Friday, December 10, 2010

Mons Meg

On December 10, 1825, Sir Walter Scott is ruminating over Wallace's Sword and the cannon Mons Meg: 'A third rogue writes to tell me—rather of the latest, if the matter was of consequence—that he approves of the first three volumes of the H[eart] of Midlothian, but totally condemns the fourth. Doubtless he thinks his opinion worth the sevenpence sterling which his letter costs. However, authors should be reasonably well pleased when three-fourths of their work are acceptable to the reader. The knave demands of me in a postscript, to get back the sword of Sir W[illiam] Wallace from England, where it was carried from Dumbarton Castle. I am not Master-General of the Ordnance, that I know. It was wrong, however, to take away that and Mons Meg. If I go to town this spring, I will renew my negotiation with the Great Duke for recovery of Mons Meg.'

Mons Meg was originally a gift from Burgundian Duke Philip the Good to James II of Scotland.  It was taken from Edinburgh Castle to Woolwich England in 1757.  Scott's efforts to secure its return were eventually successful, and Mons Meg was returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1829.  Scott included Mons Meg in "Rob Roy": 'Andrew Fairservice was far from acquiescing in these arguments of expedience, and even ventured to enter a grumbling protest, "That it was an unco change to hae Scotland's laws made in England; and that, for his share, he wadna for a' the herring-barrels in Glasgow, and a' the tobacco-casks to boot, hae gien up the riding o' the Scots Parliament, or sent awa' our crown, and our sword, and our sceptre, and Mons Meg, to be keep it by thae English pock-puddings in the Tower o' Lunnon.'

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