The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 51. Scott

Scott’s own historical works, apart from the Tales of a Grandfather from Scottish and French history, comprise the Scottish history which he wrote for Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopædia immediately after he had completed the last of his imaginative works, Anne of Geierstein, and the rather earlier Life of Buonaparte. The latter, written “in the midst of pain, sorrow and ruin,” is an extraordinary effort—a twelve-month’s labour extending over what, “on the original model of his works,” would have filled from thirteen to fourteen volumes; but its details met with sharp criticism, and it can hardly be said to warrant Lockhart’s prediction that “posterity will recognise Napoleon’s Livy in Scott.” His influence upon historical literature, which continued and immeasurably developed that of Châteaubriand, was of far greater importance than were his own contributions to it. Perhaps the most direct and signal expression which it found was in French literature; Thierry’s Norman Conquest, as has been well observed, could hardly have been written, or at least written as it was, without Ivanhoe. But, at home, too, the doctrine of local colouring had impressed itself, once for all, upon historical narrative.