Characters’ – The Antiquary – The Heart of Mid-Lothian- A Legend of
Montrose – The Talisman – Critical Reception – Self-Reviewing in the
Quarterly – Authorship and Anonymity – The Prince Regent
Controverted – Finances
The era of Waverley may well be considered the most extraordinary in the annals of literature. It was an experiment upon public taste which was no less boldly than powerfully conceived, for it is difficult to imagine the degraded condition to which that peculiar species of composition called novel-writing had, with a few splendid exceptions, [blank in manuscript] at the time when Sir Walter issued his celebrated work. The booksellers’ shelves groaned under the accumulated weight of mawkish translations from the French, vapid and fusionless specimens from the English school, romances from the German, choked full of horrors and subterranean wit; and the disgusted readers in vain turned over the leaves in search of something racy and original. This vade mecum1 was destined to be filled by the author of Marmion, who, conscious of his own strength, and aware what the public wanted, put forth a work which at once redeemed the novel school from annihilation, routing the whole milk and water disciples of literature, and, with one leap, placed himself at the head of this species of composition, as he had formerly done in the school of poetry. He was evidently, however, cautious in this appeal to public taste. Like the Ivanhoe of his own immortal pages, he first entered the lists with his beaver down, without crest or cognisance,2 and if defeat had been the reward of his chivalrous exertions in the cause of the insulted Nine, he could at least retire from the combat with untarnished fame, and repose upon the laurels which he had already so nobly won. This probably may have
1. Thus in the manuscript. Macrone meant to write ‘vacuum’.
2. Scott, Walter  (1998), Ivanhoe, ed. Graham Tulloch, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 114.