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Weekly Mailing List Archives
25th January 2008

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at 

Electric Scotland News
Scotland on TV
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Good Words - Edited by the Rev Norman MacLeod
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
History of Ulster
Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander
Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland 1881
Household Encyclopaedia
Scottish Art Trading Cards
Sketches of Early Scotch History
Silent Knight Stories
Adobe PDF books
Robert Burns

I found the problem with getting so many genuine emails going into my Junk folder. It was to do with the International language settings. I'd checked US-ascii and when unchecked almost no email went into the Junk folder and certainly none that did go in were genuine emails. So problem resolved :-)

I've acquired a large body of historical works in .pdf file format. We're going over each one to ensure they are optimised and as small as possible so they can be downloaded easily. A couple of them are 500Mb+ and so we really need to work on these to try and reduce their size. This will take some time but I hope to bring you one new book a week for the next umpteen weeks :-)

I got in some Clan Fraser pictures this week for our Postcard program and can I remind you all that if you have some good pictures of your clan lands please consider sending them in and we can create a clan section for your clan. I would need a small description, around 8 words, with each picture.

Got more fascinating information on Forbes Resting Place at St. Meddens Kirk. We're making lots of progress and you can read the correspondance at

I added a picture of an old tapestry of St Monance Castle in the East Neuk of Fife showing how the castle would have looked when complete. You can see this at 

Stan sent me in two press articles of the Banffshire Poetry Competition where a girl from Tasmania won one of the competitions. You can see this at

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter and pick up poems and stories sent into us during the week from Donna, Margo, Stan, John and others.

Scotland on TV
Visit their site at 

Scotland on TV’s on-demand Burns Supper

Scotland on TV will celebrate this year’s Burns Night with a web based, on-demand Burns Supper, offering you a special insight into all the spoken and musical elements of a traditional Burns Supper at the click of a mouse.

Whether you live in Inverness or Auckland, no matter the time zone, you can host your very own Burns Supper at home and log onto Scotland on TV for the all important ceremonial elements. You provide the haggis and the whisky - Scotland on TV does the rest.

The Supper is hosted by historian David Ross, a motor biking, battle-axe-wielding Scotsman with a penchant for Robert Burns poetry and song, in Rab Ha’s pub and restaurant in Glasgow. Joined by a congenial band of guests and musicians in a series of videos which can be played or paused as required, David takes viewers on a journey through a traditional Burns Supper, from start to finish. Be it the piper who accompanies the haggis to the table or the celebratory toasts, it’s all there for you to join in with at home.

The playlist consists of eight videos, each representing a specific part of the Burns Supper, from David Ross’ introduction to the Selkirk Grace to a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. In the Immortal Memory video, we join Russell Wardrop, director of Sandyford Burns Club, at one of Scotland’s biggest Burns celebrations - the West Sound Burns Supper in Glasgow.

The idea for an on-demand Burns Supper came from a viewer in the USA following last year’s Burns Supper on Scotland on TV. We received an email telling us that she had watched last year’s Burns Supper on Scotland on TV. She held her very own Burns celebration at home with her family and, by stopping and starting our video, she could follow all the key elements of a traditional Burns Supper.

So, this year we thought we’d go one better. All you have to do is click the relevant video buttons whenever it suits you, and join in.

For more information and to find links to all the videos log on to: We hope you can join us!

This weeks Flag is compiled by Donald Bain and he highlights a story where Scotland has a lead in the world but due to the UK government is now in danger...

Speaking in advance of the Second Reading of the Energy Bill in the Commons on Tuesday, SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson, Stewart Hosie MP, commented on the public announcement this week by BP that Hydrogen Energy – the joint venture between BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto – have announced an agreement with Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s initiative for renewable and clean technology, to work together on the front-end engineering design of an industrial-scale hydrogen-fired power generation project in Abu Dhabi, capturing carbon dioxide (CO2), which would then be available for transportation and storage.

Previously, BP and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) were working to develop a word leading carbon capture project at Peterhead, but the Westminster Government continually delayed their carbon capture competition and then excluded pre-combustion gas-fired projects from the competition. As a result, BP has decided to look elsewhere to test this crucial low carbon technology.

Mr Hosie said:

“This is the inevitable result of the Westminster Government’s dithering and delay over carbon capture, and failure to give any support to the world leading Peterhead Project. The UK Government even excluded Peterhead from their own carbon capture competition, and now the activity is going to Abu Dhabi.

