ABSTRACT

The voice of Sir Walter Scott represents, more than that of any other of Byron’s memoirists, the judgement of the literary, intelligent and Tory part of the nascent English middle class. Not that Scott himself would have considered himself a member of such, even in retrospect: but the measured, reasonable and above all moralistic tone of his memoir are characteristic of the central discourse through which this class was to create itself – a discourse which defined itself above all in contrast with the ‘decadent’ and ‘immoral’ upper classes. To this extent it is important to realise that Scott’s memoir is the only one in this collection written as journalism. His censorious but above all moderate assessment of Byron represents, to a limited but useful extent, the conclusion many of the most important figures (Francis Jeffrey and John Lockhart are only two examples) in this most seminal of media in the formation of the British middle class had reached in their estimate of Byron.