How to Do Things with Worlds:
Jeffrey Scraba, Rutgers University
Nineteenth and early twentieth-century accounts of the origins of the historical novel tend to feature the genre springing, ex nihilo, from the forehead of Sir Walter Scott. Recent literary-historical approaches have qualified this assessment, especially in tracing the influences of precursor genres -- the gothic, the national tale, the sentimental novel-on the development of historical fiction.i Though less attention has been paid to the 'historical' component of the origins of Scott's historical novels, a number of influential works have suggested associations between Scott's implicit historical theories and the historiography of the Scottish Enlightenment.ii For example, James Chandler identifies a structural homology between Scott's novels and Scottish Enlightenment historiography: 'the Scottish-Enlightenment principle of uneven development became the basis . . . of the massively influential new form of historiographical practice that emerges in post-Waterloo British literary culture: Walter Scott's Waverley novels' (131).iii While such analyses have helpfully situated Scott's novels within a vital historiographic context, they have largely neglected how Scottish Enlightenment ideas are modified, challenged, and/or supplemented as Scott translates them into a fictional context. One of the key 'origins' of the historical novel is not simply the Scottish Enlightenment itself, but Scott's uses and abuses of Scottish Enlightenment theory.
As Chandler emphasizes, the key aspect of Scottish Enlightenment thinking associated with Scott is the principle of uneven development. This principle was usually expressed in terms of what came to be known as 'stadialist' history: the theory that each society progressed through predictable stages on a teleological journey to full civility. As Lord Kames puts it at the outset of his Sketches of the History of Man: 'Some nations, stimulated by their own nature, or by their climate, have made a rapid progress; some have proceeded more slowly; and some continue savages. To trace out that progress toward maturity in different nations, is the subject of the present undertaking' (I: 84). At any given moment, societies could be measured against each other according to what 'stage' of civilization they had reached; conversely, 'advanced' societies could conjecture their own origins by observing 'primitive' societies like American Indians or Scottish Highlanders.iv Partly drawn from earlier thinkers like Giambattista Vico and Baron Montesquieu, this theory of historical stages was codified by Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, John Millar, and Henry Home, Lord Kames in the 1760s and 1770s; Scottish Enlightenment theories of successive stages of social advancement and inevitable progress, in one form or another, were extremely influential throughout the nineteenth century.v
Analyses of Scott and the Scottish Enlightenment tend to adopt a correspondence approach, in which Scott imaginatively illustrates the abstract principles of Scottish Enlightenment thinking through the spatial organization of his novels. The Scottish novels, and Waverley in particular, are seen to juxtapose different regions of 'north Britain' -- the hunting/savage Highlands, the agricultural/barbaric Lowlands, and the commercial/civilized metropolis -- as different stages of historical development. Katie Trumpener, for example, suggests that Scott's historical novel 'finds its focus in the way one developmental stage collapses to make room for the next and cultures are transformed under the pressure of historical events' (142). Such readings suggest that Scott's antiquarian commitment to historical particulars is unreflectively mediated through the inductive universals of the Scottish Enlightenment, thereby largely ignoring the representational problems manifested by the Waverley novels.vi Using Waverley as a case study, I will demonstrate that Scott treats Scottish Enlightenment ideas of uneven development provisionally and ironically, thus sustaining a commitment both to antiquarian particularity and to metahistorical interrogation of theories of progress. Scott's incorporation of Scottish Enlightenment ideas transforms the genre of the novel, but in turn, Scott's process of fictionalizing these ideas transforms the historiography of the Scottish Enlightenment.vii
The 'Scottish novels,' and Waverley in particular, can be read as a series of experiments both on and in Scottish Enlightenment history.viii To conceptualize Scott's experiments, I am drawing on what Clifford Siskin identifies as the ambiguity of the eighteenth-century meaning of 'experiment': 'it could have meant experience, and thus something that changes us, or, the now more common, controlled trial, and thus something that we can change -- which, in fact, we are supposed to change' (8). Scott wavers between these poles of experimentation: Waverley moves between naturalizing Scottish Enlightenment principles as simply the experience of historical change and the deliberate trial of using Enlightenment principles to understand how historical understanding works. To take this metaphor a step further, Scott's fiction can be seen as an inversion of the Scottish Enlightenment sense of experiment. In Scottish Enlightenment historiographic methodology, a comparative analysis of historical data from different societies (experiment as controlled trial) was used to produce general principles of human behavior and development (experiment as experience). This counterintuitive movement from controlled trial as research to experience as abstract principle is pithily expressed in Dugald Stewart's famous essay on Adam Smith: 'it is of more importance to ascertain the progress that is most simple, rather than the progress which is more agreeable to fact; for, as paradoxical as the proposition may appear, it is certainly true, that the real progress is not always the most natural. It may have been determined by particular accidents, which are not likely again to occur, and which cannot be considered as forming any part of that general provision which nature has made for the improvement of the race' (as quoted in Broadie 72). Stewart's articulation of the principles of conjectural history manifests the tension in the Scottish Enlightenment project: committed to humanist universals and generalized progress, it must sometimes disregard the insignificant and contingent local factors that produce particular changes. Novels such as Waverley, in contrast, make a controlled trial of the abstractions produced by Scottish Enlightenment thinking, thus allowing us to understand historical production as experience. In other terms, they complete the circle which Stewart begins to outline, bringing the idea of simple progress back into the messy and contingent world of human accident.
