Romantic Frictions

"Allegory and Exchange in the Waverley Novels"  [1] 

Matthew Rowlinson
University of Western Ontario



1.        The third of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, The Antiquary was published in 1816 and set in 1794. It was Scott’s favorite among his novels and of them all displays the most playful consciousness of itself as a fiction. Historic struggles elsewhere in the series are fought to a close by characters who, according to Lukács, engage in them as types of whole contending classes. Here some of the same conflicts appear in a belated and oddly inconsequential staging—Marx might say, as farce—with characters whose enactments of political struggle the novel tends to expose as fantasy. “In The Antiquary,” as Ian Duncan writes, “Scott undertakes what might be called the Shandyfication of historical romance, glossing his earlier fiction and its cultural themes in a self-reflexive and metafictional novel in which ‘nothing happens’” (Scott’s Shadow 139). [2]  The conflict of the Stewart and Hanoverian monarchies thus dwindles into the after-dinner quarrels of Jonathan Oldbuck, the antiquary of the title, and his neighbor, Sir Arthur Wardour. [3]  Their respective descents, from a German Protestant printer and refugee and from a Norman knight, establish their figural relation to the rival parties of 1688, 1715, and 1745. In spite of Wardour and Oldbuck’s quarrels, the novel’s topic is historical closure; it argues that the struggles these characters seem to represent are actually concluded, and that both are in practice loyal subjects of a united Britain, who share a single class position as members of the landed gentry. The differences between them are mere remainders and are appropriately staged by their disagreements about the value of old coins, curiosities, and other relics. These disagreements arise, in their most elementary form, from the absence of single standard of price, which thus functions in the novel as the belated afterimage of a century-long absence in Scotland of a single accepted monarch. [4] 

2.        Since Lukács first read Scott in this way, much of the best criticism of his fiction has adopted his conception of its characters as types, even when putting it in service of political and historiographic arguments that differ widely from his. [5]  In the first section of this essay, however, we will discuss problems of identifying and representing money that do not operate in The Antiquary only at the level of character. Individual characters disagree about what counts as money, or show irrational preferences for one representative of money over another. The novel itself embraces difference and mediation in the money form; money proper—in the form of silver, which in 1794 still provided the legal standard for British money—appears in it only as an alien and unintelligible intruder. Standard money, moreover, proves alien not only to the historical setting the novel represents, but also to its own diegetic conventions. Its appearance produces a crux, not only in the novel’s historical representation, but also in its text.

3.        When in chapter 22 Wardour presents Oldbuck “as a gift of friendship” with a collection of antique coins and medals, begging him to choose those that will improve his collection, he initiates a sequence of misunderstandings. Wardour owes Oldbuck money—and is in fact offering the gift as propitiation before requesting a further loan—so Oldbuck proposes to take the pieces at their catalogue valuation as partial payment of the debt. Wardour objects both to the confusion of a gift with payment, and more centrally to the catalogue itself, with its implication that the curiosity’s value derives from the auction room rather than from the mere facts of age and association with the crown. Oldbuck himself shows a different kind of scepticism about market prices when he finally values the gold and silver pieces at twenty guineas in bullion and as much more only “to such fools as ourselves, who are willing to pay for curiosity” (The Antiquary ch. 22; Scott The Waverley Novels 3: 217). The market, in this final view, would be a confederation of fools who collectively drive the curiosity’s price over what Oldbuck ironically pretends to believe is its only real value, that of the bullion it contains.

4.        The problem of valuing the curiosity involves both characters in contradiction. Wardour owes Oldbuck a money debt, but offers him coins on which he does not want to set a money value. Oldbuck proposes first to cite their value in money, then to value them as money. For each of them the curiosity flashes into existence, either as a gift or as a commodity in its own right, only as the negation of money. The recurring difficulty of valuing old and curious artifacts that Yoon Sun Lee has noted in The Antiquary is especially acute in this episode because in the case of old coins the indeterminate value of the curiosity is the mirror-image of the indeterminacy of circulating coin, a trait of late eighteenth-century Scotland that forms one of the novel’s minor recurring themes.

5.        Jonathan Oldbuck’s collecting mania is an object of mild satire throughout the novel; the major vehicle for this satire is the beggar Edie Ochiltree. Ochiltree is the novel’s principal truth-teller, repository of secrets, and returner of persons and things to their proper places. One of his running jokes at Oldbuck’s expense concerns the antiquary’s exchange of “siller” with a packman for an artifact he believed to be an old coin. Twice in the novel Ochiltree reminds him of this transaction, tormenting him with the fact that the supposed “auld coin” had actually proved only to be a “bodle” (Antiquary chs. 4, 44; WN 2: 42, 400). This joke is odder than it at first seems, since the bodle was a copper two penny piece of the old Scots coinage, which had nominally been superseded at the Act of Union in 1707. [6]  The bodle itself was last minted in 1697 (Stewart 117); since the old Scots currency was converted into Sterling at the rate of twelve to one, it might after the Union be said to have the value of one sixth of a penny—though legally it had no monetary value at all. In 1794 a bodle would thus have to be at least 97 years old; it would also have been a relic of Scotland’s former status as an independent state with its own mint. Why does Edie Ochiltree, apparently with the novel’s endorsement, take it for granted that a bodle is not an “auld coin”?

6.        The episode demonstrates both the indeterminacy of the category ‘money’ and the curiosity’s status as money’s negative image. The reason the bodle doesn’t count as an old coin in 1794 appears to be that even a century after the last example was minted it still counts as money. At the union the gold and silver Scots coinage was reminted to the English standard; not so the copper. Nor was there anywhere in Britain enough copper minted during the eighteenth century to supply the need for change. The result was a dilapidated and heterogeneous copper circulation throughout the country, the more so the further one got from the Mint in London. In the latter part of the eighteenth century some merchants and manufacturers took to issuing their own copper tokens to supply the needs of local trade. This practice, illegal though tolerated, was especially common in Scotland (Stewart 124 and plate XX). Such tokens continued to be issued into the nineteenth century; some were merely old coins stamped with a new countermark: an 1811 example of such recycled coinage was made from old bodles (Stewart 166), which suggests a terminal date for their circulation as originally minted.

7.        The problematic relation of the curiosity to current coin is not the only form in which The Antiquary represents money’s inhomogeneity and the consequent difficulty of identifying it. More important to the plot than Oldbuck’s purchase of ambiguous coins is the duping of his neighbor by a German named Dousterswivel. Dousterswivel’s swindle is to take Wardour’s money as a fee, offering in exchange to discover by occult arts, first a lead mine, then hoards of silver and gold supposedly hidden on his property in the ruined priory of St. Ruth’s. During the course of the novel Wardour is bilked of his entire fortune, with the eventual result that his property is seized by creditors and he narrowly avoids bankruptcy.

