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3rd July 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
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
Old World Scotland (New Book)
Canadians do it better

Well I have to admit that I got totally messed up with Canada Day and my friends Nola and Harold coming for a visit. And so thinking this was Thursday I was ready to do the newsletter when Julie came in.... I said your a day early... she said no I'm not this is Friday!!! And so you'll be receiving this newsletter a little late this week.

We have enjoyed seeing some old friends appearing in our Aois Community and we're working through a couple of issues with the system. Like when you got into our picture gallery you couldn't get out of it as the home link just took you to the home page of the gallery.

We have also put in place a fairly tight sign on system to try and eliminate spammers. When you sign up for the system you get sent an email asking you to confirm you wish to join by clicking on a link in the email we send you. Having done that Steve will also manually approve you and when he does he'll send you an email telling you that you have been approved. When you click on the link to verify you wish to join that also sends an email to Steve telling him you are awaiting approval and when he gets that he knows to do the manual approval.

We also implemented a spam blocker service where known spammers are logged and we have already noted that by using that service our spammers are down to near zero whereas when we last had the system in use we were getting at least 50 a day trying to get in. So in all this new login system seems to be working very well indeed.

I might also add that Steve is also checking any pictures going up so when you add pictures to the system they also need to be approved prior to being made available. A few of you might remember that in the last system we did get someone in posting pornographic pictures so this way that should not happen again. There should only ever be a maximum of 24 hours before your pictures are approved for public viewing but of course if you marked them private they will remain private.

We also had some fun with our menu bar but as we're also learning it took a wee bit of work to find out how to apply new features to it but now we've learned how to do that.

So it's been great to get some of you in and using the service revealing a few issues that needed to be fixed.

Overall we're right now just making sure all the features introduced to the service work as they should and once we're happy with that we'll move on to introducing some additional features we have waiting in the wings.

You can 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 Mark Hirst who gets into the debate on whether an Independent Scotland should retain the Queen.

You can read the Flag at

Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is not available as the Parliament are now on the Summer recess.

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

The Writings of John Muir
We're now onto our 8th volume - Steep Trails - California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, The Grand Cańon with...

Chapter VI. The City of the Saints
Chapter VII. A Great Storm in Utah
Chapter VIII. Bathing in Salt Lake
Chapter IX. Mormon Lilies
Chapter X. The San Gabriel Valley
Chapter XI. The Gabriel Mountains
Chapter XII. Nevada Farms
Chapter XIII. Nevada Forests

Here is how chapter VIII starts...

WHEN the north wind blows, bathing in Salt Lake is a glorious baptism, for then it is all wildly awake with waves, blooming like a prairie in snowy crystal foam. Plunging confidently into the midst of the grand uproar you are hugged and welcomed, and swim without effort, rocking and heaving up and down, in delightful rhythm, while the winds sing in chorus and the cool, fragrant brine searches every fiber of your body; and at length you are tossed ashore with a glad Godspeed, braced and salted and clean as a saint.

The nearest point on the shore-line is distant about ten miles from Salt Lake City, and is almost inaccessible on account of the boggy character of the ground, but, by taking the Western Utah Railroad, at a distance of twenty miles you reach what is called Lake Point, where the shore is gravelly and wholesome and abounds in fine retreating bays that seem to have been made on purpose for bathing. Here the northern peaks of the Oquirrh Range plant their feet in the clear blue brine, with fine curving insteps, leaving no space for muddy levels. The crystal brightness of the water, the wild flowers, and the lovely mountain scenery make this a favorite summer resort for pleasure and health seekers. Numerous excursion trains are run from the city, and parties, some of them numbering upwards of a thousand, come to bathe, and dance, and roam the flowery hillsides together.

But at the time of my first visit in May, I fortunately found myself alone. The hotel and bathhouse, which form the chief improvements of the place, were sleeping in winter silence, notwithstanding the year was in full bloom. It was one of those genial sun-days when flowers and flies come thronging to the light, and birds sing their best. The mountain-ranges, stretching majestically north and south, were piled with pearly cumuli, the sky overhead was pure azure, and the wind-swept lake was all aroll and aroar with whitecaps.

