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CONTENTS -------- Electric Scotland News The Flag in the Wind Clans and Families Poetry and Stories The Writings of John Muir Robert Burns Lives! The Scottish Church John Stuart Blackie Memoirs of a Highland Lady Old World Scotland MacRaes in America Old Scots Humour
---------------------- I spent some time this week exploring our Aois
community and I'm finding more that I can do with it. This week we
added forums for the Scottish Studies Foundation where they now have
1 public forum and 2 private forums. One of the private forums is
for members of the Foundation and the other is for the board. We
also did a similar job for Clan Ross of Canada. We're now going to
sit back a wee while and see how they get on. Should it work the way
we hope we'd be happy to offer this type of service to other clan
I also noted that when you go to a forum you
can, through the "Forum Tools", select to subscribe to the forum by
getting either a daily email sent to you with new messages or a
weekly digest. I've subscribed to the Electric Scotland Newsletter
just to see what it will look like as I will be posting that up each
I also tried the Blog and was surprised how
easy it was to setup. I admit I mostly used the defaults and didn't
try out the customisation features but it worked just great. I
decided to create 2 categories... Scottish and Non-Scottish. I also
liked the preview before posting as that way up came my blog entry
and I noted a couple of spelling mistakes but just below the preview
screen was my actual message so I was able to correct the spelling.
Then when I was happy I just posted the entry. You automatically get
the option to get the blog through an RSS feed.
When you post a message in
the forums you also get the opportunity to add an attachment. This
also came in handy as I was able to add a pdf file attachment to one
message I put up. You can also add a poll to a message to get people
to vote on things.
One other feature which surprised us all was
when you add a url to a YouTube video the system automatically
converts that to a in-message video viewer for the video so you
don't actually need to go to YouTube to watch it. It also surprised
Ranald who put in the url :-)
We're hoping to get a
genealogist to help moderate our Genealogy forum and to answer any
questions going into it. In the fullness of time we hope to expand
on this type of forum where an expert will be available to answer
questions and offer advice.
Overall I am delighted with
the functionality of the Aois Community and know it can only get
My progress towards getting Canadian
Citizenship moved forward a bit this week and so next week I head
down to Windsor to a meeting with the immigration folk to show proof
of me settling in Canada. That actually happened a wee bit earlier
that I expected so nice to see things moving forward.
that here in Canada you can retain dual citizenship and so with my
British European passport I can visit any of the European Union
countries as a local so well worth retaining that. I understand that
in the USA you need to renounce your current citizenship to get USA
I found a book this week
called "The Land of Heather" which has numerous pictures in it. I'm
really looking forward to making this book available to you. I
purchased the book so I could get some quality scans of the many
pictures illustrating Scottish life at the end of the 19th century.
In the coming week we'll be
starting work on three more books on the site...
The Bark Covered House or, Back in the Woods Again
This is about a pioneering
family in Michigan. You'll note I have at last found a book about
pioneering in the USA :-)
The Sailor Whom England
Feared Being the Story
of John Paul Jones, Scotch Naval Adventurer and Admiral in the
American and Russian Fleets By M. Mac Dermot Crawford
The father of the American
Navy should be of interest to everyone but especially our American
friends. I have to confess I didn't know too much about him so this
was a bit of a revalation to learn about all that he got up to.
Recollections of a Long Life
1829 - 1915 By Isaac
This is about a lumberman of Scots and
Scots-Irish descent who ended up being a very wealthy person and a
US Senator. In particular it tells a very good story of the lumber
trade and all its aspects.
As we'll be completing two
books this coming week the first two mentioned above will be
appearing this coming week.
I note that things are
changing a bit on the top visiting countries to Electric Scotland...
1. United States 44.14%
2. United Kingdom
21.66% 3. Canada
9.11% 4. Australia
5.44% 5. Ireland
1.88% 6. New Zealand
1.60% 7. Germany
1.59% 8. India 1.30%
9. Philippines 1.09%
10. France 0.83%
11. Netherlands 12.
Spain 13. Italy 14. South Africa 15. Russia 16. China 17. Singapore 18. Malaysia 19. Sweden 20. Poland 21. Japan 22. Belgium 23. Brazil 24. Argentina 25. Norway
In particular India has
moved up and the Philippines have appeared for the first time in the
top 10. Canada has also grown by a full percent as has Australia
while the USA has fallen by around 7%. Of course this is all a
reflection on the general growth in Internet useage around the world
but it is interesting to see where people are coming from.