8.        Like Oldbuck’s pursuit of the curiosity, his neighbor’s quixotic pursuit of gold and silver takes the form of an irrational exchange of money for money. While Oldbuck makes himself ridiculous by exchanging good silver for bad copper, Dousterswivel appeals to his victims by promising not only to multiply their money, but to change its kind: "If you join wid Sir Arthur, as he is put in one hundred and fifty—see, here is one fifty in your dirty Fairport banknote—you shall put in one other hundred and fifty in de dirty notes, and you shall have de pure gold and silver, I cannot tell how much!" (Antiquary ch. 23; WN 3: 218). Dousterswivel’s arts will transmute money from mere dirt into something sublime.

9.        In the Lacanian formula for the sublime, it is an object that has been raised to the dignity of the Thing; that is to say, it is an object that can appear to fill the gap or pay the debt on which the Symbolic order is founded (Lacan 126, 134). In Scott, the promise of such an object always turns out to be a snare: Wardour’s acceptance of the offer to produce pure gold and silver in exchange for paper money leads him to spend his entire fortune and everything he can borrow. His debts are paid in the end with bills of exchange supplied by the novel’s pseudonymous hero Lovel in a resolution that restores the circulation of symbolic as well as monetary debt, since Lovel’s gift is ultimately repaid by his marriage to Wardour’s daughter.

10.        In the interim, however, Doutserswivel’s diggings in fact prove to contain silver ingots worth £1000. These have "neither inscription nor stamp upon them, excepting one, which seemed to be Spanish" (The Antiquary ch. 23; WN 3: 225). Their origin is a mystery, especially to Dousterswivel, who is deluded by the discovery to believe in his own spells, and ultimately led to become his own greatest dupe. Eventually, the silver turns out to have been left as a gift for the almost-bankrupt Baronet to find. Both the medium of the gift—unstamped silver—and the means of conveying it have been chosen to conceal that its source is Lovel, his daughter’s suitor.

11.        Lovel’s courtship of Sir Arthur’s daughter Isabella is the novel’s principal narrative thread; he believes himself to be illegitimate, and the bar to his suit is a prejudice against illegitimacy that has been handed down in the Wardour family ever since its founding. The blank surface of the silver ingots he leaves for the baronet both conceals his identity and figures the bastard’s lack of a proper name. But the romance-plot of The Antiquary is oriented towards the discovery at its close that the hero is not illegitimate at all. He was raised as the illegitimate son of Geraldin Neville, in Yorkshire, but discovers that Neville had in fact only adopted and not fathered him. When his adoptive father refused to reveal his real paternity, the son renounced his name and took the fictitious one of Lovel. He inherits the mysterious silver from Neville, who dies in the course of the novel; it had come to Neville as plate from the family of Glenallan, of which Lovel/Neville’s real father is the head. The novel as Scott published it affirms that the blank silver ingots which make it possible for the son to conceal his identity—as Lovel or Neville—had originally been melted down to conceal from him the identity he bears without knowing it as the heir of Glenallan, with whose arms the silver plate would have been stamped.

12.        The silver ingots at the center of this episode appear to resolve the problem we began with, that of money’s indeterminate identity. Britain in the eighteenth century was nominally on a silver standard; the silver coinage was in such poor condition, however, that legislation of 1774 provided that silver would be legal tender for debts of over £25 only by weight, not by tale (Kindleberger 61). A box of silver ingots would in 1794 have been the most exact possible representation of money as such. In this form, money is antithetical to symbolic identity; the blank surface of the silver figures the effaced names of those through whose hands it has passed and the illegibility of its own history.

13.        The effects of Scott’s representation of money as a materialized gap in the Symbolic, however, are not confined within the frame of his novel. The impossibility of accounting for the silver’s appearance in Dousterswivel’s excavations is a problem that the novel shares with its own characters. The sentences from chapter 45 (WN 3: 408-09) that provide the narrative summarized above are, like the novel’s protagonist, of dubious legitimacy. They are uttered by “Lovel” himself, and, as we have seen, they explain that the silver’s ultimate source was his father the Earl of Glenallan. At this point in the novel, however, “Lovel” does not yet know his true descent—that discovery is reserved for the following paragraph. His explanation of the silver’s source thus assumes information he does not yet possess. The novel’s latest editor, David Hewitt, has discovered that this error in its diegesis was introduced into the novel as an authorial revision. Scott originally had “Lovel” explain that he bought the silver from a bank that had recently imported it, and it is this version that Hewitt prints in his 1995 Edinburgh edition. Scott changed the story on the verso of his original manuscript before the relevant passage had been set up in type, though, and it was the revised version that appeared in print, both in the first edition and in each of the two or three subsequent editions that he oversaw. [7] 

14.        Scott’s plot required that the money-hoard uncovered by Dousterswivel should have no legible history. It hence could not have been paper, or even coin. But the Scottish monetary system in the second half of the eighteenth century afforded no very plausible source of specie. Unlike England, where gold and silver were in general circulation owing to a ban on banknotes of less than £5 (Kindleberger 78), in Scotland small denomination banknotes had driven most gold and silver out of circulation. Much of what precious metal did make its way to Scotland was used to pay debts in England, which enjoyed a trade surplus with Scotland throughout the eighteenth century. The effect on Scottish money and banking was notorious: in 1776 Adam Smith estimated the whole Scottish circulation at £2 million, of which no more than a quarter was in gold and silver (1: 316). Scott writes in 1826 of Scotland as a nation that had adopted paper money because it “is too poor to retain a circulating medium of the precious metals” (Critical and Miscellaneous Essays 3: 350).

15.        The unlikelihood of finding £1000 worth of silver at a rural Scottish bank in 1794 seems to have led Scott to revise his original account. Hewitt retains the deleted reading in the name of narrative coherence, but at the cost of introducing an historical and textual anomaly. Needing to represent an embodiment of money whose history is as illegible as its protagonist’s, the novel succeeds too well, and produces one of whose history its own text can provide only defective accounts. The representation of money as such opens an irreducible textual fault.

