Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)
You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at
http://www.electricscotland.com/rss/whatsnew.php 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.
Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Poetry and Stories
Scottish Clans and Families
Book of Scottish Story
The Writings of John Muir
Fraser's Scottish Annual
Robert Burns Lives!
The Scottish Church
Pioneer Life in Zorra
John Stuart Blackie
Memoirs of a Highland Lady
A Children's Poem
Old Pioneer Videos
Clan Ross dedicate plaque to Dr. Ross in Chatham
The Clan Tartans and Family Tartans of Scotland
Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
ELECTRIC SCOTLAND NEWS
The big news this week is that we're re-launching our Aois community
service. I did say we looked to have this back by the end of June
This is not to say that we won't be doing a lot more with the
service over the next few days and weeks but as the bulk of the
system is now working we thought you should try it out :-)
Right now the forums are working and we have the photohost system in
place so you can add your own galleries of pictures. The arcade
system is in place as well as the Blog, RSS Feeds and calendar which
you can create for yourself. We also have the Project Planner in so
anyone looking to get married any time soon can use this as a
wedding planner :-)
We have also enabled other facilities which means it is more
powerful than our last version.
I should add that while we plug in other features that doesn't mean
we'll stick with them or that we'll not improve them or replace them
with better options. So it's all work in progress and you can of
course help us to make it even better.
This is now intended to be a permanent facility through Electric
Scotland and we are working on a new server to ensure long term
We are also working with other companies to bring further
customisation to this service in the weeks and months ahead and so
it can only get better.
Make no mistake... this system is now here to stay and we have big
plans for it.
We will very shortly be adding our own templates to make it "ours"
with our own look and feel but we can work on this while the service
Should you intend to be a regular visitor and would like to help us
run the service by becoming a moderator then please email me and
I'll get Steve to get in touch with you.
I might add that when we ask for your age in the sign up form that
this is now recquired as part of our being a child friendly site. It
means anyone under a certain age will be required to give us their
parents email address so we can ask their permission for their child
to use the service. It's the age stated that triggers this action.
We have also added more powerful spam filters.
Please let us know if you hit any problems and we'll do our best to
fix these as speedily as possible. Also feel free to make any
suggestions as to improvements you'd like to see.
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 Ian Goldie.
Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.
This week have added...
Ewen of the Little Head
Here is how it starts...
About three hundred years ago, Ewen Maclean of Lochbuy, in the
island of Mull, having been engaged in a quarrel with a neighbouring
chief, a day was fixed for determining the affair by the sword.
Lochbuy, before the day arrived, consulted a celebrated witch as to
the result of the feud. The witch declared, that if Lochbuy’s wife
should on the morning of that day give him and his men food unasked,
he would be victorious; but if not, the result would be the reverse.
This was a disheartening response for the unhappy votary, his wife
being a noted shrew.
The fatal morning arrived, and the hour for meeting the enemy
approached ; but there appeared no symptoms of refreshment for
Lochbuy and his men. At length the unfortunate man was compelled to
ask his wife to supply them with food. She set down before them
curds, but without spoons. The men ate the curds as well as they
could with their hands; but Lochbuy himself ate none. After behaving
with the greatest bravery in the bloody conflict which ensued, he
fell covered with wounds, leaving his wife to the execration of his
The Writings of John Muir
We have now completed the 7th volume, The Cruise of the Corwin, and
this week have added...
Chapter XX. Homeward Bound
Appendix I. The Glaciation of the Arctic and Sub Arctic Regions
visited during the Cruise
Appendix II. Botanical Notes
and now onto Volume 8 - Steep Trails - California, Utah, Nevada,
Washington, Oregon, The Grand Cañon with...
Chapter I. Wild Wool
Chapter II. A Geologist's Winter Walk
Chapter III. Summer Days at Mount Shasta
Chapter IV. A Perilous Night on Shasta's Summit
Chapter V. Shasta Rambles and Modoc Memories
Here is how chapter 1 starts...
