Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter
Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)
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See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at
Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
New Statistical Account of Scotland
Clan and Family Information
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Children's Rhymes, Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's
Social Life in Scotland
The Gateway of Scotland
Robert Burns Lives!
Crofting Agriculture (New Book)
The Highland Line
The Scottish Highlander (Short Book)
The Writings of John Muir
ELECTRIC SCOTLAND NEWS
We've started to get in more write ups on our South Loch Ness
advertiser group and there are many great pictures of the area along
with them. As I get in individual entries from the group I'm moving
them to the top of the list. You can see these at
Here is what they say about South Loch Ness...
South Loch Ness – why you have to visit!
South Loch Ness, the name given to the area that lies between the
southern shoreline of Loch Ness and the high slopes of the
Monadhliath mountains, only 8 miles from the thriving city of
Inverness but really a different world. South Loch Ness is an area
of outstanding natural beauty with deep dark forests, wild windswept
hills and panoramic vistas that will take your breath away.
The range of elevation, from 20 to 1000 metres means there is a
great diversity of flora and wildlife. In spring the roadside
vergers are covered with wild yellow primroses and the woodlands are
carpeted by a sea of bluebells. In late summer the open high ground
is covered by the purple flowers of bell heather. Autumn turns the
native woodlands to gold while in winter many of the higher area are
regularly blanketed with snow. No matter which season you choose to
visit South Loch Ness, we can guarantee you will not be
If you are interested in wildlife, South Loch Ness has a good
population of badgers and pine martens while on the hilltops look
out for grouse and mountain hares and occasionally soaring high
above, ospreys, golden eagles and red kites. Also common to the area
are roe deer, red deer and sika deer as well as red squirrels. This
area is one of the few in Scotland where these red squirrels still
thrive without the threat from the larger greys. They can be seen
throughout the year but they are especially active in autumn,
jumping amongst the hazel trees, collecting food for winter.
With such a beautiful and wild landscape it is little wonder that
many people come to South Loch Ness to walk and see the rich
diversity of wildlife and flora. Many of the walks are waymarked,
particularly those in the Inverfarigaig, Foyers and Whitebridge
areas, providing excellent safe routes for visitors to experience
the area and enjoy the panoramic views over Loch Ness.
For the more intrepid visitor, with a good map and compass there are
miles and miles of woodlands, hills and glens to explore. Or see our
interactive Loch Ness map (http://www.visitlochness.com/mapping/index.php)
where you will find a wide variety of things to do and walks in our
area with convenient one click print and go. With so many quiet
roads, the area is also ideal for cycling. Take a picnic and enjoy
the area at a leisurely pace.
Fishing is also widely available in the area and there are a number
of ghillies who would be pleased to take you out for a half or a
full day on one of the hill lochs where you can fish for brown
trout. Within a short drive horse riding, golf and water sports are
available as well as a choice of cruises on Loch Ness. Whatever your
age and whatever your level of fitness, there is something for you
to enjoy in South Loch Ness.
Although it is sparsely populated today, ancient Picts, early
Christian missionaries, fierce Celtic clans and proud Jacobites all
lived and died here. In an age where it seems there is little new
left to discover in the world, here in South Loch Ness you can still
find your very own piece of history, whether it be a ruined Wade
bridge or a graveyard with a thousand stories to tell or even a
hidden cave, untouched, unspoilt and unchanged in hundreds or even
thousands of years. If you are particularly interested in the
heritage of the area we have a very active group on the South side
who have collected a huge amount of information on the area, much of
which is now available to view on their own website and which also
has a wonderful gallery of old photographs showing you how life was
in days gone by. Have a look at the site yourself at
Of course, if you are going to visit Loch Ness then you will need
somewhere to stay. Listed below is a range of accommodations to suit
all tastes and budgets. We look forward to welcoming you to South
Accommodation can be found at
I was away in Toronto this past weekend and took in the baptism of
Onora Elizabeth Jane Boadicea who is Nola and Harold's
grand-daughter. Most enjoyable and I even got to try a caviar pie!
Onora in her tartan dress :-)
Next week I'm going to make a start at the 10 volume "Writings of
John Muir". As most of you will know, John Muir was brought up in
Scotland but moved to America with his father where he spent the
rest of his life. He was mainly responsible for getting the Yosemite
designated as a national park as well as other areas of America. We
all very much enjoy these national parks today and so his legacy
lives on. Most of his work was done from the mid 1800's onwards and
so his descriptions also tell us what places in America looked like
back in these times. He does actually comment about one area that
were fabulous forrests but today are a concrete jungle.
I've given a taster by including the Introduction toward the foot of
I will also be starting work on the History of Alberta through a 3
volume account of the Province. But, I'll also be working on 4
volumes of the writings of John McDougall which will tell us of his
work through the pioneering days in and around Alberta. I think
you'll enjoy these particular writings as he tells a grand story
with many illustrations.
And finally I came across a book about pioneer life in New Zealand.
These accounts are quite scarce so was particularly pleased to find
this book. It will go up as I get around to ocr'ing it in.
