Monday, May 31, 2010

James Currie

Robert Burns' first biographer, Dr. James Currie, was born this day (May 31) in 1756.  Currie emigrated to Virginia in 1771, the year of Scott's birth, to serve as an apprentice tobacco factor.  Suffering ill health, Currie decided in 1776 to return to Scotland, with the object of studying medicine.  It took more than one try to sail out of revolutionary America, but he reached England in 1777, ultimately establishing himself as a physician in Liverpool.  Here he began to contribute to professional journals, and as an anti-slavery advocate.

Currie gained renown for his treatment using hydropathy, involving cold water cures.  His studies of hydropathy were the first to record the clinical use of thermometers in measuring fever.  Currie published his observations in "Medical Reports on the Effects of Water, Cold and Warm, as a Remedy in Fevers and Other Diseases (1797)".

Currie appreciated Burns' poetry, and was chosen to edit his work for a volume published by Cadell and Davies.  While undertaking this task, Currie reached out to others in the literary trade, including Walter Scott.  In at least one letter, Scott discusses Burns' possible authorship of the poem "Evan Banks", which Burns published.


Slow spreads the gloom my soul desires,
The sun from India s shore retires;
To Evan Banks with temperate ray,
Home of my youth, he leads the day.
Oh banks to me for ever dear !
Oh streams whose murmurs still I hear!
All, all my hopes of bliss reside
Where Evan mingles with the Clyde.

And she, in simple beauty drest,
Whose image lives within my breast;
Who trembling heard my parting sigh,
And long pursued me with her eye;
Does she, with heart unchanged as mine,
Oft in the vocal bowers recline ?
Or where you grot o'erhangs the tide,
Muse while the Evan seeks the Clyde ?

Ye lofty banks that Evan bound !
Ye lavish woods that wave around,
And o'er the stream your shadows throw,
Which sweetly winds so far below !
What secret charm to memory brings
All that on Evan's border springs ?
Sweet banks ! ye bloom by Mary's side ;
Blest stream ! she views thee haste to Clyde.

Can all the wealth of India's coast
Atone for years in absence lost ?
Return, ye moments of delight,
With richer treasures bless my sight!
Swift from this desert let me part,
And fly to meet a kindred heart!
Nor more may aught my steps divide
From that dear stream which flows to Clyde.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alexander Pope

"...Pope, who then filled the poetical throne without a rival, it may reasonably be presumed, must have been particularly struck by the sudden appearance of such a poet; and, to his credit, let it be remembered, that his feelings and conduct on the occasion were candid and liberal. He requested Mr. Richardson, son of the painter, to endeavour to find out who this new authour was. Mr. Richardson, after some inquiry, having informed him that he had discovered only that his name was Johnson, and that he was some obscure man, Pope said; 'he will soon be deterre.' We shall presently see, from a note written by Pope, that he was himself afterwards more successful in his inquiries than his friend..."

From Boswell's "Life of Johnson".

At the time Samuel Johnson burst onto the literary scene, with the publication of his satirical poem "London" (1738), Alexander Pope was the first poet in England.  He was also big enough to recognize Johnson's talent.  Johnson was appreciative of Pope as well, commenting on his translation of the Iliad that it was "a performance which no age or nation could hope to equal".  Pope was to live only six years after first learning of Johnson, dying on May 30, 1744.

Around 1819, Walter Scott engaged in some correspondence with Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, who had contributed to his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border", referencing Alexander Pope.

Sunday, January 16, 1819.


I have already bespoke Spence, but of late I have not been looking after my books, so have not received him. Never suppose you want such books as I have while I am to the fore. I have always detested literary quarrels, in which, as in common gambling-houses, you stake your tie and temper against those of very unworthy antagonists. But Pope was a fine fellow. His fault was, he was quite literary, and had neither the business nor the idleness of life to divide his mind from his Parnassian pursuits. Those who have not his genius may be so far compensated by avoiding his foibles, and least of all ought they to be nourished by your true and sincere friend,


I return with best thanks La Belle Chuck.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Charles II of England

"...But we had not gone two hours on our way but the mare .1 rode on cast a shoe; so we were forced to ride to get another shoe at a scattering village, whose name begins with something like Long . And as I was holding my horse's foot, I asked the smith what news ? He told me that there was no news that he knew of, since the good news of the beating of the rogues the Scots. I asked him whether there was none of the English taken that joined with the Scots ? He answered, that he did not hear that that rogue Charles Stewart was taken; but some of the others, ho said, were taken, but not Charles Stewart. I told him, that if that rogue were taken he deserved to be hanged, more than all the rest, for bringing in the Scots. Upon which he said, that I spoke like an honest man, and so we parted..."

