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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Walter Scott to Joanna Baillie, 30 January 1810

Vol I Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter I
Chapter II 1771-78
Chapter III 1778-83
Chapter IV 1783-86
Chapter V 1786-90
Chapter VI 1790-92
Chapter VII 1792-96
Chapter VIII 1796-97
Chapter IX 1798-99
Chapter X 1800-02
Chapter XI 1802-03
Chapter XII 1803-04
Vol. II Contents.
Chapter I 1804-05
Chapter II 1805
Chapter III 1806
Chapter IV 1806-08
Chapter V 1808
Chapter VI 1808-09
Chapter VII 1809-10
Chapter VIII 1810
Chapter IX 1810
Chapter X 1810-11
Chapter XI 1811
Chapter XII 1811-12
Vol. III Contents.
Chapter I 1812-13
Chapter II 1813
Chapter III 1814
Chapter IV 1814
Chapter V 1814
Chapter VI 1814
Chapter VII 1814
Chapter VIII 1814
Chapter IX 1814
Chapter X 1814-15
Chapter XI 1815
Chapter XII 1815
Vol III Appendix
Vol. IV Contents.
Chapter I 1816
Chapter II 1817
Chapter III 1817
Chapter IV 1818
Chapter V 1818
Chapter VI 1818
Chapter VII 1818-19
Chapter VIII 1819
Chapter IX 1819
Chapter X 1819
Chapter XI 1820
Chapter XII 1820
Vol. V Contents.
Chapter I 1820
Chapter II 1820-21
Chapter III 1821
Chapter IV 1821
Chapter V 1821
Chapter VI 1821
Chapter VII 1822
Chapter VIII 1822
Chapter IX 1822-23
Chapter X 1823
Chapter XI 1823
Chapter XII 1824
Chapter XIII 1824-25
Vol. VI Contents.
Chapter I 1825
Chapter II 1825
Chapter III 1825
Chapter IV 1825
Chapter V 1826
Chapter VI 1826
Chapter VII 1826
Chapter VIII 1826
Chapter IX 1826
Chapter X 1826
Chapter XI 1826
Vol. VII Contents.
Vol VII Preface
Chapter I 1826-27
Chapter II 1827
Chapter III 1828
Chapter IV 1828
Chapter V 1829
Chapter VI 1830
Chapter VII 1830-31
Chapter VIII 1831
Chapter IX 1831
Chapter X 1831-32
Chapter XI 1832
Chapter XII
Vol VII Appendix
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“Jan. 30th, 1810.
“My dear Miss Baillie,

“You have only to imagine all that you could wish to give success to a play, and your conceptions will still fall short of the complete and decided triumph of the Family Legend. The house was crowded to a most extraordinary degree; many people had come from your native capital of the west; every thing that pretended to distinction, whether from rank or literature, was in the boxes, and in the pit such an aggregate mass of humanity as I have seldom if ever witnessed in the same space. It was quite obvious from the beginning, that the cause was to be very fairly tried before the public, and that if any thing went wrong, no effort, even of your numerous and zealous friends, could have had much influence in guiding or restraining the general feeling. Some good-natured persons had been kind enough to propagate reports of a strong opposition, which, though I considered them as totally groundless, did not by any means lessen the extreme anxiety with which I waited the rise of the curtain. But in a short time I saw there
was no ground whatever for apprehension, and yet I sat the whole time shaking for fear a scene-shifter, or a carpenter, or some of the subaltern actors should make some blunder, and interrupt the feeling of deep and general interest which soon seized on the whole pit, box, and gallery, as Mr Bayes has it. The scene on the rock struck the utmost possible effect into the audience, and you heard nothing but sobs on all sides. The banquet-scene was equally impressive, and so was the combat. Of the greater scenes, that between Lorn and Helen in the castle of Maclean, that between Helen and her lover, and the examination of Maclean himself in Argyle’s castle, were applauded to the very echo.
Siddons announced the play ‘for the rest of the week,’ which was received not only with a thunder of applause, but with cheering and throwing up of hats and handkerchiefs. Mrs Siddons supported her part incomparably, although just recovered from the indisposition mentioned in my last. Siddons himself played Lorn very well indeed, and moved and looked with great spirit. A Mr Terry, who promises to be a fine performer, went through the part of the Old Earl with great taste and effect. For the rest I cannot say much, excepting that from highest to lowest they were most accurately perfect in their parts, and did their very best. Malcolm de Grey was tolerable but stickish—Maclean came off decently—but the conspirators were sad hounds. You are, my dear Miss Baillie, too much of a democrat in your writings; you allow life, soul, and spirit to these inferior creatures of the drama, and expect they will be the better of it. Now it was obvious to me, that the poor monsters, whose mouths are only of use to spout the vapid blank verse which your modern playwright puts into the part of the confidant and subaltern villain of his piece, did not know what to make of the energetic and poetical diction which
even these subordinate departments abound with in the Legend. As the play greatly exceeded the usual length (lasting till half-past ten), we intend, when it is repeated to-night, to omit some of the passages where the weight necessarily fell on the weakest of our host, although we may hereby injure the detail of the plot. The scenery was very good, and the rock, without appearance of pantomime, was so contrived as to place Mrs Siddons in a very precarious situation to all appearance. The dresses were more tawdry than I should have judged proper, but expensive and showy. I got my
brother John’s Highland recruiting party to reinforce the garrison of Inverary, and as they mustered beneath the porch of the castle, and seemed to fill the court-yard behind, the combat scene had really the appearance of reality. Siddons has been most attentive, anxious, assiduous, and docile, and had drilled his troops so well that the prompter’s aid was unnecessary, and I do not believe he gave a single hint the whole night; nor were there any false or ridiculous accents or gestures even among the underlings, though God knows they fell often far short of the true spirit. Mrs Siddons spoke the epilogue* extremely well: the prologue,† which I will send you in its revised state, was also very well received. Mrs Scott sends her kindest compliments of congratulation; she had a party of thirty friends in one small box, which she was obliged to watch like a clucking hen till she had gathered her whole flock, for the crowd was insufferable. I am going to see the Legend to-night, when I shall enjoy it quietly, for last night I was so much interested in its reception that I cannot say I was at leisure to attend to the feelings arising from the representation itself. People are dying to read it. If you think of suffering a single edition to be

* Written by Henry Mackenzie.

† See Scott’s Poetical Works, vol. viii. p. 387.

MR TERRY—1810.273
printed to gratify their curiosity, I will take care of it. But I do not advise this, because until printed no other theatres can have it before you give leave. My kind respects attend
Miss Agnes Baillie, and believe me ever your obliged and faithful servant,

Walter Scott.

“P.S. A friend of mine writes dramatic criticism now and then. I have begged him to send me a copy of the Edinburgh paper in which he inserts his lucubrations, and I will transmit it to you: he is a play-going man, and more in the habit of expressing himself on such subjects than most people.—In case you have not got a playbill, I enclose one, because I think in my own case I should like to see it.”