MORAL improvers have calls to preach. I have a friend who has a call
to plough, and woe to the daisy sod or azalea thicket that falls
under the savage redemption of his keen steel shares. Not content
with the so-called subjugation of every terrestrial bog, rock, and
moorland, he would fain discover some method of reclamation
applicable to the ocean and the sky, that in due calendar time they
might be brought to bud and blossom as the rose. Our efforts are of
no avail when we seek to turn his attention to wild roses, or to the
fact that both ocean and sky are already about as rosy as
possible-the one with stars, the other with dulse, and foam, and
wild light. The practical developments of his culture are orchards
and clover-fields wearing a smiling, benevolent aspect, truly
excellent in their way, though a near view discloses something
barbarous in them all. Wildness charms not my friend, charm it never
so wisely: and whatsoever may be the character of his heaven, his
earth seems only a chaos of agricultural possibilities calling for
grubbing-hoes and manures.
Sometimes I venture to approach him with a plea for wildness, when
he good-naturedly shakes a big mellow apple in my face, reiterating
his favorite aphorism, "Culture is an orchard apple; Nature is a
crab." Not all culture, however, is equally destructive and
inappreciative. Azure skies and crystal waters find loving
recognition, and few there be who would welcome the axe among
mountain pines, or would care to apply any correction to the tones
and costumes of mountain waterfalls. Nevertheless, the barbarous
notion is almost universally entertained by civilized man, that
there is in all the manufactures of Nature something essentially
coarse which can and must be eradicated by human culture. I was,
therefore, delighted in finding that the wild wool growing upon
mountain sheep in the neighborhood of Mount Shasta was much finer
than the average grades of cultivated wool. This fine discovery was
made some three months ago, [This essay was written early in 1875.
[Editor.] while hunting among the Shasta sheep between Shasta and
Lower Klamath Lake. Three fleeces were obtained - one that belonged
to a large ram about four years old, another to a ewe about the same
age, and another to a yearling lamb. After parting their beautiful
wool on the side and many places along the back, shoulders, and
hips, and examining it closely with my lens, I shouted: "Well done
for wildness! Wild wool is finer than tame!"
My companions stooped down and examined the fleeces for themselves,
pulling out tufts and ringlets, spinning them between their fingers,
and measuring the length of the staple, each in turn paying tribute
to wildness. It was finer, and no mistake; finer than Spanish
Merino. Wild wool is finer than tame.
"Here," said I, "is an argument for fine wildness that needs no
explanation. Not that such arguments are by any means rare, for all
wildness is finer than tameness, but because fine wool is
appreciable by everybody alike - from the most speculative president
of national wool-growers' associations all the way down to the gude-wife
spinning by her ingleside."
Fraser's Scottish Annual
These are articles from the 1900 - 1904 issues of Fraser's Scottish
Annual. This week we've added...
The Glasgow Exhibition
The Minerals of Ontario
The Early Music of Scotland
John Barbour, Scottish Poet and Historian
Here is a bit from "John Barbour, Scottish Poet and Historian"...
THIS celebrated author of that most interesting poem, containing the
History of the Deliverance of Scotland, under the valour and
patriotic enterprise of King Robert Bruce, was born at Aberdeen,
about 1330. The year is somewhat uncertain, but as he could not be
in priests' orders before he was twenty-four, and was made an
archdeacon in 1356, it must have been either that year or before it.
He had, probably, his early education at the seminary supported by
the cathedral, and, were we to judge of the state of knowledge from
the good sense and most extensive information displayed in the poems
of Barbour, we should form a very high opinion of the state of
learning at that time. His infancy and youth were passed in the
stormy period of the civil and foreign wars, carried on in the reign
of King David Bruce, for the independence of Scotland, in the
calamities of which time Aberdeenshire had more than an equal share.
