David Constable on M. Petizon – Love of Song – Clemency to Poachers –
Powers of Memory – Humility – Morality – Religion – Proofreading –
Authorship Denied Again – Portraits – Maida – Advice to Young Authors -
A Bold Appeal Rewarded – Joanna Baillie at Abbotsford – The Crisis – The
Death of Lady Scott – Her Charity – A Visit to Paris – Revolution
In his politics, he was a firm and unflinching friend of his country and our common good: his love for our ancient institutions was intense, but it was, in some points, mistaken and abstract in its character. His love for feudal times and feudal manners displayed itself in his every heroic line, and it may be that he carried more of feudal politics into the vortex of reform displayed in the nineteenth century, than was consistent with the character of an actual lover of freedom. It is thus that an eminent scholar of the present day, himself most violently opposed to Toryism, felicitously and aptly denominated Sir Walter’s political bias ‘the politics of a poet, who lived, moved and had his being in a gorgeous world of his own creating; who saw nothing but ruin consequent on any change which had, for its object, the placing of uncontrolled power in the hands of the people.’1
Probably, had Sir Walter lived to behold the working of the measure he dreaded, and dreaded from a love of his country’s welfare alone, he might have been induced to retract the opinions which he, somewhat hastily, expressed at a popular meeting, and which brought his name, at the time, into public disrepute. Be that as it may, however, it is evident that no political stigma of illiberality can ever attach itself to the fame of a poet, who, in every page of his immortal writings, painted the loves and joys and trials of the meanest of his countrymen with as true a hand as he painted the despotism of their lords of the soil with an unsparing one. Where so many examples to illustrate the remark occur in his writings, it would be invidious to single out one, but I may just
1. This quotation has not been traced.