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26th June 2009

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

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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. In the event the link is not clickable simply copy and paste the link into your browser.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world and add your own at

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Poetry and Stories
Scottish Clans and Families
Book of Scottish Story
The Writings of John Muir
Fraser's Scottish Annual
Robert Burns Lives!
The Scottish Church
Pioneer Life in Zorra
John Stuart Blackie
Memoirs of a Highland Lady
A Children's Poem
Old Pioneer Videos
Clan Ross dedicate plaque to Dr. Ross in Chatham
The Clan Tartans and Family Tartans of Scotland
Beth's Newfangled Family Tree

The big news this week is that we're re-launching our Aois community service. I did say we looked to have this back by the end of June :-)

This is not to say that we won't be doing a lot more with the service over the next few days and weeks but as the bulk of the system is now working we thought you should try it out :-)

Right now the forums are working and we have the photohost system in place so you can add your own galleries of pictures. The arcade system is in place as well as the Blog, RSS Feeds and calendar which you can create for yourself. We also have the Project Planner in so anyone looking to get married any time soon can use this as a wedding planner :-)

We have also enabled other facilities which means it is more powerful than our last version.

I should add that while we plug in other features that doesn't mean we'll stick with them or that we'll not improve them or replace them with better options. So it's all work in progress and you can of course help us to make it even better.

This is now intended to be a permanent facility through Electric Scotland and we are working on a new server to ensure long term stability.

We are also working with other companies to bring further customisation to this service in the weeks and months ahead and so it can only get better.

Make no mistake... this system is now here to stay and we have big plans for it.

We will very shortly be adding our own templates to make it "ours" with our own look and feel but we can work on this while the service is live.

Should you intend to be a regular visitor and would like to help us run the service by becoming a moderator then please email me and I'll get Steve to get in touch with you.

I might add that when we ask for your age in the sign up form that this is now recquired as part of our being a child friendly site. It means anyone under a certain age will be required to give us their parents email address so we can ask their permission for their child to use the service. It's the age stated that triggers this action.

We have also added more powerful spam filters.

Please let us know if you hit any problems and we'll do our best to fix these as speedily as possible. Also feel free to make any suggestions as to improvements you'd like to see.

You can now sign up for a free account 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 or on our site menu.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Ian Goldie.

You can read the Flag at

Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is available at

Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem this week...

"Fit A Waistry" at

You can also read other stories in our Article Service and even add your own at

Scottish Clans and Families
Got in the Clan Leslie Society International Newsletter at

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

This week have added...

Ewen of the Little Head

Here is how it starts...

About three hundred years ago, Ewen Maclean of Lochbuy, in the island of Mull, having been engaged in a quarrel with a neighbouring chief, a day was fixed for determining the affair by the sword. Lochbuy, before the day arrived, consulted a celebrated witch as to the result of the feud. The witch declared, that if Lochbuy’s wife should on the morning of that day give him and his men food unasked, he would be victorious; but if not, the result would be the reverse. This was a disheartening response for the unhappy votary, his wife being a noted shrew.

The fatal morning arrived, and the hour for meeting the enemy approached ; but there appeared no symptoms of refreshment for Lochbuy and his men. At length the unfortunate man was compelled to ask his wife to supply them with food. She set down before them curds, but without spoons. The men ate the curds as well as they could with their hands; but Lochbuy himself ate none. After behaving with the greatest bravery in the bloody conflict which ensued, he fell covered with wounds, leaving his wife to the execration of his people.

The rest of this chapter can be read at

The other stories can be read at

The Writings of John Muir
We have now completed the 7th volume, The Cruise of the Corwin, and this week have added...

Chapter XX. Homeward Bound


Appendix I. The Glaciation of the Arctic and Sub Arctic Regions visited during the Cruise
Appendix II. Botanical Notes

and now onto Volume 8 - Steep Trails - California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, The Grand Cañon with...

