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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Named after the romance of Waverley


[Sidenote:

Goethe's genius]

Like Heine, Goethe offended his fellow Germans by his apparent lack of purely national and patriotic sentiments. To the present day his outspoken admiration of Napoleon and his cold abstention from the ardent enthusiasm of the Prussian war of Liberation have not been forgiven by certain Germans. As a man, Goethe has been denounced as an egotist, for the apparently selfish character of his relations with women, ending with his marriage to a woman far below him. On the other hand, Goethe must be regarded as the most universal literary genius produced by Germany. He stands in line with those master spirits of all ages, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Moliere.

[Sidenote: Death of Scott]

[Sidenote: Walter Scott's poems]

[Sidenote: "The Waverley Novels"]

[Sidenote: Scott a bankrupt]

[Sidenote: Literary drudgery]

A few months after the death of Goethe, in September, Sir Walter Scott died in England. Goethe was accustomed to speak of Scott as "the greatest writer of his time." Shortly before his death Goethe said: "All is great in Scott's 'Waverley Novels'--material, effect, characters and execution." Scott himself derived much of his inspiration from Goethe's writings. One of his earliest works was a translation

of "Goetz von Berlichingen." The creation of Mignon, in "Wilhelm Meister," furnished Scott with the character of Fenella in his "Peveril of the Peak." Scott began his career as a writer with a translation of Buerger's "Ballads." His most successful metrical pieces, "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," "Marmion," and "The Lady of the Lake," for the most part appeared during the opening years of the Nineteenth Century. Then came the great series of the "Waverley Novels," named after the romance of "Waverley," published anonymously in 1814. The series comprised such classics as "Guy Mannering," "The Heart of Midlothian," "Kenilworth," "Quentin Durward," and "Ivanhoe." Scott's historical romances, based as they were on painstaking researches into old chronicles, revived in Englishmen an interest in their own past. The romance of the Middle Ages was recognized for the first time, if in an exaggerated degree, throughout the civilized world. The romantic movement in French literature, now in full swing, was directly inspired by Scott. Notwithstanding his great success as a writer, Scott's later career was clouded by difficulties and debt. Through his friendship with Canning early in his career he obtained the post of court clerk in Edinburgh. This left him leisure to edit a number of literary works, such as the editions of Swift, Dryden and Sir Tristan. The great popular success of his novels soon made him rich. His hospitality at Abbotsford grew so lavish that in order to defray his expenses he joined in a financial partnership with his publishers. The failure of the Bank of Constable, in 1826, and the consequent failure of the house of Ballantyne, ruined Scott. His debts amounted to L117,000. In his efforts to earn enough money wherewith to pay this enormous sum, Scott became a literary drudge. It was at this time that he wrote his seven-volume history of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, "Tales of a Grandfather," and a two-volume "History of Scotland." His work as a historian was by no means equal to that of his purely literary creations. In 1830, as the result of overwork, Sir Walter Scott suffered from a stroke of paralysis. A journey to Italy brought no relief. Two years later he died. He was buried at Dryburgh Abbey. For several generations after his death Scott remained one of the most popular authors of England.


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