Monday, November 30, 2009

Saint Andrew

"By Saint Andrew, there were foul mistake though," answered the page..

This brief section is taken from The Waverley Novels, volume 21.

Saint Andrew was the son of Jonah, a fisherman of Bethsaida, in Galilee. He was Simon Peter's brother. Andrew was at one point a disciple of John the Baptist, but recognized Jesus as the Messiah when he first saw him. Andrew the apostle was martyred by crucifixion at Patras, in Achaea. Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland in the middle of the tenth century. November 30 is his feast day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Roger Mortimer

On November 29, 1330, Earl of March Roger Mortimer was hanged at Tyburn. The charge was treason. The charges were brought by King Edward III of England, who had been under Mortimer's tutelage while a minor, after Edward II was forced to abdicate the throne.

Edward II's departure was brought on by Mortimer himself, along with Edward's own wife Isabella of France. Mortimer and Isabella had become lovers while both were in France; Mortimer due to refusing Edward's summons, Isabella merely to escape from Edward. Mortimer launched an invasion of England from Flanders, and successfully deposed Edward (1327).

As Edward III was underage at the time his father abdicated, he could not take the throne. Mortimer effectively ruled for three years, until Edward, now 18 and weary of Mortimer's control, decided to take matters into his own hands. Around Michaelmas 1330, Edward summoned a parliament at Nottingham, to approach Mortimer's castle. The castle being heavily guarded, the castle gatekeeper was approached instead. Sir William Eland knew of an underground passage into the castle that even Mortimer himself was unaware of. The opening, which became known as Mortimer Hole, was used to gain access, arrest Mortimer, and take him out with none of the guards being aware.

Scott includes a reference to Roger Mortimer in his Kenilworth.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Washington Irving

Author Washington Irving passed on November 28, 1859. Irving was the son of William Irving, originally from Orkney, who arrived in Manhattan with his English wife Sarah Sanders about 1763. Washington was born in April of 1783, just as the Revolutionary War was ending. Irving is named for American hero General George Washington. Irving's last contribution as a writer was his five volume "Life of George Washington" (1855-1859).

Irving is probably best known for his stories "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". These stories appeared in his "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (the Sketch Book)". This work was published in London, and became enormously popular with Europeans. Publication was facilitated by Sir Walter Scott.

Irving met Scott in 1817 through an introduction by author Thomas Campbell. Scott wrote to Campbell afterwards to thank him for one of the best and pleasantest acquaintances he had met in many a day. When Irving couldn't find a publisher for his "Sketch Book", Scott introduced him to his publisher John Murray, who gave Irving L200 for the copyright, later doubling that figure.

Friday, November 27, 2009

John Murray

Publisher John Murray II was born on November 27, 1775. Murray's father John Murray I (1745-1793) founded an eponymously named publishing house in 1768. The house gained fame for its high stature list of authors. Edinburgh-born Murray (I), who had been a Royal Marines officer, published for Isaac D'Israeli.

But it was John Murray II who pulled in eminent authors such as Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Washington Irving, George Crabbe, and Sir Walter Scott. Murray (II) built the family business to its pinnacle, successfully publishing several unknown authors (such as Lord Byron), recognizing talent that others had missed. On June 27, 1843 Murray turned the business over to John Murray III.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Dundas Dynasty

November 26, 1827 - from Scott's Journal: Dined with Robert Dundas of Arniston, Lord Register, etc. An agreeable evening.

Robert was one of a long line of legal Dundas's of that forename. An earlier (b. around 1665) Robert Dundas served as MP and judge in Scotland. This Robert's son, also Robert (1685 - 1753), was known as Robert the Elder. Robert the Elder served as Solicitor General and Lord Advocate, among other posts. Robert the Elder had another Robert; the Younger (1713-1787). This Dundas also served the same two posts in later years. This Robert in turn sired a Robert (1758 - 1819); again these two posts were served by a Robert Dundas as late as 1789 (Solicitor General) and 1801 (Lord Advocate). Finally, we reach the Robert that Walter Scott dined with; Robert (1804-1887). This Robert Dundas later changed his surname to Nisbet-Hamilton, names gained through his marriage to Lady Mary Bruce, when she succeeded to these estates (Dirleton Castle/Acherfield House).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

John Gibson Lockhart

John Gibson Lockhart died in November 25, 1854. Lockhart was born in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow. Lockhart joined Blackwood Magazine in 1818, helping to publish what was a Tory oriented magazine in Whig dominated Edinburgh. Lockhart attracted the notice of Sir Walter Scott, which led to a friendship, and ultimately marriage between Lockhart and Scott's eldest daughter Sophia. Lockhart is best known for his Life of Sir Walter Scott.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

David II of Scotland

David II was the only surviving son of Robert the Bruce, when Bruce died in 1329. David was born in 1324, when Robert was 50. When David was 4, he was married to 7 year old Joan, sister of Edward III of England. On November 24, 1331, David was crowned at Scone, as King of Scotland.

