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Weekly Mailing List Archives
13th February 2009

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site The Aois Community brings you message forums and lots of community services
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Dear Friend

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
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
Clan and Family Information
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
New Statistical Account of Scotland
Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Loch Etive and The Sons of Uisnach
Children's Rhymes, Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's Stories
Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs
Social Life in Scotland (New Book)
Canadian Life as I Found It (New book)
Robert Burns Lives!

Was away in Toronto for the early part of the week. On Monday night was at a meeting of the Knights Templars where we're organising an International Gathering in Toronto for 2010.

On the Tuesday night had a meeting with the Scottish Studies Foundation where we've selected this years "Scot of the Year". Next week we'll know for definate what we'll be doing but everything seems well organised. We just need to check out the venue and ensure that everything they say they can do they can do :-)


Two new books this week and one is the 3 volume Social History of Scotland. The other is a complete book on pioneering life in Canada. See below for more information.


I`ve also made a start at a 3 book set. One book is how to build a log cabin. Another is how to preserve vegetables, fruit and meat. The last is how to grow a home garden. I figured as we`re hitting this depression these books might well be of interest and also some practical help. And so if you are having problems on keeping up these house payments sell your house for what you can get and go build a log cabin, then get your home garden going and then preserve the food so you can eat for the rest of the year :-)

Actually I`ve always been interested in self sufficiency so I`ve more done these books for myself but hopefully you`ll find them of interest as I get them up.

I also plan to do a History of the United States of America. As half my visitors come from the USA and many of you say you never get any history at school I thought this would be a good contribution to the site. As it happens the book was written by a Scot who was a Dundee merchant but spent many years in the USA.

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 or on our site menu.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Mark Hirst. Seems there has been a rise in support for an Independent Scotland now up to 38%.

In Peter's cultural section we get...

Two notable dates fall this week – one a tragedy, the other very romantic.

The tragedy occurred on 13 February 1692 when Government troops, under the orders of English King William, carried out a massacre of the MacDonalds of Glencoe which has gone down in history as an act of infamy. See this week’s ‘Sing a Sang’ (above) for the words of Jim McLean’s magnificent song ‘The Ballad of Glencoe’ and historical information in the footnote.

The romantic date is, of course, St Valentine’s Day, on 14 February, which is celebrated world-wide. But Scotland can claim a close affinity to the Saint as his remains lie in a Glasgow church – the Church of Blessed John Duns Scotus in the Gorbals. The notorious ‘Glasgow Kiss’ has nothing to do with the Saint or with his remains, indeed quite the opposite!

Scotland's most famous romantic poet, Robert Burns, wrote of St Valentine's Day in his poem 'Tam Glen'

"Yestreen at the valentines' dealing
My heart to my mou' gied a sten' ;
For thrice I drew ane without failing,
And thrice it was written - Tam Glen."

And our most famous novelist, Sir Walter Scott, wrote of St Valentine's Day in 'The Fair Maid of Perth' -

"Tomorrow is St Valentine's Day, when every bird chooses her mate. I will plague you no longer now, providing you will let me see you from your window tomorrow when the sun first peeps over the eastern hill, and give me right to be your Valentine for the year."

A romantic time of year requires a romantic recipe – love and chocolate traditionally go together, so why not make your Valentine a very tasty treat – Baked Dark Chocolate Puddings with Chilled Vanilla Whipped Cream. Enjoy and forget the calories!

Baked Dark Chocolate Puddings with Vanilla Whipped Cream

Ingredients: 120g Butter; 120g dark chocolate, chopped; 2 large whole eggs; 2 large egg yolks; 50g caster sugar; 2 tsp self-raising flour; vanilla flavoured whipped cream, to serve

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 8. Butter 4 ramekins and dust them with a little caster sugar. 2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave on one side to cool slightly. 3. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar together until the mixture is very thick and pale. 4. Stir in the chocolate and butter mixture and quickly but carefully fold in the sieved flour. 5. Divide the mixture between the ramekins, set them on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. 6. Serve hot, with chilled vanilla flavoured whipped cream, or with a good vanilla ice cream.

