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Rob Roy - Appendix to Introduction

Project Gutenberg's Rob Roy, Complete, by Sir Walter Scott



(From the Edinburgh Evening Courant, June 18 to June 21, A.D. 1732. No. 1058.)

“That Robert Campbell, commonly known by the name of Rob Roy MacGregor, being lately intrusted by several noblemen and gentlemen with considerable sums for buying cows for them in the Highlands, has treacherously gone off with the money, to the value of L1000 sterling, which he carries along with him. All Magistrates and Officers of his Majesty's forces are intreated to seize upon the said Rob Roy, and the money which he carries with him, until the persons concerned in the money be heard against him; and that notice be given, when he is apprehended, to the keepers of the Exchange Coffee-house at Edinburgh, and the keeper of the Coffee-house at Glasgow, where the parties concerned will be advertised, and the seizers shall be very reasonably rewarded for their pains.”

It is unfortunate that this Hue and Cry, which is afterwards repeated in the same paper, contains no description of Rob Roy's person, which, of course, we must suppose to have been pretty generally known. As it is directed against Rob Roy personally, it would seem to exclude the idea of the cattle being carried off by his partner, MacDonald, who would certainly have been mentioned in the advertisement, if the creditors concerned had supposed him to be in possession of the money.




_The Duke of Montrose to--_*

* It does not appear to whom this letter was addressed. Certainly, from its style and tenor, It was designed for some person high in rank and office--perhaps the King's Advocate for the time.

“Glasgow, the 21st November, 1716.

“My Lord,--I was surprised last night with the account of a very remarkable instance of the insolence of that very notorious rogue Rob Roy, whom your lordship has often heard named. The honour of his Majesty's Government being concerned in it, I thought it my duty to acquaint your lordship of the particulars by an express.

“Mr. Grahame of Killearn (whom I have had occasion to mention frequently to you, for the good service he did last winter during the rebellion) having the charge of my Highland estate, went to Monteath, which is a part of it, on Monday last, to bring in my rents, it being usual for him to be there for two or three nights together at this time of the year, in a country house, for the conveniency of meeting the tenants, upon that account. The same night, about 9 of the clock, Rob Roy, with a party of those ruffians whom he has still kept about him since the late rebellion, surrounded the house where Mr. Grahame was with some of my tenants doing his business, ordered his men to present their guns in att the windows of the room where he was sitting, while he himself at the same time with others entered at the door, with cocked pistols, and made Mr. Grahame prisoner, carrying him away to the hills with the money he had got, his books and papers, and my tenants' bonds for their fines, amounting to above a thousand pounds sterling, whereof the one-half had been paid last year, and the other was to have been paid now; and att the same time had the insolence to cause him to write a letter to me (the copy of which is enclosed) offering me terms of a treaty.

“That your Lordship may have the better view of this matter, it will be necessary that I should inform you, that this fellow has now, of a long time, put himself at the head of the Clan M'Gregor, a race of people who in all ages have distinguished themselves beyond others, by robberies, depredations, and murders, and have been the constant harbourers and entertainers of vagabonds and loose people. From the time of the Revolution he has taken every opportunity to appear against the Government, acting rather as a robber than doing any real service to those whom he pretended to appear for, and has really done more mischief to the countrie than all the other Highlanders have done.

“Some three or four years before the last rebellion broke out, being overburdened with debts, he quitted his ordinary residence, and removed some twelve or sixteen miles farther into the Highlands, putting himself under the protection of the Earl of Bredalbin. When my Lord Cadogan was in the Highlands, he ordered his house att this place to be burnt, which your Lordship sees he now places to my account.

“This obliges him to return to the same countrie he went from, being a most rugged inaccessible place, where he took up his residence anew amongst his own friends and relations; but well judging that it was possible to surprise him, he, with about forty-five of his followers, went to Inverary, and made a sham surrender of their arms to Coll. Campbell of Finab, Commander of one of the Independent Companies, and returned home with his men, each of them having the Coll.'s protection. This happened in the beginning of summer last; yet not long after he appeared with his men twice in arms, in opposition to the King's troops: and one of those times attackt them, rescued a prisoner from them, and all this while sent abroad his party through the countrie, plundering the countrie people, and amongst the rest some of my tenants.

“Being informed of these disorders after I came to Scotland, I applied to Lieut.-Genll. Carpenter, who ordered three parties from Glasgow, Stirling, and Finlarig, to march in the night by different routes, in order to surprise him and his men in their houses, which would have its effect certainly, if the great rains that happened to fall that verie night had not retarded the march of the troops, so as some of the parties came too late to the stations that they were ordered for. All that could be done upon the occasion was to burn a countrie house, where Rob Roy then resided, after some of his clan had, from the rocks, fired upon the king's troops, by which a grenadier was killed.