David is included in Scott's Tales of a Grandfather: Liberation and Death of King David II. David died in Edinburgh Castle in 1371, without issue. The Bruce line thus ended, and the Stuart line began with the accession of Robert II of Scotland. King Robert Stuart was the son of Marjorie, who was Robert the Bruce's daughter, and Walter Stuart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Louis, Duke of Orleans

On November 23, 1407, Louis, Duke of Orleans, was assassinated in Paris. The murder was undertaken at the behest of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgandy. The source of Louis and John's dispute was the guardianship of the children of Louis eldest brother, Charles the Mad.

Louis is included as a character in Scott's Quentin Durward:

"...Upon the arm of his relation Dunois, ...came Louis Prince of Orleans, the first prince of the Royal Blood (afterwards king, by the name of Louis XII)..."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Robin Hood

Today's entry for November 22 covers the legendary Robin Hood. Robin Hood may have been the Earl of Huntington, who turned to raiding Sherwood Forest and its wealthy travelers after wasting his inheritance. King Edward II determined to eliminate Robin, and dressing his men and himself as monks, set himself as bait in order to capture Robin.
The ruse works. Robin Hood unknowingly extracts money from the king, then invites Edward to dinner. After a shooting contest, Hood and his men realize that they are not in the presence of monks, but of rank; including King Edward. Robin Hood begs forgiveness, which Edward grants, demanding that Robin serve as his court. Evidence of this service is contained in the royal Exchequer report, which lists payments to a Robin Hode at this time.
A year later, Robin asks for his release, which he receives on November 22, 1324. Hood rejoins his comrades after leaving Edward, and a 22 year period of robbery ensued.
Scott draws on the Robin Hood legend in his classic Ivanhoe. In Ivanhoe, Scott includes Lockesley (Robin Hood), Friar Tuck, Allen-a-dale, and Little John. Scott's Ivanhoe portrays remnants of Saxon England in conflict with the new Norman overlords.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sir Thomas Gresham

Sir Thomas Gresham died on November 21, 1579. Gresham was a merchant and financier whose career included stints with King Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth I. His father, Sir Richard Gresham had been knighted by King Henry VIII, for his efforts in securing foreign loans for Henry.

Sir Thomas also made his mark in financial dealings, being called in by Edward VI to restore the value of the Pound, which had fallen due to financial mismanagement. Though initially out of favor, when Mary succeeded Edward, he was soon reinstated. Elizabeth I gained the crown in 1558, continuing to rely on Gresham for financial matters. In 1559, Elizabeth asked Gresham to serve as ambassador at the court of the Duchess of Parma, and he was knighted soon before he departed on his mission.

In 1565, Gresham proposed a plan for an exchange, based on the Antwerp Bourse. This plan was adopted, and became the Royal Exchange.

Sir Walter Scott was familiar with Gresham, and among the inclusions in Scott's work is a reference in the Waverley Novels to Gresham college. The college itself was comprised largely of Gresham's own property in London. Lectures commenced in June 1597, one year after the death of Thomas' widow Anne.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Caroline of England

On November 20, 1737, Queen Caroline passed. Caroline was born in Ansbach, Germany. She married George August (1705), who was son of the elector of Hanover, and who later became King George II of England (1714).

It is to Caroline, in London, that Jeanie Deans travels, in Scott's "The Heart of Midlothian". Jeanie walks from Edinburgh to London for an audience with Caroline, to seek a remedy for her sister's conviction on a charge of infanticide. The penalty was to be death. Many critics view this novel as Scott's finest.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Charles I of England

Yet another Dunfermline connection. Charles I was born on November 19, 1600, in Dunfermline Palace.  Charles appears as an infant in Scott's "The Fortunes of Nigel".  This novel focuses on King James I, who enjoyed bestowing nicknames on people he was fond of.  In this passage, "Steenie" (George Villers) and "Babie Charles" (Charles I):

