Thursday, March 10, 2011


'...I believe it  was just about this time that Scott had abandoned his place in Mr Jeffrey's corps. The journal had been started among the clever young society with which Edinburgh abounded when they were both entering life as barristers; and Jeffrey's principal coadjutors for some time were Sydney Smith, Brougham, Horner, Scott himself—and on scientific subjects, Playfair...'

Professor John Playfair was well known in Edinburgh society during Scott's time.  As a mathematician, he even has an axiom named after him; Playfair's Axiom.  John Playfair was born on March 10, 1748.

The text above is from Lockhart's "Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott".  The journal referenced is the Edinburgh Review, which was published by Archibald Constable.  Scott initially supported the Review, but became so fed up with the politics that he canceled, later supporting publisher John Murray in developing the Quarterly Review. 

Walter Scott's relationship with Edinburgh Review is described in Samuel Smiles' "A Publisher and his Friends": '...Walter Scott still continued to write for the Edinburgh, notwithstanding the differences of opinion which existed between himself and the editor as to political questions. He was rather proud of the Review, inasmuch as it was an outgrowth of Scottish literature...'  And on the rift: 'A severe and unjust review of "Marmion," by Jeffrey, appeared in 1808, accusing Scott of a mercenary spirit in writing for money (though Jeffrey himself was writing for money in the same article), and further irritating Scott by asserting that he "had neglected Scottish feelings and Scottish characters." "Constable," writes Scott to his brother Thomas, in November 1808, "or rather that Bear, his partner [Mr. Hunter], has behaved by me of late not very civilly, and I owe Jeffrey a flap with a foxtail on account of his review of 'Marmion,' and thus doth the whirligig of time bring about my revenges." 

Smiles quotes Lockart on the subject '..."When he read the article on 'Marmion,' and another on foreign politics, in the same number of the Edinburgh Review, Murray said to himself, 'Walter Scott has feelings, both as a gentleman and a Tory, which these people must now have wounded; the alliance between him and the whole clique of the Edinburgh Review is now shaken'"...'

The final straw came happened to occur when Murray himself was visiting Scott at Ashestiel '..During Murray's visit to Ashestiel No. 26 of the Edinburgh Review arrived. It contained an article entitled "Don Cevallos on the Occupation of Spain." It was long supposed that the article was written by Brougham, but it has since been ascertained that Jeffrey himself was the author of it. This article gave great offence to the friends of rational liberty and limited monarchy in this country. Scott forthwith wrote to Constable: "The Edinburgh Review had become such as to render it impossible for me to become a contributor to it; now it is such as I can no longer continue to receive or read it."

"The list of the then subscribers," said Mr. Cadell to Mr. Lockhart, "exhibits, in an indignant dash of Constable's pen opposite Mr. Scott's name, the word 'STOPT!'"...'

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