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The Antiquary

By: Sir Walter Scott

The Antiquary, the third of the Waverley novels by Walter Scott, centres on the character of an antiquary: an amateur historian, archaeologist and collector of items of dubious antiquity. He is the eponymous character and for all practical purposes the hero, though the characters of Lovel and Isabella Wardour provide the conventional love interest. The Antiquary was Scott's own favourite of his novels, and is one of his most critically well-regarded works; H. J. C. Grierson, for example, wrote that "Not many, apart from Shakespeare, could write scenes in which truth and poetry, realism and romance, are more wonderfully presented."

At the opening of the story, Lovel meets Oldbuck while taking a coach from Edinburgh. Oldbuck, interested as he is in antiquities, has with him Gordon's Itinerarium, a book about Roman ruins. The book interests Lovel, to the surprise of Oldbuck and by their shared interest the two become friends. Oldbuck invites Lovel to come to Monkbarns and takes the opportunity of a willing listener to divulge his ancient knowledge. In the process of which, Oldbuck shows Lovel a plot of land he purchased at great cost where he found an inscription "A.D.L.L", which Oldbuck takes to mean "Agricola Dicavit Libens Lubens". Edie Ochiltree, the local beggar, disputes the antiquary's history, in one of the more amusing scenes of the story (see image at left).

 

Oldbuck decides to introduce Lovel to his good friend, Sir Arthur Wardour. When Sir Arthur arrives, Lovel meets Arthur's daughter, Isabella and the two realize they have seen each other before. Because Lovel is illegitimate, she knows her father would not approve of a marriage between them. When she sees Lovel standing in the road waiting to talk to her, she convinces her father to take the long way home, walking down to the beach. Luckily, Edie Ochiltree, having the insight that someone may be trapped on the beach not knowing that the tide was coming in, finds the Wardours and helps them escape the rising waters. Then, Lovel appears and gets them to relative safety, huddling on the side of a rocky cliff. Finally, Oldbuck arrives with men and ropes to pull the four up over the cliff to safety.

 

A while later, Oldbuck takes Lovel, the Wardours, his niece and nephew, Dousterswivel and a minister to the ancient ruins of Saint Ruth on Sir Arthur's property. While exploring the property, they discuss an ancient treasure that they believe to be buried at the ruins. Captain M'Intyre dominates Isabella's attention, which she leaves in favor of Lovel's to the dismay of M'Intyre. M'Intyre, angered at this slight, discovers that Lovel is in the military, but realizes he knows of no one named Lovel in his division and calls him out upon the topic. They agree to a duel and return to the scene to fight for their individual honor. Lovel's bullet strikes best and leaves M'Intyre bleeding on the ground, when Lovel flees with Edie to avoid a potential arrest. In their hiding, Edie and Lovel see Dousterswivel and Sir Arthur return to the ruins, looking for treasure. They see Dousterswivel attempting to convince Sir Arthur of his magical abilities to find gold and he does conveniently find a small bag under a stone. After they leave, Lovel boards a military ship and departs.

 

Oldbuck, understanding Dousterswivel's knavery, confronts him about his cons and takes Sir Arthur back to the ruins to look for treasure without Dousterswivel's magical intervention. Digging further under the same stone under which Dousterswivel had previously found treasure, they discover a chest full of silver, which Sir Arthur promptly takes back home. Edie hangs behind and whispers for Dousterswivel to join him. Then, showing the con artist the lid to the chest, with the phrase "Search 1" written on it. Edie convinces the German mage that this phrase means there is a second chest nearby, this time full of gold. They return at night and dig, but cannot find another chest. Just as Dousterswivel is starting to realize that Edie is mocking him, Steenie Mucklebackit jumps from the shadows and knocks Dousterswivel unconscious.

 

Book Details

Language

English

Original Language

English

Published In

1816

Author

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and Scottish literature. F...

More about Sir Walter Scott

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