It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning
the weekend is nearly here :-)
You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at
/update.html 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
Regret to say we had some major problems with our service this week. It is
mostly down to the fact that Steve, our ISP, took off for Pennsic Wars for
his 2 week annual vacation. Our email went down for around 20 hours and the
site was also down for at least that time as well. I had no means of
contacting him but now have a mobile phone number for him in case anything
else happens. Our message forums have been down for a couple of days and it
now looks like they will be down until Steve gets back in another 10 days
time. Not really acceptable and I'll be discussing this with him in person
I'd like to thank those that have completed my survey.... it's much
appreciated :-) It will remain open until 13th August for those that haven't
had the time to complete it. See
/escgi/surveys/surveys.cgi?poll=1 to see
the most up to date results or to complete the survey if you haven't yet
managed to do so.
At time of writing 807 have now completed the survey and am still hoping
we'll reach at least 1000 by the completion date and so if you haven't yet
completed it would very much appreciate it if you would :-)
I got asked about Electric Scotland T-Shirts and as it happens I have a new
advertiser who does T-Shirts and a whole range of other merchandise. I'll be
telling you more about them below but in the meantime you can see a range of
Electric Scotland merchandise at
I have made a start on two new books, The Celtic Monthly and James Chalmers
of New Guinea for which see below.
And as to you wanting me to tell you more about Scottish Events I have made
a small change on the menu. I've relocated the "Calendar" menu item and now
term it "Events Calendar". I hope this will make it a little clearer to new
users of the service.
ABOUT THE STORIES
Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out
the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's
New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter and pick up poems and
stories sent into us during the week from Donna, Margo, Stan, John and
Micro Button Advertisers
We now have two new advertisers to tell you about...
First we welcome "Scotland's Greatest Story" this week and here they
tell you something of themselves...
"Having left BBC Scotland, where I had worked for many years as a producer
of historical TV documentaries, I set up the Scotland’s Greatest Story
family history research service to help other people research their Scottish
family trees. So many times I had heard people say, “Oh nothing ever
happened in my family”, and in most cases it was just plain wrong!
Within days of having started my own family history research seven years
ago, I had found ancestors who had been murdered by an axe, rebelled against
their own Scottish regiment in 1798, performed one of the country’s first
successful caesarean sections, and worked on the construction of the Titanic
in Belfast. And that was just me!
Now using the same skills that brought my own history to life, I offer a
service ranging from basic family records research at Edinburgh’s New
Register House, to more detailed research using a variety of archives across
Scotland. The range of sources is vast – newspapers, kirk session records,
old parish registers, valuation records, and many more.
Each research based activity is planned in advance with the customer, and to
a budget that is competitive with other service providers, with results
professionally laid out in both printed and electronic formats.
Every one of us has a unique history, and Scotland’s Greatest Story aims to
bring that history back to life and preserve it for the generations to come.
It’s a fun journey that along the way can often reveal a hidden surprise or
two - one of my first clients from Bonnybridge was stunned to learn that she
was her own fourth cousin twice over!
Is your Scottish family history as bare as you might think?! "
Chris can also arrange to take photographs and even video of your family
lands so do check him out :-)
Second we have "Things Scottish" where Stacy is going to do our
Electric Scotland merchandise. Here is what she has to say about her
As my family genealogist, I was thrilled when I acquired my very own kilt in
my clan tartan! Eventually, I was looking for a more casual (and less
expensive) way to express my pride in my Scottish heritage and couldn't find
anything readily available. The first idea I had was to adapt my clan tartan
into a cross stitch pattern. This lead to my adapting dozens of clan tartans
into cross stitch patterns and selling them on my personal website.
After having several stitchers comment that they were planning on stitching
their tartans on to apparel, I looked for a less time-consuming way to give
my fellow stitchers what they were seeking. In July of 2003, I found the
answer - my very own CafePress shop: Things Scottish! At the start, I just
offered items featuring various tartans. As the shop grew, I added other
Scottish images using each clan's tartan: a map of Scotland and a Scottish
In 2005, two new tartan images made their debut: the Thistle and My Heart Is
[clan]. The number of names available grew to over 100!
