Criticisms and Interpretations IV. Richard Holt Hutton on Scotts Women
I THINK the deficiency of his pictures of women, odd as it seems to say so, should be greatly attributed to his natural chivalry. His conception of women of his own or a higher class was always too romantic. He hardly ventured, as it were, in his tenderness for them to look deeply into their weaknesses and intricacies of character. With women of an inferior class he had not this feeling. Nothing can be more perfect than the manner in which he blends the dairywoman and woman of business in Jeanie Deans with the lover and the sister. But once make a woman beautiful, or in any way an object of homage to him, and Scott bowed so low before the image of her that he could not go deep into her heart. He could no more have analyzed such a woman, as Thackeray analyzed Lady Castlewood, or Amelia, or Becky, or as George Eliot analyzed Rosamond Vincy, than he could have vivisected Camp or Maida.1 To some extent, therefore, Scotts pictures of women remain something in the style of the miniatures of the last agebright and beautiful beings without any special character in them. He was dazzled by a fair heroine. He could not take them up into his imaginations as real beings as he did men. But then how living are his men, whether coarse or noble!From Scott, in English Men of Letters.