Walter Scott

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All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (August 15, 1771September 21, 1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian popular throughout Europe during his time. He had a major impact on European and American literature. As an advocate, judge and legal administrator by profession, he combined writing and editing with daily work as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire. He was prominent in Edinburgh's Tory establishment, active in the Highland Society, long a president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820–1832), and a vice president of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1827–1829). His knowledge of history and literary facility equipped him to establish the historical novel genre and as an exemplar of European Romanticism.


  • Where lives the man that has not tried,
    How mirth can into folly glide,
    And folly into sin!
    • The Bridal of Triermain (1813), canto i. Stanza 21.
  • But mankind—the race would perish did they cease to aid each other.—From the time that the mother binds the child's head, till the moment that some kind assistant wipes the death-damp from the brow of the dying, we cannot exist without mutual help. All, therefore, that need aid, have the right to ask it of their fellow-mortals; no one who has the power of granting can refuse it without guilt.
  • Come as the winds come, when
    Forests are rended,
    Come as the waves come, when
    Navies are stranded.
    • Pibroch of Donald Dhu (1816), St. 4.
  • War's a fearsome thing. They'll be cunning that catches me at this wark again.
    • Old Mortality, Volume II (1816), Chapter XI.
  • Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
    To all the sensual world proclaim,
    One crowded hour of glorious life
    Is worth an age without a name.
  • Time will rust the sharpest sword,
    Time will consume the strongest cord
    That which molders hemp and steel,
    Mortal arm and nerve must feel.
    • Harold the Dauntless (1817), Canto I, st. 4.
  • Vacant heart, and hand, and eye,
    Easy live and quiet die.
  • Although too much of a soldier among sovereigns, no one could claim with better right to be a sovereign among soldiers.
    • Life of Napoleon (1827).
  • Oh, poverty parts good company.
  • Fat, fair, and forty.
    • St. Ronan's Well (1824), Ch. 7.
  • Widowed wife and wedded maid.
    • The Betrothed, Ch. 15
  • Woman's faith and woman's trust,
    Write the characters in dust.
    • The Betrothed, Ch. 20
  • A miss is as good as a mile.
    • Journal (December 3, 1825).
  • The eye of the yeoman and peasant sought in vain the tall form of old Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, as, wrapped in his laced cloak, and with beard and whiskers duly composed, he moved slowly through the aisles, followed be the faithful mastiff, or bloodhound, which in old time had saved his master by his fidelity, and which regularly followed him to church. Bevis indeed, fell under the proverb which avers, ‘He is a good dog, which goes to church’; for, bating an occasional temptation to warble along with the accord, he behaved himself as decorously as any of the congregation, and returned much edified, perhaps, as most of them.
  • If you keep a thing seven years, you are sure to find a use for it.
  • What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it runs back to a successful soldier?
    • Woodstock (1826), Ch. 37.
  • There is a vulgar incredulity, which in historical matters as well as in those of religion, finds it easier to doubt than to examine.
  • Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
    Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
    Come open the West Port, and let me gang free,
    And it's room for the bonnets of Bonny Dundee!
    • The Doom of Devorgoil, Bonny Dundee (1830), Chorus.
  • All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.
    • Letter to J. G. Lockhart (c. 16 June 1830), in H. J. C. Grierson (ed.), Letters of Sir Walter Scott, Vol. II (1936), as reported in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999), p. 652
  • Heaven knows its time; the bullet has its billet.
    • Count Robert of Paris (1832), Heading, Ch. 25.
  • One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honour or observation.
  • Thy hue, dear pledge, is pure and bright
    As in that well-remember'd night
    When first thy mystic braid was wove,
    And first my Agnes whisper'd love.
  • My dear, be a good man — be virtuous — be religious — be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here. ...God bless you all.
    • Last words, as quoted in John Gibson Lockhart Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart, Vol. VII (1838), p. 294
  • The way was long, the wind was cold,
    The Minstrel was infirm and old;
    His withered cheek, and tresses gray,
    Seemed to have known a better day.
    • Introduction
  • Such is the custom of Branksome Hall.
    • Canto I, stanza 7.
  • Steady of heart, and stout of hand.
    • Canto I, stanza 21.
  • If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
    Go visit it by the pale moonlight.
    • Canto II, stanza 1.
  • O fading honours of the dead!
    O high ambition, lowly laid!
    • Canto II, stanza 10.
  • I was not always a man of woe.
    • Canto II, stanza 12.
  • I cannot tell how the truth may be;
    I say the tale as 'twas said to me.
    • Canto II, stanza 22.
  • In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
    In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
    In halls, in gay attire is seen;
    In hamlets, dances on the green.
    Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
    And men below, and saints above;
    For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
    • Canto III, stanza 2.
  • Her blue eyes sought the west afar,
    For lovers love the western star.
    • Canto III, stanza 24.
  • Along thy wild and willow'd shore.
    • Canto IV, stanza 1.
  • For ne'er
    Was flattery lost on poet's ear:
    A simple race! they waste their toil
    For the vain tribute of a smile.
    • Canto IV, conclusion
  • Call it not vain;—they do not err,
    Who say, that when the Poet dies,
    Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,
    And celebrates his obsequies.
    • Canto V, stanza 1.
  • True love's the gift which God has given
    To man alone beneath the heaven
    It is not fantasy's hot fire,
    Whose wishes, soon as granted, fly;
    It liveth not in fierce desire,
    With dead desire it doth not die;
    It is the secret sympathy,
    The silver link, the silken tie,
    Which heart to heart, and mind to mind
    In body and in soul can bind.
    • Canto V, stanza 13.
  • Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    This is my own, my native land!
    Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
    As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
    If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
    For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
    The wretch, concentred all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonor'd, and unsung.
    • Canto VI, stanza 1.
  • O Caledonia! stern and wild,
    Meet nurse for a poetic child!
    Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
    Land of the mountain and the flood!
    • Canto VI, stanza 2.
  • That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
    When heaven and earth shall pass away,
    What power shall be the sinner's stay?
    How shall he meet that dreadful day?
    • Canto VI, stanza 31.