I confess I'd really like to
split out the UK so that I could get stats on Scotland but so far
no-one is doing that. They do list the main towns that people come
from and so the top 25 are...
Based on the top 25 this
shows 20% or so come from Scotland and so possibly 5% of our
Looking at the USA the top 10 States are...
1. California 11.61% 2. New York 8.56% 3. Texas 7.16% 4. Georgia 5.21% 5. Florida 4.77% 6. Pennsylvania 3.62% 7. Virginia 3.39% 8. North Carolina 3.35%
9. Illinois 3.26%
10. Washington 3.17%
While I would have expected
North Carolina to be in the top 10 I was a touch surprised that
South Carolina was 26th on the list. Not sure if this is a
reflection on where the Scots spread out in the USA.
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 Richard Thomson
in which he was talking about Scottish Independence and the recent
There is also a very interesting poll about the
intentions of the Scottish people towards a referendum for
Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is not available as the
Parliament are now on the Summer recess.
INVITATION Please join
the Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow and representatives from the
Clan Currie Society and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and
Drama for a reception celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Clan
Currie Society as we announce the establishment of the COL. WILLIAM
MCMURDO CURRIE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FOR THE CLARSACH
might add that you can read an article about Royce Neil McNeill of
Charlotte, North Carolina, who is the recipient of the National
Tartan Day Award for 2009.
Writings of John Muir
------------------------- We're now onto our 8th volume - Steep Trails -
California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, The Grand Cañon
Chapter XIV. Nevada's Timber Belt Chapter XV. Glacial
Phenomena in Nevada
Chapter XVI. Nevada's Dead Towns Chapter XVII. Puget Sound Chapter XVIII. The Forests
of Washington Chapter
XIX. People and Towns of Puget Sound
Here is how the chapter on
Puget Sound starts...
WASHINGTON TERRITORY, recently admitted
[November 11, 1889; Muir's description probably was written toward
the end of the same year. Editor.] into the Union as a State, lies
between latitude 46° and 49° and longitude 117° and 125°, forming
the northwest shoulder of the United States. The majestic range of
the Cascade Mountains naturally divides the State into two distinct
parts, called Eastern and Western Washington, differing greatly from
each other in almost every way, the western section being less than
half as large as the eastern, and, with its copious rains and deep
fertile soil, being clothed with forests of evergreens, while the
eastern section is dry and mostly treeless, though fertile in many
parts, and producing immense quantities of wheat and hay. Few States
are more fertile and productive in one way or another than
Washington, or more strikingly varied in natural features or
Within her borders every kind of soil and
climate may be found -the densest woods and dryest plains, the
smoothest levels and roughest mountains. She is rich in square miles
(some seventy thousand of them), in coal, timber, and iron, and in
sheltered inland waters that render these resources advantageously
accessible. She also is already rich in busy workers, who work hard,
though not always wisely, hacking, burning, blasting their way
deeper into the wilderness, beneath the sky, and beneath the ground.
The wedges of development are being driven hard, and none of the
obstacles or defenses of nature can long withstand the onset of this
Puget Sound, so justly famous the world over
for the surpassing size and excellence and abundance of its timber,
is a long, many- fingered arm of the sea reaching southward from the
head of the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the heart of the grand
forests of the western portion of Washington, between the Cascade
Range and the mountains of the coast. It is less than a hundred
miles in length, but so numerous are the branches into which it
divides, and so many its bays, harbors, and islands, that its entire
shore-line is said to measure more than eighteen hundred miles.
Throughout its whole vast extent ships move in safety, and find
shelter from every wind that blows, the entire mountain-girt sea
forming one grand unrivaled harbor and center for commerce.