Should you be down in Houston then you can visit the Scottish
Festival Spectacular that will feature the Five-time World Champion
St. Thomas' Episcopal Pipe Band and world renowned Highland dancers
on Thursday, March 12, at 7:30 PM at Toyota Center.
The Scottish Society of Dallas Tartan Day Ceilidh is at Winfrey
Point House, White Rock, Lake Dallas on April 5th 2009 1pm to 5pm
Free! Entertainment: The Caledonia Pipes & Drums, Dallas Highland
Dancers, Seamus Stout. More info can be found at
I was asked this week about several spelling mistakes throughout the
site. Essentially when I ocr in books page by page they are copied
to my clipboard and then pasted into my web editor, Front Page. When
I paste in the text Front Page highlights with a red underline any
word it thinks is misspelled. I then get to double check it with the
book. I find it easier to check for errors by doing it page by page
as I once tried doing it chapter by chapter but ended up taking a
huge amount of time trying to find the word in the entire chapter to
see if it was correct or not.
That said there can be words that are actually correctly spelled but
incorrect in context. For example Ranald MacIntyre spotted the word
"whore" which is of course correctly spelled but the word should
have been "whom". Another common error is the word "lie" which in
many cases should be "he".
I do quickly scan each page but I can certainly miss some obvious
errors. I remember getting a completely incorrectly spelled
paragraph sent to me which was deliberately filled with errors and
yet I managed to read it no problem. I thus took the view that most
errors would likely be passed over in the reading.
One nightmare I have is when I come across text in latin, gaelic and
the old Scots language. These can take up a very large amount of
time to proof and I confess I don't spend as much time as I should
double checking every word. I kind of take the view that most won't
know the word anyway so if an odd error creeps in no great problem
as I see it.
I might however add that many texts can be spelled using both
English and US English and hence a word like "color" and "colour"
can both be correct depending on who wrote the text.
I still remember Marie Fraser offering to proof read a book for me
as it went up. The first chapter had 17 errors, the next had 16
errors. At that point it became a bit of a challenge for me to try
and get a perfect page. Marie still found errors. If I remember
correctly the final chapter took me ages to do as I was determined
to get it 100% correct and I almost did it... I just had one error
where a comma should have been a full stop :-)
All of that said, if you do spot any errors you are welcome to send
me an email telling me of them and I'll certainly correct them :-)
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 or on our site menu.
THE FLAG IN THE WIND
This weeks Flag is compiled by Jim Lynch, editor of the Scots
Independent newspaper. As usual Jim brings us an interesting range
of stories as well as columns in Gaelic and the Scots language.
In Peter's cultural section he is telling us about Shinty...
This Saturday (7 March 2009) see the start of a new season in a game
which has existed in Scotland for 2,000 years – no, not football but
Shinty (camanachd or iomain in modern Scottish Gaelic). A few years
ago the sport’s ruling body The Camanachd Association switched the
game from being a winter sport to summer. The change has meant fewer
cancellations and has led the new digital TV Gaelic channel BBC Alba
to announce that five live Shinty matches will be broadcast this
summer – in June, July and August. The matches will be broadcast
live on Saturdays from 5.30pm – 7.30pm.
Although the game has been played for some 2,000 years in Scotland
it wasn’t until 10 October 1893 that the Camanachd Association came
into being at a meeting held in the Victoria Hall, Kingussie. The
new association standardised the rules for the then existing 33
clubs and has always had one aim above all – To foster, encourage,
promote and develop the sport of Shinty. The move to summer has met
with success as the 12-a-side teams battle in out for the major
league and cup honours – including the premier and coveted Camanachd
Cup. Although most clubs are Highland-based there are sides the
length and breadth of Scotland.
Although Shinty is unique to Scotland it is similar to Hurling in
Ireland and the two countries compete in Shinty/Hurling
internationals. Scotland has come out top on the last four
international contests. Shinty also gave rise to ice hockey in
Canada which arose from early Scots settlers playing Shinty on ice.
Visit http://www.shinty.com for
more details of a sport which is one of the oldest in the world.
Good luck to the 39 clubs setting out to meet another season’s
challenges and the recipe this week has to have a taste of the
Highlands. A venison recipe seems appropriate and Carbonnade of
Venison is just the ticket.
Carbonnade of Venison
Ingredients: 900g medallions of Venison; 50g olive oil; 700g onions;
halved and thinly sliced; 4 garlic cloves, crushed; 2 tbsp. light
brown sugar; 3 tbsp. flour; 600ml pale ale or lager; 300ml beef or
game stock; 1 fresh bay leaf; 2 large fresh thyme sprigs; salt and
freshly ground black pepper; 30ml wine or cider vinegar; chopped
parsley, to garnish
Method: Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) Gas Mark 2. Cut each
medallion horizontally into two chunky pieces.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan or sauté pan and
brown the Venison in batches over a high heat. Transfer to a large
casserole, using a slotted spoon.
Add the onions to the oil remaining in the pan and cook for 10
minutes, stirring until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and
sugar, mix well and cook gently for 10 minutes or until they begin
to brown and caramelise.
