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1. Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1771. At the age of eighteen he was placed in the High School of Edinburgh, where he remained for four years. He was not regarded as a very bright scholar, but gave evidence of special delight in history, poetry, fairy tales, and romances. Even then he excelled in devising and telling stories.
2. He was afterwards for a short time in the University, but left it without adding much to his stock of classical knowledge. At the age of fifteen, the breaking of a blood - vessel brought on a fit of illness, during which he passed his time in a perusal of old romances,
plays, and ballads, unconsciously amassing materials for his future writings.
3. In 1792 he was called to the bar, and seven years later he was appointed Sheriff, and then Clerk of the Court of Sessions. His first publication was “The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border;” then followed “The Lay of the Last Minstrel," "Marmion," and "The Lady of the Lake.” In 1814 appeared anonymously “Waverley," and a new novel appeared every year till 1831.
4. These prose fictions made “The Great Unknown," as he was called, the wonder of the age. He became The World's Story-Teller. He did not reveal the authorship till after the bankruptcy of his publishers, which involved him to the amount of more than $500,000.
5. This great amount of indebtedness he pledged himself to pay without abatement, and heroically did he fulfill his promise; but the effort cost him his life. His mind gave way under the gigantic toil to which he had doomed himself, and he died at Abbotsford, in 1832.
6. His works are among the classics of the English language. R. H. Hutton says of his novels: “You can hardly read any novel of Scott's and not become better aware what public life and public issues mean. The boldness and freshness of the present are carried back into the past, and you see Papists and Puritans, Cavaliers and Roundheads, Jews, Jacobites, and frecbooters, preachers, school-masters, mercenary soldiers, gypsies, and beggars, all living the sort of life which the reader feels that in their circumstances, and under the same conditions of time and place, and parentage, he, too, might have lived."
7. His nature was manly, open, tolerant, and kindly. “He died,” said Gladstone, "a great man, and, what is more, a good man. He has left us a double treasure: the memory of himself, and the possession of his works.” Read “The Lady of the Lake,” “ Ivanhoe.”
25. THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
[The scene of this poem is laid in the vicinity of Loch Katrine, in the Highlands of Scotland;-time, about 1530. A solitary huntsman, who had outstripped his comrades, and missed the stag he was pursuing, was brought to a sudden halt by the death of his horse, from exhaustion, in the heart of the Trosachs. He blew a loud blast of his horn to recall the hounds, now crippled and sulky, from their vain pursuit. The extract represents him as pausing for a time to take in the beauty of the scene, when he again winds his horn, and the story proceeds.]
The western waves of ebbing day
Rolled o'er the glen their level way;
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
Was bathed in floods of living fire.
But not a setting beam could glow
Within the dark ravine below,
Where twined the path, in shadow hid,
Round many a rocky pyramid,
Shooting abruptly from the dell
Its thunder-splintered pinnacle.
The rocky summits, split and rent,
Formed turret, dome, or battlement,
Or seemed fantastically set
With cupola or minaret,
Wild crests as pagod ever decked,
Or mosque of Eastern architect.
Nor were these earth-born castles bare,
Nor lacked they many a banner fair;
For, from their shivered brows displayed,
Far o'er the unfathomable glade,
All twinkling with the dew-drops' sheen,
The brier-rose fell in streamers green,
And creeping shrubs, of thousand dyes,
Waved in the west-wind's summer sighs.
Boon nature scattered, free and wild,
Each plant or flower, the mountain's child.
Here eglantine embalmed the air,
Hawthorn and hazel mingled there;
The primrose pale and violet flower
Found in each cliff a narrow bower;
Fox-glove and nightshade, side by side,
Emblems of punishment and pride,
Grouped their dark hues with every stain
The weather-beaten crags retain.
With boughs that quaked at every breath,
Gray birch and aspen wept beneath;
Aloft, the ash and warrior oak
Cast anchor in the rifted rock;
And, higher yet, the pine-tree hung
His shattered trunk, and frequent flung,
Where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
His boughs athwart the narrowed sky.
Highest of all, where white peaks glanced,
Where glistening streamers waved and danced,
The wanderer's eye could barely view
The summer heaven's delicious blue;
So wondrous wild, the whole might seem
The scenery of a fairy dream.
to issue from the glen,
No pathway meets the wanderer's ken,
Unless he climb, with footing nice,
A far projecting precipice.
The broom's tough roots his ladder made,
The hazel saplings lent their aid;
And thus an airy point he won,
Where gleaming with the setting sun,
One burnished sheet of living gold,
Loch Katrine lay beneath him rolled,
In all her length far winding lay,
With promontory, creek, and bay,
And islands that, empurpled bright,
Floated amid the livelier light,
And mountains, that like giants stand,
To sentinel enchanted land.-
“Blithe were it then to wander here!
But now,-beshrew yon nimble deer,-
Like that same hermit's, thin and spare,
The copse must give my evening fare;
Some mossy bank my couch must be,
Some rustling oak my canopy.
But hosts may in these wilds abound,
Such as are better missed than found;
To meet with Highland plunderers here,
Were worse than loss of steed or deer.-
I am alone;my bugle-strain
May call some straggler of the train;
Or, fall the worst that may betide,
Ere now this falchion has been tried.”
But scarce again his horn he wound,
When, lo! forth starting at the sound,
From underneath an aged oak,
That slanted from an islet rock
A damsel guider of its way,
A little skiff shot to the bay,
That round the promontory steep
Led its deep line in graceful sweep,
Eddying, in almost viewless wave,
The weeping-willow twig to lave,
And kiss, with whispering sound and slow,
The beach of pebbles bright as snow.
The boat had touched this silver strand
Just as the hunter left his stand,
And stood concealed amid the brake,
To view this Lady of the Lake.
The maiden paused, as if again
She thought to catch the distant strain.
With head up-raised, and look intent,
And eye and ear attentive bent,
And locks flung back, and lips apart,