Walter Scott and Anti-Gallican Minstrelsy

Part of the Romanticism in Perspective: Texts, Cultures, Histories book series (ROPTCH)


In Scott’s continuation of the ballad, Thomas the Rhymer, the Rhymer tells the story of Tristram,1 and his audience is moved:

Then woe broke forth in murmurs weak: Nor ladies heaved alone the sigh; But, half ashamed, the rugged cheek Did many a gauntlet dry.

(p. 291)


Eighteenth Century Modern Reader Historical Fiction Patriotic Sentiment High Theme 
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  1. 2.
    Lukacs was the first critic to offer a powerful challenge to this view. Scott for him is the first historical novelist precisely because he was able to overcome ‘the greatest obstacle to the understanding of history’, which lay in ‘the Enlightenment’s conception of man’s unalterable nature’, Georg Lukacs, The Historical Novel (Merlin Press, London, 1962, first published 1933), p. 28.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    This and other examples are given by Edgar Johnson, Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1970), 1, pp. 205–6.Google Scholar
  3. Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, ed. T. F. Henderson, 4 vols (Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1932).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    On the relationship between road-building and antiquarian research, see Stuart Piggott, Ruins in a Landscape: Essays in Antiquarianism (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1976), 122–4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The Complete Letters of Robert Burns, ed. James A. Mackay (Alloway Publishing, Ayrshire, 1987), p. 55.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    On this, see John Mullan, Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1988).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Harley, in Scott’s favourite sentimental novel, The Man of Feeling, is typical of such novels in his benevolence, and typical, too, in his inability to explain the principles that direct his generosity. When approached by an old man who excites pity by his poverty, but discourages the donor by being evidently roguish, Harley finds that ‘Virtue held back his arm’, but ‘a younger sister of virtue’s, not so severe’ loosens his fingers, and he drops a shilling as alms, Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling, ed. Brian Vickers (Oxford University Press, London, 1970), pp. 22–3.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    J. G. Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott (Robert Cadell, Edinburgh, John Murray and Whitaker, London, 1837), 1, pp. 343Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    The Poems of Sir Walter Scott, ed. J. Logie Robertson (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1904), p. 53.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, 2, p. 24. The system of allusions is well explicated by Nancy Moore Goslee, Scott the Rhymer (University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1988), pp. 22–4.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    David Brown, Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1979), pp. 195–9.Google Scholar
  12. 30.
    Robert Crawford, Devolving English Literature (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992), pp. 16–44.Google Scholar
  13. 33.
    For a summary of these measures, see Bruce P. Lenman and John S. Gibson, The Jacobite Threat — England, Scotland, Ireland, France: A Source Book (Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1990), pp. 239–41.Google Scholar
  14. 34.
    On 14 October 1803, Scott wrote to George Ellis: ‘God has left us entirely to our own means of defence, for we have not above one regiment of the line in all our ancient kingdom. In the meanwhile we are doing our best to prepare ourselves for a contest, which, perhaps, is not far distant’, The Letters of Sir Walter Scott, ed. H. J. C. Grierson (Constable, London, 1932), 1, p. 204.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Cronin 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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