I. Waverley's Progress
By way of returning my abstractions on experimentation to the realm of messy agreeableness to fact, I propose to accompany Edward Waverley, the eponymous protagonist of Scott's first novel, on his trip north. Waverley tells the story of how Edward Waverley becomes involved in the 1745 Jacobite or Stuart Rebellion, led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart against the Hanoverian British King George II. In search of romantic adventure, Waverley leaves the comfort of his Tory uncle's home, where he is being bred to inherit the family's considerable wealth, to join the British army. Feckless and restless, Waverley obtains leave from the army to visit the Baron of Bradwardine, a Jacobite friend of his uncle's, in the Scottish Lowlands. Through the mediating excitement of a cattle raid, Waverley journeys into the Highlands, where he becomes entangled with the ambitions of Fergus and Flora Mac-Ivor, a clan chief and his sister who nourish ambitions for and in a restored Stuart court. Through a series of accidents and miscommunications, culminating in a reception by Prince Charles himself, Edward is persuaded to give up his commission and his allegiance to the Hanoverian government and joins the Jacobites during the famous campaign of 1745. Luckily for Edward and for the novel's romance plot, before the Stuart forces are disastrously defeated at Culloden he becomes separated from his companions and, through another series of accidents, is restored to his good name and the good graces of King George.
Critics have tended to identify the shadow of the Scottish Enlightenment behind both the plot and descriptions of Edward's progress. The plot involves, from the privileged perspective of historical hindsight, the inevitable triumph of the highly civilized British commercial society and the inexorable tragic end of the savage Highland society. From the time of William Hazlitt's early attack,ix Scott has often been criticized for a nostalgic attitude toward this process: he is seen to indulge a sentimental fondness for cultures which have lost their vitality and political movements which have lost their force.x As George Levine phrases it: 'His narratives frequently remind us . . . of the superiority of our civilization to that of the past; yet they relax into the imaginative pleasure of recreating the past well lost and the pain of losing it' (86). Scott's deterministic attitude, on this reading, implicitly or explicitly derives from the supposed determinism of Scottish Enlightenment history, the inevitability with which (to use Trumpener's formulation) 'one developmental stage collapses to make room for the next.' The descriptions of Edward Waverley's journey, as he moves from English country home to Scottish Lowlands to Highlands, are supposed to reinforce this ideology of progress. Time is transposed as space: as Edward travels north, he travels through different social states of advancement. Saree Makdisi puts this succinctly: '[Edward's] forward movement in space seems to take him ever backwards in time' (156). While this argument that Waverley reproduces a Scottish Enlightenment historiographic schema is not wrong, it ignores many of the complexities of the novel's structure. Most importantly, this view ignores the role of Edward himself in the production of Waverley's narrative.
Waverley, of course, is not a simple historical or sociological survey of Scotland. It is a narrative which involves large-scale historical events and broad cultural change, but which is very tightly focused on Edward and his experiences. This focus is both established and problematized in the opening chapters, which discuss Waverley's early education. As a child, Edward Waverley is 'permitted to seek his instruction only according to the bent of his own mind' (13). Left to his own devices, Waverley indulges his love of romance and his strong faculty of imagination. Just as we begin to assume that Waverley will be an account of romance reading taken to excess, the narrator steps in to clarify the governing perspective of the novel. The narrator explains that he does not mean to follow Don Quixote 'in describing such total perversion of intellect as misconstrues the objects actually presented to the senses, but that more common aberration from sound judgment, which apprehends occurrences indeed in their reality, but communicates to them a tincture of its own romantic tone and colouring' (18). It is crucial to note that the agent of perception in this construction (and through most of the novel) is the 'aberration': Waverley's romantic imagination does the seeing for him. And since Waverley is fundamentally a narrative of Waverley's experiences, Waverley's imagination largely does the seeing for the reader as well. Waverley thus places the reader in the quixotic position of viewing events, historical explanations, and different cultures through the 'romantic tincture' of Edward Waverley's perspective.
II. Evaluating the 'Barbarian' Lowlands
One of the key scenes supposed to establish Scott's 'stadialist' perspective is Edward Waverley's first experience of a Scottish village. Many commentators take this description as evidence that Scott's plan is to spatialize temporal difference, that the project of the historical novel is to map the history of Scottish Enlightenment progress on the actual ground of eighteenth-century Scotland. As Makdisi phrases it, '[h]aving arrived at the border of the Scottish Highlands, Edward Waverley arrives at a symbolic border dividing one world from another, and one epoch from what is posited as the next' (156). While Scott does position the disordered village of Tully-Veolan against the industrious modern villages of the reader's imagination, this stark contrast is developed in very subtle and incongruous terms. These terms of contrast also encapsulate Scott's terms of engagement with the ideas of Scottish Enlightenment historicism, and thus are worth exploring in detail.
Our first view of Tully-Veolan, the village belonging to the jurisdiction of the Baron of Bradwardine, is rather bleak: 'The houses seemed miserable in the extreme, especially to an eye accustomed to the smiling neatness of English cottages. They stood, without any respect for regularity, on each side of a straggling kind of unpaved street, where children, almost in a primitive state of nakedness, lay sprawling, as if to be crushed by the hoofs of the first passing horse' (32). At first glance, it does indeed seem as if the representative Lowland village has simply not attained the level of development of the English countryside, and so is primitive (in a 'state of nakedness') by comparison. However, the perspective here is qualified by specifying the gaze of the viewer: we are seeing the scene through the eye of one who is 'accustomed to the smiling neatness of English cottages' -- Edward himself. As a young man of very limited experience, fastidious habits, and a strong inclination toward romantic beauty, it is not surprising that Edward would translate an experience of cultural difference into repulsion; so, Scott implies, would many people when taken out of the familiar realm of 'smiling' cottages.
