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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

It is a happy fortune that made the two Scotsmen who stand as the highest spiritual representatives of their race to bear names so significant as Burns and Scott. The little streams that catch the sunlight as they spring down the slopes of the Scottish hills are as free in their nature and as limpid in their depths as are the songs with which Burns has given perennial freshness to Scottish life. And it was singularly fortunate that the man of all men who was to interpret his country to the world should himself have been named Scott. If we could reproduce earlier conditions, philologists in some future era of the world's bistory might be querying whether the little country of the north was named Scotland from the native poet, Walter Scott, or the poet took his name from the country of which he sang.

Walter Scott was born 15 August, 1771, in his father's house at the head of the College Wynd, Edinburgh. He was of the purest Border race. Walter Scott - Wat of Harden was the grandfather of his father's grandfather and was married to Mary Scott, the Flower of Yarrow, two personages whom Sir Walter honored with more than one reference in his verse. Wat of Harden's eldest son was Sir William Scott, a stout Jacobite who saved his life when making an unsuccessful foray on the lands of Sir Gideon Murray of Elibank, by accepting the alternative of marrying the plainest of the daughters of Sir Gideon, a marriage which by no means turned out ill, but seems to have created a genuine alliance between the two houses.

The third son of Sir William was Walter Scott, the first laird of Raeburn. He and his wife were willing converts to the doctrines of George Fox, the Quaker apostle, but the elder brother, a sturdy Jacobite, would have no such nonsense in the family, and caused Walter and bis wife to be clapped into prison and their children educated apart from such pestilential associations as the peace-loving, non-resisting Friends. So effective was the procedure that Walter's son Walter finally intrigued in the cause of the exiled Stuarts, lost pretty much all he had in the world, even his head being in great jeopardy, and wore his beard unclipped to the day of his death under vow that no razor should touch it till the return of the Stuarts, and so got the name of Beardie ; vows, razors, and beards always appear to have had some occult connection. In the Introduction to the sixth canto of Marmion he half puts on Beardie's coat as he writes to Richard Heber. Beardie was Scott's great-grandsire. His grandfather was Beardie's second son Robert Scott of Sandy-Knowe, and as this ancestor came to have a large part in Scott's early life, it is worth while to attend to Sir Walter's own narrative concerning him.

•My grandfather,' he writes, in the effective bit of autobiography preserved by Lockhart, 'was originally bred to the sea ; but, being shipwrecked near Dundee in his trial voyage, he took such a sincere dislike to that element that he could not be persuaded to a second attempt. This occasioned a quarrel between him and his father, who left him to shift for himself. Robert was one of those active spirits to whom this was no misfortune. He turned Whig upon the spot, and fairly abjured his father's politics, and his learned poverty. His chief and relative, Mr. Scott of Harden, gave him a lease of the

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farm of Sandy-Knowe, comprehending the rocks in the centre of which Smailholm or Sandy-Knowe tower is situated. He took for his shepherd an old man called Hogg, who willingly lent him, out of respect to his family, his whole savings, about £30, to stock the new farm. With this sum, which it seems was at the time sufficient for the purpose, the master and servant set off to purchase a stock of sheep at Whitsun-Tryste, a fair held on a hill near Wooler in Northumberland. The old shepherd went carefully from drove to drove, till he found a hirsel likely to answer their purpose, and then returned to tell his master to come up and conclude the bargain. But what was his surprise to see him galloping a mettled hunter about the race-course, and to find he had expended the whole stock in this extraordinary purchase ! — Moses's bargain of green spectacles did not strike more dismay into the Vicar of Wakefield's family than my grandfather's rashness into the poor old shepherd. The thing, however, was irretrievable, and they returned without the sheep. In the course of a few days, however, my grandfather, who was one of the best horsemen of his time, attended John Scott of Harden's hounds on this same horse, and displayed him to such advantage that he sold him for double the original price. The farm was now stocked in earnest; and the rest of my grandfather's career was that of successful industry. He was one of the first who were active in the cattle-trade, afterward carried to such extent between the Highlands of Scotland and the leading counties in England, and by his droving transactions acquired a considerable sum of money. He was a man of middle stature, extremely active, quick, keen, and fiery in his temper, stubbornly honest, and so distinguished for his skill in country matters that he was the general referee in all points of dispute which occurred in the neighborhood. His birth being admitted as gentle, gave him access to the best society in the county, and his dexterity in country sports, particularly hunting, made him an acceptable coinpanion in the field as well as at the table.'

