Friday, March 26, 2010

Woodstock

March 26 (1826).—Here is a disagreeable morning, snowing and hailing, with gleams of bright sunshine between, and all the ground white, and all the air frozen. I don't like this jumbling of weather. It is ungenial, and gives chilblains. Besides, with its whiteness, and its coldness, and its glister, and its discomfort, it resembles that most disagreeable of all things, a vain, cold, empty, beautiful woman, who has neither mind nor heart, but only features like a doll. I do not know what is so like this disagreeable day, when the sun is so bright, and yet so uninfluential, that
"One may gaze upon its beams
Till he is starved with cold."


No matter, it will serve as well as another day to finish Woodstock. Walked out to the lake, and coquetted with this disagreeable weather, whereby I catch chilblains in my fingers and cold in my head. Fed the swans.

Finished Woodstock, however, cum tota sequela of title-page, introduction, etc., and so, as Dame Fortune says in Quevedo,


"Go wheel, and may the devil drive thee."
 
- From Scott's Journal.
 
Paraphrasing from Edinburgh University's Walter Scott Archive,Woodstock was finished hurriedly after the financial panic of 1825/26 enveloped the over-extended author, bringing him essentially into bancruptcy.  Critical reviews of the novel, which gravitates around King Charles II's escape from England during the English Civil Wars, were on the negative side.  Fortunately for Scott and his creditors, the verdict of the public was decidedly positive.

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