Stir in the flour, then gradually add the beer, stirring. Bring to
the boil, scraping up any sediment from the bottom of the pan, then
pour over the Venison in the casserole.
Pour the stock over the Venison and onions and add the herbs and
plenty of pepper. Stir lightly to mix. Bring to a simmer, then cover
tightly and cook in the oven for about 1 hour.
Carefully stir in the vinegar and cook for a further 30 minutes or
until the Venison is very tender indeed. Check the seasoning. Serve
garnished with chopped parsley and accompanied by boiled potatoes
and some crunchy Savoy cabbage.
Tip: For a darker stew, use half light ale and half stout.
You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots
Wit and lots more at
Christina McKelvie's Weekly diary made a late appearance at
Her current entry is at
New Statistical Account of Scotland
Being accounts of the Parishes of Scotland produced in 1845.
This week have added the Parish of Cranston.
1. - TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.
Name.- The name of the parish of Cranston or Cranstoun, in the
charters of the twelfth century, was written Cranestone, the
Anglo-Saxon, Craenston, signifying the crane's district, or resort.
The river Tyne, where it intersects Cranston, is even now frequented
by cranes, that find shelter in the woods, and fish in the water.
In the twelfth century, Cranston was divided into two manors, Upper
Cranston and Nether Cranston, which were afterwards distinguished as
New Cranston and Cranston Ridel. The church stood at Nether
Cranston, which was the larger of the two manors. This district was
granted by Earl Henry to Hugh Ridel. From him it obtained the name
of Cranston Ridel, which distinguished it till recent times. Hugh
Ridel granted to the monks of Kelso, the church of Cranston, with
its tithes and other pertinents, for the soul of David I., and for
that of Earl Henry, ]us lord; and it con tiriued wi tli th em till
13 17. During that long period, they enjoyed the revenues of the
rectory, while the vicar served the cure and received the vicarage
tithes. Adam de Malsarveston was vicar of Cranston during the reign
of William the Lyon. in 1296, Hugh, the vicar of Cranston, swore
fealty to Edward I. The church of Cranston was early of great value;
and in the ancient taxatio, it was valued at 60 merks, The barony of
Cranston Ridel continued with the Ridels till the reign of David
II., when it passed, successively, by various transmissions, through
the Murrays to the Macgilis, who acquired the church of Cranston.
Sir James Macgill, in 1651, was created Viscount Oxenford and Lord
Macgill of Cousland. He dying in 1663, left the whole estates and
patronage to his son Robert, who died without male issue in 1706. By
another series of heirs, these estates and the patronage came to
Lady Dalrymple Hamilton Macgill, spouse of the late, and mother of
the present Sir John Hamilton Dalrymple, Bart. There was of old a
chapel at Cranston, which served the lord and tenants of the manor.
The monks probably retained this chapel till the Reformation
dissolved such connexions. The manor and chapelry of Cousland were
annexed to or merged in the parish of Cranston at the Reformation.
The chapel stood on the south side of the village of Cousland, where
its remains may still be traced, with its almost forgotten cemetery.
It was probably dedicated to St Bartholomew, as some lands near it
retain the name of Bartholomew's Firlot.
Extent, &c. - The parish of Cranston extends about 5 miles in
length, and 3 in breadth. It is bounded by the parishes of Inveresk
and Ormiston on the east; by Crichton and Borthwick on the south;
and by Newbattle on the west and north. It contains 4778 acres, and
is somewhat in the form of an hour-glass, being very narrow in the
You can read this account at
Clan and Family Information
Got in the Clan Ross of Canada Newsletter at
Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem, "The Dairyman" at
And of course more articles in our Article Service from Donna and
Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.
This week have added a new story...
Young Ronald of Morar
Here is how it starts...
Angus MacDonald, a son of Clanranald, having quarrelled with his
neighbour and namesake, the Laird of Morar, he made an irruption
into that district, at the head of a select portion of his
followers. One of his men was celebrated for his dexterity as a
marksman; and on their march he gave a proof of this, by striking
the head off the ‘canna’, or moss cotton, with an arrow. This plant
is common on mossy ground in the Highlands ; it is as white as the
driven snow, and not half the size of the lily.
Having got possession of the cattle, Angus was driving away the
‘spreith’ to his own country ; but Dugald of Morar pursued him with
a few servants who happened to be at hand; and, being esteemed a man
of great bravery, Angus had no wish to encounter him. He ordered the
marksman to shoot him with an arrow; but the poor fellow, being
unwilling to injure Dugald, aimed high, and overshot him. Angus
observed this, and expressed his surprise that a man who could hit
the ‘canna’ yesterday, could not hit Dugald’s broad forehead that
day; and drawing his sword, swore that he would cleave the
marksman’s head should he miss him again. John then reluctantly drew
his 1 bow, and Dugald fell to rise no more.