“Mr. Grahame of Killearn, being my deputy-sheriff in that countrie, went along with the party that marched from Stirling; and doubtless will now meet with the worse treatment from that barbarous people on that account. Besides, that he is my relation, and that they know how active he has been in the service of the Government--all which, your Lordship may believe, puts me under very great concern for the gentleman, while, at the same time, I can foresee no manner of way how to relieve him, other than to leave him to chance and his own management.

“I had my thoughts before of proposing to Government the building of some barracks as the only expedient for suppressing these rebels, and securing the peace of the countrie; and in that view I spoke to Genll. Carpenter, who has now a scheme of it in his hands; and I am persuaded that will be the true method for restraining them effectually; but, in the meantime, it will be necessary to lodge some of the troops in those places, upon which I intend to write to the Generall.

“I am sensible I have troubled your Lordship with a very long letter, which I should be ashamed of, were I myself singly concerned; but where the honour of the King's Government is touched, I need make no apologie, and I shall only beg leave to add, that I am, with great respect, and truth,

“My Lord,
“yr. Lords most humble and obedient servant,


“Chappellarroch, Nov. 19th, 1716.

“May it please your Grace,--I am obliged to give your Grace the trouble of this, by Robert Roy's commands, being so unfortunate at present as to be his prisoner. I refer the way and manner I was apprehended, to the bearer, and shall only, in short, acquaint your Grace with the demands, which are, that your Grace shall discharge him of all soumes he owes your Grace, and give him the soume of 3400 merks for his loss and damages sustained by him, both at Craigrostown and at his house, Auchinchisallen; and that your Grace shall give your word not to trouble or prosecute him afterwards; till which time he carries me, all the money I received this day, my books and bonds for entress, not yet paid, along with him, with assurance of hard usage, if any party are sent after him. The soume I received this day, conform to the nearest computation I can make before several of the gentlemen, is 3227L. 2sh. 8d. Scots, of which I gave them notes. I shall wait your Grace's return, and ever am,

“Your Grace's most obedient, faithful,
“humble servant,
_Sic subscribitur,_
“John Grahame.”


28_th Nov._ 1716--_Killearn's Release._

“Glasgow, 28th Nov. 1716.

“Sir,--Having acquainted you by my last, of the 21st instant, of what had happened to my friend, Mr. Grahame of Killearn, I'm very glad now to tell you, that last night I was very agreeably surprised with Mr. Grahame's coming here himself, and giving me the first account I had had of him from the time of his being carried away. It seems Rob Roy, when he came to consider a little better of it, found that, he could not mend his matters by retaining Killearn his prisoner, which could only expose him still the more to the justice of the Government; and therefore thought fit to dismiss him on Sunday evening last, having kept him from the Monday night before, under a very uneasy kind of restraint, being obliged to change continually from place to place. He gave him back the books, papers, and bonds, but kept the money.

“I am, with great truth, Sir,
“your most humble servant,

[Some papers connected with Rob Roy Macgregor, signed “Ro. Campbell,” in 1711, were lately presented to the Society of Antiquaries. One of these is a kind of contract between the Duke of Montrose and Rob Roy, by which the latter undertakes to deliver within a given time “Sixtie good and sufficient Kintaill highland Cowes, betwixt the age of five and nine years, at fourtene pounds Scotts per peice, with ane bull to the bargane, and that at the head dykes of Buchanan upon the twenty-eight day of May next.”--Dated December 1711.--See _Proceedings,_ vol. vii. p. 253.]


“Rob Roy _to ain hie and mighty Prince,_ James Duke of Montrose.

“In charity to your Grace's couradge and conduct, please know, the only way to retrive both is to treat Rob Roy like himself, in appointing tyme, place, and choice of arms, that at once you may extirpate your inveterate enemy, or put a period to your punny (puny?) life in falling gloriously by his hands. That impertinent criticks or flatterers may not brand me for challenging a man that's repute of a poor dastardly soul, let such know that I admit of the two great supporters of his character and the captain of his bands to joyne with him in the combat. Then sure your Grace wont have the impudence to clamour att court for multitudes to hunt me like a fox, under pretence that I am not to be found above ground. This saves your Grace and the troops any further trouble of searching; that is, if your ambition of glory press you to embrace this unequald venture offerd of Rob's head. But if your Grace's piety, prudence, and cowardice, forbids hazarding this gentlemanly expedient, then let your desire of peace restore what you have robed from me by the tyranny of your present cituation, otherwise your overthrow as a man is determined; and advertise your friends never more to look for the frequent civility payed them, of sending them home without their arms only. Even their former cravings wont purchase that favour; so your Grace by this has peace in your offer, if the sound of wax be frightful, and chuse you whilk, your good friend or mortal enemy.”

