There are a few times in the novel Rob Roy were Sir Walter Scott makes reference to Joseph Addison. In all the instances, Scott kind of makes fun of Addison. In his Lives of the Poets, Samuel Johnson idolizes Joseph Addison, along with Sir Richard Steele, as the creators of the "Tatler" and "Spectator," two daily papers that helped to broaden the average English person's knowledge and conversation base, as well as his manners and the regularity of his language.
The way Johnson puts it, he makes Addison sound like a master of style, a kind of first proponent of "cool." Sir Walter Scott makes Addison's work sound like a bit of a bore.
In the introduction to Rob Roy, Scott actually seems to pit Rob Roy, as an ideal, against Joseph Addison and the poet Alexander Pope. Scott says:
"[Rob Roy] owed his fame in a great measure to residing on the very verge of the Highlands, and playing such pranks in the beginning of the 18th century, as are usually ascribed to Robin Hood in the middle ages -- and that within forty miles of Glasgow, a great commercial city, the seat of a learned university. Thus a character like his, blending the wild virtues, with subtle policy, and unrestrained license of an American Indian, was flourishing in Scotland during the Augustan age of Queen Anne and George I. Addison, it is probable, or Pope, would have been considerably surprised if they had known that there existed on the same island with them a personage of Rob Roy's peculiar habits and profession."
I'm not really sure whether Addison would have been too surprised. But Samuel Johnson would certainly have been surprised. Johnson can barely believe when a grocer's son becomes an official letter-writer for a queen, or when a joiner's son becomes the man negotiating peace between England and France. And I think Sir Walter Scott might think of Addison as being like Johnson.
Anyhow, Scott himself, in his introduction to Rob Roy, paints a less than favorable picture of Rob Roy. I'm not sure if there's an additional story to Scott's Introduction. It was written in 1829, it appears, while Rob Roy was first published, I believe in 1818. So there might have been a kind of change of attitude in Scott regarding Rob Roy between the time he wrote his novel and the time he wrote the introduction.
The introduction to the book is really good. But I think I'm going to leave it to the side for a bit. The truth is, there's a lot of history in Rob Roy. And I feel like part of Scott's whole point to writing the introduction is that he wasn't able to put all this copious history into the novel.
But it's a good thing he didn't. One of the really nice things about the book is that it is an historical novel, but that it lets history play the role of backstory, rather than smashing up, sometimes awkwardly, against the action of the story.
The main character of the book, Francis Osbaldistone, finds himself up in the north of England, and eventually in Scotland. He finds himself in all these places because of the action of the story. And as he finds himself in each new place, he learns more about the history of the place.
Like Sir Walter Scott's quote above says, Rob Roy, or "Red Rob" MacGregor, was thought of as a Robin Hood of the 18th century. He was, in general, a cattle rustler -- although, at that time in Scotland, cattle rustling wasn't thought of as such a bad thing.
He was also a "blackmailer." Blackmailing was something a bit different than what we think of it nowadays. Actually -- I was at the Paley Center for Media in New York City today. The Paley Center is what used to be known as the Museum of TV and Radio.
It's basically a library full of computer screens. You sit down at the computer screens and pull up old TV shows. It's not so different from YouTube. Actually, sometimes YouTube is easier to navigate and has better availability of stuff to watch. But Paley actually has some really interesting items, that you can only see at Paley. Plus, it's nice to be in a room with a lot of other people, all watching all different kinds of TV shows.
Anyway, I watched the first episode of Days of Our Lives, from 1965, I guess. In the episode, the patriarch, Dr. Horton, jokingly mentions blackmailing his son with a photo he has of him as a three-month-old baby. Dr. Horton's son is now a lawyer, and Dr. Horton's wife says, therefore, that the son would probably not be too worried about blackmail.
I watched a few minutes of another show, a detective show called Honey West. Honey is a female detective. At the beginning of this show she is trying to obtain negatives of a photo that a man is trying to blackmail a rich woman with. The man is threatening that if he doesn't get fifty thousand dollars from the woman, he'll publicize the pictures.
So, in these examples, you can see what we think of as blackmail: a person threatening to do something to somebody unless the threatened person does soemthing for the threatening person. Usually the threatening person wants money. And usually the person is threatened with something that would ruin his social standing.
But in Rob Roy's day, blackmail was the taking or giving of payment in exchange for protection of lands. In Rob Roy's day, the early eighteenth century, Scotland ran rampant with cattle thieves. Cattle thieves weren't necessarily looked down on. But, still, people didn't want their cattle stolen.