Marmion (1808)

  • Profan'd the God-given strength, and marr'd the lofty line.
    • Canto I, introduction.
  • November’s sky is chill and drear,
    November’s leaf is red and sear.
    • Canto I, introduction, st. 1.
  • Stood for his country’s glory fast,
    And nail’d her colours to the mast!
    • Canto I, introduction, st. 10.
  • But search the land of living men,
    Where wilt thou find their like again?
    • Canto I, introduction, st. 11.
  • Just at the age 'twixt boy and youth,
    When thought is speech, and speech is truth.
    • Canto II, introduction.
  • When, musing on companions gone,
    We doubly feel ourselves alone.
    • Canto II, introduction.
  • 'T is an old tale and often told;
    But did my fate and wish agree,
    Ne'er had been read, in story old,
    Of maiden true betray'd for gold,
    That loved, or was avenged, like me.
    • Canto II, stanza 27.
  • And come he slow, or come he fast,
    It is but Death who comes at last.
    • Canto II, introduction, st. 30.
  • When Prussia hurried to the field,
    And snatch'd the spear, but left the shield.
    • Canto III, introduction.
  • In the lost battle,
    Borne down by the flying,
    Where mingles war's rattle
    With groans of the dying.
    • Canto III, stanza 11.
  • Where's the coward that would not dare
    To fight for such a land?
    • Canto IV, stanza 30.
  • So shall he strive, in changeful hue,
    Field, feast, and combat, to renew,
    And loves, and arms, and harpers' glee,
    And all the pomp of chivalry.
    • Canto V, introduction.
  • Lightly from fair to fair he flew,
    And loved to plead, lament, and sue;
    Suit lightly won, and short-lived pain,
    For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.
    • Canto V, stanza 9.
  • Oh, young Lochinvar is come out of the West,
    Through all the wide Border his steed was the best.
    • Canto V, st. 12 (Lochinvar, st. 1).
  • So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
    There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
    • Canto V, st. 12 (Lochinvar, st. 1).
  • For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
    Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.
    • Canto V, st. 12 (Lochinvar, st. 2).
  • She look'd down to blush, and she look'd up to sigh,
    With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.
    • Canto V, st. 12 (Lochinvar, st. 5).
  • But woe awaits a country when
    She sees the tears of bearded men.
    • Canto V, stanza 16.
  • Heap on more wood!-the wind is chill;
    But let it whistle as it will,
    We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
    • Canto VI, introduction, st. 1.
  • England was merry England, when
    Old Christmas brought his sports again.
    ‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
    ‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
    A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
    The poor man’s heart through half the year.
    • Canto VI, introduction, st. 3.
  • And darest thou then
    To beard the lion in his den,
    The Douglas in his hall?
    • Canto VI, st. 14.
O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
  • O, what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!
    • Canto VI, st. 17.
  • O, Woman! in our hours of ease,
    Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
    And variable as the shade
    By the light quivering aspen made;
    When pain and anguish wring the brow,
    A ministering angel thou!
    • Canto VI, st. 30.
  • A light on Marmion’s visage spread,
    And fired his glazing eye:
    With dying hand, above his head,
    He shook the fragment of his blade,
    And shouted "Victory!-
    Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!"
    Were the last words of Marmion.
