed to Prestonpans, as it was considered that sea-bathing might be beneficial to his lame
In Prestonpans Scott remained some weeks, whence he was sent back to Edinburgh.
After having undergone the usual routine of juvenile in struction, Sir Walter, in 1779, became a pupil in the High School of Edinburgh; but as a scholar he appears to have been by no means rernarkable for proficiency.
Scott's health again became delicate, and it was conset quently deemed advisable that he should be sent to reside with his aunt at Kelso; and it was during the time he attended the grammar-school of the town, that he became acquainted with James and John Ballantyne. According to James Ballantyne, Scott was then devoted to antiquarian lore, and was certainly the best story-teller he ever heard. 6 In the intervals of school-hours, (says James,) it was our constant practice to walk together by the banks of the Tweed, and his stories appeared to be quite inexhaustible." This friendship with the Ballantynes continued through life; as John had a share in the publication of many of Scott's works, and James was the printer of nearly the whole of his productions.
When Scott returned to Edinburgh his acquaintance with English literature had gradually extended itself; and he was in the habit of perusing history, poetry, voyages and travels, and an unusual quantity of fairy tales, eastern stories, romances, &c.; in short he had been “driving through a sea of books, like a vessel without a pilot or & rudder."
After having been two years under the rector of the High School, Sir Walter entered himself, in 1783, for the Humanity or Latin class in the university of Edinburgh, under Professor Hill, and the Greek class under Professor Dalzel; and for the latter, once more in 1784. But the only other class for which he seems to have matriculated at the College was that of Logic, under Professor Bruce, in 1785.
In 1786, he was apprenticed to his father for five years, in order to be initiated in the dry technicalities of conveyancing. Scott, however, had the strongest aversion to the confinement, and the dull routine of the office. His desk was usually supplied with a store of works of fiction; and every thing which had reference to knight-errantry was
particularly acceptable. But about the second year of his apprenticeship he had the misfortune to burst a blood-vęssel, which confined him to his bed for many weeks, during which time, as conversation was prohibited, reading and playing at chess was his only refuge; so, to the romances and poetry, which he chiefly delighted'in, he added the study of history, especially as connected with military events, which furnished him with those materials that he ultimately made available for his future compositions. After this illness he enjoyed a state of most robust health; and as his frame gradually became hardened, he was rather disfigured than disabled by his lameness. Excursions on foot or horseback now formed Scott's favourite amusement; and wood, water, and wilderness, had inexpressible charms for him. Show him but an old castle, or a field of battle, and he immediately filled it with its combatants in their proper costume, and overwhelmed his hearers by the enthusiasm of his description. Like Dr. Johnson, Scott had no ear for mere music; the notes failed to charm him if unaccompanied by good words, or immediately associated with some history or strong sentiment upon which his imagination could fasten; therefore, however happy others may have been in forming an union between his poetry and their music, Scott was rot usually successful in composing words to a set tune.
In 1791, Scott was admitted a member of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh;* and very shortly afterwards was appointed its librarian, and subsequently, its treasurer and secretary.
The time of Scott's apprenticeship had now elapsed; and, after some consideration, he determined to prepare himself for the bar, for which purpose he diligently applied his mind to the study of the Roman civil law, as well as to the municipal law of Scotland. On the 10th of July, 1792, when just on the point of completing his twenty-first year, he was called to the bar as an advocate, and enabled, by the affluence of his father, to begin life in an elegant house in a fashionable part of the town; but it was not his lot to acquire wealth or distinction at the bar. The truth is, his mind was not yet emancipated from that enthusiastic pursuit of knowledge which had distinguished his youth. His necessities were not so great as to make an exclusive appli
* One of those literary societies which are formed not merely for ornamental display, but for the more beneficial purpose of composition.
cation to his profession imperative; and he therefore seemed destined to join what a sarcastic barrister has termed, “the ranks of the gentlemen who are not anxious for business." Although he could speak readily and fluently at the bar, his intellect was not at all of a forensic cast. He appeared to be too much of the abstract and unworldly scholar, to assume readily the habits of an adroit pleader; and, even although he had been perfectly competent to the duties, it is a question if his external aspect and general reputation would have permitted the generality of agents to intrust them to his hands.
In 1796, he presented the world with a translation from the German of Bürger's Leonara, and the Wild Huntsman; which were favourably received by his immediate connexions. It is worthy of remark, that in this same year Scotland was deprived of Robert Burns,"her glory and her shame,"_“A poor man from his birth, and an exciseman from necessity."
At the time when Sir Walter entered public life, almost all the respectable part of the community were indignant at the hostile menaces of France, and numerous bodies of volunteer militia were consequently formed to meet the threatened invasion. In the beginning of 1799, the gentlemen of Mid-Lothian imitated the example, by imbodying themselves in a cavalry corps, under the name of the Royal Mid-Lothian Regiment of Cavalry; and Mr. Walter Scott had the honour to be appointed its adjutant, for which office his lameness was considered no bar. He was a very zealous officer, and highly popular in the regiment, on account of his extreme good-humour and powers of social entertain
It was during a visit to the English lakes, that Scott became 'acquainted with Miss Margaret Carpenter, a daughter of John Carpenter, Esq., of the city of Lyons: a gentleman who had fallen a victim to the excesses of the French revolution. This lady: (after obtaining the consent of her guardian) he married on Christmas eve, 1797, and with her came an annuity of £400 a-year. The affection and conjugal tenderness of Mrs. Scott contributed considerably to the happiness of the poet's life. Lady Scott died May 15, 1826, leaving two sons and two daughters. The elder son (now Sir Walter Scott) is an officer in the army, and Charles Scott is attached to a government office. The elder daughter (Sophia) married J. G. Lockhart, Esq., a gentleman of first-rate literary talents. This accomplished