“This development leaves Westminster’s environmental credibility in tatters. Instead of supporting a project to develop potentially planet saving technology in Scotland, the UK Government is prepared to squander vast resources on nuclear power – which the government’s own figures show will have a negligible impact on carbon abatement, and generates lethal waste remaining toxic for thousands of years.

“It is extraordinary that the UK Government will spend billions to save a bank, but not invest a modest sum to develop carbon capture and give Scotland a global lead in this vital technology of the future. It is a perfect illustration of why the Scottish Parliament needs responsibility for energy policy.

“Scotland still stands in a strong position to take advantage of carbon capture opportunities – at Peterhead and elsewhere – with our existing knowledge and skills base through North Sea oil and gas development. But Westminster’s actions have cost us a world lead in carbon capture technology – which can only be explained by the UK government’s negligence and obsession with wasteful nuclear power.”

In Peter's cultural section he tells us...

This week the world over will echo to the sound of haggis being addressed in Robert Burns' own words :-

'Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o' the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.'

Traditionally at Burns Suppers the haggis is piped in and all the company enjoy it's ritual presentation. This starts with a signal from the kitchen to the evening's Chairman that the haggis is ready, the Chairman calls on the company to be upstanding to receive the haggis. The delicacy is then carried in, traditionally by "Poosie Nancy", preceded by a Piper, round the room to the top table where a wee Dram awaits. The haggis is presented to the Chairman who will either address it himself or call upon the person who has been delegated to do the honours. If running a Burns Supper don't forget to ensure that a knife is available for use at the appropriate point in the address - 'An' cut you up wi' ready slight' - to perform the delicate operation of cutting open the haggis. Customs can vary - at some Burns Suppers the company remain standing throughout the time that the haggis is in the room, at others, the custom is to resume seats during the recital of 'Address to the Haggis', to allow everyone a better view of the spectacle. However when the haggis has been addressed, the company should be upstanding to toast the haggis and to enjoy the sight of the haggis being piped out.

Remember that you can hear 'Address to the Haggis', indeed all the important parts of a Burns Supper, every day of the year, courtesy of The Flag's SI Burns Supper which you will find under our Features section.

This week's recipe is for haggis but not the traditional fare enjoyed at Burns Suppers! Sweet Haggis is a dish which originated in the Ayrshire town of Kilmarnock and was a favourite on Saturday night High Tea tables. It was usually put on at dinner time so that it could boil in the afternoon and the hot steaming pudding was just the ticket on a cold winter's night.

Sweet Haggis

Ingredients: 3/4 lb (350 g) medium oatmeal; 4 oz (125 g) plain flour; 3/4 lb (350 g) suet, finely chopped; 4 oz (125 g) soft brown sugar; 4 oz (125 g) currants; 4 oz ( 125 g) raisins; salt and pepper; water to mix.

Method: Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix with water. Put into a greased pudding bowl, cover and steam for 3-4 hours. Serve hot in slices. The remainder can later be cut in thick slices and fried with bacon or wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven.

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

Also Christina McKelvie MSP's weekly diary for 24th Jan 2008 at

The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.

We are now on the Mac's with MacGregor, MacIntosh, MacIntyre, MacIvor and M'Kail

Some very good accounts of these major clans but I was interested in the account of M'Kail which starts...

M’KAIL, HUGH, a martyr of the covenant, was born about 1640. He studied, with a view to the church, at the university of Edinburgh, under the care of his uncle, one of the ministers of that city, and was afterwards, for some time, chaplain to Sir James Stewart of Coltness, then lord provost of Edinburgh. In 1661, he was licensed to preach, being then in his twenty-first year. On the 1st September 1662, when 400 presbyterian ministers were about to be driven from their charges for non-compliance with episcopacy, he delivered a discourse in the High Church of Edinburgh, from the Song of Solomon, i. 7, in which, speaking of the many persecutions to which the cause of religion had been subjected in all ages, he said that “the church and people of God had been persecuted both by an Ahab on the throne, a Haman in the state, and a Judas in the church.” In those troublous days, such an illustration was sure to find an application, whether the preacher meant it or not, parallel to the times. Accordingly the Ahab on the throne was considered to be Charles II., and Middleton and Archbishop Sharp took the Haman and Judas to themselves. A few days thereafter a party of horse was sent to apprehend him, but he escaped, and went to his father’s house in the parish of Liberton. Soon after, he took refuge in Holland, where he remained four years, during which time he studied at one of the Dutch universities.

