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breakfast he wrote much of The Pirate, in the mocposition of which he had the benefit of his friend William Erskine's local knowledge.
Erskine, soon by his influence to become a Scottish judge as Lord Kinnedder, was at this time Sheriff of Orkney and Shetland, where the scene of the new romance was laid. Lockhart heard many of its chapters read from the manuscript by him, and said that he could never open the book without thinking he heard the voice of the gentle Counsellor, whom Scott loved so well. Much as the novelist relied upon his friend and confidant, he built up the framework of his story mainly from his own recollections. It will be remembered that during the summer in which Waverley appeared its unknown author had enjoyed a pleasant voyage round Scotland with the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners. Of this voyage he kept a detailed diary, which his sonin-law afterwards printed, and from this record one may gather the sources whence came the romance written seven years afterwards.
The greater part of the events of The Pirate takes place in the largest of the Shetland or Zetland Isles, of which probably few readers know more than that they produce a breed of small horses. At the period of which Scott wrote-the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the eighteenth century-they were still more Norwegian than Scottish; and, in fact, the improvements which the author represents that theoretical agriculturist, Triptolemus Yellowley, as so eager to
introduce, were many of them as a fact only being brought in when he himself was there a century later. If, as some critics have held, there may be a little too much of this pedantic personage and his parsimonious sister, one must forgive the author, who was too polite to take any other mode of revenge upon such bores as constantly afflicted him than by embalming them in fiction. But Triptolemus is but a secondary character; and even as bore, Claud Halcro, a born Zetlander, is a more pleasing variety, besides being interesting as the medium through which Scott pours out not only his knowledge of Dryden and his times, but also many graceful specimens of Norse poetry. It is of course round Norna of the Fitful Head and her son Cleveland, the Pirate, that the real interest of the story gathers. Critics like Sydney Smith (who was not conciliated by a reference to one of his sharp sayings in the text) found in the half-mad prophetess a reproduction of Meg Merrilies; but the resemblance is surely of the slightest between the Lowland gipsy and the Shetland visionary. To my thinking the weak point of the story lies not in this fine study of double consciousness, but in the character of Cleveland, with whom Scott's often-avowed tenderness for outlaws led him to deal too gently. His Pirate has too much of the gentleman forced into an unwelcome trade to be altogether effective.
But, after all, it is the surroundings rather than the story itself that are most noteworthy. Scott had seen all that he describes so magically. He had climbed
Sumburgh Head and, by way of giving vent to his enthusiastic feelings, had slidden down "a few hundred feet" to the beach where Mordaunt Mertoun rescues Cleveland from the waves, and Norna protects his property from the wreckers. He had visited the ancient castle of Monsa, a Pict's house with overhanging story "shaped like a dice-box," from which he drew the picture of Norna's high-pitched dwelling where she compounded the charm to cure Minna's heartache. He had beheld also with his own eyes the Dwarfic Stone of Hoy, where she professed to have received her mystic and fateful powers, and the Standing Stones of Stennis in Orkney, where the Promise of Odin, a relic of the Scandinavian marriage ceremony, was performed. Here it is that he makes Cleveland and Norna part, and the Pirate be taken after his farewell meeting with Minna. A miserable old woman of ninety, with her head wrapped in a clay-coloured cloak, of a colour like her own mummylike complexion, and a nose and chin that almost met, "told us she remembered Gow the Pirate betrothed to a Miss Gordon": this was apparently the hint which suggested the controlling personage and central incident of the story. Nor did Scott fail to take note of the little Zetland corn-mills with their horizontal wheels
not capable any one of them of grinding above a sackful of corn at a time"-one of which he makes Triptolemus designate as a "miserable molendinary" significant of the backward state of these northern isles.
The author always retained kindly recollections of the
isles. Some eight years after The Pirate had been published he met a nephew of one of the Shetland proprietors, who told him that the old clumsy plough had been laid aside, and that stout sloops were being used instead of the old open boats for the deep-sea fishing. "I have a real wish to hear of Zetland's advantage," the news prompts him to remark; while he also expressed a wish to see again its long isles,
towering precipices, capes covered with sea-fowl, and to taste once more its smoked geese and sour sillocks. Two anecdotes relating to The Pirate and its author may be told before we leave the subject. The first is that of the lines prefixed to the chapter describing the condition of Minna after the scene under her window when Cleveland stabs Mordaunt :-
"Nae langer she wept-her tears were a' spent,
Lady Anne Lindsay was not a little surprised to find the verses attributed to her, as her continuation of Auld Robin Gray, from which they were taken, had never been printed. It transpired that Sir Walter, in his boyhood, had heard them repeated by his aunt, Miss Christy Rutherford, who had seen them written down on a paper left by her sister, Mrs. Russel of Ashestiel, who had them from Mrs. Pringle of Yair, a frequent visitor at the house in Edinburgh where the composer's mother lived. Putting the interval at forty years aside, one may allow that this is not the least remarkable illustration of the retentiveness of Scott's memory. The second story shows us the other side of the picture. Cleveland's song in which he serenaded Minna had been set to music by a Mrs. Arkwright, daughter of Stephen Kemble and niece of Mrs. Siddons. When Scott heard this sung some years later he thought the words "capital," and asked if they were not Byron's! But that was when he was a broken man. The mention of Byron reminds us that it was to the author of The Pirate that the poet of The Corsair dedicated his magnificent Cain. Scott, who had himself suffered at the hands of the "unco' guid" on account of the Scriptural language which some of his fictitious creations have so frequently in their mouths, stoutly defended his literary brother, maintaining that if Cain were held blasphemous so should Paradise Lost be also.
To return to Scott himself. One day, in the same autumn when The Pirate was being written, Lockhart