I don't mean is he a liar. I am quite sure he is telling us the truth as he sees it. The problem is his character and how that character shapes his understanding of the truth. That's the question I keep wondering about. Diana I trust even though she is obviously keeping secrets but Frank I keep worrying will ruin everything with some terribly misguided action in a moment of hotheadedness.
And as Frank confesses to Tresham that he was falling in love I can't help but notice there is nothing noble or ennobling about this love. He remains the smug man who feels morally superior to Diana even though all evidence indicates the opposite.
So here is the question: Is Sir Walter Scott playing a game with us here? Is Frank the sort of guy most Englishman were? And English men were very much his primary audience. That is, is he meant to represent a series of biases and misunderstandings common at the time? Was your typical reader supposed to see a slightly stupider version of himself in this character?
I honestly don't know. These aren't meant to be leading questions.
Before we get to Frank's love, we learn that Franks good name is still at risk. Morris has made his way to London and has put about some nasty rumours. At least I assume he has gotten to London although we might marvel at his ability to get around because ... oops that would be a spoiler.
Before we get there, however, we get a long chapter of (I think) humorous intent wherein Andrew Fairservice tries to tell Frank some news in his roundabout way and Frank gets impatient which puts Andrew off of finishing his story. This is a favourite Radcliffe device* and is a major feature of the relationship between Vivaldi and his manservant (whose name I have forgotten) in The Italian.
These few chapters in general are very much like Radcliffe—an evil villain, secret passageways, Catholic clergy who may or may not be plotting—with two significant departures. The heroine doesn't faint at the drop of a hat but is rather more manly than the hero And magic is more distant. There is, of course, no actual magic or supernatural in any Radcliffe novel. It is something the hero, in his confused state, begins to believe in or almost does but everything has an explanation. But, whatever else we might say of him, Frank seems in no danger of believing in faeries.
Rather, the problem is his impoverished imagination. All he seems to be able to imagine are romantic rivals. He is a most girly man with all his concern with romance in the small-r sense of the word. And the thing becomes so obvious that he admits the superior manliness of Diana:
I felt the childishness of my own conduct. and the superior manliness of Miss Vernon's, and assured her, that she need not fear my wincing under criticism which I knew to be kindly meant.Only he has already shown it.
Finally we get a mysterious noise behind the curtain at the library. That is a clue. How you say? Well, it's an obvious reference to Hamlet and the scene where Hamlet, in his mother's bedroom, hears a noise behind the tapestry and runs through the man behind it as Frank only imagines here. The man Hamlet kills is Polonius. And Polonius has several roles and relations in that play, one of which will to tell us who is behind the tapestry.
* The use of the quotes at chapter heads, by the way, is classic Radcliffe. Remember that Frank said he used them only to borrow more profound insights than he was capable of providing himself. And yet we have quotes here that are clearly meant to build suspense and foreshadow the plot. Radcliffe, by the way, used a quote from Hamlet just before the supposed apparition of a ghost in The Italian. Note here that Sir Walter uses a quote fro Robinson Crusoe here just before we get evidence that there is some new character lurking about. And that is the other half of the clue. If the Hamlet reference tells us who the mysterious person is, the Robinson Crusoe reference should tell us his state and disposition. Heck, he has given the tale away because you've figured it all out haven't you?
Speaking of quotes, the line that Diana uses to urge Frank to get to London is this:
To horse, to horse! urge doubts to those that fear.She get's it wrong. It is actually:
To horse, to horse! urge doubts to them that fear.Anyway, it comes from Richard II. and it comes at a crucial moment. Richard has just been in to see John of Gaunt on his deathbed where he arrogantly ignores the good advice the dying man attempts to give him. It's too late, however, because immediately after Richard's exit, Northumberland (interesting that no?) arrives to tell the other nobles who have reservations about the king and his rule that the banished Harry is back in England and that Revolution is in the air. hat too is a clue about our pal Diana and what she is hiding.
Don't you just love this? You should.
Here, is Northumberland's; speech from Richard II and the response it provokes:
Be confident to speak, Northumberland:
We three are but thyself; and, speaking so,
Thy words are but as thoughts; therefore, be bold.
Then thus: I have from Port le Blanc, a bay
In Brittany, received intelligence
That Harry Duke of Hereford, Rainold Lord Cobham,
That late broke from the Duke of Exeter,
His brother, Archbishop late of Canterbury,
Sir Thomas Erpingham, Sir John Ramston,
Sir John Norbery, Sir Robert Waterton and Francis Quoint,
All these well furnish'd by the Duke of Bretagne
With eight tall ships, three thousand men of war,
Are making hither with all due expedience
And shortly mean to touch our northern shore:
Perhaps they had ere this, but that they stay
The first departing of the king for Ireland.
If then we shall shake off our slavish yoke,
Imp out our drooping country's broken wing,
Redeem from broking pawn the blemish'd crown,
Wipe off the dust that hides our sceptre's gilt
And make high majesty look like itself,
Away with me in post to Ravenspurgh;
But if you faint, as fearing to do so,
Stay and be secret, and myself will go.
To horse, to horse! urge doubts to them that fear.
Hold out my horse, and I will first be there.