From "Memoirs of the court of Charles the Second"  by Anthony Hamilton (Count), Charles II (King of England), Thomas Blount - Edited by Sir Walter Scott.

The Merrie Monarch, Charles II of England, was born on May 29, 1630.  The section of text above, in his own words, refers back to Charles' escape from England in 1651, when he evaded capture by hiding in the Royal Oak at Boscobel House.  Charles did not stand much of a chance of returning to England, so long as Oliver Cromwell was in power.  But Oliver's son and successor as Lord Protector, Richard, held a less firm grip on the country.  Charles was restored to the throne subsequent to Richard's resignation as Lord Protector.  Image is from

Friday, May 28, 2010

Treaty of Everlasting Peace

The Treaty of Everlasting Peace refers to an agreement made between Henry VII and Scotland's James IV, with Pope Alexander VI binding the treaty with the threat of excommunication to whoever violated the pact.  Part of the deal involved James marrying Henry's daughter Margaret Tudor.  The treaty was signed on May 28, 1502.

Peace benefitted both kingdoms.  Henry, for his part, had recently taked the throne in battle over Richard III.  The Wars of the Roses were not out of mind.  In Scotland, James consolidated his power over the Lord of the Isles.  Peace eternal; until 1513.  In that year, King Henry VIII invaded France, forcing James into an invasion of England under Scotland's Auld Alliance with France.  James died in that invasion, at the Battle of Flodden.

Everlasting peace gave way to centuries of warfare, and there is some sentiment in opposition to the prospect of peace in the poem below, which was included in "A Legend of Montrose".  The poem was written by Sir Alexander Boswell; biographer James Boswell's son, and a friend of Walter Scott's.


No. I

The scarcity of my late friend's poem may be an excuse for adding the spirited conclusion of Clan Alpin's vow. The Clan Gregor has met in the ancient church of Balquidder. The head of Drummond-Ernoch is placed on the altar, covered for a time with the banner of the tribe. The Chief of the tribe advances to the altar:

And pausing, on the banner gazed;
Then cried in scorn, his finger raised,
"This was the boon of Scotland's king;"
And, with a quick and angry fling,
Tossing the pageant screen away,
The dead man's head before him lay.
Unmoved he scann'd the visage o'er,
The clotted locks were dark with gore,
The features with convulsion grim,
The eyes contorted, sunk, and dim.
But unappall'd, in angry mood,
With lowering brow, unmoved he stood.
Upon the head his bared right hand
He laid, the other grasp'd his brand:
Then kneeling, cried, "To Heaven I swear
This deed of death I own, and share;
As truly, fully mine, as though
This my right hand had dealt the blow:
Come then, our foeman, one, come all;
If to revenge this caitiffs fall
One blade is bared, one bow is drawn,
Mine everlasting peace I pawn,
To claim from them, or claim from him,
In retribution, limb for limb.
In sudden fray, or open strife,
This steel shall render life for life."
He ceased; and at his beckoning nod,
The clansmen to the altar trod;
And not a whisper breathed around,
And nought was heard of mortal sound,
Save from the clanking arms they bore,
That rattled on the marble floor;
And each, as he approach'd in haste,
Upon the scalp his right hand placed;
With livid lip, and gather'd brow,
Each uttered, in his turn, the vow.
Fierce Malcolm watch'd the passing scene,
And search'd them through with glances keen;
Then dash'd a tear-drop from his eye;
Unhid it came--he knew not why.
Exulting high, he towering stood:
"Kinsmen," he cried, "of Alpin's blood,
And worthy of Clan Alpin's name,
Unstain'd by cowardice and shame,
E'en do, spare nocht, in time of ill
Shall be Clan Alpin's legend still!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

John Calvin

"...Among the attentive group which I now saw, might be distinguished various expressions similar to those of the audience in the famous cartoon of Paul preaching at Athens. Here sat a zealous and intelligent Calvinist, with brows bent just as much as to indicate profound attention ; lips slightly compressed; eyes fixed on the minister with an expression of decent pride, as if sharing the triumph of his argument; the forefinger of the right hand touching successively those of the left, as the preacher, from argument to argument, ascended towards his conclusion. Another, with fiercer and sterner look, intimated at once his contempt of all who doubted the creed of his pastor, and his joy at the appropriate punishment denounced against them. A third, perhaps belonging to a different congregation, and present only by accident or curiosity, had the appearance of internally impeaching some link of the reasoning; and you might plainly read, in the slight motion of his head, his doubts as to the soundness of the preacher's argument. The greater part listened with a calm, satisfied countenance, expressive of a conscious merit in being present, and in listening to such an ingenious discourse, although perhaps unable entirely to comprehend it..."

