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The author of the following pages thinks proper to apprize the reader, that he has not seen the last reprint of Scott's novels, in which he is given to understand that writer has laid open many of the sources from whence he drew his materials, and the history of the persons from whom he sketched some of the portraits. Miss Edgeworth has made the hero of her
Helen declare, that he should be sorry to be personally acquainted with Scott, for fear of disturbing the agreeable picture of his own mind of the accomplished author of so much fascination. A sentiment something like this inclines the writer of this sketch not to take any pains to be acquainted with his expositions of his own sleight, from the pen of the great magician himself, however curious and agreeable. Much of the charm of fiction is in danger of being lost hy a too nice inspection into the character of its sources. If the statue please, why need we care for the unsightly block out of which it was hewn ! The much-enamoured Psyche had abundant reason to weep for the gratification of a forbidden curiosity. It is said of Sir Joshua Reynolds, that he was extremely jealous of any one coming behind his easel to witness the mechanical operations by which he attained his object. It was in character with the candour and fearlessness of Scott to admit all the world into his studio; but it were to be doubted if the removal of the decent veil of obscurity were always wise, even if it were safe.
The author also begs leave to intimate, that he has never “ assisted” at the performance of any of the stage adaptations of Scott.
All his other negative advantages he leaves to the conjecture, or the absolute conclusion of his good-natured reader.
April 10, 1835.
Page iii, tenth line, for picture of, read picture in.
7, fourth line, for unborn, read inborn.
has been raised to the dignity of a science; and natural history generally is indebted to him for the reduction to order of many of the scattered fragments of the systems of others, and of the facts and observations that have been, of late years, pouring in so copiously from all quarters.
But a late clever writer has said, that “science alone