This singular rhodomontade is enclosed in a letter to a friend of Rob Roy, probably a retainer of the Duke of Argyle in Isle, which is in these words:--

“Sir,--Receive the enclosd paper, qn you are takeing yor Botle it will divert yorself and comrad's. I gote noe news since I seed you, only qt wee had before about the Spainyard's is like to continue. If I'll get any further account about them I'll be sure to let you know of it, and till then I will not write any more till I'll have more sure account, and I am

“Sir, your most affectionate Cn [cousin],
“and most humble servant,
“Ro: Roy.”

“_Apryle_ 16_th,_ 1719.

“To Mr. Patrick Anderson, at Hay--These.'

The seal, _a stag_--no bad emblem of a wild cateran.

It appears from the envelope that Rob Roy still continued to act as Intelligencer to the Duke of Argyle, and his agents. The war he alludes to is probably some vague report of invasion from Spain. Such rumours were likely enough to be afloat, in consequence of the disembarkation of the troops who were taken at Glensheal in the preceding year, 1718.



Then receiving the submission of disaffected Chieftains and Clans.*

* This curious epistle is copied from an authentic narrative of Marshal Wade's proceedings in the Highlands, communicated by the late eminent antiquary, George Chalmers, Esq., to Mr. Robert Jamieson, of the Register House, Edinburgh, and published in the Appendix to an Edition of Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland, 2 vols. 8vo, Edinburgh, 1818.

Sir,--The great humanity with which you have constantly acted in the discharge of the trust reposed in you, and your ever having made use of the great powers with which you were vested as the means of doing good and charitable offices to such as ye found proper objects of compassion, will, I hope, excuse my importunity in endeavouring to approve myself not absolutely unworthy of that mercy and favour which your Excellency has so generously procured from his Majesty for others in my unfortunate circumstances. I am very sensible nothing can be alledged sufficient to excuse so great a crime as I have been guilty of it, that of Rebellion. But I humbly beg leave to lay before your Excellency some particulars in the circumstance of my guilt, which, I hope, will extenuate it in some measure. It was my misfortune, at the time the Rebellion broke out, to be liable to legal diligence and caption, at the Duke of Montrose's instance, for debt alledged due to him. To avoid being flung into prison, as I must certainly have been, had I followed my real inclinations in joining the King's troops at Stirling, I was forced to take party with the adherents of the Pretender; for the country being all in arms, it was neither safe nor indeed possible for me to stand neuter. I should not, however, plead my being forced into that unnatural rebellion against his Majesty, King George, if I could not at the same time assure your Excellency, that I not only avoided acting offensively against his Majesty's forces upon all occasions, but on the contrary, sent his Grace the Duke of Argyle all the intelligence I could from time to time, of the strength and situation of the rebels; which I hope his Grace will do me the justice to acknowledge. As to the debt to the Duke of Montrose, I have discharged it to the utmost farthing. I beg your Excellency would be persuaded that, had it been in my power, as it was in my inclination, I should always have acted for the service of his Majesty King George, and that one reason of my begging the favour of your intercession with his Majesty for the pardon of my life, is the earnest desire I have to employ it in his service, whose goodness, justice, and humanity, are so conspicuous to all mankind.--I am, with all duty and respect, your Excellency's most, &c.,

“Robert Campbell.”



The following copy of a letter which passed from one clergyman of the Church of Scotland to another, was communicated to me by John Gregorson, Esq. of Ardtornish. The escape of Rob Roy is mentioned, like other interesting news of the time with which it is intermingled. The disagreement between the Dukes of Athole and Argyle seems to have animated the former against Rob Roy, as one of Argyle's partisans.

