By Walter Scott







Hear, Land o' Cakes and brither Scots, Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's, If there's a hole in a' your coats, I rede ye tent it; A chiel's amang you takin' notes, An' faith he'll prent it! Burns.


SCOTT began to work on 'The Heart of Mid-Lothian' almost before he had completed 'Rob Roy.' On Nov. 10, 1817, he writes to Archibald Constable announcing that the negotiations for the sale of the story to Messrs. Longman have fallen through, their firm declining to relieve the Ballantynes of their worthless 'stock.' 'So you have the staff in your own hands, and, as you are on the spot, can manage it your own way. Depend on it that, barring unforeseen illness or death, these will be the best volumes which have appeared. I pique myself on the first tale, which is called 'The Heart of Mid-Lothian.'' Sir Walter had thought of adding a romance, 'The Regalia,' on the Scotch royal insignia, which had been rediscovered in the Castle of Edinburgh. This story he never wrote. Mr. Cadell was greatly pleased at ousting the Longmans—'they have themselves to blame for the want of the Tales, and may grumble as they choose: we have Taggy by the tail, and, if we have influence to keep the best author of the day, we ought to do it.'—[Archibald Constable, iii. 104.]

Though contemplated and arranged for, 'The Heart of Mid-Lothian' was not actually taken in hand till shortly after Jan. 15, 1818, when Cadell writes that the tracts and pamphlets on the affair of Porteous are to be collected for Scott. 'The author was in great glee . . . he says that he feels very strong with what he has now in hand.' But there was much anxiety concerning Scott's health. 'I do not at all like this illness of Scott's,' said James Ballantyne to Hogg. 'I have eften seen him look jaded of late, and am afraid it is serious.' 'Hand your tongue, or I'll gar you measure your length on the pavement,' replied Hogg. 'You fause, down-hearted loon, that ye are, you daur to speak as if Scott were on his death-bed! It cannot be, it must not be! I will not suffer you to speak that gait.' Scott himself complains to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe of 'these damned spasms. The merchant Abudah's hag was a henwife to them when they give me a real night of it.'

'The Heart of Mid-Lothian,' in spite of the author's malady, was published in June 1818. As to its reception, and the criticism which it received, Lockhart has left nothing to be gleaned. Contrary to his custom, he has published, but without the writer's name, a letter from Lady Louisa Stuart, which really exhausts what criticism can find to say about the new novel. 'I have not only read it myself,' says Lady Louisa, 'but am in a house where everybody is tearing it out of each other's hands, and talking of nothing else.' She preferred it to all but 'Waverley,' and congratulates him on having made 'the perfectly good character the most interesting. . . . Had this very story been conducted by a common hand, Effie would have attracted all our concern and sympathy, Jeanie only cold approbation. Whereas Jeanie, without youth, beauty, genius, warns passions, or any other novel-perfection, is here our object from beginning to end.' Lady Louisa, with her usual frankness, finds the Edinburgh lawyers tedious, in the introduction, and thinks that Mr. Saddletree 'will not entertain English readers.' The conclusion 'flags'; 'but the chief fault I have to find relates to the reappearance and shocking fate of the boy. I hear on all sides 'Oh, I do not like that!' I cannot say what I would have had instead, but I do not like it either; it is a lame, huddled conclusion. I know you so well in it, by-the-by! You grow tired yourself, want to get rid of the story, and hardly care how.' Lady Lousia adds that Sir George Staunton would never have hazarded himself in the streets of Edinburgh. 'The end of poor Madge Wildfire is most pathetic. The meeting at Muschat's Cairn tremendous. Dumbiedikes and Rory Beau are delightful. . . . I dare swear many of your readers never heard of the Duke of Argyle before.' She ends: 'If I had known nothing, and the whole world had told me the contrary, I should have found you out in that one parenthesis, 'for the man was mortal, and had been a schoolmaster.''

Lady Louisa omits a character who was probably as essential to Scott's scheme as any—Douce Davie Deans, the old Cameronian. He had almost been annoyed by the criticism of his Covenanters in 'Old Mortality,' 'the heavy artillery out of the Christian Instructor or some such obscure field work,' and was determined to 'tickle off' another. There are signs of a war between literary Cavaliers and literary Covenanters at this time, after the discharge of Dr. McCrie's 'heavy artillery.' Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe was presented by Surtees of Mainsforth with a manuscript of Kirkton's unprinted 'History of the Church of Scotland.' This he set forth to edite, with the determination not to 'let the Whig dogs have the best of it.' Every Covenanting scandal and absurdity, such as the old story of Mess David Williamson—'Dainty Davie'—and his remarkable prowess, and presence of mind at Cherrytrees, was raked up, and inserted in notes to Kirkton. Scott was Sharpe's ally in this enterprise. 'I had in the persons of my forbears a full share, you see, of religious persecution . . . for all my greatgrandfathers were under the ban, and I think there were hardly two of them out of jail at once.' 'I think it would be most scandalous to let the godly carry it oft thus.' 'It' seems to have been the editing of Kirkton. 'It is very odd the volume of Wodrow, containing the memoir of Russell concerning the murder, is positively vanished from the library' (the Advocates' Library). 'Neither book nor receipt is to be found: surely they have stolen it in the fear of the Lord.' The truth seems to have been that Cavaliers and Covenanters were racing for the manuscripts wherein they found smooth stones of the brook to pelt their opponents withal. Soon after Scott writes: 'It was not without exertion and trouble that I this day detected Russell's manuscript (the account of the murder of Sharpe by one of the murderers), also Kirkton and one or two others, which Mr. McCrie had removed from their place in the library and deposited in a snug and secret corner.' The Covenanters had made a raid on the ammunition of the Cavaliers. 'I have given,' adds Sir Walter, 'an infernal row on the subject of hiding books in this manner.' Sharpe replies that the 'villainous biographer of John Knox' (Dr. McCrie), 'that canting rogue,' is about to edite Kirkton. Sharpe therefore advertised his own edition at once, and edited Kirkton by forced marches as it were. Scott reviewed the book in the Quarterly (Jan. 1818). He remarked that Sharpe 'had not escaped the censure of these industrious literary gentlemen of opposite principles, who have suffered a work always relied upon as one of their chief authorities to lie dormant for a hundred and forty years.' Their 'querulous outcries' (probably from the field-work of the Christian Instructor) he disregards. Among the passions of this literary 'bicker,' which Scott allowed to amuse him, was Davie Deans conceived. Scott was not going to be driven by querulous outcries off the Covenanting field, where he erected another trophy. This time he was more friendly to the 'True Blue Presbyterians.' His Scotch patriotism was one of his most earnest feelings, the Covenanters, at worst, were essentially Scotch, and he introduced a new Cameronian, with all the sterling honesty, the Puritanism, the impracticable ideas of the Covenant, in contact with changed times, and compelled to compromise.

He possessed a curious pamphlet, Haldane's 'Active Testimony of the true blue Presbyterians' (12mo, 1749). It is a most impartial work, 'containing a declaration and testimony against the late unjust invasion of Scotland by

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