It is well known that Sir Walter Scott did not like writing love scenes. If he could possibly arrange for people to get engaged in the interval between two chapters, he did. In some cases, however, matters connected with the plot were intricately interwoven with the proposal. Then he was unable to shirk. One such case is that of Waverley, the young Englishman, till that very day a captain in the Hanoverian army, when he proposed to Flora Macivor, the passionately Stuart sister of an equally Stuart Highland chief.
"Waverley's attachment was evident, and as his person was handsome, and his taste apparently coincided with her own, he" (Fergus, Flora's brother) "anticipated no opposition on the part of Flora. Indeed, between his ideas of patriarchal power and those which he had acquired in France respecting the disposal of females in marriage, any opposition from his sister, dear as she was to him, would have been the last obstacle on which he would have calculated, even had the union been less eligible.
"Influenced by these feelings, the Chief now led Waverley in quest of Miss Macivor, not without the hope that the present agitation of his guest's spirits might give him courage to cut short what. Fergus termed the romance of courtship. They found Flora, with her faithful attendants, Una and Cath-leen, busied in preparing what appeared to Waverley to be white bridal favours. Disguising as well as he could the agitation of his mind, Waverley asked for what joyful occasion Miss Macivor made such ample preparation.
"'it is for Fergus' bridal,' she said, smiling.
" 'that is a man's office, but not yours, as Beatrice says,' retorted Flora.
" 'and who is the fair lady, may I be permitted to ask, Miss Macivor?'
" 'did I not tell you long since that Fergus wooed no bride but Honour? answered Flora.
" 'and am I then incapable of being his assistant and counsellor in the pursuit of honour?' said our hero, colouring deeply. 'do I rank so low in your opinion?'
" 'far from it, Captain Waverley. I would to God you were of our determination, and made use of the expression which displeased you, solely
" ' Because you are not of our quality, But stand against us as an enemy.'
" 'that time is past, sister,' said Fergus; 'and you may wish Edward Waverley (no longer captain) joy of being freed from the slavery to an usurper, implied in that sable and ill-omened emblem.'
" ' Thank God for that! ' cried the enthusiast. 'and O that they may be blind enough to treat every man of honour who serves them with the same indignity, that I may have less to sigh for when the struggle approaches.'
" ' And now, sister,' said the Chieftain, ' replace his cockade with one of a more lively colour. I think it was the fashion of the ladies of yore to arm and send forth their knights to high achievement.'
" ' Not,' replied the lady, ' till the knight adventurer had well weighed the justice and the danger of the cause, Fergus. Mr. Waverley is just now too much agitated by feelings of recent emotion for me to press upon him a resolution of consequence.'
"Waverley felt half alarmed at the thought of adopting the badge of what was by the majority of the kingdom esteemed rebellion, yet he could not disguise his chagrin at the coldness with which Flora parried her brother's hint.
"' Miss Macivor, I perceive, thinks the knight unworthy of her encouragement and favour,' said he, somewhat bitterly.
" 'not so, Mr. Waverley,' she replied, with great sweetness. ' Why should I refuse my brother's valued friend a boon which I am distributing to his whole clan? Most willingly would I enlist every man of honour in the cause to which my brother has devoted himself. But Fergus has taken his measures with his eyes open. His life has been devoted to this cause from his cradle; with him its call is sacred, were it even a summons to the tomb. But how can I wish you, Mr. Waverley, so new to the world, so far from every friend who might advise and ought to influence you - in a moment, too, of sudden pique and indignation - how can I wish you to plunge yourself at once into so desperate an enterprise?'
"Fergus, who did not understand these delicacies, strode through the apartment, biting his lip, and then, with a constrained smile, said, ' Well, sister, I leave you to act your new character of mediator between the Elector of Hanover and the subjects of your lawful sovereign and benefactor,' and left the room.
"There was a painful pause, which was at length broken by Miss Macivor. 'my brother is unjust,' she said, 'because he can bear no interruption that seems to thwart his loyal zeal.'
"'and do you not share his ardour?' asked Waverley.
