1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

William Maginn, "Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters: Sir Walter Scott" Fraser's Magazine 2 (November 1830) 412.



On the opposite page is old Sir Peveril! Many a time has he figured on canvas or paper, in stone, bronze, or plaster, in oil or water-colours, lithographed, copper-plated, mezzotinted, in all the variety of manner that the art of the sculptor, the founder, the modeller, the painter, the etcher, the engraver, the whole tribe of the imitators of the face divine, could display him. He has hung in the chamber of kings, and decorated the door of the ale-house — has graced the boudoir of beauty, and perambulated the streets borne upon the head of a swarthy Italian pedlar. He has been depicted in all moods and all postures; but we venture to say, that the Baronet, as he really looks, was never so exactly put before the public as we now see him.

There he is, sauntering about his grounds, with his Lowland bonnet in his hand, dressed in his old green shooting-jacket, telling old stories of every stone and bush, and tree and stream, in sight-tales of battles and raids — or ghosts and fairies, as the case may be, of the days of yore,

—Ere Scotland's griefs began,
When every man you met had killed his man!

Every thing is correct in the picture, from the peak of his head down to his very cudgel; and if the dogs are not as authentic altogether as their master, they may serve as types to show that he is fond of being so attended.

If we could write in the manner of fine writers — which, thank Heaven! we cannot — we should say much about the aerial attendants who lackey his head, as the dogs do his heels. Stoddart, or, if not, somebody else, has drawn a picture, which has been engraved in some of the Annuals, of the dreams of the infant Shakspeare. High in the clouds we behold, exhibiting themselves in his sleep, to the mental eye of the future poet, the goodly company of Hamlet and Jack Falstaff, Richard and Ophelia, Othello and Juliet, and "many more too long." This glorious gallery is, indeed, unapproachable; but still, from the head depicted upon the opposite leaf, sprung Rebecca and Marmion, Die Vernon and Dugald Dalgetty, the Baron of Bradwardine and Flora M'Ivor, Nicol Jarvie and Claverhouse, Meg Merrilies and Jeanie Deans, Caleb Balderstone and the Master of Ravenswood — the list is not half exhausted, but we must stop — visions of pathos and fun, of honour and conviviality, of grace and grotesqueness, of all that is grand or droll, or mad or shrewd, or merry or melancholy, or valiant or prudent, or boisterous or meditative, or pious or profane, in the history of mankind — "Who can his miracles declare?" It is, indeed, idle to be wasting one's time in cataloguing the dramatis personae of the Waverley Novels, or their predecessors in rhyme, which are familiar as household words "From sunny India to the Pole."

Long may he continue to "feed us with good things," even though, unlike the days of the Chaldee MS., every body now knoweth whence they come; and having, by the unprecedented sale of his "series," got rid of difficulties, in which it was a thousand pities he should have ever been involved, may he be enabled, for the remainder of his life — a thousand years, as the Spaniards say — to whisk his stick over his shoulder, with untroubled heart, in the manner of Corporal Trim, as follows—