Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Invisible

‘July 5 [1829] …The post brought two letters of unequal importance. One from a person calling himself Haval, announcing to me the terrific circumstance that he had written against the Waverley Novels in a publication called La Belle Assemblée, at which doubtless, he supposes, I must be much annoyed. He be d——, and that's plain speaking. The other from Lord Aberdeen, announcing that Lockhart, Dr. Gooch, and myself, are invested with the power of examining the papers of the Cardinal Duke of York, and reporting what is fit for publication. This makes it plain that the Invisible neither slumbers nor sleeps…’

The Invisible, or the Great Unseen, which Sir Walter Scott writes about in his journal entry of July 5, 1829, refers to Sir William Knighton.  Knighton is best known as the Keeper of the Privy Purse - King George IV of England’s finances.  George apparently was unable to rein in his own debt, and turned his finances entirely over to Knighton, with favorable results being obtained within three years. 

Sir Walter Scott and Knighton were not unknown to each other, and as presented in “Memoirs of Sir William Knighton”, Scott sent the following letter to Knighton:

 Edinburgh, 18th May, 1829. 

MY DEAR SIR WILLIAM,
 I Have the honour of enclosing to your care the first copy of the new edition of the Waverley Novels, inscribed to the King by his Majesty's most gracious permission.  As it is a work intended for wide diffusion and a small price, its exterior could not have that splendour which ought to have attended the dedication ; but I trust the decorations, which I believe are good,- at least they are executed by the best artists we have,— may be esteemed as an apology for the humility of the volumes. We start with a sale of ten thousand, which, in a work which runs to forty volumes, is a very considerable matter.
The newspapers, which dispose of King and subject at their pleasure, are sending his Majesty to the Royal Cottage. It must now be looking beautiful, with all the oaks getting into leaf. I trust his Majesty will enjoy the repose there which becomes so indispensable after the toils of his royal duty; and happy would I be should he find in the illustrations of the Tales, which his Majesty formerly honoured with his notice, anything which could make a quarter of an hour pass more pleasantly away.
May I request you to present my most humble devoted duty to his Majesty, and say how sorry I am I have no more worthy mode of testifying my deep sense of his royal favour ?
I am always,
   Dear Sir William,
   Your truly faithful and obliged
 Walter Scott

No comments:

Post a Comment