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Weekly Mailing List Archives
30th November 2007

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at 

Electric Scotland News
Scotland on TV
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Good Words - Edited by the Rev Norman MacLeod
Poetry and Stories
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Book of Scottish Story
History of Ulster
Bonnie Scotland
Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander (New Book)

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

I was told this week about a Doctor in the USA who is promoting Scottish Artists and as a result has had a gallery exhibition where she brought over a lot of their paintings. A number of the artists have their work featured in the top art galleries in Scotland. You can see some of their work at where you might be able to purchase one of them for your own home or office :-)

And seeing we are heading into the Christmas period just thought I'd feature two possible Christmas presents to consider.

I got a note from Teresa of Thistle & Broom who was telling me of a chap in Scotland that is selling hand made fountain pens and using old whisky barrels to make the body of the pen. I've got a wee article up about him at

I confess to being very tempted to purchase one myself and I'm also told that Salt and Pepper Mills are to be produced and I'm definitely getting a set of those! I think the only reason I'm hesitating about the pen is that my hand writing is terrible and so I'm far better typing than writing. Mind you when I had a traditional fountain pen I had excellent quality writing and I always say it was getting a ballpoint pen that ruined my handwriting and so perhaps its time I got another fountain pen :-)

And while we're on the subject you might like to cast your eyes over a nice basket of Scottish sweets that arrived at my house on Wednesday. Might well make a nice wee Christmas present for someone. You can see this at

And I might suggest that you give a once over to the Scottish Hampers web site if you'd like to get a nice wicker basket filled with Scottish Goodies. You can see their web site at

Now that's Christmas sorted <grin> over to what's going on with the web site...

Our web site will be down for a wee while this coming week as we plan to add some new games to the site. Steve has promised to work on this but as we have an issue with the site we need to take it down to fix it. Essentially in the move to a new server somehow or other the site has been flagged as a system folder meaning only Steve can do anything with it. So we need to sort this out so I can also add content to the site. So hopefully in the next week or two we'll have lots of new games for you to play when you get bored having all those days off at Christmas through the New Year.

We now have the new postcard program in-house and again Steve is hopeful that by next week that will be installed and available to you. Mind you once it is installed and running it will likely take me lots of time to start adding all the cards to it. I will do by best to get a decent set of cards up as quickly as I can. One aspect of the program is that you can use it to send out invitations to special events. So if you were planning a retirement party or a special event you would be able to send out loads of invites with a special card.

Steve has said he'll get both of those working within the next two weeks and hopefully in the next week and so keep an eye out for the next newsletter... will he manage in just one week? :-)

As to site content... I've been trying to do a decent range of material so that there is always something for everyone. I also admit that I like to ring the changes myself so I won't get a bit fed up with just doing one book.

If you've been reading the What's New page you'll notice that I've just added the book, "Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander" of which more below. A friend did a rough ocr'ing of this book for me which is some 80 chapters. Some of the chapters are a good size whereas others are quite small. I read this book myself and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I loved the stories of the "tinkers" and other characters from the early chapters and I hope you'll enjoy them also.

Anyway... I am now proofing this book and I fully intend to put up a chapter a day until it's all up. As I don't actually have the book it's a wee bit difficult to decide on whether a word is spelled incorrectly or if it is indeed accurate. Some words are in Gaelic so that poses a problem. So I am steadily working through the chapters and doing my best to correct any obvious errors. I don't actually think this will spoil your reading of it but just thought I should mention this as if you detect a spelling error please let me know and I'll correct it. Mind that the book is in British English which does differ from American English :-)

As I've also had a couple of emails in this week mentioning the wee pop up adverts that appear on the various pages of the site I thought I'd just remind you about them. Essentially an advertising company has done a deal with me that when a page loads on the site they'll quickly scan it for key words. Where it finds any that match one of their advertisers they'll turn the text green and place a double green underline under it. And so if you rest your cursor on the link it pops up a wee advert. If you click on the advert you'll be sent to the advertisers web site. And of course if you don't rest your cursor over these words you won't see the advert. It is earning me a decent amount of money each month and as my only income is from advertising it does help to keep me eating and working on the site do hopefully you won't mind this form of advertising.

And finally... if you are involved with any web sites I'd appreciate you trying to get us a link on them as there are likely still millions of people around the world that don't know we exist. My goal has always been to provide a free resource where people can learn about the history of Scotland and the Scots and also people and places of Scots descent around the world. I still get many emails where folk say "I've just discovered your site" and so if you can help spread the word I'd very much appreciate it :-)

Gosh... I see I got quite chatty this week :-)

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter and pick up poems and stories sent into us during the week from Donna, Margo, Stan, John and others.

HelpMeGo.To specialise in several niche areas from stag weekends to Tours of Scotland

Scotland as a country has many undiscovered treasures to be explored, in terms of activities like White Water Rafting and Canyonning to name a few and Scotland certainly has some of the best locations.

Over the last 5 years stag weekends in Edinburgh and the Highlands of Scotland in general have grown ten fold. This has lead to a big increase in extreme sports being offered. 