In 1666 he returned to Scotland, and immediately joined the resolute and daring band of covenanters who rose in arms in the west, previous to the defeat at Rullion Green, and continued with them from the 18th to the 27th of November, when not being able to endure the fatigue of constant marching, he left them near Cramond Water. He was on his way to Liberton, when he was taken by an officer of dragoons, and some countrymen, as he passed through a place called Braid’s Craigs. He had then a sword or rapier, which of itself was a circumstance of suspicion against him. He was conveyed to Edinburgh and searched for letters, but none being found, he was committed to the tolbooth. Next day, he was brought before the privy council for examination, and on the 4th December he was subjected to the torture of the boot, with the object of extracting information from him relative to a conspiracy, which the government affected to believe extensively existed; but he declared that he knew of none, and had nothing to confess. The strokes were repeated ten or eleven times, when he swooned away, and was carried back to prison.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other entries at 

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
The first volume I am dealing with is the one on Aberdeenshire. There are some 85 parishes in this volume and a write up on each.

This week have added...

Parish of Crimond at
Parish of Foveran at

On the account of Foveran we learn...

Boundaries, &c.—This parish is situated in the district of For-martine. It is bounded on the south, by the parish of Belhelvie; on the west, by the parish of Udny; on the north by the burn of Tarty, from the parish of Logie Buchan, and by the river Ythan, from the sands of Forvie; on the east, by the German Ocean. It extends about seven miles from east to west, and about three from south to north.

The river Ythan is about a quarter of a mile east of the village. It is here of a serpentine form, and is navigable nearly a mile and a-half. The ships are loaded and unloaded at low water; but it is hoped that a pier will soon be built, which would prove a great accommodation to the farmers, particularly those at a distance. The river abounds with salmon, sea-trout, flounders, and a great many other small fish; but it is chiefly famed for its abundant produce of mussels. The quantity taken out of the river annually amounts to some hundred tons, and is sold at L.1, 10s. per ton.

Antiquities. — The following is an extract from a manuscript in the Advocates' Library of Aberdeen, written about the beginning of the last century, by Sir Samuel Forbes of Foveran:
"Foveran has its name from the castle here, which is very old, and is thought to be so called from a sweet and very impetuous spring (at the foot of the wall, having an arch built over it,) for the Irish 'Foveran' signifies a spring. There was once an hospital founded by Sir Alexander Dimming, second Earl of Buchan, and son to the founder of Deer Abbey, Justiciary of Scotland under Alexander the Third, and one of the six regents on his death. Here is still an hospital, founded for three poor men, by the first Alexander Forbes of Foveran, who have each of them a peck of meal and a groat weekly." There is still a small fund in the hands of the Foveran family, the interest of which a poor man gets under the name of bede money. There is now no vestige remaining of the Castle of Foveran, nor of Turing's Tower, which was still more ancient; but we need not say that the sweet spring, that bountiful gift of God alluded to by Sir Samuel, continues to flow with all its wonted abundance. There is a marble bust in the dress of the time of Charles I. lying on the ground, near the site of the old castle.

You can read the rest of this account at

On the index page of this volume you can see a list of the 85 parishes and also a map at 

Good Words - 1860 Edition
Edited by Rev. Norman MacLeod

You should note that as this is a weekly publication you'll find larger articles are continued week by week.

This week have added articles on...

Faith and Reason (Page 296)
Be Not High-Minded, But Fear (Pages 297-299)
Bible Records or Remarkable Conversion (Pages 299-303)

Here is how "Bible Records or Remarkable Conversion" starts...


Paul and Silas were sent by the church at Antioch on a missionary journey. At a public meeting of the brethren, they were commended to the grace of God. At first they went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the newly-formed congregations. They proceeded on their journey, and attempted to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not. God was their guide, He the director of apostolic missions ; and the instruction which they had received from the mother church at Antioch gave them full liberty to follow the leadings of the infallible Head and Lord. So Paul passed by Mysia, and came down to Troas, a great mercantile city and seaport in the Ægean. Here they paused, and bethought themselves whither they were to go. As they looked across the Ægean, they beheld in the distance the hills of Macedonia. Were they to leave Asia, and enter into Europe? Can you not imagine how that night, ere Paul and Silas went to rest, they bent their knees in prayer to their heavenly Master, beseeching Him to guide them, and to make straight their path before them? And how, after their fervent petition, and after the hearty Amen which Silas had added to the Amen of brother Paul, they both laid them down in peace, knowing that God had heard and accepted their prayer, and would in due time send an answer to their supplications. And behold, in the silence of night, when deep sleep falleth upon men in slumberings upon the bed, He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction. He who rules supreme in the visible kingdom of nature, is also Sovereign in the invisible spiritual world; and quietly and unobserved He sends forth His decrees. Thus, 0 thou mighty and subtle adversary, proud and cunning Idumean, thou thinkest the new-born King of the Jews cannot escape thy assassins ; behold, the Father of the holy child Jesus has sent a messenger to defeat thy purpose, a messenger whom thy legions cannot see and attack; the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream ! Oh, praise the Lord, all ye His saints, who doeth according to His will—and it is a will of infinite love and wisdom—-in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth!