" 'do I not!' answered Flora. 'god knows mine exceeds his, if that be possible. But I am not, like him, rapt by the bustle of military preparation and the infinite detail necessary to the present undertaking, beyond consideration of the grand principles of justice and truth, on which our enterprise is grounded; and these, I am certain, can only be furthered by measures in themselves true and just. To operate upon your present feelings, my dear Mr. Waverley, to induce you to an irretrievable step of which you have not considered either the justice or the danger, is, in my poor judgment, neither the one nor the other.'
" 'incomparable Flora!' said Edward, taking her hand. 'how much do I need such a monitor!'
"'a better one by far,' said Flora, gently withdrawing her hand, ' Mr. Waverley will always find in his own bosom, when he will give its small, still voice leisure to be heard.'
" ' No, Miss Macivor, I dare not hope it. A thousand circumstances of fatal self-indulgence have made me the creature rather of imagination than reason. Durst I not hope - could I but think - that you would deign to be to me that affectionate, that condescending friend, who would strengthen me to redeem my errors, my future life.'
" ' Hush, my dear sir! Now you carry your joy at escaping the hands of a Jacobite recruiting officer to an unparalleled excess of gratitude.'
"' Nay, dear Flora, trifle with me no longer; you cannot mistake the meaning of those feelings which I have almost involuntarily expressed; and since I have broken the barrier of silence, let me profit by my audacity. Or may I, with your permission, mention to your brother-------'
" ' Not for the world, Mr. Waverley! '
" ' What am I to understand? ' said Edward. ' Is there any fatal bar - has any prepossession------'
None, sir,' answered Flora. ' I owe it to myself to say that I never yet saw the person on whom I thought with reference to the present subject.'
The shortness of our acquaintance, perhaps. If Miss Macivor will deign to give me time-------'
" ' I have not even that excuse. Captain Waverley's character is so open - is, in short, of that nature that it cannot be misconstrued, either in its strength or its weakness.'
" 'and for that weakness you despise me,' said Edward.
" ' Forgive me, Mr. Waverley, and remember that it is but within this half-hour that there existed between us a barrier of a nature to me insurmountable, since I could never think of an officer in the service of the Elector of Hanover in any other light than as a casual acquaintance. Permit me, then, to arrange my ideas upon so unexpected a topic, and in less than an hour I will be ready to give you such reasons for the resolution I shall express as may be satisfactory at least, if not pleasing to you.' So saying, Flora withdrew, leaving Waverley to meditate upon the manner in which she had received his addresses."
Her meditations, however, prove unfavourable; she decides that Waverley has too domestic an idea of married bliss, while he might consider "the enthusiasm with which I regarded the success of the Royal family as defrauding your affection of its due return."
She is terribly sensible, this Flora. When Waverley wishes to espouse the Stuart cause, hoping to win her approval, she counsels him thus: "Consult your own good sense and reason rather than a prepossession hastily adopted, probably only because you have met a young woman possessed of the usual accomplishments in a sequestered and romantic situation. Let your part in this great and perilous drama rest upon conviction, and not on a hurried, and probably a temporary feeling."
Perhaps it is all a little too formidable for Waverley. At any rate, one feels some sympathy with him when his heart turns to impulsive Rose Bradwardine, who, as he reflects, with a tenderness tinged with relief, is not so completely moved by loyalty. Moreover, "to Waverley, Rose Bradwardine possessed an attraction which few men can resist, from the marked interest which she took in everything that affected him. She was too young and too inexperienced to estimate the full force of the constant attention which she paid to him. Her father was too abstractedly immersed in learned and military discussions to observe her partiality, and Flora Macivor did not alarm her by remonstrance, because she saw in this line of conduct the most probable chance of her friend securing at length a return of affection."
"We shall not attempt to describe the meeting of the father and daughter - loving each other so affectionately, and separated under such perilous circumstances. Still less shall we attempt to analyse the deep blush of Rose at receiving the compliments of Waverley, or stop to inquire whether she had any curiosity respecting the particular cause of his journey to Scotland at that period. We shall not even trouble the reader with the humdrum details of a courtship sixty years since. It is enough to say that, under so strict a martinet as the Baron, all things were conducted in due form. He took upon himself, the morning after their arrival, the task of announcing the proposal of Waverley to Rose, which she heard with a proper degree of maiden timidity. Fame does, however, say that Waverley had, the evening before, found five minutes to apprise her of what was coming, while the rest of the company were looking at three twisted serpents which formed a jet d'cau in the garden."