Self Catering Holidays are also on the increase, no longer the poor mans holiday option it now attracts more discerning holiday maker looking for a luxury break. But be warned you will still have to search as the cheap options are still out there!

Some of HelpMeGo.To's other sites:

Kerala Holidays
Self Catering Scotland
Stag Weekends Scotland

Mark Scott

Scotland on TV
Visit their site at

A Very Happy St Andrew’s Day from Scotland on TV

November 30th - St Andrew’s Day and here at Scotland on TV we’re getting ready for today’s Shindig in the Square. It’s a popular event in Glasgow’s Winterfest programme and we’re going to be there filming it!

Tonight between 4 and 10pm, Glasgow’s George Square will play host to one great big ceilidh which everyone is welcome to come along to. There will be live performances from some great Gaelic/Celtic bands and plenty of opportunity to keep warm by joining in the ceilidh dancing. Just imagine – thousands of people doing an eightsome reel in George Square! Love it! And you can see the event for yourself, just as soon as we’ve managed to edit and upload it. For more details on the Winterfest, see:

How much do you know about Saint Andrew – Scotland’s Patron Saint? Watch our short video profile and learn why the saltire was adopted as the Scottish flag.

We’re also celebrating the season here at Scotland on TV with a festive calendar. It works like an Advent calendar but no chocolate, I’m afraid. Instead, if you click on our calendar you will be able to ‘open a door’ every day during the month of December – between tomorrow and Hogmanay – and view a surprise video each day.

Click here to view the calendar, but remember, it won’t work until tomorrow – and nor can you watch them all at once! One day a time!

This weeks Flag is compiled by Ian Goldie and I liked his wee story on Police Concerns and wondered if this is not mirrored around the world...

I wonder how many people are beginning to worry about the role of the police in our society.

I was prompted to this thought by the appointment of a new chief of police in Strathclyde recently.

No sooner was he in post than he held a press conference forecasting more terrorist attacks in Scotland in the future.

No doubt very true, but do we need the chief of police to tell us what we all suspect anyway? Rather than helping to prepare the population, does this not add just another dimension to the war that the terrorist is waging on our society?

It did not surprise me to learn that the new chief came to Glasgow from the Metropolitan Police: for a number of years, and especially since the hapless Sir Ian Blair took over at the Met, I have been worried about what seems a rather gung-ho attitude to policing in London – and not just to policing: the miscarriages of justice in the 70s and 80s leave me feeling very uneasy about the law in general. (This unease is not confined to events in London - many feel equally uneasy about the result of the conviction in the Lockerbie disaster.)

Add to all this the appearance as standard of heavily armed policemen at our airports on a routine basis, and it all adds up to an even greater feeling of fear among our population – just what the terrorists delight in.

Lots of other good political stories in this issue.

In Peter's cultural section he tells us about how at long last Scottish History is to be taught in our schools. This is actually something that the world should work on as having travelled to many countries I note that most really don't cover their own history in schools. Here is a bit about this...

At long last Scottish History is to be a compulsory part of the Scottish History Higher paper and we welcome that step forward with quotations from two remarkable Scottish women who know what they are talking about – the actress Elaine C Smith and historian Dr Fiona Watson. Fiona Watson presented the successful series of programmes ‘In Search of Scotland’ on BBC TV and is currently writing a biography of Macbeth, King of Scots. Her story of Macbeth, one of Scotland’s best kings, will surely rescue him from the Shakespeare version! Let us hope that from now onwards Scottish children can learn their own country’s history and our place in the world from a Scottish not English position. But a lot will depend on how the teachers are taught.

Elaine C Smith

It’s taken until 2007 but I am glad to see that the Government have finally decided Scottish history is a good thing for our kids to learn about. We will now have questions on it in the compulsory section of the Higher History exam. Scottish history questions used to be optional, meaning like me you could obtain a higher without ever studying any events in your own country’s past – and still end up with an A. I think that it is essential that our children know at least a wee but about the history of this great nation. It’s ridiculous that educating new generations about our proud heritage was neglected for so long.

(25 November 2007)

Dr Fiona Watson

I’m glad Scottish history won’t be a separate Higher. It’s important that it’s seen as part of the rest of history and that other important aspects are given their due place. But making sure that every Scottish school pupil gets some Scottish History will help us develop a sense of realism about our past and ourselves without developing a “little Scotlander” mentality. Scottish history has perhaps suffered from being the preserve of nationalists – but if everyone is taught some at school, then it will belong to us all.

(Sunday Post 25 November 2007)

And for you recipe lovers out there here's a real treat for you...

A braw Andermas ti ane an aw wi the howp at ye ar enjoyan a hoaliday-swap an takin pairt i ane o the monie ploys fir ti mairk Scotland’s National Day, 30 November. St Andrew’s Day is a perfect date to celebrate the success by English supermarket giant Sainsbury’s in marketing a Scottish recipe – Ecclefechan Tart. Some 50,000 were sold in the past month alone. VisitScotland area director Delia Holland said that the tarts were just the tip of culinary delights in Dumfriesshire and Galloway. She suggested that the tart be teamed up with local Cream o Galloway ice cream to create a dream feast for all food lovers. Sourcing the origins of the splendid food from the region, she added, would make an excellent gourmet trail and give an additional reason to visit this beautiful area of Scotland.