"To grant the truth," he said, after he had finished his hasty perusal, "this is a hard case; and harder than it was represented to me, though I had some inkling of it before. And so the lad only wants payment of the siller due from us, in order to reclaim his paternal estate? But then, Huntinglen, the lad will have other debts—and why burden himsell with sae mony acres of barren woodland? let the land gang, man, let the land gang; Steenie has the promise of it from our Scottish Chancellor—it is the best hunting-ground in Scotland—and Babie Charles and Steenie want to kill a buck there this next year— they maun hae the land—they maun hae the land; and our debt shall be paid to the young man plack and bawbee, and he may have the spending of it at our Court; or if he has such an eard hunger, wouns! man, we'll stuff his stomach with English land, which is worth twice as much, ay, ten times as much, as these accursed hills and heughs, and mosses and muirs, that he is sae keen after."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sir David Wilkie

The Scottish painter David Wilkie was born this day in 1785. The son of a minister in Fife, Wilkie took to art early in life, and began formal training under John Graham. Wilkie traveled extensively through Europe, which greatly influenced his style. In 1823, Wilkie was named Royal Limner for Scotland, and he undertook sittings with King George IV, to commemorate his visit to Scotland. In 1830, Wilkie was appointed painter in ordinary to the king, and he was knighted in 1836.

Wilkie and Scott were familiar to each other. Wilkie visited Abbotsford in 1818, and painted Scott's family. All were depicted in Scottish peasant dress for the painting. which is titled "The Abbotsford Family".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mary I of England

On this day in 1558, Queen Mary I of England died. Mary earned the sobriquet "Bloody Mary" for her persecution of non-Catholics. The only surviving child of Catherine of Aragon and King Henry Viii, Mary's reign was short; only 5 years.

Mary is covered in Scott's Kenilworth, with reference to the Dudley family, which attempted to raise Lady Jane Grey to the throne, following the death of King Edward VI, Henry's only son (by Jane Seymour).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saint Margaret, Queen of Scotland

Today's feature is a person who is recognized as a saint in both the Catholic and Anglican faiths. Margaret is the third reference reported on in the past week from a related timeframe, and group of sovereigns. Margaret was the second wife of King Malcolm III. She arrived in Scotland through unusual circumstances. In 1066, her uncle, King (and Saint) Edward (the Confessor) died. Margaret's brother Edgar Aetheling made an attempt at claiming the throne. When William the Conqueror took England instead, Margaret's mother, Agatha, felt it was in the family's best interest to leave England for hte continent. Their boat was driven by a storm to Scotland, where Malcolm III protected them, later marrying Margaret.

Margaret and Malcolm married in 1070, at the Castle of Dunfermline. Margaret later established Dunfermline Abbey, which is one point of connection with Sir Walter Scott's works.

Margeret died on November 16, 1093, three days after hearing the news of her husband Malcolm's and son Edward's deaths at the Battle of Alnwick. Malcolm's son Duncan from his previous marriage took the Scottish throne after Malcolm died, only to be murdered, nearly a year to the day after Malcolm died. Three of Margaret and Malcolm's eight children (Edgar, Alexander I, David I) successively ascended the Scottish throne after Duncan II's death.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Duel Between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun

The year was 1712. Anne, of the House of Orange, ruled England. Efforts to restore the Stuart Monarchy were being undertaken by the Tories. The Duke of Hamilton in 1712, according to Scott, was named ambassador extraordinary to Paris. Hamilton had a lawsuit with Lord Mohun, whose character is described historically as being of the basest sort. Hamilton met with Mohun to settle the suit, during which meeting Mohun challenged Hamilton to a duel. The two men, along with their seconds, met a the Ring in Hyde Park for a sword fight. Mohun was soon slain, but Hamilton fell mortally wounded, dying soon afterward. The two seconds also fought, and according to the story told by Hamilton's kinsman and second, Colonel Hamilton, it was Mohun's second, a General Macartney who slayed the Duke. Macartney fled to the continent after the fight.

Tories felt that Mohun had been put up to the challenge by fanatical Whigs. Eventually Macartney returned to England to face trial. There was insufficient evidence to prove the case against Macartney.

Scott includes this story in his Waverly Tales: Tales of a Grandfather.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth was an author, daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, also an author. Ms. Edgeworth published more than 20 books during her lifetime, the first being Rackrent, which brought the Irish peasant to life for many people. Rackrent had a significant influence on Scott's Waverly, which was published in 1814. Upon reading Waverley, Ms. Edgeworth immediately wrote to Scott, thus beginning what was to be a long correspondence between the two. In 1823, Edgeworth spent two weeks with Scott at Abbotsford. Scott returned the favor two years later, visiting Edgeworth at Edgeworthstown in County Longford, Ireland.