Chapter I. Wild Wool
Chapter II. A Geologist's Winter Walk
Chapter III. Summer Days at Mount Shasta
Chapter IV. A Perilous Night on Shasta's Summit
Chapter V. Shasta Rambles and Modoc Memories

Here is how chapter 1 starts...

MORAL improvers have calls to preach. I have a friend who has a call to plough, and woe to the daisy sod or azalea thicket that falls under the savage redemption of his keen steel shares. Not content with the so-called subjugation of every terrestrial bog, rock, and moorland, he would fain discover some method of reclamation applicable to the ocean and the sky, that in due calendar time they might be brought to bud and blossom as the rose. Our efforts are of no avail when we seek to turn his attention to wild roses, or to the fact that both ocean and sky are already about as rosy as possible-the one with stars, the other with dulse, and foam, and wild light. The practical developments of his culture are orchards and clover-fields wearing a smiling, benevolent aspect, truly excellent in their way, though a near view discloses something barbarous in them all. Wildness charms not my friend, charm it never so wisely: and whatsoever may be the character of his heaven, his earth seems only a chaos of agricultural possibilities calling for grubbing-hoes and manures.

Sometimes I venture to approach him with a plea for wildness, when he good-naturedly shakes a big mellow apple in my face, reiterating his favorite aphorism, "Culture is an orchard apple; Nature is a crab." Not all culture, however, is equally destructive and inappreciative. Azure skies and crystal waters find loving recognition, and few there be who would welcome the axe among mountain pines, or would care to apply any correction to the tones and costumes of mountain waterfalls. Nevertheless, the barbarous notion is almost universally entertained by civilized man, that there is in all the manufactures of Nature something essentially coarse which can and must be eradicated by human culture. I was, therefore, delighted in finding that the wild wool growing upon mountain sheep in the neighborhood of Mount Shasta was much finer than the average grades of cultivated wool. This fine discovery was made some three months ago, [This essay was written early in 1875. [Editor.] while hunting among the Shasta sheep between Shasta and Lower Klamath Lake. Three fleeces were obtained - one that belonged to a large ram about four years old, another to a ewe about the same age, and another to a yearling lamb. After parting their beautiful wool on the side and many places along the back, shoulders, and hips, and examining it closely with my lens, I shouted: "Well done for wildness! Wild wool is finer than tame!"

My companions stooped down and examined the fleeces for themselves, pulling out tufts and ringlets, spinning them between their fingers, and measuring the length of the staple, each in turn paying tribute to wildness. It was finer, and no mistake; finer than Spanish Merino. Wild wool is finer than tame.

"Here," said I, "is an argument for fine wildness that needs no explanation. Not that such arguments are by any means rare, for all wildness is finer than tameness, but because fine wool is appreciable by everybody alike - from the most speculative president of national wool-growers' associations all the way down to the gude-wife spinning by her ingleside."

You cab read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Fraser's Scottish Annual
These are articles from the 1900 - 1904 issues of Fraser's Scottish Annual. This week we've added...

The Glasgow Exhibition
Dandie Dinmont
The Minerals of Ontario
The Early Music of Scotland
John Barbour, Scottish Poet and Historian

Here is a bit from "John Barbour, Scottish Poet and Historian"...

