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Adjusting the Borders of Self: Sir Walter Scott's The Two Drovers.

Border theory, though mainly concerned with postcolonial and avant-garde literature, can invigorate the reading of older canonical texts written by the staunchest Tories of English Literature. As an emerging socio-political approach to art and literature, it investigates the ways borderlands incarnate history and thus emerge as the locus for the transformation of subjectivities and cultures. Russ Castronovo explains the nature and significance of such settings. By way of definition the border is the "most heavily traveled route, a path beaten by the incessant 'double movement of containment and resistance'" (216). It is a "site of internal discord" that, nevertheless, points to the "future and durability" of the nation. Hence, as "the site of difference, the border becomes strategic in prompting the desire for sameness" (197). Though it is the space of an oppositional, conflictual discourse of the marginalized, it is as well the space of hegemony that "regulates the discourses of legitimacy, institutions, and nation." In short, the border is "an ambiguous ground whose penetrable boundaries prove advantageous not only for the border-crosser, but for ideological formations that structure social realities" (199).

Among the canonical Tory figures of English literature who deserves fresh attention is Sir Walter Scott.[1] In The Great Tradition, F. R. Leavis expresses much reservation against the "heroics" of Scott's historical novels; he admires him, however, for being "primarily a kind of an inspired folk-lorist, qualified to have done in fiction something analogous to the ballet-opera."(5). Leavis singles out The Two Drovers as a work that deserves special critical esteem. As I see it, the merit of this work does not lie solely in its exuberant employment of folklore, but also in the way it delineates an exemplary paradigm of the dynamics and problematics of regional border-crossing.[2] To explicate this paradigm, the study, in addition to the tenets of border theory, draws on the insights of historicism and postcolonial theory to integrate the novella's poetics of space and the politics of nationalism. Hence, the study traces the material and symbolic resonances of the narrative movement from border market, a modern and emerging transcendental space, to an exiguous region called the "waste," to enclosed ground, to inn, to the final transcendental space of courtroom.

The novella recounts the fate of two drovers who are also business associates: Robin Oig M'Combich, a "strongly limbed," thrifty Celt who has a cautious, stern-but-steady disposition, and Harry Wakefield, a "gallantly formed," six-foot, Yorkshire yokel, who is mirthful but occasionally "irascible," and fond of the "pugilistic art" and betting at horse races.[3] Throughout the text the two characters are stereotyped and juxtaposed; while M'Combich is depicted as the model of the haughty and noble descendent of the Highland feudal clan, Wakefield is depicted as the "model of old English merry yeoman" (305).

The novella opens with the lively bustle of Doune Fair in Perthshire and M'Combich eager to embark on his business journey. His old Muhme (aunt), however, is agitated because she has just experienced an alarming Taishataragh (second-sight) in which she saw M'Combich's hands tainted with English blood. M'Combich dismisses her prophecy, but, in order to appease her mind, he gives his dirk to Hugh Morrison, an acquaintance drover from the Lowlands.

M'Combich joins Wakefield and together they drive their herds of cows southward, crossing into a place in Cumberland, England, known as The Waste. Here, available enclosures are scarce; M'Combich and Wakefield must separate to secure grass and accommodations for their weary and hungry cattle, only to find that they have each made a deal for the same enclosure: M'Combich with Squire Ireby, Wakefield with Master Fleecebumpkin, Ireby's bailiff. Ireby declines Wakefield's deal, and despite M'Combich's offer to share the enclosure, Wakefield is bitter and begins to view M'Combich as a treacherous rival. Consequently, when M'Combich appears at the Hesketts' inn, Wakefield, in order to settle the dispute about rights to Ireby's enclosure, and to amend their breach of friendship, asks him to "take a tussle for love on the sod." M'Combich refuses the idea of a boxing match, but Wakefield persists and boxes him hard before a derisive Anglo-Saxon crowd. Humiliated and enraged, M'Combich seeks Morrison to retrieve his dirk and, with a single stab he "splits the very heart" of Wakefield. The English judge, though highly sympathetic, finds M'Combich guilty of predetermined murder and sentences him to death.

The vision of tragedy in The Two Drovers resides in the empirical failure of a conceptual paradigm of border-crossing to materialize. In its conceptual idealized form, border-crossing is a dynamically transformative urbanizing force, an emblem of economic euphoria and progress, an apparatus for the formation of a collective post-regionalist identity, and an inclusive measure for the re-orientation of the citizen to emulate a bourgeois popularized model of Humanism's and the Enlightenment's archetypal Homo Universalis, the universal man, whose outstanding traits are rationality, versatility, and esprit de corps.[4] V.S. Pritchett appropriately remarks that, in his novels, "Scott does not revive the past or escape into it; he assimilates it for his own prejudices. He writes like a citizen" (183). I should like to add that he writes as the ideal British citizen.

