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But I know that there are many who agree with Lockhart. On the
other hand, I should say that while we do not know enough of the House
of Ravenswood to feel much sympathy with its fortunes as a house, the
'conditions,' in the old sense, of its last representative are not such
as to attract us much to him personally. He is already far too much of
that hero of opera which he was destined to become, a sulky, stagy
creature, in theatrical poses and a black-plumed hat, who cannot even
play the easy and perennially attractive part of _desdichado_ so as to
keep our compassion. Lucy is a simpleton so utter and complete that it
is difficult even to be sorry for her, especially as Ravenswood would
have made a detestable husband. The mother is meant to be and is a
repulsive virago, and the father a time-serving and almost vulgar
intriguer. Moreover--and all this is not in the least surprising, since
he was in agonies during most of the composition, and nearly died before
its close[20]--the author has, contrary to his wont, provided very few
subsidiary characters to support or carry off the principals. Caleb
Balderstone has been perhaps unduly objected to by the very persons who
praise the whole book; but he is certainly somewhat of what the French
call a _charge_. Bucklaw, though agreeable, is very slight; Craigengelt
a mere 'super'; the Marquis shadowy. Even such fine things as the hags
at the laying-out, and the visit of Lucy and her father to Wolf's Crag,
and such amusing ones as Balderstone's _fabliau_-like expedients to
raise the wind in the matter of food, hardly save the situation; and
though the tragedy of the end is complete, it leaves me, I own, rather
cold.[19] One is sorry for Lucy, but it was really her own fault--a
Scottish maiden is not usually unaware of the possibilities and
advantages of 'kilting her coats of green satin' and flying from the lad
she does not love to the lad she does. The total disappearance of Edgar
is the best thing that could happen to him, and the only really
satisfactory point is Bucklaw's very gentlemanlike sentence of arrest on
all impertinent questioners.

But if the companion of the first set of _Tales_ was a dead-weight
rather than a make-weight, the make-weight of the third would have
atoned for anything. Sometimes I think, allowing for scale and
conditions, that Scott never did anything much better than _A Legend of
Montrose_. First, it is pervaded by the magnificent figure of Dugald
Dalgetty. Secondly, the story, though with something of the usual huddle
at the end, is interesting throughout, with the minor figures capitally
sketched in. Menteith, though merely outlined, is a good fellow, a
gentleman, and not a stick; Allan escapes the merely melodramatic;
'Gillespie Grumach' is masterly in his brief appearances; and Montrose
himself seems to me to be brought in with a skill which has too often
escaped notice. For it would mar the story to deal with the tragedy of
his end, and his earlier history is a little awkward to manage.
Moreover, that faculty of hurrying on the successive _tableaux_ which is
so conspicuous in most of Scott's work, and so conspicuously absent in
the _Bride_ (where there are long passages with no action at all) is
eminently present here. The meeting with Dalgetty; the night at
Darnlinvarach, from the bravado of the candlesticks to Menteith's tale;
the gathering and council of the clans; the journey of Dalgetty, with
its central point in the Inverary dungeon; the escape; and the battle of
Inverlochy,--these form an exemplary specimen of the kind of interest
which Scott's best novels possess as nothing of the kind had before
possessed it, and as few things out of Dumas have possessed it since.
Nor can the most fervent admirer of Chicot and of Porthos--I know none
more fervent than myself--say in cool blood that their creator could
have created Dalgetty, who is at once an admirable human being, a
wonderful national type of the more eccentric kind, and the embodiment
of an astonishing amount of judiciously adjusted erudition.

Many incidents of interest and some of importance occurred in Scott's
private life between the date of 1818 and that of 1820, besides those
mentioned already. One of these was the acquisition by Constable of the
whole of his back-copyrights for the very large sum of twelve thousand
pounds, a contract supplemented twice later in 1821 and 1823 by fresh
purchases of rights as they accrued for nominal sums of eleven thousand
pounds in addition. Unfortunately, this transaction, like almost all his
later ones, was more fictitious than real. And though it was lucky that
the publisher never discharged the full debt, so that when his
bankruptcy occurred something was saved out of the wreck which would
otherwise have been pure loss, the proceeding is characteristic of the
mischievously unreal system of money transactions which brought Scott to
ruin. Except for small things like review articles, etc., and for his
official salaries, he hardly ever touched real money for the fifteen
most prosperous years of his life, between 1810 and 1825. Promises to
receive were interchanged with promises to pay in such a bewildering
fashion that unless he had kept a chartered accountant of rather
unusual skill and industry perpetually at work, it must have been
utterly impossible for him to know at any given time what he had, what
he owed, what was due to him, and what his actual income and expenditure
were. The commonly accepted estimate is that during the most flourishing
time, 1820-1825, he made about fifteen thousand a year, and on paper he
probably did. Nor can he ever have spent, in the proper sense of the
term, anything like that sum, for the Castle Street house cannot have
cost, even with lavish hospitality, much to keep up, and the Abbotsford
establishment, though liberal, was never ostentatious. But when large
lump sums are constantly expended in purchases of land, building,
furnishing, and the like; when every penny of income except official
salaries goes through a complicated process of abatement in the way of
discounts for six and twelve months' bills, fines for renewal, payments
to banks for advances and the like--the 'clean' sums available at any
given moment bear quite fantastic and untrustworthy relations to their
nominal representatives. It may be strongly suspected, from the admitted
decrease of a very valuable practice under Walter Scott _père_, and from
its practical disappearance under Thomas, that the genius of the Scott
family did not precisely lie in the management of money.