THIS celebrated author of that most interesting poem, containing the History of the Deliverance of Scotland, under the valour and patriotic enterprise of King Robert Bruce, was born at Aberdeen, about 1330. The year is somewhat uncertain, but as he could not be in priests' orders before he was twenty-four, and was made an archdeacon in 1356, it must have been either that year or before it. He had, probably, his early education at the seminary supported by the cathedral, and, were we to judge of the state of knowledge from the good sense and most extensive information displayed in the poems of Barbour, we should form a very high opinion of the state of learning at that time. His infancy and youth were passed in the stormy period of the civil and foreign wars, carried on in the reign of King David Bruce, for the independence of Scotland, in the calamities of which time Aberdeenshire had more than an equal share. Yet his attention was not withdrawn from the cultivation of elegant literature, and the best proof of his attainments and genius is the zeal with which he pursued his studies in future life. John Barbour received holy orders, and in 1356 was appointed archdeacon of the bishopric of Aberdeen. In 1357 he was one of the three commissioners appointed by the Bishop of Aberdeen to attend the Parliament at Edinburgh, to concert measures for the redemption from captivity of King David Bruce, who had been a prisoner in England ever since the unfortunate battle in 1346. At that period we find three descriptions of persons obtaining passports to come to England, or to pass through into other countries. One class was mercantile men, of which were several from Aberdeen. The second was of pilgrims, proceeding for purposes of devotion, to Canterbury, to St. James's, or to Rome. John Barbour has the honour to have his name recorded at the head of a third class, which came to Oxford in pursuit of literary and scientific knowledge. For this purpose he had a passport from Edward III. in 1357, and in 1365 and 1368 we find him travelling to France, with the same enlightened view, attended by an honourable retinue. Such a man would in any age have arrived at distinction, and in the period in which he lived he shone like the day-star of learning.

"The Bruce," the great poem for which every Scottish patriot and lover of antiquity will ever reverence his memory, is written in a style of great elegance, and it is remarkable that it is more intelligible than the works of Chaucer in the same age. His verses are in general far from flowing easily, and perhaps this defect is increased to us by the antique costume of the orthography, and the difference of pronunciation between that period and the present may augment the want of harmony. The rhymes are in general very correct, and it is in every respect a work superior to that of the mere versifier or composer of doggerel rhymes. That Barbour was a man of enlarged mind appears from his rejecting all belief in the doctrines of astrology, and of the influence of the stars, so generally received in that age, and in fact for many ages after. Most interesting anecdotes are detailed respecting the brave King Robert Bruce, and his chosen band of faithful heroes, who accomplished the deliverance of Scotland, and most interesting delineations are given of traits in their private character, which we in vain look for in the ordinary historians. Much satisfactory information is afforded respecting the manners of the Scots of that period, and of their knowledge of the arts and sciences. In whatever light the work is viewed, it must be considered as the production of a great mind, of the poet, the patriot, the philosopher, and historian.

King David Bruce bestowed upon Barbour, as a reward for writing this poem on the life of his father, an annuity of ten pounds, from the king's customs of the port of Aberdeen, which sum contained as much silver as twenty-two pounds four shillings of our present coinage, at twenty shillings to the pound, and was in that age a very handsome recompense, being nearly double what was allowed to Boëthius, the first principal of Kings, more than a century afterwards.

The rest of this article can be read at

I might add that I intend to post up a translation of "The Bruce" in the weeks ahead.

The other articles can be read at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

Archibald Skirving and his Drawing of Robert Burns by Robert Carnie

As I write this brief note of introduction, I am in Inverness, the Capitol of the Highlands. I am traveling with my wife Susan, son Scott, daughter-in-law, Denise, and grandchildren Ian and Stirling, ages 9 and 7 respectively. You will be hearing about this trip in the near future.

Sometime back I was honored to present a book review on Burns Illustrated by Robert Carnie and a chat article with his dear friend, Jim Osborne. Since then I have had the privilege of communicating with his son, Andrew, who has shared several speeches by his late father. It is a joy to bring to you one who loved, studied, and taught Burns for many years. I am deeply grateful to Andrew Carnie for sharing this speech with me and consenting for it to be a part of Robert Burns Lives!, and please know other speeches by Bob Carnie will grace these pages in the days ahead. (FRS: 6.25.09)

You can read the rest of this article at

And you can read other articles in this Robert Burns Lives! series at

The Scottish Church
From Earliest Times to 1881, By W. Chambers (1881)

Our thanks go to John Henderson for sending this into us.

we've added another Lecture...