On this day in 1827, Sir Walter wrote to Maria Edgeworth to thank her for acknowledging reciept of a volume (of Life of Napoleon? Chronicles of the Canongate?):

"My dear Miss Edgewowrth-I received your acknowledgement this day, which is more than a hundred of the volumes acknowledged..."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Malcolm III of Scotland

Yesterday's post covered the death of Duncan II of Scotland. Duncan was Malcolm's son. After Malcolm died, the Scottish throne went to his brother Donalbane, rather than to Duncan or one of Malcolm's other sons. In fact, the throne would have gone to Duncan's half-brother, were it not for the fact that this son of Malcolm's was killed with him during the battle of Alnwick. Duncan, with tacit support from King William II of England, seized the throne from his uncle. Malcolm's death came nearly to the day, one year prior to Duncan's murder.

Scott includes King Malcolm III in his Tales of a Grandfather:

"...This King Malcolm Canmore was a brave and wise prince, though without education. He often made war on King William the Conqueror of England, and on his son and successor the year 1093...Malcolm besieged the border fortress of Alnwick, where he was unexpectedly attacked by a great Norman baron, Robert de Moubray...Malcolm Canmore was killed in action, and his eldest son was killed by his side..."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Duncan II of Scotland

On this day in 1094, King Duncan II was murdered. Duncan was the son of Malcolm III, who died during the invasion of Northumbria in 1093 (Battle of Alnwick). Along with Malcolm, his son Edward, Duncan's half brother, also died.

Duncan had not been considered by his father as a successor. Duncan's early life was spent in the English court of William I, at first as a hostage (beginning 1072), but later as a member of court. William's successor, William II ultimately knighted Duncan.

After Malcolm died, his brother Donalbane took the Scottish throne. Duncan, with the support of William II, challenged Donalbane, and was victorious. Duncan's reign was short lived, as we was soon murdered by one of Donalbane's supporters, known as Mael Patair.

Duncan is buried at Dunfermline Abbey, a place Scott was familiar with. Scott's Abbotsford contains oak paneling from the old church in Dunfermline Abbey. This fact is reported in biographer Lockhart's Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, as described by Scott himself in a letter (10/10/1822) to solicitor D. Terry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


November 11th is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, who was a Roman soldier. He became famous for having saved the life of a beggar by cutting his own cloak in half and giving it to the beggar to shelter him during a snowstorm.

In Scotland during the middle ages, Martinmas was a "term day", one of four which divided the legal year. On these days, rent and interest were due.

Scott incorporated Martinmas into more than one of his novels. In Rob Roy, for example:

"...Ye're mad Rob," said the Bailie --"mad as a March hare -- though wherefore a hare suld be mad at March mair than at Martinmas, is mair than I can weel say..."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Martin Luther

Today, in 1483, the church reformer Martin Luther was born. Scott mentions Luther in his Miscellaneous Prose Works, under the title Cumberland's De Lancaster:

"...De Lancaster proceeded-'What then shall we say of the famous Martin Luther, who being ordained to act so conspicuous a part in opposition to the papal power, came into the world fully equipped for controversy...wearing a square cap on his head..."

A fable about Luther's being born in theologian's garb.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cadyow Castle

On November 9, 1773, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell reach Edinburgh, after their 83 day trip to the Hebrides. Boswell persuades Johnson to view the Duke of Hamilton's house, which was so fine as to be called the palace of Hamilton.

Scott wrote a poem about a more ancient Hamilton house, called Cadyow Castle:

"When princely Hamilton's abode
Ennobled Cadyow's noble towers,
The song went round, the goblet flow'd,
And revel sped the laughing hours.

This palace was unfortunately demolished in 1921, as mining activity had compromised the grounds. The original Cadyow, or Cadzaw Castle, the original seat of the Hamilton clan lies in ruins nearby.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Madame Roland

Madame Roland was once on the cutting edge of the French Revolution. She ended life under the guillotine, on this day in 1793. Madame Roland and her husband were among the Girodonist faction, so named due to the predominant geographic sourcing of its members from the region of the Gironde estuary (where the mouths of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers merge); comprised of much of the former provinces of Guyenne and Gascogne.

Madame Roland held a salon in her house, which became the meeting place for the Girodonists. This group became powerful prior to the actual revolution, forcing King Louis XVI in 1792 to appoint a ministry comprised of its adherents. One of these was Roland's husband, Jean-Marie Roland de la Platiere.

The Girodonists wound up in a power struggle with the Montagnards, whose leading members included Robespierrre, Marat and Danton. Eventually, the Girodonists were destroyed. Mssr. Roland fled to Rouen, while Madame Roland was imprisoned, and eventually beheaded - quite possibly to get at her husband. Madame Roland is remembered for her remark on the Statue of Liberty in the Place de la Revolution, where she was to be executed: "Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name."