This year has seen the shop grow even more. Now the shop offers Custom Items
for weddings and/or anniversaries featuring the bride's and groom's clan
badges or interlocked tartan rings along with their special date. Currently,
the shop has over 200 names + 7 Districts available with more being added
I look forward to helping you celebrate your Scottish heritage!
Celebrate your Scottish heritage:
And don't forget you can also see our own range of Electric Scotland
Actually when you click on your clan name you get to see a range of items
you can order so if you clicked on your clan badge you'll see 32 different
items of apparel with your clan badge on them. Men, women, kids and dogs are
catered for along with 22 other products. There is even a tartan light
switch cover :-)
THE FLAG IN THE WIND
This weeks edition is by Jim Lynch, editor of the Scots Independent
The big news this week is their launch of their own Shopping Mall which they
modestly don't talk about in this weeks issue but as I have the inside track
I thought I'd tell you about it... after all it was my good self that built
it for them :-)
You can see their Shopping Mall at
The Scot Wit section this week is...
Remember Your Change
A Scotsman, an Irishman and an Englishman stood by the grave of a common
friend. The Irishman, in a gesture of impractical generosity, dropped a
pound coin into the grave; the Englishman, not to be outdone, dropped in a
two pound coin and retrieved the pound coin; the Scotsman in turn wrote a
cheque for three pounds and pocketed the two pound coin.
You can read this weeks issue, see the pictures and listen to the Scots
Still working on the S's which you can read at
Good accounts of Shotts, Skye, Solway Firth, Staffa, Spey and Speyside.
The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.
We are now on the C's with Cardross and Carey added this week.
CAREY, DAVID, a writer of some versatility, a poet and a novelist, was the
son of a manufacturer in Arbroath, where he was born in the year 1782.
Having completed his school education, he was placed in his father’s
counting-house, but cherishing an inclination for literary pursuits, he soon
removed to Edinburgh, and was by Mr. Constable the publisher appointed to
the temporary charge of a department of his business allied in some degree
to the profession of literature. As a better field for the exercise of his
talents, he repaired soon after to London, where he obtained, through
several gradations, the direction of various departments of the periodical
press. He began to publish in 1802. The order and titles of his works will
be found annexed. The ability he displayed in advocating the measures of the
Whig party, whose side he had espoused, gained for him the notice of Mr.
Wyndham, who offered him a situation at the Cape of Good Hope, which he
declined. On the change of ministry he wrote a satire on their successors,
entitled ‘Ins and Outs, or the state of parties, by Chrononhotonthologos,’
of which two large editions were sold in a few weeks. On the establishment
of the ‘Inverness Journal’ newspaper, in 1807, he was invited, on the
recommendation of Mr. Constable, to undertake the office of editor, which,
under many disadvantages, he discharged during nearly five years with
general satisfaction, continuing his literary publications at the same time.
During a considerable part of the year 1812, he conducted the ‘Boston
Gazette.’ He next repaired again to London, and renewed his connexion with
the public journals there. With the exception of a short visit to Paris, on
some literary speculation, at a subsequent period, his labours from this
time were devoted to the press. At length, weary of perpetual struggles and
disappointments, feeling his health much impaired, he returned to his native
place, to receive the attentions of parental affection. He died at his
father’s house at Arbroath, of consumption, after eighteen months’ illness,
on 4th October 1824, in the 42d year of his age. Besides the works
enumerated below, he contributed largely to ‘The Poetical Magazine, or the
Temple of the Muses,’ consisting chiefly of original poems, published in
1804, in two volumes 8vo, of which he was the editor. His poems are
distinguished generally by elegance and harmony, and, with a good deal of
purity and feeling, are not deficient in sentiment and imagery.
His works are:
Pleasures of Nature; or the Charms of Rural Life, and other Poems, 1802,
The Reign of Fancy, a Poem, with Notes, 1803, 12mo.
Lyric Tales, &c. 1804.
Secrets of the Castle; a Novel. 1806, 2 vols. 12mo.
Ins and Outs, or the state of Parties, by Chrononhotonthologos. 1807, 8vo.
Poems, chiefly Amatory. 1807, 12mo.