    • Canto VI, st. 32.
  • Oh for a blast of that dread horn
    On Fontarabian echoes borne!
    • Canto VI, stanza 33.
  • To all, to each, a fair good-night,
    And pleasing dreams, and slumbers light!
    • L'Envoy.
  • The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
    Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
    And deep his midnight lair had made
    In lone Glenartney's hazel shade.
    • Canto I, stanza 1.
  • With head upraised, and look intent,
    And eye and ear attentive bent,
    And locks flung back, and lips apart,
    Like monument of Grecian art,
    In listening mood, she seemed to stand,
    The guardian Naiad of the strand.
    • Canto I, stanza 17.
  • And ne'er did Grecian chisel trace
    A Nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace
    Of finer form or lovelier face.
    • Canto I, stanza 18.
  • A foot more light, a step more true,
    Ne'er from the heath-flower dash'd the dew.
    • Canto I, stanza 18.
  • On his bold visage middle age
    Had slightly pressed its signet sage,
    Yet had not quenched the open truth
    And fiery vehemence of youth;
    Forward and frolic glee was there,
    The will to do, the soul to dare,
    The sparkling glance, soon blown to fire,
    Of hasty love or headlong ire.
    • Canto I, stanza 21.
  • Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er,
    Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking;
    Dream of battled fields no more,
    Days of danger, nights of waking.
    • Canto I, stanza 31.
  • Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances!
    • Canto II, stanza 19.
  • Some feelings are to mortals given
    With less of earth in them than heaven;
    And if there be a human tear
    From passion's dross refined and clear,
    A tear so limpid and so meek
    It would not stain an angel's cheek,
    'Tis that which pious fathers shed
    Upon a duteous daughter's head!
    • Canto II, stanza 22.
  • Time rolls his ceaseless course.
    • Canto III, stanza 1.
  • Like the dew on the mountain,
    Like the foam on the river,
    Like the bubble on the fountain,
    Thou art gone, and forever!
    • Canto III, stanza 16 (Coronach, stanza 3).
  • The rose is fairest when 't is budding new,
    And hope is brightest when it dawns from fears.
    The rose is sweetest wash'd with morning dew,
    And love is loveliest when embalm'd in tears.
    • Canto IV, stanza 1.
  • Art thou a friend to Roderick?
    • Canto IV, stanza 30.
  • Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
    From its firm base as soon as I.
    • Canto V, stanza 10.
  • Respect was mingled with surprise,
    And the stern joy which warriors feel
    In foeman worthy of their steel.
    • Canto V, stanza 10.
  • Who o'er the herd would wish to reign,
    Fantastic, fickle, fierce, and vain!
    Vain as the leaf upon the stream,
    And fickle as a changeful dream;
    Fantastic as a woman's mood,
    And fierce as Frenzy's fever'd blood.
    Thou many-headed monster thing,
    Oh who would wish to be thy king!
    • Canto V, stanza 30.
  • Where, where was Roderick then!
    One blast upon his bugle-horn
    Were worth a thousand men.
    • Canto VI, stanza 18.

Rokeby (1813)

  • Still are the thoughts to memory dear.
    • Canto I, stanza 33.
  • A mother's pride, a father's joy.
    • Canto III, stanza 15.
  • Oh, Brignal banks are wild and fair,
    And Greta woods are green,
    And you may gather garlands there
    Would grace a summer's queen.
    • Canto III, stanza 16.
  • Thus aged men, full loth and slow,
    The vanities of life forego,
    And count their youthful follies o'er,
    Till Memory lends her light no more.
    • Canto V, stanza 1.
  • No pale gradations quench his ray,
    No twilight dews his wrath allay.
    • Canto VI, stanza 21.

