Monday, July 18, 2011

Galt's Spaewife

July 18 [1829]—- A Sunday with alternate showers and sunshine. Wrote double task, which brings me to page forty-six inclusive. I read the Spae-wife of Galt. There is something good in it, and the language is occasionally very forcible, but he has made his story difficult to understand, by adopting a region of history little known, and having many heroes of the same name, whom it is not easy to keep separate in one's memory. Some of the traits of the Spae-wife, who conceits herself to be a changeling or twin, are very good indeed. His Highland Chief is a kind of Caliban, and speaks, like Caliban, a jargon never spoken on earth, but full of effect for all that.

 One of the many reads that Scott recorded in his journal, “The Spaewife” was published in 1823.  Author John Galt is known for his writing about the industrial revolution, but set this novel in the 14th century.  There is much in the way of historical setting in this work:


This is the rehearsal of divers events and issues which came to pass in Scotland many years ago. At the time whereof it is intended to speak, King Robert, the second of that name, and the first of the Stuarts, was long gathered to his father’s; but he had left behind heirs and successors, as all monarchs and other great men naturally do, and from them, and out of their pretensions, arose the incidents and matter of this strange and very solemn tale.

It happened, in the lusty years of his juvenility, that the same King Robert had entertained an effectual dalliance with a fair and comely damsel, called Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Adam Mure of Rowallan, and by  her he had a, progeny of sons and daughters.

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