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

Christina McKelvie's Weekly diary is available at

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

Since the last newsletter we've added to the Supplement...

Reid and Scrimgeour and YEAH! This now completes this publication!!!

Here is how the account of Reid starts...

REID, WILLIAM, poet and song-writer, was born at Glasgow, 10th April, 1764. He was the son of Robert Reid, baker in that city, and Christian Wood, daughter of a farmer at Gartmore, Perthshire. He received a good education, and was first employed in the type-foundry of Mr. Andrew Wilson. He afterwards served an apprenticeship with Messrs, Dunlop and Wilson, booksellers in Glasgow. In 1790 he commenced business as a bookseller in partnership with Mr. James Brash, (born 1st January 1758, died 9th October 1835), and for a period of twenty[seven years they carried on a successful business, under the firm, well known in their day, of Brash and Reid. Between the years 1795 and 1798, they issued, in penny numbers, a small publication under the title of ‘Poetry, Original and Selected,’ which extended to four volumes. In this publication several pieces of Mr. Reid were inserted. Most of his compositions were of an ephemeral kind, and no separate collection of them was ever printed. His partner, Mr. Brash, also contributed two or three original pieces to its pages. Mr. Reid died at Glasgow, 29th November 1831.

From an obituary notice which appeared in the Glasgow papers, soon after his death, the following is extracted: “In early and mature life Mr. Reid was remarkable both for vivacity, and no mean share of that peculiar talent which, in Scotland, the genius of Burns and its splendid and dazzling course seemed to call forth in the minds of many of his admiring countrymen. He not only shared in the general enthusiasm the appearance of that day-star of national poetry elicited, but participated in his friendship, and received excitement from his converse. In Scottish song, and in pieces of characteristic humour, Mr. Reid, in several instances, approved himself not unworthy of either such intimacy or inspiration. These are chiefly preserved in a collection, entitled, ‘Poetry, Original and Selected,’ which appeared under the tasteful auspices of himself and partner. It is now scarce, but highly valued. Even, however, when it shall have altogether ceased to be known but to collectors, many of the simple and beautiful lines of Mr. Reid’s earlier compositions, and racy, quaint, and original thoughts and expressions of his riper years, will cling to the general memory. Perhaps, of these, the humorous will be the longest lived.”

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read all these entries at

Clan and Family Information
The Clan Leslie folk saw Leslie House in Scotland on fire last week. See

Clan MacKenzie have done an update of their DNA database which you can find as an excel spreadsheet at

Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem, "Scotland's Byways Are Full Of Surprises" at

And of course more articles in our Article Service from Donna and others at 

Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.

This week have added chapter 1 of a three chapter story of...

Ezra Peden

Here is how it starts...

“I sat and watched while all men slept, and lo!
Between the green earth and the deep green sea
I saw bright spirits pass, pure as the touch
Of May’s first finger on the eastern hill.
Behind them followed fast a little cloud;
And from the cloud an evil spirit came--
A damned shape—one who in the dark pit.
Held sovereign sway; and power to him was given
To chase the blessed spirits from the earth,
And rule it for a season.
Soon he shed
His hellish slough, and many a subtle wile;
Was his to seem a heavenly spirit to man.
First he a hermit, sore subdued in flesh,
O'er a cold cruse of water and a crust,
Poured out meek prayers abundant.
Then he changed
Into a maid when she first dreams of man,
And from beneath two silken eyelids sent
The sidelong light of two such wondrous eyes,
That all the saints grew sinners. He subdued
Those wanton smiles, and grew a reverend dame,
With wintry ringlets, and grave lips, which dropt
Proverbial honey in her grandson’s ear.
Then a professor of God’s Word he seemed,
And o’er a multitude of upturned eyes
Showered blessed dews, and made the pitchy path
Down which howl damned spirits, seem the bright
Thrice-hallowed way to heaven. Yet grimly through
The glorious veil of those seducing shapes
Frowned out the fearful spirit.”