Waverley (1814)

  • Now I protest to thee, gentle reader, that I entirely dissent from Francisco de Ubeda in this matter, and hold it the most useful quality of my pen, that it can speedily change from grave to gay, and from description and dialogue to narrative and character. So that, if my quill display no other propertoies of its mothergoose than her mutability, truly I shall be well pleased; and I conceive that you, my worthy friend, will have no occasion for discontent. From the jargon, therefore, of the Highland gillies, I pass to the character of their Chief. It is an important examination, and therefore, like Dogberry, we must spare no wisdom.
    • Chapter XIX
  • [Romeo ... transfers his affections from Rosalind to Juliet] 'A lover, my dear Lady Betty,' said Flora, 'may, I conceive, persevere in his suit, under very discouraging circumstances. Affection can (now and then) withstand very severe storms of rigour, but not a long polar frost of downright indifference. Don't, even with your attractions, try the experiment upon any lover whose faith you value. Love will subsist on wonderfully little hope, but not altogether without it.'
    • Chapter LIV
  • The Baron of Bradwardine being asked what he thought of these recruits, […] answered drily, 'that he could not but have an excellent opinion of them, since they resembled precisely the followers who attached themselves to the good King David at the cave of Adullam, vidilicet, every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, which the Vulgate renders bitter of soul;'
    • Chapter LVII
  • [...] a stone rolled down hill by an idle truant boy [...]. Even such is the course of a narrative like that which you are perusing. The earlier events are studiously dwelt upon, that you, kind reader, may be introduced to the character rather by narrative, than by the duller mdium of direct description; but when the story drwas near its close, we hurry over the circumstances, however important, which your imagination must hvae forestalled, and leave you to suppose those things which it would be abusing your patience to relate at length.
    • Chapter LXX
  • There is no European nation which, within the course of half a century, or little more, has undergone so complete a change as this kingdom of Scotland. The effects of the insurrection of the 1745 — the destruction of the patriarchal power of the Highland chiefs — the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions of the Lowland nobility and barons — the total eradication of the Jacobite party [...]. [...] This race has now almost entirely vanished from the land, and with it, doubtless, much absurd political prejudice — but also many living examples of singular ad disinterested attachment to the principles of loyalty which they received from their fathers, and of old Scottish faith, hospitality, worth, and honour. [...] for the purpose of preserving some idea of the ancient manners of which I have witnessed the almost total extinction, I have embodied in imaginary scenes [...].
    • Chapter LXXII, A postscript, which should have been a preface
  • Wise men say that we resign to civil society our natural right of self-defence only on condition that the ordinances of law should protect us.
    • Ch. 16.
  • A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
    • Ch. 37.
  • Bluid is thicker than water.
    • Ch. 38.
  • Hunger and fear are excellent casuists.
    • Ch. 46
  • In man's most dark extremity
    Oft succour dawns from Heaven.
    • Canto I, stanza 20.
  • Spangling the wave with lights as vain
    As pleasures in the vale of pain,
    That dazzle as they fade.
    • Canto I, stanza 23.
  • The wind breath'd soft as lover's sigh,
    And, oft renew'd, seem'd oft to die,
    With breathless pause between,
    O who, with speech of war and woes,
    Would wish to break the soft repose
    Of such enchanting scene!
    • Canto IV, stanza 13.
  • O! many a shaft at random sent
    Finds mark the archer little meant!
    And many a word, at random spoken,
    May soothe or wound a heart that's broken!
    • Canto V, stanza 18.
  • Randolph, thy wreath has lost a rose.
    • Canto VI, stanza 18.
  • It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.
    • Volume I, Ch. 11.

On the postal service


Chapter 15 opens at a small Scottish post office, "Mrs. Mailsetter's shop, —a source more famous for the circulation of news than for their accuracy."

  • ...We beg leave to transport the reader to the back-parlour of the post-master's house at Fairport, where his wife, he himself being absent, was employed in assorting for delivery the letters which had come by the Edinburgh post. This is very often in country towns the period of the day when gossips find it particularly agreeable to call on the man or woman of letters, in order, from the outside of the epistles, and, if they are not belied, occasionally from the inside also, to amuse themselves with gleaning information, or forming conjectures about the correspondence and affairs of their neighbours. Two females of this description were, at the time we mention, assisting, or impeding, Mrs. Mailsetter in her official duty.