Thematically The Two Drovers is a vindication of the hypothesis that a feasible vision of nation building rests on the hybridization of the best in the indigenous/vernacular cultures within the British Isles. Hence the cultural aim of the story is to critique the resistance of subaltern ethno-racial paradigms of the isolated regions of Britain to the sovereign anglocentric culture. To migrate out from the boundaries of the nativist to the transethnic and the transracial is not only to part with the yearning for origin, namely, the clan, feudalism, Old Scotland, but also to set up what the Chicano critic Renato Rosaldo terms "cultural in-betweeness" as the highest virtue, the very emblem of cultivation and progress (qtd. in Saldivar 28). Significantly, and despite its tragic ending, M'Combich never perceives his border-crossing into England as exile, diaspora, or arriving at the colonial frontier. Moreover, the narrator, a young Scottish lawyer and the mouthpiece of Scott, laments the fall of M'Combich but not the elimination of the Scottish Highland border. And in his court speech, the Judge, another mouthpiece for Scott, desires to install a polyphonic, meta-border, pan-British discourse of modernity. He consequently suffuses his speech with a rhetoric that effaces differences among Celts and Saxons. At the outset of his journey, M'Combich himself shares in the act of difference-effacing. When his Muhme, the voice of anglophobia and the symbol of the Scottish/Highland communal consciousness hostile to cultural assimilation, walks the protective deasil around him, takes away his dirk, and in her Taishataragh warns that "there is blood on your hand, and it is English blood. The blood of a Gael is richer and redder" (304), M'Combich resorts to the sacred and the secular, the Bible and rationality:

Prutt, trutt . . . For shame, Muhme-give me the dirk. You cannot tell by the colour the difference betwixt the blood of a black bullock and a white one, and you speak of knowing Saxon from Gaelic blood. All men have their blood from Adam.(304)

Narration in The Two Drovers is bound by the binarisms of Scotland/England, feudalism/modernism, nature/culture, self/other, death/life. Although the terrain between the poles of these binarisms is the stage where the conflict of cultures and the problematics of identity-fashioning are dramatized, they are simultaneously the domain where the necessity of establishing a border-challenging, collective, national identity is asserted. M'Combich's and Wakefield's tragedies lie in their inability to transcend the exclusory polarization of these binarisms because their politics of geocultural identity neither recognizes (the case of Wakefield) nor seeks wholeheartedly (the case of M'Combich) the values of cultural in-betweeness and self-hybridization.

The context of The Two Drovers is the pre-capitalist, turn-of-the-nineteenth-century market economy of commodity production and circulation, and its corollary, the vacillations of the process of supply and demand. Historically, this period is the dawn of economic modernism and social modernity, especially in the hinterlands. The narrative's discourse embodies an aesthetics of the market, in particular, the market near regional borders. It is from the perspective of this aesthetics that signs of contempt for either commerce or the preoccupation with money-making are totally absent.[5] The Scotland-England "high" and "brisk" border markets of Doune and Falkirk, with their large healthy droves, are not only consecrated and depicted as the very sign of national vitality and benefaction, but they are fetishized as the instrument of nation formation: "It has been a brisk market, several dealers had attended from the northern and midland counties in England, and English money had flown so merrily about as to gladden the hearts of the Highland farmers" (301).

Since border markets aestheticize a transcendental object of desire, "brave" English pounds, they orchestrate the capacities of their human agents with other social, political, and economic forces.[6] To become enmeshed in this network of symbiotic, dynamic relationships engenders an ethical pleasure because governmental power infiltrates subjectivity and teaches the government of self, thus maximizing the citizen's humanity and the humanity of the community.[7] The aesthetics of border markets not only creates a common language of communication and unifying axiology (i.e., a conceptual outlook that interprets the nature, reality, and significance of values), but devises new idioms for reflecting upon subjectivity, and new indices for inscribing and computing such subjectivity. Self is no longer perceived as personality or soul, a non-material, invisible inner substance; it is perceived as an object that can be crafted, grafted, registered, managed, transported, and circulated in alliance with the state/monarchy's political and social enterprises.[8] Though the narrator seems to hold an essentialist notion of racial differences, this essentialism is actually the work of nature. As culture, the aesthetics of border markets, he insinuates, is a corrective force because it calls into question all natural/essentialist boundaries; it decodes and recodes them, dismissing difference and authenticating sameness. With the fear of the recurrence of civil strife, and the not-so-distant threats of Europeans hostilities looming across the Channel, the aesthetics of the regional border markets is a political priority and a moral imperative.[9]

These markets--to borrow a term from sociolinguistics --are "contact zones." Here, the old Scottish/Highland, subaltern episteme, rooted in feudal notions of clannish honor, confronts the capitalist, English sovereign one, rooted in relatively pragmatic notions of personal honor. In these border places, notions of self, identity, and social roles are tested, forged, or displaced. Jose Saldivar's commentary on the problematics and the dynamics of border settings is pertinent; a border zone, he writes is "the social space of subaltern encounters, the Janus-faced border line in which peoples geopolitically forced to separate themselves now negotiate with one another and manufacture new relations, hybrid cultures, and multiple-voiced aesthetics" (13-14).