16.        This fault does not arise from the divided political allegiance of eighteenth-century Scots, but from divided allegiance among Scott’s modern editors with respect to the authority of manuscript and print. [8]  The reason for this divided allegiance lies in the social process by which Scott and others produced the historical phenomenon that was the Waverley Novels. That The Antiquary sets its representation of money as such in this crux suggests that, rather than reading its blank money and nameless hero as types of a crisis of political authority in eighteenth-century Scotland, we should take all of these representations out of the historical setting in which Scott placed them, and consider them as allegorical presentations of a nineteenth-century crisis in the process of literary production.


17.        “Mr. Cadell, there is a certain thing called Capital. You should look to that, for these times are bad, and your transactions very large” (Constable 3: 361). Thus the manager of an Edinburgh bank to Robert Cadell, Archibald Constable’s junior partner, in the fall of 1815. Constable had already published the first two Waverley novels and had the third, which was to be The Antiquary, under contract; it was eventually published in May of 1816. Publishing Scott was an expensive business as well as a lucrative one, and, as this rebuff implies, Constable carried it on for the most part with borrowed money. In refusing to extend further credit, Cadell’s interlocutor tells him that the amount of his firm’s transactions with borrowed money is already in disproportion to the small size of its own capital.

18.        Cadell must have found it a heavy-handed irony to be addressed not as if his firm had too little capital, but as if he had never heard of it. Like other rhetorical figures that sometimes intrude on discussions of money (“Do you think I’m made of money?” “Money doesn’t grow on trees”) however, this one suggests a problem of reference for which its extravagance is a kind of compensation. Is capital a thing? How sure can anyone, even a banker, be of recognizing it when they see it?

19.        Marx’s elementary formula for capital in Vol. 1 of Capital, M-C-M, designates the exchange of money for a commodity that is once more sold as money. For our purposes, the central point of this formula is that it locates the identity of capital in the money form. Though capital may and indeed must repeatedly assume the form of commodities, these commodities’ identity as capital depends upon their eventual retransformation into money. The commodity is capital’s “disguised” mode of existence, while money is its “general” one; capital’s “identity with itself” can be affirmed only by its repeated re-embodiment of itself in money (Marx 255). [9] 

20.        For Marx money is both a commodity, the material product of social labor, and the mediator of other commodities’ value. As capital, however, money is a mediator that appears to mediate itself; at the center of Capital is the critique of this appearance. For Marx the appearance of capital’s self-identity belongs to metaphysics, and he satirizes the way it “differentiates . . . itself from itself” while still remaining the same by comparing it to the theology of the Incarnation, according to which “God the Father differentiates himself as God the Son” (256).

21.        The project of Capital is to dissolve this appearance of capital’s identity. In discussing Scott, we are concerned with an historical moment at which that appearance has scarcely yet been constituted. If money is the medium in which capital identifies itself, Scott wrote at a time and in a place where the money supply was in practice extremely heterogeneous and monetary theory was a hotly debated topic in political economy. As we have seen, in Scotland throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the circulating currency mostly comprised notes of Scottish joint-stock banks and dilapidated token coin. Legal tender coin minted in England was rarely found there. Between 1797 and 1817, moreover, all of Britain was in the anomalous position of having no legal tender in circulation. Owing to the exigencies of wartime, the government prohibited the Bank of England from paying out gold and allowed issues of small-denomination bank notes to circulate in its place. [10]  Gold and silver rapidly became scarce throughout Britain, but the government decided that they would remain the only legal tender. During this period, adjudicating the value of different representatives of money was an everyday problem for Britons of all classes.

22.        This history provides a backdrop to the specific conditions in which Scott sold his labor in the Waverley novels during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. In a cash-poor economy without capital markets or facilities for long-term lending other than on mortgage, trade was financed by regional or trade-specific networks of short-term credit. When Scott sold his labour he encountered his publishers’ capital as a series of obligations dispersed in networks of this kind.

23.        The commodity forms in which Scott sold his labour were no more ready to assume a determinate form than the money for which he exchanged them. Until the end of the eighteenth century, authors’ agreements with publishers normally involved the outright sale of copyright for a one-time payment or, in exceptional cases, for other consideration such as an annuity. The transfer of copyright would be embodied in the delivery of fair copy to the press, and, from the point of view of the author, copyright as an abstraction would remain invisible. Scott’s contracts were very different. For all of the Waverley novels, he retained the copyright at the time of first publication and sold only the right to publish editions of a specified size. The copyrights to the first nine of the series were sold to Constable in a separate agreement in 1819; Scott retained his subsequent copyrights until he became insolvent in 1826. Scott’s contracts are thus documents in the historical development of commodity forms in which intellectual labor circulates independently of any particular material embodiment. In his practice, however, this apparent independence is invariably qualified. Scott did not merely license his publishers to print editions of his work; he ensured that the physical books making up the edition would be printed at his press. The mass sale of his copyrights to Constable in 1819 was accompanied by a gift of all the corresponding manuscripts—whose return Scott demanded when in 1826 he sued to recover the copyrights on the grounds that they hadn’t been paid for. The commodity forms involved in these transactions—and indeed the nature of the transactions themselves—prove to be as indeterminate as the money that mediates them.

24.        It is my main theoretical claim in this essay that the indeterminate form in which Scott sold the labor embodied in his novels is allegorized in traits of the novels themselves. The most important of these for my purpose is their anonymity. [11]  Waverley, the first novel of the series, was published anonymously in 1814; upon its success, the next two were published as by “the Author of Waverley.” Subsequent novels either appeared under this signature, or were presented by “editors” under obviously fictitious names as works deriving from oral or manuscript traditions. Very soon, this kind of elaborate disguise of the author’s identity was recognized as itself a trait of what came to be known as the Waverley novels. Though I am afraid that at this point the analogy will seem fanciful, the identity of the Author of Waverley, like that of capital itself in Marx’s account, becomes an effect of serial self-reference and self-disguise.