An express has arrived at the office, and which must now rise to the challenge of delivering it.

  • "I'm no gaun to let naebody see the letter," sobbed the boy, "till I gie't to Mr. Lovel, for I am a faithfu' servant o' the office—if it werena for the powny."
    "Very right, my little man," said Ochiltree, turning the reluctant pony's head towards Monkbarns; "but we'll guide him atween us." …
    [They met Lovel on the way,] and Davie, who insisted upon a literal execution of his commission by going on to Monkbarns, was with difficulty prevailed upon to surrender the packet to its proper owner, although he met him a mile nearer than the place he had been directed to. "But my minnie said, I maun be sure to get twenty shillings and five shillings for the postage, and ten shillings and sixpence for the express—there's the paper."
    "Let me see—let me see," said Oldbuck, putting on his spectacles, and examining the crumpled copy of regulations to which Davie appealed. "Express, per man and horse, one day, not to exceed ten shillings and sixpence. One day? why, it's not an hour—Man and horse? why, 'tis a monkey on a starved cat!"
    • Vol. I, Ch.15.

Rob Roy (1817)

  • Sea of upturned faces.
    • Chapter 20.
  • There's a gude time coming.
    • Chapter 32.
  • My foot is on my native heath, and my name is MacGregor.
    • Chapter 34.
  • Scared out of his seven senses.
    • Chapter 34.
  • when we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o' our ain, we could aye peeble them wi' stanes when they werena gude bairns - But naebody's nails can reach the length o' Lunnon.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 3.
  • Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be ay sticking in a tree; it will be growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 7.
  • Revenge—the sweetest morsel to the mouth that ever was cooked in hell!
    • Vol. II, Ch. 6.
  • Guilt, though it may attain temporal splendour, can never confer real happiness.
    • Vol. II, Ch. 28.
  • The evil consequences of our crimes long survive their commission, and, like the ghosts of the murdered, for ever haunt the steps of the malefactor.
    • Vol. II, Ch. 28.
  • The paths of virtue, though seldom those of worldly greatness, are always those of pleasantness and peace.
    • Vol. II, Ch. 28.

Ivanhoe (1819)