Lecture VIII
The Revolution Settlement, 1690 to 1707 A.D. By the Rev. Robert Herbert Story, D.D., Minister of Rosneath.

It starts...

The Episcopal benediction and subserviency could have saved King James VII, he would have been saved from the consequences of his own fanaticism and tyranny. Two days before the Dutch deliverer landed at Torbay, the Scotch bishops were engaged at Edinburgh in concocting a letter to the king, whom they poetically addressed as 'the darling of heaven,' assuring him of their unquenchable loyalty, praying God to give him 'the hearts of his subjects and the necks of his enemies,' and promising to do their best to promote in all his subjects 'an intemerable and steadfast allegiance' to his Majesty 'as an essential part of their religion.' The prayers of the right reverend fathers in God did not obtain for his Majesty the two impossible gifts they besought; nor could all the devotion of their order avail to thwart the will of a nation, whose strongest passion, burning most strongly in its noblest hearts, was a zeal for liberty—for liberty of conscience and of life. At the root of the long struggle against the manifold misgovernment of the Stuarts, as of all the least practical fanaticisms of the Hillmen, with their visionary Covenant, lay a deep conviction of the human right of personal freedom and personal responsibility, compared with which all assertions of divine right, whether of kings or prelates, were weak as water — strong for a time, no doubt, in the possession and unscrupulous use of brute force, but weak in all elements of moral strength, the only strength that endures, because having in it some measure of that will of God which 'abideth for ever.' King James fell in spite of his bishops' prayers; and his system of absolutism in Church and State fell with him. The convulsion which overthrew him was not a political revolution merely. It was an upheaval and change of the whole national life. The motive power in it was a religious, more than a political, force. It is not too much to say that of all the factors in the Revolution of 1688, Scottish Presbytery was the most radical, the most indomitable, the most triumphant; Scottish Presbytery, not simply, or mainly as the opponent of Prelacy, but as the representative and champion of the rights and liberties of the people.

You can read the rest of this lecture at

The other pages can be read at

Pioneer Life in Zorra
By Rev W. A. MacKay, (1899)

Added further chapters from this book...

Chapter XVII. Rev. Lachlan McPherson of Williams
Chapter XVIII. John Ross of Brucefield
Chapter XIX. Rev. Daniel Allan of North Easthope
Chapter XX. Rev. John Fraser, M.A., of Thamesford
Chapter XXI. Rev. William Meldrum of Harrington
Chapter XXII. Rev. Daniel Gordon
Chapter XXIII. Pioneer Methodism in Zorra

Here is how Chapter XVIII starts...

"Erect before man, on his knees before God."

THE line which we have quoted above as the motto of this chapter, describes as briefly and clearly as words can do, the character of Rev. John Ross of Brucefield. Such reverence towards God, and such manliness towards man have characterized few since the days of John Knox. His devoted and scholarly widow has published in brief form a memoir; and while excessive modesty has prevented her putting some things so strongly as they might be put, and constrained her to omit many things well worth publishing, yet the history of "The Man With the Book," may be read with profit by all true Canadians; and it can scarcely fail to inspire the reader to more earnest devotion, and a nobler purpose in life. We trust it may prove one element in developing in our land, and especially among Mr. Ross's Highland kinsmen, a robust, God-fearing character.

The life of John Ross was distinguished, not by striking events or by wonderful achievements, but by a holy, humble, consistent walk with God; and no Zorra minister has left so deep and lasting an impression on all with whom he came in contact.

John Ross was born in the famous little village of Dornoch, Sutherlandshire, Scotland, on the 11th of November, 1821. When eight years of age he came along with his father's family to Zorra. The experiences and adventures of his boyhood are well told by Mrs. Ross.

"He was," she tells us, "full of life and fun and ambition, and very fond of athletic sports. Whether it was a hard mathematical problem or a school fight, a game of shinny or a tough debate, he was always ready, and entered into it with all his might. He who in manhood's prime began to be known as "The Man With the Book," was not, in his earlier days, one of those quiet and thoughtful lads, whose story makes other boys feel that they were made of different stuff from themselves. He was felt by his companions to be a boy every inch of him, and one with real and serious faults besides."

