Old Mortality

Old Mortality , the best of Scott's historical novels. Morton is the best of his young heroes, and serves as an excellent foil to the fanatical and gloomy Burley. The two classes of actors, viz., the brave and dissolute cavaliers, and the resolute oppressed covenanters, are drawn in bold relief. The most striking incidents are the terrible encounter with Burley in his rocky fastness; the dejection and anxiety of Morton on his return from Holland; and the rural comfort of Cuddie Headrigg's cottage on the banks of the Clyde, with its thin blue smoke among the trees, “showing that the evening meal was being made ready.” Old Mortality is an itinerant antiquary, whose craze is to clean the moss from gravestones, and keep their letters and effigies in good condition.