- Drama and Demonology
Sir Walter Scott. The doom of Devorgoil: a melo-drama; Auchindrane, or, The Ayrshire tragedy. [1st edition]. Printed for Cadell and Company, Edinburgh; and Simpkin and Marshall, London, 1830.
The doom of Devorgoil, an obscure poetic drama, was written in 1818 but not published until 1830. Scott writes in his preface:
“These dramatic pieces, or at least the first of them, were long since written, for the purpose of obliging the late Mr Terry … for whom the Author had a particular regard. The manner in which the mimic goblins of Devorgoil are intermixed with the supernatural machinery, was found to be objectionable, and the production had other faults, which rendered it unfit for representation.”
The second play published in the same volume, Auchindrane, or, The Ayrshire tragedy, was founded on the case of Mure of Auchindrane in Pitcairn’s Ancient criminal trials, and is Scott’s most highly regarded dramatic work.
Sir Walter Scott. Halidon Hill: a dramatic sketch from Scottish history. [1st edition]. Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Co., Edinburgh; and Hurst, Robinson and Co., London, 1822.
Originally intended for Joanna Baillie’s Collection of poems (published 1823), the military history-themed Halidon Hill, as Scott explains in his Advertisement, “gradually swelled to the size of an independent publication.” Scott writes:
“The Drama (if it can be termed one) is in no particular either designed or calculated for the stage; so that, in case any attempt shall be made to produce it in action … the Author takes the present opportunity to intimate, that it shall be solely at the peril of those who make such an experiment.”
Sir Walter Scott. Letters on demonology and witchcraft: addressed to J.G. Lockhart, Esq. [1st edition]. London: John Murray, 1830.
Letters on demonology and witchcraft takes the form of ten letters written to Scott’s son-in-law J.G. Lockhart, who had advised Scott to take up less arduous enterprises while recovering from a stroke. In epistolary mode, Scott surveys opinions on demonology and witchcraft from the Old Testament period to his own day. As a child of the Enlightenment, Scott takes a rigorously rational approach to the subject. The Letters were an immediate commercial success - although Scott’s sceptical view of the supernatural sharply divided his readers.