Craig Phadrig; Visions of Sensibility, with Legendary Tales, and occasional
Pieces, and Historical Notes; dedicated to Lord Seafield, a tribute chiefly
of gratitude for the kindness and hospitality of his Highland friends and
neighbours. 1810, 8vo.
Picturesque Scenes; or a Guide to the Highlands. 1811, 8vo.
The Lord of the Desert; Sketches of Scenery; Foreign and Domestic Odes, and
other poems, 1812.
Lochiel, or the Field of Culloden, 1812. A novel founded on the rebellion of
1745, and exhibiting a vivid picture of local scenery, and a faithful
representation of Highland manners.
You can read the other entries at
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church of Carlton
(The Gaelic Church) By W. A. Sanderson, M.A., LL.M. (1905)
Have completed this book with only the appendix to go up now. In the
appendix B is a list of office bearers in the church which might be useful
if you are looking for any genealogy in that area. Here is a bit from
The minister on his return was warmly welcomed by the people. He set to work
at once, but found that his strength would not permit his doing visitation
work. The missionary had resigned, and it was decided not to appoint anyone
in his place for a while, as the funds were in a low state. Mr. W. H. Scott,
however, came forward very kindly, and relieved the minister of the
visiting. Mr. Scott was at that time a theological student. He had
previously held the position of missionary, and resumed the mission work
again later on, also becoming a member of Session. He resigned these
positions when he became a minister.
During Mr. McEachran's absence, the Session had been greatly weakened
through the resignation of Messrs. John Tait and Samuel MacGregor, and the
death of Mr. David Brunton, who had all been valued workers. The
congregational funds had fallen off considerably, only 349 sittings were
let, and there was not enough money to meet current expenses, and a large
bank overdraft had been the result. The people, however, courageously faced
the difficulty, and, at a congregational meeting held on 1st October,
resolved to collect subscriptions towards wiping off this new debt. A hearty
response was made, £229 being promised, of which £215 3s. were received
before the end of the year. The minister was specially generous. Not only
did he head the subscription list with £50, but he consented to his stipend
being reduced by £100 for the next year, and undertook to pay for an
assistant out of his own pocket. Other members also contributed liberally,
the largest donors being Messrs. K. Gunn and P. McCracken, who donated £50
and £25 respectively.
Matters now began to improve gradually again, and at the close of the
following year the annual reports of the Session and Board of Management
were of an encouraging nature. The minister's health steadily improved, and
from the middle of February, 1880, he was able to preach twice every Sabbath
and conduct the prayer meeting and Bible Class during the week. The
attendances at public worship increased, until they were again almost as
large as before the pastor's illness. At the close of 1880 there were 298
communicants on the roll. The bank overdraft during the same year was
reduced from £120 7s 9d. to £50 19s. 9d., whilst more than this latter sum
had been expended in repairs to property during the year. There was an
improvement in the ordinary collections, as well as in the number of
sittings let, and £72 3s. 6d. were contributed to the Sustentation Fund,
which had always been well supported by the congregation, while missions and
other church schemes were not forgotten.
Under these encouraging circumstances, the stipend of the minister was
raised to £700, as from 1st January, 1881. Things during the next twelve
months still continued on the up-grade, and the next annual reports were
full of rejoicing. The Communion roll had increased, this result having been
to a large extent helped by special services conducted by the Rev. John
McNeil, who had formerly been connected with the congregation. The debt had
been reduced (£357 11s. 6d. being specially collected for the purpose, which
enabled the bank overdraft to be eliminated, and the mortgage debt reduced
to £1,200), whilst there had been a most gratifying increase in the ordinary
revenue. The year had been one of general prosperity, a spirit of love and
concord prevailed among the people, the attendance at church had steadily
increased, and the power of the Holy Ghost had been manifest in the
preaching of the Word, as well as in other means of grace.