One who has passed the allotted span of years, but who is still an enthusiastic curler, being recently asked by the writer, "Did you know John Ross as a sport?"

"I did to my cost. Look at that," said he, pointing to his mouth, which was minus a front tooth, "John Ross did that with his shinny stick—of course accidentally. And strange to say, he, a few minutes afterwards, had the corresponding incisor knocked out in the same way. At the Embro Re-union in '83," continued the Woodstock man, "that is nearly fifty years after this incident, I met Mr. Ross and pointing to the vacancy in my jaw, I said, 'Do you remember that?' In an instant he pointed to a corresponding vacancy in his own mouth, saying 'Do you remember that?'"

You can read the rest of this at

The other chapters can be read at

John Stuart Blackie
By Anna M. Stoddart (1895)

Added more chapters this week...

Chapter IV. Student Life in Berlin 1829 - 1830
Feelings of loneliness—Professor Neander—Professor Raumer —Studies in English pronunciation—Widening views of life—The mental transition—Growing distaste for the Church—A. proposed presentation at Court—Projected journey to Italy—Results of German residence.

Chapter V. Rome 1830 - 1831
Leave-takings—Pickpockets in church—Interest in Italian art—Outburst against Roman Catholicism—Desires for classical study—A prisoner on parole—At Naples—Visit to Tivoli—More police difficulties—Satire on Catholicism —A. religious transition—Christmas Eve with the Bunsens —Study of modern Greek—Longings for Greek travel— Letter from Chevalier Bunsen—An archeological paper —Farewell to the Eternal City.

Chapter VI. End of Wanderjahare 1831 - 1832
On tramp through Italy—Arrival at Bonn—In London—Out- come of German residence—Decides for the Bar—Scotland's greatest Greek scholar—Lord Brougham at Aberdeen.

Chapter VII. Years of Struggle 1832 - 1837
Dislike for the Law—Merry supper-parties—Translation of 'Faust'—Carlyle's verdict on the translation—Reception of the translation—Estimate of Wordsworth—The Speculative Society—The Juridical Society—Literary contributions- Cultivating philosophic calm- "Sociality and activity"—Scottish walking tours.

Chapter VIII. The Test Acts 1837 - 1840
A tender friendship—Greek metre and music—Doubts as to fitness for Law—Appointment to Aberdeen Latin Chair— The Westminster Confession—Making a declaration—A clerical hornet's nest—Letter in explanation and defence— Presbyterial reception of the letter—The case in Court— Again in Edinburgh—Correspondence with Miss Wyld - A fantastic dress.

Chapter IX. Installation and Marriage 1841 - 1842
A love episode—Disillusionment—The two loves—Parental opposition—First lecture as professor—The new Humanity Chair - Brightening prospects -Discipline in the classroom—First popular lecture—A bridal song—The "Benedicite "—In summer quarters.

Chapter X. Aberdeen and University Reform 1842 - 1850
Domestic administration—Fresh religious difficulties—Waiting for the truth—At the Free Church Assembly—Education in Scotland—Letter from Dr Chalmers—Marischal and King's Colleges—University teaching of classics—A stirring appeal - First Highland tour - An evening with Carlyle—At Oxford—Carlyle on 'schylus '—Plan for publishing 'AEschylus '—Rhymed choruses.

Here is how chapter VII starts...

In the spring of 1832 John Blackie established himself in Edinburgh, and began to read for the Scottish Bar. His lodgings were in Lauriston during the first year of his legal studies, but later he removed to more convenient quarters in Dublin Street. His wooing of the legal muse was both distasteful and unsuccessful in the preliminary stages. He found Bell and Erskine the driest and least intelligible of reading. Gifted and brilliant, his head a very beehive of ambitious fancies, theories, and reforms in active competition with sentiment, and all clamorous for articulate expression, he felt stupefied in the presence of the stereotyped and ancient Themis. To persevere at all needed a courage stimulated by intervals of dalliance with the more attractive Muses. But he made manful efforts, and sought admission into a lawyer's office, that he might the better conquer the dull terminology of the law.