As Waverley moves through the village, he tries desperately to assimilate what he sees to his preferred mode of understanding: 'Three or four village girls, returning from the well or brook with pitchers and pails upon their heads, formed more pleasing objects, and with their thin short-gowns and single petticoats, bare arms, legs, and feet, uncovered heads and braided hair, somewhat resembled Italian forms of landscape' (33). Although the narrator notes that a 'lover of the picturesque' would have been pleased with the 'elegance of their costume' and the 'symmetry of their shape,' Waverley's provincial fastidiousness soon disrupts this momentary vacation in the realm of romance: 'a mere Englishman, in search of the comfortable, a word peculiar to his native tongue, might have wished the clothes less scanty . . . or perhaps might even have thought the whole person and dress improved by a plentiful application of spring water, with a quantum sufficit of soap' (33). Once Edward's romantic vision is dispelled by reflecting on the doubled dirtiness of the girls, the 'whole scene' becomes 'depressing,' 'for it argued, at the first glance, at least a stagnation of industry, and perhaps of intellect. . . . [The villagers] stood and gazed at the handsome young officer and his attendant, but without any of those quick motions and eager looks that indicate the earnestness with which those who live in monotonous ease at home look out for amusement abroad' (33). At the first glance, this passage may seem like Scott's relegation of Tully-Veolan to a pre-modern stage of development. But the perspective is distinctly Waverley's, made ironic through the narrator's implied and incisive judgments on Edward's narcissism (as he notices the villagers gazing at his handsome self) and class prejudice (as he notices the villagers failing to demonstrate the curiosity proper to the idle rich). In Waverley's decidedly English gaze, untroubled by knowledge of local conditions and history, the Lowlands seem primitive, barbaric, stupid. Though Edward's evaluation predates the articulation of stadialist historiography by some twenty years, his perspective also represents the ideological foundation (to be explored in more detail later) of the Scottish Enlightenment: the British metropolitan perspective of civilized society, inclined to measure other cultures against its own standards.
Despite Edward's usual obtuseness and romantic tincture, he is given credit for some reflection on his judgments. He observes that, 'when more closely examined,' the people seem less stunted than he first imagined: 'their features were rough, but remarkably intelligent, grave, but the very reverse of stupid; and from among the young women, an artist might have chosen more than one model whose features and form resembled those of Minerva' (33). Though Waverley is still prone to romanticization (featuring intelligence as a painting of Minerva), he does step back from the limitations of his initial evaluation of the 'stagnation' of the villagers. It is left to the narrator to sharpen Waverley's reflection into sociological analysis: 'It seemed, upon the whole, as if poverty, and indolence, its too frequent companion, were combining to depress the natural genius and acquired information of a hardy, intelligent, and reflecting peasantry' (33). While commentators such as Makdisi stress the ''backwardness'' of the Lowland village,xi this descriptive scene moves from an evaluation of the village as 'backward,' through a succinct evaluation of the English/metropolitan prejudice that would mark it so, to a considered description, unmoored from grand theory, of a particular social problem.
This brief descriptive scene is thus an excellent example of, in Jane Millgate's felicitous phrase, Scott's 'usual crablike strategy of presenting innovation disguised as imitation' (37). We see how theories of uneven development can both represent and misrepresent cultures, and how self-consciousness about historical constructs can produce a layered socio-historical understanding. This self-consciousness is itself a product of the gap between Edward Waverley's perspective and the narrator's, a subtle interplay that is crucial to the novel's meaning but generally undervalued in Scott. As Millgate has observed, this divergence of perspectives marks the novel as distinctively historical: the narrator looks back from the knowledge of Scott's present on the events of Edward's time.xii Historical understanding emerges in the dialogics of these immediate and retrospective perspectives, in the interaction between looking forward and looking back. And this dialogue in turn facilitates a historiographical dialectics: the abstractions of Scottish Enlightenment theory help make historical particulars more apparent, while these particulars help to amend stadialist abstractions. Scott does indeed send Edward Waverley riding back through Scottish Enlightenment historical stages, but this idea of historical development according to a predictable theoretical arc of progress is queried and qualified at each stage. Scott thereby endorses the heuristic value of Scottish Enlightenment theories, but also emphasizes the artificiality and underlines the ideological underpinnings of these theories. This strategy logically leads to the concomitant proposition that all historical explanation is provisional, partial, constructed.
III. Encountering the 'Savage' Highlands
The artifice of historical production is heightened when Waverley reaches the next 'stage' and historical end point of his tour: the Scottish Highlands. Scott's overall treatment of the Highlands has been subject to much harsh censure. Many critics have lamented Scott's effect on the 'tartanization' of Scotland, which for them consists in the pernicious double movement of inventing 'Scottish' culture through diffusing Highland symbols (the tartan kilt, the pipes, the rustic bard) and of neglecting the actual repression of actual Highlanders.xiii A crucial step in this process, according to this interpretation, is relegating Highland culture to the past, from where it can be safely made an object of nostalgia: once the Highlands have ceased to be a political threat and a viable culture, one can indulge in celebration of and lament for this 'lost' way of life. In trying to expose the imperialist agenda of Waverley, Makdisi exemplifies this type of reading. Makdisi argues that Waverley is a sort of trick to justify the Highland Clearances by imagining a Highland history that is 'necessarily anti-modern': '[t]he novel's imaginary map of the Highlands is not, strictly speaking, a map of the past, but rather a map of a possible past, an imaginary past that is forever spatially (and temporally) different and distinct' (171).xiv Makdisi's critique is not wrong, but critically incomplete: the novel's imaginary map of the Highlands is emphatically imaginary, a product of Waverley's preconceptions and the Mac-Ivors' manipulations. By playing with Waverley's romantic notions and his readers' inclination to view British culture in Scottish Enlightenment 'stages,' Scott demonstrates exactly the sort of consequences that Makdisi is concerned to expose: the ways in which abstract concepts of culture and history affect actual events.