The rest of this story can be read at
The other stories can be read at
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Five pages added which include Collecting, College Cream, College
Pudding, Colles Fracture, Collie, Collinsia, Collodion, Collomia,
Collops, Collyrium, Colocynth, Colour, Color Schemes for the Home,
Colour Photography, Colour Blindness, Coltsfoot, Columbine, Colza
Oil, Coma, Comb, Comforter, Commode, Commutator, Compasses.
You can read about these at
Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children' s Songs, Children's
A Book for Bairns and Big Folk by Robert Ford (1904).
The pages we have up this week are...
Three Brethren come from Spain
Here Comes a Poor Sailor from Botany Bay
Children's Songs and Ballads
You'll note we have now started on Children's Songs and Ballads with
the first being "Cock Robin" which you can read here...
Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the Sparrow,
With my how and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin.
Who saw him die?
I, said the Fly,
With my little eye,
I saw him die.
Who caught his blood?
I, said the Fish,
With my little dish,
I caught his blood.
Who'll make his shroud?
I, said the Beetle,
With my thread and needle,
I'll make his shroud.
Who'll carry him to his grave?
I, said the Kite,
If it's not in the night,
I'll carry him to his grave.
Who'll dig his grave?
I, said the Owl,
With my spade and shovel.
I'll dig his grave.
Who'll carry the link?
I, said the Linnet,
I'll fetch it in a minute,
I'll carry the link.
Who'll be chief mourner?
I, said the Dove,
I'll mourn for my love,
I'll be chief mourner.
Who'll sing the psalm?
I, said the Thrush
As he sat on a bush,
I'll sing the psalm.
Who'll be the parson?
I, said the Rook,
With my little book,
I'll be the parson.
Who'll be the clerk?
I, said the Lark,
If it's not in the dark,
I'll be the clerk.
Who'll toll the bell?
I, said the Bull,
Because I can pull,
I'll toll the bell.
And all the little birds
Fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin.
You can read the other pages at
Social Life in Scotland
From Early to Recent Times by Rev. Charles Rogers in 3 volumes
I now have up...
The Land and its Cultivators
Rural Life and Manners
Here is how Chapter VII starts...
THE condition of the Scottish peasantry had undergone only
perceptible amelioration from the commencement of the fourteenth to
the early part of the eighteenth century. Writing in 1661, Dr John
Ray, the naturalist, who then visited Scotland, remarks: "The
ordinary country houses are pitiful cots, built of stone, and
covered with turves, having in them but one room, many of them no
chimneys, the windows very small, broke, and not glazed." The "cou'dna
be fash'd " system so admirably portrayed by Mrs Elizabeth Hamilton
in the "Cottagers of Glenburnie" was no overstrained picture of
rural life up to the period of the last rebellion. When, as Mrs
Hamilton depicts, a village bridge was only half repaired and yet
insecure, the remark "it'll do weel eneuch," settled all questions
as to its stability. Describing the state of Ayrshire husbandry in
1750, Colonel Fullarton remarks that "the farm-houses were hovels,
moated with clay, having an open hearth or fire-place in the middle
and a dunghill at the door." When William Burnes, crofter at Alloway,
resolved in the autumn of 1757 to enter into matrimony, he with his
own hands reared his future dwelling. Composed of mud walls, it was
covered with straw. About the 5th of February 1759, some ten days
after his firstborn appeared on the scene, a violent gale threw down
one of the gables, to the great peril of the mother and of her son.
That son was the poet, Robert Burns.
An improved style of farm-dwelling proceeded about the close of the
century. Farm-houses were now erected in stone, each containing from
three to six apartments. But the door still opened into the
farm-yard, as did nearly all the windows. This arrangement was
intended to secure a constant surveillance of the hinds and maidens,
also to discover the condition of the calves, pigs, and domestic
fowl, which severally disported within a central enclosure named the
reed. At the farm-house door a stone seat cushioned with turf, and
projecting from the wall, formed the summer afternoon resting-place
of the gudewife as she knitted her stocking and superintended her
maidens. This seat was called the dais; it had its counterpart in
the loupin-on-stane, a small erection of masonry for accommodating
the gudewife in mounting and dismounting from her horse, on which
she sat behind her husband as she accompanied him to kirk and
The farm-house was the headquarters of those who worked upon the
farm, for though the hinds at night were lodged elsewhere, it was to
all, including the married labourers, who occupied huts, a place of
You can read lots more from this chapter at
You can get to the index page of the book at
The Gateway of Scotland
East Lothian, Lammermoor and the Merse
By A. G. Bradley (1912)
Have now completed this book with the following 2 chapters...
Chapter XIV. Upper Lauderdale
Chapter XV. Lower Lauderdale
Here is how Chapter XIV starts...
