For all their differences, Scott’s The Fortunes of Nigel and The Heart of Mid-Lothian have distinct similarities. Each has a morally upright protagonist and is set some years after a Scottish-English union has been effected. More important is that each depicts a journey from Scotland to England in search of justice at the monarch’s hand and, inseparably from that, the establishing of a secure domestic space – the creation of a home – that emblematises the concept of successfully co-existent English and Scottish cultural identities. Both novels are thus specifically concerned with the achievement of justice in Scotland by the then-British monarch located in England. The Fortunes of Nigel, set in the reign of James I, considers the factors – personal, political, theological and social – arguably contributing to the overthrow of Charles I’s sovereignty and the establishment of the Interregnum. The Heart of Mid-Lothian considers questions of rebellion and societal injustice within the framework of the Hanoverian dynastic rule over Britain, after the English Revolution and the Glorious Revolution. In that context of political upheaval, what is of particular interest is therefore the exploration of what could be called the continuum between home and nation in the two novels: the experiences of an insecure domestic space and of an unstable national identity by members of two different social classes, in two different historical periods, under two different yet sequent monarchies.
- Walter Scott
- political conservatism