During the next few years, the congregation was again in a very prosperous
condition. The pastor regained his strength, and there was no lack in
earnest men to help him. In 1882 there were no less than 15 elders, the
minister's Bible Class had an average attendance of 80, and the mission was
again in full swing, under Mr. Hart (now Rev. M. G. Hart, St. John's,
Ballarat). The finances were good, and, in addition to the ordinary revenue,
£70 6s. were raised for the Sustentation Fund, and £51 15s. 6d. for heathen
missions, irrespective of the amounts raised by the Sabbath School. A
special effort to reduce the debt on the manse was also started, and during
the year £100 was deposited in the Savings Bank as a nucleus towards
attaining the desired object. An important change was also effected in the
property by opening a window in the gable opposite the pulpit, to improve
the acoustics of the church. Whilst the work was in progress, Mr. James
Laurence, one of the contractors who built the church, who was at that time
a member of the congregation, took a great interest in the proceedings, and
when they were completed forwarded a cheque to the treasurer for the whole
cost of the improvement (£38 18s. 6d.), for which he received a special vote
of thanks from the congregation.
You can read the rest of this chapter at
We have the first three chapters up which you can read at
The Celtic Monthly
A magazine for Highlanders
I managed to get hold of two volumes (10 & 11) of this publication for 1901
and 1902. They had been water damaged so got them at a good price. While the
pages are a bit wrinkled they seem to be very readable.
I am intending to post one issue up each week (20 pages) but am scanning
them in as graphical pages. This first issue contains...
As well as Gaelic poems and their translations there are also articles on
MacLeans of Gallanach, Coll, Gaelic Mod in Glasgow, Simon Fraser, Tenth Lord
Lovat, The Graves of the Keppochs, The MacLeans of Coll, Clan Colquhoun
Society annual gathering at Luss, Neil MacLeod, last of the MacLeods of
Assynt, Highland Home Industries, etc.
You can see this first issue at
Margo has commenced her penultimate book of the Rolphin's Orb series, Book
11, which you can start reading at
A National Monument of Scottish Song
Edited and Arranged by John Greig, Mus. Doc. (Oxon.)
Have added the following songs...
Argyle Is My Name
The Wee, Wee German Lairdie
The Brume O' The Cowdenknowes
My Nannie, O
Bonnie Laddie, Highland Laddie
The Banks Of Allan Water
Joy Of My Heart
and you can read these in our current volume at
The Life of James Stewart
D.D. M.D. Hon. F.R.G.S. by James Wells, D.D. (1909)
Am continuing this book and we are now up to chapter 19. Here is how Chapter
STEWART was an enthusiastic pioneer of native education. To have a hand in
fashioning young lives, was exceedingly attractive to him. He would not
despair of teaching young barbarians among whom education was unknown and
despised, and who cared only for their animal wants. Living in a transition
period between the old and the new, he adapted his methods to both, and of
the new he might justly have said, ‘Quorum pars magna fui.’
He had a sun-clear idea of his educational aims. He was intensely practical.
For cram and goose-quill learning he never had any respect. The problem with
him was how the whole pupil could be trained for the whole of life, for God
and man, for earth and heaven. In an address to the Love-dale Literary
Society he thus defines the end of education. ‘What is this long, costly
process to produce as a result? This may be answered in one brief
word—Action. . . . A man is educated when he is fitted for the position he
is intended by the Providence of God to fill. . . . Any education which is
not practical in its character is of no real value to you at your present
stage of civilisation.’
His intense desire to serve Christ and his fellows rescued him from that
‘malady of the ideal’ which has made many cultured men martyrs of disgust,
and spoiled them for the humble tasks of daily life. It seemed to him worth
his while to take the greatest pains with the rudest pupils, and study all
the details of school life. He had received no training as a teacher, but
enthusiasm and experience soon made him an expert. He was a good teacher
because he was a learner to the very end, and took pains to give his pupils
water from a running stream, and not from a stagnant pool. He carefully
examined all methods of teaching, and he visited and sampled more than
twenty educational establishments in America among the Indians and freed
negroes. The result was that he ‘preferred the African material to work
John Knox Bokwe thus describes Stewart’s aims:
‘He had a favourite maxim which he oft repeated. "The receiving of education
should not be of the nature of a sponge which sucked everything for itself,
but gave nothing out, nor should it resemble a bottomless bucket which kept
nothing in." The sponge, he explained, represented selfishness, the opposite
of which was self-denial and self-sacrifice. He was so fond of using these
terms that his pupils nicknamed them "the doctor’s jaw-breakers." To the
native mind these ideas were new, and caused much discussion in the
The education at Lovedale was very liberal, for it ranged from the alphabet
to theological classes. The aim was to equip the boys and girls for every
sphere of civilised life. The programme embraced ‘the rudiments of education
for all, industrial training for the many, and a higher education for the
talented few.’ In 1905, I found at Lovedale twenty-five Europeans on the
Staff, among whom were four Masters of Arts, who represented the
Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Dublin. I said to the pupils that
they had better opportunities of education than I had had, and both Dr.