Chapter One

The religious legend which supplies my story with the motto, affords me no further assistance in arranging and interpreting the various traditional remembrances of the colloquies between one of the chiefs of the ancient Presbyterian Kirk and one of the inferior spirits of darkness. It is seldom that tradition requires any illustration; its voice is clear, and its language simple. It seeks to conceal nothing ; what it can explain it explains, and scorns, in the homely accuracy of its protracted details, all mystery and reservation. But in the present story, there is much which the popular spirit of research would dread to have revealed;—a something too mystical and hallowed to be sought into by a devout people. Often as I have listened to it, I never heard it repeated without mutual awe in the teller and the auditor. The most intrepid peasant becomes graver and graver as he proceeds, stops before the natural termination of the story, and hesitates to pry into the supernatural darkness of the tradition. It would be unwise, therefore, to seek to expound or embellish the legend,—it shall be told as it was told to me; I am but as a humble priest responding from the traditionary oracles, and the words of other years pass without change from between my lips.

Ezra Peden was one of the shepherds of the early Presbyterian flock, and distinguished himself as an austere and enthusiastic pastor; fearless in his ministration, delighting in wholesome discipline, and guiding in the way of grace the peer as well as the peasant. He grappled boldly with the infirmities and sins of the times; he spared not the rod in the way of his ministry; and if in the time of peril he laid his hand on the sword, in the time of peace his delight was to place it on the horns of the altar. He spared no vice, he compounded with no sin, and he discussed men’s claims to immortal happiness with a freedom which made them tremble. Amid the fervour of his eloquence, he aspired, like some of his fellow-professors of that period, to the prophetic mantle. Plain and simple in his own apparel, he counted the mitred glory and exterior magnificence of the hierarchy a sin and an abomination, and preferred preaching on a wild hill, or in a lonesome glen, to the most splendid edifice.

Wherever he sojourned, dance and song fled;—the former he accounted a devoting of limbs which God made to the worship of Satan; the latter he believed to be a sinful meting out of wanton words to a heathen measure. Satan, he said, leaped and danced, and warbled and sung, when he came to woo to perdition the giddy sons and daughters of men. He dictated the colour and the cut of men’s clothes—it was seemly for those who sought salvation to seek it in a sober suit; and the ladies of his parish were obliged to humble their finery, and soberdown their pride, before his sarcastic sermons on female paintings, and plumings, and perfumings, and the unloveliness of love-locks. He sought to make a modest and sedate grace abound among women; courtship was schooled and sermoned into church controversy, and love into mystical professions; the common civilities between the sexes were doled out with a suspicious hand and a jealous charity, and the primrose path through the groves of dalliance to the sober vale of marriage was planted with thorns and sown with briars.

The rest of this story can be read at

The other stories can be read at

The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Added four more pages which include Added four more pages which include Coal Box, Coalbrookdale, Coal Bunker, Coal Cellar, Coalport, Coal Scuttle, Coal Tar, Coarse Stuff, Coaster Hub, Coating, Cobaea, Cobbler, Cobble Stone, Cob Loaf, Cob Nut, Coburg Cake, Cocaine, Coccidiosis, Cochineal, Cochin Fowl, Cochlioda, Cock-a-Leekie, Cockatoo, Cockchafer Grub, Cocker Spaniel, Cockle, Cockroach, Cockscomb, Cocktails.

You can read about these at

New Statistical Account of Scotland
Added the account of the City of Glasgow from the Lanark volume which you can read at

Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
By George Anderson and Peter Anderson of Inverness (1850)

Making more progress with this book and have added the following chapters...

