Back to Top

Tag Archives: Sir Walter Scott

At the end of the month I will be traveling to Scotland with Kristine Hughes Patrone of  Number One London Tours. We’ll be joining her Scottish Writers Retreat in Glasgow the second week, but first we’ll visit Edinburgh and sites between.

In August 1822 there was another momentous visit to Edinburgh. George IV traveled to Edinburgh on the first visit by a reigning monarch since King Charles I in 1633. The visit was encouraged by government ministers, because they wanted to keep Prinny from attending the Congress of Verona where the fate of post-Napoleonic war Europe was being decided.

There was another good reason for the visit, though. Scotland had been humming with unrest and the government was eager to avoid the revolutions that had rocked America and France. Even though George IV was rather unpopular, his visit was promoted by none other than Sir Walter Scott, who had been invited to dine with the King after the release of his popular novel, Waverley, which presented a romantic view of the Scottish Highlands that must have captivated Prinny as well as the general public.

Sir Walter Scott worked with others to plan the royal visit which was filled with the sort of pageantry that Prinny loved. Scott persuaded Prinny that he was entitled to call himself a Highlander, because of his Stuart bloodline. The King promptly ordered a highland outfit of bright red Royal Tartan, which he is shown wearing in the idealized portrait by David Wilkie.

I will be flying from London to Edinburgh, but Prinny arrived for his visit by ship and was met with the promised celebrations that had sent lowlanders and highlanders scrambling for the proper kilts. The celebrations lasted a little more than two weeks, almost exactly the amount of time I’ll be in Scotland. It also rained a lot and I am hoping that is not true for my visit.

I’ll be thinking of Prinny as I walk in his footsteps, walking the Royal Mile from Holyrood to Edinburgh Castle.

I just hope I won’t be carrying an umbrella?

Have you visited Edenburgh? What should we not miss seeing?

Read Diane’s latest!
A Lady Becomes a Governess, July 2018, Book 1 in the Governess Swap Series
Available now from online vendors.

A while back, I picked up Kisses on Paper at a library book sale. It’s a collection of love letters by women, edited by Jill Dawson, and contains a number of letters from our period. They certainly bust any stereotype that ladies of the period were meek, demure and lacking in sex drive.

Jane Clairmont, also known as Claire Clairmont, spent a summer with the Shelleys and Byron and conceived a strong passion for Byron. Here she writes to him to arrange and overnight tryst and awaits nearby for his answer.

“Have you then any objection to the following plan? On Thursday Evening we may go out of town together by some stage or mail about the distance of ten or twelve miles. There we shall be free and unknown; we can return early the following morning. I have arranged every thing here so that the slightest suspicion may not be excited. Pray do so with your people.”

“Will you admit me for two moments to settle with you where? Indeed I will not stay an instant after you tell me to go. Only so much may be said and done in a short time by an interview which writing cannot effect. Do what you will, or go where you will, refuse to see me and behave unkindly, I shall never forget you. I shall ever remember the gentleness of your manners and the wild originality of your countenance. Having been once seen, you are not to be forgotten.”

Mary Wollstonecraft, a pioneer in women’s rights, engages in an affair with Gilbert Imlay, with whom she had a daughter, Fanny. A few romance novels have mentioned her (usually as an inspiration for the heroine) but I wonder how many romance readers know about this original and passionate woman.

“You can scarcely imagine with what pleasure I anticipate the day, when we are to begin almost to live together; and you would smile to hear how many plans of employment I have in my head, now that I am confident my heart has found peace in your bosom. Cherish me with that dignified tenderness, which I have only found in you; and your own dear girl will try to keep under a quickness of feeling, which has sometimes given you pain. Yes, I will be good, that I may deserve to be happy; and whilst you love me, I cannot again fall into the miserable state which rendered life a burthen almost too heavy to be borne.”

“But, good night! God bless you! Sterne says that is equal to a kiss—yet I would rather give you the kiss into the bargain, glowing with gratitude to Heaven, and affection to you. I like the word affection, because it signifies something habitual; and we are soon to meet, to try whether we have mind enough to keep our hearts warm. I will be at the barrier a little after ten o’clock tomorrow.”

Some of these letter writers showed their strength in more conventional ways, by asserting their rights within their relationships.

For financial reasons, Maria Bicknell and the painter John Constable had to wait five years to marry. Although she apologizes for the advice she gives him, I suspect the apology is more a matter of form.