  • Pride and jealousy there was in his eye, for his life had been spent in asserting rights which were constantly liable to invasion; and the prompt, fiery, and resolute disposition of the man, had been kept constantly upon the alert by the circumstances of his situation.
    • Ch. 3.
  • He’s expected at noon, and no wight till he comes
    May profane the great chair, or the porridge of plums;
    For the best of the cheer, and the seat by the fire,
    Is the undenied right of the Barefooted Friar.
    • Ch. 17, One of the verses of the ballad "The Barefooted Friar", sung by Friar Tuck to the Black Knight.
  • Her haughtiness and habit of domination was, therefore, a fictitious character, induced over that which was natural to her, and it deserted her when her eyes were opened to the extent of her own danger, as well as that of her lover and her guardian; and when she found her will, the slightest expression of which was wont to command respect and attention, now placed in opposition to that of a man of a strong, fierce, and determined mind, who possessed the advantage over her, and was resolved to use it, she quailed before him.
    • Ch. 23.
  • "Alas! fair Rowena," returned De Bracy, "you are in presence of your captive, not your jailor; and it is from your fair eyes that De Bracy must receive that doom which you fondly expect from him."
    • Ch. 23, De Bracy's vain attempt to woo Rowena using the language of courtly love.
  • Pax vobiscum will answer all queries. If you go or come, eat or drink, bless or ban, Pax vobiscum carries you through it all. It is as useful to a friar as a broom-stick to a witch, or a wand to a conjuror.
    • Ch. 26, Wamba explaining to Cedric how to get away with impersonating a priest. Pax vobiscum means "peace be with you".
  • Norman saw on English oak.
    On English neck a Norman yoke;
    Norman spoon to English dish,
    And England ruled as Normans wish;
    Blithe world in England never will be more,
    Till England's rid of all the four.
    • Ch. 27, Proverb recited by Wamba to De Bracy and Front-de-Boeuf.
  • "What remains?" cried Ivanhoe; "Glory, maiden, glory! which gilds our sepulchre and embalms our name."
    • Ch. 29, Ivanhoe to Rebecca, who questions the value of chivalry and has asked what remains for knights when death takes them.
  • Chivalry!-why, maiden, she is the nurse of pure and high affection-the stay of the oppressed, the redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the tyrant-Nobility were but an empty name without her, and liberty finds the best protection in her lance and her sword.
    • Ch. 29, Ivanhoe explains to Rebecca the virtues of chivalry.
  • Saint George and the Dragon!-Bonny Saint George for Merry England!-The castle is won!
    • Ch. 31, Wamba celebrates their victory.
  • For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.
    • Ch. 33, The Black Knight speaking to Locksley.
  • Women are but the toys which amuse our lighter hours-ambition is the serious business of life.
    • Ch. 36, Malvoisin speaking to De Bois-Guilbert.
  • When Israel, of the Lord belov'd,
    Out of the land of bondage came,
    Her fathers' God before her mov'd,
    An awful guide in smoke and flame.
    • Ch. 39, Devotional hymn sung by Rebecca in prison.
  • Thou and I are but the blind instruments of some irresistible fatality, that hurries us along, like goodly vessels driving before the storm, which are dashed against each other, and so perish.
    • Ch. 39, De Bois-Guilbert speaking to Rebecca.
  • There is yet spirit in him, were it well directed- but, like the Greek fire, it burns whatever approaches it.
    • Ch. 43, Malvoisin to Mont-Fitchet
  • You have power, rank, command, influence; we have wealth, the source both of our strength and weakness; the value of these toys, ten times multiplied, would not influence half so much as your slightest wish.
    • Ch. 44, Rebecca speaking to Rowena.
  • The happy combination of fortuitous circumstances.
    • Answer of the Author of Waverley to the Letter of Captain Clutterbuck.
  • But with the morning cool reflection came.
    • Ch. 3
  • As old as the hills.
    • Ch. 9.
  • Within that awful volume lies
    The mystery of mysteries!
    • Ch. 12.
  • And better had they ne'er been born,
    Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.
    • Ch. 12.
  • Spur not an unbroken horse; put not your ploughshare too deep into new land.
    • Ch. 25.
  • Meat eaten without either mirth or music is ill of digestion.
    • Ch. 25.
  • I am she, O most bucolical juvenal, under whose charge are placed the milky mothers of the herd.
    • Ch. 28
  • The stores of history are accessible to every one, and are no more exhausted or impoverished by the hints thus borrowed from them than the fountain is drained by the water which we subtract for domestic purposes. And in reply to the sober charge of falsehood against a narrative announced positively to be fictitious, one can only answer by Prior's exclamation - 'Odzooks, must one swear to the truth of a song?'
    • Prefatory Letter
  • "Lambe them, lads! lambe them!" a cant phrase of the time derived from the fate of Dr. Lambe, an astrologer and quack, who was knocked on the head by the rabble in Charles the First's time.
    • Ch. 42.
  • The pith of conversation does not consist in exhibiting your own superior knowledge on matters of small consequence, but in enlarging, improving, and correcting the information you possess, by the authority of others.
    • Introduction
  • It is a strong castle, and strongly guarded; but there is no impossibility to brave men.
    • Ch. 3.
  • Ah! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
    The sun has left the lea,
    The orange flower perfumes the bower,
    The breeze is on the sea.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Ridicule, the weapon of all others most feared by enthusiasts of every description, and which, from its predominance over such minds, often checks what is absurd, and fully as often smothers that which is noble.
    • Ch. 7.
  • Look to a gown of gold, and you will at least get a sleeve of it.
    • Letter 2.
  • You will, I trust, resemble a forest plant, which has, indeed, by some accident, been brought up in the greenhouse, and thus rendered delicate and effeminate, but which regains its native firmness and tenacity, when exposed for a season to the winter air.
    • Ch. 9.
  • Tell that to the marines—the sailors won't believe it.
  • Those who follow the banners of Reason are like the well-disciplined battalion, which, wearing a more sober uniform, and making a less dazzling show, than the light troops commanded by Imagination, enjoy more safety, and even more honour, in the conflicts of human life.
    • Ch. 17.
  • The playbill, which is said to have announced the tragedy of Hamlet, the character of the Prince of Denmark being left out.
    • Introduction.
  • Blessed be His name, who hath appointed the quiet night to follow the busy day, and the calm sleep to refresh the wearied limbs and to compose the troubled spirit!
    • Ch. 3.
  • Rouse the lion from his lair.
    • Heading, Ch. 6.
  • Fortune may raise up or abase the ordinary mortal, but the sage and the soldier should have minds beyond her control.
    • Ch. 9.
  • Recollect that the Almighty, who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils, hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit.
    • Ch. 24.