Walter Scott's description of the Calvinist attending kirk services appears in "Rob Roy".  John Calvin was the son of a cooper, who was supported in his schooling by a wealthy family, attending the University of Paris.  Calvin met Wolmar the Reformer while in Bruges, who inspired him toward Protestantism.  Calvin influenced Scottish religious understanding, as represented in Presbyterianism, through John Knox, who studied under Calvin in Geneva.  Calvin died on May 27, 1564, at age 55.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Football Banned

' Nay, prithee, bailie,' said the provost, ' put it off till thou hast eaten. Some complaint against the rascally jackmen and retainers of the nobles, for playing at football on the streets of the burgh, or some such goodly matter.'

From "The Fair Maid of Perth".

On May 26, 1424, James I'sts Parliament banned the playing of football.  James was not the first to try and control umruly football environments.  In 1314, King Edward II had done the same.   Aside from crowd control, one other common reason for banning footballe was that playing football interfered with the practice of archery; seasoned archers being a necessary resource for warfare.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Richard Cromwell Resigns as Lord Protector

On May 25, 1659, a beleaguered Richard Cromwell resigned as Lord Protector of England.  He left when the Rump Parliament agreed to fund his personal debt and provide him with a pension.  Walter Scott covers this period of history in his "Tales of a Grandfather, history of Scotland":

"...To return to public affairs in London, where, after the abdication of Richard, changes succeeded with as little permanence as the reflection of faces presented to a mirror, the attempt of the officers of the army to establish a purely military government was combated by the return to Parliament of those republican members whom Oliver Cromwell had expelled, and whom the common people, by a vulgar but expressive nickname, now called the Rump Parliament. This assembly, so called because it was the sitting part of that which commenced the civil war, was again subjected to military violence, and dissolved by General Lambert, who unquestionably designed in his own person to act the part of Oliver Cromwell, though without either the talents or high reputation of the original performer. But a general change had taken place in the sentiments of the nation..."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Queen Victoria

On May 24, 1819, the ruler that links many of our current generation's grandparents to Sir Walter Scott was born.  At the time the future Queen Victoria was born, her grandfather George III was on the throne.  Sir Walter Scott lived about 13 years after her birth, so he did not live to see her ascend to the throne.  But he did meet her.  This meeting, when Victoria was still an infant is recorded in Sir Sidney Lee's "Queen Victoria, a biography".

"...The Duchess of Kent was fond of presenting her daughter to her visitors at Kensington, who included men of distinction in all ranks of life. William Wilberforce describes how he received an invitation to visit the Duchess at Kensington Palace in July 1820, and how the Duchess received him' with her fine animated child on the floor by her side with its playthings, of which I soon became one.' On May 19, 1828, Sir Walter Scott ' dined with the Duchess ' and was ' presented to the little Princess Victoria—I hope they will change her name (he added)—the heir-apparent to the crown as things now stand. . . . This little lady is educating with much care, and watched so closely, that no busy maid has a moment to whisper, " you are heir of England."' But Sir Walter suggested ' I suspect, if we could dissect the little heart, we should find that some pigeon or other bird of the air had carried the matter.'..."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Napoleon Crowns himself King of Italy

"...Upon the llth April, Napoleon, with his Empress, set off to go through the form of coronation, as King of Italy. The ceremony almost exactly resembled that by which he had been inaugurated Emperor. The ministry of the Pope, however, was not employed on this second occasion, although, as Pius VII. was then on his return to Rome, he could scarcely have declined officiating, if he had been requested, by Buonaparte to take Milan in his route for that purpose. Perhaps it was thought too harsh to exact from the Pontiff the consecration of a King of Italy, whose very title implied a possibility that his dominion might be one day extended, so as to include the patrimony of Saint Peter. Perhaps, and we rather believe it was the case, some cause of dissatisfaction had already occurred betwixt Napoleon and Pius VII. However this may be, the ministry of the Archbishop of Milan was held sufficient for the occasion, and it was he who blessed the celebrated iron crown said to have girded the brows of the ancient Kings of the Lombards. Buonaparte, as in the ceremony at Paris, placed the ancient emblem on his head with his own hands, assuming and repeating aloud the haughty motto attached to it by its ancient owners, Dieu me I'a donne; Gare qui la touche.* ..."