I sauntered along the shore until I came to a sequestered cove, where buttercups and wild peas were blooming close down to the limit reached by the waves. Here, I thought, is just the place for a bath; but the breakers seemed terribly boisterous and forbidding as they came rolling up the beach, or dashed white against the rocks that bounded the cove on the east. The outer ranks, ever broken, ever builded, formed a magnificent rampart, sculptured and corniced like the hanging wall of a bergschrund, and appeared hopelessly insurmountable, however easily one might ride the swelling waves beyond. I feasted awhile on their beauty, watching their coming in from afar like faithful messengers, to tell their stories one by one; then I turned reluctantly away, to botanize and wait a calm. But the calm did not come that day, nor did I wait long. In an hour or two I was back again to the same little cove. The waves still sang the old storm song, and rose in high crystal walls, seemingly hard enough to be cut in sections, like ice.

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 Scottish Quern in Canada
A Study in the Growth of Legends
Old Crofter in the Highlands of Sutherland
Leading Scottish Books of the Year
The Heather
Characteristic Anecdotes

The article on John Barbour last week made me realise what an important contribution he left by telling the story of Robert the Bruce as he lived at a time when he was still living and so his account of The Bruce is said to be as accurate as it is possible to be. I thus searched and found a translation of his account of The Bruce and will be adding that to the site.

This week the story of The Scottish Quern in Canada is most interesting... it starts...

AMONG the many valuable relics to be found in the museum of Queen's University, Kingston, is one which cannot fail to draw the attention of the visitor. This relic is a Scottish quern, the hand grist-mill of the old days, which was added to the University Museum collection in March, 1898, the donation of j Mr. Angus MacCuaig, Kirk Hill, Glengarry County, Ontario.

This quern first came to my notice while on a visit to my granduncle, Mr. MacCuaig, in the summer of 1892, when he showed it to me and told me something of its history. At that time he had offered the quern to the Redpaths, of Montreal, to whom he was related by marriage, for the Red- path Museum at McGill University.

His generous offer must evidently have been forgotten, for some years afterwards I learned that my granduncle still had the stones in his possession, and in 1898 I succeeded in pressing the claims of Queen's University Museum for them, and soon after in receiving my uncle's donation and placing the same in the museum of my Alma Mater.

In structure the quern is very simple, being in the shape of two flat circular stone discs, closely fitting on top of each other. These discs are made from flat slabs of a metamorphic rock known as mica- schist or glossy-schist, which is thickly studded with common garnet crystals. The fine-grained schistose rock itself is not only a very hard material, but with the harder garnet well cemented in it, a good abrasive or grinding surface is secured. Being a highly stratified rock, after being quarried in large slabs, it is easily split into thinner slabs of from one and a half to two inches in thickness, and then dressed to the desired circular shape with edges bevelled. The specimen in question is about eighteen inches in diameter, and is in two sections, each of which is about one and three-quarter inches in thickness.

The rest of this article can be read at

The other articles can be read at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

Frank is in London as we read this but he managed to send in another chapter in his series...

'Law and Order' in 18th C. Edinburgh, The Case of Miss Burns V the Baillie by Robert Carnie

As I write this, I am on busy and noisy Earl’s Court Road in London with the windows throughout the apartment pushed open to combat what London calls a “heat wave” that no where rivals the high 90s we left in Georgia over a week ago! But, one can be thankful that our bedroom here is located on the back of the building and a good night’s sleep can be found! Susan and I are still on our “trip of a lifetime” with our grandchildren, Ian and Stirling, and their parents, son Scott and daughter-in-law Denise. I will give you more details of our trip in the days ahead, but our attention is presently turned once again to the writings of the late Dr. Robert Carnie. Our thanks to his son Andrew for sharing several of his father’s speeches with our readers, and it should be noted they are presented as written without editorial by me. This particular speech is amusing and includes a brief description by Robert Burns. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. (FRS: 6.30.09)

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 IX
The Church of the Eighteenth Century, 1707 TO 1800 A.D., By the Very Rev. John Tulloch, D.D., LL.D., Principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews, and one of Her Majesty's Chaplains.

It starts...