Section VIII

E. Skye and Rasay
Division I. Skye—From Armadale, Kyle Rhea, and Kyle Akin, to Dunvegan and Duntulm
Division II. Skye—Cave of Strathaird, Coruishk, Glen Sligachan
Division III. Broadford to Brochel Castle, in Rasay
F. The Outer Hebrides, or the Long Island
G. St. Kilda

Section IX

The Orkney and Zetland Islands

Part 1st. The Orkney Islands
Natural history

Here is what Part 1st of the Orkney and Zetland Islands includes...

Population of Orkney, paragraph 1.—Climate, 2.—General Aspect. of the Orkney Islands, 3.—Storms, 4.—Agriculture; Single-stilted Plough, 5.—Inhabitants; Customs; Dress, 6.—Orkney houses; Food, 7.—Education; Disposition; Religion; Superstitions, 8.—Trade; Manufactures, 9.—Fisheries; Lobster Fishing, 10.Straw-Plaiting, 11.—Distilleries; Shipping; Sea Insurance, 12.—Exports, 13.—Table of Produce, 14.—history of Orkney, 15.—Itinerary: Pomona, or the Mainland, Kirkwall, 16.—St. Magnus' Cathedral; Earls' and Bishops' Palaces at Kirkwall; Pict's House on Wideford Hill, 17.—Road to Stromness; View from the Centre of Pomona, 18 —Stone Monuments, or Standing Stones of Stennis; Temples of the Sun and Moon at Stennis, 19.—Stromness; Bay, 20.—Miraculous Deliverance from Shipwreck, 21.—True History of George Stewart of Masseter, 22.—Excursion to Hoy; Echo at the Meadow of the Kame; Precipices and Old Man of Hoy; Wardhill of Hoy; Botany; The Dwarfie Stone, 23.—Rest Coast of Pomona; Vitrified Cairn in Sandwick Parish; Unique Stone Structure at Via, 24.—Birsa Palace; Plants rare in Orkney, 25.—Itinerant of the North Inlet: Westray an Papa Westray; Pict's house, 26.—North Ronaldshay; Sanday; Vitrified Cairns, 27.—Ferries and Freights, 28.—General Features of the North Isles, 29.—Papa Westray; Holm of Papa Westray; The Eider Duck, 30.—Sketch of the Natural History of Orkney, 31.

You can read this chapter at

All of these can be read at

Loch Etive and The Sons of Uisnach
By R. Angus Smith (1885)

Moving ahead with this book and added this week are chapters...

Chapter XXII - Christian Memories
Chapter XXIII - Druids
Chapter XXIV - Oban and Dalmally
Chapter XXV - To Glen Etive
Chapter XXVI - The Celts
Chapter XXVII - Conversation on the Celts

Here is how the chapter on "To Glen Etive" starts...

Cameron.—I think we might go to Tyndrum by train. It will be pleasantly strange to rush up such a waste as Glen Laogh in such a bird-like fashion. Once I went up by coach, but the horses grieved me, and I could not see the river as it rushed down its gorge. True, I saw the wilderness, and it pressed upon my mind. Surely the Sahara can scarcely be mire desert, but it is different; Sahara has not even the winds, or they are rare as well as dusty, and even the demons of the stones have deserted the place. Here they rage on the hills, and Cailleach Bheir moves from mountain to mountain.

Margaet.—How dreadful to skim over the precipitous banks of this stream. No human being could see it in its natural state before this railway began to play upon its precipices, and here we take the way of the crows. They used to tell me that it was a terrible pass, only few people could climb it in winter, and none of the farmers could go up and down in a day with their carts unless these were empty. But here we are flying up and we shall alight in half an hour. The fables of childhood become silly, and its wonders turn to nothing even to the young.

Loudoun—It is not quite so. The fables of childhood do not become silly ; they never have been so important as now; we neglected them, and now men of learning treasure them and learn philosophy and history from them. Let us learn the same from this road. In the memory of man it was a difficult passage for any one, and very hard for a horse with a burden. For a generation the road has been fair, but steep. I remember when it was a hard journey to Tyndrum, except for a good hill walker.

