1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Anonymous, "Lines written on a blank Leaf at the End of the Novel of Waverley" Analectic Magazine [Philadelphia] NS 5 (June 1815) 513-14.



[I am afraid that Waverley has not been as popular in this country as it deserves to be. Scott's prose style, to be sure, is none of the best, and the first part of his novel is a little heavy, for he certainly does not feel himself at home in England; but the instant he touches Scottish ground his strength revives. Nothing can be more exquisite than his Scottish characters, whether grave or comic: his delineation, both of general nature and of the habits and characters of those times, is at once spirited and accurate, and though the tale depends more upon characters than incident, the interest was so strong that, in spite of whiggish prejudice, my whole heart was with the prince, and, for the time, I was an arrant Jacobite.]

Closed is the book — the tale is o'er—
Its scene from Fancy's eyes are faded;
The gallant chieftain is no more,
The mists of death his brows have shaded.

Too soon, brave chief! thy course was run,
Too soon thy bright career was clouded;
Thy glory's hardly risen sun,
Untimely sunk — in darkness shrouded.

Ah! where are now the matchless pair,
Who through old Scotland's valley roved?
Where rests the high-born, noble fair,
Who Wogan's memory so much loved?

The lily, and the mountain oak,
United, braved the warring wind;
The tree has felt the spoiler's stroke,
The blighted flow'r is left behind.

And cold are now those Highland breasts,
Which beat with Valour's fervid glow;
Low in the tomb each warrior rests,
Unconscious of his chieftain's wo.

Deserted is that ancient hall,
Where once the bard's sweet numbers rose;
Where grace and beauty led the ball,
The spider's filmy brood repose.

The owl usurps Mac-Ivor's chair,
The bat there spreads his ebon wings;
And screaming to the dusky air,
Hoarsely the sable raven sings.

That magic harp is silent laid,
Which once could charm the listening throng;
No more the echoing hill and glade
Repeat the notes of Flora's song:—

All, all are faded from the mind,
Like lightning in a summer sky;
And few the traces left behind,
Past days of greatness to descry.

Then, oh! how soothing here to trace,
Though faintly, that unclouded day;
To search the annals of a race
Oblivion's stream hath swept away.

And thou, whose pages have essay'd,
To save what yet is spared by time—
Receive the thanks of many a maid,
And many a youth of Scotia's clime.

The young with rapture long shall read
Of warlike times — too great to last;
The old, while yet their bosoms bleed,
May almost dream they are not past!