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SIR WALTER SCOTT.
THE POET AND HIS POETRY.
one. For several years be pad the appointment one of the principal
[SIR WALTER SCOTT, was descended from the Scotts of Harden, one of the most ancient families of Scotland, and was born August 15th, 1771. He received the rudiments of education at the High School of Edinburgh without exhibiting any extraordinary powers of genius; from thence he removed to the University of Edinburgh, where also he passed through the classes without any indication of superior intellectual powers. He was, however, admitted an advocate of the Scotch Bar, when he had not quite attained the age of twenty one. For several years he paid the most devoted attention to his laborious duties. In 1799, he received the appointment of Sheriff Deputy of the County of Selkirk, and in March, 1806, was named one of the principal Clerks of the Session in Scotland.
Being released from the drudgery of professional labour, by the acquisition of two lucrative situations, and the possession of a handsome estate, he was enabled to court the muses at his leisure, and immediately commenced laying the foundation of that fame, which has attended him to every part of the civilized globe. His first publications, were translations from the German; these were, however, speedily followed by original compositions of his own. The “ Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," “Sir Tristram, a Metrical Romance," “ The Lay of the Last Minstrel,” “Marmion,” “The Lady of the Lake," “The Vision of Don Roderick," "Rokeby," and "The Lord of the Isles," followed each other successively, and raised his reputation very high; and till the genius of Byron rose, Scott stood the first of his age among living poets. In these compositions, he endeavoured to transfer the refinements of modern poetry to the matter and manner of the ancient metrical romance. Enamoured of the lofty visions of chivalry, he employed all the resources of his genius, in endeavouring to recal them to the favour and admiration of the public. In the choice of his subjects he does not, like Crabbe or Cowper, carry us into the cottage of the peasant, nor into the bosom of domestic privacy, nor among creatures of the imagination like Southey or Darwin; but, with the traits of the old romance, which but for him would have been exploded with kings, warriors, knights, outlaws, minstrels, secluded damsels, wizards, and true lovers, he dazzles the reader, and warms him into the transient heat of varied affections; but he nowhere kindles him into enthusiasm, or melts him into tenderness. There is nothing in his poetry of the severe and majestic style of Milton, or the terse and fine composition of Pope, or of the elaborate elegance and melody of Campbell, or even of the flowing and redundant diction of Southey; but there is a medley of bright images and glowing words set carelessly and loosely together; a diction tinged successively with the careless richness of Shakspeare; the harshness and antique simplicity of the old romances, the homeliness of vulgar ballads and anecdotes, and the sentimental glitter of the most modern poetry, passing from the borders of the ludicrous to those of the sublime, alternately minute and energetic, sometimes artificial and frequently negligent, but always full of spirit and vivacity, abounding in images that are striking at first sight to minds of every contexture, and never expressing a sentiment which it can cost the most ordinary reader any exertion to coniprehend.
Sir Walter Scott does not, however, stand upon his poetry for fame, but upon those incomparable novels, known by the name of the Waverley Novels, which were composed with a celerity such as the whole annals of literary history cannot furnish. With the exception of our own mighty Shakspeare no such prodigy of literary fertility has been found. In a few brief years he has founded a new school of invention and embellished it, and endowed it with volumes of the most animated and original composition that have enriched British literature for a century,-volumes that have cast into the shade all contemporary power, and by their force of colouring and depth of feeling, by their variety, vivacity, magical facility, and living presentment of character, have rendered concievable to this latter age the miracles of our own great magician. Shakspeare is undoubtedly more purely original, but it must be remembered that in his time there was much less to borrow. In naming him with Shakspeare, we do not say he is to be placed on a level with him as to the richness and sweetness of his fancy, or that living vein of pure and lofty poetry which flows with such abundance through every part of his composition. On that level no other writer has ever stood, and perhaps never will stand. But without question Walter Scott is the nearest to him, and one will not be forgotten, while the other is remembered.
EXTRACTS FROM THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
THE COMBAT BETWEEN FITZ-JAMES AND
The chief in silence strode before,
See here, all vantageless I stand,
The Saxon paused :— "I ne'er delay'd,
Who spills the foremost foeman's life,
Dark lightning flash'd from Roderick's eye,-
My thought, and hold thy valour light
Ill fared it then with Roderick Dhu,
Till, at advantage ta’en, his brand
“ Now yield thee, or, by Him who made