If the 'barbaric' stage of the Lowlands is analyzed through a disjunction between Waverley's romantic vision and the narrator's pragmatic evaluation, the 'savage' stage of the Highlands is comprehended through the Mac-Ivors' anticipation of Waverley's romantic tincture. Edward's adventures in the Highlands are precipitated by a cattle raid on the Baron of Bradwardine's estate. The Baron's daughter Rose confesses her anxiety about a resumption of hostilities between the Highland clans and her family to Waverley, and Edward's romantic imagination is fired with the possibilities: 'Waverley could not help starting at a story which bore so much resemblance to one of his own day-dreams. Here was a girl scarce seventeen, . . . who had witnessed with her own eyes such a scene as he had used to conjure up in his imagination, as only occurring in ancient times' (72). The stage is set for both Waverley and the reader to experience the Highlands as an 'ancient' stage of historical development. More importantly, Scott instantly associates this idea of the Highlands as 'backward' with Waverley's romantic proclivities, as Waverley imagines his own entry into the world of the 'past': ''I am actually in the land of military and romantic adventures, and it only remains to be seen what will be my own share in them'' (72). In constructing Highland culture in the novel, Scott is not only depending upon Edward's romantic imagination, but also his readers'. Edward's internal monologue plays with readers' ideas, shaped by Scottish Enlightenment arguments, of the Highlanders as an exotic and savage people living within the confines of 'comfortable' Britain: 'It seemed like a dream to Waverley that these deeds of violence should be familiar to men's minds, and currently talked of, as falling within the common order of things, and happening daily in the immediate neighbourhood, without his having crossed the seas, and while he was yet in the otherwise well-ordered island of Great Britain' (72-73).xv Stimulating his readers' desire for the homegrown exotic (and arguably temporarily dispelling any guilt they might feel over the destruction of Highland culture), Scott sets up Edward's journey into the Highlands as a journey into the past.
Despite his uncomfortable recollection that his journey into the Highlands is instigated by the 'degrading incident' of 'the Baron's milk cows,' Waverley works hard to sustain his romantic vision as he is led into the Mac-Ivors' territory: 'He had now time to give himself up to the full romance of his situation. Here he sate on the banks of an unknown lake, under the guidance of a wild native, whose language was unknown to him, on a visit to the den of a renowned outlaw . . . what a fund of circumstances for the exercise of a romantic imagination' (78).xvi As Edward moves further into the Highlands, he does not exactly move backward in time, but rather deeper into his own imagination. And as Edward's romantic sensibility shapes the conception of the Highlands as a savage state, the narrator and reader begin to pull back from his perspective.
Cleverly discerning Edward's romantic vulnerability, the Mac-Ivors use the idea of the Highlands as a realm of past culture to woo Edward to the Stuart cause. The first step in the Mac-Ivors' seduction of Waverley is an 'impromptu' military display of Fergus' 'feudal militia' before the gates of the Mac-Ivors' estate, which 'impress[es] on Waverley no light sense of their merit as soldiers, and of the power of him who commanded them by his nod' (95). Edward is then invited to join a Highland feast in Fergus' hall, where he registers the abundance of the food, the number of retainers invited to partake of the feast, and the elaborate feudal hierarchy manifested in the distribution of the dishes. Fergus both participates in the revels and stands back to interpret them for Waverley. While supervising the distribution of food and liquor, Fergus explains the feudal organization of his domain: ''These stout idle kinsmen of mine,' he said, 'account my estate as held in trust for their support; and I must find them beef and ale, while the rogues will do nothing else for themselves but practise the broad-sword'' (97). The banquet culminates in a performance by the clan bard, Mac-Murrough, who sings a Gaelic song of lament and exhortation that includes Waverley himself. His imagination (and the reader's) thoroughly stimulated by this pageant of clan culture, Waverley is set up to learn about his role in the clan's epic song.
Fergus then leaves Waverley to the charms of his sister Flora, who performs her part in feeding Waverley's vision of the primitive Highlands. Excusing himself to ''return to the barbarous ritual of [their] forefathers,'' Fergus asks Flora to translate Mac-Murrough's song for Edward (102). Flora's translation of the clan epic turns on an act of cultural representation: Waverley will not properly understand the song, Flora argues, unless he also properly experiences the wildness and simplicity of Highland culture. Her subsequent performance of Highland minstrelsy both rehearses and allegorizes Waverley's trajectory in the novel. Flora's staging of Highland tradition is the first crucial step in Waverley's change of allegiance to the Jacobites; in this way, the scene demonstrates how historical abstractions (such as the 'primitive' Highlands) are capable of conditioning action in the world.
Understanding that if Waverley is to be won over to the Stuart cause, she will have to appeal to his romantic conceit, Flora stages her recitation in a 'romantically' imposing amphitheater. Flora's genius in this exchange is to intuit Waverley's reactions and turn them to her own purposes. Making herself into the emblem of the simple and venerable Highland culture, Flora aims to sublimate Waverley's desire for her into a desire to restore Highland glory. Fortunately for Flora's plan, Waverley has already exoticized and idealized her, and it is but a small step to install her in his ongoing epic romance: 'The wild beauty of the retreat, bursting upon him as if by magic, augmented the mingled feeling of delight and awe with which he approached her, like a fair enchantress of Boiardo or Ariosto, by whose nod the scenery around her seemed to have been created' (106). Flora did, in an important sense, create the scenery around her, and she fashions herself to represent and be represented by this scenery.xvii The quality shared by Flora's persona and her 'wild' retreat might be called 'Highland romance,' and this quality, according to Flora, will supplement and complete her act of translation: ''I have given you the trouble of walking to this spot, Captain Waverley . . . because a Highland song would suffer still more from my imperfect translation, were I to produce it without its own wild and appropriate accompaniments' (106). The most important of these accompaniments is Flora's transmutation into the spirit of the savage Highlands, as she announces to a captivated Edward: 'the seat of the Celtic Muse is in the mist of the secret and solitary hill, and her voice in the murmur of the mountain stream. He who woos her must love the barren rock more than the fertile valley, and the solitude of the desert better than the festivity of the hall'' (106-107). Because Waverley is now wallowing in his 'wild feeling of romantic delight,' the narrator is left to fill in the obvious: 'the muse whom [Flora] invoked could never find a more appropriate representative' (107). Flora becomes the vendor and the currency of cultural exchange: she leads Waverley to think that by sympathizing with her, he will comprehend Highland culture and Celtic epic. Flora is clearly aware of a metonymic chain which will bind Waverley to the Mac-Ivors: Flora -- romantic Highland landscape -- the spirit of Celtic poetry -- the spirit of the Highlands. While in some sense Flora's performance in this scene is counterfeit, the exchange is truly successful: Waverley is led to a deeper involvement in 'wild' Highland 'culture,' and his experience of Flora's recitation ultimately leads to his joining Fergus' forces.