Yet his attention was not withdrawn from the cultivation of elegant
literature, and the best proof of his attainments and genius is the
zeal with which he pursued his studies in future life. John Barbour
received holy orders, and in 1356 was appointed archdeacon of the
bishopric of Aberdeen. In 1357 he was one of the three commissioners
appointed by the Bishop of Aberdeen to attend the Parliament at
Edinburgh, to concert measures for the redemption from captivity of
King David Bruce, who had been a prisoner in England ever since the
unfortunate battle in 1346. At that period we find three
descriptions of persons obtaining passports to come to England, or
to pass through into other countries. One class was mercantile men,
of which were several from Aberdeen. The second was of pilgrims,
proceeding for purposes of devotion, to Canterbury, to St. James's,
or to Rome. John Barbour has the honour to have his name recorded at
the head of a third class, which came to Oxford in pursuit of
literary and scientific knowledge. For this purpose he had a
passport from Edward III. in 1357, and in 1365 and 1368 we find him
travelling to France, with the same enlightened view, attended by an
honourable retinue. Such a man would in any age have arrived at
distinction, and in the period in which he lived he shone like the
day-star of learning.
"The Bruce," the great poem for which every Scottish patriot and
lover of antiquity will ever reverence his memory, is written in a
style of great elegance, and it is remarkable that it is more
intelligible than the works of Chaucer in the same age. His verses
are in general far from flowing easily, and perhaps this defect is
increased to us by the antique costume of the orthography, and the
difference of pronunciation between that period and the present may
augment the want of harmony. The rhymes are in general very correct,
and it is in every respect a work superior to that of the mere
versifier or composer of doggerel rhymes. That Barbour was a man of
enlarged mind appears from his rejecting all belief in the doctrines
of astrology, and of the influence of the stars, so generally
received in that age, and in fact for many ages after. Most
interesting anecdotes are detailed respecting the brave King Robert
Bruce, and his chosen band of faithful heroes, who accomplished the
deliverance of Scotland, and most interesting delineations are given
of traits in their private character, which we in vain look for in
the ordinary historians. Much satisfactory information is afforded
respecting the manners of the Scots of that period, and of their
knowledge of the arts and sciences. In whatever light the work is
viewed, it must be considered as the production of a great mind, of
the poet, the patriot, the philosopher, and historian.
King David Bruce bestowed upon Barbour, as a reward for writing this
poem on the life of his father, an annuity of ten pounds, from the
king's customs of the port of Aberdeen, which sum contained as much
silver as twenty-two pounds four shillings of our present coinage,
at twenty shillings to the pound, and was in that age a very
handsome recompense, being nearly double what was allowed to
Boëthius, the first principal of Kings, more than a century
Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw
Archibald Skirving and his Drawing of Robert Burns by Robert Carnie
As I write this brief note of introduction, I am in Inverness, the
Capitol of the Highlands. I am traveling with my wife Susan, son
Scott, daughter-in-law, Denise, and grandchildren Ian and Stirling,
ages 9 and 7 respectively. You will be hearing about this trip in
the near future.
Sometime back I was honored to present a book review on Burns
Illustrated by Robert Carnie and a chat article with his dear
friend, Jim Osborne. Since then I have had the privilege of
communicating with his son, Andrew, who has shared several speeches
by his late father. It is a joy to bring to you one who loved,
studied, and taught Burns for many years. I am deeply grateful to
Andrew Carnie for sharing this speech with me and consenting for it
to be a part of Robert Burns Lives!, and please know other speeches
by Bob Carnie will grace these pages in the days ahead. (FRS:
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...
The Revolution Settlement, 1690 to 1707 A.D. By the Rev. Robert
Herbert Story, D.D., Minister of Rosneath.