So Scottish chieftains, warrior chiefs, were paid to "protect" certain lands for the owners of those lands. They didn't necessarily protect the lands, according to Sir Walter Scott. They would simply allow only a certain amount of cattle to be stolen. They would then take a cut of the money from the sale of the stolen cattle. They might even give a cut of this cut to the owner of the stolen cattle. But if they were paid to "protect" the lands, according to my understanding of Scott, they only allowed a certain amount of cattle to be stolen.
In America, we've had the tradition with the mafia, of "protection." It's a similar idea. As the mafia movies tell us, some guy opens up a shop, let's say, in New York City. The mafia muscles in on him and tells him, "You pay us, we'll protect you." The guy asks what would happen if he didn't pay them for protection. The mafia implies, at least in the mafia movies, that they'll rob or wreck the guy's shop.
In this sense, "protection" isn't protection. It's easy money. And this is basically the idea that Scott gives us, in his introduction and throughout his novel, about the tactic of blackmail in Scotland.
But Rob Roy is the mysterious hero of Scott's novel. Francis Osbaldistone is the main character and the real hero. But he's kind of an innocent young man, going through a kind of coming of age or initiation ritual in his journey from London into the Highlands of Scotland.
Rob Roy is -- really, a kind of constant deus ex Machina. He's always appearing at just the right moment to save everybody from all kinds of trouble. He kind of reminds me of The Lone Ranger. Everybody always asks, "Who was that masked man?"
But how is this mysterious hero such a morally ambiguous kind of person? Well... that's kind of a silly question for a 21st century American to ask. It's been decades since our comic book superheroes have been anything other than morally ambiguous. And the characters of comic books like Watchmen are living in a world that would, I often think, make Charles II's poets blush.
And that's the point, in a way. Poetically, Rob Roy is a kind of counterpoint to the poets Samuel Johnson held up as exemplary, while being something more like the people whose lives Johnson holds up as disgusting. Scott seems to want to show that there is something admirable in the life of Rob Roy, while Rob Roy is not always the most exemplary a character.
I think that by Sir Walter Scott's time, Abraham Cowley had been smothered out of view by Johnson's criticism, while poets like Joseph Addison had been cultivated into favor. In the meantime, other poets were completely forgotten, most likely because Johnson said their poetry wasn't worth anything at all.
One good representative of this class, from the first half of the second volume of Johnson's Lives, is Sheffield of Buckinghamshire. Sheffield doesn't seem to have written any poetry of merit. But his Life is incredible. He fought in a number of different wars. He didn't just fight bravely on the sea, in the midst of a rain of bullets and cannon balls: he was so cool-headed that he actually made scientific observations regarding the projectiles. Like this one, which Johnson records:
"I have observed two things, which I dare affirm, though not generally believed. One was, that the wind of a cannon-bullet, though flying never so near, is incapable of doing the least harm; and, indeed, were it otherwise, no man above deck would escape. The other was, that a great shot may sometimes be avoided, even as it flies, by changing one's ground a little; for, when the wind sometimes blew away the smoke, it was so clear a sun-shiny day that we could easily perceive the bullets (that were half-spent) fall into the water, and from thence bound up again among us, which gives sufficient time for making a step or two on any side; though, in so swift a motion, 'tis hard to judge so well in what line the bullet comes, which, if mistaken, may by removing, cost a man his life instead of saving it."
This was early in Sheffield's life, when he was fighting at sea against the Dutch, during the reign of King Charles II. But Sheffield also fought for King James II. King William, even though he liked Sheffield, was a bit suspicious of Sheffield, because Sheffield was very loyal to King James. So Sheffield didn't get as much of a chance to act (or be compensated for his actions) during the reign of King William.
But Sheffield had actually courted Queen Anne. So when Queen Anne took the throne, Sheffield was given a number of titles and preferments. But Sheffield disagreed with Queen Anne, like he'd disagreed with King William, on a number of things. He virtually retired from business -- although he was by that time wealthy enough to build Buckingham House, an estate large enough to accommodate the tastes, a few decades later, of Queen Charlotte.
What little show in the business world Sheffield made were put to a complete halt once King George took the throne -- Sheffield was a total opponent of King George. And so Sheffield busied himself in writing tragedies until his death in 1721.
After Johnson so captivatingly relates to us Sheffield's life of bravery in war, honesty in politics, and achievement in business, Johnson then goes on to completely ruin Sheffield's reputation by calling saying that Sheffield has a Hobbesian religious outlook (bad in those days), loose morality, terrible views regarding women, a gambler's idea of property, and tendencies toward covetousness, idleness, and neglect.
