Scott, Walter (1771–1832)

Poet and novelist. Scott and Southey first met in October 1805, when their mutual interest in chivalric romances brought them together. Scott reviewed Southey’s Amadis of Gaul in the Annual Review, and The Chronicle of the Cid and The Curse of Kehama in the Quarterly Review, while Southey reviewed Scott’s Sir Tristram in the Annual. Privately envious of the enormous sales Scott achieved with his own chivalric poems, Southey was nevertheless a ready correspondent, persuading Scott of Wordsworth’s claims to greatness. For his part Scott, as his fame and influence increased, did not forget Southey: he arranged for Southey to write for the Edinburgh Review in 1807, and when Southey declined, disapproving of its anti-war politics and personal attacks on authors, helped him to a position reviewing for the new journal set up to counter the Edinburgh – the Quarterly. Scott also sought preferment for Southey via his connections in government: Canning was approached to see whether a diplomatic place might be found; Melville was requested to grant the post of Historiographer Royal. Southey also sought Scott’s help as he pursued the sinecure of Steward of the Derwentwater estates (which had passed to the Crown). None of these attempts having succeeded, Scott recommended in 1813 that Southey should be offered the Laureateship, after refusing it himself. Scott had also been influential behind the scenes in securing Southey the invitation from the Ballantynes’ publishing house (in which he was, unbeknownst to Southey, a silent partner) to write the historical section of the Edinburgh Annual Register (1808–1811). Here Scott was disingenuous: Southey was offered a share in the venture and so deferred payments owing to him to take up the offer; Scott, however, did not reveal his own financial involvement in the firm even when, as it faced insolvency in 1813, he promised to help Southey retrieve the monies owed him.

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