The gentleman who helped him through the perplexities of bonds and bills was a Mr Alexander, a Writer to the Signet, well versed in their dreary details. His first valuable lesson was to reduce his pupil to a salutary sense of his own ignorance. This incident is told in the "Notes" :-

I remember shortly after I entered his office he brought me in a bundle of law papers, and ordered me to read them and give a legal opinion on the merits of the case. I did so with great speed, took my view with decision, and on being asked, gave a distinct deliverance that the law of the case was quite clear—there could not possibly he two opinions on the point." This was exactly the kind of answer that he expected, so, looking me sharply in the face, lie said "Mr Blackie, whenever I hear a young advocate declare that there is no difficulty in the case, I have no difficulty in declaring that he knows nothing about his business."

This plain speaking was most wholesome for the head a little turned by attainments and speculations which were unusual in the Edinburgh of that time, and which gained for him not merely a very marked social success, but also the auguries of experienced seniors that he would achieve a distinguished career. So he set himself to work to copy papers and to learn slowly and painfully the alphabet of legal lore.

His letters home during the three years which belong to this stage speak to his repugnance for the study of law; and one written to Mr Anderson of Banchory in the autumn of 1832 gave that wise friend some reason to fear that his perseverance would give way. Mr Anderson wrote on November 5 :-

I sincerely hope the knot is tied, which will never be loosed, unless by what you would call an inevitable fate— I, Providence—so that it may not be said in your biography (and I doubt not, if you adhere to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, you will yet have a biographer). In 1832 he resolved upon devoting himself to law as a profession, but soon gave up the pursuit." You may yet be the Lord Advocate, and I—grown stiff with age—may be your humble suitor for a Hebrew Professorship in Aberdeen or St Andrews. But without joke, I am glad you have fixed upon what opens to you a career of honourable and useful employment. You will experience, I doubt not, that man fulfils the conditions of a happy existence only when actively employed in the duties of life. And, my dear sir, supposing you attain every worldly object upon which the powers of humanity are fitted to exercise themselves, still, believe me, there would exist an aching void which only the supernatural, the perfect and the infinite, God and heaven, could fill. Though I scarce expect that you and I should be at one on religious subjects, yet I cannot help expressing my great anxiety that on the creed, scanty as it may be, which you allow, you should lay fast hold. "Keep it, for it is thy life."

In the few letters which remain of this time, John Blackie can scarcely be said to have gratified the passion of his family for details. Even the pleasant social life to which his evenings were devoted is dismissed with mere dates and addresses; but we gather from this meagre record that he dined out nearly every evening, and that amongst his hosts were Sir William Hamilton, Professor Wilson, Mr Blackwood, Mr Wyld, Mr Bell, and other citizens of note. In a letter to his sister Christina he describes in turn a bevy of her special friends in Edinburgh, emphasising their graces and gifts as they appear to him, and his criticisms indicate his decided preference for a calm and stately deportment in women rather than for lively and varied manners. He was still very sensitive to feminine charm, but fluttered from one attractive lady to another, comparing all with his ideal and even with the half-forgotten Clotilda at Rome, and finding all short of perfection.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read these chapters at

Memoirs of a Highland Lady
The Autobiography of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus afterwards Mrs Smith of Baltiboys 1797-1830.

Added more chapters to this book...

Chapter I. 1797-1803
Chapter II. 1803-1804
Chapter III. 1805-1807
Chapter IV. 1701-1808
Chapter V. 1808-1809
Chapter VI. 1809-1810
Chapter VII. 1810-1811
Chapter VIII. 1811-1812

Chapter II starts...

