Tuesday, March 04, 2014


The Love of Solitude

The Journal of Sir Walter Scott, ed. W.E.K. Anderson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 50 (December 27, 1825):
Still however, from the earliest time I can remember, I preferd the pleasures of being alone to waiting for visitors, and have often taken a bannock and a bit of cheese to the wood or hill to avoid dining with company. As I grew from boyhood to manhood I saw this would not do and that to gain a place in men's esteem I must mix and bustle with them. Pride and an excitation of spirits often supplied the real pleasure which others seem to feel in society and certainly upon many occasions it was real. Still if the question was eternal company without the power of retiring within yourself or Solitary confinement for life I should say, 'Turnkey, Lock the cell.'
Id., p. 121 (March 28, 1826):
One is tempted to ask himself, knocking at the door of his own heart, Do you love this extreme loneliness? I can answer conscientiously I do. The love of Solitude was with me a passion of early youth when in my teens I used to fly from company to indulge visions and airy Castles of my own, the disposal of ideal wealth and the exercize of imaginary power. This feeling prevaild even till I was eighteen when Love and Ambition awaking with other passions threw me more into society, from which I have however at times withdrawn myself and have been always glad to do so.
Id., p. 535 (March 18, 1829):
I like the hermit life indifferent well nor would, I sometimes think, break my heart, were I to be in that magick mountain where food was regularly supplied by ministering genii and plenty of books were accessible without the least intervention of human society. But this is thinking like a fool. Solitude is only agreeable when the power of having society is removed to a short space and can be commanded at pleasure. It is not good for man to be alone. It blunts our faculties and freezes our active virtues.

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