Stewart and Dr. Roberts made a similar statement regarding themselves. Many
white pupils have been educated at Lovedale, and not a few of them now
occupy very important posts in South Africa. The natives and the whites have
the same education within their reach. One could scarcely imagine a more
impressive proof of respect for the natives and faith in their elevation. It
is fitted to deliver them from their seif-despisings, and from the
despisings of the whites. I saw Stewart’s grandson in a class alongside of
You can read the rest of this chapter at
You can read the other chapters at
We have now started on chapter 7 of this book about General Phenomena of the
Early Iron Age - Late Celtic Period. There will be 3 parts to this and now
have the first one up in .pdf format at
You can read the balance of the book at
James Chalmers of New Guinea
Missionary, Pioneer and Martyr by Cuthbert Lennox (1902).
This is another new book that I've started and have the first chapter up. I
already had a good account of him from the book Dictionary of Eminent
Scotsmen but this book let's us see further into the work he did.
Here is a little about him...
James Chalmers was born in 1841 in the town of Ardishaig. His father, a
stonemason, and his Highlander mother brought him up with the stern
discipline of a Scots peasant home. His most vivid boyhood memories centered
around the nearby Loch Fyne and other bodies of water in the county. Young
James became a favorite of the local fishermen. He won recognition for his
bravery in sea escapades, having rescued comrades from drowning on several
On May 20, 1867, the Chalmerses saw the mountains of Rarotonga. A boat could
not get close enough to shore, so a brawny native waded out to carry
Chalmers to land. The native wished to know his passenger's name that he
might announce it to those waiting on the shore. "Chalmers," the missionary
said. "Tamate," was the nearest equivalent the confused native could call
out to other Rarotongans, and Tamate became Chalmers's name for the next 35
New Guinea, or Papua, the largest island in the world, located across from
the northern tip of Australia, was largely unexplored at the time of
Chalmers's arrival. Chalmers became to New Guinea what David Livingstone was
to Africa. He found the people "a very fine race physically, but living in
the wildest barbarism. Nose-sticks, huge rings adorning the lobe of the ear,
necklaces of human bones, gaudy-coloured feathers, repulsive tattoo marks,
and daubs of paint were almost the sole clothing of the men. The only
additional adornment of the women was their bushy grass skirts." The natives
of New Guinea, like those of Rarotonga, spent much of their energy fighting.
Tribal disputes were settled by bloodshed, and victorious tribes celebrated
with cannibal feasts. Many Papuan houses were built in the tops of tall
trees to help protect the inhabitants from surprise attacks. Unlike the
Rarotongans, however, the Papuans were industrious in the cultivation of the
soil. There were talented craftsmen among them in woodwork or pottery.
Surprising to the first missionaries, too, was the fact that Papuan family
life was much better developed than among many primitive cultures. Parents
were affectionate with their children, and children, in turn, cared for sick
or aging parents. Women enjoyed a much better status -- approaching equality
with men--than did the women of most areas where Christianity had never
You can read the existing account where you'll also find the contents of
this book at
Bits of Electric Scotland
Again from the survey it was suggested that I might highlight bits of the
site that I thought might be of general interest.
This week I'm looking at our Famous Scots page at
There is a huge amount of reading within this section. It has its base from
the 5 volume "Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen" originally edited
by Robert Chambers. I got a later edition of this publication which had an
extra volume bringing it more up to date. Since then I've added other
Eminent Scots that I've come across over the years. I would say all of the
entries in this book give significant detail on each of the persons in the
While looking at this section to decide what to say about it I clicked on
the "M" letter and got up the page and here are just some of the names...
Professor of theology in the university of Glasgow.
MacGillivray, James Pittendrigh
King's Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1921.
Partner in the firm Tod & Macgregor, builders of the ground breaking
ocean-going iron screw ship; the City of Glasgow (1850).