Johnson seems to believe that the lives of great, active men are often full of great fault. Even scholars, like Milton, Dryden, and Addison, seem to have the great fault -- of being too scholarly. But the vices of men of action are, according to Johnson, often the lives of licentiousness. And, when it comes to the poetry of these men, it often falls flat, in Johnson's opinion. Like Johnson says of Sheffield:
"His verses are often insipid; but his memoirs are lively and agreeable; he had the perspicuity and elegance of an historian, but not the fire and the fancy of a poet."
Again, another poet too wild for Johnson's tastes -- like Cowley. And -- like Cowley, this poet is "cold" he doesn't have "fire" or "fancy." He's another man of action, like Prior. And -- like Prior, he is more of an historian than a poet. Prior could write tales, according to Johnson, but not poetry. Sheffield can write memoirs, but not poetry.
Johnson is most likely correct about the high quality of Prior's tales and Sheffield's memoirs. But Johnson's overall criticism of Sheffield reduces him in the sight of so many people that his reputation, I'd argue, has just withered away. If people can't put a few of his poems into a book, and say what Johnson said about him, he likely won't go into an anthology. So he won't be remembered. His memoirs won't be used in an anthology -- regardless of what Johnson says about them -- because they aren't poetry.
I don't think Abraham Cowley was much of a factor in English poetry by Scott's time. I don't think Scott would have really conceived of Cowley. And I think that was largely because of Johnson.
But the stance that Johnson seems to have taken against Cowley, against wild speech, and for Joseph Addison, and his promotion of refined, easy, cool-headed speech, seems to be opposed, by Scott, by the use of Rob Roy and his kinsmen -- especially his wife Helen MacGregor, who gives some of the most beautiful speeches in the book.
Here is a passage that Scott puts into the mouth of his main character, Francis Osbaldistone, regarding the speech of Helen MacGregor and the Scots:
"There was a strong provincial accentuation, but otherwise, the language rendered by Helen MacGregor, out of the native and poetical Gaelic, into the English, which she had acquired as we do learned tongues, but had probably never heard applied to the mean purposes of ordinary life, was graceful, flowing, and declamatory. Her husband, who in his time had played many parts, used a much less elevated and emphatic dialect; -- but even his language rose in purity of expression, as you may have remarked, if I had been accurate in recording it, when the affairs which he discussed were of an agitating and important nature; and it appears to me in his case, and in that of some other Highlanders whom I have known, that when familiar and facetious they use the Lowland Scottish dialect -- when serious and impassioned, their thoughts arranged themselves in the idiom of their native language; and in the latter case, as they uttered the corresponding ideas in English, the expressions sounded wild, elevated, and poetical. In fact, the language of passion is almost always pure as well as vehement, and it is no uncommon thing to hear a Scotchman, when overwhelmed by a countryman with a tone of bitter and fluent upbraiding, reply by way of taunt to his adversary, 'You have gotten to your English.'"
One interesting thing about this passage is that Scott uses the word "vehement," which Johnson always uses in terms of the controversy writers. One part of John Milton's career that Johnson absolutely hates is Milton's spreading of controversy. And Johnson always calls these writings of Milton's "vehement." But as well as this language being "vehement," it is also "wild, elevated, and poetical." This language of "passion," having all the characteristics opposite of what Johnson thinks of as poetical, is actually a strongly poetic language, for Scott.
Compare the passage above with Johnson's passage below, which I love, just as much as I love the above passage by Scott:
"It has been suggested that the Royal Society was instituted soon after the Restoration, to divert the attention of the people from publick discontent. The 'Tatler' and 'Spectator' had the same tendency: they were published at a time when two parties, loud, restless, and violent, each with plausible declarations, and each perhaps without any distinct termination of its views, were agitating the nation; to minds heated with political contest, they supplied cooler and more inoffensive reflections; and it is said by Addison, in a subsequent work, that they had a perceptible influence upon the conversation of that time, and taught the frolick and the gay to unite merriment with decency; an effect which they can never wholly lose, while they continue to be among the first books by which both sexes are initiated in the elegances of knowledge."
So we have through Scott's passage, a picture of a Rob Roy who, because he is more experienced with the world outside the Highlands than his wife Helen is, can speak English with a jocular kind of style, known as the Lowlands dialect.
