Sir Walter Scott's Novels on the Stage

Sir Walter Scott's Novels on the Stage

Sir Walter Scott's Novels on the Stage

Sir Walter Scott's Novels on the Stage

Excerpt

Within six months after Rob Roy , another of the Tales of my Landlord came from the press in June of 1818. Not a few critical readers had predicted that the cunning of the unknown hand very soon was sure to fail; but the new Heart of Midlothian --as the publishers and Scott finally named this novel--immediately conquered all temporary opposition, except for that of some few who might have shared the aversion of one maiden gentlewoman that refused to countenance 'those low creatures, the cow feeders' of Midlothian.

Neither Pocock nor Terry this time brought out the first transcript. The honor fell to Thomas J. Dibdin, known widely as a versatile compiler, and as author of a dramatic version of the Lady of the Lake , and finally as the sponsor of at least five additional adaptations from Scott. Fourteen variations of Midlothian followed at intervals after the piece of Dibdin won great favor, but no single one ever came to any renown. Again Terry tried his hand after Dibdin, yet his drama ran only a few evenings. Soane once more concocted one of his notorious imitations; and two or three foreign playwrights made operatic productions that won some contemporary applause. Edinburgh revisers, as usual with them, busied themselves with redactions and modifications, adding new excerpts from Scott, and making some new scenery. George Dibdin Pitt compiled a literary, and rather unconvincing, sequel to the story of the lost child of Effie and George Robertson. Brough Brothers made a sprightly burlesque.

For the first six months this novel lay as fallow ground to the dramatic gleaners. It was not till December 31, 1818, that Sarah Egerton invited the prolific Dibdin to make a play for her to act in the part of Madge Wildfire. The task of compilation was completed within a week, and on the thirteenth day--one is tempted to remark that Dibdin . . .

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