It would be appropriate to claim that The Two Drovers centers on the irony of how the transcendental dynamics of a setting is eclipsed by its temporary problematics. Initially, at the outset of their business journey, Wakefield and M'Combich, prototypes of the entrepreneurial self, view the regional borderlands as the site of economic exchange, transsubjectivity, and acculturation; to accentuate a fetishized image of border crossing, Scott employs folklore as the sign of their serene reciprocation:

Robin Oig. . . spoke the English language rather imperfectly upon any other topics but stots [young oxen] and kyloes [small breed of long-horned Highland cattle], and Harry Wakefield could never bring his broad Yorkshire tongue to utter a single word of Gaelic . . . They had, however, better modes of awakening the echoes; for Wakefield could sing many a ditty to the praise of Moll, Susan, and Cicely, and Robin Oig had a particular gift at whistling interminable pibrochs [bagpipe tunes] through all their involutions, and - what was more agreeable to his companion's southern ear - knew many of the northern airs, both lively and pathetic, to which Wakefield learned to pipe a bass. (306)

Tragically, however, when the two characters cross into the barren land of the Waste, symbolically the zone of perilous crossings, where enclosures and drove accommodations are scant, their view of regional borderlands degenerates into a view of them as a site of racial stereotyping and strife, and the dynamics of borderlands in relation to self-adjusting identity-fashioning comes to a halt. From hybrid personalities, Wakefield and M'Combich become monological border-crossers unable to accommodate each other's subjectivity and unwilling to partake of the narrator's and the judge's biaxial visionary discourse of ideal citizenship and nation-building.

The essence of M'Combich's and Wakefield's crisis is their failure in the zone of perilous crossings to transit over the boundaries of their geopolitical-cultural identities and to become the prototype of universal man who is also total man.[10] For although both are caught in the euphoria of the circuits of commodity production and circulation-seeking monetary capital, neither genuinely seeks moral capital emblematized by absolute obedience to English institutional law and the ardent quest for cultural in-betweeness. This failure is a cognitive one. Moreover, although both characters appear to be, to some extent, bicultured, their acculturation is cursory, and they fail to demystify the authority of their nativist axiological paradigms: in the case of Wakefield it is the laws of the pugilistic ring; in the case of M'Combich it is that of his father's dirk. Since the narrator primarily correlates M'Combich with the image of the tragic hero as a border-crosser, further analysis of his predicament is in order.

M'Combich's hamartia is that as an entrepreneurial self he violates the aesthetics of the border markets because his attachment to ancestry propels him to adopt--to use Saldivar's term-- a differentiating dialectics, and he dissociates personal progress from any intracommunal vision of social and political progress. In other words, M'Combich views his border-crossing as a liminal (i.e., transitional) phase, a mere pragmatic procedure to ascend the Scottish feudal hierarchy; it is not, metaphorically, a permanent condition called into being by the capitalist urbanizing force of pan-Britishism:

He was a topping person in his way, transacted considerable business on his own behalf.... He might have increased his business to any extent had he condescended to manage it by deputy; but except a lad or two, sister's sons of his own, Robin rejected the idea of assistance.... He remained, therefore, contented with the highest premium given to persons of his description, and comforted himself with the hopes that a few journeys to England might enable him to conduct business on his own account, in a manner becoming his birth. (302)

The narrative projects M'Combich's dialectics of differentiation as a cognitive/semiotic aberration; in his charge to the jury, the judge declares that M'Combich's "crime... arose less out of the malevolence of the heart than the error of the understanding... from an unhappily perverted notion of that which is right" (317). M'Combich's aberrations render him a split, double-minded personality who oscillates between contradictory attitudes. In England, the cultural space of modernity, he conceals his "pride of birth" like a "miser's treasure" because he realizes that boasting about it "might be both obnoxious and ridiculous"; in Scotland, the cultural space of tribalism, he, the text insinuates, discloses it publicly (303). Furthermore, in Scotland, when embarrassed by his aunt's Taishataragh, because it was witnessed by Lowland Farmers who do not believe in Druidical mythologies, M'Combich adopts a rationalistic attitude maintaining its fallaciousness; in England, however, when humiliated publicly and physically by Wakefield, he believes in his aunt's "fatal prophecy" and he superstitiously wonders: "My Muhme's word--when did her word fall to the ground?" (313).