Ecclefechan is situated midway between Locherbie and Annan in Dunfriesshire and Galloway, and as well as giving its name to a great-tasting tart, it is famous as the birth-place of the byous 19th century writer Thomas Carlyle. The cottage where he lived as a child stands to the west of a burn that runs along part of the town’s High Street. It is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and houses a recreation of a 1800s cottage. Like Dumfriesshire and Galloway in general, Carlyle’s cottage is well worth a visit.

To taste the splendid flavour of Ecclefechan Tart you don’t have to spend your siller in an English supermarket but can make your own for St Andrew’s Day and, indeed, every other day.

Ecclefechan Tart


1 cup all purpose flour; 3/4 cup powdered sugar; Pinch of salt; 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; 4 teaspoons chilled whipping cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted; 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar; 2 large eggs; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; 1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel; 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 2 cups dark raisins; 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped; 1 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream; Toasted walnuts

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream. Using on/off turns, process until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Cut overhang to 1/2 inch and fold in, forming double-thick sides. Refrigerate crust 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set and slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Continue to bake until pale golden brown, pressing with back of fork and piercing if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes. Cool crust in pan on rack 30 minutes.

For filling:
Blend butter and sugar in bowl. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Stir in raisins and 1 cup chopped nuts.

Pour filling into crust. Bake tart until filling is deep brown and set in centre, covering crust edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 30 minutes. Cool tart. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)

Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Push up pan bottom, releasing tart. Cut tart into wedges; arrange on plates. Spoon cream alongside and garnish with toasted nuts.

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.

We are now onto the L's with Leslie, Leyden, Liddel, Lindores, Lindsay and Linlithgow

Leslie and Lindsay are quite large accounts and here is how the entry on Londsay starts...

LINDSAY, an ancient surname erroneously supposed to have been derived from the manor of Lindsai in Essex. By Sir David Lindsy of the Mount, it is called “Ane surname of renown.”

The first of the name in Scotland appears to have been Walter de Lindsay, an Anglo-Norman, who was a witness or juror in the celebrated ‘Inquisitio,’ or Inquest of David I., when prince of Strathclyde or Cumbria, into the possessions and rights of the see of Glasgow within his territories, in 1116. After David’s accession to the throne, this Walter de Lindsay was one of his great barons. Although the surname is territorial, it does not appear to have been derived from the district of Lindeseye or Lindesey in Lincolnshire, for the Lindsays had no property in or connexion with that county till long after their settlement in Scotland. Lord Lindsay says: “There appears every reason to believe that the Scottish Lindsays are a branch of the Norman house of Limesay, long since extinct in the direct male line, both in Normandy and England, but which for several generations held a distinguished station, more particularly in the latter country. The name Lindesay and Limesay are identical, both of them implying ‘Isle of limetrees.’” (Lives of the Lindsays, vol. i. p. 3.) The old English word for limetree is linden, and in the appendix to the first volume of his family work Lord Lindsay gives 88 different forms in which the name has been spelled in charters and other ancient documents. The legendary accounts of the origin of the name are all now rejected. Wyntoun (Chron. B. 8. 7. 159), with a prudent reserve says:

“Of England came the Lyndysay,
Mair of them I can nocht say.”

Families of this surname are now spread all over Scotland.

William de Lindsay, apparently the son of the above-mentioned Walter de Lindsay, the progenitor in Scotland of the Lindsays “light and gay,” is also frequently mentioned as a witness to the royal charters. He is supposed to have had two sons, Walter and William de Lindsay. The latter, who carried on the line of succession, had his residence at Ercildon, now Earlston, in Roxburghshire, and was a liberal benefactor to Dryburgh abbey, as was also his son, Walter de Lindsay. Among other grants made to it was a portion of land at Cadeslea, on the banks of the Cadden water, near to where it joins the Tweed, the scene of the beautiful ballad of ‘Katherine Janfarie,’ from which Sir Walter Scott took the hint of his spirited ballad of ‘Lochinvar.’ Walter de Lindsay and his son William also granted chargers to the abbey of Kelso. “The seals,” says Lord Lindsay, “of these two latter barons, Walter and William, preserved in the Chapter-house of Durham cathedral, exhibit a lively type of the character of the young Norman noble. They are represented on horseback, riding gently along, with falcon on wrist, unhelmeted, and with their shields hung carelessly behind them, – the only variation being that the father, Walter, rides without bridle or stirrup, and the bird rests placidly on his hand, while the latter, William, is in the act of slipping it on its prey,”

His grandson, William de Lindsay of Ercildun, styled also of Luffness, is witness to the charters of Malcolm IV. and William the Lion from 1161 to 1200. Between 1189 and 1199 he was high justiciary of Lothian. He was the first of the Lindsays connected with the territory of Crawford in Lanarkshire, which from them came afterwards to be called Crawford-Lindsay. He married Marjory, daughter of Henry, prince of Scotland; issue, 3 sons, Sir David, lord of Crawford; Sir Walter, ancestor of the Lindsays of Lamberton; and William, progenitor of the Lindsays of Luffness, who ultimately succeeded to the male representation of the Lindsays.

