The Journal of Sir Walter Scott

Source: Walter Scott, The Journal of Sir Walter Scott, 1825-1832 (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1910 [orig. pub. 1890]), p. 280

Production: Edward Fitzball, The Pilot, Adelphi Theatre, London, 21 October 1826

Text: October 21, 1826
We returned to a hasty dinner, and then hurried away to see honest Dan Terry’s house, called the Adelphi Theatre, where we saw the Pilot, from the American novel of that name. It is extremely popular, the dramatist having seized on the whole story, and turned the odious and ridiculous parts, assigned by the original author to the British, against the Yankees themselves. There is a quiet effrontery in this that is of a rare and peculiar character. The Americans were so much displeased, that they attempted a row – which rendered the piece doubly attractive to the seamen at Wapping, who came up and crowded the house night after night, to support the honour of the British flag. After all, one must deprecate whatever keeps up ill-will betwixt America and the mother country; and we in particular should avoid awakening painful recollections. Our high situation enables us to contemn petty insults and to make advances towards cordiality. I was, however, glad to see honest Dan’s theatre as full seemingly as it could hold. The heat was dreadful, and Anne was so very unwell that she was obliged to be carried into Terry’s house, – a curious dwelling, no larger than a squirrel’s cage, which he has contrived to squeeze out of the vacant spaces of the theatre, and which is accessible by a most complicated combination of staircases and small passages. Here we had rare good porter and oysters after the play, and found Anne much better. She had attempted too much; indeed I myself was much fatigued.

Comments: Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a Scottish novelist and poet, whose historical novels such as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and The Heart of Midlothian were immensely popular and influential. The Pilot was a burlesque of James Fenimore Cooper‘s American 1824 novel of the same name, by Edward Fitzball, an English playwright who specialised in nautical dramas. Fenimore Cooper’s The Pilot is based on the adventure of John Paul Jones and his naval raids on the British and Irish coasts during the American revolution. The play ran for 200 performances at the Adelphi Theatre, London, co-owned by Scott’s friend the actor Daniel Terry, who had dramatised a number of Scott’s novels. Anne was Scott’s daughter.

Links: Copy at Project Gutenberg

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