`•God has given it me; Let him beware who would touch it

From Scott's "The Life of Napoleon..."
On May 23, 1805, Napoleon Buonaparte crowned himself with the iron crown of the Lombards.  This crown contains an inner band of sacred iron, said to have been made of one of the nails used in Christ's crucifixion.  Napoleon thus joined such rulers as Charlemagne, Otto I, and Henry IV in having been anointed ruler with the Iron Crown.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gillespie Grumach

May 22. (1829)—I was detained long in the Court, though Ham. had returned to his labour. We dined with Captain Basil Hall, and met a Mr. Codman, or some such name, with his lady from Boston. The last a pleasant and well-mannered woman, the husband Bostonian enough. We had Sir William Arbuthnot, besides, and his lady.

By-the-bye, I should have remembered that I called on my old friend, Lady Charlotte Campbell, and found her in her usual good-humour, though miffed a little—I suspect at the history of Gillespie Grumach in the Legend of Montrose.
From Scott's Journal.
Lady Charlotte Campbell has not passed as a major historical figure, but she was well known to Scott and others.  Gillespie Grumach was based on Charlotte's ancestor.  An introduction by Andrew Lang to Scott's "A Legend of Montrose" (1898) includes the following comment:
"...and Gillespie Grumach, "gleyed Argyll," with all his wisdom, his caution, his intrigues, is hetter remembered for what never befell — his meeting with Dalgetty in the dungeon — than for his politics. Lady Charlotte Bury {nee Campbell}, it seems, did not easily forgive Scott for his attack on her celebrated ancestor. He might have made amends to the Clan Camphell by writing his Life of John Duke of Argyll, Jeanie Deans's Duke, but this, unluckily, he did not live to accomplish. "By the way, I should have remembered that I called on my old friend, Lady Charlotte Campbell, and found her in her usual good humour, though miffed a little, I suspect at the history of Gillespie Grumach, in the ' Legend of Montrose.' " The lady's resentment, then, had endured; in ten long years the sun had not quite gone down on her wrath...."

Friday, May 21, 2010


...' There is but One,' said Allan M'Aulay ; ' and here,' he said, laying his hand upon the shoulder of Anderson, who stood behind Lord Menteith, ' here he stands !'

The general surprise of the meeting was expressed by an impatient murmur; when Anderson, throwing back the cloak in which his face was muffled, and stepping forward, spoke thus :—' I did not long intend to be a silent spectator of this interesting scene, although my hasty friend has obliged me to disclose myself somewhat sooner than was my intention. Whether I deserve the honour reposed in me by this parchment will best appear from what I shall be able to do for the King's service. It is a commission, under the great seal, to James Graham, Earl of Montrose, to command those forces which are to be assembled for the service of his Majesty in this kingdom.'...
Walter Scott published "A Legend of Montrose" in 1819.  His named subject, James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose, was executed at Mercat Cross in Edinburgh on May 21, 1650.  The Wars of Montrose which transpired between 1639 and 1645 form a backdrop for the novel.
As a young man, Montrose became a Covenanter, signing the National Covenant in February 1638.  At least in part what instigated Montrose to join this cause was against the imposition of Laud's prayer book on the Scottish Kirk. 
Montrose is best known as a military man, and he gained his first experience leading Covenanter's troops in the First Bishop's War (1639).  After signing the Pacification of Berwick, Montrose ran afoul of Archibald Campbell, who was outwardly supportive of the Covenanters, but Montrose's suspected he had a contrary agenda.  Montrose's opposition to Campbell contributed to an invasion of England under the Second Bishop's War (1640).
Montrose corresponded with Charles I after the Bishop's War ended, later opposing the Solemn League and Covenant, which allied Scotland with English Parliamentarians against Charles.  He became a staunch Royalist, which is how Scott portrays him in the novel.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


' Take your hand from my cloak, my Lord Duke, and I may answer you,' said Christian. ' I have a scurvy touch of old puritanical humour about me. I abide not the imposition of hands—take off your grasp from my cloak, or I will find means to make you unloose it.'

