Sir Walter Scott, born August 15, 1771
0 comment Thursday, October 2, 2014 |

Sir Walter Scott's most-often quoted words may be these:
Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!'
He also wrote:
Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.''
I think those are true words.
Sir Walter Scott, novelist and poet, had a wide-ranging influence as may be gathered from the links gathered on this site.
He was especially revered in the American South, as Carl N. Degler in Out of Our Past tells us:
Where the ideas of the nineteenth century were congenial to southern antebellum values, they spread extravagantly. Though the novels of a romantic like Sir Walter Scott were popular in North and South alike, it was in the latter that he became a literary idol. Upon his death, Richmond newspapers were edged in black. Only in the South were knightly joustings held in full pseudo-mediaeval armor and regalia. It was from Scott's books that Southerners lifted the word ''southron,'' which they self-consciously applied to themselves. The romantic picture of the organic, status society of the Middle Ages, which Scott dwelt on in several of his novels, seemed to shore up southern and conservative ideas on society and slavery. Hence, south of the Ohio, Scott found a welcome place denied to contemporaries like Dickens and Shelley, who mixed their romanticism with urban, humanitarian, and irreligious beliefs largely foreign to the South."
This is interesting; I had not been aware of the extent to which Scott was revered in the old South, nor that he was not as highly regarded in the North.
As to the word 'southron', I am not convinced that Scott was THE source for this term nor the use thereof in the South. It is an archaic term for Southern, used mainly in Scotland as I understand, and it was used by J.R.R. Tolkien in his writings. I suppose Tolkien may have picked it up likewise from Scott, but he was not the ultimate originator of it. I use the word, as do others, because it specifically refers to the people, history, and way of life of the American South, unlike the general word 'Southern'which simply designates a direction or a geographical region.
The Walter Scott Digital Archive contains a treasure trove of information about him, and links to his works.
Update: Please see the wonderful tribute to Scott at Cambria Will Not Yield.

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