Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The English family of Waverley is long known for its Jacobite sympathies. In 1745, Waverley-Honour, the ancestral home of the family, is a quiet retreat for Sir Everard Waverley, an elderly Jacobite. In an attempt to seek political advantage in London, his brother, Richard Waverley, swears loyalty to the king.

Edward Waverley, the son of Whig Richard, divides his time between his father and his Uncle Everard at Waverley-Honour. On that great estate, Edward is free to come and to go as he pleases, for his tutor Pembroke, a devout dissenter, is often too busy writing religious pamphlets to spend much time with the education of his young charge. When Edward becomes old enough, his father obtains a commission in the army for him. Shortly afterward, he is ordered to Scotland to join the dragoons of Colonel Gardiner. Equipped with the necessary articles of dress, accompanied by a retinue of men selected by Sir Everard, and weighed down by the dissenting tomes of Pembroke, Edward leaves Waverley-Honour in quixotic fashion to conquer his world.

He is instructed by Sir Everard to visit an old friend, Sir Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine, whose estate is near the village of Tully-Veolan in the Scottish Lowlands. Soon after his arrival at the post of Colonel Gardiner, Edward obtains leave to go to Tully-Veolan. There he finds Sir Everard’s friend both cordial and happy to see him. The few days spent at Tully-Veolan convince Edward that Scotland is a wilder and a more romantic land than his native England. He pays little attention to Rose Bradwardine, the baron’s daughter, his youthful imagination being fired instead by the songs and dances of Davie Gellatley, the baron’s servant, and by tales about the Scottish Highlanders and their rude ways. At Tully-Veolan, he is also confronted by a political issue that was but an idealistic quarrel in his former existence; these Scottish people are Jacobites, and because of his father’s politics and his own rank in the army of Hanoverian George II of England Edward ostensibly is a Whig Royalist.

During his stay at Tully-Veolan, an event occurs that changes Edward’s life. It begins with the unexpected arrival of Evan Dhu Maccombich, a Highlander in the service of the renowned clan chieftain Fergus Mac Ivor Vich Ian Vohr, a friend of the baron. Since his taste for romantic adventure is aroused, Edward begs another extension of his leave in order to accompany Evan Dhu into the Highlands. In those rugged hills, Edward is led to the cave that shelters the band of Donald Bean Lean, an outlaw who robs and plunders the wealthy Lowlanders. Staying with the bandit only long enough to discover the romantic attachment between Donald’s daughter Alice and Evan Dhu, Edward again sets out into the hills with his cheerful young guide. His curiosity is sufficiently whetted by Evan’s descriptions of Fergus Mac Ivor and his ancient castle deep in the Highland hills at Glennaquoich.

The welcome Mac Ivor extends to Edward is openhanded and hearty. No less warm is the quiet greeting that Flora, Mac Ivor’s sister, has for the English soldier. Flora is a beautiful woman of romantic, poetic nature, and Edward soon finds himself deeply in love with the chieftain’s sister. Mac Ivor seems to sanction the idea of a marriage. That union can never be, however, for Flora vows her life to another cause—that of placing Charles, the young Stuart prince, on the throne of England. When Edward proposes marriage, Flora advises him to...

(The entire section is 1421 words.)