25.        Scott himself seems to have half believed that there was an uncanny connection between the anonymity of his work as a writer of fiction and the historically unprecedented sums he made by it. In writing about his earnings, he tends to describe them as if they had been gained by a deception, or else by magic. Consider the following, published in a retrospect of his career written well after insolvency had forced Scott to give up his incognito. Looking back at his the period of his anonymity, he writes that “in the pen of this nameless romancer, I seemed to possess something like the secret fountain of coined gold and pearls vouchsafed to the traveller of the Eastern Tale " (Chronicles of the Canongate, Introduction; WN 19: 321). One striking point about this figure is that even as Scott in a signed preface acknowledges his identity as author of the Waverley novels, he disavows it, referring in the third person to “the nameless romancer” who held the pen that composed them. Another is that the figure’s identification of the pen and the fountain is founded as much on the fact that they are both secret as on their apparently limitless flow. Taken as a whole, the figure aligns the authorship of the Waverley novels with possession of the money for which they were sold, both the money and the novels being tokens of an identity that is constitutively secret and fated to vanish when revealed. [12] 

26.        The anonymity of the Waverley novels was not merely an extrinsic fact about them. Rather, it reiterated on the title page formal and thematic preoccupations with signature, anonymity, and disguise that also appear in the body of the texts. Each of the first three of the series has a protagonist who is effectively separated from his signature. The protagonists of Guy Mannering and The Antiquary cannot sign because they do not know their own names. Waverley knows his all too well; the romance of his life begins when he is separated from it by the theft of his signet ring. Without his knowledge the signet is used to enlist him as a supporter of the 1745 Jacobite uprising—and in so doing, ironically, to constitute for him the true symbolic identity he is destined to assume. In each of these novels, then, Scott works a gambit in which the protagonist’s proper signature is hidden from him and from other characters. In Scott’s subsequent fiction the deception of characters about their own identity is less characteristic than the deception of the reader; it becomes a favorite device of his to introduce a major character under a disguise that is only gradually lifted. Often the character is the monarch or a claimant of the throne, as in the cases of Ivanhoe, Quentin Durward, and Redgauntlet. Even where the reader is in on the secret, Scott’s monarchs are typically as fond of masquerade, concealment, and bluff as the Author of Waverley himself.

27.        The Waverley novels often represent a narrative of the protagonist’s self-discovery; in these narratives, the protagonist’s proper name and symbolic identity are hidden in the world the novel represents, from which they emerge to view before the close. They are often embodied in a material token, the symbolon, such as Waverley’s signet or Elspeth Mucklebackit’s ring in The Antiquary. From a formal standpoint, such narratives are a guarantee of closure; the novel sets no problems and presents no appearances for which it does not contain the corresponding solution or reality. The material token that the novel represents as guaranteeing the identity of its protagonist thus also figures its identity with itself.

28.        Precisely because it recurs from novel to novel, the protagonist’s narrative of self-discovery is a central topic in criticism of Scott’s fiction; [13]  among the effects of its recurrence is to undermine the closure that it also guarantees. At the opening of The Antiquary the protagonist presents himself to the novel’s title character under the name of Lovel. It emerges however that the name is a disguise which he has been using to conceal the name under which he was raised, that of Neville. Finally, at the novel’s close, the antiquary learns that he himself possesses the information necessary to discover the truth about his friend’s birth, and is able to inform him that his name is no more Neville than it is Lovel, but is rather William Geraldin. In this last reversal the dupe and the subject of knowledge change places with a symmetrical neatness that provides the novel’s final cadence. The effect of closure is however undermined by the traits that The Antiquary’s protagonist shares with those of other novels. These traits liken him for instance to Waverley, to Harry Bertram, to Frank Osbaldistone, and to others from other novels in the series. [14]  The truth of the protagonist’s identity and filiation was only apparently contained within a single text; as soon as this appearance is breached, so too are the borders of the text itself.

29.        In some of the paratexts with which Scott increasingly surrounded his novels as the series developed, he dramatizes the permeability of their borders by putting characters from different novels together in a single scene and even allowing them encounters with the anonymous Author who invented them. The most elaborate such paratext is the introduction to Tales of the Crusaders, published in 1825; it presents itself as the transcript of a meeting between the still-anonymous Author of Waverley and a miscellaneous collection of characters from the novels—or, where this would violate chronology, of their descendants. Present therefore are Jonathan Oldbuck of The Antiquary, Josiah Cargill of St. Ronan’s Well, Lawrence Templeton, the purported editor of Ivanhoe, Captain Clutterbuck of The Monastery and The Fortunes of Nigel, the son of Dandie Dinmont of Guy Mannering and so forth. The introduction’s conceit is that the characters, along with the Author, have produced the Waverley novels already in print collectively, in accordance with “the doctrine so well laid down by the immortal Adam Smith, concerning the division of labour” (Tales of the Crusaders, Introduction; WN 19: 11). [15]  They meet here as joint proprietors of what the Author of Waverley describes as “the valuable property which has accumulated under our common labour” (Tales of the Crusaders, Introduction; WN 19: 11). By the late twentieth century characters could be a form of intellectual property, and a text representing in a single scene characters from divers sources is thus in our own day not only an example of the intertextual citation of character but also of the social circulation of value. [16]  For Scott, the assembly of the characters is more ambiguous: they appear as proprietors as well as property, and even the Author of Waverley himself, when he becomes a character in a Waverley novel, becomes a part of the property of which he is also the proprietor. The breaching of the novelistic border effected by paratext here generates an incoherence or internal differentiation in the notion of property as such.

30.        To put the point otherwise, I am claiming that the difficulty in the Waverley novels of identifying certain characters, like the difficulty of identifying the author, allegorizes the difficulty of identifying the value form of the novel itself. Like the King, the protagonist, or the author, the Waverley novel too comes hedged about by disguises and proxies in the form of prefaces, frames, and apparent narrative dead ends. Insofar as these formal traits are shared by novels with different historical settings they are anachronisms; in The Antiquary we saw that the anachronism of disputing the monarch’s legitimacy is an explicit theme, conveyed by staging the difference between the Jacobite and Whig positions as a dispute between antiquaries and reducing it to a series of disagreements over the authenticity and value of curiosities.

31.        These disagreements, however, remain unresolved at the novel’s close. Moreover, the botched or disputed purchase of the curiosity is one of the forms in which it presents en travesti the exchange of money for money. This exchange, which Marx was to identify as the elementary form of capital, appears in The Antiquary only as a mistake or a deception. The exchange M->M in Marx enables an identification; in The Antiquary, quite the contrary, it is structured by difference and masquerade. The novel’s insistence on the problem of relating money to money, indeed on the problem of identifying money, leads me to propose that in its allegorical dimension, as is necessarily the case with allegory, it has more than one point of historical reference. Though the topic of money’s indeterminacy appears in The Antiquary’s representation of 1794 as an after-image of historic struggles that the novel regards as closed, it also falls on it as a shadow of the future in which the novel itself will be written and published. [17] 


32.        For historical and geographical reasons, Scott had a particularly acute experience of the impossibility of fully identifying a capital: of specifying what is and what is not part of it at a given moment, and of symbolizing his own relation to it. Scott’s relations with his publishers were so complex that it is difficult to discover in them the underlying exchange of the product of his labor for money. The formal anonymity under which the novels appeared to the public was maintained, as a more or less transparent fiction, with their various publishers. For the most part Scott communicated with his publishers through the brothers John and James Ballantyne, who in functioning as his literary agents carried on correspondence for him in which he is typically referred by periphrasis, usually as the Author of Waverley. In his communications with his publishers themselves, then, Scott acts by proxy. As his hand is concealed in his negotiations with the publishers, moreover, so it is in the production of the novels themselves, of which the publishers were not shown the original manuscripts. Sometimes they were allowed to read transcriptions by James Ballantyne; more often they were only shown page proofs printed at Ballantyne’s press.