The Episcopal benediction and subserviency could have saved King
James VII, he would have been saved from the consequences of his own
fanaticism and tyranny. Two days before the Dutch deliverer landed
at Torbay, the Scotch bishops were engaged at Edinburgh in
concocting a letter to the king, whom they poetically addressed as
'the darling of heaven,' assuring him of their unquenchable loyalty,
praying God to give him 'the hearts of his subjects and the necks of
his enemies,' and promising to do their best to promote in all his
subjects 'an intemerable and steadfast allegiance' to his Majesty
'as an essential part of their religion.' The prayers of the right
reverend fathers in God did not obtain for his Majesty the two
impossible gifts they besought; nor could all the devotion of their
order avail to thwart the will of a nation, whose strongest passion,
burning most strongly in its noblest hearts, was a zeal for
liberty—for liberty of conscience and of life. At the root of the
long struggle against the manifold misgovernment of the Stuarts, as
of all the least practical fanaticisms of the Hillmen, with their
visionary Covenant, lay a deep conviction of the human right of
personal freedom and personal responsibility, compared with which
all assertions of divine right, whether of kings or prelates, were
weak as water — strong for a time, no doubt, in the possession and
unscrupulous use of brute force, but weak in all elements of moral
strength, the only strength that endures, because having in it some
measure of that will of God which 'abideth for ever.' King James
fell in spite of his bishops' prayers; and his system of absolutism
in Church and State fell with him. The convulsion which overthrew
him was not a political revolution merely. It was an upheaval and
change of the whole national life. The motive power in it was a
religious, more than a political, force. It is not too much to say
that of all the factors in the Revolution of 1688, Scottish
Presbytery was the most radical, the most indomitable, the most
triumphant; Scottish Presbytery, not simply, or mainly as the
opponent of Prelacy, but as the representative and champion of the
rights and liberties of the people.
Pioneer Life in Zorra
By Rev W. A. MacKay, (1899)
Added further chapters from this book...
Chapter XVII. Rev. Lachlan McPherson of Williams
Chapter XVIII. John Ross of Brucefield
Chapter XIX. Rev. Daniel Allan of North Easthope
Chapter XX. Rev. John Fraser, M.A., of Thamesford
Chapter XXI. Rev. William Meldrum of Harrington
Chapter XXII. Rev. Daniel Gordon
Chapter XXIII. Pioneer Methodism in Zorra
Here is how Chapter XVIII starts...
"Erect before man, on his knees before God."
THE line which we have quoted above as the motto of this chapter,
describes as briefly and clearly as words can do, the character of
Rev. John Ross of Brucefield. Such reverence towards God, and such
manliness towards man have characterized few since the days of John
Knox. His devoted and scholarly widow has published in brief form a
memoir; and while excessive modesty has prevented her putting some
things so strongly as they might be put, and constrained her to omit
many things well worth publishing, yet the history of "The Man With
the Book," may be read with profit by all true Canadians; and it can
scarcely fail to inspire the reader to more earnest devotion, and a
nobler purpose in life. We trust it may prove one element in
developing in our land, and especially among Mr. Ross's Highland
kinsmen, a robust, God-fearing character.
The life of John Ross was distinguished, not by striking events or
by wonderful achievements, but by a holy, humble, consistent walk
with God; and no Zorra minister has left so deep and lasting an
impression on all with whom he came in contact.
John Ross was born in the famous little village of Dornoch,
Sutherlandshire, Scotland, on the 11th of November, 1821. When eight
years of age he came along with his father's family to Zorra. The
experiences and adventures of his boyhood are well told by Mrs.
"He was," she tells us, "full of life and fun and ambition, and very
fond of athletic sports. Whether it was a hard mathematical problem
or a school fight, a game of shinny or a tough debate, he was always
ready, and entered into it with all his might. He who in manhood's
prime began to be known as "The Man With the Book," was not, in his
earlier days, one of those quiet and thoughtful lads, whose story
makes other boys feel that they were made of different stuff from
themselves. He was felt by his companions to be a boy every inch of
him, and one with real and serious faults besides."