Rob Roy has become experienced enough in the world, through trading (stolen) cattle to the Lowland Scottish and Northern English, that he can speak a freer kind of language. But this is just the kind of language that I'm sure Johnson would think is vulgar, while Scott declares that the less refined, less experienced person of the married couple, Helen, is only capable of speaking in an elegant language.
Nevertheless, for Rob Roy, the freer language isn't the language of his heart. His emotions are similar with his wife's emotions. His business experience only gives him the ability to wear the mask of the freer language. For Rob Roy, the world of an Addison, where people may have the leisure or freedom to fashion their thoughts in such a way as "to unite merriment with decency," is not Rob Roy's world.
Rob Roy is, first of all, an outlaw, by circumstance. Secondly, he comes from a family which has, for over a hundred years, and up until only recently, been banned from using their own name, "MacGregor," due to the criminal acts of some of their ancestors. Third, Scotland, having united with England, now must adhere to England's principles, and to a King which, apparently, not much of Scotland actually likes.
When we first meet Rob Roy, at the beginning of the book, he heaps "preferments" onto everybody at the table of a public house, as Johnson seems to relate to us the preferments often heaped upon some of the more active men among his poets. Rob Roy declares:
"'Gentlemen... I havna much dubitation that King George weel deserves the predilection of his friends; and if he can haud the grip he has gotten, why, doubtless, he may make the gauger, here, a commissioner of the revenue, and confer on our friend, Mr. Quitam, the preferment of solicitor-general; and he may also grant some good deed or reward to this honest gentleman who is sitting upon his portmanteau, which he prefers to a chair: And questionless, King James is also a grateful person, and when he gets his hand in play, he may, if he be so minded, make this reverend gentleman Archprelate of Canterbury, and Dr. Mixit chief physician to his household, and commit his royal beard to my friend Latherum. But as I doubt mickle whether any of the competing sovereigns would give Rob Campbell a tass of aquivitae, if he lacked it, I give my vote and interest to Jonathan Brown, our landlord, to be the King and Prince of Skinkers, conditionally that he fetches us another bottle, as good as the last.'"
In one sense, this could just be a typical game of imagining greatness. Kids crown each other King, Queen, Princess, or Knight, all the time. But this heaping of preferments does seem to be a lot like Johnson's litany of preferments, titles, and positions in many of his Lives.
But what Rob Roy is really stating here is his resentment that he would never be approved of by the King. Rob Roy, we find out later in the book, actually has a price on his head in Scotland, at least. He's an outlaw, like Robin Hood, except a bit shadier.
But Rob Roy's real problem seems to be the situation of Scotland. Scotland's Union with England has put Scotland, it seems, under England's complete subjection. Scotland no longer even has a parliament of its own. There is no real freedom, then, for the Scots. Or -- at least this is what Rob Roy's thoughts seem to be.
In the novel, Helen MacGregor, Rob Roy's wife, is definitely of this sentiment. Rob Roy might take a bit of a different view of the whole situation. But Rob Roy is definitely more driven by Helen than he is, often, by his own emotions.
Rob Roy was, the novel says, driven to his life as an outlaw, not by the Union of England and Scotland, but by a financial crisis, which led him to lose his money. He was driven into bankruptcy and had his lands taken away from him, not by an Englishman, but by another Scotsman.
The shame of losing the family lands seems to have affected Helen's pride worse than it affected Rob Roy's pride. And it appears that Helen has become a sort of chieftain to the chieftain, driving Rob Roy not only to be an outlaw, but to be something of a revolutionary.
At least, I should say, this is how I understand it. A lot of the backstory of the book is written in the Scottish dialect, which I think I did fine with. But I don't think I caught every bit and piece. And, when push comes to shove, I feel a lot like Willfred, the fool of the family, of whom Francis says, during the small Scottish uprising near the end of the book:
"I have heard he was never able exactly to comprehend the cause of the battle, and did not uniformly remember, on which king's side he was engaged."
The two Kings are King George and King James. James was still alive, though he had been dethroned (two monarchs previous to George). There were many in England, mostly the Catholics, who were trying to bring King James back to the throne. But in Scotland there was a large contingent of people working for a revolution against King George and for King James.
The groups of people fighting for King James were -- I think -- called the Jacobites. And a larger Jacobite uprising actually occurred, I believe, toward the middle of the eighteenth century in Scotland and the North of England. But the smaller Jacobite uprising, which is foreshadowed through most of the book, and which forms a few episodes toward the end of the book, is the type of event which Helen MacGregor hopes to drive her husband toward.
