Waverley—A Millennial Hero Forged in Romantic Jacobitism: A Brief Consideration

Young Master Edward Waverley is not much different from a millennial unstuck in time. Both find themselves carried about in the socio-political eddies of the day; each picking and choosing a course of study according to their wont. Their finances hinge on what their family allows as situations and uncertainty do not allow for much. Where Edward differs is he finds a brass ring that allows him a chance to escape the life of the son of a second son instead becoming an heir to the hereditary family fortune denied his father.

Waverley is a story of disappointment upon disappointment. Perhaps a case of ever falling upward but he does not realize this. His choices are limited by what is left to him by his elders and those who reside a rung or two above him on the socioeconomic ladder. As he is trying to choose, Edward finds events and people force the choice for him and he carries on trying to be content with the lot left to him. Early on his uncle, a baronet, arranges for a position in the church which would allow him to stay buried in his books. His father overrides this life by securing an army commission for him for the sake of the family name. Waverley, as equally bellicose as he is pious, assumes his captaincy with his habitual disinterested aplomb and sets out to further the exploits of his name.

Along the way he encounters others of a similar age but dissimilar ambitions. Fergus, the continentally refined chieftain of a Highland clan and his stunning and erudite, if rebellious, sister become fast friends and figures Waverley aspires to emulate as his regimental leave looks more and more like desertion. Due to the machinations of some northern folk, Edward cannot return to the King’s forces and finds himself dragged into the camp of another young man. The Chevalier, or Bonnie Prince Charlie, is in Scotland agitating to restore his father and the Catholic Stuart line to the crown. Impressed by the young prince’s mien and manners, the unmoored Englishman finds himself taking up arms against his countrymen while wearing Highland garb.

Waverley finds himself in a foreign land fighting a war over his ancestors actions. This is a familiar situation today as young US troops find themselves fighting in a generational war that was previously fought by their fathers in consequence of the actions of their grandfathers. It is up to these young people to fix the mess. The forever wars, the environment, the extreme political partisanship. They’ve been given a shambles. Nothing so easy as defending or restoring a rightful monarch. It is up to this hero generation to restore peace, save the world and restore order. A small task, sure, one made more difficult when one realizes it’s their lifeblood which ultimately powers not only the machines of war but the cars back home and the fact that for each one who lives or dies that the price shifts at the pump. But are the Waverleys of today going to be able to persevere when they feel it doesn’t matter if they die in the sand or return home to a country that gives lip service but doesn’t care?

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