“Rev. and dear Brother,

Yrs of the 28th Jun I had by the bearer. Im pleased yo have got back again yr Delinquent which may probably safe you of the trouble of her child. I'm sory I've yet very little of certain news to give you from Court tho' I've seen all the last weekes prints, only I find in them a pasage which is all the account I can give you of the Indemnity yt when the estates of forfaulted Rebells Comes to be sold all Just debts Documented are to be preferred to Officers of the Court of enquiry. The Bill in favours of that Court against the Lords of Session in Scotland in past the house of Commons and Come before the Lords which is thought to be considerably more ample yn formerly wt respect to the Disposeing of estates Canvassing and paying of Debts. It's said yt the examinations of Cadugans accounts is droped but it wants Confirmations here as yet. Oxford's tryals should be entered upon Saturday last. We hear that the Duchess of Argyle is wt child. I doe not hear yt the Divisions at Court are any thing abated or of any appearance of the Dukes having any thing of his Maj: favour. I heartily wish the present humours at Court may not prove an encouragmt to watchfull and restles enemies.

My accounts of Rob Roy his escape are yt after severall Embassies between his Grace (who I hear did Correspond wt some at Court about it) and Rob he at length upon promise of protectione Came to waite upon the Duke & being presently secured his Grace sent post to Edr to acquent the Court of his being aprehended & call his friends at Edr and to desire a party from Gen Carpinter to receive and bring him to Edr which party came the length of Kenross in Fife, he was to be delivered to them by a party his Grace had demanded from the Governour at Perth, who when upon their march towards Dunkell to receive him, were mete wt and returned by his Grace having resolved to deliver him by a party of his own men and left Rob at Logierate under a strong guard till yt party should be ready to receive him. This space of time Rob had Imployed in taking the other dram heartily wt the Guard & qn all were pretty hearty, Rob is delivering a letter for his wife to a servant to whom he most needs deliver some private instructions at the Door (for his wife) where he's attended wt on the Guard. When serious in this privat Conversations he is making some few steps carelessly from the Door about the house till he comes close by this horse which he soon mounted and made off. This is no small mortifican to the guard because of the delay it give to there hopes of a Considerable additionall charge agt John Roy.* my wife was upon Thursday last delivered of a Son after sore travell of which she still continues very weak.

* _i.e._ John the Red--John Duke of Argyle, so called from his complexion, more commonly styled “Red John the Warriour.”

I give yl Lady hearty thanks for the Highland plaid. It's good cloath but it does not answer the sett I sent some time agae wt McArthur & tho it had I told in my last yt my wife was obliged to provid herself to finish her bed before she was lighted but I know yt letr came not timely to yr hand--I'm sory I had not mony to send by the bearer having no thought of it & being exposed to some little expenses last week but I expect some sure occasion when order by a letter to receive it excuse this freedom from &c.

“_Manse of Comrie, July_ 2_d,_ 1717.
“I salute yr lady I wish my ............ her Daughter much Joy.”


There are many productions of the Scottish Ballad Poets upon the lion-like mode of wooing practised by the ancient Highlanders when they had a fancy for the person (or property) of a Lowland damsel. One example is found in Mr. Robert Jamieson's Popular Scottish Songs:--

  Bonny Babby Livingstone
Gaed out to see the kye,
And she has met with Glenlyon,
Who has stolen her away.

He took free her her sattin coat,
But an her silken gown,
Syne roud her in his tartan plaid,
And happd her round and roun'.

In another ballad we are told how--

  Four-and-twenty Hieland men,
Came doun by Fiddoch Bide,
And they have sworn a deadly aith,
Jean Muir suld be a bride:

And they have sworn a deadly aith,
Ilke man upon his durke,
That she should wed with Duncan Ger,
Or they'd make bloody works.

This last we have from tradition, but there are many others in the collections of Scottish Ballads to the same purpose.

The achievement of Robert Oig, or young Rob Roy, as the Lowlanders called him, was celebrated in a ballad, of which there are twenty different and various editions. The tune is lively and wild, and we select the following words from memory:--

  Rob Roy is frae the Hielands come,
Down to the Lowland border;
And he has stolen that lady away,
To haud his house in order.

He set her on a milk-white steed,
Of none he stood in awe;
Untill they reached the Hieland hills,
Aboon the Balmaha'!

Saying, Be content, be content,
Be content with me, lady;
Where will ye find in Lennox land,
Sae braw a man as me, lady?

Rob Roy he was my father called,
MacGregor was his name, lady;
A' the country, far and near,
Have heard MacGregor's fame, lady.

He was a hedge about his friends,
A heckle to his foes, lady;
If any man did him gainsay,
He felt his deadly blows, lady.

I am as bold, I am as bold,
I am as bold and more, lady;
Any man that doubts my word,
May try my gude claymore, lady.

Then be content, be content.
Be content with me, lady;
For now you are my wedded wife,
Until the day you die, lady.



The following notices concerning this Chief fell under the Author's eye while the sheets were in the act of going through the press. They occur in manuscript memoirs, written by a person intimately acquainted with the incidents of 1745.

