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together as long. So ended the Fathers of the Novel
- Fielding and Smollett — and it would be no unprofessional finish for yours, WALTER Scott.”
“ To R. Cadell, Esq., Bookseller, Edinburgh.
“ Abbotsford, 8th Dec. 1830. “ My Dear Sir,
“ Although we are come near to a point to which every man knows he must come, yet I acknowledge I thought I might have put if off for two or three years; for it is hard to lose one's power of working when you have perfect leisure for it. I do not view James Ballantyne's criticism, although his kindness may not make him sensible of it, so much as an objection to the particular topic, which is merely fastidious, as to my having failed to please him, an anxious and favourable judge, and certainly a very good one. It would be losing words to say that the names are really no objection, or that they might be in some degree smoothed off by adopting more modern Grecian. This is odd. I have seen when a play or novel would have been damned by introduction of Macgregors or Macgrouthers, or others, which you used to read as a preface to Fairntosh whisky, on every spirit shop-yet these have been wrought into heroes. James is, with many other kindly critics, perhaps in the predicament of
an honest drunkard when crop-sick the next morning, who does not ascribe the malady to the wine he has drunk, but to having tasted some particular dish at dinner which disagreed with his stomach. The fact is, I have not only written a great deal, but, as Bobadil teaches his companions to fence, I have taught a hundred gentlemen to write nearly as well, if not altogether so, as myself.
“Now, such being my belief, I have lost, it is plain, the power of interesting the country, and ought, in justice to all parties, to retire, while I have some credit. But this is an important step, and I will not be obstinate about it, if necessary. I would not act hastily, and still think it right to set up at least half a volume. The subject is essentially an excellent one. If it brings to my friend J. B. certain prejudices not unconnected, perhaps, with his old preceptor Mr Whale, we may find ways of obviating this ; but frankly, I cannot think of Ainging aside the half finished volume, as if it were a corked bottle of wine. If there is a decisive resolution for laying aside Count Robert (which I almost wish I had named Anna Comnena), I shall not easily prevail on myself to begin another.
“ I may perhaps take a trip to the Continent for a year or two, if I find Othello's occupation gone, or rather Othello's reputation. James seems to have taken his bed upon it-yet has seen Pharsalia. I hope your cold is getting better. I am tempted to say, as Hotspur says of his father
“Zounds! how hath he the leisure to be sick?'*
There is a very material consideration how a failure of Count Robert might affect the Magnum, which is a main object. So this is all at present from, dear sir, yours, very faithfully, WALTER Scott.”
To the Same.
« Abbotsford, 9th Dec. 1830. “ My Dear Cadell,
“ I send you sheet B of the unlucky Countit will do little harm to correct it, whether we ultimately use it or no; for the rest: we must do as we dow, as my mother used to say. I could reduce many expenses in a foreign country, especially equipage and living, which in this country I could not do so well. But it is matter of serious consideration, and we have time before us to think. I write to you rather than Ballantyne, because he is not well, and I look on you as hardened against wind and weather, whereas
• Man but a rush against Othello's breast,
* 1st King Henry IV. Act IV, Scene 1.
But we must brave bad weather as well as bear it.
“ I send a volume of the interleaved Magnum. I know not whether you will carry on that scheme or not at present. I am yours sincerely,
“ P.S.—I expect Marshal Bourmont and a French Minister, Baron d’Haussez, here to-day, to my no small discomfort, as you may believe; for I would rather be alone.”
To the Same.
“ Abbotsford, 12th Dec. 1830. « My Dear Sir,
“ I am much obliged for your kind letter, and have taken a more full review of the whole affair than I was able to do at first. There were many circumstances in the matter which you and J. B. could not be aware of, and which, if you were aware of, might have influenced your judgment, which had, and yet have a most powerful effect upon mine. The deaths of both my father and mother have been preceded by a paralytic shock. My father survived it for nearly two years—a melancholy respite, and not to be desired. I was alarmed with Miss Young's morning visit, when, as you know, I lost my speech. The medical people said it was from the stomach,
which might be ; but while there is a doubt on a point so alarming, you will not wonder that the subject, or, to use Hare's lingo, the shot, should be a little anxious. I restricted all my creature comforts, which were never excessive, within a single cigar and a small wine-glass of spirits per day. But one night last month, when I had a friend with me, I had a slight vertigo when going to bed, and fell down in my dressing-room, though but for one instant. Upon this I wrote to Dr Abercrombie, and in consequence of his advice, I have restricted myself yet farther, and have cut off the cigar, and almost half of the mountain-dew. Now, in the midst of all this, I began my work with as much attention as I could ; and having taken pains with my story, I find it is not relished, nor indeed tolerated, by those who have no interest in condemning it, but a strong interest in putting even a face upon their consciences. Was not this, in the circumstances, a damper to an invalid, already afraid that the sharp edge might be taken off his intellect, though he was not himself sensible of that? and did it not seem, of course, that nature was rather calling for repose than for further efforts in a very exciting and feverish style of composition ? It would have been the height of injustice and cruelty to impute want of friendship or sympathy to J. B.'s discharge of a doubtful, and I am sensible, a perilous task. True,