Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/44

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32
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

given with admirable clearness in Lockhart's concluding chapter. He shows how Scott's whole life was moulded by the passionate desire to carry on the old traditions and preserve the ancient virtues of his race. Of course, he was in some degree an anachronism and Abbotsford a sham. That may be taken for granted, and enlightened persons may condemn him as a reactionary supporter of extinct prejudices. Only, allowing that the poor man held his convictions, we must also admit that he was not aiming at vulgar display, but at discharging what he took to be a most important social function: protecting his dependants, and supporting his superiors; helping innumerable poor friends and distressed authors; taking an active part in all patriotic movements, and diffusing the most genial goodwill throughout the whole circle of his influence. That this involved a certain ‘worldliness,' and a curious mixture of the shrewd commonsense of the lawyer with the romantic visions of the enthusiast, is fully admitted by Lockhart, who also shows in general terms how it led to these financial embarrassments. But Lockhart's natural desire to shield Scott's memory involved here what seems to me a misrepresentation of the facts. The curious com-