Chronicles of the Canongate
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CHRONICLES OF THE CANONGATE.
by Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Introduction to Chronicles of the Canongate.
Appendix to Introduction--The Theatrical Fund Dinner.
Introductory--Mr. Chrystal Croftangry.
The Highland Widow.
The Two Drovers.
INTRODUCTION TO CHRONICLES OF THE CANONGATE.
The preceding volume of this Collection concluded the last of the
pieces originally published under the NOMINIS UMBRA of The Author
of Waverley; and the circumstances which rendered it impossible
for the writer to continue longer in the possession of his
incognito were communicated in 1827, in the Introduction to the
first series of Chronicles of the Canongate, consisting (besides
a biographical sketch of the imaginary chronicler) of three
tales, entitled "The Highland Widow," "The Two Drovers," and "The
Surgeon's Daughter." In the present volume the two first named
of these pieces are included, together with three detached
stories which appeared the year after, in the elegant compilation
called "The Keepsake." "The Surgeon's Daughter" it is thought
better to defer until a succeeding volume, than to
"Begin, and break off in the middle."
I have, perhaps, said enough on former occasions of the
misfortunes which led to the dropping of that mask under which I
had, for a long series of years, enjoyed so large a portion of
public favour. Through the success of those literary efforts, I
had been enabled to indulge most of the tastes which a retired
person of my station might be supposed to entertain. In the pen
of this nameless romancer, I seemed to possess something like the
secret fountain of coined gold and pearls vouchsafed to the
traveller of the Eastern Tale; and no doubt believed that I might
venture, without silly imprudence, to extend my personal
expenditure considerably beyond what I should have thought of,
had my means been limited to the competence which I derived from
inheritance, with the moderate income of a professional
situation. I bought, and built, and planted, and was considered
by myself, as by the rest of the world, in the safe possession of
an easy fortune. My riches, however, like the other riches of
this world, were liable to accidents, under which they were
ultimately destined to make unto themselves wings, and fly away.
The year 1825, so disastrous to many branches of industry and
commerce, did not spare the market of literature; and the sudden
ruin that fell on so many of the booksellers could scarcely have
been expected to leave unscathed one whose career had of
necessity connected him deeply and extensively with the pecuniary
transactions of that profession. In a word, almost without one
note of premonition, I found myself involved in the sweeping
catastrophe of the unhappy time, and called on to meet the
demands of creditors upon commercial establishments with which
my fortunes had long been bound up, to the extent of no less a
sum than one hundred and twenty thousand pounds.