IT was in July or August then in 1803 we crossed the Spey in the big boat at Inverdruie in a perfect fever of happiness. Every mountain, every hill, every bank, fence, path, tree, cottage was known to me, every face we met revealed a friend, and our acquaintance was by no means limited, for the "wide plain of the fir trees," which lies in the bosom of the Grampians, cut off by the rapid Spey from every neighbour, has its beautiful variety of mountain scenery, its heights, its dells, and glens, its lakes and plains and haughs, and it had then its miles and miles of dark pine forest through which were little clearings by the side of rapid burnies, and here and there a sawmill. We were expected, so from the boathouse to the Doune it was one long gathering, all our people flocking to meet us and to shout the "welcome home"; the only time that I remember so great an assemblage to meet us on our arrival, the custom becoming obsolete, warm and hearty as it was. William and I knew every one, remembered everything. Our dear Betty waited for us at the house anxiously; she had married the grieve, John Campbell, and was now a great lady in her high cap and shawl, and she had a baby to show us, a little daughter, the only child she ever had, called after me, to whom I was bringing a real silver coral with more than the usual complement of bells. Betty had been left in charge of the house, and beautifully clean she delivered it. We thought the floors so white, the polish so bright, the beds so snowy, all so light, so airy, our nursery so enchanting with Its row of little plain deal stool s—creepies— and our own dear low table, round which we could ourselves place them. We were certainly easily pleased with anything Highland, for a less luxurious abode than the charmingly situated Doune at that date could hardly have been the residence of a lady and gentleman.

It took its name from a long low hill in the form of a boat with its keel upwards, at the end of which it had been rather ill-advisedly built, and which had been fortified in the ruder days when the dwelling of our ancestors had been upon the top of it. I never saw the vestige of a ruin there, but the moat is perfect, and two or three steep terraces along the side. When improving times permitted our ancestors to descend from their Doune, a formal Scotch house was built at the foot of it, with a wide door in the centre, over which were emblazoned the arms in a shield, and as many narrow windows were stuck in rows over the wall as were required to light the rooms within. A kitchen built of black turf was patched on to one end; it had an open chimney and bare rafters overhead. A green duck- pond and such offices as were at the period necessary were popped down anywhere in front and all round, wherever and whenever they were wanted. There were a barn, a smithy, and a carpenter's shop and poultry-houses, all in full view from the principal rooms, as was the duck-pond. A perfect network of sluggish streams, backwater from the Spey, crept round a little knot of wooded islands close at hand, and a garden lay at the foot of the hill. My uncle Rothie had not latterly lived here; he had married a very delicate woman, a daughter of Mr Grant of Elchies, commonly known as a Lord of Session by his legal title of Lord Elchies. She had persuaded him that the situation of this old family mansion was unhealthy, which, considering all the wood and water on this side of the Spey, and the swamp of the boyack on the other, was probably a correct opinion. He had therefore built at Inverdruie, to please her, a modern mansion very like a crab with four extended claws, for there was a dumpy centre to live in, with four low wings, one at each corner, for offices; and this was set down on a bare heath, with a small walled garden behind and a pump standing all alone a little way off in front. Here with them my father had spent his boyhood, always, however, preferring the Doune, which had been, when deserted, let to various half-uncles and second cousins, retired half-pay captains and lieutenants, who all, after their wandering youth, returned to farm out their old age in the Highlands.

