January 1924: “Romance”, a Lecture by Mr William Power, Delivered to the Sir Walter Scott Club, Glasgow

An article on page ten of The Glasgow Herald, on Thursday the 31st of January, 1924, reads:





A lecture was delivered last night by Mr William Power to the Sir Walter Scott Club, Glasgow, on

‘Romance,’ with special reference to the foreign influence exerted by Scott. Romance, the lecturer

said, was a borlerland [sic] (borderland?) quality, a blending of the familiar with the strange or

remote. The best connecting link, and also the most difficult to employ, was the quality of real

humour. Scott had employed it with Shakespearian effect. That was one of the things that made

him the greatest exponent of the romantic novel, in which he was also the pioneer. Each of the

greater of his Continental disciples—Hugo, Manzoni, the earlier Balzac, Dumas, and the rest—had

excelled him in some point or other; but none had possessed a fraction of Scott’s humour, and so

their novels lacked preservative virtue and were already growing obsolete. In concluding, Mr Power

referred to one of the earliest and most humourless of Scott’s European followers, Charles Nodier.

The essential falsity of the cosmopolitan novel of which Nodier set the fashion in France was

revealed to a Scottish reader of ‘Trilby,’ in which Nodier described the hopeless passion of a fairy of

the ‘salamander’ species for a fisherman’s wife on the shores of Loch Long, near Portincaple. Mr

Power gave a brief synopsis of this absurd yet, in parts, beautiful and pathetic story, the title of

which was afterwards borrowed by George Du Maurier.”




George Fairfull-Smith, August 2023.