From Walter Scott's "Peveril of the Peak".  The surgeon that observed that citris fruits had a beneficial impact on the incidence of scurvy began his experiments on May 20, 1747 (  Edinburgh born James Lind's pushed for several improvements to naval hygeine, including ventilation, fumigation below deck, and distilling fresh water from sea water.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

James Boswell

History is replete with examples of people who die on or around significant dates in their lives.  Former US Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dying on July 4 are prime examples.  The date May 19 was very close to a significant date for James Boswell.  Boswell met Samuel Johnson in London on May 16, 1763.  He published his "Life of Johnson" on May 16, 1791.  The 9th Laird of Auchinlech passed on May 19, 1795.

Auchinlech was close to Walter Scott's Abbotsford, and Scott knew Boswell's family.  John Croker enlisted Walter Scott's help in attempting (unsuccessfully) to obtain material from Boswell's children for his edition of Boswell's "Life of Johnson", published in 1831.  Scott did, however, provide numerous contributions for notes, etc., including:

From "Life of Johnson":
I  told Dr. Johnson I was in some difficulty how to act at Inverary. I had reason to think that the Duchess of Argyle disliked me, on account of my zeal in the Douglas cause.1

Scott's Note:
1 [Elizabeth Gunning, celebrated (like her sister, Lady Coventry) for her personal charms, had been previously Duchess of Hamilton, and was mother of Douglas, Duke of Hamilton, the competitor for the Douglas property with the late Lord Douglas: she was, of course, prejudiced against Boswell, who bad shown all the bustling importance of his character in the Douglas cause, and it was said, I know not on what authority, that he headed the mob which broke the windows of some of the judges, and of Lord Aucbinleck, his father, in particular.—Walter Scott.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seven Years' War

On May 18, 1756, following France's attack on Minorca, Great Britain declared war on France, joining in what became known as the Seven Years' War.  Walter Scott included a historical reference to this time period in his "Life of Napoleon":

...At Potsdam and at Berlin, Napoleon showed himself equally as the sworn and implacable enemy, rather than as the generous conqueror. At Potsdam he seized on the sword, belt, and hat of the Great Frederick, and at Berlin he appropriated and removed to Paris the monument of Victory, erected by the same monarch, in consequence of the defeat of the French at Rosbach.1

1 [" The sword of the Great Frederick was easily found at Potsdam, together with the scarf which he wore during the Seven Years' War; also the insignia of the Black Eagle. The Emperor took these trophies with transport, saying, ' I would rather have these than twenty millions : I shall send them to my old soldiers—I shall present them to the governor of the Invalids: in that hotel they shall remain.'"—Nineteenth Bulletin.] ...

Monday, May 17, 2010


Charles Maurice De Talleyrand-Perigord was a French diplomat who worked for five French rulers, covering perhaps the most turbulent time in French history.  Talleyrand served under Louis XVI, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, Charles X, and Louis-Philippe.  Talleyrand died on May 17, 1838.  Walter Scott mentions Talleyrand several times in his "The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte", including:


Volume V. page 57.

This very singular memorandum contains the instructions given by Napoleon to Talleyrand, concerning the manner in which he wished him to receive Lord Whitworth, then about to quit Paris, under the immediate prospect of the war again breaking out. He did not trust, it seems, to that accomplished statesman the slightest circumstance of the conference ; " although," as Talleyrand himself observed, as he gave to the Duke of Wellington the interesting document, in Napoleon's own hand-writing, " if I could be trusted with any/thing, it must have been the mode of receiving and negotiating with an Ambassador." From the style of the note, it seems that the warmth, or rather violence, which the First Consul had thrown into the discussion at the levee, did not actually flow from Napoleon's irritated feelings, but was a calculated burst of passion, designed to confound and overwhelm the English nobleman, who proved by no means the kind of person to be shaken with the utmost vehemence. It may be also remarked, that Napoleon, while he was desirous to try the effect of a cold, stern, and indifferent mode of conduct towards the English Minister, was yet desirous, if that should not shake Lord Whitworth's firmness, that Talleyrand, by reference to the pleasure of the First Consul, should take care to keep open the door for reconciliation...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mary, Queen of Scots Crosses the Solway Firth for England

Continuing with yesterday's subject, Mary Queen of Scots, on May 16, 1568, Mary crossed the Solway Firth to England.  Her escape from Lochleven Castle to her exile in England is the subject matter for Scott's "The Abbot":

"You hear," said Queen Mary, gently unloosing her robe from the Abbot's grasp, "that we exercise full liberty of choice in leaving this shore; and, questionless, the choice will remain free to us in going to France, or returning to our own dominions, as we shall determine--Besides, it is too late--Your blessing, Father, and God speed thee!"

