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.