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tive of fictitious events. I learned the history of Gow the
pirate from an old sibyl, (the subject of a note, p. 265,
note 17 of this volume,) whose principal subsistence was
by a trade in favourable winds, which she sold to mari-
ners at Stromness. Nothing could be more interesting
than the kindness and hospitality of the gentlemen of Zet-
land, which was to me the more affecting, as several of
them had been friends and correspondents of my father.

I was induced to go a generation or two farther back,
to find materials from which I might trace the features
of the old Norwegian Udaller, the Scottish gentry having
in general occupied the place of that primitive race, and
their language and peculiarities of manner having entirely
disappeared. The only difference now to be observed
betwixt the gentry of these islands, and those of Scotland
in general, is, that the wealth and property is more equally
divided among our more northern countrymen, and that
there exists among the resident proprietors no men of very
great wealth, whose display of its luxuries might render
the others discontented with their own lot. From the
same cause of general equality of fortunes, and the cheap-
ness of living, which is its natural consequence, I found
the officers of a veteran regiment who had maintained the
garrison at Fort Charlotte in Lerwick, discomposed at the
idea of being recalled from a country where their

however inadequate to the expenses of a capital, was fully
adequate to their wants, and it was singular to hear natives
of merry England herself regretting their approaching
departure from the melancholy işles of the Ultima Thule,

Such are the trivial particulars attending the origin of
that publication, which took place several years later than
the agreeable journey from which it took its rise.

The state of manners which I have introduced in the
romance, was necessarily in a great degree imaginary,
though founded in some measure on slight hints, which,
showing what was, seemed to give reasonable indication of
what mușt once have been, the tone of the society in
these sequestered but interesting islands.


In one respect I was judged somewhat hastily, perhaps, when the character of Norna was pronounced by the critics a mere copy of Meg Merrilies. That I had fallen short of what I wished and desired to express is

unquestionable, otherwise my object could not have been so widely mistaken; nor can I yet think that any person who will take the trouble of reading the Pirate with some attention, can fail to trace in Norna,—the victim of remorse and insanity, and the dupe of her own imposture, her mind, too, flooded with all the wild literature and extravagant superstitions of the north,--something distinct from the Dumfries-shire gipsy, whose pretensions to supernatural powers are not beyond those of a Norwood prophet

The foundations of such a character may be perhaps traced, though it be too true that the necessary superstructure cannot have been raised upon them, otherwise these remarks would have been unnecessary. There is also great improbability in the statement of Norna's possessing power and opportunity to impress on others that belief in her supernatural gifts which distracted her own mind. Yet, amid a very credulous and ignorant population, it is astonishing what success may be attained by an impostor, who is, at the same time, an enthusiast. It is such as to remind us of the couplet which assures us that

“ The pleasure is as great

In being cheated as to cheat." Indeed, as I have observed elsewhere, the professed explanation of a tale, where appearances or incidents of a supernatural character are referred to natural causes, has often, in the winding up of the story, a degree of improbability almost equal to an absolute goblin narrative. Even the genius of Mrs. Radcliffe could not always surmount this difficulty.

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