Quotes about Walter Scott

  • The English writers who had a big influence on me during my adolescence were Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf.
  • And think'st thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
On public taste to foist thy stale romance,
Though Murray with his Miller may combine
To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line?
  • Lord Byron, English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers: A Satire (1809)
  • Shakespeare and Scott are certainly alike in this, that they could both, if literature had failed, have earned a living as professional demagogues.
  • The blow is struck--the lyre is shattered--the music is hushed at length. The greatest--the most various--the most commanding genius of modern times has left us to seek for that successor to his renown which, in all probability, a remote generation alone will furnish forth. It is true that we have been long prepared for the event--it does not fall upon us suddenly--leaf after leaf was stripped from that noble tree before it was felled to the earth at last;--our sympathy in his decay has softened us to the sorrow for his death.
  • Someone having observed that the next Waverley novel was to be 'Rob Roy', Wordsworth took down his volume of Ballads, and read to the company 'Rob Roy's Grave'; then, returning it to the shelf, observed, "I do not know what more Mr. Scott can have to say upon the subject."
    • In Charles Cowden Clarke, Recollections of Writers (1878)
  • Sir Walter Scott was the Luther of literature. He reformed and he regenerated. To say that he founded a new school is not saying the whole truth ; for there is something narrow in the idea of a school, and his influence has been universal. Indeed, there is no such thing as a school in literature ; each great writer is his own original, and "none but himself can be his parallel." We hear of the school of Dryden and of Pope, but where and what are their imitators ? Parnassus is the very reverse of Mont Blanc. There the summit is gained by treading closely in the steps of the guides ; but in the first, the height is only to be reached by a pathway of our own. The influence of a genius like Scott's is shown by the fresh and new spirit he pours into literature.
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The New Monthly Magazine (1837-1), 'Female Portrait Gallery, No. I. — Flora M'Ivor and Rose Bradwardine.'
  • I am of course aware that there were other influences on Scott besides medieval literature and that sometimes there are alternative sources for a particular motif or detail or point of style. I cannot always pin Scott down to a medieval source to the exclusion of other possible sources. In such cases it is altogether conceivable that three or four or more literary works from different periods of literary history were on his mind at the same time. If so, I am inclined to believe that medieval romance weighed most heavily because of his utter fascination with literature of this sort during his formative years. Although he also read widely in other literature at an early age, ballads and old romances were his passion. ...I point out what Scott has borrowed and show how he has used the borrowing. When he has covered his tracks, I cannot always say which romance is involved... but the accumulation of interesting parallels provides good circumstantial evidence in support of my belief that medieval romance is the most important source for the Waverly Novels.
    • Jerome Mitchell, Scott, Chaucer, and Medieval Romance: A Study in Sir Walter Scott's Indebtedness to the Literature of the Middle Ages (1987)
  • Then we turned to Scott, whom he [William Ewart Gladstone] held to be by far the greatest of his countrymen. I suggested John Knox. "No, the line must be drawn firm between the writer and the man of action; no comparisons there."
    J. M.—Well, then, though I love Scott so much that if any man chooses to put him first, I won't put him second, yet is there not a vein of pure gold in Burns that gives you pause?
    Mr. G.—Burns very fine and true, no doubt; but to imagine a whole group of characters, to marshal them, to set them to work, to sustain the action—I must count that the test of highest and most diversified quality.
    • John Morley, notes (22 February 1891), quoted in John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. III (1903), p. 424
  • There never was such a novelist and there never again will be another such... But with all his unquestionable merits, Scott was a sad bigot. Look at his Monastery; he makes the monks all fools or knaves. What a strange conception he must have had of monks! If Scott were to write that book at the present time, how differently would he not write it! The progress of knowledge and public enlightenment has been rapid. The stale old calumnies against priests and monks which were some years ago currently received as undeniable truths, are now in a great measure exploded. A great writer who should at the present day paint a community of the Catholic clergy as being such rogues or imbecile dolts as those with whom Scott has peopled his Monastery, would thereby degrade himself and mar the reputation of his works.
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