In fact, many of the problems in the book seem to arise from Rob Roys attempts, largely inspired by his wife, to get some kind of strategic information which will really make a Jacobite uprising from Scotland down into England possible.
But because of his dealings as both an outlaw and a revolutionary, Rob Roy, though he is always doing business with people, is always on the outskirts of society. And he feels like he is simply doomed to be that way. He was once a law-abiding citizen. But circumstances have made him something else. And now he has to live that way.
But -- because he was born into the clan of the MacGregors -- a clan that for so long wasn't even able to use its own name -- he feels a dark shadow over the destiny, not only of his own life, but over the lives of his family.
This is illustrated toward the end of the book, when one of Rob Roy's cousins, Nicol Jarvie, a Scottish merchant and judge (?) who lives in Glasgow and has done much to help out Francis Osbaldistone, the hero of the story, offers to educate Rob Roy's two sons, Robin and Hamish, at no charge. Rob Roy becomes annoyed -- almost violently annoyed -- at Jarvie's attempts to convince Rob Roy.
Rob Roy seems to believe that he's stuck in this kind of life -- that his whole family is stuck in this kind of life. But I think that his real reason for not sending Robin and Hamish to be educated by Jarvie is that he's afraid of his wife. His wife would hear nothing of a Glasgow man -- a Lowland Scotland man -- raising her two sons! Lowland Scotland is just as bad as England in her eyes. And England is an abomination for her.
Helen even regrets the fact that Rob Roy has to do any kind of business with the Lowland Scots or the English. And, in her opinion, any time he does business with them, he ends up only bringing trouble on himself. Nobody ever remembers or is grateful for what he's done for them. Helen says of Rob Roy that:
"'Wise only when the bonnet is on his head, and the sword is in his hand, he never exchanges the tartan for the broad-cloth, but he runs himself into the miserable intriguies of the Lowlanders, and becomes again, after all he has suffered, their agent -- their tool -- their slave.'"
When Francis wishes for Helen to add "benefactor" to the epithets, Helen replies:
"'Be it so... for it is the most empty title of them all, since he has uniformly sown benefits to reap a harvest of the most foul ingratitude.'"
Helen herself fights in battles, and, in Rob Roy's absence, is herself a leader of the Scotch warriors. She drives the men on with her vehement, impassioned speech. And it seems pretty obvious that she drives on Rob Roy in the same way.
In the introduction to Rob Roy, however -- maybe I didn't read carefully enough -- Scott's "historical" Rob Roy doesn't seem to be driven on as much by Helen as the fictional Rob Roy. I only found three solid references to Helen.
In one of these references, Rob Roy's wife has been extremely insulted by one of the men to whom Rob Roy owes a large debt. In another one of them, just before Rob Roy is set to get into a fight, Helen hides the sword of the opponent (although the opponent manages to find a sword and actually scare Rob Roy away). In the final reference, when Rob Roy was an aged man and dying, Scott says:
"He expressed some contrition for particular parts of his life. His wife laughed at these scruples of conscience, and exhorted him to die like a man, as he had lived. In reply, he rebuked her for her violent passions, and the counsels she had given him. 'You have put strife,' he said, 'betwixt me and the best men of the country, and now you would place enmity between me and my God.'"
But, I would assume, from my understanding of Scott's ideas, that the best men in the country, in Rob Roy's opinion, were Highland Scots, not Lowland Scots. Englishmen weren't even included in the statement.
So, it would seem that the historical Rob Roy was on his own as far as being a revolutionary was concerned. Scott implies in the Introduction that the "historical" Rob Roy was actually carrying out the strategy of war much like the common blackmailer of the Scottish days carried out the strategy of "protection." Scott was actually fighting, if not for King George, then at least in such a way that King George wouldn't lose through any action of Rob Roy's warriors.
In one decisive battle, as Scott relates, Rob Roy even stood, with his men, up at the top of a hill, while other Scottish clans fought the British. When it became clear that the Scots were not going to win the battle, Rob Roy had his men charge down the hill.
Rob Roy, with the men, didn't arrive at the scene of battle in time to do much else than plunder the purses of the dead men lying on the field. This eventually became the notorious subject of a satirical poem which Scott quotes.
Again, regarding the education of Rob Roy's sons, Scott gives us a scene that shows the "historical" Rob Roy as a man who believes that his life is the exemplary life. Instead of having to fend off a relative who wishes to educate his children, Rob Roy has to be -- very delicately -- dissuaded from almost kidnapping one of his relatives' children, so that he can educate him in the life of a blackmailer.