The vision sent unto Paul was this:—"There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." And when he awoke, he knew it was the Lord who had spoken to him; and, in the touching entreaty of the Macedonian, he heard the voice of God, and, as a faithful servant, he cheerfully obeyed it.

You can read the rest of this at

You can read the other articles at 

Poetry and Stories
John sent in a doggerel, Ilk's Troo'd Lass an Lad at

Donna sent in a craft article, Winter and Its Dark Days at

Stan sent in an account of the Gourdon War Memorial to our Historic Grampian page at

Donna sent in a poem, Muck and Cattle Truck, at

Donna sent in a poem, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, at

Book of Scottish Story
Kindly sent in to us by John Henderson

The Book of Scottish Story - Historical, Humorous, Legendary, Imaginative
by Standard Scottish Writers Published by Thomas D. Morison, 1896

This week we have...

John Brown; or, the House in the Muir

And here is how it starts...

John Brown, the Ayr, or as he was more commonly designated by the neighbours, the Religious Carrier, had been absent, during the month of January (1685), from his home in the neighbourhood of Muirkirk, for several days. The weather, in the meantime, had become extremely stormy, and a very considerable fall of snow had taken place. His only daughter, a girl of about eleven years of age, had frequently, during the afternoon of Saturday, looked out from the cottage door into the drift, in order to report to her mother, who was occupied with the nursing of an infant brother, the anxious occurrences of the evening. "Help," too, the domestic cur, had not remained an uninterested spectator of the general anxiety, but by several fruitless and silent excursions into the night, had given indisputable testimony that the object of his search had not yet neared the solitary shieling. It was a long, and a wild road, lying over an almost trackless muir, along which John Brown had to come; and the cart track, which even in better weather and with the advantage of more daylight, might easily be mistaken, had undoubtedly, ere this become invisible. Besides, John had long been a marked bird, having rendered himself obnoxious to the "powers that were," by his adherence to the Sanquhar declaration, his attending field-preachings, or as they were termed "conventicles," his harbouring of persecuted ministers, and, above all, by a moral, a sober, and a proverbially devout and religious conduct.

In an age when immorality was held to be synonymous with loyalty, and irreligion with non-resistance and passive obedience, it was exceedingly dangerous to wear such a character, and, accordingly, there had not been wanting information to the prejudice of this quiet and godly man. Clavers, who, ever since the affair of Drumclog, had discovered more of the merciless and revengeful despot than of the veteran or hero, had marked his name, according to report, in his black list; and when once Clavers had taken his resolution and his measures, the Lord have mercy upon those against whom these were pointed! He seldom hesitated in carrying his plans into effect, although his path lay over the trampled and lacerated feelings of humanity. Omens, too, of an unfriendly and evil-boding import, had not been wanting in the cottage of John to increase the alarm. The cat had mewed suspiciously, had appeared restless, and had continued to glare in hideous indication from beneath the kitchen bed. The death-watch, which had not been noticed since the decease of the gudeman's mother, was again, in the breathless pause of listening suspense, heard to chick distinctly; and the cock, instead of crowing, as on ordinary occasions, immediately before day-dawn, had originated a sudden and alarming flap of his wings, succeeded by a fearful scream, long before the usual bed-time.

You can read the rest of this story at 

The index page of the book where you can read the other stories is at 

The History of Ulster
Have now started on volume 3 of this 4 volume set and have added this week...

XIII. Oliver Cromwell, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland
XIV. Cromwell's Campaign in Ulster
XV. The Last Efforts of Ulster
XVI. Charles II repudiates the Peace
XVII. Close of the Cromwellian Campaign
XVIII. A "Wild and Woeful Land"

This is how "Wild and Woeful Land" starts...

Sad State of the Conquered Country taken over by the Commonwealth - Mountjoy's Methods approved by Colonel Jones - Colonel Richard Laurence's Picture of Desolation - Effects of the Plague - Great Increase of Wolves - The Perils of Priesthood - Children seized and shipped to the Barbados - Attempts to extirpate the "Tories" - Food at Famine Prices - Petty's Survey of Ireland - The Act of Settlement.

