Conciliation, Resistance and the Unspeakable in the Heart of Mid-Lothian

By Lincoln, Andrew | Philological Quarterly, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Conciliation, Resistance and the Unspeakable in the Heart of Mid-Lothian


Lincoln, Andrew, Philological Quarterly


Scott's novels used to be seen as mixing regret for "the old days," when Scotland was an independent country, and "satisfaction at the peace, prosperity and progress which he felt had been assured by the Union."(1) This account has provided a useful way of thinking about the novels, but in some respects it is too simple. For while Scott was officially committed to the principle of Union, there is ample evidence of his dissatisfaction with some of its consequences. The Union left Scotland vulnerable to interfering reforms from London, such as the attempts to reform the Scottish legal system in 1807, and to abolish the small Scottish banknote in 1826 (both of which Scott opposed, fearful that Scotland might be left "tabula rasa for doctrines of bold innovation").(2) And it accelerated the economic transformation that threatened to undermine the traditional social fabric of Scotland.(3) Such developments alarmed and angered Scott, although he saw little scope for active resistance. His response to this dilemma has been described as "an ideology of noisy inaction.(4) The Heart of Mid-Lothian explores an alternative response, a passive resistance that involves evasion, concealment, a refusal to speak. This is also an aspect of Scott's own narrative technique, and offers a partial solution to the problem of representing Scottish feelings of alienation in a novel written for a polite British audience.

COVENANTING TRADITION

In The Heart of Mid-Lothian Scott's concern with resistance is focused most consistently by his representation of a family of Cameronian Covenanters. The choice of subject needs to be seen in relation to received views of Covenanting tradition, a tradition in which resistance to state authority had an important place. The Covenant, first instituted in the Reformation, was a solemn agreement binding individual Scots together as a nation, and binding them to God. It was renewed in 1638, and during the English civil war the Solemn League and Covenant was established (1643), committing both England and Scotland to establishing Presbyterianism as their national form of worship. When Charles II imposed episcopacy on the Kirk in 1662, a period of Covenanter defiance and government repression followed. In response to James II's attempts to crush the remnant of Covenanters, Richard Cameron and his followers declared war on the government in the "Sanquhar declaration." The history of these events was vigorously contested. In the hands of Whig historians, such as Defoe, Wodrow, and Cook, it offered dramatic examples of legitimate resistance to the oppressive, persecuting authority of a corrupt church and state in pre-Revolution Scotland, and of heroic martyrdom.(5) For Tory historians it offered examples of the dangers and absurdities of enthusiasm. The Tories were apt to deny that any Presbyterians were persecuted on matters of conscience. They portrayed the resisting Covenanters as a "Handful of desperate Ruffians" who "rendered themselves obnoxious to the Laws by repeated Murders, Robberies, and open Rebellions."(6) As Colin Kidd notes, Episcopalians exploited the Cameronians' claim to be the remnant of the true Kirk, suggesting that the Presbyterians of the established Kirk "were hypocritical Cameronians manques."(7)

Were the Covenanters to be celebrated as martyrs or condemned as half-crazed rebels and traitors? The issue was not simply a matter of distant history. Covenanting tradition was still venerated in the Scottish lowlands in the late eighteenth century, and in the early decades of the nineteenth. The two synods of the divided Secession church both sought to maintain the principles of the covenanted Church of Scotland. In the 1790s their adherents were thought to number between 100,000 and 150,000--perhaps 10 per cent of the Scottish population. They were spied on as potential Jacobins by the government, and according to John Brims "sent at least three ministers as delegates to the Scottish radical reformers" national conventions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conciliation, Resistance and the Unspeakable in the Heart of Mid-Lothian
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.