The Waverley Novels were a series of novels written by the great Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Amongst this series of novels were many which people today might recognise: Waverley (1814), The Antiquary (1816), Rob Roy (1817), Ivanhoe (1819), and Woodstock (1826) to name but a few.
The images in this post have been scanned from the 1871 edition of The Antiquary. It is, in my humble opinion, one of Scott’s best.
Edinburgh University Walter Scott Digital Archive recounts the plot briefly as:
The hero, known as Major Neville, is believed to be the illegitimate son of Edward Neville, brother to the Earl of Glenallan. He meets and falls in love with Isabella Wardour in England, who, mindful of her father’s hatred of illegitimacy, rejects his suit. Under the assumed name of Lovel, he follows her home to Fairport, Scotland, meeting en route Jonathan Oldbuck, Laird of Monkbarns, a neighbour of Isabella’s father, Sir Arthur Wardour. Oldbuck, the antiquary of the title, takes an interest in Lovel who is a sympathetic listener to his learned discourses and whose misfortunes in love remind him of his own. As a young man Oldbuck had been hopelessly attached to Eveline Neville, now wife to the Earl of Glenallan. Lovel saves Sir Arthur and Isabella from drowning when surprised by the tide but is forced to leave Fairport after wounding Oldbuck’s nephew Captain Hector M’Intyre, a rival for Isabella’s hand, in a duel. In his absence Lovel distinguishes himself as a soldier and secretly rescues Sir Arthur from the financial ruin to which his reliance on his unscrupulous German agent Dousterswivel would have led him. Lovel finally returns to Fairport and is unexpectedly revealed to be the son and heir of the Earl of Glenallan (and of Oldbuck’s unrequited love Eveline). In this new guise, he wins Isabella’s hand.
It’s a decent synopsis, but doesn’t take account of the humour in Scott’s text; the antiquary, Mr. Oldbuck, a retired lawyer, is one of the most cantankerous (yet friendly) men you’ve ever met; and frequently engaging in intellectual debates with people in which he is always right. He also refers to all women as “womankind”. I sometimes think he was modeled upon Joseph Ritson, whom Scott was in contact with, and who was also a lawyer and cantankerous antiquary.
Categories: 18th century, 19th Century, Sir Walter Scott, Waverley Novels
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