Of the Ireland which was taken over by the Commonwealth, thus chastened and subdued, it might well be said in a sorrowful sentence culled from the volume to which the Puritans most readily referred: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate". Ludlow himself, who had been obliged in his high office to contribute not a little to the spreading of desolation and then designating it peace, speaks of the "poor wasted country of Ireland". War, and pestilence, and famine had swept over the land, leaving "leagues on leagues of desolation" and of death. "About the years 1652 and 1653, the plague and famine had swept away whole countries that a man might travel twenty or thirty miles and not see a living creature, either man, beast, or bird, they being either all dead or had quit those desolate places."

The methods of Mountjoy in subduing the Irish, by destroying the means of subsistence, were apparently approved of by one at least of the Commissioners, for Colonel Jones expressed the opinion that no lasting peace could be obtained "but by removing all heads of septs and priests and men of knowledge in arms, or otherwise in repute, out of this land, and breaking all kinds of interest among them, and by laying waste all fast countries in Ireland, and suffer no mankind to live there but within garrisons". Whole districts were in this way laid waste, the officers boasting that "we have destroyed as much as would have served some thousands of them until next harvest", thereby so reducing the wretched people who had inhabited the ruined region "that they were at length entirely subdued without condition to any save for life".

This rigorous rule could have but one result, "great multitudes of poore swarming in all parts of this nation, occasioned by the devastation of the country, and by the habits of licentiousness and idleness which the generality of the people have acquired in the time of this rebellion; insomuch that frequently some are feeding on carrion and weeds some starved in the highways, and many times poor children who lost their parents, or have been deserted by them, are found exposed to, and some of them fed upon, by ravening wolves and other beasts and birds of prey". Not alone did wild beasts devour human beings, but human beings, Colonel Richard Laurence assures us, were driven in their hunger and despair to cannibalism.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The previous 2 volumes can be read at 

Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander
By Duncan Campbell (1910)

This week we've added the following chapters...

Chapter LII.
In Bradford
Chapter LIII.
Rumbling Ethnological Remarks
Chapter LIV.
The Great Change and some of its Causes
Chapter LV.
Strangers within the Gates
Chapter LVI.
The Native regulation
Chapter LVII.
Chapter LVIII.

Here is how the chapter on "Education" starts...

THE re-animating and, it might almost be said, recreative Renaissance at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century, preceded and intermingled with the Reformation, necessarily stimulating it, but sometimes trying to limit and divert it. Many of the scholars and apostles of the Renaissance, like Erasmus, the chief of them all, while mercilessly exposing and bitterly satirising the scandalous corruptions into which the Western Church had fallen, wished to preserve its wonderful organisations, thoroughly purified, and with a General Council instead of the Pope, in supreme command. This was an alterative, although it turned out to be a thoroughly impracticable ideal. The art of printing, which unfettered and gave wings to the vast stores of classical and Christian lore formerly imprisoned in manuscripts which were only accessible to the few, was the chief agency in producing the Renaissance movement in its diversified forms and manifestations. It was a contributive coincident that simultaneously the Vatican should have sunk to its lowest point of degradation; and something, too, was due to the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, and the flight of learned Greeks carrying precious manuscripts with them to Western countries. The Renaissance took a strong and early hold on England. Caxton's early press set an example to the reformers which they soon learned to imitate. Henry VIII. was born and trained under the influence of the Renaissance. Cardinal Wolsey, using the funds of dissolved small and scandalous monastic institutions, founded and endowed Christ Church College, Oxford, with several professorships, and gave his native town of Ipswich a college which, unfortunately, had but a short existence. Dean Colet spent his fortune in founding and endowing St Paul's School, London. He was the friend of Erasmus, and quite as an advanced reformer as that learned Dutchman. A vigorous and popular preacher, Dean Colet attacked the Church and monastic vices of his age, and spoke with a good man's scorn of the celibacy of the clergy, which was so badly abused by many of those who took the vow. It was, perhaps, fortunate for himself that he died in peaceful retirement before Bluff Hal quarrelled with the Pope, but one cannot help believing that had he lived to have had a hand in educational affairs after the separation from Rome, the schooling of the English people would have profited thereby, as his views in regard to teaching was of a piece with his views in regard to preaching, that it should reach down to the masses.