While sustaining Waverley's romantic hermeneutic, Flora is able to translate not only from Gaelic to English, but also from the idiom of Ariosto to the idiom of Celtic epic to the idiom of a call to arms. The content of Flora's song moves quickly from rude Highland scenery to 'savage' Highland revenge to rallying cry for young Prince Charles. Flora (translating Mac-Murrough) sings of the degraded state of the Highland clans and admonishes her hearers to remember the strength of their ancestors with 'a blush or a blow' (107). Flora's song thus turns out to narrate the beginnings of the final Jacobite rebellion even as the rebel forces are organizing. The final link in Flora's metonymic chain is intimated, as the Young Pretender is poised to become the spirit of the age. When Waverley finally meets Charles Edward Stuart, he is quick to make this connection, constructing romantic association as historical determination. The spirit of the clan lands and people, finally, is the Young Pretender, as the savage minstrelsy of the Highlands aspires to world history.
There are two vital things to note in this performance. First, Fergus' return to the scene forces an abridgement: the section in which Waverley is incorporated into the song is omitted from formal recitation. Flora does, however, paraphrase Waverley's inclusion, recounting the 'admonition to the fair-haired son of the stranger' to remember the Tory-Jacobite principles of his lineage: 'his ancestors were distinguished by their loyalty, as well as by their courage' (109). Waverley is thus prompted to translate his feelings for Flora and for the delights of the primitive Highlands to feelings for Charles Edward Stuart and the cause of the Jacobites. When Flora concludes the bard's song with the exhortation to '[b]urst the base foreign yoke as [their] sires did of yore / Or die like your sires, and endure it no more!,' there can be little doubt that she is speaking directly to Waverley (109). While suggesting to Waverley that he has been omitted from the poem, Flora's direct address and paraphrase demands a response to her challenge. With the disingenuous comment '[a]ll this you have lost,' Flora is able to insert Waverley into this historical narrative while making him think that he is forced to insert himself (109).
The second important thing to notice here is that Flora's recitation iterates the plot of the novel itself. Waverley will indeed take Flora's bait and project himself into this poem, joining the Highland forces supporting the rebellion. He will also think of history, while he is fighting with Fergus, in the heroic and cyclical terms of the Celtic epic. But Waverley's sympathy with the poet is inaccessible to the narrative and to the reader ('The following verses will convey but little idea of the feelings with which, so sung and accompanied, they were heard by Edward' ). For the rest of the novel, the reader must imagine how Waverley inserts himself into the narrative and what effect this historical interpellation has on him. Through this process, the reader ultimately understands that crucial decisions are made on the basis of attachment to and thinking within certain constructions of history. The reader also comes to understand that models of historical understanding are themselves historical. Not only does Mac-Murrough/Flora's epic poem forecast a doomed culture, but it is also an outmoded structure for comprehending historical change. Because Fergus and Flora conceive of the Highlands as belonging to an earlier stage of social organization, their vision of Celtic resurrection cannot be realized in modern Scotland. Characters who construct historical consciousness through the Celtic epic are themselves doomed; Mac-Murrough/Flora's song is the style and substance of preterition.
IV. Portraying the Past
There is a carefully scripted quality to Flora's staged recitation, just as there is to all of the Mac-Ivors' displays of Highland tradition.xviii French-born and -educated, Stuart courtiers from infancy, Fergus and Flora are careful political actorsxix: they assume their Highland heritage as a strategy for mobilizing the local population in the service of the Stuart rebellion.xx Rituals are performed and traditions observed in order to maintain clan loyalty; Fergus counts on his Highland soldiers to fight him into the nobility. The Mac-Ivors, however, are not simply cynical manipulators. They value and respect the Highland life and are proud of their ancestry. Indeed, just as Waverley is guided by the Scottish romance he is constructing for himself, so Flora and Fergus are determined by the 'backward' Highland culture they are self-consciously constructing. It might be argued, in fact, that the Mac-Ivors are forced to live out the Celtic epic demanded by their political strategy.
As Edward and the Mac-Ivors invent the Highlands as feudal romance, the reader comes to recognize the romance grounding for Scottish Enlightenment historicism. When Waverley reaches the Highlands, in the stadialist schema of Scottish historical thinking, he gives the reader access to the most historically 'distant' mode of social organization in Europe. Paradoxically, however, Highland culture is shown to be the most modern of cultures, given that it is the joint product of Waverley's romantic perspective and the Mac-Ivors' careful staging of culture and invention of tradition.xxi In this historiographic reversal, history is produced while the processes of its production are laid bare. In the same move, the underlying ideas of Scottish Enlightenment historiographic theory are both exposed as fictions and paradoxically confirmed as effective stimuli to historical action. While the 'savage Highlands' may be a fabricated culture, this idea motivates both Waverley and the Mac-Ivors in their Jacobite careers.xxii
Of course, things turn out rather differently for the main actors in the novel. While Waverley loses his Highland cohort and regains his former position, Fergus is executed and Flora is banished to a convent. As Flora earlier predicts, Waverley manages to exchange his visions of chivalric romance for a vision of domestic romance.xxiii And however troubling Fergus's death is to Waverley, he is quickly able to incorporate it into his emergent domestic romance through an aesthetic gesture: the famous portrait commissioned by Waverley, 'representing Fergus Mac-Ivor and Waverley in their Highland dress, the scene a wild, rocky, and mountainous pass, down which the clan were descending in the background. It was taken from a spirited sketch, drawn while they were in Edinburgh by a young man of high genius, and had been painted on a full length scale by an eminent London artist' (338). This painting, several degrees removed from the original experience, performs exactly the functions for which Scott's novel is often criticized: it fictionalizes the savage nature of Highland culture from the cultivated perspective of the metropolis. Safely restored to his good name and family wealth, Waverley is able to contain the Jacobite rebellion in a picture of a costume drama and nostalgically contemplate his youthful flirtation with such a backward and historically doomed culture. Edward, it might be said, has learned both the Mac-Ivors' and the novel's lessons about the invention of tradition.xxiv Waverley's act of portraying the rebellion parallels and undoes the Mac-Ivors' staging of the Highlands, echoes and contains it, completes and annihilates it. But within the context of the novel, as commissioned by our romantic friend Edward, the portrait works as a sort of auto-critique. The portrait enters the 'history' of the novel not as an authentic representation of the rebellion, but as a romantic invention of it; as the narrator caustically observes, 'the whole piece was generally admired' (338). Like Waverley as a whole, the portrait exposes the fictitious but necessary compromises-including the fictions of Scottish Enlightenment historiography-needed to sustain the fiction of Great Britain and Hanoverian rule.