33.        James Ballantyne’s press was thus the medium in which the work of Scott’s hand was transmuted into the anonymous Authorship of the Waverley novels. It was not, however, only as a producer and seller of fiction that Scott’s identity was hidden by the Ballantynes. Much more closely held than the secret of his authorship was the further secret that Scott himself owned more than half of Ballantyne’s printing office and was in fact the dominant partner. [18]  All Scott’s contracts for his novels stipulated that they be printed at Ballantyne’s; he was moreover paid for them through Ballantyne’s, in such a way that the distinction between the payment for the right to print a specified number of copies of a work and the payment for the printed copies themselves is far from explicit. Using the Ballantynes as intermediaries, Scott confronts his publishers at once and—on my reading of the contracts—indistinguishably as the seller of a copyright and as the seller of printed volumes.

34.        The mystification of Scott’s identity as an author is thus inseparable from the mystification of the commodity form into which his written work was absorbed when it was sold and became capital. This mystification is in part due to the relatively recent appearance of copyright as a commodity form in its own right. [19]  But its fundamental determinant in Scott’s case is as a reflection of the money-form in which the value of Scott’s labor was realized. No more in Scotland in 1815 than at other times and places could transactions on the scale of Scott’s and Constable’s have conveniently been carried out in cash. David Hewitt estimates Scott’s share of the profits from the first 5000 copies of The Antiquary at about £1682 (364), independent of his share of the profits from the printing-office. In England during the period of the Bank Restriction Act (1797-1821), and in Scotland at any time since the early eighteenth century, the payment of such a sum in legal tender coin would have been almost unthinkable. The actually circulating currency, as we have seen, comprised a regionally variable combination of token silver used as change and of different kinds of locally-issued paper instruments that served as money-substitutes. Legal tender was at this period effectively unavailable throughout Britain, and especially so in Scotland.

35.        For the immediate discharge of debts, therefore, in 1815 Scots used the token silver currency of the Royal Mint in London and banknotes issued by Scots banks. For the purposes of trade, however, which was normally conducted on credit, the usual instrument was the bill of exchange, as it had been throughout Britain for more than a hundred years. A bill of exchange is draft by a creditor on a debtor, made payable to a third party at a specified date and place. Bills of exchange originated as a means of making payments at a distance, but in the eighteenth century they came to be used as a way of extending credit in transactions among producers, merchants, and tradespeople even within a single locality. Bills continue nonetheless to articulate place: a bill on London, for instance, would in Edinburgh carry a premium over one payable locally, owing to the trade imbalance between Scotland and the South.

36.        The bill extended credit by deferring payment: if a retailer bought commodities from a producer, the latter would draw a bill on the former, payable at a date when the commodities could be expected to have sold, enabling the retailer to pay it with the proceeds. Normally, the drawer of the bill, wanting ready money, would take it at once to a bank, which would give cash for it at a discounted rate, taking interest for the time until it fell due. This was broadly the system by which Scott received payment for his fiction. Thus, contracting for The Antiquary in January of 1815 he drew bills dated at six, twelve, and eighteen months on the publishers, Constable and Co. in Edinburgh and Longmans in London. Acting through James Ballantyne, Scott would at once have discounted the bills, thus obtaining—at the cost of some interest—his half of the profits for the first 5000 copies before he even began to write the novel. As The Antiquary was slated for publication in early June, the publishers expected it to be bringing in revenue before they had to pay even the first set of bills—though in the event Scott was more than a year late with it, causing some anxious correspondence between Longmans and Constable. [20] 

37.        When he sold his fiction, then, Scott encountered a capital whose identity, like his own identity as an author, was mediated and hedged about with substitutes. The capital into which his labor was incorporated could appear to him only in the dispersed form of the bills of exchange that served as its representatives. This form of appearance necessarily obscured from him its borders and indeed its mode of existence as property. The example of The Antiquary has shown us how a publishing house—or any other business—could operate without investing money in an undertaking at the outset. In negotiating for an advance, then, Scott would consider not the actual assets of his publishers, but the ease with which he would be able to discount their bills—a question decided by the general state of their credit, and more specifically by the number of their bills already outstanding and in the hands of the banks. Scott insisted that Longmans be brought in as the London co-publisher of his second novel, Guy Mannering, and then of The Antiquary, precisely because fewer of their bills were in the Edinburgh market than of Constable’s, and he wanted to give Constable’s credit a rest. [21]  The market value of a bill thus depended on the state of an entire circulation of bills on which the acceptor’s name appeared. For this reason, it represented a capital only visible in dispersal, having been at no time in the immediate possession of any single individual.

38.        This effect of dispersal was exacerbated by the fact that bills circulated by endorsement. As we have seen, a bill needed not be held until its due date; it could be discounted at a bank, or it could be used by its drawer to make payments in further transactions. In either case, the bill would change hands at a price determined by the time left until it fell due. As it did so, each person through whose hands it passed would endorse it, beginning with the original drawer. Each endorser became liable to pay the bill if the acceptor and earlier endorsers failed to do so. The value of a bill in circulation was thus supported not only by the credit of its original acceptor but also by that of its drawer and very likely by a series of other endorsers.

39.        In taking payment for his fiction by means of bills, therefore, Scott legally made himself liable to pay again the very payment he took. The reason why the hazards of trade were so notorious throughout the eighteenth century, and why book-keeping was so difficult, was that neither the acceptance of a payment nor the discharge of a debt could be considered final until the bill involved had finally been paid by its original acceptor—possibly years after many of the transactions in which it had played a part. [22]  In the crash of 1826, many of the debts of Constable that Scott was required to pay were thus debts which had originally been due to him in return for novels promised or actually written.