This Chief had the important task intrusted to him of defending the Castle of Doune, in which the Chevalier placed a garrison to protect his communication with the Highlands, and to repel any sallies which might be made from Stirling Castle--Ghlune Dhu distinguished himself by his good conduct in this charge.

Ghlune Dhu is thus described:--“Glengyle is, in person, a tall handsome man, and has more of the mien of the ancient heroes than our modern fine gentlemen are possessed of. He is honest and disinterested to a proverb--extremely modest--brave and intrepid--and born one of the best partisans in Europe. In short, the whole people of that country declared that never did men live under so mild a government as Glengyle's, not a man having so much as lost a chicken while he continued there.”

It would appear from this curious passage, that Glengyle--not Stewart of Balloch, as averred in a note on Waverley--commanded the garrison of Doune. Balloch might, no doubt, succeed MacGregor in the situation.


In the magnum opus, the author's final edition of the Waverley Novels, “Rob Roy” appears out of its chronological order, and comes next after “The Antiquary.” In this, as in other matters, the present edition follows that of 1829. “The Antiquary,” as we said, contained in its preface the author's farewell to his art. This valediction was meant as prelude to a fresh appearance in a new disguise. Constable, who had brought out the earlier works, did not publish the “Tales of my Landlord” (“The Black Dwarf” and “Old Mortality “), which Scott had nearly finished by November 12, 1816. The four volumes appeared from the houses of Mr. Murray and Mr. Blackwood, on December 1, 1816. Within less than a month came out “Harold the Dauntless,” by the author of “The Bridal of Triermain.” Scott's work on the historical part of the “Annual Register” had also been unusually arduous. At Abbotsford, or at Ashiestiel, his mode of life was particularly healthy; in Edinburgh, between the claims of the courts, of literature, and of society, he was scarcely ever in the open air. Thus hard sedentary work caused, between the publication of “Old Mortality” and that of “Rob Roy,” the first of those alarming illnesses which overshadowed the last fifteen years of his life. The earliest attack of cramp in the stomach occurred on March 5, 1817, when he “retired from the room with a scream of agony which electrified his guests.”

Living on “parritch,” as he tells Miss Baillie (for his national spirit rejected arrowroot), Scott had yet energy enough to plan a dramatic piece for Terry, “The Doom of Devorgoil.” But in April he announced to John Ballantyne “a good subject” for a novel, and on May 6, John, after a visit to Abbotsford with Constable, proclaimed to James Ballantyne the advent of “Rob Roy.”

The anecdote about the title is well known. Constable suggested it, and Scott was at first wisely reluctant to “write up to a title.” Names like Rob Roy, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Cleopatra, and so forth, tell the reader too much, and, Scott imagined, often excite hopes which cannot be fulfilled. However, in the geniality of an after-dinner hour in the gardens of Abbotsford, Scott allowed Constable to be sponsor. Many things had lately brought Rob into his mind. In 1812 Scott had acquired Rob Roy's gun--“a long Spanish-barrelled piece, with his initials R. M. C.,” C standing for Campbell, a name assumed in compliment to the Argyll family.

Rob's spleuchan had also been presented by Mr. Train to Sir Walter, in 1816, and may have directed his thoughts to this popular freebooter. Though Rob flourished in the '15, he was really a character very near Scott, whose friend Invernahyle had fought Rob with broadsword and target--a courteous combat like that between Ajax and Hector.

At Tullibody Scott had met, in 1793, a gentleman who once visited Rob, and arranged to pay him blackmail.

Mr. William Adam had mentioned to Scott in 1816 the use of the word “curlie-wurlies” for highly decorated architecture, and recognised the phrase, next year, in the mouth of Andrew Fairservice.

In the meeting at Abbotsford (May 2, 1817) Scott was very communicative, sketched Bailie Nicol Jarvie, and improvised a dialogue between Rob and the magistrate. A week later he quoted to Southey, Swift's lines-- Too bad for a blessing, too good for a curse,--which probably suggested Andrew Fairservice's final estimate of Scott's hero,--“over bad for blessing, and ower gude for banning.”

These are the trifles which show the bent of Scott's mind at this period. The summer of 1817 he spent in working at the “Annual Register” and at the “Border Antiquities.” When the courts rose, he visited Rob's cave at the head of Loch Lomond; and this visit seems to have been gossiped about, as literary people, hearing of the new novel, expected the cave to be a very prominent feature. He also went to Glasgow, and refreshed his memory of the cathedral; nor did he neglect old books, such as “A Tour through Great Britain, by a Gentleman” (4th Edition, 1748). This yielded him the Bailie's account of Glasgow commerce “in Musselburgh stuffs and Edinburgh shalloons,” and the phrase “sortable cargoes.”