THE subject assigned me is a large one, requiring an extended canvas. In the short space allotted to me, I can onlydraw some of its salient features. It is, moreover, a difficult and critical subject, stirring questions of which we have not- yet seen the end, and bringing before us for the first time fully-developed parties, whose rival influence has modified the whole modern history of the Church of Scotland, and whose conflicts and jealousies survive to the present time. I must therefore not only work upon a reduced canvas, but with a very delicate pencil. Whatever use these St Giles' Lectures may be, one of their main intentions must be to soften, rather than to harden ecclesiastical prejudices, and make the controversies and asperities of the past a warning for our better guidance, rather
than a stimulus to our unspent feuds. The Lecturer must of course say what he thinks; but he must say it with discrimination, and in charity towards all.

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)

We have now completed this book with...

Chapter XXIV. Zorra's Famous Missionary
Chapter XXV. What Shall the Harvest Be?

Here is how Chapter XvIII starts...

ONE of Zorra's Sons effected a revolution in the Presbyterian Church of Canada. In the year 1854, Dr. Alex. Duff visited this continent, and the result of his burning eloquence was the appointment of a committee for the establishment of an independent Canadian foreign mission, in connection with the western section of the Presbyterian Church. In the eastern section they had already been aroused to action by Dr. Geddie, and had begun work in the New Hebrides. But a foreign mission committee and a foreign mission are not identical. Sixteen years had passed before they found the first foreign missionary. Several attempts were made without success. On three occasions calls were extended to ministers whose Presbyteries refused to release them from their congregations.

In 1871 the Church had just one ordained missionary, the Rev. James Nisbet, laboring amongst the Indians at Prince Albert. It is not surprising that the Foreign Mission Committee felt somewhat depressed, and so expressed themselves to the Synod.

But the turning point came. In June, 1855, the members of the Committee had agreed to hold a concert of prayer every Saturday evening, and through the Record to invite the cooperation of others, in seeking a blessing upon their work. These prayers were about to be answered.

George Leslie Mackay, son of God-fearing parents in Zorra, who had just completed his theological course in Princeton Seminary, N. J., offered his services to the Committee. His mind was made up that his life should be spent among the heathen; but before applying elsewhere, he felt it to be his duty to seek the patronage of his own Canadian Church, and, if possible, lead the Canadian Church into more aggressive work. The offer was accepted, and it was agreed, after a good deal of correspondence, that he should go to labor amongst the Chinese in Formosa.

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 XI. 'Ćschylus' and the Greek Chair 1850 - 1852
Aim of the Greek translation—Irregular and regular rhyme —Students' reading-parties—The Hellenic Society—The British Association in Edinburgh—Methods of learning languages - An early educational reformer-Again in Germany—The Greek Chair at Edinburgh--Professor Blackie's candidature- Disappearance of prejudices- The Greek Chair won—Sectarian opposition— Notes of gratitude.

Chapter XII. Edinburgh 1852 - 1857
Parting gifts and regrets—Edinburgh in 1852—The pronunciation of Greek—Departure for Greece—In Athens—Life in Athens—A drought of rhyme—The Greek assistant lecturer - Work of the Greek classes - Success of the Greek classes—Lectures at the Philosophical Institution —Summer quarters at Bonn-Dr Guthrie's discourses— The "Blackie Brotherhood".

Chapter XIII. Lays, Lectures and Lyrics 1857 - 1860
The "Braemar Ballads "—Professor Gerhard—' On Beauty'- Visit to Cambridge - Miss Janet Chambers - Sydney Dobehl on Garibaldi—The British Association at Aberdeen —The 'Lyrical Poems'—First meeting with Mr Gladstone —Lord John Russell—The home in Hill Street—Social entertainments—Changes in family circle.

Volume II

Chapter XIV. Homer 1861 - 1866
Popular lectures—Beginning of interest in Gaelic—Inaugural class-lectures-London celebrities - A Highland home— Publication of 'homer '—Last visit to Professor Aytoun - The Oban house—Translation of Bunsen's poems—Plenishing of Aitnacraig—Aim of the translation of 'Homer'— Plan of the translation of 'Homer '—Specimen of the translation of 'Homer'.