Cameron.-It is a strange valley this. You see it is a collection of heaps which exist in thousands, masses as if left by melting ice; but they might have been made by local shower-water. The old poem which was before quoted about the sons of Uisnach calls it the glen of straight ridges:-

Glen Urchain! O Glen Urchain! (or Glenorchy! O Glenorchy!)
It was the straight glen of smooth ridges
Not more joyful was a man of his age
Than Naoise in Glen Urchain. —Skenes translation.

This at the upper part is not properly Glenorchy, which is more strictly the branch to the north; but the stream from here runs into the Orchay or Urchaidh, and Glenorchy is the wider name that runs down along the side of Loch Awe. There is no manageable road up through the real Glenorchy.

This is one of the reasons why I brought you to Dalmally. You see one of the hunting places of the Uisnachs, and you learn that it is still as it was of old, leaving out the road and railway, if you can manage to think of it so.

We are at Tvndrum, Tigh'n druim, the house on the ridge. A dreary house it was once; now there is a fine hotel. Even manufactures have tried to settle here, and in that little hole up on the side of the hill it is said that the last :Marquis of Breadalbane spent sixty thousand pounds looking for lead, and perhaps he spent somewhat more, trying to make vitriol outside with the minerals got from within the hill. Our ride being short, we shall need no rest here, but we shall again take the private rather than public conveyance ; we must spend some time on the way.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read all these chapters at

Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children' s Songs, Children's Stories
A Book for Bairns and Big Folk by Robert Ford (1904).

The pages we have up this week are...

Children's Rhyme-Games
Willie Wastle
Oats and Beans and Barley
Hornie Holes
The Craw
Blind Man's Buff

Here is Blind Man's Buff for you to read here...

Blind Man's Buff, though not a rhyme-game, is yet so well known it is worth mentioning for the mere purpose of telling its story. Like many more such—if we only knew how—it is based on fact. It is of French origin, and of very great antiquity, having been introduced into Britain in the train of the Roman conquerors. Its French name, "Colin Maillard," was that of a brave warrior, the memory of whose exploits still lives in the chronicles of the Middle Ages.

In the year 999) Liege reckoned among its valiant chiefs one Jean Colin. He acquired the name Maillard from his chosen weapon being a mallet, wherewith in battle he used literally to crush his opponents.

In one of the feuds which were of perpetual recurrence in those times, he encountered the Count de Lourain in a pitched battle, and—so runs the story—in the first onset Colin Maillard lost both his eyes.

He ordered his esquire to take him into the thickest of the fight, and, furiously brandishing his mallet, did such fearful execution that victory soon declared itself for him.

When Robert of France heard of these feats of arms, he lavished favour and Honours upon Colin, and so great was the fame of the exploit that it was commemorated in the pantomimic representations that formed part of the rude dramatic performances of the age. By degrees the children learned to act it for themselves, and it took the form of a familiar sport.

The blindfold pursuer, as with bandaged eyes and extended hands he gropes for a victim to pounce upon, seems in some degree to repeat the action of Colin Maillard, the tradition of which is also traceable in the manse, "Blind man's buff."

You can read the other pages at

Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs
by James M. Mackinlay (1893)

Added more chapters to this book...

Chapter II - How Water became Holy
Chapter III - Saints and Springs
Chapter IV - More Saints and Springs
Chapter V - Stone Blocks and Saints` Sprigs
Chapter VI - Healing and Holy Wells
Chapter VII - Water Cures
Chapter VIII - Some Wonderful Wells

Here is how the chapter on Healing and Holy Wells starts...