LAUDERDALE is in Berwickshire, but it is a region unto itself, and
justifies on this account the geographical ambiguity of our
narrative. It is the western flank of the county, running north and
south, and is cut off from the Merse proper by spurs of the
Lanimermoors, and by the stretch of half-tamed, high, thin country,
we touched about Gordon and Greenlaw. It is more easy of access,
too, by road from that corner of East Lothian to the west of
Haddington, and thence over the striking pass of Soutra, which has a
fine road, and is indeed an Anglo-Scottish highway. By train it is
rather more easily reached from Edinburgh than from Berwick, via the
line to Galashiels and Melrose, primitive though the tortuous and
leisurely little railroad is, by which the old borough of Lauder has
within recent years attached itself to this through route down the
Gala valley. More, however, than all these topographical conditions
in determining the order of our movements here, which after all
matters nothing, is the fact that I spent most of the latter end of
my long revisitation of these counties in Lauderdale. Lastly, this
region, so far as I was concerned, both gained and lost something,
inasmuch as it was entirely new ground to me, and offered none of
those fatal temptations to reminiscent philandering. As this is not
a guide book, and under no obligations whatever of that nature, I
shall say nothing about the Mid-Lothian or Edinburgh side of the
county of Haddington. Prestonpans, with its battlefield around the
railway station and its monument to Gardiner, verges on the Tranent
coalfields; while apart from these disfiguring features
on a landscape undistinguished of itself, the immense material
growth of Edinburgh within a generation or two has thrust out
buildings of an industrial character far into the Mid-Lothian
country, that not long ago was at least rural.
The last ten miles of rail or road approach to the Scottish capital
from this side were never inspiring. But they are now almost
depressing—from the train assuredly so—and painfully out of harmony
with the striking qualities that when once within its bounds stamp
the modern Athens as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The more inland portions of West Haddingtonshire and Mid-Lothian
towards the hills are free of all unsightly enterprises below or
above ground, and are distinguished by the high-water mark of
Lothian agriculture interspersed with stately and often historic
country seats entrenched amid noble woods. But rich as they are in
historic memories, it is not amiss, perhaps, that the exigencies of
space compel us to climb the Soutra Pass, to enjoy the three or four
miles of level open solitary moorland the highway traverses at a
height of a thousand or so feet, and drop down the folding hills to
where the piping voice of the infant Leader proclaims the head of
Lauderdale. Or we might follow the more normal alternative and take
train from Edinburgh, breaking the brief journey with profit at
Gorebridge, where, having admired the fine dominating pose of the
old tower of Borthwick, restored and occupied by the present owner
of that name and race, we might proceed on foot by tortuous ways to
the great high-perched ruins of Crichton Castle. Borthwick, among
other memorabilia in its long story, was the refuge, till driven out
of it, of Bothwell and Queen Mary on their flight to Dunbar.
Skilfully converted to present use from floor to lofty battlement,
without any structural alteration from the ancient form, it stands
above a gorge through which the railroad runs, and the infant
streams of the
Mid-Lothian Esk fret their way. Crichton, as Scott, who was greatly
attached to the spot, reminds the reader:-
"Rises on the steep
Of the green vale of Tyne;
And far beneath where slow they creep
From pool to eddy still and deep,
Where alders moist and willows weep,
You hear her streams repine."
You can read the rest of this chapter at
You can read these at
Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw
Several years ago while attending a symposium on Robert Burns at
Emory University in Atlanta, I met a delightful man. He was a
featured conference speaker and when he had finished his
presentation, I understood why. This humble and courteous man is a
gifted writer, scholar, professor, author, speaker, student, and
conversationalist. His name is Kenneth Simpson. He visits Dr. G.
Ross Roy at the University of South Carolina on a regular basis and,
in turn, I usually try to find time for the drive over to Columbia
to visit with Ken, and maybe share a meal or two.
Not only does Ken know Robert Burns, he knows how to deliver the
message of Burns. It has been my joy to swap emails with him over
the years. I have reviewed his best selling book, Robert Burns, on
my website, A Highlander and His Books. More importantly, I consider
him to be my friend. Here is a brief account of some of his
Ken Simpson was Founding Director of the Centre for Scottish
Cultural Studies at the University of Strathclyde and organizer of
the Burns International Conference held there annually from 1990 to
2004. He has twice been Neag Distinguished Professor of British
Literature at the University of Connecticut and twice W. Ormiston
Roy Research Fellow in Scottish Poetry at the University of South
Carolina. Recently appointed Honorary Professor in the Department of
Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, he is currently President
of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society. Ken’s various
international engagements recently have included discussions on
Burns with William McIlvanney in St. Petersburg and giving a paper
on Smollett at the Twelfth Congress of the Enlightenment in
Montpellier. He also currently appears in a video accompanying the
NLS touring exhibition on Burns entitled ‘Zig-Zag Man’.
Ken’s publications include The Protean Scot: The Crisis of Identity
in Eighteenth-Century Scottish Literature; Burns Now; and Love and
Liberty: Robert Burns – A Bicentenary Celebration. He is editing,
with Ross Roy, Correspondence with Burns and is working on a study
of Burns’ letters.
In keeping with the spirit of the 250th celebration of the birth of
Burns, Ken has agreed to share the following article about the bard.
His article... What Burns Means to Me... can be read at
By W. Barclay (1922)
Added more chapters this week...
Chapter 5. Rivers and Lochs
Chapter 6. Geology
Chapter 7. Natural History
Chapter 8. Along the Coast
Chapter 9. Climate
Chapter 10. The People—Race, Language, Population
Chapter 11. Agriculture
Here is how the Agriculture chapter gets under way...