Chapter XV. The Highlands and Islands 1866 - 1870
A political encounter—Lectures on Plato—Visit to Browning —Summer days at Altnacraig—Threatened prosecution for trespass—Tour in Orkney and Shetland—The gospel of Utilitarianism—Reforms in classical teaching—Greek Travelling Scholarship—An Oxford reading-party—Royal Institution lectures—At Pembroke Lodge—Appreciation of 'Lothair '—Dun Ee.

Chapter XVI. Pilgrim Years 1870 - 1872
The Franco-German war—En route for Berlin—At Gottingen —Bismark—At Moscow—The 'Four Phases of Morals'- ,New edition of 'Faust'—Love for the Highlands—Carivie on Spiritualism - A Highland itineracy-'Lays of the Highlands and Islands'—An address done into Greek— Decadence of Edinburgh society.

Chapter XVII. 'Self-Culture' 1873 - 1874
Death of Dr Guthrie—Lecture oil tour in Westphalia—Inception of the Celtic Chair—Sitting for his portrait—An encounter with Bradlaugh—An evening with Carlyle—At Dublin—Reading Irish history—St John's Eve in Limerick—Excursion to Skye—At Inveraray Castle.

Chapter XVIII. The Celtic Chair 1875 - 1876
Gaelic in danger of extinction—Contributions to the fund—A charming letter—At Oxford—Tour in the Hebrides— Flora Macdonald's birthplace—'Songs of Religion and of Life'—The Ossianic controversy—Hill Street hospitalities —Lectures on "Scottish Song"—Scottish music—Scottish Universities Commission—At Loch Baa—'Language and Literature of the Highlands'—Banquet to H. H. Wylldham —Sir Henry Irving on influence of the stage.

Here is how the account of The Celtic Chair starts...

THE record of this movement from start to finish forms the main source for Professor BIackie's biography during the ensuing four years.

The matter had been relegated to the University Council as soon as he seriously undertook its promotion. A committee was formed, which included representatives of the Edinburgh University, of the Highlands, of Celtic scholarship, and of the Free Church. Sir Alexander Grant, Professor Masson, Cluny Macpherson, Mr Alexander Nicolson, Lord Neaves, and Professor Macgregor were its members. Professor Blackie was member and convener, as well as executor of its behests. Papers indicating the circumstances which made the preservation of Celtic dialects urgent, and fitted with blank pages for subscription-lists, were prepared and forwarded to all parts of the kingdom, as well as to all provinces and colonies of the empire where Highlanders were resident. These were accompanied by the Professor's personal appeal,—on behalf of the maintenance of Gaelic in the Highlands for the people; of the Celtic dialects in the University for the needs of philological study.

The schools consequent upon the new educational policy were—in all parts of the Highlands —sapping the very foundations of their language. Manned by English-speaking teachers, they condemned the children who did not understand English to sit side by side with those who did, to read the same lessons, and to profit by them as best they could. To little girls and boys who painfully learned to utter sounds which conveyed 110 meaning to them, the hours at school were an unredeemed penance. The teacher had no means of relieving their futility, for a knowledge of Gaelic was not a necessary qualification for his post. At the expense of these early victims, however, the conviction was well stamped into the minds of the Highlanders that education, employment, success depended upon their losing the mother-tongue and adopting that of the Sassenach law-maker. We hear much, and with some indignation, of interference with the languages of Poland, Finland, and such outlying lands of imperial rule; but the process went on in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with a slow, sure, and impalpable tyranny. To arrest its mischievous pressure, and to save Gaelic from extinction, was as much the aim of the "Apostle of the Celts" as was the mere academic rescue of its language and literature. He addressed himself to a more concentrated study of these than hitherto,—communicated with every available scholar whose proficiency was by right of birth as well as by right of inclination,—sought out the local poets and archologists, with whom remained the treasure of traditional lore,—and translated himself passages from the Ossianic poems, and lyrical, heroic, or elegiac songs from the Highland "makers" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Mr Campbell of Islay was one of his helpers; and Alexander Nicolson, the loyalest Celt, the truest friend, the sweetest singer of his clan, gave him unwearied assistance in disentangling the historical from the mythical in the mass over which he pored.