A few years before his death my grandfather, the Doctor, had taken possession of it, and anticipating a much longer tenure, undertook many improvements. To the end of the old house opposite the black kitchen he stuck an outrigger of an overwhelming size, containing a cellar to which the descent was by stone steps outside, a large dining-room on the ground-floor, and a couple of good bedrooms above reached by a turning-stair; as an additional object from the windows he erected a high stable, where as long as it stood my brother William spent his leisure, and he increased the old garden, laid it out anew, and stocked it from Hertfordshire. The entrance to this paradise of our childhood was by a white gate between two cherry trees—such cherry trees —large white heart, still standing there to prove my taste, and by no means dwarfish, even beside the fine row of lime trees that extended on either side. The old house had a few low rooms on the ground-floor with many dark closets; the principal apartment was on the first floor, and reached by a wide and easy stair; the family bedroom was on the one hand, a large hail on the other for the reception of guests, and the state bedroom through it. Up in the attics, beneath the steep grey roof, were little rooms again. This was the Highland home to which my mother had been brought a bride.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

A Children's Poem
By Margo Fallis

There’s a monster in our hedges that comes out only at night.
I’ve seen it and can tell you it gives me an awful fright.
The leaves begin to rustle and the branches sway about
And then the worst thing happens, the hedge monster jumps right out.
Its toes are made of hawthorn and are long and bent and brown.
They’re thorny and have prickly leaves that hang and droop way down.
It’s legs and arms are holly with red berries in the fall
And the monster’s head is squished up branches of boxwood four feet tall.
It wanders through our garden and chases the snowy owls
And then into the chicken coop stealing feathers from the fowl.
When the moon is full and the shadows dance and swirl
The hedge monster’s appetite is for a little girl.
I stay in the house at night and never go outside
Because the hedge monster will get me, so in my bed I hide.

Old Pioneer Videos
Found a wee collection of old black and white movies about Pioneer settlements which show old bark houses, log cabins, and sod homes.

You can watch these at

Clan Ross dedicate plaque to Dr. Ross in Chatham
Dr Ross was honoured by Clan Ross at the Freedom Park in Chatham along with the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society. I was there to take pictures and videos of the event which you can see at 

I found a couple of nice pdf files about Scottish Tartans which I've made available on our Tartans index page. Scottish Tartans (pdf) and Scottish Clans and Tartans (pdf) and you can get to these at

The Clan Tartans and Family Tartans of Scotland
The "Vestiarium Scoticum" is a description of seventy-five Tartans, divided into —Highland, Lowland, and Border Clans recalling the almost forgotten fact that clans were not confined to the Highlands and Islands. The M.S. is supposed to have been written in the latter part of the 15th or the early years of the 16th century. The author, in an "Envoi," calls himself "Schyr Richard Urqvharde, Knycht." He seems to have been a gentleman and a soldier of fortune, well acquainted with

"Heravltrye and armovris
Cvrtlye gvys and tovrnai,
Hunter craft and forestrye."

He has had a remarkable facility in describing in words the characteristics of the different Tartans, borrowing for this purpose a few terms and phrases from the kindred subject of heraldry — "fields, lists," etc.

That his descriptions do not correspond with many of the Tartans of the present day should cause no surprise; it is more than 300 years since his book was written; Scotland has seen many changes in that time, the clan system has disappeared except in the case of but a few of the most powerful. The risings in favour of the old Stewart line in 1714 and 1745 did much to bring to a close that ancient form of society. The chiefs became poor—were outlawed if they were so fortunate as to escape the headman's axe. The wearing of the ancient dress was made a criminal offence. Is it surprising that the knowledge of some Tartans was quite lost, and that consequently some of those which were revived were not quite the same as formerly?

This book gives the descriptions of the tartans from the "Vestiarium Scoticum" which you can read at

Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
In this issue Beth shares some pictures of her wedding to Tom and some details of the Happy Day. All this of course comes along with lots of other articles on the Scots and also Highland Games in the USA and lots more beside.

You can get to both sections at

Highland Simplicity
On one occasion a young girl fresh from the West Highlands came on a visit to a sister she had residing in Glasgow. At the outskirts of the town she stopped at a toll-bar, and began to rap smartly with her knuckles on the gate. The keeper, amused at the girl's action, and curious to know what she wanted, came out, when she very demurely interrogated him as follows:

"Is this Glasco?"
"Is Peggy in?"

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


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