Another symptom of M'Combich's cognitive/semiotic aberration is his idealization of an obsolete, feudal form of patriarchy, symbolized by the dirk--clearly a phallic symbol--and his legitimization of revenge when one's name, symbolically the badge of the clan's honour, is desecrated:

The treasured ideas of self-importance and self-opinion, of ideal birth and quality, had become more precious to him (like the hoard to the miser), because he could only enjoy them in secret. But that hoard was pillaged, the idols which he had secretly worshipped had been desecrated and profaned. Insulted, abused, and beaten, he was no longer worthy, in his own opinion, of the name he bore, or the lineage which he belonged to. (313-14)

M'Combich's form of patriarchy is erroneous because it is incompatible with the new form of the omnipresent state patriarchy.[11] Moreover, it is dangerous because its glorification of extraction is merely a perverse form of self-promotion; it is not tempered with any rhetoric of hybridity, assimilation, and self-expansion. Worst, however, it interiorizes the private sphere, the locus for irrationality and anglophobia. Without the act of exteriorizing the private sphere, identity negotiations at borders, within and without, do not actualize, intracommunal links are not forged, and the ideal of the universal man remains unappropriated.

Unlike Rob Roy's, M'Combich's border dreams are not utopian, and his border troubles neither bestow upon him a pseudo-sacred communal aura, nor do they render him an exemplar of social and ethnic resistance to anglocentric assimilation. On the contrary, the text depicts M'Combich as a dangerous agent who can jeopardize the nation's emerging golden era of abundance, progress, and anglocentricism; the judge warns:

This man [M'Combich] has failed in his ignorance, and from mistaken notions of honour. But his crime is not the less that of murder . . . and should this man's action remain unpunished, you may unsheath under various pretences, a thousand daggers betwixt the Land's-end and the Orkneys [i.e. the southern extreme of England and the northern extreme of Scotland]. (319)

The trial, therefore, has a cathartic function; it is a sort of border purgation/purgation at the regional border; the law purges M'Combich's "un-English," nativist cultural paradigm and it subdues his cultural resistance. And although narration in The Two Drover deals mostly with liminality, the trial is a scene of genuine but tragic and costly assimilation into anglocentricism and civilization: "He met his fate with great firmness, and acknowledged the justice of his sentence" (319). M'Combich's acceptance of the jury's verdict is, in fact, acknowledgement of the reality of nation and the transcendentalism of the aesthetics of border markets. To accentuate his acceptance with the pseudo-biblical sayings "I give a life for the life I took" and "death pays all debts; it will pay that too," is to sanctify the codes of English institutional law as the only true and "civilized" form of justice.12 The lesson Scott seems to convey at the novella's closure is that readers must integrate M'Combich's individual tragic experience in regional borderlands into a collective border-challenging identity.

The concept of universal man offers a viable alternative to the conflict between the narrative's two proffered modes of existence, feudalism/tribalism (Scotland/M'Combich) and capitalism/modernism (England/Wakefield). Scott's cultural project of universal man is attuned to a bourgeois lay society that accedes to the market practices of laissez-faire, as it is attuned to his Toryism and his Burkean beliefs. As a social type, universal man comprises the best qualities of the Highlander M'Combich and the Saxon Wakefield--that is, he comingles the "resolution" and the "pride" of the former with the "common sense" and the "mirth" of the latter. He is a successful crosser of borders--geopolitical, racial, cultural, and linguistic-- and is an entrepreneur who conforms to the aesthetics of the markets, where he partakes in the circulation of goods as well as the circulation of progressive values. This process of double circulation intensifies his sense of living and his undivided allegiance to the currently uppermost national center. As a cultural ideal he is a confident dreamer, shrewd trader, practical optimist, and a social contractor, in the Burkean sense, who is adamant about his intra-communal bonds.13 He recognizes the mutual indispensability of the categories of law and market, and thus he is an unwavering defender of the institutional power of the state's law, the very guardian of flourishing markets, especially regional border markets. In order to guarantee the centrality of this institution he continuously adjusts the borders of self by engaging in the dynamics of multiple identities and subjectivity-grafting, and by ever holding in his mind a bourgeois, secular vision of progress.

Although a hybrid, bicultured personality, he is not a split subject who moves back and forth from one nativist ethnic axiology to another. What orients his psychological equilibrium is the Augustan concept of the "golden mean"; he neither refuses to exchange altogether, as does M'Combich, nor exchanges excessively and in an unconventional manner, as does Wakefield. His consciousness is governed not by the dialectics of difference but by that of sameness and functionality. Despite his preoccupation with self-interest, self-cultivation, and private accounts, he is a political being absorbed in the dynamics of nation formation. In sum, universal man is total man; his outstanding trait is the versatility and willingness to permit the power of the new state centers of capitalism--their "governmentality" to use Foucault's term--to infiltrate his intra-subjectivity and transform it into intersubjectivity.