"At length the perplexed Professor pleaded that his son was very young, and in an infirm state of health, and not yet able to endure the hardships of a mountain life; but that in another year or two he hoped his health would be firmly established, and he would be in a fitting condition to attend on his brave kinsman, and follow out the splendid destinies to which he opened the way. This agreement being made, the cousins parted, -- Rob Roy pledging his honour to carry his young relation to the hills with him on his next return to Aberdeenshire, and Dr. Gregory, doubtless, praying in his secret soul that he might never see Rob's Highland face again."
Then why does Scott show his fictional Rob Roy to be the kind of man he is? The Rob Roy of the novel is a hero -- almost like The Lone Ranger, except with a few moral ambiguities. But his moral ambiguities don't stop him from being directed in action, eloquent, brave, and diligent. The "historical" Rob Roy, as Scott shows him, lacks each of these virtues in turn, story by story. And why is Helen such a driving force in the "fictional" Rob Roy's life, when she doesn't seem to have been such in the "historical" Rob Roy's life?
The answer is that Rob Roy is a kind of "medicine" for the hero, Francis Osbaldistone. Like I said earlier, the story of Rob Roy, from Francis' viewpoint, is a kind of coming of age story.
The story begins with Francis coming home from France, where he's been tutored by one of his father's business relations. But Francis hasn't been very strictly tutored, for a number of reasons. Francis has developed a taste for poetry. There are a few examples of his poetry. They seem fine enough. But as Francis himself warns us, these were the early years of the eighteenth century, when poets were thought of as impoverished drunkards and thieves.
Francis' father is educating Francis so he can take over the family business -- one, apparently, of the most famous banking houses in all of London. But Francis doesn't want to have anything to do with his old man's business. He'd rather be a poet.
Francis' father tells Francis that he'll either take over the business or be disowned. Francis, as hard-headed as his father, decides he'd rather be disowned. So, instead of being completely disowned, Francis is sent up to the North of England, to Northumberland, to Osbaldistone Hall, to live with his Uncle Hildebrand Osbaldistone. Hildebrand is to send down one of his own sons to live with Francis' father and be educated so that he may take over the business.
The cousin who is chosen to live with Francis' father is a young man named Rashleigh. I think both Francis and Rashleigh are about the same age -- about twenty years old. Rashleigh is, before he even steps onto the stage, the villain of the piece. He had been studying for the priesthood (Hildebrand's family, despite being English, are Roman Catholics).
But Rashleigh hasn't been studying in order to save men's souls. He admits to Francis later in the book that he's been working to become a priest because he wants the power of the priesthood: he wants Kings kneeling before him.
Rashleigh has involved himself, through Rob Roy, with the minor Jacobite uprising that takes place at the end of the book. And for the ends of the revolt (I think -- I'm not totally sure), Rashleigh, upon arriving in London and gaining the trust of Francis' father, takes advantage of being in almost complete control of the Osbaldistone banking-house in order to cause a few troubles with accounts in Scotland. These accounts also threaten to bankrupt the Osbaldistone banking house. They also threaten, through some machinations I didn't understand, to incite the Jacobite Scots into an uprising.
Rashleigh has, by this point, removed himself from London up to Glasgow. Francis, learning all the details of Rashleigh's deceits, goes up to Glasgow to try to find either Francis, the records of the accounts that Francis has absconded with, or both.
In the meantime, Francis has fallen in love with one of his distant cousins, Diana, or "Die," Vernon. Die has a past that she is reluctant to share with Francis. But she is also an extremely elegant, almost brashly honest person. She lives in a mansion filled with men. But she can do anything the men can do. She's also been trained to be incredibly intelligent.
As part of her past, Die has been contracted to marry one of her cousins at Osbaldistone Hall. The patriarch of the Hall, Francis' Uncle Hildebrand, will make the decision on the marriage. Rashleigh had hoped he'd be the one who could marry Die. But she rejected him. So he took to the idea of becoming a priest. In the meantime, he still harbored a violently jealous love for her.
Francis and Rashleigh, before Rashleigh leaves for London, get into fights as Rashleigh tries to pit Francis against Die -- it's obvious how much Francis and Die feel for each other, and Rashleigh doesn't want that relationship to work out at all. Rashleigh and Francis part with animosity. This animosity is renewed when Rashleigh and Francis again meet in Glasgow.