V. Jacobite Resistance/Resisting Jacobitism
It seems clear that one reason Scott has been so readily assimilated to the Scottish Enlightenment is his conservatism. Like Edmund Burke, Scott has been a favorite target of many critics who oppose his politics without much engaging with them. In a rather reactionary fashion, Scott has been made to answer for the degradation of Highland culture, the betrayal of Scottish nationalism, British imperialism, and hollow nostalgia by those who have taken offense at his (decidedly lukewarm) 'Toryism.' From this perspective, it is no surprise that Scott is assimilated to the broad political agenda of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, who were nearly all strong supporters of the Hanoverian succession, the Union, and scientific approaches to social problems. As Colin Kidd notes, the program of the Scottish Enlightenment was also tied to 'an ideological emphasis on social order and stability, derived in part from the fashionable influence of Addisonian politeness, but also in large part from rejection of a native political culture associated with armed resistance and religious fanaticism' (115). In other words, Scottish Enlightenment historical thinking, as one might expect, was strongly conditioned by a reaction to the two major Jacobite rebellions (1715 and 1745-46) that preceded its full flowering by mere decades. By taking up the ways in which romance thinking might have shaped action in the '45, Waverley engages with Scottish Enlightenment historiography in, as it were, its own origins. Waverley and Scottish Enlightenment historicism both develop through coming to terms with the same catastrophically divisive event, and they are mutually illuminating in doing so.
In an essay that alludes to Scott as 'Enlightenment historiography's greatest interpreter' ('Historiography' 266), Murray Pittock elucidates the interdependence of Jacobite rebellion and Scottish Enlightenment historiography. Pittock argues that the 1707 union 'put intense pressure on Scottish society, institutions, language and culture to draw closer to English models. In order to begin to succeed in British society, Scots had to conform more closely to the public standards of genteel Englishness' ('Historiography' 260). This material situation, he maintains, contributed to the idea of the 'teleology of civility: the idea that society's material and intellectual improvement was also a development towards higher standards of culture and refinement' ('Historiography' 260), which in turn fed Scottish Enlightenment concepts of stadialism and progress. Since the Jacobites opposed assimilationist ideas of Union, remaining 'dedicatedly patriotic towards the old Scotland . . . they were marginalized by the historians of the Enlightenment, whose assessment of them still proves influential' ('Historiography' 260). By associating Jacobite politics with outdated social structures, the Hanoverian victory in the war could be represented as a triumph of a later stage of civilized advancement over an earlier: 'The abolition of hereditable jurisdictions in 1747 could be seen as marking [the transition from feudalism to modernity] in the Enlightenment's view: the old patriot nobility were defeated for the last time at Culloden, and modernity, Britain's gift to an ungrateful Scotland, could supervene' ('Historiography' 264).xxv
Like Makdisi, Pittock would like to blame Scott for a corresponding dualistic vision of Scottish history and culture: '[t]his constructed tension in Scottish history is visible in many of Scott's novels, which contrast the settled life of the Lowland burgh with the instability of internecine private war among the clans' ('Historiography' 266). But in contrast to the Scottish Enlightenment version of Jacobitism as anachronistic social organization, Waverley provides a complex view of Jacobite politics. Particularly through the medium of the Mac-Ivors, Scott provides a counterweight to the romantic version of Jacobitism, which emphasized, according to Paul Monod, the 'tragic drama' of the Stuarts, who were 'victims of the pitiless juggernaut of 'modernity'' (1-2). Likewise, the simple Whig version of Jacobitism, depicting its adherents as 'desperate conservatives' who clung to a political faith that was 'the nemesis of all that was free, just and rational in English government and society' (Monod 2) is dispelled by the account of Fergus and Flora and their political machinations. Scott's representation of Jacobitism, in fact, remained more complex than scholarly accounts of the movement until interest in Jacobitism revived in the 1970s.xxvi As a counterpart to his representation of the complexities of Jacobite political affiliation in the figures of the Mac-Ivors, the Baron of Bradwardine, and Waverley himself, Scott demonstrates how the Highlands became savage. Intimately associated with Jacobitism in the aftermath of the '45, the Highlands were themselves consigned to a primitive mode of social organization by Scottish Enlightenment theories. Through splitting the focus of Waverley between Edward and a retrospective narrator, Scott is able both to trace the process through which different regions of Scotland became associated with different historical 'stages,' and to question this process through Edward's limitations and the Mac-Ivors' machinations.
Because stadialist history is partly a product of reactions to the '45, analyzing characters' reactions in terms of Scottish Enlightenment historiographic thinking is a kind of 'necessary anachronism' (as Georg Lukács has famously defined the concept).xxvii But it is cannily perfect that Scott should both represent and question the theory of stages of development in the context of the historical event that most strongly conditioned the development of this theory. Again, the gap between the narrator's and Edward's historical perspectives makes this experiment with Scottish Enlightenment thinking possible. While Edward finds the Lowland village culture uncivilized, the narrator can begin to explain the material conditions responsible for the culture's decline. As Edward finds Highland culture romantically ancient, the narrator can show us how the romance is created: in the Mac-Ivors' careful construction of and allegiance to the savage Highlands, we are taken to the most 'modern' civilization in Europe. The Mac-Ivors' Highlands are not thereby rendered inauthentic, but become paradoxically more authentic as we see how modern cultures are produced and sustained to political ends. For the reader, this dynamic is instigated by an initial assumption, guided by Scottish Enlightenment thinking, that the Highlands are primitive. Our contemporary tendency to read Waverley in Scottish Enlightenment terms, it might be argued, demonstrates the extent to which concepts of progress and cultural advancement have taken root in Western culture. But in Waverley (and several other Scottish novels), Scott plays with Scottish Enlightenment structures that he and his readers have naturalized, turning these ideas to produce a new vision of what constitutes the historical.