Once we have fixed on this concept of universal man as the didactic pursuit of The Two Drovers, the narrative's thorough preoccupation with space rather than temporality becomes understandable. Juan Bruce-Novoa's remarks on time and space, discontinuity and continuity are revealing:

Discontinuity is the social order, founded on work and time, the concept of the individual which rigidly defines us as separate from others. Continuity includes spaces in which human individuality is violated and depersonalized, resulting in the dissolution of the normal order, the interruption of temporal flow and the unity of all particular beings in spatial simultaneity. (qtd. in Saldivar 78)

Not surprisingly, all agents in the text, human (M'Combich, Wakefield, Morrison) and inhuman (sovereign English Law), engage in a quest for space; the former literally seek lucrative markets, the latter seeks the creation of functional, hegemonized urban places. As an object of desire, space is projected kaleidoscopically; from the perspective of entrepreneurial characters, it is the locus for liminality; from the perspective of English institutional law, it is the crucible for dynamic demographic synthesis; and from the perspective of the narrator, it is the domain for the ethics of cultural in-betweeness.

The novella's poetics of space has yet another aspect, the delineation of a tripartite spacial/racial division of Highland, Lowland, England, which corresponds to the tripartite process of border-crossing--isolation, liminality, assimilation--and which, furthermore, corresponds to the temporal tripartite division of past (i.e., feudaism as the ancient universal system of the land), present (i.e.,the ongoing process of urbanization prevailing unfalteringly over the land), and future (i.e., the ultimate dominance of anglocentric capitalism).[14] In light of the story's aesthetics and politics of liminality, it is the Lowlands, the native region of Sir Walter Scott, that is the most privileged geographic space because it borders on two worlds (Scotland and England), two languages, two cultures, and two modes of life. It is not only the place of high exuberant border markets, but also the site, par excellence, for hybridity, and the flourishing of the principles of civic society where the dialectics of difference is constantly subverted by the agencies of rationality and respect for order, and where the cultures of the skene-dhu (dirk) and that of the conquering "clothyard shafts" and broad "good sabres" are absent. When Hugh Morrison, at the outset of the journey, volunteers to safe-keep M'Combich's dirk in order to curb the prophesized conflict, he proudly declares that lowlanders "never took short weapons against a man in their lives. And neither needed they: they had their broadswords" (304).

Although the bicultured, tolerant, entrepreneurial Lowlander Morrison is admirable, it is Mrs. Heskett, the publican's wife -- half Scot and half Saxon-- who possesses a truly heteroglot subjectivity and is idealized. She runs a successful inn, the very emblem of liminal spaces, where border-crossers exchange business, cultures, and values. Her discourse, though brief, is memorable because it simultaneously counteracts that of M'Combich's anglophobic aunt and that of the gaelophobic men who fanned Wakefield's irascible nature when he lost his bargain for Ireby's enclosure and who cheered his boxing of M'Combich. The conceptual image of an inn as would be run solely by Mrs. Heskett, the text suggests, is the ideal civil/civic sphere where the process of cultural hybridity enmeshes travelling entrepreneurial selves in a network of symbiotic, dynamic relationships, incorporating them into the emerging body politic, thus generating further spaces and loci, within and without, for lucrative identity negotiations, acculturation, and transsubjectivity, and ultimately installing one unified axiological/semiotic system and securing the coveted full representation of Pan-Britishism, the culmination of a linearly progressive historical process.[15]

Scott's perception of nation is topospatial and modern, and it exhibits affinities with Henri Lefebvre's. A topospatial perception historicizes space: on the one hand, it invalidates the concept of space as an abstract "aesthetic reification," and, on the other hand, it asserts that space is a construct criss-crossed and pitted by time and politics. Thus, space is both "actual and synchronic" and is "inscribed" by temporality. Nation, Lefebvre concludes, is a "focused space embodying a hierarchy of centres--commercial centres for the most part, but also religious ones, cultural ones, and so on, and a main centre--i.e., the national capital" (110-17). As Jose Saldivar explains, a topospatial conceptualization of nation is synthetic; it asserts the "profound interaction of space and history, geography and psychology, nationhood and imperialism"; it defines space not as a mere "setting" but as a "formative presence throughout" (79). In The Two Drovers, the courtroom, which totally occupies the narrative's closure, is the absolute, transcendental space that guarantees and perpetuates the hierarchy of the larger focussed space of nation. It is at every liminal border and yet it is beyond all borders. The closure glorifies the courtroom as a spacial crucible that promises to synthesize the three ethno-racial nativist spheres of Highland, Lowland, and England. In short, the courtroom is an anti-border, meta-racial, meta-ethnic cathartic patrolling force. M'Combich's hubris, his feudal, un-English concept of revenge as justice, is partly blamed on the failure of this patrolling force to infiltrate the place of his origins; the judge declares,