Agriculture is pursued in a most enterprising and enlightened
manner, and both in arable farming and in the excellence of farm
stock, the county takes a high position. Along the coast the soil
consists mostly of sand and loam, the latter by far the more
predominant, and these in several districts are blended with a
proportion of clay soil. The arable surface along the coast lies in
general upon a free open bottom, while that of the interior is
mostly a light black soil on a hard bottom, retentive of water,
hence one of the causes of the lateness of the crops in these
Up to the middle of the eighteenth century improvements in
agriculture were few. The arable lands were divided into outfield
and infield. To the infield, which consisted of the acreage nearest
to the farm house, the whole manure was regularly applied; the only
crops cultivated on it were oats, bere and peas, and the land was
kept in tillage as long as it would produce two or three returns of
the seed sown. When the field became so reduced and so full of weeds
as not to yield this return, it was allowed to lie in natural
pasture for a few years, after which it was again brought under
cultivation and treated in the same manner. The outfield lands were
wasted by a succession of oats after oats so long as the crops would
pay for seed and labour. They were then allowed to remain in a state
of absolute sterility, producing little else than thistles and other
weeds till, after having been rested for some years, they were again
brought under cultivation and a few scanty crops obtained. There are
authenticated cases of fields in Alvah and Boyndie which carried
respectively 12, 14, and 15 crops of oats in succession. The system
of farming pursued was clearly described by Alexander Garden of
Troup, writing in 1686. The land as stated, was divided into
"in-field" and "out-field." The in-field was kept "constantly under
corne and bear, the husbandman dunging it every thrie year, and if
he reap the fourth corne, he is satisfied." The outfield was allowed
to grow green with weeds and thistles, and after four or five years
of repose was twice ploughed and sown with corn. Three crops were
generally taken in succession and then, or as soon as the soil was
too exhausted to repay seed and labour, reverted to thistle and
weeds. That this system was regarded as completely satisfactory, is
shown by the old proverb:
If the land be thrie year oot and thrie year in,
'Twill keep in good heart till the Deil gaes blin.
Yu can read the rest of this chapter at
You can read the other chapters at
A Book of the Log Cabin by Oliver Kemp (1908)
I now have up more chapters...
Chapter III - The Ax and the Tree
Chapter IV - Building the Cabin
Chapter V - The Roof and the Floor
Chapter VI - The Cabin and its Environment
Chapter VII - Inside the Cabin
Chapter VIII - What it will Cost
Chapter IX - Some Hunting Cabins
Are here is how Chapter III starts...
THE one indispensable tool in the building of a log cabin is the ax.
I know a man who, with no other implement, can erect a marvelously
complete cabin; but this degree of efficiency we ordinary people may
not hope to attain.
If you be wise, then, purchase the best ax possible. The cost of
this will not be over $1.25. An inferior one may be had as low as 75
cents, but the steel is not there. Long before the camp is finished
you will have discovered that an ax which bites in deep and holds
its cutting edge is desirable. Axes come of varying weights, but for
the average user one of three and a half or three and three-quarter
pounds is about right.
Perhaps it has not occurred to you that the "handle" or helve was a
thing to be considered, yet the dealer will put out an assortment
which, if you examine them, will be found to consist of crooked and
straight, thick and thin, and varying combinations of these. If you
have never handled an ax, you will have some difficulty in deciding.
Your only guide probably will be, after selecting one fairly
crooked, to purchase the one which feels best in your hand. If your
fingers are short, do not get a handle too large in diameter, and
trice versa. Neglected, this point may occasion you a painful period
of cramped fingers. I have seen men in the woods (and they forget to
complain of any hurt) whose grip had to be loosened by the aid of
the swinging hand. An extra helve should be taken always.
To "hang" your ax properly requires care, and is important. If it be
hung too far "out" or too far "in," or if it be out of line, it will
lessen very materially the effectiveness of your stroke. Therefore,
slip the helve into place in the eye of the ax, work the "bit" or
cutting edge up and down, to see whether it can be brought to a
proper position. This means that the center of the bit and the knob
on the handle should touch if the ax were placed against a
straightedge, as shown in the plate.
The rest of this
chapter can be read at
The other chapters can be read at
Its practice in the West Highlands and Islands by F. Fraser Darling
A new book we're starting on...
AGRICULTURE in the crofts, the Islands, and West Highlands presents
special problems. In this book Dr Fraser Darling explains the
principles of putting land into good heart and of growing crops
which suit the difficult climate and conditions.
There is no one better qualified to do this than Dr Fraser Darling,
who has first-hand experience and a great sympathy with the
Some of Mr Robert Adams's beautiful photographs of Highland scenery
illustrate the book, and this selection shows that he does not
neglect to record the arts and crafts of Highland Life.
Here is what the Preface has to say...
This book is the result of an experiment in agricultural journalism.
