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As to what happened in November we have no account; and those who are curious as to the courtship must be content with such light as they can get from Scott's poems and novels. In this connection, apart from Alan Fairford and his Lady of the Green Mantle in Redgauntlet, to which I have already alluded, certain passages in Rob Roy, and more particularly the poem of Rokeby, deserve attention. That Scott was thinking of his summer visits to the home of his lady-love at Invermay when he made Frank Osbaldistone thus write of his association with Di Vernon, appears at least highly probable :

"We read together, walked together, rode together, and sat together.... The degree of danger which necessarily attended a youth of my age and keen feelings from remaining in close and constant intimacy with an object so amiable and so peculiarly interesting, all who remember their own sentiments at my age may easily estimate."

If this has general reference to the earlier stages of the love-affair, another quotation may recall a particular incident. Scott's female confidante in the matter of his affection was Miss Jane Anne Cranstoun, afterwards Countess of Purgstall. This lady, relying upon Miss Stuart's devotion to literature, thought to serve the cause of the lover by getting printed and handsomely bound some translations he had made from the romantic poems of Bürger. A A copy reached the author whilst at Invermay, and its favourable reception in the desired quarter may, one may well fancy, be gathered


from the allusion in his romance to "the sweetest sounds which mortal ears can drink in-those of a youthful poet's verses read by lips which are dearest to him."

As to Rokeby we have Scott's own words distinguishing the heroine from those of his other poems, which were "in general mere shadows." He writes in 1818 to Miss Edgeworth: "This much of Matilda I recollect (for that is not so easily forgotten)—that she was attempted from the existing person of a lady who is now no more"; and I do not think that anyone who reads the poem with care and sympathy will consider me to be rash in following Lockhart in identifying her with Scott's first love.

"Wilfrid must love and woo the bright
Matilda, heir of Rokeby's knight.
To love her was an easy hest,
The secret empress of his breast;
To woo her was a harder task

To one that durst not hope or ask.
Yet all Matilda could, she gave
In pity to her gentle slave;
Friendship, esteem, and fair regard,
And praise, the poet's best reward!
She read the tales his taste approved,
And sung the lays he framed or loved;
Yet, loath to nurse the fatal flame
Of hopeless love in friendship's name,
In kind caprice she oft withdrew
The favouring glance to friendship due,
Then grieved to see her victim's pain
And gave the dangerous smiles again."

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This passage may fairly be taken as reminiscent; but we need not press the identification of the persons of the male lovers so far as to include that of Forbes of Pitsligo, Scott's successful rival, but lifelong and generous friend, with Redmond O'Neale, Matilda's favoured swain, and although Wilfrid, with his minstrel's skill and reason vainly striving against romantic passion, has some of Scott's leading characteristics, it is unnecessary even to suppose the poet to be giving us in him a literal picture. an inartistic photograph, of himself.

What we have almost for certain is a vivid description of the person of the loved one-a description which is in agreement with the miniature of Lady Forbes, but by no means accords with the golden hair and blue eyes of Margaret of Branksome, in whom some have seen a portrait of the erstwhile Miss Stuart.

These are the lines :

"Wreathed in its dark brown rings, her hair
Half hid Matilda's forehead fair,

Half hid and half revealed to view

Her full dark eye of hazel hue.
The rose, with faint and feeble streak,
So slightly tinged the maiden's cheek
That you had said her hue was pale;
But if she faced the summer gale
Or spoke, or sung, or quicker moved,
Or heard the praise of those she loved,
Or when of interest was expressed
Aught that waked feeling in her breast,
The mantling blood in ready play
Rivall'd the blush of rising day.

There was a soft and pensive grace,
A cast of thought upon her face,
That suited well the forehead high,
The eyelash dark, and downcast eye;
The mild expression spoke a mind
In duty firm, composed, resigned ;-
"Tis that which Roman art has given,
To mark their maiden Queen of Heaven.
In hours of sport, that mood gave way

To Fancy's light and frolic play;
And when the dance, or tale, or song,
In harmless mirth, sped time along,
Full oft her doting sire would call
His Maud the merriest of them all."

Having done what we can to piece it together, we must conclude the story. In the autumn of the same year (1796) in which the version of Bürger appeared, Scott paid what proved to be his last visit to Invermay. The circumstances are not known, but a letter from Miss Cranstoun tells us that he rode quietly away to Perth after an interview which had filled him with despair. The announcement of the approaching marriage-it took place in the following January-between Miss Stuart and Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Forbes of Pitsligo, filled Scott's friends with apprehension as to possible consequences. But he stood the shock, having as his son-in-law conjectures, probably "digested his agony" during that solitary ride in the Highlands. So far as we know, he never again saw his lost love, but he remained on the best of terms with his friend and rival.

It is idle to speculate as to the precise motives which

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