Broadie, Alexander. The Scottish Enlightenment: The Historical Age of the Historical Nation. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2001.
Chandler, James. England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998.
Craig, Cairns. 'Scott's Staging of the Nation.' Studies in Romanticism 40.1 (Spring 2001): 13- 27.
Duncan, Ian. 'Introduction' to Rob Roy. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 1998. vii-xxviii.
Home, Henry, Lord Kames. Sketches of the History of Man . 4 vols. London: Routledge/Thoemmes, 1993.
Ferris, Ina. 'Melancholy, Memory, and the 'Narrative Situation' of History in Post- Enlightenment Scotland.' Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism. Ed. Leith Davis, Ian Duncan, and Janet Sorensen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 77-93.
Jones, Catherine. Literary Memory: Scott's Waverley Novels and the Psychology of Narrative. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2003.
Kidd, Colin. Subverting Scotland's Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity, 1689-1830. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993.
Levine, George. The Realistic Imagination: English Fiction from Frankenstein to Lady Chatterley. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1981.
Lukács, Georg. The Historical Novel. Trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1962.
Makdisi, Saree. 'Colonial Space and the Colonization of Time in Scott's Waverley.' Studies in Romanticism 34.2 (Summer 1995): 155-87.
Millgate, Jane. Walter Scott: The Making of the Novelist. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1984.
Monod, Paul Kléber. Jacobitism and the English People, 1688-1788. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989.
Phillips, Mark Salber. Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Britain, 1740- 1820. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2000.
Pittock, Murray G. H. 'Historiography.' The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment. Ed. Alexander Broadie. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 258-79.
Scott, Walter. Waverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since . Ed. Claire Lamont. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 1986.
Siskin, Clifford. The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1998.
Trevor-Roper, Hugh. 'The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland.' The Invention of Tradition. Ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983. 15-41
Trumpener, Katie. Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1997.
iSee, for example, Ian Duncan, Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992); Ina Ferris, The Achievement of Literary Authority: Gender, History, and the Waverley Novels (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1991); Fiona Robertson, Legitimate Histories: Scott, Gothic, and the Authorities of Fiction (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994); and Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1997)
ii The first articles explicitly to draw this parallel were Duncan Forbes, 'The Rationalism of Sir Walter Scott,' Cambridge Journal 7 (1953): 20-35, and Peter D. Garside, 'Scott and the 'Philosophical' Historians,' Journal of the History of Ideas 36.3 (July-Sept. 1975): 497-512. Perhaps the most influential recent interpretations of Scott in light of Scottish Enlightenment historiography are by James Chandler and Katie Trumpener.
iii Similarly, Mark Salber Phillips calls Scott 'the great legatee of the Scottish Enlightenment's vision of history' (33)
iv For an excellent explanation of this dynamic of 'uneven development,' see Chandler, esp. Ch. 2.
vFor a brief overview of Scottish Enlightenment historiography, see Pittock, 'Historiography.' The 1760s and 70s featured Smith's 'Lectures on Jurisprudence' and the publication of Ferguson's An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), Millar's The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (1771; rev. 1779), and Kames' Sketches of the History of Man (1774). Colin Kidd provides a succinct summary of the general principles of Scottish Enlightenment historiography: 'an emphasis on conjectural methods where historical evidence was obscure, scanty, or unavailable; stadialism, or a disaggregation of human history into wide chronological bands whose boundaries were defined by the basic determinants of society, most notably the four-stage and three-stage theories of human socioeconomic development . . . a sensitivity to the interaction of the histories of manners, economic practices, laws, beliefs and institutions; and 'philosophical history,' including not only a detached concern for the narrations of cause and effect, but also the aims of moderation and the eschewal of partisanship in historical writing' (115).
viThough this sort of analysis is common in contemporary Scott studies, it is not of particularly recent vintage. See, for example, Avrom Fleishman, The English Historical Novel: Walter Scott to Virginia Woolf (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1971) and George Dekker, The American Historical Romance (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987).
viiThough our approaches to the problem diverge, I thus share Catherine Jones' sense that 'Scott's relationship to the 'official' discourse of Enlightenment history is one of disorientation as well as cooperation' (78). Jones concentrates on how Enlightenment discourse is disrupted in Scott by 'forms of popular memory' (see esp. Ch. 3: 'Social Memory').
viiiPhillips makes a useful distinction between what he calls the 'philosophical' and 'conjectural' histories of the Scottish Enlightenment: the 'philosophical' histories, usually narrative in form, aimed for 'a more systematic treatment of the social,' while the 'conjectural' histories eschewed narrative in favor of the scientific investigation of 'fundamental principles of human nature' (171). While Scott's novels could themselves be considered a sort of 'philosophical' history, I am primarily interested in how they interpreted what Phillips calls 'conjectural' history. Phillips himself argues that 'conjecturalist themes echo across the whole spectrum of historically minded genres and influenced the way contemporary audiences understood the entire framework of historical understanding' (172).
ixSee 'Sir Walter Scott' in The Spirit of the Age: or Contemporary Portraits (1825).
xMurray Pittock is perhaps the most vocal recent proponent of this line of criticism; see especially The Invention of Scotland: The Stuart Myth and the Scottish Identity, 1638 to the Present (London: Routledge, 1991).
xiSee Makdisi 156-57.