Zeal for extending the light of the new learning was not confined to the leaders of the religious Reformation movement, which had to pass to severance through many wars and troubles. Sir Thomas More a son of the Renaissance who adhered to and died for the Roman Catholic Church was a keen student of classical lore, and had generous, even Utopian, views of his own upon the spread of education and a reconstruction of society on something like more scientific principles than feudalism. Colet's example in founding and endowing grammar schools was followed largely by Edward VI., Queen Elizabeth, private individuals, and trade guilds. Nor was it lost sight of in after times. Oxford and Cambridge were splendidly equipped for keeping the lamps of the higher learning brightly burning, and for advances in science and arts. Several of the grammar schools did the work of complete colleges, and the hurnblest of them were local centres of light and leading. The Reformation and the discovery of America, superadded to the art of printing, which gave wings to ancient lore, woke the nations out of long uneasy slumbers to a life of extraordinary intellectual activity, daring speculation, and romantic adventure. Out of that came the magnificent crop of the Elizabethan literature. But while the children of the landed gentry and of professional classes, and rich citizens were enjoying what was, for the age, high educational privileges, and breathing the intoxicating air of almost a new life, the masses of the people were left without much schooling, except what came to them from Church and ruling classes, or what they acquired by experience as sailors, soldiers, and apprentices to artizans and traders. In the century of unsettle- merit and resettlement, England had great scholars and great authors, and the multitudes followed their leaders and under them performed glorious achievements. But while England had many Colets and Cranmers, many thinkers, many poets, one Shakespeare, and able statesmen and sea-kings in abundance, it missed having a John Knox with fiery eloquence and a brain to conceive and a backing strong enough to give effect to a system of parochial schools by which the whole people would be brought into an all sweeping educational net. True it is that aspirants from the lowest social grades were not excluded from English grammar schools and universities. On the contrary, fair provision was made for their entrance and maintenance; but with- out a national system of elementary education, the masses could not be much raised by the few from among them who shot out of their birth-spheres by means of superior knowledge and ability.

The rest of this chapter can be read at

The other chapters added so far can be read at the index page of the book at 

Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland
by Major-General David Stewart (1822)

This week we've added further apendix entries...

N, Highland Music
O, Highland Game
P, Honourable manner of Contracting Bargains
Q, Patronymics
R, Spelling of the Name of Stewart
S, State of Education in the Highlands in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
T, Second-sight

Here is the Appendix entry for "Second-Sight"...

There are many traits of the character, manners, and dispositions of the people, which I have not noticed. The most remarkable of these is that imaginary talent of seeing into futurity, commonly called the "Second Sight." The subject has been frequently discussed ; and I shall, therefore, say little of these ideal flights of a warm and vivid imagination. But however ridiculous the belief of the second sight may now appear, it certainly had no small influence on the manners and actions of the people. The predictions of the seers impressed their minds with awe, and as they were generally such as brought to the remembrance death, a future state, retributive justice, the reward of honourable and virtuous conduct, and the punishment of the wicked, they certainly controlled the passions, and, as I have often had occasion to observe, supplied the defect of those laws which now extend to the most distant recesses of the mountains.

The impressions of a warm imagination appear so like realities, and their confirmation is so readily found in subsequent events, that we can scarcely wonder if popular superstitions have long maintained their ground, even against the advances of reason and science. Allowing the possibility of coming events being shadowed forth by supernatural agency to some favoured seers, the question naturally occurs, Why should those revelations be confined to the Highlanders of Scotland? Yet it must be owned, that the coincidences between events and their foreboding have, in many instances, been so curious and remarkable, that credulous minds may be excused for yielding to the impression of their prophetic character. It may not be improper to produce an instance or two for the amusement of the reader.

Late in an autumnal evening in the year 1773, the son of a neighbouring gentleman came to my father's house. He and my mother were from home, but several friends were in the house. The young gentleman spoke little, and seemed absorbed in deep thought. Soon after he arrived he inquired for a boy of the family, then about three years of age. When shown into the nursery, the nurse was trying on a pair of new shoes, and complaining that they did not fit. "They will fit him before he will have occasion for them," said the young gentleman. This called forth the chidings of the nurse for predicting evil to the child, who was stout and healthy. When he returned to the party he had left in the sitting-room, who had heard his observations on the shoes, they cautioned him to take care that the nurse did not derange his new talent of the second sight, with some ironical congratulations on his pretended acquirement. This brought on an explanation, when he told them, that, as he approached the end of a wooden bridge thrown across a stream at a short distance from the house, be was astonished to see a crowd of people passing the bridge. Coming nearer, he observed a person carrying a small coffin, followed by about twenty gentlemen, all of his acquaintance his own father and mine being of the number, with a concourse of the country people. He did not attempt to join, but saw them turn off to the right in the direction of the church-yard, which they entered. He then proceeded on his intended visit, much impressed from what he had seen with a feeling of awe, and believing it to have been a representation of the death and funeral of a child of the family. In this apprehension he was the more confirmed, as he knew jny father was at Blair Athole, and that he had left his own father at home an hour before. The whole received perfect confirmation in his mind by the sudden death of the boy the following night, and the consequent funeral, which was exactly similar to that before represented to his imagination.