One who has passed the allotted span of years, but who is still an
enthusiastic curler, being recently asked by the writer, "Did you
know John Ross as a sport?"
"I did to my cost. Look at that," said he, pointing to his mouth,
which was minus a front tooth, "John Ross did that with his shinny
stick—of course accidentally. And strange to say, he, a few minutes
afterwards, had the corresponding incisor knocked out in the same
way. At the Embro Re-union in '83," continued the Woodstock man,
"that is nearly fifty years after this incident, I met Mr. Ross and
pointing to the vacancy in my jaw, I said, 'Do you remember that?'
In an instant he pointed to a corresponding vacancy in his own
mouth, saying 'Do you remember that?'"
John Stuart Blackie
By Anna M. Stoddart (1895)
Added more chapters this week...
Chapter IV. Student Life in Berlin 1829 - 1830
Feelings of loneliness—Professor Neander—Professor Raumer —Studies
in English pronunciation—Widening views of life—The mental
transition—Growing distaste for the Church—A. proposed presentation
at Court—Projected journey to Italy—Results of German residence.
Chapter V. Rome 1830 - 1831
Leave-takings—Pickpockets in church—Interest in Italian art—Outburst
against Roman Catholicism—Desires for classical study—A prisoner on
parole—At Naples—Visit to Tivoli—More police difficulties—Satire on
Catholicism —A. religious transition—Christmas Eve with the Bunsens
—Study of modern Greek—Longings for Greek travel— Letter from
Chevalier Bunsen—An archeological paper —Farewell to the Eternal
Chapter VI. End of Wanderjahare 1831 - 1832
On tramp through Italy—Arrival at Bonn—In London—Out- come of German
residence—Decides for the Bar—Scotland's greatest Greek scholar—Lord
Brougham at Aberdeen.
Chapter VII. Years of Struggle 1832 - 1837
Dislike for the Law—Merry supper-parties—Translation of
'Faust'—Carlyle's verdict on the translation—Reception of the
translation—Estimate of Wordsworth—The Speculative Society—The
Juridical Society—Literary contributions- Cultivating philosophic
calm- "Sociality and activity"—Scottish walking tours.
Chapter VIII. The Test Acts 1837 - 1840
A tender friendship—Greek metre and music—Doubts as to fitness for
Law—Appointment to Aberdeen Latin Chair— The Westminster
Confession—Making a declaration—A clerical hornet's nest—Letter in
explanation and defence— Presbyterial reception of the letter—The
case in Court— Again in Edinburgh—Correspondence with Miss Wyld - A
Chapter IX. Installation and Marriage 1841 - 1842
A love episode—Disillusionment—The two loves—Parental
opposition—First lecture as professor—The new Humanity Chair -
Brightening prospects -Discipline in the classroom—First popular
lecture—A bridal song—The "Benedicite "—In summer quarters.
Chapter X. Aberdeen and University Reform 1842 - 1850
Domestic administration—Fresh religious difficulties—Waiting for the
truth—At the Free Church Assembly—Education in Scotland—Letter from
Dr Chalmers—Marischal and King's Colleges—University teaching of
classics—A stirring appeal - First Highland tour - An evening with
Carlyle—At Oxford—Carlyle on 'schylus '—Plan for publishing 'AEschylus
Here is how chapter VII starts...
In the spring of 1832 John Blackie established himself in Edinburgh,
and began to read for the Scottish Bar. His lodgings were in
Lauriston during the first year of his legal studies, but later he
removed to more convenient quarters in Dublin Street. His wooing of
the legal muse was both distasteful and unsuccessful in the
preliminary stages. He found Bell and Erskine the driest and least
intelligible of reading. Gifted and brilliant, his head a very
beehive of ambitious fancies, theories, and reforms in active
competition with sentiment, and all clamorous for articulate
expression, he felt stupefied in the presence of the stereotyped and
ancient Themis. To persevere at all needed a courage stimulated by
intervals of dalliance with the more attractive Muses. But he made
manful efforts, and sought admission into a lawyer's office, that he
might the better conquer the dull terminology of the law.
