"Young Lochinvar rode out of the west a little too soon, didn’t he?"

Sir Walter Scott, 1822
Public DomainSir Walter Scott, 1822 - Credit: Henry Raeburn

The reference is to canto v.xii of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion (1808). Beginning with the line, “O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west”, this section describes how Lochinvar charges into the hall where his beloved is to marry “a laggard in love, and a dastard in war”. Sweeping up the would-be bride and riding away with her, the young knight proves himself his rival’s superior, “so daring in love, and so dauntless in war”. Sydney Herbert Head is taunting Quentin over his failure to live up to this chivalric ideal.