We may repeat to ourselves, in alleviation of this poor man's unhappy action, that his case is a very peculiar one. The country which he inhabits was, in the days of many now alive, inaccessible to the laws, not only of England, which have not even yet penetrated thither, but to those to which our neighbours of Scotland [i.e. Lowlands] are subjected, and which must be supposed to be, and no doubt actually are, found upon the general principles of justice and equity which pervade every civilized country. (319)

In effect The Two Drovers itself is an aesthetic space: on the one hand, narration about entrepreneurial crossers and their border and market crossings is intended to offer the novella's nineteenth-century historical readers a therapeutic space for overcoming the fear of the failure of an overarching national culture to consolidate because of European hostilities; on the other hand, the text stands at the liminal cross roads between the Augustan Age, with its emphasis on rationality, order, the golden mean, and universal man, and the Romantic Age with its fascination with the past, folklore, and larger-than-life heroes. The narrator exhibits a Burkean conviction of the necessity of the hegemonizing tendencies of the monarchial state, yet he expresses a muffled yearning for the past and for old Scotland, a paradoxical sentiment Renato Rosaldo aptly terms "imperialist nostalgia"-- i.e., the "phenomenon of people's longing for what they themselves have destroyed," or, I may add, have passively watched being destroyed (qtd. in Saldivar 23).

Scott's narrative art, like the borders it delineates, is Janus-faced; David Daiches's general assessment of Scott is worth quoting:

Scott's poems and novels belong, of course, to the history of English literature, but they belong also, if in a rather special way, to the history of Scottish literature.... As a figure in English literature he is known as the author of vigorous verse narratives which reflect a romantic interest in the past and as the founder of the historical novel. But seen in the context of Scottish culture, Scott emerges as an almost antiromantic figure, torn between love of the ancient traditions of his country and a nostalgic feeling for Scotland's lost independence on the one hand and on the other hand a shrewd yet reluctant appreciation of belonging to the modern world of commercial progress and English ascendancy. (831)

In my viewpoint, The Two Drovers is an extraordinary work because Scott's appreciation of the emerging practical, urban modern world is neither reluctant nor daunted; he boldly poses as an apostle of anglocentricism, and he projects himself as a sort of a modern expert on identity and, to use Michel Foucault's term, "technologies of the self," installing a system of truth about it. Homi Bhabha once remarked that the attitude of modern thinkers towards the question of identity in relation to social modernity is pragmatic; Scott, like these thinkers, shifts "the question of identity from the ontological and epistemological imperative--What is identity?--to the ethical and political prerogative--What are identities for?--or even to present the pragmatist alternative--What can identities do?" (434).

In a new emerging era of globalization and large-scale acculturation, where every human being is destined to be a border-crosser of some sort, and where places are increasingly becoming Janus-faced, Scott's novelistic art is thought-provoking.


Bhabha, Homi. "Minority Maneuvers and Unsettled Negotiations." Editor's Introduction. Critical Inquiry 23.3 (1997): 431-459.

Brinton, Crane. Ideas and Men: The Story of Western Thought. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1950.

Castronovo, Russ. "Compromised Narratives along the Border: The Mason-Dixon Line, Resistance, and Hegemony." Border Theory: The Limits of Cultural Politics. Eds. Scott Michaelsen and David E. Johnson. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997. 195-220.

Daiches, David. A Critical History of English Literature. Vol. 2. New York: Ronald Press, 1960. 2 vols.

Lauber, John. Sir Walter Scott, Revised Edition. Boston: Twayne, 1989. Ser. 39.

Leavis, F.R. The Great Tradition. New York: New York UP, 1960.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

Pritchett, V.S. "Scott." Complete Collected Essays. New York: Random House, 1991 page number?

Saldivar, Jose David, Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies. Berkeley: U of California P, 1997.

Scott, Walter. "The Two Drovers." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Eds. M.H. Abrams et al. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 1993. 301-320. 2 vols.

Sutherland, John. The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995.

[1] Though not literally a member of the Tory party, Scott had strong and deep Tory sympathies that manifested themselves throughout his life. By lineage a member of one of the most eminent Border clans, Scott as a child heard many tales of Highland Jacobites. These tales shaped both his romantic antiquarian interests and his Episcopalian beliefs, and they formed the foundation of his rigid unenlightened Toryism.

Scott's influential Tory friends were many, among them Sir William Rae, the Lord Advocate, James Wedderburn, the Solicitor General, and the statesman Lord Henry Dundas Melville, the Scottish right-hand man of William Pitt, Britain's Prime Minister from 1783-1801, and again from 1804-06.

