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La. III. 585.15


My dear Miss Edgeworth,—I received your acknowlegement this day which is more than a hundred of the volumes acknowledged. I am afraid that I shall [riot] greatly master the self conceit it is likely to excite by deducting one half of your praise and setting it to the account of your partiality for the author for I am not sure if that is likely to diminish my self value but on the contrary I think it very like to increase it. Now though there is such a petition in our old fashiond Scots litany as "Lord send us all a good conceit of ourselves" yet as the doze may be very easily increased to a dangerous [one] I had better answer your letter before its full operation on my pericranium.

Seriously my own best thoughts of any thing I ever wrote never went beyond my excellent friend Sir Robert Dundas's (whom you saw I think in our House in Castle Street) approbation of a good joke which he expresses in these words at the utmost "Thats not bad." Adam Fergusson & I have shot jest upon jest in hopes to carry a little forth but it was always the same sort of laugh and the same limited approbation. Now I claim credit as an honest man when I tell you that almost all things I have written even those which the public has received best have been so much inferior to that which I would like to have done that I am always disgusted with them for the time at least—Years afterwards when the ideas out of which the story was produced have been entirely forgotten I have been much better pleased with them. I fancy something like this may occur to other authors. With me it is a very strong feeling and leads to a little reluctance to speak or think about these things unless to a friend like yourself who will not readily suspect me of affectation.

The Letters of Sir Walter Scott, ed. H.J.C. Grierson, vol. X (London: Constable, 1936), pp. 309-10.