Category Archive 'Sir Walter Scott'

24 Dec 2017

Christmas Eve

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For a picture of Christmas Eve, in the olden time, we can desire none better than that furnished by Sir Walter Scott in Marmion:

On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then opened wide the baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doffed his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose.
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair.”
All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down!

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s-head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
How, when, and where the monster fell
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas-eye;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roared with blithesome din
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

24 Dec 2016

Christmas Eve

, , ,

For a picture of Christmas Eve, in the olden time, we can desire none better than that furnished by Sir Walter Scott in Marmion:

On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then opened wide the baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doffed his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose.
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair.”
All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down!

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s-head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
How, when, and where the monster fell
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas-eye;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roared with blithesome din
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

24 Dec 2014

Christmas Eve

, , , ,

For a picture of Christmas Eve, in the olden time, we can desire none better than that furnished by Sir Walter Scott in Marmion:

On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then opened wide the baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doffed his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose.
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair.”
All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down!

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s-head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
How, when, and where the monster fell
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas-eye;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roared with blithesome din
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

10 Jul 2014

200th Anniversary of “Waverley”

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waverley

Stuart Kelly, in the Guardian, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novels, which were immensely popular for at least a century and a half, and which turned most of the reading public of Europe and America into reactionary romantics.

Waverley is not a precursor to the great Victorian novels (or even the mediocre Victorian novels by the likes of Bulwer-Lytton and Harrison Ainsworth) but a development from the form’s 18th-century radical roots. In the same year as he published Waverley anonymously, as Walter Scott he had produced an edition of the works of Swift. The opening pages of Waverley have a kind of sly self-consciousness that echoes Sterne’s Tristram Shandy more than Trollope’s Orley Farm. The reader doesn’t jump into the story, but jumps into a story about the story as the narrator ponders other titles and subtitles the book could have had. He parodies gothic, sentimental and fashionable tales (though the book will eventually encompass all these genres). Chapter 24 begins with the provocative question “Shall this be a long or a short chapter? This is a question in which you, gentle reader, have no vote, however much you may be interested in the consequences.”

The eponymous Waverley is an English soldier who ends up supporting Charles Edward Stuart’s Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 through a mixture of quixotic romanticism and personal petulance. Scott, anonymously reviewing one of his later books in The Quarterly Review called his protagonist “a very amiable and very insipid sort of young man” – in private he referred to him as a “sneaking piece of imbecility”. But then Scott’s habit of self-deprecation, charming though it can be, can obscure the psychological acuity and emotional realism of his work. Waverley, for example, falls in love when he plays at falling in love.

In his lifetime, Scott was compared to Shakespeare by the critics – not a judgment made too often these days. Nevertheless, it’s an important comparison. German critics (and Scott began his career translating Goethe) had praised Shakespeare for his immense scope, and Scott has something similar: Waverley has space for a royal usurper and the village idiot, the local laird and the middle-class soldier, the fanatic and the pragmatist, the outlaw and the establishment. Virginia Woolf would later claim he was “perhaps the last novelist to practice the great, the Shakespearean art, of making people reveal themselves in speech”.

Jane Austen said that Scott had “no business writing novels – especially good ones”. Francis Jeffrey, the most influential critic of the day, captures both the thrill and the frustration of reading Scott when he reviewed Waverley in The Edinburgh Review:

    “It is wonderful what genius and adherence to nature will do in spite of all disadvantages. Here is a thing obviously very hastily, and, in many places, very unskilfully written — composed, one half of it, in a dialect unintelligible to four-fifths of the reading population of the country – relating to a period too recent to be romantic, and too far gone by to be familiar — and published, moreover, in a quarter of the island where materials and talents for novel-writing have been supposed to be equally wanting; and yet, by the mere force and truth and vivacity of its colouring, already casting the whole tribe of ordinary novels into the shade, and taking its place rather with the most popular of our modern poems, than with the rubbish of provincial romances. The secret of this success, we take it, is merely that the author is a person of genius”.

Read the whole thing.

When I was young, you could find beautifully bound sets of the Waverly novels mouldering away in every used book barn at derisory prices. Today, you can download them in eBook form for free.

24 Dec 2009

Christmas Eve

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Boar’s Head Carol 1:11 video

For a picture of Christmas Eve, in the olden time, we can desire none better than that furnished by Sir Walter Scott in Marmion:

On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then opened wide the baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doffed his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose.
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair.”
All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down!

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s-head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
How, when, and where the monster fell
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas-eye;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roared with blithesome din
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

10 Apr 2007

Tilting at the Ring

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73-year-old Leon Enfield in action

No one knows for sure if the sport of tilting at the ring, a form of jousting emphasizing accurate placement of the lancepoint, survived in Maryland and Virginia from the times of the first settlements as a relic of the Middle Ages, or whether the sport was revived in the 19th century through the influence of the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott.

The sport was significantly revived after WWII. In 1950, a Maryland State Association was organized, and in 1962 the Maryland General Assembly designated jousting as Maryland’s state sport.

Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine published an admiring article.

Maryland Jousting Tournament Association

Pennsylvania Jousting Club

National Jousting Association


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