Sir Davie, the eldest son, succeeded his father in 1200. He was high justiciary of Scotland, and is a frequent witness to the charters of his uncle, David earl of Huntingdon, the Sir Kenneth of Sir Walter Scott’s chivalrous romance of ‘The Talisman.’ He died in 1214. He had married an English kinswoman of his own, Aleonora de Limesay, the coheiress ultimately of the barons of Wolverley, to whom he had, with one daughter, Alice, four sons, David, Gerard, William, supposed to be identical with a ‘W. de Lindissi,’ who was chancellor of Scotland in 1231, and Walter. The eldest son, David, a minor at his father’s death, had been one of the hostages for King William in England. On the death, in 1222, of his mother’s brother, Sir John de Limesay, the English property which devolved on him extended over no less than seven counties. He was high justiciary of Lothian in 1238. He died in 1241, and was succeeded by his brother, Sir Gerard, on whose death in 1249, his two younger brothers having predeceased him, the whole of his extensive estates both in Scotland and England, devolved on his sister Alice de Lindsay, the wife of Sir Henry Pinkeney, a great baron of Northamptonshire, of whom mention has already been made (see CRAWFORD, earl of).

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other entries at 

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
The first volume I am dealing with is the one on Aberdeenshire. There are some 85 parishes in this volume and a write up on each.

This week have added...

Parish of Tough at
Parish of Forgue at

Here is the Civil History of the Parish of Tough...

Land-owners.—The landed property is in the hands of four individuals ; viz. General Byres of Tonley; Mr M'Combie of Tillyfour; Mr Farquharson of Whitehouse; and Mr Elmslie of Tullochvenus. The valued rent is L.1670, 14s., Scots. The real rental, stated in the last Statistical Account at L.600, now amounts to L.2200 Sterling.

Parochial Registers.—There are entries in the parochial register as far back as 1706, but it has since been very irregularly kept.

Antiquities.—There are several of those remains, known by the title of Druidical circles, in the parish, and among the hills adjoining it, and generally, where one of these is found, others of smaller size are to be met with, in its close vicinity. The largest of these lies in a very sequestered situation, and is called the Auld Kirk of Tough (does this designation in any degree confirm the opinion, that the original purpose of these moss-grown remains was a religious one?). It is surrounded by numerous small tumuli, which suggest the idea of a burying-ground connected with the place of worship. There is one on a smaller scale, but more complete and interesting, on the moor which divides this parish from that of Monymusk. The tumuli around it are without number ; and the remains of ancient walls or causeways may be traced among the heather, running out from the principal circle, and connecting it with several lesser ones. Altogether, it seems to deserve the inspection of an antiquarian. At Tullochvenus, in a small cairn opened a few months ago, there was found an urn containing calcined bones, and among them a lance head of bronze, of an elliptical form. Stone axes have been dug up in various places. On the hill above Whitehouse, near its summit, there stands a stone evidently monumental. It is upwards of 12 feet in height, and bears the name of Luath's Stone, from a tradition that a son of Macbeth's, so called, fell here, in flying from Lumphanan, where his father was slain. Lower down the hill, are some fields, known by the name of the Bloody Faulds, where some of Bailly's men are said to have made a stand in their flight from the battle of Alford. Towards the end of last century, a human skeleton, a sword, and a shilling of Queen Elizabeth, were found in a marsh near the foot of the hill, through which Bailly's men are likely to have passed. But the most singular relics of antiquity, of which the parish can boast, are two stone collars, preserved among other articles of curiosity in the mansion-house of Tonley. They are neatly cut in stone, and bear an exact resemblance to the horse's collar now in use. They are 17 inches in length, and 12 in breadth at the broadest part, so that they might fit the neck of a Shetland pony. These puzzling relics are said to have been found at Glenroy.

The late James Byres, Esq. of Tonley, by whom these and many other articles of curiosity were brought together, and who died here at a very advanced age in 1817, was a gentleman highly distinguished for his profound knowledge of architectural antiquities, and the fine arts in general, and no less respected for his sterling worth, by those who were unable to estimate these acquirements. A great part of his life was spent at Rome, where he gave lectures, at one period, on the favourite objects of his study; and Sir James Hall, who has occasion, in his work on Gothic architecture, frequently to refer to his authority, bears testimony, as well as many other writers, to "the very great success with which he contributed to form the taste of his young countrymen." A curious and valuable work of his, on the Sepulchres of Etruria, is likely soon to be given to the public, which will show that he had anticipated, by half a century, many of the recent investigations of these monuments of antiquity.

You can read the rest of this account at

On the index page of this volume you can see a list of the 85 parishes and also a map at

Good Words - 1860 Edition
Edited by Rev. Norman MacLeod

You should note that as this is a weekly publication you'll find larger articles are continued week by week.