Hence, too, Scott took the description of the rise of Glasgow. Thus Scott was taking pains with his preparations. The book was not written in post-haste. Announced to Constable early in May, the last sheet was not corrected till about December 21, when Scott wrote to Ballantyne:--


With great joy I send you Roy.
'T was a tough job,
But we're done with Rob.

“Rob Roy” was published on the last day of 1817. The toughness of the job was caused by constant pain, and by struggles with “the lassitude of opium.” So seldom sentimental, so rarely given to expressing his melancholy moods in verse, Scott, while composing “Rob Roy,” wrote the beautiful poem “The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill,” in which, for this once, “pity of self through all makes broken moan.”

Some stress may be laid on the state of Sir Walter's health at this moment, because a living critic has tried to show that, in his case, “every pang of the stomach paralyses the brain;” that he “never had a fit of the cramp without spoiling a chapter.”--[Mr. Ruskin's “Fiction Fair and Foul,” “Nineteenth Century,” 1880, p. 955.]--“Rob Roy” is a sufficient answer to these theories. The mind of Scott was no slave to his body.

The success of the story is pleasantly proved by a sentence in a review of the day: “It is an event unprecedented in the annals either of literature or of the custom-house that the entire cargo of a packet, or smack, bound from Leith to London, should be the impression of a novel, for which the public curiosity was so much upon the alert as to require this immense importation to satisfy.”

Ten thousand copies of a three-volume novel are certainly a ponderous cargo, and Constable printed no fewer in his first edition. Scott was assured of his own triumph in February 1819, when a dramatised version of his novel was acted in Edinburgh by the company of Mr. William Murray, a descendant of the traitor Murray of Broughton. Mr. Charles Mackay made a capital Bailie, and the piece remains a favourite with Scotch audiences. It is plain, from the reviews, that in one respect “Rob Roy” rather disappointed the world. They had expected Rob to be a much more imposing and majestic cateran, and complained that his foot was set too late on his native heather. They found too much of the drover and intriguer, too little of the traditional driver of the spoil. This was what Scott foresaw when he objected to “writing up to a title.” In fact, he did not write up to, it, and, as the “Scots Magazine” said, “shaped his story in such a manner as to throw busybodies out in their chase, with a slight degree of malicious finesse.” “All the expeditions to the wonderful cave have been thrown away, for the said cave is not once, we think, mentioned from beginning to end.”

“Rob Roy” equals “Waverley” in its pictures of Highland and Lowland society and character. Scott had clearly set himself to state his opinions about the Highlands as they were under the patriarchal system of government. The Highlanders were then a people, not lawless, indeed, but all their law was the will of their chief. Bailie Nicol Jarvie makes a statement of their economic and military condition as accurate as it is humorous. The modern “Highland Question” may be studied as well in the Bailie's words as in volumes of history and wildernesses of blue-books. A people patriarchal and military as the Arabs of the desert were suddenly dragged into modern commercial and industrial society. All old bonds were snapped in a moment; emigration (at first opposed by some of the chiefs) and the French wars depleted the country of its “lang-leggit callants, gaun wanting the breeks.” Cattle took the place of men, sheep of cattle, deer of sheep, and, in the long peace, a population grew up again--a population destitute of employment even more than of old, because war and robbery had ceased to be outlets for its energy. Some chiefs, as Dr. Johnson said, treated their lands as an attorney treats his row of cheap houses in a town. Hence the Highland Question,--a question in which Scott's sympathies were with the Highlanders. “Rob Roy,” naturally, is no mere “novel with a purpose,” no economic tract in disguise. Among Scott's novels it stands alone as regards its pictures of passionate love. The love of Diana Vernon is no less passionate for its admirable restraint. Here Scott displays, without affectation, a truly Greek reserve in his art. The deep and strong affection of Diana Vernon would not have been otherwise handled by him who drew the not more immortal picture of Antigone. Unlike modern novelists, Sir Walter deals neither in analysis nor in rapturous effusions. We can, unfortunately, imagine but too easily how some writers would peep and pry into the concealed emotions of that maiden heart; how others would revel in tears, kisses, and caresses. In place of all these Scott writes:--

She extended her hand, but I clasped her to my bosom. She sighed as she extricated herself from the embrace which she permitted, escaped to the door which led to her own apartment, and I saw her no more.

Months pass, in a mist of danger and intrigue, before the lovers meet again in the dusk and the solitude.