"May He have mercy on thee, Princess, and speed thee also!" said the Abbot, retreating. "But my soul tells me I look on thee for the last time!" The sails were hoisted, the oars were plied, the vessel went freshly on her way through the firth, which divides the shores of Cumberland from those of Galloway; but not till the vessel diminished to the size of a child's frigate, did the doubtful, and dejected, and dismissed followers of the Queen cease to linger on the sands; and long, long could they discern the kerchief of Mary, as she waved the oft-repeated signal of adieu to her faithful adherents, and to the shores of Scotland..."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mary, Queen of Scots and Jame Hepburn, Earl Bothwell Wed

On May 15, 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn married.  Their time together was to prove short, and they were on the run for most of that time, as there were powerful interests opposed to their marriage.  Only a month later (June 15, 1567), Bothwell left Mary at the Battle of Carberry Hill, where their forces, consisting largely of Hamilton men, were defeated by a larger, well-trained force under Earls Morton, Hume, Mar, Glencairn, and Atholl.

The two sides met, with the Lords offering terms to Bothwell and Mary's.  The options to avoid all out battle were for Bothwell to meet one of the Lords in a one-on-one duel, or for Mary to leave Bothwell for the Lords, who promised their loyal support. 

Bothwell chose the duel, and Lord Patrick Lindsay was selected to oppose him.  In the meantime, the Lords' forces were maneuvering for position to gain advantage.  As told in "Life of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell" by Frederik Schiern, before the duel began, Mary mounted her steed, and summoned the Laird of Grange, who had offered terms saying "Laird of Grange, I render myself unto you, upon the conditions you ' rehearsed unto me, in the name of the Lords."  Mary thus surrendered to the Lords, while Bothwell left the field of battle.

Just prior to their marriage (May 12, 1567), Mary had conferred on Bothwell the title Duke of Orkney.  Orkney, until 1472, had been under the rulership of the Sinclair's from which family Hepburn's mother Agnes Sinclair derived.  It was to Orkney that Bothwell fled, after Carberry Hill.  Mary, as Bothwell had forseen, was betrayed, and was ultimately imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.

Walter Scott's "The Abbot" focuses on Mary, beginning at the time of her incarceration at Lochleven.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Red Fox Hunted

A murder occurred on May 14, 1752, that inspired the pens of both Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.  The victim, Colin Campbell, was known as the Red Fox.  The murder became famous as the Appin Murder.  It took place in Appin, the region of the forfeited estates of the Stewart clan.

Campbell served as factor for the Stewart estates.  In this position, he had recently evicted the Stewarts of Appin; a Jacobite clan.  Clan leaders naturally came under suspicion, with James Stewart arrested, tried, and convicted.  James protested his innocence, but was hanged at Ballachulish.  His life ended famously with his recitation of Psalm 35 from the Bible, dubbed "The Psalm of James of the Glens" in his memory.

The Appin murder appears in Stevenson's "Kidnapped".  Stevenson is said to have received this inspiration from reading Walter Scott's description of the incident in his introduction to "Rob Roy":

"A remarkable Highland story must be here briefly alluded to. Mr. Campbell of Glenure, who had been named factor for Government on the forfeited estates of Stewart of Ardshiel, was shot dead by an assassin as he passed through the wood of Lettermore, after crossing the ferry of Ballachulish. A gentleman, named James Stewart, a natural brother of Ardshiel, the forfeited person, was tried as being accessory to the murder, and condemned and executed uponvery doubtful evidence; the heaviest part of which only amounted to the accused person having assisted a nephew of his own, called Allan Breck Stewart, with money to escape after the deed was done. Not satisfied with this vengeance, which was obtained in a manner little to the honour of the dispensation of justice at the time, the friends of the deceased Glenure were equally desirous to obtain possession of the person of Allan Breck Stewart, supposed to be the actual homicide. James Mhor Drummond was secretly applied to to trepan Stewart to the sea-coast, and bring him over to Britain, to almost certain death. Drummond MacGregor had kindred connections with the slain Glenure; and, besides, the MacGregors and Campbells had been friends of late, while the former clan and the Stewarts had, as we have seen, been recently at feud; lastly, Robert Oig was now in custody at Edinburgh, and James was desirous to do some service by which his brother might be saved. The joint force of these motives may, in James's estimation of right and wrong, have been some vindication for engaging in such an enterprise, although, as must be necessarily supposed, it could only be executed by treachery of a gross description. MacGregor stipulated for a license to return to England, promising to bring Allan Breck thither along with him. But the intended victim was put upon his guard by two countrymen, who suspected James's intentions towards him. He escaped from his kidnapper, after, as MacGregor alleged, robbing his portmanteau of some clothes and four snuff-boxes. Such a charge, it may be observed, could scarce have been made unless the parties had been living on a footing of intimacy, and had access to each other's baggage..."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Empress Maria Theresa