The marriage of Sophia Scott to Lockhart, and the purchase of a
commission for her eldest brother Walter in the 18th Hussars, made gaps
in Scott's family circle, and also, beyond all doubt, in his finances.
The first was altogether happy for him. It did not, for at anyrate some
years, absolutely sever him from the dearest of his children, a lady
who, to judge from her portraits, must have been of singular charm, and
who seems to have been the only one of the four with much of his mental
characteristics; it provided him with an agreeable companion, a loyal
friend, and an incomparable biographer. Of Sir Walter Scott the second
and last, not much personal idea is obtainable. The few anecdotes handed
down, and his father's letters to him (we have no replies), suggest a
good sort of person, slightly 'chuckle-headed' and perfervid in the
wrong places, with next to no intellectual gifts, and perhaps more his
mother's son than his father's. He had some difficulties in his first
regiment, which seems to have been a wild one, and not in the best form;
he married an heiress of the unpoetical name of Jobson, to whom and of
whom his father writes with a pretty old-fashioned affection and
courtesy, which perhaps gave Thackeray some traits for Colonel Newcome.
Of the younger brother Charles, an Oxford man, who went into the Foreign
Office, even less is recorded than of Walter. Anne Scott, the third of
the family, and the faithful attendant of her father in his last evil
days, died in her sister's house shortly after Sir Walter, and Mrs.
Lockhart herself followed before the _Life_ was finished. Scott can
hardly be said to have bequeathed good luck to any of these his
descendants.

It was at the end of 1819, after Walter the younger left home, and
before Sophia's marriage, that the next in order of the _Waverley
Novels_ (now again such by title, and not _Tales of my Landlord_)
appeared. This was _Ivanhoe_, which was published in a rather costlier
shape than its forerunners, and yet sold to the extent of twelve
thousand copies in its three-volume form. Lockhart, perhaps with one of
the few but graceful escapes of national predilection (it ought not to
be called prejudice) to be noticed in him, pronounces this a greater
work of art, but a less in genius than its purely Scottish predecessors.
As there is nothing specially English in _Ivanhoe_, but only an attempt
to delineate Normans and Saxons before the final blend was formed, an
Englishman may, perhaps, claim at least impartiality if he accepts the
positive part of Lockhart's judgment and demurs to the negative.
Although the worst of Scott's cramps were past, he was still in anything
but good health when he composed the novel, most of which was dictated,
not written; and his avocations and bodily troubles together may have
had something to do with those certainly pretty flagrant anachronisms
which have brought on _Ivanhoe_ the wrath of Dryasdust. But Dryasdust is
_adeo negligibile ut negligibilius nihil esse possit_, and the book is a
great one from beginning to end. The mere historians who quarrel with it
have probably never read the romances which justify it, even from the
point of view of literary 'document.' The picturesque opening; the
Shakespearean character of Wamba; the splendid Passage of Arms; the more
splendid siege of Torquilstone; the gathering up of a dozen popular
stories of the 'King-and-the-Tanner' kind into the episodes of the Black
Knight and the Friar; the admirable, if a little conventional, sketch of
Bois-Guilbert, the pendant in prose to Marmion; the more admirable
contrast of Rebecca and Rowena; and the final Judgment of God, which for
once vindicates Scott from the charge of never being able to wind up a
novel,--with such subsidiary sketches as Gurth, Prior Aymer, Isaac,
Front-de-Boeuf (Urfried, I fear, will not quite do, except in the
final interview with her tempter-victim), Athelstane, and others--give
such a plethora of creative and descriptive wealth as nobody but Scott
has ever put together in prose.



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