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Author: Sir Walter Scott
Year First Published: 2007
Page Count: 412
Synopsis: EDITORS - INTRODUCTION - THE first hint in Sir Walter Scotts Life of the writing of Count Robert of Paris is to be found in a passage of his diary for February, 1826 at the period when he was engaged upon Woodstock. He writes on that date Being troubled with thick-coming fancies, and a slight palpitation of the heart, I have been reading the Chronicle of the Good Knight Messire Jacques de Lalain-curious, but dull, from the constant repetition of the same species of combats in the same style and phrase. It is llke washing bushels of sand for a grain of gold. It passes the time, however, especially in that listless mood when your mind is half on your book, half on something else. You catch something o arrest the attention every now and then, and what you miss is not worth going back upon -idle mans studies, in short. Still, things occur to one. Something might be made of a tale of chivalry-takep from the Passage of Arms, which Jacques de Lalain gaintained for the first day of every month for a twelvemonth. The first mention perhaps of red-hot balls appears in the siege of Oudenarde by the Citizens of Ghent-Chronique, p. 293. This would be light summer work. It was more than four years later, in the autumn of 1830, when he actually set to work upon the story. His own circle, and Cadell his publisher, were anxious that he should be content with a lighter task, namely the Neliquiae Trottcosienses, or the Gabions of Jonathan Oldbuck. Nothing, writes Lockhart, could have suited the time better but after a few days he said he found this was not sufficient-that he should proceed in it during bore szcbcenke, but must bend himself to the composition of a romance, founded on a story which he had more than once told cursorily already, and for which he had been revolving the various titles of Robert of the Isle-Count Robert de LIsle-and Count Robert of Paris. There was nothing to be said in reply to the decisive announcement of this purpose. The usual agreements were drawn out and the Tale was begun. By this time Scotts powers had suffered heavily from his many and repeated attacks. Nothing in romance could be more affecting than the story of the final battle to maintain his post, as witnessed by Will Laidlaw, who still served him occasionally as amanuensis - He could not watch Scott from hour to hour-above all, he could not write to his dictation, without gradually, slowly, most reluctantly taking home to his bosom the conviction that the mighty mind, which 1. e had worshipped through more than thirty years of intimacy, had lost something, and was daily losing something more of its energy. The faculties were there, and each of them was every now and then displaying itself id its full vigour but the sagacious judgment, the brillial t fancy, the unrivalled memory, were all subject to occasional eclipse- Amid the strings his fingers strayd, And an nucertain warbling made. Ever and anon he paused and looked round him, like one halfwaking from a dream, mocked with shadows. The sad bewilderment of his gaze showed a momentary consciousness that, like Samson in the lap of the Philistine, his strength was passing from him, and he was becoming weak like unto other men. Then came the strong effort of aroused will-the cloud dispersed as if before an irresistible current of purer air-all was bright and serene as of old-and then it closed again in yet deeper darkness. The consequence was that James Ballantyne was alarmed when the earlier chapters of the romance written under . this shadow reached him, to find them decidedly inferior to anything that had ever before come from that pen. So he felt compelled to inform the unfortunate romance-writer himself...

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