This week have added articles on...

The World's Debt to Christianity (Pages 204-207)
The Boy and the Captive Bird (Page 207)
Good Words for Every Day in the Year (Pages 207-208)
Alexander Von Humboldt (Pages 209-215)
Early Faith (Page 215)

Here is how the account of Alexander Von Humboldt starts...

Whoever, during the summer months of the last ten years, walked, about three o'clock in the afternoon, up the flight of stone steps leading to old Frederick's (the Great) charming residence of Sans Souci, near Potsdam, might see a royal carriage rounding the castle-hill, and driving up at the opposite side of the stone steps. The carriage, passing the famous windmill, ascends the steep way to the castle, and stops at the large middle glass-window door, opening on a semicircular ground, surrounded by a portico of Ionian pillars. A servant, in the royal livery, hands out an old, age-bent gentleman, in blue frock with red collar, as the royal chamberlains wear it. It is adorned with a large, silvery star, that of the red eagle, and, round his neck, the old courtier wears the Ordre pour le Merite, Peace Class, suspended from a black and white riband. This man is Alexander von Humboldt, coming to the royal dinner-table. He is clad in this apparel, to enable him, according to court etiquette, to be a daily dinner-guest at the royal table. Eighty years or more have made his crown bald, his hair snow white, his forehead wrinkled, his features small and contracted, and even his figure a fourth' shorter than it used to be of yore. But his lips are still smiling kindness, and his eyes sparkle sprightly, like those of youth. He is ushered into the large and splendid saloon, past sundry Greek deities, and enters the drawing-room, with immense chimney and many pictures, reminding one more of the time when Voltaire haunted these rooms than of the present royal proprietors' taste. Here a choice company receives him with every sign of esteem; among high military officers, ministers of state, chamberlains, and here and there a minister of the Church, he is the one preferred, whose attention is considered an honour, and to whom everybody bears a sort of filial affection and respect, especially the ladies of the court—at their head, the fair maids of honour to the queen are respectfully courting his kindness, and receiving from him a kind of parental tuition. There is, perhaps, a known traveller from India or Africa honoured with a royal invitation, or a missionary from remote lands, or an artist, or a learned man from a university, amidst the crowd respectfully waiting for the royal pair—all under Humboldt's special protection, and he has to introduce them to the king and queen. After some talk between those present, the folding-doors from the saloon of the deities are opened, and the serene and kind face of Frederick William IV. hushes them to silence, only the old man continuing his pleasant chatting with his neighbour, a young countess. On the king's arm hangs the queen, a kind but thoughtful princess. Both are going round the company, and separately addressing the foreigners, or those who are not daily guests. These latter take that side of the room where light is coming in, and where the short-sighted king cannot well recognise faces. Now the king approaches one of the men of science or literature, and Humboldt is at his side, and takes the part of introducer or interpreter, though it is astonishing with what fulness of knowledge his majesty speaks of pictures, architecture, military exploits, recondite geographical facts, or even of Sanscrit.

Into all these regions the old nobleman is following his king, and shews himself at home everywhere. At dinner, which is soon announced, he is placed opposite to his sovereign, in order to be distinctly heard when he begins telling anecdotes, or dwelling on discoveries in physical science, or on the surface of the globe. He is inexhaustible in such talk, for his mental powers, of the most comprehensive sort, are not in the least impaired by old age; and he has lived in France and Italy, in Spain and England, in Russia and Switzerland, in Central Asia and the New World. He has sojourned in Paris during the most exciting years of revolution, of the directory, the empire, the restoration, the kingdom of July—has lived at courts and in academic circles, as well as in the splendid saloons of old and new nobility—and his study is still like a large reservoir, whither, from all parts of the globe, news, books, pamphlets, and draughts are pouring, like so many rivers and rivulets into a wide lake. No person, perhaps scarcely any public body, has such a collection of local literature from every land, particularly from South and Central America, as that which Alexander von Humboldt has bequeathed to his valet-de-chambre. So every royal dinner, when he is present, becomes the most pleasant lecture, delivered in the way of easy talk, and far from anything like methodical teaching. Occurrences of his travels in the Andes, or in the valleys of the giant rivers of South America, or on the heights of Ural and Altai, such as have never been printed in his many volumes or essays, are occasionally coming forth, besides lively sketches of Paris life, or anecdotes from the Spanish court. Between these fragments from science or society, the praise of a new scientific book, or of a young man of talent in the field of arts is heard from him, and clever observations may indicate that the benevolent talker has royal protection or assistance in view, which he will afterwards propose at the right place. When, after dinner and coffee, their majesties have disappeared, Humboldt is seen returning to his lonely study in the town-castle of Potsdam, where the court is residing only some weeks in spring and autumn, whereas summer is spent at Sans Souci, and also partly in the large, heavy castle of Berlin, or at Charlottenburg a mile off.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other articles at

Poetry and Stories
Donna sent in a journal article, Big "V" Ranch at

John sent in two doggerels...