Scott includes Madame Roland in his "Life of Napoleon Buonaparte" seven times, with a reference also to her husband as the husband of Madame Roland.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chronicles of the Canongate - Second Series

From Scott's Journal: On November 7, 1827, Scott is struggling to work, and again exhibits the work ethic that helped enable him to produce in such a prolific manner:

"...Commenced a review-that is an essay, on Ornamental Gardening for the Quarterly. But I stuck fast for want of books. As I did not wish to leave the mind time to recoil on itself, I immediately began the Second Series of the Chronicles of the Canongate, the First having been well approved..."

This second series became "St. Valentine's Day, or The Fair Maid of Perth"

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Legend of Littlecote Hall

There is a legend that dates to the 6th of November, 1575, involving Littlecote Hall in Wiltshire England. The legend involves the Darrell family. Jane Seymour was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Darrell, and Jane was courted at Littlecote Hall by Henry VIII.

But the legend has little to do with Jane Seymour. It involves William Darrell, who married grandmother Elizabeth. William allegedly had an affair, with his neighbor Sir Walter Hungerford's wife. The legend comes in that a midwife named Mother Barnes was brought blindfolded to Littlecote one night, to deliver a baby. Immediately after the child was born, it was thrown on the fire to burn to death. Mother Barnes went to the authorities after that night, and was able to provide sufficient detail that it was determined that Littlecote was the scene of the murder. Darrell was brought to trial, and so the story goes, bought his freedom by transferring Littlecote Hall to the Judge, John Popham.

This story was told to Sir Walter Scott by Lord Webb Seymour. Scott included the legend as a romance in his poem "Rokeby", and also included the story in his published notes to the poem.

The Littlecote story has made its way into other artist's works. It is included in Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities". JMW Turner painted his watercolor "Rokeby", depicting a gorge between Rokeby and Martham (County Durham, England). Turner painted in eight lines from Scott's poem on boulders in the foreground. The image of Turner's Rokeby above is courtesy of the Trustees, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, England.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Gunpowder Plot

The gunpowder plot, led by Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes, occurred in 1605. The plotters (through Thomas Percy) rented a house adjacent to Parliament, and eventually rented a coal cellar below the House of Lords, which was to serve as a place to set their 36 barrels of gunpowder off. The plot was discovered, by means that are far from clear, and the conspirators fled London. Guy Fawke was caught in London, and executed. Catesby, along with two others was slain when apprehended.

Scott's "The Fortunes of Nigel" was written for a timeframe immediately around the Gunpowder Plot, during the reign of James I. His introduction contains a reference to it:

"...The gunpowder fright is got out of all our heads, and we are going on hereabout as if the devil was contriving every man should blow up himself by wild riot, excess, and devastation of time and temperance...."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saint Clarus

On this date, about 894, Saint Clarus was martyred. Clarus was of English extraction, and was murdered at the behest of a local noble woman, described historically as lewd and impious. The village where Clarus was martyred, on the Epte River in France, bears his name. Clarus is one derivation of the St. Clair, Sinclair family names.

Scott writes of the St. Clair faimly often, including in the Lay of the Last Minstrel. Scott is very familiar with Roslin Chapel, which has become popular now with the publication of Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
"So still they blaze when fate is nigh,
The lordly line of high St. Clair.

There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold,
Lie buried within that proud Chapelle..."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slept ill...

November 3, 1827...Bad it must be whatever the alternative...I believe in God who can change evil into good...

Scott facing bankruptcy

Monday, November 2, 2009

Central Park's Literary Walk

On November 2nd, 1872, a statue of Sir Walter Scott was unveiled in New York City's Central Park. The statue was created by Sir John Steell. Steell's statue depicts Scott sitting on a rock, holding pen and book, with his faithful dog Maida by his side.

The statue was the brainchild of a group of Scottish citizens, who enlisted the Aberdeen-born sculptor. Steell had earlier crafted the statue of Scott in the Scott Memorial on Princes Street in Edinburgh. The Scottish version was made from white Carrara marble. The statue in Central Park is cast bronze (photo mine).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day

All Saints Day has been important in the Catholic/Anglican calendars, and in Christian countries. The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverly Novels includes the short story "The Two Drovers". There is a note in this work concerning the annual fair schedule in Rosley (SW of Carlisle), in which cattle, sheep, cloth and other goods were sold. The main event occurred on Whitsun Monday, and the fairs continued every fortnight thereafter, until All Saints Day.
The source of this note is The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland.