Rob Roy

Rob Roy

by Walter Scott


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Having fallen into disgrace with his businessman father, Francis Osbaldistone is banished to Scotland with the hope that the impetuous young man might mend his ways. But the political situation he finds is as turbulent and wild as the land itself. Against the backdrop of the Jacobite uprising, Frnak find himself drawn to the noble and charismatic outlaw Robert Roy MacGregor, whose daring and courageous exploits on behalf of the Scottish people to overthrow their English oppressors has earned him the reputation as the Robin Hood of the Highlands.

First published in 1817, Rob Roy, with its high adventure, cunning plot twists, daring escapes, and passionate romances, is an unforgettable portrait of one of Scotland's greatest heroes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781721884735
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 06/27/2018
Pages: 508
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

Sir Walter Scott (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) was a Scottish writer of historical adventures whose notable works include "Ivanhoe" and "Waverley".

Originally from Scotland, where he studied at the Edinburgh College of Art under Denis Peploe and Elizabeth Blackadder, KEN LAIDLAW spent parts of his childhood in Malaya. After graduating he moved to London, where he now lives. He worked as an art director for a major publishing house for four years, and from then on as a freelance artist. His work has been exhibited at Hamiltons Gallery, the Design Council and Charleston House, and has been catalogued and sold by Sotheby's at two sales in 1988 and 1997.

The Scottish novelist and academic MARGARET ELPHINSTONE's first novel was published in 1987. Her latest, The Gathering Night, was published in 2009. She is Emeritus Professor of Scottish Literature at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. Apart from spells of academic work in the USA, she has spent most of her working life in various parts of Scotland including Shetland, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I

How have I sinn’d, that this affliction

Should light so heavy on me? I have no more sons,

And this no more mine own. My grand curse

Hang o’er his head that thus transform’d thee! Travel?

I’ll send my horse to travel next.

—monsieur thomas

You have requested me, my dear friend, to bestow some of that leisure with which Providence has blessed the decline of my life in registering the hazards and difficulties which attended its commencement. The recollection of those adventures, as you are pleased to term them, has indeed left upon my mind a chequered and varied feeling of pleasure and of pain, mingled, I trust, with no slight gratitude and veneration to the Disposer of human events, who guided my early course through much risk and labour, that the case with which he has blessed my prolonged life might seem softer from remembrance and contrast. Neither is it possible for me to doubt, what you have often affirmed, that the incidents which befell me among a people singularly primitive in their government and manners have something interesting and attractive for those who love to hear an old man’s stories of a past age.

Still, however, you must remember that the tale told by one friend, and listened to by another, loses half its charms when committed to paper; and that the narratives to which you have attended with interest, as heard from the voice of him to whom they occurred, will appear less deserving of attention when perused in the seclusion of your study. But your greener age and robust constitution promise longer life than will, in all human probability, be the lot of yourfriend. Throw, then, these sheets into some secret drawer of your escritoir till we are separated from each other’s society by an event which may happen at any moment, and which must happen within the course of a few—a very few years. When we are parted in this world—to meet, I hope, in a better—you will, I am well aware, cherish more than it deserves the memory of your departed friend, and will find in those details which I am now to commit to paper matter for melancholy but not unpleasing reflection. Others bequeath to the confidants of their bosom portraits of their external features; I put into your hands a faithful transcript of my thoughts and feelings, of my virtues and of my failings, with the assured hope that the follies and headstrong impetuosity of my youth will meet the same kind construction and forgiveness which have so often attended the faults of my matured age.

One advantage, among the many, of addressing my Memoirs (if I may give these sheets a name so imposing) to a dear and intimate friend is, that I may spare some of the details, in this case unnecessary, with which I must needs have detained a stranger from what I have to say of greater interest. Why should I bestow all my tediousness upon you because I have you in my power, and have ink, paper, and time before me? At the same time I dare not promise that I may not abuse the opportunity so temptingly offered me to treat of myself and my own concerns, even though I speak of circumstances as well known to you as to myself. The seductive love of narrative, when we ourselves are the heroes of the events which we tell, often disregards the attention due to the time and patience of the audience, and the best and wisest have yielded to its fascination. I need only remind you of the singular instance evinced by the form of that rare and original edition of Sully’s Memoirs, which you (with the fond vanity of a book-collector) insist upon preferring to that which is reduced to the useful and ordinary form of Memoirs, but which I think curious solely as illustrating how far so great a man as the author was accessible to the foible of self- importance. If I recollect rightly, that venerable peer and great statesman had appointed no fewer than four gentlemen of his household to draw up the events of his life, under the title of Memorials of the Sage and Royal Affairs of State, Domestic, Political, and Military, transacted by Henry IV., and so forth. These grave recorders, having made their compilation, reduced the Memoirs containing all the remarkable events of their master’s life into a narrative, addressed to himself in propria persona. And thus, instead of telling his own story in the third person, like Julius Cæsar, or in the first person, like most who, in the hall or the study, undertake to be the heroes of their own tale, Sully enjoyed the refined though whimsical pleasure of having the events of his life told over to him by his secretaries, being himself the auditor, as he was also the hero, and probably the author, of the whole book. It must have been a great sight to have seen the ex-minister, as bolt upright as a starched ruff and laced cassock could make him, seated in state beneath his canopy, and listening to the recitation of his compilers, while, stand- ing bare in his presence, they informed him gravely, “Thus said the duke—so did the duke infer—such were your grace’s sentiments upon this important point—such were your secret counsels to the king on that other emergency,”—circumstances all of which must have been much better known to their hearer than to themselves, and most of which could only be derived from his own special communication.

My situation is not quite so ludicrous as that of the great Sully, and yet there would be something whimsical in Frank Osbaldistone giving Will Tresham a formal account of his birth, education, and connexions in the world. I will, therefore, wrestle with the tempting spirit of P. P., clerk of our parish, as I best may, and endeavour to tell you nothing that is familiar to you already. Some things, however, I must recall to your memory, because, though formerly well known to you, they may have been forgotten through lapse of time, and they afford the groundwork of my destiny.

You must remember my father well; for, as your own was a member of the mercantile house, you knew him from infancy. Yet you hardly saw him in his best days, before age and infirmity had quenched his ardent spirit of enterprise and speculation. He would have been a poorer man indeed, but perhaps as happy, had he devoted to the extension of science those active energies and acute powers of observation for which commercial pursuits found occupation. Yet in the fluctuations of mercantile speculation there is something captivating to the adventurer, even independent of the hope of gain. He who embarks on that fickle sea requires to possess the skill of the pilot and the fortitude of the navigator, and after all may be wrecked and lost, unless the gales of fortune breathe in his favour. This mixture of necessary attention and inevitable hazard—the frequent and awful uncertainty whether prudence shall overcome fortune, or fortune baffle the schemes of prudence—affords full occupation for the powers as well as for the feel- ings of the mind, and trade has all the fascination of gambling without its moral guilt.

Early in the 18th century, when I—Heaven help me!—was a youth of some twenty years old, I was summoned suddenly from Bourdeaux to attend my father on business of importance. I shall never forget our first interview. You recollect the brief, abrupt, and somewhat stern mode in which he was wont to communicate his pleasure to those around him. Methinks I see him even now in my mind’s eye—the firm and upright figure; the step, quick and determined; the eye, which shot so keen and so penetrating a glance; the features, on which care had already planted wrinkles; and hear his language, in which he never wasted word in vain, expressed in a voice which had sometimes an occasional harshness far from the intention of the speaker.

When I dismounted from my post-horse I hastened to my father’s apartment. He was traversing it with an air of composed and steady deliberation which even my arrival, although an only son unseen for four years, was unable to discompose. I threw myself into his arms. He was a kind, though not a fond, father, and the tear twinkled in his dark eye, but it was only for a moment.

“Dubourg writes to me that he is satisfied with you, Frank.”

“I am happy, sir——”

“But I have less reason to be so,” he added, sitting down at his bureau.

“I am sorry, sir——”

“Sorry and happy, Frank, are words that on most occasions signify little or nothing. Here is your last letter.”

He took it out from a number of others tied up in a parcel of red tape, and curiously labelled and filed. There lay my poor epistle, written on the subject the nearest to my heart at the time, and couched in words which I had thought would work compassion, if not conviction—there, I say, it lay, squeezed up among the letters on miscellaneous business in which my father’s daily affairs had engaged him. I cannot help smiling internally when I recollect the mixture of hurt vanity and wounded feeling with which I regarded my remonstrance, to the penning of which there had gone, I promise you, some trouble—as I beheld it extracted from amongst letters of advice, of credit, and all the commonplace lumber, as I then thought them, of a merchant’s correspondence. “Surely,” thought I, “a letter of such importance”—I dared not say, even to myself, so well written—“deserved a separate place, as well as more anxious consideration, than those on the ordinary business of the counting-house.”

But my father did not observe my dissatisfaction, and would not have minded it if he had. He proceeded, with the letter in his hand: “This, Frank, is yours of the 21st ultimo, in which you advise me (reading from my letter) that in the most important business of forming a plan and adopting a profession for life you trust my paternal goodness will hold you entitled to at least a negative voice; that you have insuperable—ay, insuperable is the word—I wish, by the way, you would write a more distinct current hand, draw a score through the tops of your t’s and open the loops of your l’s—insuperable objections to the arrangements which I have proposed to you. There is much more to the same effect, occupying four good pages of paper, which a little attention to perspicuity and distinctness of expression might have comprised within as many lines. For, after all, Frank, it amounts but to this, that you will not do as I would have you.”

“That I cannot, sir, in the present instance, not that I will not.”

“Words avail very little with me, young man,” said my father, whose inflexibility always possessed the air of the most perfect calmness and self-possession. “ ‘Can not’ may be a more civil phrase than ‘will not, but the expressions are synonymous where there is no moral impossibility. But I am not a friend to doing business hastily; we will talk this matter over after dinner. Owen!”

Owen appeared, not with the silver locks which you were used to venerate, for he was then little more than fifty; but he had the same, or an exactly similar, uniform suit of light brown clothes; the same pearl-grey silk stockings; the same stock, with its silver buckle; the same plaited cambric ruffles, drawn down over his knuckles in the parlour, but in the counting-house carefully folded back under the sleeves, that they might remain unstained by the ink which he daily consumed—in a word, the same grave, formal, yet benevolent cast of features which continued to his death to distinguish the head clerk of the great house of Osbaldistone and Tresham.

“Owen,” said my father, as the kind old man shook me affectionately by the hand, “you must dine with us to-day, and hear the news Frank has brought us from our friends in Bourdeaux.”

Owen made one of his stiff bows of respectful gratitude; for, in those days, when the distance between superiors and inferiors was enforced in a manner to which the present times are strangers, such an invitation was a favour of some little consequence.

Copyright 2002 by Sir Walter Scott

Reading Group Guide

First published in 1817, Rob Roy was not only a resounding success but also one of the first historical novels of its time. Full of swashbuckling action and intrigue, it tells the story of Frank Osbaldistone, the son of a wealthy British businessman, who travels to Scotland, where he is drawn into the lawless world of the fiercely noble outlaw Robert Roy MacGregor. Osbaldistone and Rob Roy, along with the witty Diane Vernon, embark on numerous adventures during the height of the Jacobite uprising. With sweeping descriptions of Scottish landscapes and vivid characterizations, Rob Roy is an epic tale of heroism set against the backdrop of true Scottish history.

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Rob Roy 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In old age, pedestrian, unimaginative Protestant Frank Osbaldistone writes for a business partner reminiscenses of his brief, uncharacteristic, long ago adventures in northern England and Scotland. His rich merchant father had recalled Frank from four years business apprenticeship in France to begin a junior partnership in London. But Fran, fancying himself a poet, declines to join the family business. His father sends him in disgrace to the ancestral manor in the north of England. There he is immersed in the dissolute country gentleman's life of his father's Roman Catholic younger brother and his six sons. *** There he also meets and falls in love with orphaned 18 year old Diana Vernon, who by her father's will must either marry one of Frank's six cousins or enter a convent. Along with the youngest of her cousins, Rashleigh Osbaldistone, Diana is heavily into the political intrigues along the Border which lead to the premature rising in 1715 to restore the Stuart monarchy in Britain. Rashleigh rides south to replace Frank in the family business in London, where he defrauds Frank's father for funds to aid the Pretender and the rebellion. *** Frank pursues his cousin's misdeeds 50 miles northwest to Glasgow and later crosses north over the Highlands Line in the same cause. *** In the process Frank is aided by Rob Roy (Red Robert) MacGregor, once a cattle drover but now driven by hard times to cattle stealing and opposition to powerful Scottish lords and other neighbors. Frank is also drawn into helping to put down the Rising.*** The novel is very fast paced. For those (like myself) who are not bilingual in Scots-English, it can be slow going at times as the various Scotsmen break into untranslated utterances in their version of English. Fortunately, there are only a few bursts of true Highland Gaelic (mercifully translated). This is a rollicking tale of Protestants coming to terms with Catholics, of Scots and Englishmen, of Hanoverians and Jacobites. It is also a lyric introduction to the geography of the western parts of the Border. -OOO-
darinbradley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Too obfuscatory for a rating of 3 (even for 19th century literature), even if Scott's explorations are poignant and resounding.
thorold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read Rob Roy directly after Waverley, which doesn't make much sense historically (Waverley is set in 1745 and Rob Roy in 1715), but does provide an interesting contrast. At one level, they are both about young Englishmen who make friends with bare-kneed Scotsmen, get mixed up in Jacobite rebellions, and chase round the Scottish countryside feeling alternately Romantic and faintly foolish. Rob Roy is clearly a maturer novel than Waverley, more tightly structured and with a rather smaller cast, but Scott's use of a first-person narrator writing in an early-19th century version of mid-18th century English makes it feel somewhat heavier, even plodding in the early chapters, although this evens out later on as we (or Scott) get used to Frank Osbaldistone's voice.Rob Roy himself is presented as a sort of Scottish Michael Kohlhaas (Kleist's novella appeared in 1810) -- a cattle trader who sets out to take revenge after being ruined by an act of arbitrary aristocratic power. He comes and goes on the margins of Osbaldistone's story, extricating him from various difficulties. But Scott makes sure we remember that, good-hearted though Rob Roy is, he lives in a world of violence and disorder. The gruesome description of Helen MacGregor ordering the summary execution of Morris should be enough to jerk most readers out of the Scotch mist and back to the real world.As Antimuzak has said, the real underlying theme of Rob Roy is commerce as an organising, civilising force. Bailie Nicol Jarvie, middle-aged Glasgow businessman and magistrate, is the real hero of the story, a precursor of John Buchan's Dickson McCann. His sword has been rusted solid in its scabbard for years, but he represents the force of reason and stability that will ultimately come out on top. An unexpected bit of treasure is Diana Vernon. She can hunt, ride and shoot as well as any man, is intelligent, has been at least as well educated as Frank, and speaks her mind on all occasions, livening up what might otherwise be the rather dull opening part of the book considerably. Scott seems to have been a bit scared of her, from the way he gives her only a rather passive and transient role in the second half of the book. Interesting to remember that Rob Roy was published the year Jane Austen died.
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