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Sir Walter Scott - His influence

From his early days Walter Scott was popular and at ease in society. He met Robert Burns 'the boast of Scotland' when he was fifteen years old, and later became friends with many famous people.

He was highly regarded by fellow poets James Hogg and William Wordsworth, and artists like William Allan and Henry Raeburn painted portraits of him. Scott met the Duke of Wellington in France while researching 'Life of Napoleon', which Goethe praised highly, and he was also respected and equally friendly with his servants, such as Tom Purdie

Some of his novels have been made into operas, 'The Bride of Lammermoor' has inspired six, and Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor' is still performed today.

In 1818, Scott helped instigate the discovery of the Scottish Royal Regalia (the crown, the sceptre and Sword of State from the reign of James V), which had been hidden in a room of Edinburgh Castle since the Union of the Parliaments.

In 1820, he was made a Baronet (entitling him to be addressed as 'Sir') by the new George IV, who later remarked, 'I shall always reflect with pleasure on Sir Walter Scott's having been the first creation of my reign.'

In the autumn of 1822, George IV made the first visit to Scotland by a Hanoverian monarch. Scott was entrusted with organising the visit and the 'Highland' pageants, and managed to get the king to wear flesh coloured tights and a tartan kilt. The king was so pleased with the celebrations that he granted Scott's wish to return Mons Meg, an historic cannon taken to London after the 1745 rising, to its place in Edinburgh Castle.

Like many great men of his time, including George Meikle Kemp, Scott was a Freemason and joined Lodge St David no.36 in the Canongate on 6th March 1802. In the 20th century the anniversary of Sir Walter Scott's joining has been celebrated by the laying of a wreath.

Scott's influence ranges widely. While not as popular a writer as he once was, his legacy to Scottish history and literature is unquestionable. He invented the historical novel and revived interest in many aspects of Scotland's past, however he has also been accused of inventing the sentimentally romantic shortbread box or 'tartan kitsch' image of Scotland.

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