Macgregor, William York
A leader of the "Glasgow Boys" group of painters. "The Vegetable Stall"
(1883) is on permanent display at the Scottish National Gallery.
An inventor of several chemical manufactures.
Professor and all round genius.
McIntyre, Dr Robert
The SNP's first Member of Parliament.
Young martyr for the cause of religious liberty.
Mackay, George Leslie
Missionary in China. Known as the Black Bearded Barbarian.
Explorer who completed the first known transcontinental crossing of America
north of Mexico.
The man who mapped India.
First earl of Cromarty, a distinguished political and literary character.
MacKenzie, Sir George
A celebrated lawyer and state officer, and perhaps the first Scotsman who
wrote the English language in a style approaching to purity.
As as I've been doing some work on Scottish Missionaries I spotted George
Leslie MacKay, Missionary in China. I'd entirely forgotten about this person
and so when I clicked on that link expecting a short biography of him I
found that I was given a text link to a complete e-text book about him. He
was born in Canada of Scottish parents and studied for the ministery in
Edinburgh. It was the Canadian Presbyterian Church that actually sent him to
China on his missionary work.
So by going through this section you can of course look for anyone with the
same name as your own but just browsing through the various names you might
well find others that tweak your interest. For example...
Born 1550. Mathematician and Astronomer. Devised "Napier's Rods" or
"Napier's Bones" which permitted easy multiplication by addition, and this
led to him defining the concept of logarithms. Also invented the decimal
And when you click on that link the account starts...
He was ‘the person to whom the title of great man is more justly due than to
any other whom this country has produced’. In this simple pronouncement, the
Scottish intellectual David Flume summed up his fellow countryman John
Yet most Scots know little or nothing about the 16th-century mathematician,
philosopher and inventor who, from his secluded tower in Scotland, produced
the vital tool needed by mankind to explore the globe and fathom the
universe. Without Napier's invention of logarithms and the decimal notation
for complex fractions, the discoveries of others such as Galileo, Kepler and
Newton would have been hindered by years of long and complex calculations.
... and so you can just see that this is going to be an interesting story
And here is just one more taken at random...
A learned person of the thirteenth century, known to the better informed as
a philosopher, and to the illiterate, especially of Scotland, as a wizard,
or magician, was born about the year 1214.
And so when you click on this link you will find this account...
SCOTT, MICHAEL, a learned person of the thirteenth century, known to the
better informed as a philosopher, and to the illiterate, especially of
Scotland, as a wizard, or magician, was born about the year 1214. The
precise locality of his birthplace is unknown, although that honour has been
awarded to Balwearie, in Fife, but on insufficient authority. Neither is
there any thing known of his parents, nor of their rank in life; but,
judging of the education he received, one of the most liberal and expensive
of the times, it may be presumed that they were of some note.
Scott early betook himself to the study of the sciences; but, soon
exhausting all the information which his native country afforded in those
unlettered times, he repaired to the university of Oxford, then enjoying a
very high reputation, and devoted himself, with great eagerness and
assiduity, to philosophical pursuits, particularly astronomy and chemistry;
in both of which, and in the acquisition of the Latin and Arabic languages,
he attained a singular proficiency. At this period, astronomy, if it did not
assume entirely the shape of judicial astrology, was yet largely and
intimately blended with that fantastic but not unimpressive science; and
chemistry was similarly affected by the not less absurd and illusive
mysteries of alchymy: and hence arose the imaginary skill and real
reputation of Scott as a wizard, or foreteller of events; as, in proportion
to his knowledge of the true sciences, was his imputed acquaintance with the
On completing his studies at Oxford, he repaired, agreeably to the practice
of the times, to the university of Paris. Here he applied himself with such
diligence and success to the study of mathematics, that he acquired the
academic surname of Michael the Mathematician; but neither his attention nor
reputation were confined to this science alone. He made equal progress, and
attained equal distinction in sacred letters and divinity; his acquirements
in the latter studies being acknowledged, by his having the degree of doctor
in theology conferred upon him.