“Mr. Francis Osbaldistone,” cries the girl's voice through the moonlight, “should not whistle his favourite airs when he wishes to remain undiscovered.”

And Diana Vernon--for she, wrapped in a horseman's cloak, was the last speaker--whistled in playful mimicry the second part of the tune, which was on my lips when they came up.

Surely there was never, in story or in song, a lady so loving and so light of heart, save Rosalind alone. Her face touches Frank's, as she says goodbye for ever “It was a moment never to be forgotten, inexpressibly bitter, yet mixed with a sensation of pleasure so deeply soothing and affecting as at once to unlock all the floodgates of the heart.”

She rides into the night, her lover knows the _hysterica passio_ of poor Lear, but “I had scarce given vent to my feelings in this paroxysm ere I was ashamed of my weakness.”

These were men and women who knew how to love, and how to live. All men who read “Rob Roy” are innocent rivals of Frank Osbaldistone. Di Vernon holds her place in our hearts with Rosalind, and these airy affections, like the actual emotions which they mimic, are not matters for words. This lady, so gay, so brave, so witty and fearless, so tender and true, who “endured trials which might have dignified the history of a martyr, . . . who spent the day in darkness and the night in vigil, and never breathed a murmur of weakness or complaint,” is as immortal in men's memories as the actual heroine of the White Rose, Flora Macdonald. Her place is with Helen and Antigone, with Rosalind and Imogen, the deathless daughters of dreams. She brightens the world as she passes, and our own hearts tell us all the story when Osbaldistone says, “You know how I lamented her.”

In the central interest, which, for once, is the interest of love, “Rob Roy” attains the nobility, the reserve, the grave dignity of the highest art. It is not easy to believe that Frank Osbaldistone is worthy of his lady; but here no man is a fair judge. In the four novels--“Waverley,” “Guy Mannering,” “The Antiquary,” and “Rob Roy”--which we have studied, the hero has always been a young poet. Waverley versified; so did Mannering; Lovel “had attempted a few lyrical pieces;” and, in Osbaldistone's rhymes, Scott parodied his own

  blast of that dread horn
On Fontarabian echoes borne.

All the heroes, then, have been poets, and Osbaldistone's youth may have been suggested by Scott's memories of his own, and of the father who “feared that he would never be better than a gangrel scrapegut.” Like Henry Morton, in “Old Mortality,” Frank Osbaldistone is on the political side taken by Scott's judgment, not by his emotions. To make Di Vernon convert him to Jacobitism would have been to repeat the story of Waverley. Still, he would have been more sympathetic if he had been converted. He certainly does not lack spirit, as a sportsman, or “on an occasion,” as Sir William Hope says in “The Scots' Fencing Master,” when he encounters Rashleigh in the college gardens. Frank, in short, is all that a hero should be, and is glorified by his affection.

Of the other characters, perhaps Rob Roy is too sympathetically drawn. The materials for a judgment are afforded by Scott's own admirable historical introduction. The Rob Roy who so calmly “played booty,” and kept a foot in either camp, certainly falls below the heroic. His language has been criticised in late years, and it has been insisted that the Highlanders never talked Lowland Scotch. But Scott has anticipated these cavils in the eighteenth chapter of the second volume. Certainly no Lowlander knew the Highlanders better than he did, and his ear for dialect was as keen as his musical ear was confessedly obtuse. Scott had the best means of knowing whether Helen MacGregor would be likely to soar into heroics as she is apt to do. In fact, here “we may trust the artist.”

The novel is as rich as any in subordinate characters full of life and humour. Morris is one of the few utter cowards in Scott. He has none of the passionate impulses towards courage of the hapless hero in “The Fair Maid of Perth.” The various Osbaldistones are nicely discriminated by Diana Vernon, in one of those “Beatrix moods” which Scott did not always admire, when they were displayed by “Lady Anne” and other girls of flesh and blood. Rashleigh is of a nature unusual in Scott. He is, perhaps, Sir Walter's nearest approach, for malignant egotism, to an Iago. Of Bailie Nicol Jarvie commendation were impertinent. All Scotland arose, called him hers, laughed at and applauded her civic child. Concerning Andrew Fairservice, the first edition tells us what the final edition leaves us to guess--that Tresham “may recollect him as gardener at Osbaldistone Hall.” Andrew was not a friend who could be shaken off. Diana may have ruled the hall, but Andrew must have remained absolute in the gardens, with “something to maw that he would like to see mawn, or something to saw that he would like to see sawn, or something to ripe that he would like to see ripen, and sae he e'en daikered on wi' the family frae year's end to year's end,” and life's end. His master “needed some carefu' body to look after him.”

