The Life of Sir Walter Scott

By John Macrone; Daniel Grader | Go to book overview

Chapter II
1771–1797

Ancestry – Lameness in Infancy – A Schoolboy Acquaintance – Legal
Studies and Romantic Aspirations – Marriage

The Metropolis of Scotland is fitly honoured in being the birthplace of one of the greatest men who have adorned the pages of her history in ancient or modern times. Sir Walter Scott, the Author of Waverley, was born on the fifteenth day of August 1771, the same day which gave birth to Napoleon Buonaparte.1 A worshipper of coincidences might discern something like fate in this circumstance. It is certainly singular that two men, each destined to rise to the very highest pinnacle of glory in their respective pursuits, should claim the same day of the year as the date which ushered them into a world in which they were doomed to make so much sensation. The historian of the imperial Corsican seemed to have little pleasure in this reminiscence. I am not aware that he has alluded to it in any part of his published autobiography.

His father, Walter Scott, was a highly respectable and respected Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, a man who, without pretensions to literary or scientific acquirement, amassed, by strict attention to business, and much professional ability, a decent fortune, upon which he reared in comfort and independence his large family, consisting of [blank in manuscript]2 sons and daughters, of whom the illustrious subject of my memoir was third. We know little of this amiable and worthy individual, saving what his gifted son has chosen to communicate. It would appear that he looked with an evil eye upon the bias which Walter betrayed for literary pursuits. Himself a strict disciplinarian of the old school, one who deemed every moment wasted that was not devoted to the duties of his laborious profession, it may be presumed that he looked upon a defalcation from his own tenets with an impatience and dislike which took away much of the reverence with which he would otherwise have been regarded by his progeny. He was besides for many years, says Mr Chambers in his late ingenious and useful memoir, ‘an elder

1. In 1769.

2. Twelve.

-70-

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The Life of Sir Walter Scott
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • The Afterglow of Abbotsford- John Macrone, Celebrity Culture, and Commemoration 49
  • Preface 63
  • Chapter I - Macrone at Abbotsford and Innerleithen in 1832 65
  • Chapter II - 1771–1797 70
  • Chapter III - 1797–1815 77
  • Chapter IV - The Novelist 85
  • Chapter V - Scott at Abbotsford 95
  • Chapter VI - Miscellaneous Traits and Anecdotes 102
  • Chapter VII - 1831–2 116
  • Chapter VIII - Eulogy 125
  • Appendix I - Macrone and Cunningham 130
  • Appendix II - A Fragment of Another Preface 132
  • Appendix III - Another Conclusion 133
  • Appendix IV - Hogg’s Anecdotes Introduced 134
  • Appendix V - Three Witnesses 136
  • Bibliography 149
  • Index 155
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