Not far from the highway between Ayr and Prestwick once stood a lazar-house called King's Ease or King's Case, known in the sixteenth century as Kilcaiss. Its ruins were to be seen till well on in the present century. According to tradition, the hospital was founded for lepers by King Robert Bruce, who was himself afflicted with a disease believed to be leprosy. This was done as a thank-offering, for benefit received from the water of a neighbouring well. The spring was doubtless sacred to some saint, probably to Ninian, to whom the hospital was dedicated, and we can safely infer that the patron got the credit of the cure. To maintain the lepers the king gifted various lands to the hospital, among others, those of Robertlone, in Dundonald parish, and of Sheles and Spital-Sheles, in Kyle Stewart. The right of presentation to the hospital was vested in the family of Wallace of Craigie. At a later date the lands belonging to the charity passed into other hands. In the third volume of his "Caledonia," published in 1824, Chalmers remarks, "The only revenue that remained to it was the feu-duties payable from the lands granted in fee-firm, and these, amounting to 64 bolls of meal and 8 marks Scots of money, with 16 threaves of straw for thatching the hospital, are still paid.

For more than two centuries past the diminished revenue has been shared among eight objects of charity in equal shares of 8 bolls of meal and 1 mark Scots to each. The leprosy having long disappeared, the persons who are now admitted to the benefit of this charity are such as labour under diseases which are considered as incurable, or such as are in indigent circumstances." In the time of Charles I., the persons enjoying the benefit of the charity lived in huts or cottages in the vicinity of the chapel. In 1787 the right of presentation was bought from the Wallaces by the burgh of Ayr, and the poorhouse there is thus the lineal descendant of King Robert's hospital. Mr. R. C. Hope, in his "Holy Wells," alludes to the interesting fact that Bruce had a free pass from the English king to visit Muswell, near London, close to the site of the Alexandra Palace. This well, dedicated to St. Lazarus, at one time belonged to the hospital order of St. John's, Clerkenwell, and was resorted to in cases of leprosy. Bruce's foundation at Ayr recalls another at Stony Middleton, in Derbyshire. The latter, however, was a chapel, and not a hospital. Tradition says that a crusader, belonging to the district, was cured of leprosy by means of the mineral water there, and that in gratitude he built a chapel and dedicated it to his patron saint, Martin.

In glancing at the history of holy wells, it is not difficult to understand why certain springs were endowed with mysterious properties. When there were no chemists to analyse mineral springs, anyone tasting the water would naturally enough think that there was something strange about it, a notion that would not vanish with the first draught. The wonder, too, would grow if the water was found to put fresh vigour into wearied frames. Alum wells, like the one in Carnwath parish, Lanarkshire, would, through their astringent qualities, arrest attention. A well at Halkirk, Caithness, must have been a cause of wonder, if we judge by the description given of it in the "Old Statistical Account of Scotland," where we read, that "on its surface lies always a thin beautiful kind of substance, that varies like the plumage of the peacock displayed in all its glory to the rays of the sun."

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The book index can be found at

Social Life in Scotland
From Early to Recent Times by Rev. Charles Rogers in 3 volumes (1884)

This is another new book we've started. I'll likely put this up a couple of chapters a week as each chapter is around 100 pages or so.

I will say that anyone studying any aspect of the Social life in Scotland will find this very usefull as the author mentions many authors of books on the various topics. This means that each chapter could be a kind of foundation to do more studies on the various topics covered in the book.

As this is a very substancial publication here is the Preface to read here and we have the first chapter up for you to read as well on "Prehistoric Modes".

CONVERSING with Principal Robertson about history, Dr Samuel Johnson remarked, "I wish much to have one branch well done, and that is the history of the manners of common life." Towards effecting, in connection with Scotland, what the great lexicographer regarded as important in relation to any country, I early dedicated a share of my attention. From my father, a parish minister in Fife, whose power in delineating the manners of a former age was only surpassed by his acuteness of observation, I derived a first impulse. What in expressive phraseology he delighted to set forth, I with juvenile ardour rejoiced to record; hence commenced those researches which I have sought diligently to sustain and carry out. When, in 1869, my gleanings for nearly a quarter of a century had considerably accumulated, I put them together, in a work, entitled "Scotland, Social and Domestic," which I then published. As my researches were desultory, so was this first record of them; yet the volume. experienced a reception which far exceeded my expectation. There were two salutary results. On the one hand, persons in different parts of the country favoured me with valuable additions; on the other, I was led to pursue many enquiries in more systematic form. And now, reviewing my labours during the last fifteen years, I am not aware that I have allowed to remain unexamined any known work or MS. in which the social condition of the kingdom has been portrayed or even referred to. Nevertheless, I am fully conscious that I have merely touched the subject, not exhausted it.