40.        To be paid by bill was thus for Scott invariably to sign; and since after Waverley itself he always had an advance on his share of the profits, Scott wrote his novels to make sure that the bills he had signed were retired. Scott wrote, in short, to withdraw his signature from circulation. And we recall that in mentioning his signature, we are in fact referring to a hand that was until 1826 concealed behind those of James and John Ballantyne—far more so in entering into bill transactions than it was in producing fiction. The major reason for Scott’s employment of a literary agent and for his secret ownership of a printing works was not to conceal his identity as the Author of Waverley, but to conceal the extent of his potential liability in the bill market and so extend his ability, using his proxies, to discount new bills. Scott increased his liabilities by personal expenditure, but the fundamental cause of his exposure in the bill market and eventual insolvency was the historical necessity that dictated the mode of his payment. The phenomenon of the Waverley novels could not have been financed by a capital embodied in a retail bookselling establishment or in a printing shop, as publishing ordinarily had been hitherto. [23]  Constable could not have paid Scott the unprecedented sums he received, nor financed the publication of the novels in the size and variety of editions that he did, without mobilizing bank capital through loans secured by the signatures on his bills.

41.        The means by which Scott was paid for his novels thus make it extraordinarily difficult to say when the sale and purchase of a given novel have been completed. When he is paid with a bill, Scott involves himself, and his proxies, in an indeterminate series of future transactions and obligations; this fact is reflected in the serial character of the novels themselves and the series of mutually supporting signatures that they bear. To put the point otherwise, when Scott accepted payment, he also assumed an obligation. The internal difference in the money form in which he realized the value of his work was the specific form in which he encountered the difference of capital from itself, and it is reflected in the internal self-differentiation of his novels and of the Authorship they embody.

Appendix on the texts of the Waverley novels

42.        Their staging in what appears to be a single text of different and contradictory versions of the author-function is one of the Waverley novels’ cardinal features, and it has determined my use of the text of Scott’s final edition of the novels, which he termed his Magnum Opus, as the source for citations in this essay. [24]  In the Magnum text, Scott appears as the no longer-anonymous author, as editor and annotator, and also as a character and as proprietor. This multiple self-inscription is an extension of the internally differentiated representations of authorship that appeared in the novels and their paratexts from the very outset, which are my topic here.

43.        In one of these representations, the Introductory Epistle to The Fortunes of Nigel, the “eidolon” or image of the Author of Waverley appears—in the act of correcting proof for the very volume in which he is described—at the back of Archibald Constable’s Edinburgh bookshop (WN 14: 8). The author is thus an emanation of the premises where the writer’s product is put into circulation and not of the scene of production itself. The social processes by which Scott’s labor was commodified and circulated were indeed integral to the shaping of the novels and the institution of their authorship. This was as true for the first editions as for any others. Before they were shown to his publishers, Scott’s novels were transcribed and usually set up in print by John and James Ballantyne. During this process they underwent extensive correction and revision. Scott anticipated and relied on this work, which was part of the authoring of the novels.

44.        By far and away the most fully documented and carefully edited version of Scott’s fiction ever to appear is the recently completed Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels (EEWN). Though this edition will be invaluable to future scholarship on Scott, as it has been to my own, the texts it establishes must be used with some caution, as its editorial procedures do not take sufficient account of the novels’ social origin. The general editor states that the EEWN aims to produce an “ideal text” of the novels’ first editions (Hewitt xv), [25]  rectifying errors that were the result of haste and pressure in the production process. As we have seen, however, this process was irreducibly social. No more than any of their successors were the first editions of the Waverley novels the sole product of the historical Sir Walter Scott; yet the EEWN announces that integral to its project is “a return to the authentic Scott ” (Hewitt xii), to be achieved by stripping away from the first edition texts “mistakes” introduced there by those whom the editors characterize as “intermediaries”—James Ballantyne and other copyists, compositors, and copyeditors.

45.        The result is a series of texts that are fundamentally unhistorical. Neither a version of the first editions, in whose production Scott’s collaboration with the so-called intermediaries played an essential part, nor a presentation of Scott’s manuscripts, the Edinburgh edition of the novels too often corresponds to no historically specifiable state of the texts.

46.        The anomalies introduced into the novels by this editorial practice are in several cases substantial and thematically significant. I will give a summary account of three examples:

47.        1) Since Lockhart’s biography in 1838 it has been known that Scott was persuaded by James Ballantyne to alter the last chapter of St. Ronan’s Well after the novel had been set up in type. At issue was a revelation in the dénouement that the hero and the heroine had been lovers before she was tricked into a feigned wedding with someone else. Ballantyne objected to the supposed indecency; after protesting, Scott acquiesced and altered the passage in which the revelation occurs. The censored version was the one published in the first and every subsequent edition; Mark Weinstein, the editor of the Edinburgh edition, however prints the text of the original proof (363-64, 403-04). By so doing he may arguably recover a more “authentic” Scott than the one who actually approved the other version—but he produces a text that effaces an important effect of the novel’s social production.

48.        2) As in St. Ronan’s Well, a textual crux in The Antiquary arises from Scott’s revision during the production process of the first edition. In this case—which I have discussed at more length above—there is no evidence of pressure from any of the “intermediaries.” Rather, Scott altered the dénouement of the novel he had originally written to another that he apparently preferred. It was the revised text that appeared in every edition of The Antiquary he published. Unfortunately, in making the revision, Scott introduced an anomaly into the sequence of events that he narrates, making an effect precede its cause. On the grounds of narrative coherence, therefore, the novel’s editor, David Hewitt, who is also the EEWN General Editor, has restored Scott’s first version from the manuscript. There is no question here of restoring the work of an authentic Scott that has been obscured by other hands; Hewitt’s decision aims rather to correct what appears to him a mistake of Scott’s own—a mistake, moreover, that exists only if the novel is judged by standards of narrative coherence for which there is every evidence Scott cared very little.

49.        3) Most egregious is the case of The Bride of Lammermoor. The dating of this novel’s action has long been a matter of dispute; [26]  in every edition Scott published there are indications that point to dates in the eighteenth century both before and after the crucial year of 1707, when the Act of Union ended Scotland’s existence as an independent kingdom. The historical events on which Scott based his story, moreover, belong in the seventeenth century, and traces of this setting also made their way into the novel. The editor of The Bride for EEWN, J. H. Alexander, follows Jane Millgate in the view that the action of the novel in its first edition can best be dated just before the Act, between 1702 and 1707. This dating is perhaps more plausible than any other; nonetheless, it requires a distinctly tendentious editorial note explaining away passages that seem to refer to a date after the union (Alexander 333-35). Worse yet, to prevent the date from slipping the other way, to before 1702 when Queen Anne ascended the English throne, it requires the explaining away of several references to the reigning monarch as male and in one passage the outright emendation of the word “King” to read “Queen” instead (Alexander 209, 334 and 337n. 9). Alexander makes this emendation without warrant from any prior printed or manuscript version of the text.