xiiMillgate maintains that 'for all his Fieldingesque manner the narrator is specifically identified as a man of the nineteenth century, the reader's contemporary rather than Edward's, and while this enhances rather than detracts from the bond of shared assumptions established between narrator and reader, it does require that the narrative perspective be registered as historical' (36).
xiiiFor two particularly influential examples of this argument, see Pittock, Invention of Scotland (esp. Ch. 3, 'The Invention of Scotland'), and Hugh Trevor-Roper.
xiv Makdisi's argument is usefully balanced by the historical perspective of Trevor-Roper, who has pointed out that 'the whole concept of a distinct Highland culture and tradition is a retrospective invention. Before the later years of the seventeenth century, the Highlanders of Scotland did not form a distinct people. They were simply the overflow of Ireland' (15).
xvBritish tourism was strongly marked by Scottish Enlightenment ideas. In ever-increasing numbers from the mid-18th through the mid-19th centuries, English and metropolitan Scottish middle and upper classes traveled north in search of 'primitive' culture. See Alastair J. Durie, Scotland for the Holidays: A History of Tourism in Scotland, 1780-1939 (East Linton: Tuckwell P, 2003).
xviAt this point in Edward's journey, sceptical readers might well recall Scott's prefatory insistence that Waverley was not to be a 'Sentimental Tale,' featuring a 'heroine with a profusion of auburn hair,' who is 'more than once bewildered on her journey, alone and on foot, without any guide but a blowsy peasant girl, whose jargon she hardly can understand' (4).
xviiAs the narrator takes pains to point out, this spot has been carefully cultivated to produce its effect: it is 'decorated with trees and shrubs, some of which had been planted under the direction of Flora, but so cautiously, that they added to the grace, without diminishing the romantic wildness of the scene' (106).
xviiiIn Cairns Craig's terms, 'Fergus and Flora are engaged in a deliberate 'theatricalization' of their roles as leaders of the Highlanders, putting in question the appearances to which Waverley responds and the realities which they conceal' (15); Scott is thus staging a critique, Craig argues, of the 'relationship between political theater and political reality' (15).
xix'[Fergus] was indeed, within his little circle, as perfect a politician as Castruccio Castrucani himself' (92). Castrucani was a quattrocento statesman whose life was written by Machiavelli
xx 'In all this course of conduct, Fergus had a further object than merely being the great man of his neighbourhood, and ruling despotically over a small clan. From his infancy upward, he had devoted himself to the cause of the exiled family, and had persuaded himself, not only that their restoration to the crown of Britain would be speedy, but that those who assisted them would be raised to honour and rank' (93); 'at the moment he should unsheath his claymore, it might be difficult to say whether it would be most with the view of making James Stuart a king, or Fergus Mac-Ivor an earl' (100).
xxiAn interesting field of comparison for my argument is Ian Duncan's analysis of the 'mixture of savage and commercial stages' in Rob Roy: 'Despite their official opposition, savagery and commerce sustain rather than cancel one another, constituting a dark, intricate kind of present' (xxii).
xxiiThis movement is suggested in Ina Ferris' comments that 'general adherence to [the Scottish Enlightenment model of history] did not preclude a sense of local discomfort. The historical genres emerged out of that tension. Registering an asymmetry between the systematic and the particular . . . Scott turned to writing to articulate (in both senses) the gaps and ironies thus glimpsed' (83-84)
xxiiiDisappointed by Edward's apparent lack of mettle, Flora declares that ''high and perilous enterprize is not Waverley's forte. . . . I will tell you where he will be at home, my dear, and in his place,-in the quiet circle of domestic happiness, lettered indolence, and elegant enjoyments of Waverley-Honour. And he will refit the old library in the most exquisite Gothic taste . . . and he will draw plans and landscapes, and write verses, and rear temples, and dig grottoes; -- and he will stand in a clear summer night in the colonnade before the hall, and gaze on the deer as they stray in the moonlight, or lie shadowed by the boughs of the huge old fantastic oaks;-and he will repeat verses to his beautiful wife, who will hang upon his arm'' (250).
xxiv This portrait actually constitutes the invention of tradition several times over. As Trevor-Roper explains, the main component of this costume, the kilt, was invented by an English Quaker ironmonger as a more convenient dress for his Highland workers in 1727: 'We may thus conclude that the kilt is a purely modern costume, first designed, and first worn, by an English Quaker industrialist, and that it was bestowed by him on the Highlanders in order not to preserve their traditional way of life but to ease its transformation: to bring them out of the heather and into the factory' (22). Partly drawing on an advertisement for ''the newest patterns'' in tartans in the Caledonian Mercury when the Chevalier occupied Edinburgh, Trevor-Roper also demonstrates that ''clan' tartans did not exist' in 1745 (23).
xxv Siskin's argument that 'Jacobitism is the occasion for the advent of the phenomenon of culture itself as a constitutive category of modern knowledge' (84) makes for an intriguing comparison with Pittock's perspective. Siskin defines 'culture' both as the collective activity of a people/nation and as the 'higher' non-pragmatic activities that came to define its highest expression, and he argues that '[w]ith its overlapping forms (political, social, religious) of coherence and difference within a United Kingdom, Jacobitism provided the eighteenth century with a paradigmatic experience of the hierarchical doubling that came to be called culture' (85). Siskin thus suggests that the rhetorical and logical structure of Jacobitism was responsible for the very aestheticization of Scottish history that Pittock argues marginalized the Jacobites. Siskin, however, concurs with Pittock in seeing Scott as an agent in what might be called the 'acculturation' of Scottish history, relying on Steve Bruce's assessment that ''Walter Scott could safely deploy his highland myths of distinctiveness in an unionist cause precisely because such distinctiveness had been largely reduced to unimportant matters of cultural preference'' (from 'A Failure of the Imagination: Ethnicity and Nationalism in Scotland's History,' Scotia XVII , as quoted in Siskin 87).
xxviSee Monod 2-4.
xxviiSee Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1962).