This gentleman was not a professed seer ; this was his first and his last vision ; and, as he told me, it was sufficient. No reasoning or argument could convince him that the appearance was an illusion. Now when a man of education and of general knowledge of the world, as this gentleman was, became so bewildered in his imaginations, and that even so late as the year 1773, it cannot be matter of surprise that the poetical enthusiasm of the Highlanders, in their days of chivalry and romance, should have predisposed them to credit wonders which so deeply interested them.

The other instance occurred in the year 1775, when a tenant of the late Lord Breadalbane called upon him, bitterly lamenting the loss of his son, who, he said, had been killed in battle on a day he mentioned. His Lordship told him that was impossible, as no accounts had been received of any battle, or even of hostilities having commenced. But the man would not be comforted, saying, that he saw his son lying dead, and many officers and soldiers also dead, around him. Lord Breadalbane, perceiving that the poor man would not be consoled, left him ; but when the account of the battle of Bunker's Hill arrived some weeks afterwards, he learnt, with no small surprise, that the young man had been killed at the time and in the manner described by his father.

You can read the other chapters at 

Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland 1881
This week have added The Old and Remarkable Horse Chestnut Trees in Scotland and here is how it starts...

The horse chestnut (Æsculus Hippocastanum) does not appear to have ever been largely cultivated as a timber tree in Scotland. Probably, from the brittle nature of its wood, it has never attained a front rank among the hard wooded trees suitable to the Scottish climate, as a valuable timber-producing tree for economic purposes. But whether this be the reason or not, the fact remains that our old friend Professor Walker, in his Catalogue of Remarkable Trees in Scotland, only cites four specimens of the horse chestnut, namely, at "Bargaly, in Galloway," at "Hatton in Mid-Lothian," and two trees of the species at "New Posso, in Tweeddale," which he says, writing in 1780, are probably the oldest and the largest in North Britain, and that they were then known to be about 150 years old. Dr Walker in his memoir further states, that "the planting of the horse chestnut in Britain," in his day, was not "of a very old date." Reference will be further made to these two individual trees at New Posso, or as it is now called Dalwick, in this chapter, which Dr Walker in 1780, and subsequently Gilpin, and Sir T. Dick Lauder in 1826, considered the oldest, largest, and finest in Scotland at the time they wrote. The measurements given by Dr Walker of the only four trees he quotes, being only from 6 feet 10 inches at 4 feet from the ground for the smallest, to 11 feet 4 inches for the largest, show conclusively that in his day the horse chestnut had not been held in much esteem for extensive planting in Scotland during the early years of its introduction from its native habitats into Great Britain.

The horse chestnut appears to have been introduced into Europe from the northern parts of Asia about the year 1550 ; and the earliest notice of its appearance in England occurs in Gerard's Herbal, where in 1579 he speaks of it as a rare tree. When first introduced it was planted with walnuts and mulberries as a fruit tree, and it is curiously enough described as "a tree whose fruit was of a sweet taste, roasted and eaten as the ordinary sort," and shows how little was really then known of it or its fruit. Evelyn, who wrote in 1663, referring to the slow progress the tree had made in popular estimation even at that date, says of it:—"In the meantime, I wish we did more universally propagate the horse chestnut, which, being increased from layers, grows into a goodly standard, and bears a glorious flower, even in our cold country. This tree is now (1663) all the mode for the avenues to their country palaces in France, as appears by the late superintendent's plantation at Vaux." A branch of the horse chestnut with flowers on it was received by Clusius from Vienna in 1603. Singularly, even he had never seen it till that time, and gave the first figure of it in 1605. It was not known in Paris till 1616, and was probably first planted generally in Britain about that time, or soon afterwards.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other articles can be read at

Household Encyclopaedia
I have added a few more pages to the B's which you can see at

The index page of this publication can be seen at 

Scottish Art Trading Cards
Margo has done some Scottish Art Trading Cards which you can print out on 2.5" x 3.5" cards and build them into a collection. These are great for kids and also anyone interested in collecting cards. We have the second 10 up at

Sketches of Early Scotch History
By Cosmo Innes and our thanks to Alan McKenzie for sending this into us.