This Robert Scott of Sandy-Knowe married Barbara Haliburton, who brought to her husband that part of Dryburgh which included the ruined Abbey. By a misfortune in the family of Barbara Scott, this property was sold, yet the right of burial remained, and was, as we shall see, availed of by Scott himself. The eldest of the large family of Robert and Barbara Scott was Walter the father of Walter. He was educated to the profession of a Writer to the Signet, which is Scots equivalent for attorney. He had a zeal for his clients,' writes his son, which was almost ludicrous: far from coldly discharging the duties of his employment toward them, he thought for them, felt for their honor as for his own, and rather risked disobliging them than neglecting anything to which he conceived their duty bound them.' For the rest, he was a religious man of the stricter sort, a steady friend to freedom, yet holding fast by the monarchical element, which he thought somewhat jeoparded, a great stickler for etiquette in all the social forms, and a most hearty host. He married Anne, the daughter of Dr. John Rutherford, professor of medicine in the University of Edinburgh.

Such was the inheritance with which Walter Scott came into the world, and at every step one counts a strong strain of that Scottish temper which, twisted and knotted in generations of hardihood, issues in a robust nature, delighting in the hunt and the free coursing over hill and plain, and finding in the stern country a meet nurse for a poetic child. But the conditions of life which developed an inherited power are none the less interesting to observe. His mother could not nurse him, and his first nurse had consumption. One after another of the little family of which he was a member had died in the close air of the wynd, and Walter was snatched from a like end by the wisdom of his father, who moved his household to a meadow district sloping to the south from the old

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town; but when he was eighteen months old a childish fever cost the boy the full use of his right leg, and all his life long he limped, a sorry privation to so outdoor a nature; yet as the loss or disability of a member seems to have the effect on resolute persons of making them do the very things for which these members, one would say, were indispensable, making that armless men paint and blind men watch bees, so Scott became mountain climber and bold dragoon.

The enfeeblement which came led Dr. Rutherford, his mother's father, to send the child to his other grandfather's farm at Sandy-Knowe, and there, with some intervals, he lived as a shepherd's child might live for five years, from 1774 to 1779; from three years old, that is, till eight. Here he came into the hands of the housekeeper, old Alison Wilson, whom he has immortalized, even to the name, in his tale of Old Mortality. His grandfather, meanwhile, the rugged cattle-dealer, took him in hand with a treatment which brought the little fellow into very close contact with nature. • Among the odd remedies recurred to to aid my lameness,' says Scott in his autobiography, some one had recommended that so often as a sheep was killed for the use of the family, I should be stripped, and swathed up in the skin, warm as it was flayed from the carcase of the animal. In this Tartar-like habiliment I well remember lying upon the floor of the little parlor in the farm-house, while my grandfather, a venerable old man with white hair, used every excitement to make me try to crawl.' Whatever may have been the virtue in this contagion, there can be no hesitation in applauding the brave treatment which later was employed. When he was in his fourth year and it was thought best to try the waters of Bath, Walter had begun to show the results of his life at Sandy-Knowe.