50.        In so doing, Alexander effaces the historical fact of a mistake or inconsistency and deprives the text of its status as an historical artifact. The appeal to the authority of the “authentic Scott” has here been stripped of any historical content whatsoever and has become the pure means of imposing an arbitrary formal coherence on his novel.

51.        Recent interest in the cultures of collecting and antiquarianism has also brought the novel new attention. Lee 90-101 gives a particularly full account of the practices of antiquarianism in late eighteenth-century Britain and of their embeddedness in the institutions of the marketplace and consequent conflict with an organic or Burkean historicism. A contrasting argument that sees the novel as countering charges of unmanliness leveled against Burke in the 1790’s appears in Goode. Ferris discusses the contrast between the enlightened historian and the antiquary in Romantic-era discourse, with special attention to Jonathan Oldbuck in The Antiquary. See also Malley for a discussion of The Antiquary in the context of Scott’s own antiquarian collections and of the construction of the “new/old” structure of Abbotsford.

Works Cited

Alexander, J.H., ed. The Bride of Lammermoor. The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels. Vol 7a. Edinburgh and New York: Edinburgh University Press and Columbia University Press, 1995. Print.

Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999. Print.

Benjamin, Walter. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. Trans. John Osborne. London: NLB, 1977. Print.

Clapham, J. H. The Bank of England, a History. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944. Print.

Constable, Thomas. Archibald Constable, and His Literary Correspondents. 3 vols. Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas, 1873. Print.

Defoe, Daniel. The Complete English Tradesman. 3rd ed. 2 vols. London: C. Rivington, 1732. Print.

Duncan, Ian. Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, and Dickens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

Duncan, Ian. Scott’s Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. Print.

Elam, Diane. Romancing the Postmodern. London: Routledge, 1992. Print.

Feather, John. A History of British Publishing. London: Croom Helm, 1988. Print.

Feltes, N. N. Modes of Production of Victorian Novels. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Print.

Ferris, Ina. "Pedantry and the Question of Enlightenment History: The Figure of the Antiquary in Scott." European Romantic Review 13.3 (2002): 273-83. Print.

Ferris, Ina. The Achievement of Literary Authority: Gender, History, and the Waverley Novels. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991. Print.

Gibson, John. Reminiscences of Sir Walter Scott. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1871. Print.

Goode, Mike. "Dryasdust Antiquarianism and Soppy Masculinity: The Waverly Novels and the Gender of History." Representations 82 (2003): 52-86. Print.

Grierson, Herbert. Sir Walter Scott, Bart. London: Constable and Co, 1938. Print.

Hewitt, David, ed. The Antiquary. The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels. Vol 3. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993. Print.

Johnson, Edgar. Sir Walter Scott: the Great Unknown. New York: Macmillan, 1970. Print.

Kindleberger, Charles P. A Financial History of Western Europe. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.

Lacan, Jacques. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-1960. Trans. Dennis Porter. Vol 7. New York: Norton, 1992. Print. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan.

Lee, Yoon Sun. Nationalism and Irony: Burke, Scott, Carlyle. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

Lukács, Georg. The Historical Novel. Trans. Hannah Mitchell and Stanley Mitchell. London: Merlin Press, 1962. Print.

Malley, Shawn. "Walter Scott’s Romantic Archaeology: New/Old Abbotsford and the Antiquary." SiR 40.2 (2001): 233-51. Print.

Marx, Karl. Capital: Volume One. Trans. Ben Fowkes. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976. Print.

Maxwell, Richard. "Inundations of Time: A Definition of Scott’s Originality." ELH 68.2 (2001): 419-68. Print.

McCracken-Flesher, Caroline. Possible Scotlands: Walter Scott and the Story of Tomorrow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.

Millgate, Jane. Scott’s Last Edition: A Study in Publishing History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1987. Print.

Millgate, Jane. Walter Scott: The Making of the Novelist. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984. Print.

Postone, Moishe. Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Print.

Robertson, Fiona. Legitimate Histories: Scott, Gothic, and the Authorities of Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print.

Rose, Mark. Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993. Print.

Scott, Walter. Critical and Miscellaneous Essays of Sir Walter Scott. 3 vols. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1841. Print.

Scott, Walter. The Journal of Sir Walter Scott. Ed. W.E.K Anderson. 12 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Print.

Scott, Walter. The Letters of Sir Walter Scott. Ed. H.J.C Grierson. London: Constable & Co, 1932. Print.

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 2 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976. Print.

St Clair, William. The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.

Stewart, B.H.I.H. The Scottish Coinage. London: Spink, 1955. Print.

Sutherland, John. The Life of Walter Scott. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1995. Print.

Sutherland, Kathryn. "Fictional Economies: Adam Smith, Walter Scott and the Nineteenth Century Novel." ELH 54.1 (1987): 97-127. Print.

Weinstein, Mark, ed. St Ronan’s Well. The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels. Vol 16. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995. Print.

Welsh, Alexander. The Hero of the Waverley Novels: With New Essays on Scott. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992. Print.

Wilt, Judith. Secret Leaves: The Novels of Walter Scott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. Print.


[1] With the permission of Cambridge University Press, this essay includes excerpts from Real Money and Romanticism, by Matthew Rowlinson. Copyright © 2010 Matthew Rowlinson. BACK

[2] For much of the twentieth century criticism of the Waverley novels had their place in the history of realism as its dominant topic; the facetiousness of The Antiquary’s representation of history made it for this criticism a marginal title in the series. Duncan’s treatment of the work results from his stated aim of taking seriously the fictional character of Scott’s novels. The novel’s stress on the unreliability of antiquarian narratives has led other critics to adopt it as a key text in readings of Scott as a novelist whose realism is strongly qualified by skepticism and a belief in the contingency of representations of the past; see Elam and McCracken-Flesher. The novel has also attracted interest as one of several among the Waverley novels in which the claim of historical realism coexists more or less uneasily with an adoption of the conventions of gothic; see Robertson. BACK

[3] For a bravura return to Lukàcs as an interpreter of Scott in an essay that, unlike Lukàcs himself, deals at length with The Antiquary, see Maxwell. Regarding the “emptiness” of history in the Waverley novels, of which the non-events of The Antiquary provide the essay’s paradigm, see Maxwell 444 and 455. BACK

