Walter Scott

Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (August 14, 1771September 21, 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe during his time.

QuotesEdit

  • 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.
  • Come as the winds come, when
    Forests are rended,
    Come as the waves come, when
    Navies are stranded.
    • Pibroch of Donald Dhu, St. 4 (1816)
  • War's a fearsome thing. They'll be cunning that catches me at this wark again.
    • Old Mortality, Volume II, Chapter XI (1816).
  • 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, Canto I, st. 4 (1817).
  • 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.
    • The Heart of Midlothian', Ch. 4 (1818).
  • 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.
    • The Heart of Midlothian', Ch. 8 (1818).
  • Revenge is the sweetest morsel to the mouth, that ever was cooked in hell.
    • The Heart of Midlothian', Ch. 30 (1818).
  • Vacant heart, and hand, and eye,
    Easy live and quiet die.
  • Oh, poverty parts good company.
  • Ah! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
    The sun has left the lea.
  • Fat, fair, and forty.
    • St. Ronan's Well, ch. 7 (1824).
O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
  • Tell that to the marines—the sailors won't believe it.
  • The playbill, which is said to have announced the tragedy of Hamlet, the character of the Prince of Denmark being left out.
  • Rouse the lion from his lair.
  • 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.
    • The Talisman, Ch. 24 (1825).
  • 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.
  • 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, Chorus (1830).
  • 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 Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805)Edit

  • 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)Edit

  • 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.
  • 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!
    • 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 Lady of the Lake (1810)Edit

  • 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)Edit

  • 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.

The Lord of the Isles (1815)Edit

  • 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.

The Antiquary (1816)Edit

  • It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives.
    • Volume I, Ch. 11.

On the postal serviceEdit

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)Edit

  • 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.

Ivanhoe (1819)Edit

  • 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.
  • 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 Monastery (1820)Edit

  • The happy combination of fortuitous circumstances.
    • Answer of the Author of Waverley to the Letter of Captain Clutterbuck.
  • 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 plowshare too deep into new land.
    • Ch. 25.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)Edit

Quotes reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • 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.
    • Sir Walter Scott Collection Guy Mannering. Chap. xxxvii.
  • Where lives the man that has not tried
    How mirth can into folly glide,
    And folly into sin!
    • Bridal of Triermain, canto i. Stanza 21.
  • 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.
    • Ivanhoe, Chap. xxxix.
  • 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.
    • Old Mortality, Chap. xxxiv.
  • 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.
    • Quentin Durward, Chap. iv.
  • Widowed wife and wedded maid.
    • The Betrothed, Chap. xv.
  • Woman's faith and woman's trust,
    Write the characters in dust.
    • The Betrothed, Chap. xx.
  • I am she, O most bucolical juvenal, under whose charge are placed the milky mothers of the herd.
    • The Betrothed, Chap. xxviii.
  • But with the morning cool reflection came.
    • Chronicles of the Canongate, Chap. iv.
  • What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it runs back to a successful soldier?
    • Woodstock, Chap. xxxvii.
  • "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.
    • Peveril of the Peak, Chap. xlii.
  • Although too much of a soldier among sovereigns, no one could claim with better right to be a sovereign among soldiers.
    • Life of Napoleon.
  • The sun never sets on the immense empire of Charles V.
    • Life of Napoleon (February, 1807).

Quotes about Walter ScottEdit

  • 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)
  • 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)

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Last modified on 29 December 2013, at 11:28