Robert Burns Lives! ------------------- By Frank Shaw
Frank is now back from his
holiday and hopefully we'll get a report on his trip in the coming
weeks. In the meantime he has sent in another article for his Robert
Burns Lives! series which is a Speech given by Robert Carnie...
Sometimes the term “Burns
scholar” is used unwarrantedly when describing someone who is a
Burnsian, particularly if he or she is a speaker. Usually people who
use the term are trying to be kind or they just don’t know what else
to say. A Burns scholar, to me, is someone who has dedicated his or
her life to studying and teaching Burns, usually in the role of a
professor. Such a person is Robert Carnie who was a Burns scholar of
the first degree. He studied Burns. He taught Burns. He loved Burns.
He spent his entire life doing all three. Bob Carnie was a true
I regret having never met Robert Carnie as I
feel we would have gotten along fine as friends, particularly
regarding Burns. As you read his speeches, you will find that this
18th century Scottish literature professor possessed not only
remarkable knowledge of the Bard but also the ability to convey that
knowledge to his students and audiences, in the classroom and on the
Burns Night circuit. The following is a portion of some questions
posed to his son, Andrew Carnie, a few months back.
FRS: How old was your dad
when he became interested in Burns? AC: It was a life-long interest fostered by his
FRS: Why was Burns such a big influence in his
life? AC: It was his
profession: he was a professor of 18th Century Scottish literature.
He also greatly enjoyed the social aspect of the two Burns clubs he
belonged to (Calgary Burns Club and the Schiehallion Club).
his love of Burns impact your life in any way? If so, how? Give
examples. AC: Dad's
influence (and the Burnsian component of that influence) and love
for his Scottish Heritage affected both me and my two sisters. We
are all bibliophiles, and we all enjoy research. My sister Morag is
a professional archivist and avid book collector. My other sister
Fiona is a professional musician, but she is also a Scottish Country
Dance teacher. I'm a professional linguist. I don't work on the
language of Robert Burns, but my expertise is on the grammar of
Scottish Gaelic (http://dingo.sbs.arizona.edu/~gaelic). As a kid I
did Highland dance and played the bagpipes -- all because of my
Dad's love of his home. To this day, I hold a small Burns supper
with my work colleagues every year.
FRS: Why did your father
feel compelled to write his book, Burns Illustrated, on the Bard?
AC: He wanted to
share his love and knowledge of Burns and his interest in the
artists involved in the book trade.
This interview or chat with
Andrew Carnie will continue as more of his father’s speeches are put
online. The following presentation by Professor Carnie is marked in
his computer files as Schiehallion Club and is printed as received,
unedited. This is the third speech by Robert Carnie placed on Robert
Burns Lives! (FRS: 7.8.09)
The Scottish Church ------------------- From Earliest Times to 1881, By W. Chambers
Our thanks go to John Henderson for sending
this into us.
we've added another Lecture...
Lecture X The Church of the Nineteenth Century to 1843 By
the Rev. A. H. Charteris, D,D., Professor of Biblical Criticism in
the University of Edinburgh; one of Her Majesty's Chaplains.
IT is not too much to say
that no previous period in the eventful annals of the Church of
Scotland is more memorable than the three-and-forty years with which
this lecture has to do.
It is not a period rendered remarkable by a
literary galaxy, such as that of which the previous lecture took
note. When we look to the Church from 1800 to 1825, we can see among
its leaders only one name associated with the highest success in any
department of general literature. That one exception is Principal
Hill, who, as a leader of the Church, was strangely deaf to the
voice of the people, and strangely flexible in the hands of some of
the silent leaders of his party; but, as a lecturer on theology, has
left a treatise which is a noble monument of fairness, clearness,
and learning. Dr John Erskine, who ended his honoured life in 1803,
and Sir Harry Moncreiff, who followed Erskine as the head of what
was known as the
Evangelical party, were ministers and ecclesiastics of the highest
stamp, upright, wise, and consistent; but—unlike Carstares or
Robertson—they draw more repute from the Church than they give to
it. Its annals must record their names with honour, but they do not
lend it a lustre from their fame won in other fields. So, too, it
was in the later years. The historical works of Dr George Cook, who
succeeded Hill in the leadership of the Moderate party, are candid
and clear, but they are chiefly remembered because, as we shall see,
their author was a prominent actor in memorable scenes. I do not
know that any one of even Dr Chalmers' books is likely to have
permanent value, although a select few of his greatest sermons will
probably always be known and quoted. Other names will occur as we
proceed ; but this much we may say at the outset, that our period is
not remarkable from a literary point of view.