• My health,' he says, 'was by this time a good deal confirmed by the country air, and the influence of that imperceptible and unfatiguing exercise to which the good sense of my grandfather had subjected me ; for when the day was fine, I was usually carried out and laid down beside the old shepherd, among the crags or rocks round which he fed his sheep. The impatience of a child soon inclined me to struggle with my infirmity, and I began by degrees to stand, to walk, and to run. Although the limb affected was much shrunk and contracted, my general health, which was of more importance, was much strengthened by being frequently in the open air, and, in a word, I, who in a city had probably been condemned to hopeless and helpless decrepitude, was now a healthy, highspirited, and, my lameness apart, a sturdy child. In another place he says that he delighted to roll about in the grass all day long in the midst of the flock, and the sort of fellowship he formed with the sheep and lambs impressed his mind with a degree of affectionate feeling towards them which lasted through life.' The

year be spent at Bath left little impression on his mind, save an experience at the theatre when he saw As You Like It, and was so scandalized at the quarrel between Orlando and his brother in the first scene that he screamed, out. Ain't they brothers ?' so sheltered had his little life been thus far from anything which savored of strife in the household. He had a littie schooling at Bath, where he was under the watch and ward of his aunt Janet Scott, but at Sandy-Knowe both before his excursion and after his return for three years more, he had a more natural and vital introduction to literature in the tales which he heard from his grandmother, whose own recollections went back to the days of Border raids. Thus he came, in the course of nature, as it were, into possession of an inexhaustible treasury from which later he drew forth things new and old.

The years at Sandy-Knowe were the years of conscious awakening to life, and the early impressions made on his mind were so indelible, th when irst began to put pen to paper it was from the scenes he then had known that the images arose. From these

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scenes sprang the Eve of St. John' and Marmion; near at hand was Dryburgh; the Tweed, which flows through bis song like an enchanted stream, flowed with an embracing sweep about Melrose; and the Eildon Hills, the Cheviot range, and the wilderness of Lammermoor all mingled with his childish memories and fancies.

As one reads on in Scott's Autobiography, and in the records and letters which supplement it, the experiences begin to call up scenes in the novels and even familiar names offer themselves. Thus, when in his eighth year he abode for a while with his aunt at Prestonpans, to get the benefit of sea-bathing, he formed a youthful intimacy with an old military veteran, Dalgetty by name,' who had pitched his tent in that little village, after all his campaigns, subsisting upon an ensign's half-pay, though called by courtesy a Captain. As this old gentleman, who had been in all the German wars, found very few to listen to his tales of military feats, he formed a sort of alliance with me, and I used invariably to attend him for the pleasure of hearing those communications.' At Prestonpans, too, he fell in with George Constable, an old friend of his father, and portrayed him afterward so vividly, while unconscious of it, in the character of Jonathan Oldbuck in The Antiquary as to fix suspicion on himself as the author of the book.

But now, thanks to the generous course of nature-treatment, he was ready for schooling, and a Scottish boy would be a strange lad, indeed, if he were not given over into the hands of the schoolmaster at a tender age; the schoolmaster bimself ranking in the social scale with the minister and the doctor. Thanks too to his mother and his aunt Janet, he began his school life with his head well stocked with stories of the real happenings in his own country, and with a portrait gallery of stalwart figures of history and poetry. The boy lived at home in his father's house in Edinburgh, and went to the High School for five years, from 1778 to 1783. Here he learned Latin and tried his own skill at making versified translations of Virgil and Horace, and here he made friendships that lasted through his life. He had, besides, a tutor at home, and he went, as the custom was, to a separate school for writing and arithmetic. At this school young girls also went, and one of them later in life set down in this wise her remembrance of her schoolfellow:

