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Sir Walter Scott's Birthday
"He is gone on the mountain,
He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain,
When our need was the sorest.
The font reappearing
From the raindrops shall borrow,
But to us comes no cheering,
To Duncan no morrow!
The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
But the voice of the weeper
Wails manhood in glory.
The autumn winds rushing
Waft the leaves that are serest,
But our flower was in flushing
When blighting was nearest.
Fleet foot on the correi,
Sage counsel in cumber,
Red hand in the foray,
How sound is thy slumber!
Like the dew on the mountain,
Like the foam on the river,
Like the bubble on the fountain,
Thou art gone, and for ever!"
~ Coronach, Walter Scott (1772-1832)
Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian, Sir Walter Scott's works have been and remain some of the most well-loved classics of both English-language and Scottish literature, including the novels Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Waverley, Old Mortality, The Heart of Mid-Lothian and The Bride of Lammermoor, and the narrative poems The Lady of the Lake and Marmion. This tartan, designed by Scott himself in 1822, was said to have been worn by himself in the form of a Lowland shepherd's plaid, sometimes called a maud. Scott himself described this as: "The plaid was never in use among the Borderers, i.e. the Highland or tartan plaid; but there was, and is still used, a plaid with a very small cheque of black and grey, which we call a maud, and which, I believe, was very ancient; it is the constant dress of the shepherd, worn over one shoulder, and then drawn round the person, leaving one arm free." The maud gained popularity as a symbol of the Scottish Borders from 1820 due to its mention by fashionable Border Scots such as Walter Scott, James Hogg and Henry Scott Riddell and their wearing of it in public. Together with Robert Burns, they can be seen wearing a maud in portraits, etchings and statues. During his lifetime, Scott's portrait was painted by Sir Edwin Landseer and fellow Scots Sir Henry Raeburn and James Eckford Lauder. ✍️ 📚 🐏
Scott's popularity has waxed and waned over the years as tastes turned from romanticism to realism. However, his importance as an innovator is now recognized and he is now acclaimed as a major inventor of the genre of the modern historical novel. Scott's Waverley novels played a significant part in the movement of rehabilitating the public perception of the Scottish Highlands and its culture, which had been formally suppressed as barbaric, and viewed in the southern mind as a breeding ground of bandits, religious fanaticism, and Jacobite rebellions.
Scott's novels were certainly influential in the making of the Victorian craze for all things Scottish among British royalty, who were anxious to claim legitimacy through their tenuous historical connection with the royal house of Stuart.
As Scott's fame grew, his explorations and interpretations of Scottish history and society captured popular imagination. Impressed by this, the Prince Regent (the future George IV) gave Scott permission to conduct a search for the Crown Jewels ("Honours of Scotland").
During the years of the Protectorate under Cromwell the Crown Jewels had been hidden away and were then stored in Edinburgh Castle, but the large locked box in which they were stored had not been opened for more than 100 years. Stories circulated that they had been "lost" or removed. In 1818, Scott and a small team of military men opened the box, and "unearthed" the honours from the Crown Room in the depths of Edinburgh Castle. A grateful Prince Regent granted Scott the title of baronet, Sir Walter Scott, in March 1820.
According to the official tartan register records, this tartan (published in 1850) and was produced for his own use by Sir Walter Scott in 1822, and that he wore it in private, in the form of a Lowland shepherd's plaid.
For more about his life and legacy, click the painting of Sir Walter Scott (in his shepherd's plaid) in the Rhymer's Glen, by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. Rhymer's Glen was an area of picturesque woodland much loved by Sir Walter Scott on his Abbotsford estate.