But Die's secret is eventually revealed. Her father, a Jacobite was involved in a previous revolution. It is rumored that he's died. But he is only lying low Northumberland until the political climate becomes more favorable for him. Die's father is such a staunch Jacobite that he won't hear of Die marrying a non-Catholic.
There's no question of Die marrying someone like Francis, who, Francis tells us, due to the cosmpolitan education of France, doesn't have a very specific religion at all. So it looks, over and over again, like Die and Francis are going to be split apart forevery. This is the technique, Anne Carson tells us in her book Eros the Bittersweet, of a good romance. I'm not sure what Scott would think about that. But I agree.
Anyhow -- after a number of scenes of Francis working his way up into Glasgow, and then up into the Highlands, in order to receive the documents to save his father's business -- Francis finally decides that he will, after all, compromise with his father and work at the family bank.
Rob Roy, then, is an image that Francis has of himself: the wild poet with the passionate voice. He also sees Helen as Die Vernon.
Francis, through a kind of pampered, undisciplined life, has figured that he can live a life without any focus, without any kind of business purpose. Die Vernon has lived as the daughter of a revolutionary, and has had to harden and focus her mind, close off her emotions, more than a woman would in those days. So Scott sees these two young people, Francis and Die, as people who have, due to their life histories, grown up a bit out of tune with their natures and with the nature of society.
Like Camille Paglia would say about Shakespeare's As You Like It, the aim of the story is to bring the two young lovers into a kind of integration with their society. The same thing is going on for Francis and Die all throughout Rob Roy.
Rob Roy is the wild part of Francis. Francis has to see that the wild part of himself can be effective, can save him and protect him. Once he has allowed himself to recognize that it can act as a functional part of himself, he can integrate it into himself. But he can't integrate that part into himself -- and thereafter integrate himself into society -- until that part of himself has shown that it can protect him. And, thus, Francis must go on his initiation ritual.
Helen, as Francis' anima, is a strong and extremely eloquent character. She's in charge of all the Highlanders -- all of the male elements of Francis' mind. But she has experienced a great deal of shame. When Francis first meets Die, she's partly like a stately, refined English woman, and partly like the brave but rude Helen. Like Helen, Die lives all among men. Like Helen, Die can do anything the men surrounding her do, equally well, if not better.
Die's family history is her own history. And I'm sure that one could easily see this story as Die's unconscious journey just as easily as they could see it as Francis' journey. But Die's family history is also a projection of Francis' own experience with his anima onto Die. So, seeing Die, Francis gets a first glimpse of his anima.
Just as a side note, this double-view is a characteristic that Sir Walter Scott shares with Western novel writer Zane Grey. Many of his books could be seen as initiation rituals for young men. And the women in those stories could be seen as anima projections. But, I believe, especially in the books The Thundering Herd, Wildfire, and Desert Gold -- the conclusion of which, by the way, is, formally, very similar to that of Rob Roy -- the journey could just as easily be seen as the woman's rite of passaage, and the man could just as easily be seen as the woman's animus projection.
But, for purposes of the example, let's look, for now, at Die Vernon as holding, at least to some degree, the projection of Francis' anima.
In the form of Helen, the anima, in her full strength, is driving Francis away from integrating himself into society (his father's business), and into a kind of profession which, at that time, was pretty much synonymous with drunken dissolution (or envelopment in the unconscious, which would mean complete possession by the anima).
Francis is given an image of himself, by turning his back on society, as a rebellion, a rebellion as noble as that of a subjugated country against the ruling country. But his anima only has the power she has to convince him of this because she is imprisoned in the space in which she is imprisoned by society -- a society of men.
Francis has been exiled to France, in a manner of speaking, by his father. It is obvious throughout the book that Francis and his father share a loving relationship. But their relationship is definitely one that the father rules. Maybe the father rules the relationship a bit too much, and a bit too cruelly.
Francis has no space, in his feelings, for the world of men, because, it seems to him, his father controls it so completely. So he exiles his sensitivity, his anima, deep in his unconscious, just like he's been exiled to France.
I think this idea, that Francis' emotions were too overpowered by his father as such a dominant male, so that his anima became not only an exile, but a figure that drove Francis on to hard-headed rebellion, is reinforced by a lot of the speeches that Die gives -- as the kind of first view, or projected-view, that Francis gets of the anima.
In these speeces, Die often laments being born a woman at all. She actually gives three reasons for her discontent, which I will condense, as they take place in the midst of a dialogue on sympathy between Die and Francis (in which Francis keeps pledging sympathy, and then keeps criticizing everything Die says):
"'There are three things for which I am much to be pitied, if any one thought it worth while to waste any compassion upon me.