The gentleman who helped him through the perplexities of bonds and
bills was a Mr Alexander, a Writer to the Signet, well versed in
their dreary details. His first valuable lesson was to reduce his
pupil to a salutary sense of his own ignorance. This incident is
told in the "Notes" :-
I remember shortly after I entered his office he brought me in a
bundle of law papers, and ordered me to read them and give a legal
opinion on the merits of the case. I did so with great speed, took
my view with decision, and on being asked, gave a distinct
deliverance that the law of the case was quite clear—there could not
possibly he two opinions on the point." This was exactly the kind of
answer that he expected, so, looking me sharply in the face, lie
said "Mr Blackie, whenever I hear a young advocate declare that
there is no difficulty in the case, I have no difficulty in
declaring that he knows nothing about his business."
This plain speaking was most wholesome for the head a little turned
by attainments and speculations which were unusual in the Edinburgh
of that time, and which gained for him not merely a very marked
social success, but also the auguries of experienced seniors that he
would achieve a distinguished career. So he set himself to work to
copy papers and to learn slowly and painfully the alphabet of legal
His letters home during the three years which belong to this stage
speak to his repugnance for the study of law; and one written to Mr
Anderson of Banchory in the autumn of 1832 gave that wise friend
some reason to fear that his perseverance would give way. Mr
Anderson wrote on November 5 :-
I sincerely hope the knot is tied, which will never be loosed,
unless by what you would call an inevitable fate— I, Providence—so
that it may not be said in your biography (and I doubt not, if you
adhere to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, you will yet have a
biographer). In 1832 he resolved upon devoting himself to law as a
profession, but soon gave up the pursuit." You may yet be the Lord
Advocate, and I—grown stiff with age—may be your humble suitor for a
Hebrew Professorship in Aberdeen or St Andrews. But without joke, I
am glad you have fixed upon what opens to you a career of honourable
and useful employment. You will experience, I doubt not, that man
fulfils the conditions of a happy existence only when actively
employed in the duties of life. And, my dear sir, supposing you
attain every worldly object upon which the powers of humanity are
fitted to exercise themselves, still, believe me, there would exist
an aching void which only the supernatural, the perfect and the
infinite, God and heaven, could fill. Though I scarce expect that
you and I should be at one on religious subjects, yet I cannot help
expressing my great anxiety that on the creed, scanty as it may be,
which you allow, you should lay fast hold. "Keep it, for it is thy
In the few letters which remain of this time, John Blackie can
scarcely be said to have gratified the passion of his family for
details. Even the pleasant social life to which his evenings were
devoted is dismissed with mere dates and addresses; but we gather
from this meagre record that he dined out nearly every evening, and
that amongst his hosts were Sir William Hamilton, Professor Wilson,
Mr Blackwood, Mr Wyld, Mr Bell, and other citizens of note. In a
letter to his sister Christina he describes in turn a bevy of her
special friends in Edinburgh, emphasising their graces and gifts as
they appear to him, and his criticisms indicate his decided
preference for a calm and stately deportment in women rather than
for lively and varied manners. He was still very sensitive to
feminine charm, but fluttered from one attractive lady to another,
comparing all with his ideal and even with the half-forgotten
Clotilda at Rome, and finding all short of perfection.
Memoirs of a Highland Lady
The Autobiography of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus afterwards Mrs
Smith of Baltiboys 1797-1830.
Added more chapters to this book...
Chapter I. 1797-1803
Chapter II. 1803-1804
Chapter III. 1805-1807
Chapter IV. 1701-1808
Chapter V. 1808-1809
Chapter VI. 1809-1810
Chapter VII. 1810-1811
Chapter VIII. 1811-1812
Chapter II starts...