Added the .pdf file about Glasgow University which you can read at

Silent Knight Stories
The Silent Knight stories are about people that do good to others anonymously. In these the people are not identified but none the less are heart warming stories which deserve to be shared. I got one sent to me and I hope to get more over time. You can see this first story at

Adobe PDF books
Published two books this week...

History of the Outer Hebrides, Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Benbecula, and Barra, by W. C. MacKenzie (1903) (90Mb) at


Sir John A MacDonald by George R Parkin (1908) (26.5Mb) at

Robert Burns
And it's fitting to end this newsletter with something about Burns and as I was finishing this I got an email in from Dr. Christopher Pratt and Mrs. Jimmie Cochran Pratt, MPA, President, Clan Grant Society USA - which I thought I'd use...

A Burns Greeting to you and yours at this time of celebration of his Immortal Memory.

All around the world on January 25th those who love the poet, ours, Scotland's and the world's, celebrate Robert Burns. For more than 300 years the Burn's life work has been a reflection of the spirit burning in us all for a better future. It is more than that he is the famous Scottish poet that we read Burns today. He is loved because his words are classic humanity. Our hearts are touched, the good and bad in the world is made clearer, and we are made stronger in our efforts to create more good than bad by the ideals to which he calls us.

"Envy, if thy jaundiced eye
Through this window chance to spy,
To thy sorrow thou shalt find,
All that's generous, all that's kind.
Friendship, virtue, every grace,
Dwelling in this happy place." - Robert Burns -

In these days filled with great challenge and opportunity, it is especially important for us all to remember that free people are supposed to have and be thankful for a dynamic yearning for a better future, and the liberty with which to create it. Scots have long known this feeling. Robert Burns knew this feeling.

"Like brethren in a common cause
We'd on each other smile man
And equal rights and equal laws
Wad gladden ev'ry Isle, man." -Robert Burns-

Seeing, creating, building nations and ships, medicine and industry have been simply the way of being for Scots. Today a new Scotland is growing as both a home for us all, and a new force in the global marketplace. Individual responsibility and action is as fundamental to freedom and liberty as water is to fishing and farming. In celebration of a poet's life, and of our freedom, let us share with each other, and with the world all that it means to be Scottish, our history and our future, all that Scotland means today.

Thus bold, independent, unconquer'd, and free,
Her bright course of glory for ever shall run:
For brave Caledonia immortal must be;
I'll prove it from Euclid as clear as the sun:
Rectangle-triangle, the figure we'll chuse:
The upright is Chance, and old Time is the base;
But brave Caledonia's the hypothenuse;
Then, ergo, she'll match them, and match them always. - Robert Burns -

Imagine if we could link Burns celebrations around the world. Speak of Robert Burns, of your family, clan, ancestors, and contemporary. Follow the ancient tradition of knowing from whom we are descended, and honor them by our actions today.

"Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that,
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world o'er,
Shall brithers be for a' that"! -Robert Burns-

On this birthday of our beloved Robert Burns each of us wherever can help share the celebration. Open your copy of the collected works of Burns and read a poem, read it out loud, to yourself and to your children and loved ones. Call or write a friend and share a passage of Burns that is particularly meaningful to you. Reflect on the meaning of the spirit and ideals that make his poems so meaningful to us all these years after his lifetime. Ensure that Burns is included and understood in local discussions of diversity, immigration, religious freedom, education in schools, churches, libraries, colleges, etc. Write to your local newspaper, radio, tv about Burns. Ask your local community arts council to include Burns and Scottish culture in their annual programming

"The simple Bard, unbroke by rules of art,
He pours the wild effusions of the heart;
And if inspir'd 'tis Nature's pow'rs inspire;
Her's all the melting thrill, and her's the kindling fire." -Robert Burns-

And as we charge our glasses let us raise a cheer in Immortal Memory of a life too short,

"Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North
The birth place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
Farewell to the mountains high cover'd with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forrests and wild-hanging woods;
Farwell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart's in the Highlands, whereever I go." -Robert Burns-

I wish you all a Burns celebration rich with both yesterday, today and tomorrow.

"Cuimhnich air na daoine on tàinig thu." Remember those from whom you are descended.

And that's it for now and I hope you all have a great weekend and Burns Supper :-)


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