The purpose of the added matter in this edition of the Waverley Novels — a reprint of the magnum opus of 1829-1832 — is to give to the stories their historical setting, by stating the circumstances in which they were composed and made their first appearance.
Sir Walter’s own delightful Introductions, written hastily, as Lockhart says, and with a failing memory, have occasionally been corrected by Lockhart himself. His “Life of Scott” must always be our first and best source, but fragments of information may be gleaned from Sir Walter’s unpublished correspondence.
The Editor owes to the kindness of Mrs. Maxwell Scott permission to examine the twenty-four large volumes of letters to Sir Walter, and some other manuscripts, which are preserved at Abbotsford. These yield but little of contemporary criticism or remark, as is natural, for Scott shared his secret with few, and most topics were more grateful to him than his own writings. Lockhart left little for his successors to do, and the more any one studies the Abbotsford manuscripts, the more must he admire the industry and tact of Scott’s biographer.
The Editor has also put together some examples of contemporary published criticism which it is now not uninteresting to glance over. In selecting these he has been aided by the kindness of Mrs. Ogilbie. From the Abbotsford manuscripts and other sources he has added notes on points which have become obscure by lapse of time. He has especially to thank, for their courteous and ready assistance, Lady Napier and Ettrick, who lent him Sir Walter’s letters to her kinswoman, the Marchioness of Abercorn; Mr. David Douglas, the editor and publisher of Scott’s “Journal,” who has generously given the help of his antiquarian knowledge; and Mr. David MacRitchie, who permitted him to use the corrected proofs of “Redgauntlet.”
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00