When a series of articles first took shape in my mind as an
accompaniment to personal travels in the crofting areas, I knew that
its success would not be wholly dependent on such knowledge, and
ability to impart it, as I might possess. The fortunes of the weekly
articles would depend largely on the co-operation of the Highland
newspaper editors: with their paper supplies being cut and
increasing official demands being made on their space, would they be
prepared to print an additional 600 to 700 words? Every editor
resident in the Highlands who was approached replied that he would
do his best, and that he has done. The weekly articles still could
not be called a success unless it was known that they were widely
read. The crofter's readiness to read them was just as important as
my willingness to write and the editor's kindness and public spirit
in printing them.
I believed that the crofter would read matter which dealt with the
problems of his own husbandry. It did not matter to me whether he
agreed or not with what I had to say, but I believed he would
preserve an open mind and bring his critical sense to bear. The
footnote each week inviting correspondence on crofting agriculture
was in some measure a safeguard that I should not do all the
The West Highlands are a country of difficult communications and on
a part-time appointment it would have been impossible for me to see
every crofter personally and have a crack with him—the more's the
pity, from my point of view. The weekly article helped me to say
something about basic principles of agriculture, and the crofter's
response in letters asking for advice is an expression of goodwill
and a definite sign that someone wants to know. The volume of
letters from crofters has steadily grown, and if the truth be known,
these letters are the only ones I sit down to answer with enthusiasm
and enjoyment, instead of as an irksome necessity.
I was criticized recently for saying that there was defeatism in the
Highlands, defeatism being the failure to believe that the croft was
worth working for a living or part of a living. Such an attitude
undoubtedly exists, but my remark should never have been represented
as my final opinion of the crofter. I have faith in him and in the
crofting life as the good life; the interest shown in these articles
and the letters I receive asking for particular information are
proof that defeatism is not general. While people can take the
trouble to sit down with pen and paper and ask for knowledge, they
are not taking the line of least resistance, which is the attitude
of defeatism. These letters are a token of a positive will to action
and I miss no opportunity of telling that to the outside world.
Many correspondents have asked if the articles might be gathered
together in book form. The idea seemed a good one, and I am glad to
present them in that form now in an expanded version, thanks to the
co-operation of the Publishers.
I am also grateful for the opportunity of having Mr Robert M. Adam's
illustrations. His beautiful photographs of Highland scenery are
famous, but the selection given with this book shows that he does
not neglect to record the arts and crafts of Highland folk. These
photographs have enabled me to add a last few words to the book in
such fashion as the reader and I might talk if we were walking round
the croft together.
Kilcamb Lodge, Strontian
North Argyll, April 1945
I have the Introduction and the first 3 chapters up for you to read
The Highland Line
Lots of discussion on where the Highland Line is and W. Neil Fraser
sent me in a map of one place it might be found. I placed it on the
index page of our Geography of the Highland Clans at
The Scottish Highlander
This is a copy of a talk given by J. L. Morison, Professor of
History at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario which was then
published in short book form.
The talk starts...
"EVERYTHING," wrote Macculloch, in his critical volumes on the
Highlands, "whisky, courage, ghosts, virtue or Beltain, is alike
peculiar to the Highlands among those who know no country but the
Highlands"; and the essayist who takes the Scottish Highlands as his
subject must justify his choice by avoiding the ignorant flattery
and weakly acquiescence which makes so much of the occasional
literature on the subject worthless. Yet Macculloch himself found in
the North material sufficient to fill four stout volumes; and the
century which has intervened since he wrote has been rich in new
collections of Highland folklore and ancient customs. And now there
is a peculiar fitness in suggesting Highland life as a subject for
careful study; for a century of depopulation has culminated in the
melancholy figures of the latest census. A generation ago it was the
decay of Highland: manners which distressed the patriot; to-day it
is the actual disappearance of the Highland stock from Scotland. A
few years hence the historian of the North and West may take as his
most appropriate motto:
"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."
Without undue pessimism, it must be confessed that, in the Scottish
Highlander, as the representative of a coherent people, dwelling in
a fixed abode, we are dealing with a survival, the term of whose
existence along the old lines cannot be prolonged far into the
twentieth century. With relentless precision, modern civilisation
has chosen other centres on which to mass her forces; and nothing
marks the old positions now but ruined cots and the decay of ancient
modes of life. I shall deal, theii, in my lecture, with the
psychology of a lost cause, a nation based on principles, and living
under physical conditions which seem to have contradicted the laws
of modern national evolution; and my problem is to represent the
virtues and picturesque qualities which have made the Highland name
famous, and at the same time to trace, even in the very virtues, the
elements of dissolution. It must be an essay on the decline and fall
of the Highland people.