John Stuart Blackie ------------------- By Anna M. Stoddart (1895)
Added more chapters this
Chapter XIX. Egypt 1876 - 1879 Froude on the Gaelic language—A morning budget
of letters —The shrine of St Ninian—Heresy hunt of Dr William
Robertson Smith - "Lay of the Little Lady" - Lady Breadalbane—Leave
of absence—Arrival in Egypt—The Pyramid of Khufu—A visit to
Tarsus—The Celtic Chair endowment - The "Nile Litany" - Banquet of
the "Blackie Brotherhood"—In Rome—Death of Professor Kelland—The
Splugen Pass - Home again - A Skye school inspection.
XX. Retirement from the Greek Chair 1880 - 1882 Laleliam girls' school - A contemplated
"flitting"-Excursion to Iona—Mr Herbert Spencer's visit—Lecture on
"The Sabbath"—The 'Lay Sermons' - Exploration of Colonsay—Farewell
to Altnacraig—A consecration banquet—Failing strength—Lecture at
Oxford—Sonnet on Frederick Hallard—Preparing for the close—The
retirement confirmed—The new Professor of Greek—History of the
Chapter XXI. Class-Room and Platform 1841 -
1882 Mr Bob Melliss—The
Professor and his "classes"—An Irish student—A true Grecian—Tributes
from old students— Services rendered to education—Appearances in
Oxford —A modern reformer - Embarrassing civilities - The Hellenic.
Society - Widespread fame - An independent politician.
XXII. Recreations or an Emeritis Professor 1882 - 1887 The 'Wisdom of Goethe'—The Crofters'
Commission—A visit to Browning—A midnight banquet—A rectorial
election —The 'Scottish Highlanders'—A Crofter inquiry cruise —The
Crofter question—A visit to Knebworth—Church and State—Hospitality
to Greek students—At Lansdowne House—A "talking tour "—At Selkirk.
Chapter XXIII. "Living Greek" 1888 - 1891 'Life of Burns '—The Greek scholarship—Scottish
Universities Reform—" Praise of Kingussie "-'Scottish Song '—A
verdict on 'Romola '—At St Mary's Loch—" Tibbie Shiel's in Yarrow "-
Modern Greek literature - Presentation from Hellenic
Society—Lecturing at Oxford—The 'Greek Primer'—At
Palermo—Sight-seeing in Constantinople— Greek newspapers.
XXIV. Closing Years 1892 - 1895 The light of eventide - The Travelling
Scholarship - The golden wedding—Portrait by Sir George Reid—A
birthday celebration—Looking forward—A Hellenic meeting— Visits in
England—At Pitlochry—Leeturing at Aberdeen -'Self-Culture' in
Italian—Two invalids—"The Happy Warrior"—At Tom-na-monachan--Visit
from Sir Henry Irving—A last Christmas-party—The Blackie Scholarship
—Nearing the end—His death and funeral—At the grave.
actually completes this book but we're also going to do an additonal
3 chapters of one his famous short books.
Here is how the account of
"Living Greek" starts...
CONCERNING the 'Life of
Burns,' Dr Stodart Walker, the Professor's nephew, writes :-
I asked him once why he
wrote this book. "Well," he said, "I was asked to do it, and at
first I refused, for I can never do work to order. But then I
thought a little, and I said to myself, There are two kinds of
persons who may write that life. First, the blind hero-worshipper,
who will write a useless blatant kind of work; and then another much
worse person, who will play the righteous uncharitable moralist with
Burns, and probably look at him through his own myopic lenses. I
felt that I understood Burns, and that righteousness and mercy could
guide my course."