The last ruler of the House of Hapsburg was born this day (May 13) in 1717.  Maria Theresa was also the only female Hapsburg ruler.  Her realm was the Holy Roman Empire.  Her visage appears on the Maria Theresa thaler, which contains the inscription "Maria Theresa, by the Grace of God, Empress of the Romans, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia."

But it is another coin that links Maria Theresa to Sir Walter Scott; the Lee penny.  The Lee penny was named after the seat of power of Count Simon Lockhart.  It is said to possess curative powers, and became famous with the publication of Walter Scott's "The Talisman".  The coin is currently housed in a gold and enamel snuffbox presented to Count Lockhart by the Empress Maria Theresa in 1789 (wikipedia).

The story as to how Lockhart came into possession of this magical coin is told by Scott in the introduction to "The Talisman":

"...He made prisoner in battle an Emir of considerable wealth and consequence. The aged mother of the captive came to the Christian camp, to redeem her son from his state of captivity. Lockhart is said to have fixed the price at which his prisoner should ransom himself; and the lady, pulling out a large embroidered purse, proceeded to tell down the ransom, like a mother who pays little respect to gold in comparison of her son's liberty. In this operation, a pebble inserted in a coin, some say of the Lower Empire, fell out of the purse, and the Saracen matron testified so much haste to recover it as gave the Scottish knight a high idea of its value, when compared with gold or silver. ' I will not consent,' he said, ' to grant your son's liberty, unless that amulet be added to his ransom.' The lady not only consented to this, but explained to Sir Simon Lockhart the mode in which the Talisman was to be used, and the uses to which it might be put. The water in which it was dipped operated as a styptic, as a febrifuge, and possessed several other properties as a medical talisman.

Sir Simon Lockhart, after much experience of the wonders which it wrought, brought it to his own country, and left it to his heirs, by whom, and by Clydesdale in general, it was, and is still, distinguished by the name of the Lee-penny, from the name of his native seat of Lee..."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Columcille Lands on Iona

On May 12, 563, on the eve of Pentecost, Columcille, or St. Columba as we know him now, arrived on the Island of Iona.  Columba had 12 companion monks with him.  The island had been granted to Columba and his monks, possibly by Columba's kinsman, King Conall of Dalraida.  Columba soon began his efforts to convert the local population.

Sir Walter Scott visited Iona in 1814, on his trip to visit the Northern Lights, which was published in "Northern Lights or a Voyage in the Lighthouse Yacht to Nova Zembla and the Lord where in the summer of 1814".  Scott commented “my eyes, familiarised with the wretchedness of Zetland (Shetland) and the Harris, are less shocked with that of Iona.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Templars Executed

On May 11, 1310, more than 50 Knights Templar were burned at the stake in France as heretics.  In "Ivanhoe", Walter Scott sets his character Brian de Bois-Guilbert as a Templar.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ruthwell Savings Bank Founded

The creation of the world's first savings bank is credited to Reverend Henry Duncan of Lochrutton.  According to, the Ruthwell Savings Bank did not lend to businesses, or issue bank notes.  Instead, deposits were invested with the Commissioners of the National Debt.  Duncan's vision was for "the erection of an economical bank for the savings of the industrious", which would help the poor achieve financial independence (

Henry Duncan had a deep appreciation of literature, and knew Robert Burns, among others.  His connection with Sir Walter Scott is somewhat a reactionary one.  Duncan derived from a line of Covenanters - on both the paternal and maternal sides.  Reportedly, Duncan enjoyed Scott's works, but felt the treatment afforded to Covenanters in "Old Mortality" was inequitable.  He therefore endeavored to set the record straight with a novel of his own.  In 1926, Duncan published "William Douglas, or the Scottish Exiles".

Sunday, May 9, 2010

James Northcote

May_ 9 (1828) "...I  sat to Northcote, who is to introduce himself in the same piece in the act of painting me, like some pictures of the Venetian school. The artist is an old man, low in stature, and bent with years--fourscore at least. But the eye is quick and the countenance noble. A pleasant companion, familiar with recollections of Sir Joshua, Samuel Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, etc. His account of the last confirms all that we have heard of his oddities..."