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 IX. 1812
Chapter X. 1570-1813
Chapter XI. 1813
Chapter XII. 1813-1814
Chapter XIII. 1814
Chapter XIV. 1814-1815
Chapter XV. 1815-1817
Chapter XVI. 1817-1818

Chapter XIII starts...

IN years long gone by a certain William Grant had enlisted as a soldier and gone off to foreign parts, never to return in his former station among his people. He rose early from the ranks, and during a prosperous career in India won for himself fame, and rupees to balance it. A curious kind of narrow-minded man, he had, however, the common virtue of his race—he never forgot his relations; in his advancement he remembered all, none were neglected. There was a deal of good sense, too, in the ways he took to provide for them. One brother was never more nor less than a common soldier; we knew him as Peter the Pensioner, on account of sixpence a day my father got him from Greenwich, in lieu of an eye he had lost in some engagement. He lived in one of the cottages on the Milltown muir, with a decent wife and a large family of children, all of whom earned their bread by labour. We had a son in the wood-work and a daughter as kitchenmaid during the time their uncle the General was paying a visit to us. The next brother rose to be a major, and retiring from the army in middle life, settled on the farm of Craggan some miles down Speyside. His two sons, educated by the uncle, were both lieutenant-colonels before their death. The daughter, to whom he was equally kind, he took out to India, where she married a civilian high in the service. The rest of his relations he left in their own place, merely befriending them occasionally; but for his mother, when she became a widow and wished to return to Rothiemurchus, where she was born, he built a cottage in a situation chosen by herself, at the foot of the Ord Bain, surrounded by birch trees, just in front of the old castle on the loch. Here she lived many years very happy in her own humble way on a little pension he transmitted to her regularly, neither "lifted up" herself by the fortunate career of her son, nor more considered by the neighbours in consequence. She was just the Widow Grant to her death.

After she was gone, no one caring to live in so lonely a spot, the cottage fell to ruin; only the walls were standing when my father took a fancy to restore it, add to it, and make it a picture of an English cottage home. He gave it high chimneys, gable ends, and wide windows. Within were three rooms, a parlour, a front kitchen boarded, and a back kitchen bricked. He hoped my mother would have fitted it up like to her Houghton recollections of peasant comfort, but it was not her turn. She began indeed by putting six green-painted Windsor chairs into the front kitchen, and hanging a spare warming-pan on the wall, there being no bedroom in the cottage; there her labours ended. The shutters of those cheerful rooms were seldom opened, stones and moss lay undisturbed around its white-washed walls, hardly any one ever entered the door; but it had a good effect in the scenery. Coming out of the birch wood it struck every eye, and seen from the water when we were in the boat rowing over the loch, that single habitation amid the solitude enlivened the landscape. We young people had the key, for it was our business to go there on fine days to open the windows, and sometimes when we walked that way we went in to rest. How often we had wished it were our own, that we might fit it up to our fancy.

This spring I was furnished with a new occupation. My mother told me that my childhood had passed away; I was now seventeen, and must for the future be dressed suitably to the class "young lady" into which I had passed. Correct measurements were taken by the help of Mrs Mackenzie, and these were sent to the Miss Grants of Kinchurdy at Inverness, and to aunt Leitch at Glasgow. I was extremely pleased I always liked being nicely dressed, and when the various things ordered arrived, my feelings rose to delight. My sisters and I had hitherto been all dressed alike. In summer we wore pink gingham or nankin frocks in the morning, white in the afternoon. Our common bonnets were of coarse straw, lined with green, and we had tippets to all our frocks. The best bonnets were of finer straw, lined and trimmed with white, and we had silk spencers of any colour that suited my mother's eye. In the winter we wore dark stuff frocks, black and red for a while—the intended mourning for the king. At night always scarlet stuff with bodices of black velvet and bands of the same at the hem of the petticoat. While in England our wraps were in pelisse form and made of cloth, with beaver bonnets; the bonnets did in the Highlands, but on outgrowing the pelisses they were replaced by cloaks with hoods, made of tartan spun and dyed by Jenny Dairy, the red dress tartan of our clan, the sett originally belonging to the Grants. Our habits were made of the green tartan, now commonly known by our name, and first adopted when the Chief raised the 42nd regiment; it was at first a rifle corps, and the bright red of the belted plaid being too conspicuous, that colour was left out in the tartan woven for the soldiers; thus it gradually got into use in the clan, and still goes by the name of the Grant 42nd tartan.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Old World Scotland
A new book we're starting giving Glimpses of its Modes and Manners, By T. F. Henderson (1893).