Scott was steadily adamant about his Tory patronage. In 1820 he intermediated with Tory ministers on behalf of the highly unqualified and unscrupulous Tory friend John Wilson to procure him the chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University. Wilson's rival to the chair was the distinguished metaphysician Sir William Hamilton.

But perhaps the best mirror to Scott's Toryism is the way he enmeshed himself in the world of anti-Whig journalism. J.G. Lockhart, Scott's son-in-law, and John Wilson, who adopted the pen name of Christopher North, in 1817 founded Blackwood's Magazine to be a rival to Francis Jeffrey's Edinburgh Review, which was founded in 1802. Although Scott did not write detractions, he condoned and implicity supported Lockhart's and Wilson's anti-Whig defamatory and scurrilous articles (some of these articles were directed against Leigh Hunt and the "Cockney School of Poetry"). In 1820 Scott, with other prominent Tories, secretly financed the new Tory journal the Beacon (latter reissued as the Sentinel), whose aim was to assail radical Whiggism. The Tory-Whig rivalry led to much libelous journalism and it ensued, at times, in bloody duels and murder trials; Scott's son-in-law, often backed verbally by Scott himself, was involved in the most sordid of its cases. John Sutherland's assessment of Scott's involvement in Tory-Whig journalistic wars is worth quoting:
   The world of early nineteenth-century journalism was so scummy that no-one
   should hold Scott to the highest ethical standards. But two deaths [that of
   John Scott, a Whig supporter and Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, a
   Tory], even if they are not to be laid at Abbotford's gates, could have
   been prevented by Scott. He should have restrained Lockhart (whose moral
   case was untenable) in the John Scott affair. He should either never have
   backed the Beacon, or having backed it he should have exercised more
   control or publically detached himself with a statement of censure. It is
   true that Scott never personally wrote lampoons, or libels. But on too many
   occasions for it to have been coincidence, he was an accomplice before and
   after the fact and bestowed favours on those who did his party's dirties
   work. (247)

[2] This study's theoretical perspective on border theory, its dynamics and poetics of space is indebted to Jose David Saldivar's Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies.

[3] All quotations are from the following edition: Sir Walter Scott, The Two Drovers. Eds. M. H. Abrams et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 6th ed. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993). This tale, along with The Highland Widow and The Surgeon's Daughter, was originally published in 1827 under the title Chronicles of the Canongate.

[4] Scott's Waverley Novels show a comparable firm belief in "progress." John Lauber offers a sociological and geopolitical definition of Scott's particular notion of progress; it seems to consist in the transition of society from a barbarous to a civilized state, from superstition to reason, from tradition to fact, from violence to law, from personal to contractual relationships. The Highlands (before the uprising of 1745) stood for barbarism, the Great Britain of his own day for civilization. In the English compromise of ordered liberty, progress had apparently reached its conclusion, and further change could only be destructive. (112)

[5] Scott himself was a writer/entrepreneur. A most important aspect of Scott's place in the history of English literature is his expansion of the market available for serious poetry and fiction, not only within the British Isles but in Europe as well. He was the first international best-seller who earned tremendous wealth through mass book sales. Scott's purchase in 1812 of the Gothic palace of Abbotsford was a memorable evidence that fiction writing could be a lucrative business. According to J. G. Lockhart, Scott's biographer, by 1818 he was earning [pound]10,000 annually for his novels.

Scott, however, entered a secret business partnership with James Ballantyne, owner of a printing company in Edinburgh, which ended in a financial disaster in 1826, the year Britain suffered a large-scale, devastating economic collapse. For a brief account of Scott's business affairs and troubles see Paul Johnson's The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 (New York: Harper Collins, 1991) 895-98. For a detailed account, see H.J.C. Grierson's Sir Walter Scott, Bart: A New Life Supplementary to, and Corrective of Lockhart's Biography (London: Constable, 1938).

[6] My perspective on the issues of self/subjectivity/power draws upon the philosophical arguments of Michel Foucault, particularly as articulated in "Governmentality." The Foucault Effect. Eds. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller. (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991) 87-104; Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinson. Afterword. "The Subject and Power." Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: U of Chicago P 1983) 214-32; "Technologies of Self." Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Eds. L. H. Martin, H. Gutman, and P.H. Hutton (Amherst: U of Massachusettes P, 1988) 9-15.

[7] Subjectivity, as Henry Lefebvre defines it, is that quasi-logical, coherent and consistent presumed sense of identity, generated reflexively and collectively within the lived experiences of everyday, and determined by how one relates to space, physical, social, and mental, and how one positions oneself in space (6).

