Scott's Self-Reviewal: Manuscript and Other Evidence

Martin Lightfoot
1968 Nineteenth-Century Fiction  
On the 18th of December Scott replied: I give you heartily joy of the success of the Tales, although I do not claim that paternal interest in them which my friends do me the credit to assign me. I assure you I have never read a volume of them until they were printed,2 and can only join with the rest of the world in applauding the true and striking portraits which they present of old Scottish manners. I do not expect implicit reliance to be placed on my disavowal, because I know very well that
more » ... ow very well that he who is disposed not to own a work must necessarily deny it, and that otherwise his secret would be at the mercy of all who choose to ask the question, since silence in such a case must always pass for consent, or rather assent. But I have a mode of convincing you that I am perfectly serious in my denial-pretty similar to that by which Solomon distinguished the fictitious from the real mother -and that is, by reviewing the work, which I take to be an operation equal to that of quartering the child. But this is only on condition I can have Mr Erskine's assistance, who admires the work greatly more than I do, though I think the painting of the second tale both true and powerful.3
doi:10.2307/2932366 fatcat:wkbemadv4vh37hjcrwdw4c5gxi