(SCOTT, Sir Walter.) BOWER, John.

Description of the Abbeys of Melrose, and Old Melrose, with their traditions.

The Second Edition, improved.

Edinburgh: for the author, by J. Orphoot, 1822 Stock Code: 125496

Presentation from Scott to Thomas Moore

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Presentation copy from the dedicatee Sir Walter Scott to Thomas Moore, inscribed in Scott's hand on the front blank, "Thomas Moore from his affectionate friend Walter Scott, Melrose Abbey, 31 October 1825", with Moore's ownership inscription below and his bookplate to the front pastedown. The presentation was made on the occasion of Moore's "long meditated expedition to Scotland", a visit to Abbotsford described in some detail in John Gibson Lockhart's Memoirs of the Life of Scott, an account based on Moore's own diary. Moore told Lockhart how at Melrose, with the assistance of the abbey sexton John Bower, "a shrewd, sturdy-mannered original", Scott showed him round the ruins of the abbey. It was also during this visit that Scott, much to Moore's surprise, openly referred to himself as the author of the Waverley novels.

Although Bower is the nominal author, the book is dedicated to Scott. It was Scott who coordinated the restoration of Melrose Abbey in 1822. Bower devotes two pages of the book to a description of Abbotsford, where Scott had lived in daily sight of the abbey for twenty years. The abbey features in many of Scott's works, most famously The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805). The religious house of Kennaquhair in The Monastery and The Abbot (both 1820) is also based on the abbey, and it is described in detail in Scott's "Essay on Border Antiquities" (1814).

Lockhart quotes Scott's appreciation of Moore's character shortly after his 1825 visit: "We had indeed met in public twenty years ago. There is a manly frankness, with perfect ease and good-breeding, about him which is delightful. Not the least touch of the poet or the pedant His countenance is plain, but the expression so very animated, especially in speaking or singing, that it is far more interesting than the finest features could have rendered it. I was aware Byron had often spoken, both in private society and in his Journal, of Moore and myself, in the same breath, and with the same sort of regard; so I was curious to see what there could be in common betwixt us, Moore having lived so much in the gay world, I in the country, and with people of business, and sometimes with politicians; Moore a scholar, I none; he a musician and artist, I without knowledge of a note; he a democrat, I an aristocrat - with many other points of difference; besides his being an Irishman, I a Scotchman, and both tolerably national. Yet there is a point of resemblance, and a strong one. We are both good-humoured fellows, who rather seek to enjoy what is going forward than to maintain our dignity as Lions He also enjoys the mot pour rire, and so do I It would be a delightful addition to life, if T.M. had a cottage within two miles of one. We went to the theatre together, and the house being luckily a good one, received T.M. with rapture. I could have hugged them, for it paid back the debt of the kind reception I met with in Ireland" (Memoirs, vol. I, p. 578).

In 1827 Moore discovered that Scott's nine-volume Life of Napoleon and Moore's Epicurean, a prose tale based on the unpublished poem "Alciphron", were to be published the same day. In Moore's recollection, "I found my little cock boat (the "Epicurean") would be run down by the launch of the great warship (Napoleon)" (BM Satires), and arranged to have his book published the day before Scott's. Their temporary rivalry was satirized in a contemporary print, offered with the book, showing slender Moore brandishing his slim volume against Scott's nine-volume lump, yet still weighing heavier in the "Balance of Public Favor".

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Octavo (210 x 132 mm). Attractively bound in contemporary green polished calf, sides with a wide border of an outer decorative in gilt enclosing three gilt rules and a blind dogtooth roll, spine gilt, low raised bands, brown endpapers, gilt turn-ins and edges.


Folding etched frontispiece of Melrose Abbey.


Later collector's leather book label of Harold Murdock. Slight wear to front joint in two places, else very good.


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