In the twelfth century, England is in ruins. The tension between the Saxons and Normans are at an all-time high. While King Richard the Lion Heart is away, his brother Prince John sits on the throne, allowing the Norman nobles to ravage the Saxon countryside further. There is no one to protect them. Their land is repossessed. They are made to flee into the forests as outlaws, leaving behind the stand-in king who has forsaken them.
Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, disowned by his father after pledging allegiance to King Richard, has returned from the Crusades eager to win the love of Lady Rowena. The young knight, eager to prove himself worthy of her affections, sets out to demonstrate his merit—fighting his enemies with aid from the likes of Robin Hood.
A classic of historical fiction, Sir Walter Scott’s masterpiece brims with romance, adventure, and action.
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We will be I thankful if friends at home and abroad would kindly do their utmost in making the "Story of our English Bible" known to Christians, and to Christian workers in every sphere of labour.
Once again, we commend the book to the God of all grace, in the fervent hope that He may grant a largely increased circulation.
Your Servant for Christ's sake, Walter Scott.
THE Author, on a former occasion, declined giving the real source from which he drew the tragic subject of this history, because, though occurring at a distant period, it might possibly be unpleasing to the feelings of the descendants of the parties. But as he finds an account of the circumstances given in the Notes to Law's Memorials, by his ingenious friend, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., and also indicated in his reprint of the Rev. Mr. Symson's poems appended to the Large Description of Galloway, as the original of the Bride of Lammermoor, the Author feels himself now at liberty to tell the tale as he had it from connexions of his own, who lived very near the period, and were closely related to the family of the bride.
It is well known that the family of Dalrymple, which has produced, within the space of two centuries, as many men of talent, civil and military, and of literary, political, and professional eminence, as any house in Scotland, first rose into distinction in the person of James Dalrymple, one of the most eminent lawyers that ever lived, though the labours of his powerful mind were unhappily exercised on a subject so limited as Scottish jurisprudence, on which he has composed an admirable work.
He married Margaret, daughter to Ross of Balneel, with whom he obtained a considerable estate. She was an able, politic, and high-minded woman, so successful in what she undertook, that the vulgar, no way partial to her husband or her family, imputed her success to necromancy. According to the popular belief, this Dame Margaret purchased the temporal prosperity of her family from the Master whom she served under a singular condition, which is thus narrated by the historian of her grandson, the great Earl of Stair: "She lived to a great age, and at her death desired that she might not be put under ground, but that her coffin should stand upright on one end of it, promising that while she remained in that situation the Dalrymples should continue to flourish. What was the old lady's motive for the request, or whether she really made such a promise, I shall not take upon me to determine; but it's certain her coffin stands upright in the isle of the church of Kirklistown, the burial-place belonging to the family." The talents of this accomplished race were sufficient to have accounted for the dignities which many members of the family attained, without any supernatural assistance. But their extraordinary prosperity was attended by some equally singular family misfortunes, of which that which befell their eldest daughter was at once unaccountable and melancholy.
“Quoth he, there was a ship.”
This brief preface may begin like the tale of the Ancient Mariner, since it was on shipboard that the author acquired the very moderate degree of local knowledge and information, both of people and scenery, which he has endeavoured to embody in the romance of the Pirate.
In the summer and autumn of 1814, the author was invited to join a party of Commissioners for the Northern Light-House Service, who proposed making a voyage round the coast of Scotland, and through its various groups of islands, chiefly for the purpose of seeing the condition of the many lighthouses under their direction,—edifices so important, whether regarding them as benevolent or political institutions. Among the commissioners who manage this important public concern, the sheriff of each county of Scotland which borders on the sea, holds ex-officio a place at the Board. These gentlemen act in every respect gratuitously, but have the use of an armed yacht, well found and fitted up, when they choose to visit the lighthouses. An excellent engineer, Mr. Robert Stevenson, is attached to the Board, to afford the benefit of his professional advice. The author accompanied this expedition as a guest; for Selkirkshire, though it calls him Sheriff, has not, like the kingdom of Bohemia in Corporal Trim’s story, a seaport in its circuit, nor its magistrate, of course, any place at the Board of Commissioners,—a circumstance of little consequence where all were old and intimate friends, bred to the same profession, and disposed to accommodate each other in every possible manner.
Sir Walter Scott's "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft" were his contribution to a series of books, published by John Murray, which appeared between the years 1829 and 1847, and formed a collection of eighty volumes known as "Murray's Family Library." The series was planned to secure a wide diffusion of good literature in cheap five-shilling volumes, and Scott's "Letters," written and published in 1830, formed one of the earlier books in the collection.
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge had been founded in the autumn of 1826, and Charles Knight, who had then conceived a plan of a National Library, was entrusted, in July, 1827, with the superintendence of its publications. Its first treatises appeared in sixpenny numbers, once a fortnight. Its "British Almanac" and "Companion to the Almanac" first appeared at the beginning of 1829. Charles Knight started also in that year his own "Library of Entertaining Knowledge." John Murray's "Family Library" was then begun, and in the spring of 1832—the year of the Reform Bill—the advance of civilization by the diffusion of good literature, through cheap journals as well as cheap books, was sought by the establishment of"Chambers's Edinburgh Journal" in the North, and in London of "The Penny Magazine."
Banished from England for seeking to marry against his father's wishes, Ivanhoe joins Richard the Lion Heart on a crusade in the Holy Land. On his return, his passionate desire is to be reunited with the beautiful but forbidden lady Rowena, but he soon finds himself playing a more dangerous game as he is drawn into a bitter power struggle between the noble King Richard and his evil and scheming brother John. The first of Scott's novels to address a purely English subject, Ivanhoe is set in a highly romanticized medieval world of tournaments and sieges, chivalry and adventure where dispossessed Saxons are pitted against their Norman overlords, and where the historical and fictional seamlessly merge.
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The Lady in the Lake is the fourth Philip Marlowe story by Raymond Chandler and one of the best-loved. Since it was first published in 1943, The Lady in the Lake has been adapted for film and radio.
The Author of the Waverley Novels had hitherto proceeded in an unabated course of popularity, and might, in his peculiar district of literature, have been termed "L'Enfant Gate" of success. It was plain, however, that frequent publication must finally wear out the public favour, unless some mode could be devised to give an appearance of novelty to subsequent productions. Scottish manners, Scottish dialect, and Scottish characters of note, being those with which the author was most intimately, and familiarly acquainted, were the groundwork upon which he had hitherto relied for giving effect to his narrative. It was, however, obvious, that this kind of interest must in the end occasion a degree of sameness and repetition, if exclusively resorted to, and that the reader was likely at length to adopt the language of Edwin, in Parnell's Tale:
"'Reverse the spell,' he cries, 'And let it fairly now suffice. The gambol has been shown.'"
Nothing can be more dangerous for the fame of a professor of the fine arts, than to permit (if he can possibly prevent it) the character of a mannerist to be attached to him, or that he should be supposed capable of success only in a particular and limited style. The public are, in general, very ready to adopt the opinion, that he who has pleased them in one peculiar mode of composition, is, by means of that very talent, rendered incapable of venturing upon other subjects. The effect of this disinclination, on the part of the public, towards the artificers of their pleasures, when they attempt to enlarge their means of amusing, may be seen in the censures usually passed by vulgar criticism upon actors or artists who venture to change the character of their efforts, that, in so doing, they may enlarge the scale of their art.