[4] See the argument that antiquarianism’s “family resemblance to commerce” makes it the “negation” of traditionalism in Lee 78-79. BACK

[5] Alexander Welsh treats Scott’s protagonists as types of a particular historical formation of masculinity in relation to landed property in his The Hero of the Waverley Novels. More recently, Ian Duncan has read the characters of the Waverley novels as types of contrasting narrative genres and discursive modes, whose dialectical engagement the novel stages through their interaction—see Duncan Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel. Among critical works on Scott for which character is not a crucial analytic category, I should note readings of the Waverley novels’ construction of authorship in Ferris and Wilt. As I shall do in this essay, Wilt argues that there is a homology between the quest romance structure of the Waverley novels and their production of authorship as self-concealment. BACK

[6] Ochiltree’s Scots vernacular refers to money as either “siller” or “gowd.” He distinguishes regularly between the two, refusing gifts of gold as excessive, and begging only for silver. In this respect, as in others, the novel is meticulous in its registration of the heterogeneity of the circulating currency in late eighteenth-century Scotland. BACK

[7] For the rationale of this emendation to his first edition base text, see Hewitt 390. See 370-80 for the evolution of the text through successive editions in Scott’s lifetime. BACK

[8] See the appendix to this essay for a discussion of the treatment of this and other textual problems in the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels (EEWN). BACK

[9] For discussion of capital as a subject in Marx, see Postone 75-81. BACK

[10] From 1797 to 1821 the Bank Restriction Act forbade the Bank of England from redeeming its notes in gold. From 1817, the Bank began to mint gold in the form of a new coin with a one-pound face value, the sovereign. Owing to the overissue of notes that Restriction made possible, however, most of the early sovereigns were immediately taken out of the country rather than being used in Britain at a depreciated value. See Clapham 2: 63-64. BACK

[11] For a rich treatment of Scott’s anonymous publication in the context of early nineteenth century Edinburgh print culture, see Duncan Scott’s Shadow. BACK

[12] Scott’s money and his incognito really did vanish together; as he faced insolvency in late 1825, he knew that one of the consequences would be his exposure as the Author of Waverley. Hence his complaint in his Journal: “the wand of the Unknown is shivered in his grasp. He must henceforth be termed the Too well known” (Scott Journal 40). Here too for Scott the magic of authorship is the magic of money, and both of them disappear when they are exposed to view. BACK

[13] For Alexander Welsh this narrative is a “romance of property.” He argues that in the Waverley novels the protagonist’s discovery of his destiny, both as an heir and as a lover, involves accession to real estate. The identity-conferring power of this kind of property is distinguished from the effect of conveyables, from too close an association with which Scott “carefully protects” his heroes and heroines at the novels’ endings (Welsh 79). BACK

[14] For a discussion of fraternal similarities among the Waverley protagonists, see Welsh 27. BACK

[15] For a treatment of this introduction, of Scott’s relation to Adam Smith, and of his understanding of his novels as a commercial enterprise, see Sutherland. BACK

[16] Think of Warner Bros. cartoons that represent a variety of characters from their “stable,” or of the heterogeneous mass of personified intellectual properties that is Disney World. BACK

[17] Untimeliness is a crucial trait of the allegorical object in Walter Benjamin, whose conception of it as an historical remainder that has been wrenched into service as an arbitrary sign of modernity is the main theoretical point of reference in my reading of The Antiquary. See Benjamin Origin 223-24 and also convolut J of The Arcades Project, on Baudelaire: “The stamp of time that imprints itself on antiquity presses out of it the allegorical configuration” (Benjamin Arcades Project 239). BACK

[18] Scott had known James Ballantyne since they were schoolboys together in Kelso. By 1800 Ballantyne was the owner of a thriving print-shop and a newspaper there; at that date Scott proposed to him that he should set up shop in Edinburgh. This he did in 1802, with the assistance of a £500 loan from Scott, leaving the Kelso business in the hands of his brother Sandy. In 1805 Scott increased his investment in the firm to £2008, becoming half-owner (Johnson 233). The partnership continued until the crash of 1826, with the exception of the years 1816-22, during which Scott assumed sole ownership of the firm, while Ballantyne continued to manage it at a salary of £400 a year (Johnson 516, 764). Constable certainly knew that in dealing with the Ballantynes he was effectively dealing with Scott. On the other hand, in 1826 Scott was obliged to reveal his dealings to his own lawyer, who affirms that he had no idea that Scott was involved in the printing firm (Gibson 4-5). See also the discussion of this controversial aspect of Scott’s business dealings in Sutherland 97-98. BACK

[19] See Rose 67-112 for an account of the eighteenth-century emergence of copyright as a form of abstract intellectual property created by an author’s labor. Copyright in this form replaced the earlier institution of copy; this was a license to print a given work granted by the Stationers’ Guild and ultimately sustained by state power. The history of intellectual property began with the first copyright statute, passed in 1710; disputes over how the statute was to be applied were however not resolved until the House of Lords’ verdict in Donaldson v. Becket in 1774. It was in the legal and philosophical debates over copyright during this period that the idea of the author as producer of an abstract intellectual property distinct from any of its material embodiments entered British jurisprudence and publishing practice. For another account of Donaldson v. Becket as a decisive moment for the whole subsequent history of intellectual property, see St. Clair 111-21. For a theory of the “commodity-text” as the form of abstract intellectual property that emerged in the period 1710-74 and an account of its difference from the “commodity-book,” see Feltes 7-8. BACK

[20] For a general account of Scott’s contracts, see Grierson 145-46. For specific details of Scott’s payment for The Antiquary, see the essay on the text in the EEWN edition, Hewitt 357-64. BACK

[21] Scott Letters 1: 473 BACK

[22] ". . . hence it comes to be a proverbial Saying, That no man knows what a Tradesman is till he is dead" (Defoe 2: 204). BACK

[23] John Feather asserts that in the eighteenth century publishing was invariably associated with the retail sale of books; the earlier model, in which publishing is a branch of the printing trade, disappears in the seventeenth century (101, 132). BACK

[24] For discussion of the Magnum Opus edition and the circumstances under which it was produced, see Millgate Scott’s Last Edition. BACK

[25] The general introduction including this statement appears in every volume of the edition published before 1999, and in an expanded and somewhat modified form after. BACK

[26] A full discussion of the topic appears in Millgate Walter Scott: The Making of the Novelist 171-73. BACK

Published @ RC

September 2011