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good taste for the art, you should, I think, consider early how you mean to dispose of little Walter, with a view, that is, to the future line of life which you would wish him to adopt. Mrs Terry has not the good health which all who know her amiable disposition and fine accomplishments would anxiously wish her; yet, with impaired health and the caution which it renders necessary, we have very frequently instances of the utmost verge of existence being attained, while robust strength is cut off in the middle career. So you must be of good heart, and hope the best in this as in other cases of a like affecting nature. I go to town on Monday, and will forward under Mr Freeling's cover as much of Ivanhoe as is finished in print. It is completed, but in the hands of a very slow transcriber; when I can collect it I will send you the MS., which you will please to keep secret from every eye. I think this will give a start, if it be worth taking, of about a month, for the work will be out on the 20th of December. It is certainly possible to adapt it to the stage, but the expense of scenery and decorations would be great, this being a tale of chivalry, not of character. There is a tale in existence, by dramatizing which, I am certain, a most powerful effect might be produced : it is called Undine, and I believe has been translated into French by Mademoiselle Montolieu, and into English from her version : do read it, and tell me your opinion: in German the character of Undine is exquisite. The only objection is, that the catastrophe is unhappy, but this might be altered. I hope to be in London for ten days the end of next month ; and so good bye for the present, being in great haste, most truly yours, W. Scott.”
I conclude this chapter with a letter written two or three days before Scott quitted Abbotsford for the winter session. It is addressed to his friend Hartstonge, who had taken the opportunity of the renewal of Scott's correspondence to solicit his opinion and assistance touching a MS. drama; and the reader will be diverted with the style in which the amiable tragedian is treated to his quietus :
“ To Matthew Weld Hartstonge, Esq., Dublin.
“ Abbotsford, 11th Nov. 1819. “ My Dear Sir,
“I was duly favoured with your packet, containing the play, as well as your very kind letter. I will endeavour (though extremely unwilling to offer criticism on most occasions) to meet your confidence with perfect frankness. I do not consider the Tragedy as likely to make that favourable impression on the public which I would wish that the performance of a friend should effect—and I by no means recommend to you to hazard it upon the boards. In other compositions, the neglect of the world takes nothing
from the merit of the author; but there is something ludicrous in being affiché as the author of an unsuccessful play. Besides, you entail on yourself the great and eternal plague of altering and retrenching to please the humours of performers, who are, speaking generally, extremely ignorant, and capricious in proportion. These are not vexations to be voluntarily undertaken; and the truth is, that in the present day there is only one reason which seems to me adequate for the encountering the plague of trying to please a set of conceited performers and a very motley audience,— I mean the want of money, from which, fortunately, you are exempted. It is very true that some day or other a great dramatic genuis may arise to strike out a new path ; but I fear till this happens no great effect will be produced by treading in the old one. The reign of Tragedy seems to be over, and the very considerable poetical abilities which have been lately applied to it, have failed to revive it. Should the public ever be indulged with small theatres adapted to the hours of the better ranks in life, the dramatic art may recover; at present it is in abeyance --and I do therefore advise you in all sincerity to keep the Tragedy (which I return under cover) safe under your own charge. Pray think of this as one of the most unpleasant offices of friendship-and be not angry with me for having been very frank, upon an occasion when frankness may be more useful than altogether palatable.
“ I am much obliged to you for your kind intentions towards my young Hussar. We have not heard from him for three weeks. I believe he is making out a meditated visit to Killarney. I am just leaving the country for Edinburgh, to attend my duty in the courts; but the badness of the weather in some measure reconciles me to the unpleasant change. I have the pleasure to continue the most satisfactory accounts of my health; it is, to external appearance, as strong as in my strongest days—indeed, after I took once more to Sancho's favourite occupations of eating and sleeping, I recovered my losses wonderfully. Very truly yours, WALTER Scott."
Political Alarms — The Radicals — Levies of Vo
lunteers — Project of the Buccleuch Legion — Death of Scotts Mother, her Brother Dr Rutherford, and her Sister Christian - Letters to Lord Montagu, Mr Thomas Scott, Cornet Scott, Mr Laidlaw, and Lady Lousia StuartPublication of Ivanhoe.
Towards the winter of 1819 there prevailed a spirit of alarming insubordination among the mining population of Northumberland and the weavers of the West of Scotland; and Scott was particularly gratified with finding that his own neighbours at Galashiels had escaped the contagion. There can be little doubt that this exemption was principally owing to the personal influence and authority of the Laird of Abbotsford and Sheriff of the Forest; but the people of Galashiels were also fortunate in the qualities of their own beneficent landlords, Mr