The history of Scotland is not to be found in the chronicles of her kings, or in the narrative of her contendings with a powerful neighbour; not even in the records of her commerce. While by the blending of Celt and Teuton a distinctive nationality was formed, its development was effected by those who in conflict with a rugged soil and a rigorous climate, struggled diligently for subsistence. What were the earlier and latter surroundings of those who so struggled; how from inconsiderable beginnings the nation acquired that moral and intellectual superiority which induced Professor Rivet, a learned foreigner, early in the seventeenth century, to speak of the praefervidum ingenium Scotorum, it has been my object to discover. Or more plainly, how has a people occupying a mainland 285 miles at greatest length, by 160 miles at greatest breadth, made from age to awe a steady and persistent progress? For at the accession of Robert II. in 1371 the population was about 470,000, while in 1560 it had increased to 700,000; and at the union of the crowns, to 100,000 more. At the political union, in 1707, it was reckoned at 1,100,000, in 1755 at 1,255,663, and in 1791 at 1,514,999. During the following ninety years the numbers more than doubled, the census of 1881 representing a population of 3,735,573. And if progress is to be further estimated by the revenue returns, we would from data supplied in the "Exchequer Rolls" and the "Treasurer's Accounts" estimate the annual receipts in the reign of Alexander III. as not exceeding £30,000 of modern money, and in the reign of James IV. as considerably under £70,000. The Scottish national revenue in 1658 was actually 143,652 sterling. There was a subsequent filling off, the revenue at the Revolution in 1633 not exceeding £100,000, while at the Union it was about £110,700, and on the average of five years thereafter, £122,825. In 1882-3 the state revenues of North Britain amounted, in round numbers, to upwards of nine millions. For a progress so considerable we must search the cot rather than the castle. Too frequently the nobles wasted what the people gathered in. Culture for a time found refuge in the monasteries, but at length corruption supervened, and thereupon arose that overwhelming passion, which swept ruthlessly away that which, fashioned by art, was consecrated by religion. In these pages have been traced the rise and progress of every branch of the social system, and an effort made to show how the usages of one age have influenced the manners of the next, and at length fixed the condition and destiny of the people.

Studying to be succinct, I have avoided prolixity on the one hand, and epigrammatic baldness upon the other. Nor have I burdened the narrative with references which might not strictly indicate the sources whence had been derived materials from which, in the first instance, error had to be purged and fiction eliminated. Therefore when sources of information are not denoted in text or in foot-note, I charge myself with individual responsibility for what has been written. While the work will extend to three volumes, I issue two volumes now, and these will embrace that portion of my subject wherein error is more likely to occur, than in the Chapters which may follow. Till the concluding volume is put to press, one year hence, my portfolio will remain open to receive corrections. Nor will the most rigorous censor be deemed harsh should his remarks tend towards rendering less unworthy of its object a work of which the permanent value must wholly rest upon its substantial accuracy. With the needful appendices, the third volume will embrace a narrative of the national superstitions, along with details of social humour, and of scholastic and literary history. An exhaustive index will be added.