“Believe me, I shall feel a more lasting pleasure in knowing that you are improving your time, than I should do while you were on a stolen march with me round the Park. Still I am not heroine enough to say, wish, or mean that we should never meet. I know that to be impossible. But then, let us resolve it shall be but seldom; not as inclination, but as prudence shall dictate. Farewell, dearest John—may every blessing attend you, and in the interest I feel in your welfare, forgive the advice I have given you, who, I am sure are better qualified to admonish me. Resolution is, I think, what we now stand most in need of, to refrain for a time, for our mutual good, from the society of each other.”

Here Charlotte Carpenter writes to Sir Walter Scott, early in their relationship:

“Before I conclude this famous epistle, I will give you a little hint—that is, not to put so many musts into your letters—it is beginning rather too soon; and another thing is, that I take the liberty not to mind them much, but I expect you [to?] mind me.”

And here is an excerpt from a sweet letter from Mary Wordsworth to William, delicately alluding to their first night together.

“Dearest William! I am sorry about thy eye—that it is not well before now, & I am sorry for what causes in me such pious & exulting gladness—that you cannot fully enjoy your absence from me—indeed William I feel, I have felt that you cannot, but it overpowers me to be told it by your own pen I was much moved by the lines written with your hand in one of D’s letters where you spoke of coming home thinking you ‘would be of great use’ to me—indeed my love thou wouldst but I did not want thee so much then, as I do now that our uncomfortableness is passed away—if you had been here, no doubt there would have existed in me that underconsciousness that I had my all in all about me—that feeling which I have never wanted since the solitary night did not separate us, except in absence…”

I rather love this picture of the two of them!

Who are some of your favorite women of the Regency? Any favorite couples who might (or might not) be inspiration for romance?


Happy Halloween!

My quick surfing of the net and peek into Google Books yielded very little information about Halloween during the Regency.
In 1818, Blackwood’s Magazine entertained its readers with ghost stories from Wales (as opposed to Scotland, where such stories usually originated, apparently). Witches, ghosts, demons, evil spirits, dogs of hell, fairies, corpse candles, and something called Kyhirraeth, a “doleful foreboding noise before death,” were discussed.
This example amused me:

The Rev. Mr Thomas Baddy, who lived in Denbigh town, and was a dissenting minister in that place, went into his study one night, and while he was reading or writing, he heard some one behind him laughing and grinning at him, which made him stop a little. It came again, and there he wrote on a piece of paper, that devil wounding scripture, 1 John iii. ‘ For this was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil,’ and held it backwards towards him, and the laughing ceased for ever; for it was a melancholy word to a scoffing devil, and enough.

Clever fellow, Reverend Tom. Nerves of steel, as well. I believe I would have screamed and run from the room.

It seemed to me that the Regency era people prided themselves on being rational, with no time for such nonsense as ghosts and witches and fairies. I suspect the prevailing view on the occult was similar to Sir Walter Scott’s.
In Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft Scott clearly scoffs at ghost sightings and such. He believes in rational explanations for events which are credited to the supernatural.

Here’s an example in Scott’s words:

The remarkable circumstance of Thomas, the second Lord Lyttelton, prophesying his own death within a few minutes, upon the information of an apparition, has been always quoted as a true story. But of late it has been said and published, that the unfortunate nobleman had previously determined to take poison, and of course had it in his own power to ascertain the execution of the prediction. It was no doubt singular that a man, who meditated his exit from the world, should have chosen to play such a trick on his friends. But it is still more credible that a whimsical man should do so wild a thing than that a messenger should be sent from the dead, to tell a libertine at what precise hour he should expire.

Sir Walter is clearly a skeptic. Too bad he didn’t have access to Celebrity Ghost Stories on the Bio Channel.

Perhaps in Wales and Scotland, families practiced old rituals on Halloween during the Regency. Perhaps people told ghost stories by the light of the fireplace at night and carved turnips into jack o’ lanterns, but I suspect Halloween was not celebrated among the Beau Monde.

I’m celebrating Halloween today with a contest! Seven authors, including me, are hosting a Novel Trick or Treat Contest. Stop by my website to start. We’re each giving away prizes to some lucky commenters, but, like all good trick or treaters, you have to visit each of us in turn. Come join the fun!
How else are you celebrating Halloween today?
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By