[8] The text abounds with essentialist notions of race; to give few examples: the narrator expounds that the trade of driving cattle suites the Highlanders as well as the "trade of war" because it "affords exercise for all their habits of patient endurance and active exertion" (301); M'Combich enjoys driving cattle because "there was a variety in the whole journey which exercised the Celt's natural curiosity and love of motion" (302). As to Wakefield, he does not resist Mr. Ireby's decision to dismiss his bargain with the bailiff because "every Englishman has a tolerably accurate sense of law and justice" (308).

[9] Scott's fear of the possible recurrence of civil conflict was due to various reasons: agitation for Catholic Emancipation, which he opposed; resentment of Corn Law and taxes on imports and exports of manufactured goods, namely the quest for Free Trade; the financial panic of 1825-26 which devastated him financially; and the wrathful disputes over the necessary reforms of the electorial and parliamentary systems of representation, what was known as the problem of the rotten boroughs. Scott was against the Reform Bill.

[10] In my general exposition of the concept of universal man I have drawn upon "Universal Man," Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973), and Jean-Marie Apostolides, "Moliere and the Sociology of Exchange." Trans. Alice Musick Mclean. Critical Inquiry 14.3 (1988): 477-92.

[11] As evident from his "Essay on Judicial Reform" (1810), Scott's political Toryism is close to Edmund Burke's; though he admired the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he was reluctant to champion further major changes, whether political, social, or legislative. Like Burke, Scott was suspicious of the French Revolution and was much alarmed by Napoleonic Imperialism and Whigs' Reform Bill. For an excellent analysis of the influence of Burke and Tory politics on Scott's novelistic art see Marlon B. Ross's "Romancing the Nation-State: The Poetics of Romantic Nationalism." Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Exoticism, Imperialism. Eds. Jonathan Arac and Harriet Ritvo (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1991) 56-85.

[12] Except for these brief utterances, the characters in The Two Drovers do not exhibit religious sentiments, and a secular tone dominates the text. John Lauber assesses Scott's religious sensibility:
   Scott's religious beliefs, as implied in the novels [The Waverley Novels],
   appear superficial and conventional.... Scott himself was satisfied with a
   comfortable and undemanding Episcopalianism... But the conservative Scott
   could never be quite at ease with either the fervent piety or the implicit
   democracy of Scottish Presbyterianism. He had no interest in theology, and
   his own piety was unemotional; he seems to have valued religion chiefly as
   a necessary protection for morality and the social order. (116-117)

[13] Like all the thinkers of the Enlightenment, Edmund Burke grappled with the question of political obedience. Unlike Rousseau, who associated the lack of freedom with man's exchange of the state of nature for that of civilization, and who argued the theoretical existence of a "general will" created by a "social contract"--the individuals's will being part of this fiction of a higher, general will--Burke, a conservative Protestant, a member in the British house of Commons, and one of the few early opponents of the French Revolution, maintained that man has no "natural goodness" untainted by civilization. Man's nature harbors innate bad tendencies, such as excessive passions and destructive desires, which are actually curbed by his engagement in civil social life and by his obedience to conventions and laws. Without adherence to social and political conventions--i.e., the social contract--life degenerates into chaos and strife. Burke's discourse on social contract is steeped in Christian sentiments and respect for state authority. "Society," he writes,
   is, indeed, a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere
   occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure; but the state ought not
   to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade
   of pepper and coffee... or some other such low concern, to be taken up for
   a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the
   parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence... It is a partnership
   in all science, a partnership in all art, a partnership in every virtue and
   in all perfection... Each contract of each particular state is but a clause
   in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with
   the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world, according
   to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which holds all
   physical and all moral natures each in their appointed place. (qtd. in
   Brinton 459)

[14] Following the anthropological arguments of Victor Turner, Leo Chavez, and Arnold Van Gennep, Saldivar in his literary analysis of Chicano narratives views the ritual of border-crossing as a process comprised of the three "interstitial phases of separation, liminality, and (deadly) reincorporation." He adopts Turner's view that "liminality should be looked upon not only as a transition between states but as a state in itself, for there exist individuals, groups or social categories for which the 'liminal' moment turns into a permanent condition'" and that liminality is "a semantic molecule with many components" (98-99).

[15] For a comprehensive discussion of Scott's vision of history and the influence of the historian and philosopher Adam Ferguson on him see Avrom Fleishman's The English Historical Novel: Walter Scott to Virginia Woolf (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971) 37-101. For a Marxist philosophical view see George Lukacs's The Historical Novel, Trans. Hannah Mitchell and Stanley Mitchell (London: Peregrine Books, 1969) 29-69.

ZAHRA A. HUSSEIN ALI is Assistant Professor at Kuwait University. She has published articles on Iris Murdoch's novelistic art, and West-East literary interactions. Her articles on the influence of the grotesque, Nietzsche, Yeats, and Mariology on modern Arabic literature appeared in Journal of Arabic Literature.
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Date:Jan 1, 2001
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