A writer indebted to numerous correspondents during a period of years, may not be expected to present a list of all who by their communications have favoured him. Of those who have helped in the present work, some have passed away; and those who remain will, in the consciousness that they have been useful, doubtless excuse any specific acknowledgment. But it is imperative that I should fulfil an obvious duty by cordially thanking the Keepers of Libraries, the Curators of Museums, and the Secretaries of Public Institutions, who have courteously opened their treasures, and so facilitated my enquiries. In the General Register House I have been so frequent a visitor, that I must have utterly exhausted patience, unless those with whom I came in contact had possessed kindred tastes, and indulged a generous forbearance. From Mr Thomas Dickson, Curator of its Historical Department, I have experienced a full share of that obliging attention which he generously extends to all. In the Justiciary Department, Mr Veitch has refreshed me by genial co-operation, and Mr Malcolm Nicolson by his intelligent aid in the matter of Gaelic derivations. To thank Mr Walter Macleod, the most learned of all in official record searchers, for assistance willingly rendered, is no less a pleasing duty than a hearty satisfaction.

In conclusion, it may be remarked that while what Dr Johnson suggested could not in reference to Scotland, have been accomplished prior to our own times, when the records of the kingdom have been made generally accessible, one precious source of historical materials is still unavailable. The Kirk-session, Presbytery, and Synod Minute Books remain closed in the hands of their custodiers. Some of these commence in times bordering on the Reformation, while nearly all cover the years of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. If under a civil or ecclesiastical enactment these records were calendered, much new light would be reflected on the national history.



You can get to the index page of the book at

Canadian Life as I Found It
By a Homesteader (1908)

THESE experiences of Canadian life have been lived through by settlers in the North-West Territories, during the years quoted, and are meant, not to deter others from making a trial of the kind of life herein painted, but to point out to them more truly than has I believe hitherto been done, what that life really is, what each one must be prepared to do, and to suffer, if they wish to succeed.

I have written few trivial details of daily life; every one can fill these in according to individual means, and aptitude. I have kept more to the broad lines, that will give a good idea of what is the truth about homesteading in Canada.

This country has a great future before it most certainly, but only those who are healthy and strong, both mentally and physically, ought to be allowed to come out and help people it.

The wild free life of the North-West, untrammelled by social fads, has its attractions, but to be able to really enjoy it, or I should be better within the truth if I write, to endure it, one must have plenty of grit, and some education leading up to it, otherwise dire discouragement and failure. may be the result.


when I picked up this book I found that I read it in one sitting as each chapter is quite short and I enjoyed the read. I thus decided to put up the whole book for you to read. I have in fact done links to each chapter on the index page so if you don`t have much time you can also read it chapter by chapter as you get time to read it. Also, on each page I have added a link to "Next Page" so as you complete a chapter just click on Next Page to go to the next chapter.

You can find this book at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

In keeping with the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birthday, we are honored to welcome imminent Burns scholar Dr. Gerard Carruthers to our pages on the Bard. I met Dr. Carruthers a few years ago in Columbia, South Carolina while attending a symposium at the University of South Carolina honoring Dr. Ross Roy on his 80th birthday. Since then I have followed Gerry’s career through the Scottish press and via several mutual friends both here in the States and in Scotland. Simply put, Dr. Carruthers is one of the top two or three Burns scholars in the world.

Gerry Carruthers is Head of Department in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow where he is also Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies. He is General Editor of the new Oxford University Press multi-volume edition of the Works of Robert Burns and author of Scottish Literature, A Critical Guide (2009) and Robert Burns (2006). In addition, Gerry is editor of The Devil to Stage: Five Plays by James Bridie (2007) and Burns: Poems (2007).

He has not limited himself to Burns alone and has served as Research Fellow at the Centre for Walter Scott Studies at the University of Aberdeen. He has taught American, English, and Scottish literatures at the University of Strathclyde as well. During the summer of 2002, Dr. Carruthers was the W. Ormiston Roy Memorial Research Fellow at the University of South Carolina. To me, this last achievement is as impressive as any of his many accomplishments. Robert Crawford, prominent Scottish poet, author and Burns scholar, refers to our guest in his latest book, The Bard, Robert Burns, A Biography, as “the distinguished textual scholar Dr. Gerry Carruthers”. I cannot say it better. Welcome, Gerry!

His article... What Burns Means to Me... By Dr. Gerard Carruthers can be read at

And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)


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