You can read this at
The Writings of John Muir
As I mentioned above I'll be starting on the 10 volumes of his
writings next week and here is the Introduction to whett your
"LONGEST is the life that contains the largest amount of
time-effacing enjoyment — of work that is a steady delight. Such a
life may really comprise an eternity upon earth." These words of
John Muir I noted down after one of our last conversations. To few
men was it given to realize so completely the element of eternity --
of time-effacing enjoyment in work — as it was to John Muir. The
secret of it all was in his soul, the soul of a child, of a poet,
and of a strong man, all blended into one. Only such a one would
have mounted the top of a pine tree in a gale-swept forest in order
to enjoy the better the passionate music of the storm, and then tell
how "we all travel the milky way together, trees and men; but it
never occurred to me until this storm-day," he wrote, "that trees
are travelers in the ordinary sense. They make many journeys, not
extensive ones it is true; but our own little journeys, away and
back again, are only little more than tree-wavings — many of them
not so much."
But the play of his rich imagination did not pause with the
adventure in the tree-top. "When the storm began to abate," he
continues, "I dismounted and sauntered down through the calming
woods. The storm-tones died away, and turning toward the east, I
beheld the countless hosts of the forests hushed and tranquil,
towering above one another on the slopes of the hills like a devout
audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed
to say, while they listened, `My peace I give unto you.'"
These quotations illustrate the irresistible charm of simplicity,
the directness of poetical feeling and perception, that were a part
of everything Mr. Muir wrote, said, and did. When he struck out upon
the long trail he was not only foremost among the nature writers of
America, but in many respects the most distinguished figure among
contemporary men of letters. It will take more than this hasteful,
fretful generation to take the measure of his greatness, and to
explore the sources of his power.
Before me lies a letter written to Mr. Muir by a friend fifty years
ago. He was then twenty-nine years old and had just received a
serious injury to one of his eyes. "Dear John," the writer says, "I
have often wondered what God was training you for. He gave you the
eye within the eye, to see in all natural objects the realized ideas
of His mind. He gave you pure tastes, and the steady preference of
whatsoever is most lovely and excellent. He has made you a more
individualized existence than is common, and by your very nature and
organization removed you from common temptations.... Do not be
anxious about your calling. God will surely place you where your
Thus early did his friends see in him those personal qualities and
those powers of insight which gave a rare distinction to his person
and his presence. Evil thoughts fled at the sound of his voice. An
innate nobility of character, an unstudied reverence for all that is
sublime in nature or in life, unconsciously called forth the best in
his friends and acquaintances. In the spiritual as in the physical
realm flowers blossomed in his footsteps where he went. After all,
it is to such men as John Muir that we must look for the sustenance
of those finer feelings that keep men in touch with the spiritual
meaning and beauty of the universe, and make them capable of
understanding those rare souls whose insight has invested life with
imperishable hope and charm.
Not many years ago the directors of the Sierra Club arranged for a
quiet little dinner in honor of James Bryce, when he returned from
his visit to Australia. To all intents and purposes there were only
two men at the dinner, Bryce and Muir, for the rest were intent
listeners — too intent, altogether, to take more than mental notes.
Both were enlarging upon the value of the civilizing influences that
arise from a deep and humane understanding of nature. Lord Bryce
ventured the remark that the establishment of national parks, and
the fostering of a love of nature and outdoor life among children,
would do more for the morals of the nation than libraries and law
codes. Muir welcomed this opinion, and added that children ought to
be trained to take a sympathetic interest in our wild birds and
animals. "Under proper training," he said, "even the most savage boy
will rise above the bloody flesh and sport business, the wild
foundational animal dying out day by day as divine, uplifting,
transfiguring charity grows in."
To all who knew John Muir intimately his gentleness and humaneness
toward all creatures that shared the world with him was one of the
finest attributes of his character. He was ever looking forward to
the time when our wild fellow creatures would be granted their
indisputable right to a place in the sun. The shy creatures of
forest and plain have lost in him an incomparable lover, biographer,
John Muir's writings are sure to live — by the law that men, when
they lift their eyes from the commonplace tasks of work-a-day life,
unerringly, indefeasibly fix them on the snowy crests of human
thought and achievement. Thence it is that they must derive their
power to hope and to toil. As long as daisies shall continue to star
the fields of Scotland men will choose to see them through the eyes
of Burns. Forgotten generations have heard the nightingale sing its
love-song at twilight; but a finer music is in the song since Keats
listened to the notes from the thicket on the hill. Nor will the
name of Wordsworth ever be dissociated from the carol of the rising
lark and the call of the cuckoo across the quiet of rural England.
John Muir is of their number. He had "the eye within the eye" — was
a seer of rare distinction. Among the great few who have won title
to remembrance as prophets and interpreters of nature he rises to a
moral as well as poetical altitude that will command the admiring
attention of men so long as human records shall endure. Thousands
and thousands, hereafter, who go to the mountains, streams, and
canons of California will choose to see them through the eyes of
John Muir, and they will see more deeply because they see with his
But while in a high sense his wisdom has become a part of us
forever, his going has left an aching void in the hearts of all
lovers of the California mountains. Long accustomed to meet him
where wild rivers go singing down the canons, and skyey trails are
lost amid cloudy pines, they now must perforce apply to him the
simple words which sixteen years ago he wrote on his visit to the
grave of his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson: "He had gone to higher
Sierras, and, as I fancied, was again waving his hand in friendly
WILLIAM FREDERIC BADE
April 15, 1916
And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)
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