While in Paris, he resumed, in the midst of his other academical avocations,
the study of that science on which his popular fame now rests, namely,
judicial astrology, and devoted also a farther portion of his time to
chemistry and medicine. Having possessed himself of all that he could
acquire in his particular pursuits in the French capital, he determined to
continue his travels, with the view at once of instructing and of being
instructed. In the execution of this project, he visited several foreign
countries and learned universities; and amongst the latter, that of the
celebrated college at Padua, where he eminently distinguished himself by his
essays on judicial astrology. From this period, his fame gradually spread
abroad, and the reverence with which his name now began to be associated,
was not a little increased by his predictions, which he, for the first time,
now began to publish, and which were as firmly believed in, and contemplated
with as much awe in Italy, where they were first promulgated, as they were
ever at any after period in Scotland.
From Italy he proceeded to Spain, taking up his residence in Toledo, whose
university was celebrated for its cultivation of the occult sciences. Here,
besides taking an active part, and making a conspicuous figure in the
discussions on these sciences, he began and concluded a translation, from
the Arabic into Latin, of Aristotle’s nineteen books on the History of
Animals. This work procured him the notice, and subsequently the patronage
of Frederick II., who invited him to his court, and bestowed on him the
office of royal astrologer. While filling this situation, he translated, at
the emperor’s desire, the greater part of the works of Aristotle. He wrote,
also, at the royal request, an original work, entitled "Liber Introductorius
sive Indicia Quaestionum," for the use of young students; and a treatise on
physiognomy, entitled "Physiognomia et de Hominis Procreatione;" besides
several other works, of which one was on the "Opinions of Astrologers."
After a residence of some years at the court of Frederick, Michael resigned
his situation, and betook himself to the study of medicine as a profession,
and soon acquired great reputation in this art. Before parting with the
emperor, with whom he seems to have lived on a more intimate and familiar
footing, than the haughty and warlike disposition of that prince might have
been expected to permit, he predicted to him the time, place, and manner of
his death; and the prophecy is said to have been exactly fulfilled in every
particular. After a residence of some years in Germany, he came over to
England, with the view of returning to his native country. On the latter
kingdom, he was kindly received and patronized by Edward I.; and, after
being retained for some time at his court, was permitted to pass to
Scotland, where he arrived shortly after the death of Alexander III. That
event rendering it necessary to send ambassadors to Norway, to bring over
the young queen, Margaret, or, as she is more poetically called, the Maid of
Norway, granddaughter of the deceased monarch, Michael Scott, now styled Sir
Michael, although we have no account either of the time or occasion of his
being elevated to this dignity, was appointed, with Sir David Weems, to
proceed on this important mission, a proof that his reputation as a wizard
had not affected his moral respectability. With this last circumstance, the
veritable history of Sir Michael terminates; for his name does not again
appear in connexion with any public event, nor is there any thing known of
his subsequent life. He died in the year 1292, at an advanced age, and was
buried, according to some authorities, at Holme Coltrame, in Cumberland;
and, according to others, in Melrose abbey.
Although, however, all the principal authenticated incidents in the life of
Sir Michael which are known, are comprehended in this brief sketch, it would
take volumes to contain all that is told, and to this hour believed, by the
peasantry of Scotland, of the terrible necromancer, auld Michael. For some
curious specimens of the traditional character of the great magician of
other days, the reader may be referred to the notes appended to the "Lay of
the Last Minstrel," by the still greater magician of modern times. He will
there learn, how Sir Michael, on one occasion, rode through the air to
France on a huge black horse; how the devil made an unsuccessful attempt to
entrap him by the way; how, on another occasion, when
Maister Michael Scott’s man,
Sought meat, and gat none,
from a niggardly farmer, he threw down a bonnet which his master had
previously enchanted, and which, becoming suddenly inflated, began to spin
round the house with supernatural speed, and drew, by its magical influence,
the whole household after it, man, maid, and mistress, who all continued the
goblin chase, until they were worn out with fatigue. It may not, perhaps, be
unnecessary to add, that all these cantrips, and a thousand more, were
performed by the agency of a "mightly book" of necromancy, which no man, but
on peril of soul and body, might open, or peruse, and which was at last
buried with its tremendous owner.
... and so this is just to illustrate just a tiny fraction of what you can
read in this "Famous Scots" section.
And that's all for now and I hope you all have a great weekend :-)
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