Magic Lantern Lectures on
Sir Walter Scott
COLEAIAN O. PARSONS
IN 1967 Cohmibia Library Columns brought out my piece
on "Scott's Sixpenny Public," illustrated by chapbooks of
AA-'averley novels in the Rare Book and lA'Ianuscript Library.
These narratives, shrunk to twenty-four or more pages, extended
Scott's readership to poor, at times, semiliterate persons who were
more taken with plot than with setting, character, or history.
Belatedly, it has occurred to me that, besides those who read
AVaverleys in their entirety at prices matching at least a hundred
dollars each today, others who were content with inexpensive
dramatic versicms of Scott's talcs, and still others \\'ho thumbed
any one of over sixty ill-printed pamphlets, there was a tangential
audience which attended magic lantern shows about Sir AValter,
his habitats, and his works.
For a decade the Edinburgh optician Patrick Murray was an
elected Town Councillor. Then, about 1955, as chairman of the
Corporation's committee on libraries and collections, he founded
the A'luseum of Childhood on High Street opposite John Knox's
House chiefly out of his own hoard of books and toys. This grew
in reach and complexity until it attracted 140,000 visitors a year.
Serving as its first curator until retirement in 1974, Pat Murray
turned to broadcasting and lecturing, research and translation,
the life of a local clubman. Of course, he continued accumulating
in his top-story flat, which became so weighted down widi tomes
of military history, brightly painted soldiers, and curiosities of
all sorts, that it was hard to find safe lodgement for a genial glass.
No wonder the landlord dreaded that the creaking floor would
give way, enlarging the eccentric occupant's quarters without