IT was in July or August then in 1803 we crossed the Spey in the big
boat at Inverdruie in a perfect fever of happiness. Every mountain,
every hill, every bank, fence, path, tree, cottage was known to me,
every face we met revealed a friend, and our acquaintance was by no
means limited, for the "wide plain of the fir trees," which lies in
the bosom of the Grampians, cut off by the rapid Spey from every
neighbour, has its beautiful variety of mountain scenery, its
heights, its dells, and glens, its lakes and plains and haughs, and
it had then its miles and miles of dark pine forest through which
were little clearings by the side of rapid burnies, and here and
there a sawmill. We were expected, so from the boathouse to the
Doune it was one long gathering, all our people flocking to meet us
and to shout the "welcome home"; the only time that I remember so
great an assemblage to meet us on our arrival, the custom becoming
obsolete, warm and hearty as it was. William and I knew every one,
remembered everything. Our dear Betty waited for us at the house
anxiously; she had married the grieve, John Campbell, and was now a
great lady in her high cap and shawl, and she had a baby to show us,
a little daughter, the only child she ever had, called after me, to
whom I was bringing a real silver coral with more than the usual
complement of bells. Betty had been left in charge of the house, and
beautifully clean she delivered it. We thought the floors so white,
the polish so bright, the beds so snowy, all so light, so airy, our
nursery so enchanting with Its row of little plain deal stool s—creepies—
and our own dear low table, round which we could ourselves place
them. We were certainly easily pleased with anything Highland, for a
less luxurious abode than the charmingly situated Doune at that date
could hardly have been the residence of a lady and gentleman.
It took its name from a long low hill in the form of a boat with its
keel upwards, at the end of which it had been rather ill-advisedly
built, and which had been fortified in the ruder days when the
dwelling of our ancestors had been upon the top of it. I never saw
the vestige of a ruin there, but the moat is perfect, and two or
three steep terraces along the side. When improving times permitted
our ancestors to descend from their Doune, a formal Scotch house was
built at the foot of it, with a wide door in the centre, over which
were emblazoned the arms in a shield, and as many narrow windows
were stuck in rows over the wall as were required to light the rooms
within. A kitchen built of black turf was patched on to one end; it
had an open chimney and bare rafters overhead. A green duck- pond
and such offices as were at the period necessary were popped down
anywhere in front and all round, wherever and whenever they were
wanted. There were a barn, a smithy, and a carpenter's shop and
poultry-houses, all in full view from the principal rooms, as was
the duck-pond. A perfect network of sluggish streams, backwater from
the Spey, crept round a little knot of wooded islands close at hand,
and a garden lay at the foot of the hill. My uncle Rothie had not
latterly lived here; he had married a very delicate woman, a
daughter of Mr Grant of Elchies, commonly known as a Lord of Session
by his legal title of Lord Elchies. She had persuaded him that the
situation of this old family mansion was unhealthy, which,
considering all the wood and water on this side of the Spey, and the
swamp of the boyack on the other, was probably a correct opinion. He
had therefore built at Inverdruie, to please her, a modern mansion
very like a crab with four extended claws, for there was a dumpy
centre to live in, with four low wings, one at each corner, for
offices; and this was set down on a bare heath, with a small walled
garden behind and a pump standing all alone a little way off in
front. Here with them my father had spent his boyhood, always,
however, preferring the Doune, which had been, when deserted, let to
various half-uncles and second cousins, retired half-pay captains
and lieutenants, who all, after their wandering youth, returned to
farm out their old age in the Highlands.