"'In the first place, I am a girl, and not a young fellow, and would be shut up in a madhouse if I did half the things I had a mind to; -- and that, if I had your happy prerogative of acting as you list, would make all the world mad with imitating and applauding me....
"'The second count of my indictment against fortune... [is that] I belong to an oppressed sect and antiquated religion, and, instead of getting credit for my devotion, as is due to all good girls beside, my kind friend, Justice Inglewood, may send me to the house of correction, merely for worshipping God in the way of my ancestors....
"'My third cause of vexation... [is that] I am by nature, as you may easily observe, of a frank and unreserved disposition -- a plain, true-hearted girl, who would willingly act openly and honestly by the whole world, and yet fate has involved me in such a series of nets and toils, and entanglements, that I dare hardly speak a word for fear of consequences -- not to myself, but to others.'"
In all of these instances, Die mentions either the possibility of being entrapped or the actual state of bieng entrapped. But she has just rescued her cousin from being imprisoned by Justice Inglewood, the judge she says "may send [her] to the house of correction."
Francis is threatened with imprisonment, sent to rescue friends from prison (and getting trapped there himself), captured as a traitor by British soldiers, and captured as a traitor by Scottish soldiers.
It is only in the last case that Francis is subjugated by a female. But by that time, he's far up North (which, I'm coming to learn, after having read William Morris, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and, now, Sir Walter Scott, must be, or must have been, an aspect of the unconscious for the English). He's finally in the realm of the anima. And he is under her control.
Die is, personally, entrapped in her contracted marriage to an Osbaldistone. Her only other option is to become a nun. But, being entrapped, as a woman, in society, she also stands for Francis -- who has been so overwhelmed by male society that he has had to exile his anima deep into his unconscious.
But certain elements of Francis' male side, also in a state of underdevelopment, also exiled to Francis' unconscious, are under the control of Francis' anima. The strongest of these male figures is Rob Roy, who enters the outskirts of the conscious world, scarcely going farther south (or scarcely going farther into the English conscious), than Northumberland.
However, once Francis has come face to face with his anima, once he has been imprisoned by her, like Rob Roy had been imprisoned by her, he learns that Rob Roy has been imprisoned, by male, English soldiers. Francis and Rob Roy have changed places. Now Francis is sent, by the anima, to rescue Rob Roy for her.
Francis meets the English troops and Rob Roy. Rob Roy makes a daring escape -- for which, it seems, Francis needed to be there. Francis, inspired, in turn, by Rob Roy, later makes an escape as well. They both escape by means of a river.
After Francis has escaped from the English troops, outwitting the English troops, by himself, with help neither from Die Vernon, Rob Roy, or Helen MacGregor, Francis is met, mysteriously, on the road by Die Vernon, who, apparently escaping from Britain altogether with a mysterious man, hands all Francis' father's account documents back to Francis. Somehow Die has managed to steal these accounts away from the villain Rashleigh, in order to restore Francis' father's business.
Not long after Die and the man disappear, Francis is again met on the road by Rob Roy. Rob Roy and Francis approach Rob Roy's wife Helen, and Helen takes a much milder tone. Rob Roy and Francis have, to a certain degree, managed some kind of integration of personality in a functional way, and are able to withstand the world of male society, which was previously overwhelming. So Helen, as the anima, is less able to possess the male aspects of the personality.
This, I think, also would explain why Rob Roy is so against his two sons, Hamish and Robin, being instructed by their Uncle Nicol Jarvie. Rob Roy is an element of the unconscious, or, possibly, of the pre-conscious -- like a dream. His sons may be a mix between the unconscious anima and himself. They live in a kind of liminal world. They can't be brought out into Jarvie's world of the conscious. Rob Roy has to resist such an offer. Every part of personality must be integrated as it is.
The remainder of the book follows this development. But I think I'd like to leave some of the final scenes alone. They're probably a lot more fun when you read them freshly, without anybody telling you what happens. I think it's fine to give away a lot of the surprising scenes in a book.
Sometimes, in complicated books, it's actually helpful to talk about some of the scenes -- I mean, just to say right out what happens in them. I've always appreciated books or essays that did that kind of thing, simply because then it helps me know what to look for in the language. It helps me read difficult passages. The scenes don't lose any excitement. The excitement may actually be enhanced.
But I don't feel so comfortable doing that with the final scenes in books, since there's something about the freshness of the scene that makes it exciting. So I'll leave the final exciting scenes for you all to read.