1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Anonymous, in Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors (1816)



Walter Scott, Esq. one of the clerks of the Court of Session, and Sheriff Deputy for the shire of Selkirk, is the son of Walter Scott, Esq. a counsellor, by Elizabeth, daughter of David Rutherford, Esq. also an eminent practitioner of the same profession at Edinburgh. The mother of Mr. Scott died in 1789, and some of her poems have been printed. She was intimate with Allan Ramsay, Blacklock, and Burns; so that genius, in this respect, seems to have been hereditary. Mr. Scott, who has been lame from his birth, was educated at the High School of Edinburgh, under Dr. Adam, and next at the University there, under Professor Stewart. After going through the forms of an office with an eminent writer to the signet, he was called to the Scotch bar, and through his alliance to the Buccleugh family, obtained the situation of one of the principal clerks to the Court of Session. His first literary performance was a translation of Goethe's German play entituled, Goetz of Berlinchengen; published in 1799, but this did not gain the translator any reputation. As an original writer, however, he has obtained a distinction above most of his cotemporaries; having the merit of adapting the old ballad style of composition to the higher range of poetry. As an instance of the popularity of Mr. Scott's Works we subjoin a statement of the comparative sale of Rokeby and the Lady of the Lake in nearly four months, as submitted by the publishers. Sold of the Lady of the Lake, from June 2nd to September 22, 1810,

2,000 quarto, at 2 2s. 4,200
6,000 octavo, at 12s. 3,600
____
8,000

Sold of Rokeby, in three months, (January 14th, to April 14th, 1813.)

3,000 quarto, at 2 2s. (less 120 remaining) 6,048
5,000 quarto, at 14s. 3,500
____
8,000