« السابقةمتابعة »
ECLECTIC ENGLISH CLASSICS
EDITED AND ANNOTATED FOR THE USE OF SCHOOLS
WITH AN OUTLINE FOR STUDY
MAE E. SCHREIBER
FORMERLY TEACHER OF LITERATURE, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL
In presenting to the young student this English classic, it is the aim of the notes and the Introduction to suggest rather than to explain at great length. Historical details and minutiæ of manners and customs of the period are therefore outlined only, their amplification being left to the student.
Sir Walter Scott, the ninth child in a family of twelve, was born at Edinburgh, August 15, 1771. His father was Walter Scott, a writer to the signet, or solicitor, and akin to the border Scotts of Harden, a connection of the powerful house of Buccleuch. This connection of his father with the great house was a source of considerable pride to Scott: indeed, it was the aim of his life to be recognized among the landed gentry, and it was to the establishment of his family as such that he bent, later on, the full force of his literary energy. His mother was Anne Rutherford, daughter of Dr. John Rutherford, a medical professor in Edinburgh University. Scott was a delicate child, and when - three years old was taken to Sandyknowe, his grandfather's farm.
It was here, in his early youth, that he heard the traditions of 'that border war whose spirit he afterward infused so thoroughly - into his poetry. Undoubtedly the influence of Sandyknowe was
one of the strongest upon his mind. In 1779 he returned to Edinburgh, improved in health, but with a slight lameness in his step, the result of a fever. The lameness was incurable. After a period at the high school, he entered the university in 1783; and at college, as at school, he was a prodigious reader of travels, romances, poetry, and old plays. The ballad literature and Percy's “Reliques" had an especial fascination for him. A marked trait that afterward showed itself conspicuously in his poems and novels was his susceptibility to the charms of natural scenery. In 1786 he entered his father's law office; and six years after, in July, 1792, he was called to the Scottish bar. In this year he began the study of German, and in 1796 published translations of Bürger's “Lenore ” and “Wild Huntsman.” In 1802 appeared the “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.” The “ Lay of the Last Minstrel” was brought out in 1805, and aroused widespread enthusiasm. The next year, through the Buccleuch, he received the appointment of a clerkship in the Scottish Court of Session, with a salary of £800, afterward £1,300. He then gave up his profession, and devoted himself to literature. In 1808 “Marmion” appeared; and in 1810, the picturesque “Lady of the Lake.” The next year, 1811, he bought Abbotsford, in Roxburgh County, about twenty-eight miles southeast from Edinburgh, commanding a view of the Tweed and Melrose Abbey, and began the fulfillment of his long-cherished wish to found a family. It was the expense of Abbotsford that caused the financial difficulties that later came upon him. In June, 1814, “Waverley " appeared, and not only at once established its author as a novelist of extraordinary power in the delineation of character and the description of natural scenery, but revolution. ized the English novel, lifting its tone, broadening its scope, making it artistic, in strong contrast to the droning sentimentality of Richardson and the coarseness of Fielding and Smollett, his predecessors. Moreover, besides raising the novel to a higher
plane, Scott infused into it a new element by weaving pleasing story about historical characters, thus creating the historical novel. The success of "Waverley” was encouraging, and novel after novel came from his pen with remarkable rapidity, — “Guy Mannering” (1815), “The Black Dwarf” and “Old Mortality” (1816), “Rob Roy” (1817), and "Ivanhoe” (1819). In 1820 the rank of baronet was conferred upon him, and his success seemed assured. But a storm was gathering, and six years later it burst. In January, 1826, came the failure of the publishinghouse of the Ballantynes (of which he was a partner), and also of that of Constable & Co., with which it was connected. Scott's indebtedness was about £130,000, and, refusing all compromise, at the age of fifty-five he bravely sat down to write it off. He worked with an industry that was astounding. Novels, tales, histories, followed each other in rapid succession. The struggle was a grand one, and grandly did he accomplish it. Abbotsford was saved; but the strain had been too severe. In 1830-31 symptoms of paralysis appeared, followed by one stroke in February, and another in November. He went to Italy, October, 1831, but, his strength failing, came back to Abbotsford, June 11, 1832. He died there September 21, 1832.
The student is referred for further details to Lockhart's “Life of Scott," “ English Men of Letters Series,” W. H. Prescott's “Miscellanies,” and Leslie Stephen's “Hours in a Library.”
Of all Scott's novels, “Ivanhoe” is generally admitted to be the most popular. Its action is stirring, and the reader is led through the story by a change of incidents as varied as they are interesting. The name "Ivanhoe,” as the author tells us, was chosen at random from some jingling rhymes that ran in his head,