Bens an Bairns at
Scotland (Scotia) at

Added a poem, Wallace Of Scotland, by George Ray Houston at

Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Am adding a variety of articles from this publication and this week have included...

Plantations of the Estates of Benmore and Kilmun, Argyllshire
Marine Highland Industries
The Best Mode of Preparing Wood for Fencing with a View to its Preservation

Here is how the account of the Plantations of the Estates of Benmore and Kilmun, Argyllshire starts...

Benmore and Kilmun estates, of which James Duncan, Esq., is proprietor, are contiguously situated in the united parishes of Dunoon and Kilmun, in the Cowal district and southern border of Argyllshire, and for a considerable distance run along the Firth of Clyde.

The total area of Benmore and Kilmun estates is 12,260 acres, extending from the Firth of Clyde to the north end of Loch Eck, while on the south it possesses the advantage of having partially for its frontier the River Eachaig, whose source is in Loch Eck, and, after meandering through and fertilising an extensive plain, falls into Holy Loch, to which and Loch Long, an opposite inlet from the Clyde, the estate has a frontage of five miles.

About four miles in extent, running along the Holy Loch and Loch Long, has been feued and closely built upon with superior sea-coast summer residences; while immediately behind these there is a sloping belt of full-grown larch, oak, and birch trees, which impart ornament and afford shelter to the houses below. Behind this lies the arable and grazing laud, which has a gradual ascent to the base of a wide curving range of hills, and terminating at an elevation of 1800 feet.

The northern boundary of the estate, extending along and rising abruptly above the western margin of Loch Eck for a distance of seven miles, is a continuous chain of hills, the highest being Benmore, about 2500 feet high, and anciently known as the Deer Forest of Argyll.

The soil consists chiefly of light sandy and gravelly loam, lying on slate rock, alternating with narrow veins of quartz,— the prevailing substratum throughout the entire estate. On the surface abundant evidence is given of the excellence of the green pasture, and but for the presence of brackens, which abound in many parts, suppressing the grass, the soil is otherwise admirably adapted for grass.

Benmore House is situated near the south end of Loch Eck, and head of the extensive, undulating, and fertile valley of Eachaig, the greater part of which until recently was in a wild state of nature, overgrown with brushwood, heather, and rushes. On it Mr. Duncan now grazes his celebrated West Highland cattle and blackfaced sheep, which acquired such celebrity at the Paris International Exhibition in 1878, and continue to carry off the first awards at the annual exhibitions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

In 1870, when the proprietor obtained possession of the estate, he resolved on effecting extensive improvements; but preparatory to commencing operations, arrangements of a most amicable nature were entered into with a few of the tenants to give up such portions of their hill pasture as Mr. Duncan considered should be planted.

With three of the largest grazing farms on the estate in his own hands, Mr. Duncan was enabled, both by tile-draining and ploughing, to bring under cultivation all waste lands adapted for that purpose; while on moorish wastes and portions unreclaimable he planted. And in testimony of the extreme suitability of both soil and climate for growing wood, the following statements may be narrated. About sixty-five years ago, on the base of the hill immediately behind Benmore House, where previously only a surface herbage of coarse grass, brackens, and heather existed, 55 acres or thereby were planted with larch, Scotch fir, Norway spruce, and several species of hardwood, chiefly with the view of contributing to the amenity and shelter of the house,—the present average value of which per acre is £70, and, since planted, it has yielded an annual rent of over 25s. an acre.

You can read the rest of this article at

You can get to the other articles at

Book of Scottish Story
Kindly sent in to us by John Henderson

The Book of Scottish Story - Historical, Humorous, Legendary, Imaginative
by Standard Scottish Writers Published by Thomas D. Morison, 1896

This week we have...

The Probationer's First Sermon
by Daniel Gorrie

The Crimes of Richard Hawkins
by Thomas Aird

Here is how The Probationer's First Sermon starts...

On a cold March evening, and in the metropolis of Scotland, I received licence as a probationer. The reverend fathers of the Presbytery were so satisfied with my orthodoxy that they gave me most cordially the right hand of fellowship, and warmly wished me success. I had half-anticipated a reprimand for heretical tendencies; but as no censure was uttered, I was at once overcome by their kindness, and charmed with their unexpected liberality. I hastened home to receive the congratulations of my friends, and then repaired to a clothier's for a suit of canonical blacks. My mother had already provided a boxful of white cravats sufficient to supply the whole bench of bishops. To err is human, and it is also human for a humble man to feel considerably elated in certain circumstances, and at certain times.

I need not be ashamed to confess that a new dignity seemed to rest upon me, like the mantle of the prophet, on that eventful evening. I saw the reflection of my face on the bowl of a silver spoon, and wondered at the resemblance it bore to the bold, heroic countenance of Edward Irving. High were my hopes, and few were my fears, for I only expected to speak and conquer. The responsibilities of the procession were great, I knew, but they only cast their shadow before. The kind of life on which I was about to enter possessed all the attractions of novelty. I was to exchange passivity for action—the quiet of the cloister for the stir of the field. Yet, while thus I thought of the battle, and made my vows, the still picture of a rural manse, girdled with incense-breathing flower-plots, and shaded with murmuring trees, stole upon my slumbers ere I awoke at the dawn of the next day—a vision, alas! too often resembling the unreal beauty of the mirage in the desert.