We have the first chapter up about "On Wine and Ale". It starts...

DE QUINCEY, who has some claims as an authority on intoxicants has opined that our northern climates have universally the taste latent, if not developed, for powerful liquors. He may be right; but, as a matter of fact, the taste has developed very slowly. In early times it prevailed chiefly in climates where the grape was grown, or in latitudes where bang and similar brews fired the savage breast. Moreover, once a race has made choice of its liquor, it clings thereto with a more than superstitious tenacity, and may be induced to change even its religion with less reluctance and a lighter sense of misgiving. It seems ultimately to be less a matter of appetite or gustation than of sentiment. By its connection with the rites of hospitality and the main episodes of social life the liquor of a people becomes in some sort the symbol of its patriotism and its nobler human feelings. Doubtless the increase of travel, the inter- mixture of races, and the intercommunion between nations may tend partly to obliterate such predilections; but now, as of old, it will generally be found that, at least in the case of intoxicants, the adoption, even partially, by one nation of another's liquor is to some extent an evidence of reciprocal respect and goodwill. It was not till after the accession of Dutch William to the throne of England that Englishmen began to develop that affection for gin which in the beginning of the eighteenth century led to such extraordinary excesses. The English vogue for Scottish whisky also has been at least coincident with a better appreciation of the Scot. Possibly some of the more ardent of the Southron votaries of the liquor have a lurking suspicion that it has a not very remote connection with the Scot's persistency and "cannieness"; that while "the haillsome parritch" is perhaps in some degree responsible for his stamina, whisky even more than Calvinism has been his main discipline and inspiration. Historically, however, whisky is not more the national liquor of Scotland than the kilt is the national dress, or Gaelic the national language. The only difference is that, while the dress and language of the Highland Celt seem alike destined to disappear at no distant date, whisky has not only survived the conquest of the Highlands, but has extended its empire to the Lowlands as well.

Originally the national liquor of Lowland Scotland, as of "Merrie England," was ale, the universal liquor of the Saxons. There is abundant evidence that ale was the universal beverage in the Lowlands as early as the thirteenth century, and the presumption is that its use in Caledonia was coeval with the arrival of our Saxon forefathers. True, among the nobles wine was very much in use from the thirteenth century onwards, and for several centuries it was drunk among the upper classes more generally in Scotland than in England. The Scottish vogue for wine was greatly owing to the friendly relations between Scotland and France. The staple was claret, though Malvoisie, Canary, Madeira, and other wines were imported at an early period. Still, claret never became the Scots national liquor, and although occasionally sold by Edinburgh vintners at a very early period it could not be had in good country inns till the eighteenth century. In "The Friars of Berwick," which may be assigned to the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century, the silly friars," Robert and Allan, are regaled in the wonder good hostelrie" without the town on "stoups of ale with. bread and cheese"; and there was evidently nothing better on tap, for among the materials brought by the amorous Friar John for his surreptitious feast with the landlady, while the other friars were supposed to be asleep in the loft, were—

"Ane pair of bossis [Earthen bottles.] O good and fine
They hold ane gallon-full of Gascon wine."

That ale was at this period considered good enough even for the richest merchants may also be inferred from the "Priests of Peebles." The successful trafficker therein described had waxed

Sae full of woridis wealth and win
His hand he wash in ane silver basin";

but in regard to his table provisions it is deemed sufficient to state that his wife had no doubt of dearth of ale nor bread."

The rest of this chapter can be read at

The book index page can be found at

Canadians do it better
In celebration of Canada Day on 1st July 2009 I scanned in this article from MacLean's magazine which you can read at

I might add that should I ever find a similar article about the USA, Australia, etc I'm more than happy to share it with you :-)

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


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