How he succeeded can best be understood by
reading the book. It has been accounted "a tender and yet masterly
review of the greatest lyric poet of his native land." He neither
suppresses nor extenuates the wrong done by Burns, but he teaches us
to understand the man's temperament, with its glow of genius, its
self-respect, its temptations, its deep remorse, its unassailable
dignity in presence of his dull accusers.
The author lectured on the
subject of Burns in Kilmarnock at the time of its publication, and
records how he was treated with great hospitality of a teetotal
character, out of keeping with the place and the occasion.
Memoirs of a Highland Lady -------------------------- The Autobiography of Elizabeth Grant of
Rothiemurchus afterwards Mrs Smith of Baltiboys 1797-1830.
more chapters to this book with only one more to go...
Chapter XVII. 1818-1819
Chapter XX. 1826-1827 Chapter XXI. 1827-1828 Chapter XXII. 1829-1830
Chapter XVIII starts...
THE length of time that has passed since we
made this pleasant little tour in the Netherlands has caused
forgetfulness of a thousand details which always add so much to the
interest of any account of the first impressions of a foreign
country. In talking over our travels with our good friend Miss Bessy
Clerk, we used to keep her laughing by the hour at several of our
adventures. This winter in Edinburgh was our last, passed much as
other winters; the same law dinners before Christmas, the same balls
after it. My mother was very kind to me and did not press me to go
out. Jane, who delighted in company, and who was the most popular
young lady in our society, was quite pleased to have most of the
visiting. I was a good deal with Miss Clerk and the Jeffreys and the
Brewsters, at whose house one day at a quiet dinner I met Sir John
Hay and his daughter Elizabeth, looking so very pretty in the
mourning she wore for her betrothed. He had died of quinsy while on
circuit at Aberdeen the year before. She afterwards married Sir
David Hunter Blair.
There were serious riots in the West country
this spring of 1820, the yeomanry called out, troops sent to
Glasgow—a serious affair while it lasted. Jane was out at dinner, my
mother was reading to me, when with a grand fuss in came William
Gibson to tell us the strife was over, and to show himself in all
the bravery of his yeomanry uniform; very handsome it was. He and I
had fallen out before we went abroad, and we never rightly fell in
again. He was a little spoiled, known to be the heir of his wealthy
father and still wealthier cousin, Mr Craig of Riccarton; the idea,
therefore, of his studying for the Bar struck us all as absurd. Of
course he did not spend much time on his law books, and his father
determined to send him to travel. My father and mother were sorry to
see him go; he was a favourite, and has turned out so as fully to
justify their partiality.
There were many public
rejoicings although private affairs had been gathering gloom. The
old Queen Charlotte had died and George III.ditto. The Princess
Charlotte had married and had died with her baby, and this had set
all her royal uncles upon marrying to provide heirs to the throne.
One after the other German princesses came over, and in this year
began the births, to the supposed delight of a grateful country We
had long tiresome mournings and then the joy-bells —the old tale.
But there were other losses more felt. Madame de Staël died, to the
regret of Europe. We had heard so much of her through the
Mackintoshes that we almost fancied her an acquaintance. I think the
Duke of York must have died too, and Mrs Canning —but maybe this was
later. I am confused about dates, having never made any memoranda to
guide me. Altogether my recollections of these few last months in
Edinburgh are rather confused and far from pleasant.
Old World Scotland ------------------ A new book we're starting giving Glimpses of
its Modes and Manners, By T. F. Henderson (1893).
further chapters this week...
Chapter II. Usquebagh Chapter III. The Staff of
Life Chapter IV. On
Kale and Beef Chapter
V. Scots Vivers
Chapter VI. Feasting and Fasting Chapter VII. In Praise of the Horn Spoon
WHAT about whisky during the centuries when ale
and claret were the chief handmaids to Scottish mirth? Had it no
existence? Were its virtues really unknown? Or did the Scot, in
Burns's phrase, ''twist" at it "his gruntle [Snout] wi' a glunch
[frown] o' sour disdain"? If it was unknown, who was its discoverer,
or how was it introduced? At least a fairly satisfactory answer is
possible. So far as the bulk of the Lowlands is concerned, whisky
was virtually nonexistent as a beverage till near the close of the
sixteenth century, and did not come into general use till very much
later. The name of its creator does not survive even in national
myth; the circumstances attendant upon its entrance on the stage of
time are involved in such a mystery as that which shrouds the origin
of species. The probability is that the general benefactor was some
mighty "medicine man" of the ancient Celts; but who he was and when
or where he first set up his still and called spirits from the
yeasty malt remains unrecorded.