A few years before his death my grandfather, the Doctor, had taken
possession of it, and anticipating a much longer tenure, undertook
many improvements. To the end of the old house opposite the black
kitchen he stuck an outrigger of an overwhelming size, containing a
cellar to which the descent was by stone steps outside, a large
dining-room on the ground-floor, and a couple of good bedrooms above
reached by a turning-stair; as an additional object from the windows
he erected a high stable, where as long as it stood my brother
William spent his leisure, and he increased the old garden, laid it
out anew, and stocked it from Hertfordshire. The entrance to this
paradise of our childhood was by a white gate between two cherry
trees—such cherry trees —large white heart, still standing there to
prove my taste, and by no means dwarfish, even beside the fine row
of lime trees that extended on either side. The old house had a few
low rooms on the ground-floor with many dark closets; the principal
apartment was on the first floor, and reached by a wide and easy
stair; the family bedroom was on the one hand, a large hail on the
other for the reception of guests, and the state bedroom through it.
Up in the attics, beneath the steep grey roof, were little rooms
again. This was the Highland home to which my mother had been
brought a bride.
A Children's Poem
By Margo Fallis
There’s a monster in our hedges that comes out only at night.
I’ve seen it and can tell you it gives me an awful fright.
The leaves begin to rustle and the branches sway about
And then the worst thing happens, the hedge monster jumps right out.
Its toes are made of hawthorn and are long and bent and brown.
They’re thorny and have prickly leaves that hang and droop way down.
It’s legs and arms are holly with red berries in the fall
And the monster’s head is squished up branches of boxwood four feet
It wanders through our garden and chases the snowy owls
And then into the chicken coop stealing feathers from the fowl.
When the moon is full and the shadows dance and swirl
The hedge monster’s appetite is for a little girl.
I stay in the house at night and never go outside
Because the hedge monster will get me, so in my bed I hide.
Old Pioneer Videos
Found a wee collection of old black and white movies about Pioneer
settlements which show old bark houses, log cabins, and sod homes.
Clan Ross dedicate plaque to Dr. Ross in Chatham
Dr Ross was honoured by Clan Ross at the Freedom Park in Chatham
along with the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society. I was there to
take pictures and videos of the event which you can see at
I found a couple of nice pdf files about Scottish Tartans which I've
made available on our Tartans index page. Scottish Tartans (pdf) and
Scottish Clans and Tartans (pdf) and you can get to these at
The Clan Tartans and Family Tartans of Scotland
The "Vestiarium Scoticum" is a description of seventy-five Tartans,
divided into —Highland, Lowland, and Border Clans recalling the
almost forgotten fact that clans were not confined to the Highlands
and Islands. The M.S. is supposed to have been written in the latter
part of the 15th or the early years of the 16th century. The author,
in an "Envoi," calls himself "Schyr Richard Urqvharde, Knycht." He
seems to have been a gentleman and a soldier of fortune, well
"Heravltrye and armovris
Cvrtlye gvys and tovrnai,
Hunter craft and forestrye."
He has had a remarkable facility in describing in words the
characteristics of the different Tartans, borrowing for this purpose
a few terms and phrases from the kindred subject of heraldry —
"fields, lists," etc.
That his descriptions do not correspond with many of the Tartans of
the present day should cause no surprise; it is more than 300 years
since his book was written; Scotland has seen many changes in that
time, the clan system has disappeared except in the case of but a
few of the most powerful. The risings in favour of the old Stewart
line in 1714 and 1745 did much to bring to a close that ancient form
of society. The chiefs became poor—were outlawed if they were so
fortunate as to escape the headman's axe. The wearing of the ancient
dress was made a criminal offence. Is it surprising that the
knowledge of some Tartans was quite lost, and that consequently some
of those which were revived were not quite the same as formerly?
Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
In this issue Beth shares some pictures of her wedding to Tom and
some details of the Happy Day. All this of course comes along with
lots of other articles on the Scots and also Highland Games in the
USA and lots more beside.
On one occasion a young girl fresh from the West Highlands came on a
visit to a sister she had residing in Glasgow. At the outskirts of
the town she stopped at a toll-bar, and began to rap smartly with
her knuckles on the gate. The keeper, amused at the girl's action,
and curious to know what she wanted, came out, when she very
demurely interrogated him as follows:
"Is this Glasco?"
"Is Peggy in?"
And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.