It may be pardoned in a novitiate, standing on the threshold, if I saw only the sunny side of preacher-life. Spring was coming, like Miriam and her maidens, with timbrels and with dances, and the golden summer-tide was following in her wake, and I knew that I would look on many lovely scenes, receive kindness from strangers, enjoy the hospitality of the humble, and haply sow some seeds of goodness and truth in receptive hearts.

You can read the rest of this story at

The index page of the book where you can read the other stories is at

The History of Ulster
From the Earliest Times to the Present Day by Ramsay Colles (1919)

This week we continue Volume II with

"The Real King of Ireland"
The Errors of Essex
The Downfall of Essex
Mountjoy's Methods
The Turn of the Tide
A Spanish Invasion
The Siege of Kinsale

Here is how the chapter "A Spanish Invasion" starts...

The Spanish fleet, conveying an army of about 3500 men, most of them veteran soldiers, under the command of Don Juan del Aguila, entered the harbour of Kinsale on the 23rd of September; and the English garrison, which was less than 100 strong, having evacuated the town on their approach and retired to Cork, the Spaniards marched in with twenty-five colours, and taking possession of the town proceeded to fortify themselves there, also in two castles which defended the harbour, that of Rincorran on the east and Castle Park on the west.

Mountjoy was at Kilkenny when he received news of the invasion, and a council of war was hastily summoned, at which Ormonde and Wingfield urged the Lord Deputy to return to Dublin and arrange his forces, while Carew should make ready to prepare for supplies at Cork. But the Lord President of Munster knew his province, and begged the Lord Deputy not to turn his back on the scene of action. His doing so, he urged, would be fatal, for it would be attributed to weakness, and the result would be a general revolt. The army also, he said, would naturally hasten to the field of conflict all the more readily when its general had preceded it.

Carew's words carried weight, and when he backed them up by announcing that he had supplies sufficient to maintain the whole army for some months, Mountjoy arose from his chair and embraced him (after the manner of those days), with many hearty expressions of commendation. The following day the Deputy and President set out with an escort of 100 horse and reached Kiltinan, where they were entertained by Lord Dunboyne; the next night was spent at Clonmel, and the third found the travellers the guests of Lord Roche at his castle of Glanworth. After a day spent at Cork, Mountjoy proceeded to reconnoitre, and, taking horse to a point from which he could overlook Kinsale, he discovered to his astonishment that the Spanish fleet had departed. Nothing could be done to disturb the enemy until the army arrived from Dublin, so the Deputy had to content himself with burning the corn for five miles round Kinsale, and issuing a proclamation warning the inhabitants to beware of taking part with the Pope and the King of Spain.

The Spanish general, who could not understand the spirit of a national rising, and had no sympathy for a rebellion of any kind, called on the people to rise in the name of the Pope.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Bonnie Scotland
Painted by Sutton Palmer, Described by A R Hope Moncrieff (1904)

Have added another four chapters to this book...

The Kingdom of Fife
The Fair City
The Highland Line
"Aberdeen Awa'!"

Here is how the account of "The Highland Line" starts...

From Perth to Inverness runs the Highland Railway, that pierces through the heart of the Grampians. Giving off a branch to Loch Tay and coach routes to other choice nooks of the noblest northern county, this line mounts among the wilds of Atholl, and near its highest level brings us into Inverness-shire ; then it descends to the old Badenoch Forest, down the upper course of the Spey, past Kingussie to Aviemore, where its main track turns over the Findhorn, and by Culloden to the capital of the Highlands. There is not a finer railway ride in the kingdom, as the tourist knows well enough from his programmes, so the Highland line needs no advertisement here. But there is an older use of this name, for the irregular line along which the Highlands fall in a broken wave upon the richer country, a zone pointed out by Scott and other writers as the most charming part of Scotland. The austere spirit of mountain solitudes is not so easily caught as the varied charms of a debateable land, where "the rivers find their way out of the mountainous region by the wildest leaps, and through the most romantic passes," and Nature's rugged features straggle down among good roads and inns, the practical and the picturesque throwing each other into alternate relief. This is the special loveliness of southern and eastern Perthshire, across which the Grampians make an oblique border, once too often marked with fire and sword, while its straths and lake basins repeat in miniature the same mingling of Highland and Lowland scenery, and of homes thus contrasted by "Ian Maclaren":—

"The lowland farm stands amid its neighbours along the highway, with square fields, trim fences, slated houses, cultivated after the most scientific method, and to the last inch, a very type of a shrewd, thrifty, utilitarian people. The Highland farm is half-a-dozen patches of as many shapes scattered along the hillside, wherever there are fewest stones and deepest soil and no bog, and those the crofter tills as best he can—sometimes getting a harvest, and sometimes seeing the first snow cover his oats in the sheaf, sometimes building a rude dyke to keep off the big, brown, hairy cattle that come down to have a taste of the sweet green corn, but often finding it best to let his barefooted children be a fence by day, and at certain seasons to sit up all night himself to guard his scanty harvest from the forays of the red deer. Somewhere among the patches he builds his low-roofed house, and thatches it over with straw, on which by and by, grass with heather and wild flowers begins to grow, till it is not easy to tell his home from the hill. His farm is but a group of tiny islands amid a sea of heather that is ever threatening to overwhelm them with purple spray. Anyone can understand that this man will be unpractical, dreamy, enthusiastic, the child of the past, the hero of hopeless causes, the seer of visions."