It is, however, well-nigh
indubitable that in Scotland the original manufacturers of whisky
were the Celts of the Highlands. Usquebagh was made as early as the
twelfth century by their cousins the Celts of Ireland, and the
presumption is that the art was known to their common ancestors
before the migration. Distillation is mentioned by the Arab Geber,
who flourished about 800; but whether Geber was known or not to the
inhabitants of mediaeval Britain, it is unlikely that a mere hint
from him would, as some writers have loosely and carelessly
suggested, inspire the British Celts to the production of usquebagh.
No doubt the art of distillation may have been discovered
spontaneously by different nations, but it is entirely inconsistent
with facts to theorise that the manufacture of whisky in Scotland
originated in times comparatively modern through the introduction of
the art of distillation from England or elsewhere. On the contrary,
it is beyond question that usquebagh figured in the rude orgies of
the Celtic clans long before modern influences had penetrated to
their fastnesses. For centuries it may have remained wholly unknown
to their Lowland neighbours dammed up, as it were, by the barriers
of alien custom and foreign speech. Hector Boece, who wrote about
the beginning of the sixteenth century, says of the ancient customs
of the Scots, that " at such times as they determined to be merry,
they used a kind of aqua nice void of all spice, and only consisting
of such herbs and roots as grew in their own gardens. Otherwise
their common drink was ale; but in time of war, when they were
enforced to lie in camp, they contented themselves with water, as
readiest for their turns." Boece is rather incorrect and credulous,
and many of his statements must be taken cam grano salis; but his
native district bordered on the highlands, and not improbably the
Highland custom of drinking usquebagh was occasionally indulged in
there, although himself appears to have had a very indistinct and
imperfect knowledge of the character of the liquor.
MacRaes in America ------------------ Cornelia Bush sent in some information on her
book "MacRaes in America" which also includes all known spellings of
the name through her research in Scotland, Ireland and the USA.
Commemorative Biographical Record of the County
of Kent, Ontario
---------------------------------------------------------------- I got a few more biographies sent in by Nola
Crewe for which many thanks. I will be adding them to the site over
the next week or two. In this week is one of Duncan Galbraith.
A wee bit of old Scots Humour ----------------------------- A Process of Exhaustion A Scotch minister was asked if he was not very
much exhausted after preaching three hours. "Oh, no," he replied;
"but it would have done you good to see how worried the people
A Highland Chief and His
Doctor Dr. Gregory (of
immortal mixture memory) used to tell a story of an old Highland
chieftain, intended to show how such Celtic potentates were once
held to be superior to all the usual considerations which affected
ordinary mortals. The doctor, after due examination, had, in his
usual decided and blunt manner, pronounced the liver of a Highlander
to be at fault, and to be the cause of his ill-health. His patient,
who could not but consider this as taking a great liberty with a
Highland chieftain, roared out, "And what business is it of yours
whether I have a liver or not?"
"Kaming" Her Ain Head The late good, kind-hearted Dr. David Dickson
was fond of telling a story of a Scottish termagant of the days
before Kirk-session discipline had passed away. A couple were
brought before the court, and Janet, the wife, was charged with
violent, and unduti-ful conduct, and with wounding her husband, by
throwing a three-legged stool at his head. The minister rebuked her
conduct, and pointing out its grievous character, by explaining that
just as Christ was head of his Church, so the husband was head of
the wife ; and therefore in assaulting him, she had in fact injured
her own body.
she replied, "it's come to a fine pass gin a wife canna kame her ain
"Aye, but Janet," rejoined the minister, "a
three-legged stool is a thief-like bane-kame to scart yer ain head
And that's it for now and
hope you all have a good weekend :-)
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