Only Shakspeare and Scott could have given us medicines to make us like this cowardly, conceited “jimp honest” fellow, Andrew Fairservice, who just escapes being a hypocrite by dint of some sincere old Covenanting leaven in his veins. We make bold to say that the creator of Parolles and Lucie, and many another lax and lovable knave, would, had he been a Scot, have drawn Andrew Fairservice thus, and not otherwise.

The critics of the hour censured, as they were certain to censure, the construction, and especially the conclusion, of “Rob Roy.” No doubt the critics were right. In both Scott and Shakspeare there is often seen a perfect disregard of the denouement. Any moderately intelligent person can remark on the huddled-up ends and hasty marriages in many of Shakspeare's comedies; Moliere has been charged with the same offence; and, if blame there be, Scott is almost always to blame. Thackeray is little better. There must be some reason that explains why men of genius go wrong where every newspaper critic, every milliner's girl acquainted with circulating libraries, can detect the offence.

In the closing remarks of “Old Mortality” Scott expresses himself humorously on this matter of the denouement. His schoolmaster author takes his proofsheets to Miss Martha Buskbody, who was the literary set in Gandercleugh, having read through the whole stock of three circulating libraries. Miss Buskbody criticises the Dominic as Lady Louisa Stuart habitually criticised Sir Walter. “Your plan of omitting a formal conclusion will never do!” The Dominie replies, “Really, madam, you must be aware that every volume of a narrative turns less and less interesting as the author draws to a conclusion,--just like your tea, which, though excellent hyson, is necessarily weaker and more insipid in the last cup.” He compares the orthodox happy ending to “the luscious lump of half-dissolved sugar” usually found at the bottom of the cup. This topic might be discussed, and indeed has been discussed, endlessly. In our actual lives it is probable that most of us have found ourselves living for a year, or a month, or a week, in a chapter or half a volume of a novel, and these have been our least happy experiences. But we have also found that the romance vanishes away like a ghost, dwindles out, closes with ragged ends, has no denouement. Then the question presents itself, As art is imitation, should not novels, as a rule, close thus? The experiment has frequently been tried, especially by the modern geniuses who do not conceal their belief that their art is altogether finer than Scott's, or, perhaps, than Shakspeare's.

In his practice, and in his Dominie's critical remarks, Sir Walter appears inclined to agree with them. He was just as well aware as his reviewers, or as Lady Louisa Stuart, that the conclusion of “Rob Roy” is “huddled up,” that the sudden demise of all the young Baldistones is a high-handed measure. He knew that, in real life, Frank and Di Vernon would never have met again after that farewell on the moonlit road. But he yielded to Miss Buskbody's demand for “a glimpse of sunshine in the last chapter;” he understood the human liking for the final lump of sugar. After all, fiction is not, any more than any other art, a mere imitation of life: it is an arrangement, a selection. Scott was too kind, too humane, to disappoint us, the crowd of human beings who find much of our happiness in dreams. He could not keep up his own interest in his characters after he had developed them; he could take pleasure in giving them life,--he had little pleasure in ushering them into an earthly paradise; so that part of his business he did carelessly, as his only rivals in literature have also done it.

The critics censured, not unjustly, the “machinery” of the story,--these mysterious “assets” of Osbaldistone and Tresham, whose absence was to precipitate the Rising of 1715. The “Edinburgh Review” lost its heart (Jeffrey's heart was always being lost) to Di Vernon. But it pronounces that “a king with legs of marble, or a youth with an ivory shoulder,” heroes of the “Arabian Nights” and of Pindar, was probable, compared with the wit and accomplishments of Diana. This is hypercriticism. Diana's education, under Rashleigh, had been elaborate; her acquaintance with Shakspeare, her main strength, is unusual in women, but not beyond the limits of belief. Here she is in agreeable contrast to Rose Bradwardine, who had never heard of “Romeo and Juliet.” In any case, Diana compels belief as well as wins affection, while we are fortunate enough to be in her delightful company.

As long as we believe in her, it is not of moment to consider whether her charms are incompatible with probability.

“Rob Roy” was finished in spite of “a very bad touch of the cramp for about three weeks in November, which, with its natural attendants of dulness and, weakness, made me unable to get our matters forward till last week,” says Scott to Constable. “But,” adds the unconquerable author, “I am resting myself here a few days before commencing my new labours, which will be untrodden ground, and, I think, pretty likely to succeed.” The “new labours” were “The Heart of Mid-Lothian.”