Sir Walter Scott

J. H. Alexander, P. D. Garside, and Claire Lamont (eds), The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, Vol. 25 [A]: Walter Scott: Introductions and Notes from the Magnum Opus: Waverley to A Legend of the Wars of Montrose

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Preface to the Third Edition of Waverley

To this slight attempt at a sketch of ancient Scottish manners, the public have been more favourable than the Author durst have hoped or expected. He has heard, with a mixture of satisfaction and humil-ity, his work ascribed to more than one respectable name. Consid-erations, which seem weighty in his particular situation, prevent his releasing those gentlemen from suspicion by placing his own name in the title-page; so that, for the present at least, it must remain uncer-tain, whether Waverley be the work of a poet or a critic, a lawyer or Editor’s Notea clergyman, or whether the writer, to use Mrs Malaprop's phrase, be, "like Cerberus—three gentlemen at once." The Author, as he is unconscious of any thing in the work itself (except perhaps its frivolity) which prevents its finding an acknowledged father, leaves it to the candour of the public to choose among the many circumstances peculiar to different situations in life, such as may induce him to sup-press his name on the present occasion. He may be a writer new to publication, and unwilling to avow a character to which he is un-accustomed; or he may be a hackneyed author, who is ashamed of too frequent appearance, and employs this mystery, as the heroine of the old comedy used her mask, to attract the attention of those to whom her face had become too familiar. He may be a man of a grave profes-sion, to whom the reputation of being a novel-writer might be preju-dicial; or he may be a man of fashion, to whom writing of any kind might appear pedantic. He may be too young to assume the character of an author, or so old as to make it advisable to lay it aside.

The author of Waverley has heard it objected to this novel, that, in the character of Callum Beg, and in the account given by the Baron of Bradwardine of the petty trespasses of the Highlanders upon trifling articles of property, he has borne hard, and unjustly so, upon their national character. Nothing could be farther from his wish or intention. The character of Callum Beg is that of a spirit naturally turned to daring evil, and determined, by the circum-stances of his situation, to a particular species of mischief. Those Editor’s Notewho have perused the curious Letters from the Highlands, pub-lished about 1726, will find instances of such atrocious characters pg 63which fell under the writer's own observation, though it would be most unjust to consider such villains as representatives of the High-Editor’s Notelanders of that period, any more than the murderers of Marr and Williamson can be supposed to represent the English of the present day. As for the plunder supposed to have been picked up by some of the insurgents in 1745, it must be remembered, that although the way of that unfortunate little army was neither marked by dev-astation nor bloodshed, but, on the contrary, was orderly and quiet in a most wonderful degree, yet no army marches through a country in a hostile manner without committing some depredations; and several, to the extent, and of the nature, jocularly imputed to them by the Baron, were really laid to the charge of the Highland insur-gents; for which many traditions, and particularly one respecting Editor’s Notethe Knight of the Mirror, may be quoted as good evidence.*pg 64


Editor’s Note* A homely metrical narrative of the events of the period, which contains some striking particulars, and is still a great favourite with the lower classes, gives a very correct statement of the behaviour of the mountaineers respecting this same military license; and as the verses are little known, and contain some good sense, we venture to insert them.