• He attracted the regard and fondness of all his companions, for he was ever rational, fanciful, lively, and possessed of that urbane gentleness of manner which makes its way to the heart. His imagination was constantly at work, and he often so engrossed the attention of those who learnt with him that little could be done - Mr. Morton himself being forced to laugh as much as the little scholars at the odd turns and devices he fell upon ; for he did nothing in the ordinary way, but for example, even wben he wanted ink to his pen, would get up some ludicrous story about sending his doggie to the mill again. He used also to interest us in a more serious way, by telling us visions, as he called them, which he had lying alone on the floor or sofa, when kept from going to church on a Sunday by ill health. Child as I was, I could not help being highly delighted with his description of the glories he had seen - his misty and sublime sketches of the regions above, which he had visited in his trance. Recollecting these descriptions, radiant and not gloomy as they were, I have often thought since that there must have been a bias in his mind to superstition - the marvellous seemed to have such power over hin, though the mere offspring of his own imagination, that the expression of his face, habitually that of genuine benevolence, mingled with a shrewd innocent humor, changed greatly while he was speaking of these things, and showed a deep intenseness of feeling, as if he were awed even by his own recital. ... I may add, that in walking he used always to keep his eyes turned downwards as if thinking, but with a pleasing expression of

countenance, as if enjoying his thoughts. Having once known him, it was impossible ever to forget him.'

But familiar as was the boy's intercourse with companions of his own age, Scott himself plainly lays great emphasis on the affectionate relation he held with his elders. After his studies at the High School and before he entered college, he lived for a while, and afterward frequently visited, with his aunt Janet at Kelso. Here he kept up some schooling with the village schoolmaster, who appears to have been the original of Dominie Sampson, but he also read voraciously in Spenser and Shakespeare, in the older novelists, and here he made the acquaintance of Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry. "I remember well,' he records in later life, the spot where I read these volumes for the first time. It was beneath a huge platanus-tree, in the ruins of what had been intended for an old. fashioned arbor in the garden. The summer-day sped onward so fast, that notwithstanding the sharp appetite of thirteen, I forgot the hour of dinner, was sought for with anxiety, and was found still entranced in my intellectual banquet. To read and to remember was in this instance the same thing, and henceforth I overwhelmed my school-fellows and all who would hearken to me with tragical recitations from the ballads of Bishop Percy.' Among these school-fellows was James Ballantyne, so closely identified with his later fortunes. He soon discovered,' says Ballantyne in a reminiscence, 'that I was as fond of listening as he himself was of relating ; and I remembered it was a thing of daily occurrence, that after he had made himself master of his own lesson, I, alas ! being still sadly to seek in mine, he used to whisper to me: come, slink over beside me, Jamie, and I'll tell you a story.". And stories in abundance he afterward told to the listening Jamie.

If at Sandy-Knowe nature had stolen into his mind, as well as sent her healing messages into his body, at Kelso he entered upon that hearty, enthusiastic love of natural beauty, and especially of the mingling of man's deeds with nature's elements, which glows through his poems and his novels. • The meeting,' there, he says, "of two superb rivers, the Tweed and the Teviot, both renowned in song the ruins of an ancient Abbey the more distant vestiges of Roxburgh Castle — the modern mansion of Fleurs, which is so situated as to combine the ideas of ancient baronial grandeur with those of modern taste

are in themselves objects of the first class ; yet are so mixed, united, and melted among a thousand other beauties of a less prominent description, that they harmonize into one general picture, and please rather by unison than by concord. I believe I have written unintelligibly upon this subject, but it is fitter for the pencil than the pen. The romantic feelings which I have described as predominating in any mind, naturally rested upon and associated themselves with these grand features of the landscape around me ; and the historical incidents, or traditional legends connected with many of them, gave to my admiration a sort of intense impression of reverence, which at times made my heart feel too big for its bosom. From this time the love of natural beauty, more especially when combined with ancient ruins, or remains of our fathers' piety or splendor, became with me an insatiable passion, which if circumstances had permitted, I would willingly have gratified by travelling over half the globe.'

In 1783, when he was twelve years old, he entered college at Edinburgh, after the manner of Scottish boys, and had three years of college life, such as it was, for he let Greek sink out of knowledge, kept up a smattering only of Latin, heard a little philosophy under Dugald Stewart, and attended a class in history. His health was not confirmed, and he had recourse more than once to the healing of Kelso, and by the time he was fifteen and had done with college, he was poorly enough equipped with learning. But

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