Sir Walter Scott's review of his own work 'Tales of my Landlord', 1816

Scott anonymously reviewed 'Tales of my Landlord' Murray's literary magazine the ' Quarterly Review'. Unknown to Murray, Scott was the anonymous author of the 'Tales' too and he turned out to be one of the harsher critics of his own work.


Page 1 of 95


Copyright National Library of Scotland

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(Dec. 18. 1816)

My dear sir

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 to me.
I do assure I never read a volume of them till they were
printed, & can only join with the rest of the world in
applauding the true & 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 he who is resolved not to own a work, must necessarily
deny it, & that otherwise his secret would be at the mercy
of all who chose 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, & that is,
by reviewing the work, which I take to be an operation
similar to the experiment of quartering the child. But
this is only on condition I can have W. Erskines assistance,
who admires the work greatly more than I do, though I think