Sir Walter Scott

The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, Vol. 25 [B]: Walter Scott: Introductions and Notes from the Magnum Opus: Ivanhoe to Castle Dangerous

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pg 604THE SHORTER FICTIONThe Shorter Fiction

Editorial Note

As explained in the editorial introduction to eewn 24, xi, five of the eight shorter fiction pieces included in that volume did not appear in the Magnum: it is likely that Scott's failing memory did not recollect them in 1831. But the three stories which were repub-lished in the Magnum, 'My Aunt Margaret's Mirror', 'The Tapes-tried Chamber', and 'Death of the Laird's Jock', do not feature in the Interleaved Set, because these three stories, first published in the Keepsake for 1829, did not appear in any of the earlier collections of Scott's works which were used to make up the Interleaved Set. However, the manuscripts of the introductions to the last two stories, which would normally have been bound into the Interleaved Set, survive separately (ms 911, ff. 270–71), but that of 'My Aunt Margaret's Mirror' appears to have been lost. Scott did not annotate any of these three stories.

In a retrospective entry in his journal on 20 December 1830 covering the period since 5 September Scott noted that Cadell had proposed 'assembling all my detachd works of fiction [and] Articles in annuals so that the whole, supposing I write as is proposed Six new volumes, will run the Collection to fifty when it is time to close it' (Journal, 613). At this stage Scott was still working on the introductions to earlier novels but, in a list apparently written by Cadell in July 1831, 'Annual tales' is listed as one of the contents of the final volume of the Magnum (ms 869, f. 180r). Scott seems to have been clear from the beginning that 'My Aunt Margaret's Mirror' was one of the proposed inclusions, and on 12 August 1831, when sending the three volumes of The Fair Maid of Perth with their introduction, he promised that 'Anne of Geierstein comes next together with Aunt Margaret's mirror'. He also asked Cadell for information on 'what other small pieces fall into my last volume pg 605for I am not sure that without your assistance I can remember them all' (ms 15980, f. 150r). His uncertainty about the 'other small pieces' is explained in another letter to Cadell of 18 August when he reported that 'I fear I have lost or mislaid the Keepsake or laid it by so well that I have forgot where I put it. I have vol which has the house of Aspen but not that with Aunt Margaret's mirror & other little trifles I should like to have a list of the whole which you think should be included in the Magnum' (ms 15980, f. 152r). Cadell responded the same day that 'The Magic Mirror I think had with it The Tapestried Chamber in the Keepsake of 1829 —I am not aware of any other, what may be termed "Works of Fiction"' (ms 3919, f. 41r). Perhaps Cadell felt that 'Death of the Laird's Jock', being an account of an allegedly historical incident, could not be classed as fiction. Scott's uncertainty about the other two stories may explain the fact that the introduction to 'My Aunt Margaret's Mirror' is relatively long (at least as printed in the Mag-num) while their introductions are extremely short: very possibly he went ahead and wrote the introduction to 'My Aunt Margaret's Mirror' and only added the others once it was clear which other stories were to be included. In the event Scott's introduction to 'The Tapestried Chamber' which we give below was radically re-written and expanded for the Magnum, probably by Lockhart, and his introduction to 'Death of the Laird's Jock' not used at all.

This edition prints for the first time Scott's original introductions to the two shorter stories but, in the absence of a manuscript, there is no alternative to printing the Magnum version of the introduction to 'My Aunt's Margaret's Mirror'. Although it is very probable that this too was rewritten by Lockhart it contains much material which was clearly Scott's own, being based on his own personal recol-lections. In this introduction Scott reveals that the story, whose source was originally ascribed to the narrator's fictional Aunt Mar-garet, of the Bothwell family of Earl's Closes, was actually derived from his real great-aunt, Margaret Swinton, his maternal grand-mother's sister, a source which helps explain the many fictionalised autobiographical references in the story's original introduction. In introducing 'Death of the Laird's Jock' Scott similarly revealed his source, the Lichfield poet Anna Seward.

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