         The Author 's Address to all in General

  •             Now, gentle readers, I have let you ken
  •             My very thoughts, from heart and pen,
  • Critical Apparatus            'Tis needless now for to conten'
  •                       Or yet controule,
  •             For there's not a word o't I can men'—
  •                       So ye must thole.
  •             For on both sides, some were not good;
  •             I saw them murd'ring in cold blood,
  •             Not the gentlemen, but wild and rude,
  •                       The baser sort,
  •             Who to the wounded had no mood
  •                       But murd'ring sport!
  • Editor’s Note            Ev'n both at Preston and Falkirk,
  •             That fatal night ere it grew mirk,
  •             Piercing the wounded with their durk,
  •                       Caused many cry!
  •             Such pity's shown from Savage and Turk
  •                       As peace to die.
  •             A woe be to such hot zeal,
  •             To smite the wounded on the fiell!
  •             It's just they got such groats in kail,
  •                       Who do the same.
  •             It only teaches crueltys real
  •                       To them again.
  •             I've seen the men call'd Highland Rogues,
  •             With Lowland men make shangs a brogs,
  •             Sup kail and brose, and fling the cogs
  •                       Out at the door,
  •             Take cocks, hens, sheep, and hogs,
  •                       And pay nought for.
  •             I saw a Highlander, 'twas right drole,
  •             With a string of puddings hung on a pole,
  •             Whip'd o'er his shoulder, skipped like a fole,
  •                       Caus'd Maggy bann,
  •             Lap o'er the midden and midden-hole,
  •                       And aff he ran.
  •             When check'd for this, they'd often tell ye—
  •             Indeed her nainsell's a tume belly;
  •             You'll no gie't wanting bought, nor sell me;
  •                       Hersell will hae't;
  • Editor’s Note            Go tell King Shorge, and Shordy's Willie,
  •                       I'll hae a meat.
  • Editor’s Note            I saw the soldiers at Linton-brig,
  •             Because the man was not a Whig,
  •             Of meat and drink leave not a skig,
  •                       Within his door;
  •             They burnt his very hat and wig,
  •                       And thump'd him sore.
  •             And through the Highlands they were so rude,
  •             As leave them neither clothes nor food,
  •             Then burnt their houses to conclude;
  •                       'Twas tit for tat.
  •             How can her nainsell e'er be good,
  •                       To think on that?
  •             And after all, O, shame and grief!
  •             To use some worse than murd'ring thief,
  •             Their very gentleman and chief,
  •                       Unhumanly!
  •             Like Popish tortures, I believe,
  •                       Such cruelty.
  •             Ev'n what was act on open stage
  • Editor’s Note            At Carlisle, in the hottest rage,
  •             When mercy was clapt in a cage,
  •                       And pity dead,
  •             Such cruelty approv'd by every age,
  •                       I shook my head.
  •             So many to curse, so few to pray,
  •             And some aloud huzza did cry;
  •             They cursed the Rebel Scots that day,
  •                       As they'd been nowt
  •             Brought up for slaughter, as that way
  •                       Too many rowt.
  •             Therefore, alas! dear countrymen,
  •             O never do the like again,
  •             To thirst for vengeance, never ben'
  • Critical Apparatus                      Your guns nor pa',
  •             But with the English e'en borrow and len',
  •                       Let anger fa'.
  • Critical Apparatus            Their boasts and bullyings, not worth a louse,
  •             As our King's the best about the house.
  •             'Tis ay good to be sober and douce,
  •                       To live in peace;
  •             For many, I see, for being o'er crouse,
  •                       Gets broken face.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
62.15–16 Mrs Malaprop's phrase . . . at once Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals (1775), 4.2. The original text in the 3rd edition (1814) of Waverley wrongly attributes the phrase to Mrs Heidleberg, another vulgar affected speaker, in The Clandestine Marriage (1766), by George Colman the elder and David Garrick. The correction was first made in the 6th edition (1816). Cerberus is the hound in Classical mythology who guards the entrance to the Underworld: he is often depicted with three heads.
Editor’s Note
62.39–40 curious Letters from the Highlands . . . about 1726 [Edmund Burt], Letters from A Gentleman in the North of Scotland, 2 vols (London, 1754): CLA, 19. The author was appointed in 1725 as a receiver-general and collector of unsold forfeited estates in Scotland, and appears to have been mainly stationed at Inverness. Most of the letters in the work, describing Highland customs, appear to have been written around 1727–28. No edition has been discovered prior to that of 1754, which was published anonymously. See also eewn 1, 505, and Explanatory Notes passim.
Editor’s Note
63.3–4 the murderers of Marr and Williamson referring to the Ratcliffe Highway murders in London, occurring over twelve days in December 1811 and involving firstly the murder of Timothy Marr, a linen draper, and secondly John Williamson, a publican, both along with family and servants. The principal suspect, John Williams, was found hanging in his cell before trial, and taken by the authorities to be the only culprit; but it was widely suspected that others must have been involved. The murders were reported under the headings 'Horrid Murder' and 'Other Dreadful Murders' in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1811: 4:2 (1813), 206–11, 219–31.
Editor’s Note
63.14 Knight of the Mirror see eewn 1, 585 (note to 214.2).
Editor’s Note
63.15–64.54 A homely metrical narrative . . . broken face the verses are by Dougal Graham (1721–79), the poet and chapbook writer, and are evidently based on first-hand experience of the rising of 1745–46, during which Graham is thought to have accompanied the Jacobite army. They are probably taken from the third edition of Graham's Account of the Rebellion, which was originally printed in 1746: see An Impartial History of the Rise, Progress and Extinction of the Late Rebellion In Britain, in the Years 1745 and 1746 (Glasgow, 1774), 188–90: CLA, 89. The headnote to this appendix is in Scott's writing; the remainder has been transcribed, apparently with a few slight inaccuracies, by an unidentified hand.
Critical Apparatus
63.23     needless now for (ms and source) / needless for
Editor’s Note
63.33 Preston and Falkirk the battles of Prestonpans and Falkirk, the second fought on 17 January 1746, and at which the Jacobite forces again defeated the government army, though this time failing to press home the advantage.
Editor’s Note
64.11 Shordy's Willie William Augustus (1721–65), third son of George II, created Duke of Cumberland in 1726, who commanded the government forces in the later stages of the rising of 1745–46: he was known as 'Butcher Cumberland' for his brutal conduct at the battle of Culloden and subsequent repression of the Highlands.
Editor’s Note
64.13 Linton-brig possibly referring to East Linton, 35 km E of Edinburgh, in Prestonkirk parish, which itself formerly had the name of Linton. The bridge there crosses the River Tyne. No incident there relating to the Jacobite rising has been identified, though it is possibly significant that the Hanoverian General Cope would have passed through that way having landed at nearby Dunbar on the way to his defeat at the battle of Prestonpans.
Editor’s Note
64.32 At Carlisle referring to the trials and executions of Jacobite prisoners there in 1746.
Critical Apparatus
64.46     guns (ms and source) / gun
Critical Apparatus
64.49     bullyings (ms and source) / bullying
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