You can read the rest of this account and enjoy the landscape paintings at

You can read the rest of the chapters at

Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander
By Duncan Campbell (1910)

This is a new book of some 80 chapters which I mentioned in the Electric Scotland News and I hope you'll enjoy it.

Here is how the first chapter starts...

I WAS born at Kerrumore in Glenlyon, where my father was a farmer, on the morning of the ninth of February, 1828, when a snowstorm was raging so fiercely that Dr Macarthur and my uncle Archibald, who had been sent for him, had, with their horses, some difficulty in crossing Larig-an-Lochain from Killin. My memory of local occurrences and of self-mental impressions becomes continuous and tenacious at five years of age, when I could read the Gospel narrative fluently in English, which to us Glen children was much like a foreign language, and more haltingly in the Gaelic vernacular because of its system of spelling and the many dead letters thereby entailed. At six I could pass, after sunset and in the darkness of night, St Bran's old church-yard near our house, without, as I often did before, using the Lord's Prayer or bits of psalms and hymns as a protection against ghosts. I had also long before this ceased to speculate on the possibility of reaching a hand to the stars when they seemed to crowd down on the sharp ridge of the opposite hill and to hide themselves behind it. Having been once taken up the side-glen to the shealings and allowed to remain there for some time, I widened my knowledge and got rid of much infantile awe of the wonders of my expanding world, by wandering away to a mountain top from which I had a wide view, and where I found the sky was as far above my head as it was down on the banks of the Lyon. Out of the dim mists of childish recollection an event which took place when I was about three years of age flashes out in vivid light. At Moar farm house some miles further up the glen, died, at an advanced age, my grandmother's aunt. The farm house was on one side of the river and the highroad on the other. It was intended to take the coffin across the river to the highroad, and so to get to the Bridge of Balgie, which was then the only bridge on the thirty miles course of the Lyon, and was quite near to the church-yard. But this could not be done as the river was in flood and a great storm was still raging. So the funeral had to come by a rough and scarcely perceptible footpath, through one of the best marked self-sown remnants of the primitive Caledonian forest that still remain. My grand-mother and I were on a bench at the end of the house waiting for it we were generally a league of two against the world and when the funeral came in sight a flash of lightning seemed to dance on the wet mort-cloth and to envelope the whole procession. The thunder peal which followed caused the echoes of the many rocks and hills to reverberate like the firing-off of a succession of big gun batteries. No doubt it was the lightning and thunder which permanently stamped the memory of this funeral on my mind.

As late as about 1780, a Glenlyon woman, Elgin Menzies, wife of Duncan Macnaughton, Cashlie, who died with her infant in childbed, Avas supposed to have been taken away by the fairies, and the story ran that she had been seen in dreams and heard to moan in hope of rescue from the three fairy mounds Tom-a-churain, Tom-a-chorain, and Tom-na-glaice-moire, among which she was shifted about and kept imprisoned. But before my birth, religious teaching had banished the poor fairies from their mounds, although many stories concerning them and mountain hags, kelpies and brownies, were still told round firesides and smearing tubs. Witchcraft was not much spoken of, nor much thought of, although it had not been so outrightly denounced from the pulpit as the fairies. Belief in ghosts was very general, and deemed, from the religious point of view, as orthodox as belief in good and evil spirits, and their intervention in human affairs. Nature with manifold mystic influences keeps her hold on the rural population everywhere, but this hold is particularly strong in mountain lands, lonely isles, and countries which have wide deserts. Nature and God himself can be disregarded by urban masses of people; but it is otherwise in rural districts. Even on the plains of East Anglia and the flats of Holland, people are influenced by forces and sensations which cannot be accounted for by visible and material causes. Whatever be the reason, Highlanders are deeply laid under this spell of nature influences and scenery environment. This fact is apparent enough in their poetry and traditional stories. It takes a pathetic form in their undying love for the place where they were born, or where in former days their ancestors lived, which is cherished by emigrants in the colonies and foreign lands, and by their children and children's children for "Caledonia stern and wild." But it is just in the stern and wild countries in which man, through contact and combat with nature in her various moods, lets his imagination fly on wings of poetry and romance, and is inspired by a patriotism that does not take a worldly account of the material advantages enjoyed by the inhabitants of more fertile if more prosaic lands.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other chapters added so far can be read at the index page of the book at

And that's all for now and hope you all have a great St. Andrew's Day!


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