From Scott's Journal

James Northcote was an Englishman, whose first career was as a watchmaker, under his father.  He enjoyed drawing, and began painting portraits on his own.  The year Scott was born, 1771, Northcote moved with his brother to London, escaping from his father's watchmaking business. 

Northcote left Devon with an introduction to Sir Joshua Reynolds.  Both men derived from near Plymouth, in Devon, and both had attended the Plympton Grammar School.   Reynolds took Northcote in as a student, and a boarder.

Northcote produced prolificly, creating perhaps more than 1,000 works.  He also wrote, authoring the first full biography of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Old Bailey

On May 8, 1701, the trial of William Kidd began at the Old Bailey in London.  This court deals with major criminal cases, and Kidd was of course tried for piracy.  The Central Criminal Court became known as Old Bailey for its location, on Old Bailey street.  The Kidd trial seems to have generated a market for stories about the trial, as there is a reference in the Ordinary's report of May 16, 1701, concerning Capt. Kidd (from

Paul Lorrain, Ordinary .

WHereas a certain Book, now lately publish'd, (said to be Printed for E. Hawkins near Fleet-bridge) under the Title of A Sermon preach'd last Sunday by the Ordinary of Newgate before Capt. Kidd and other Prisoners there; These are to give notice, that the said pretended Sermon is a Sham-Paper, having little or nothing on it (besides the Text) of what was there deliver'd in the Pulpit.

Walter Scott included Old Bailey in his novel "Old Mortality":

"... Secure them," said the barrister, " against any great increase of professional thieves and depredators, but not against wild and wayward starts of fancy and passion, producing crimes of an extraordinary description, which are precisely those to the detail of which we listen with thrilling interest. England has been much longer a highly civilized country; her subjects have been very strictly amenable to laws administered without fear or favour, a complete division of labour has taken place among her subjects, and the very thieves and robbers form a distinct class in society, subdivided among themselves according to the subject of the depredations, and the mode in which they carry them on, acting upon regular habits and principles, which can be calculated and anticipated at Bow Street, Hatton Garden, or the Old Bailey..."

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Rough Wooing

One of the phrases coined by Walter Scott, the Wars of the Rough Wooing referred to the effort on the part of England's Henry VIII to force a marriage between his son Edward and Mary Stuart.  On May 7, 1542, the Earl of Hertford, who was Queen Jane Seymour's brother, invaded the Borderlands of Scotland, reaching Edinburgh in support of Henry's wishes.

Sir Walter Scott covers the Earl's (the Queene's brother) incursion the poem "Lord Ewrie", published in his Poetical Works:

Lord Ewrie was as brave a man
As ever stood in his degree;
The King has sent him a ftioad letter,
All for his courage and loyalty.!
With our Queene's brother * he hath been,
And rode rough shod through Scotland of late;
They have burn'd the Mers and Tiviotdale,
And knocked full loud at Edinburgh gate.
*The Earl of Hertford, afterward duke of Somerset, and brother of Queen Jane Seymour, made a furious incursion into Scotland, in 1545.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


On May 6, 1682, King Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles.  Walter Scott visited Versailles in 1815.  Some of Scott's observations, and a bit of a Scottish song Scott remembered were recorded by John Scott, who traveled to Belgium and France with Walter, Alexander Pringle, and Robert Bruce.  John Scott's "Journal of a tour to Waterloo and Paris in company with Sir Walter Scott"  was published in 1842.  An excerpt:

"...The fineness of the day, and the beauty of our drive, however, restored our equanimity. We passed through Marli* and St. Germain, where we paused to look at the palace. I was aware that we should pass this ancient abode of the house of Stuart, and was of course anxious to hear what the supposed author of Waverley might say on the occasion. He did not entirely pass over the subject, and mentioned one or two well-known anecdotes respecting the family. The topic, however, was evidently one to which he was unwilling to refer, and I therefore forbore to press it so much as I confess I felt inclined to do.

We admired the extensive view from the terrace ; and could not help wondering at the preference given by Louis XIV. to the comparatively dull situation of Versailles—" the favourite without merit," as it was called by the wits of the court.

* Scott's additional words to the song,

" Bannocks of beer meal,
Bannocks of barley;
Here's to the lads
That eat bannocks of barley;"

may be recollected by his friends ; I know not if they were ever published.

" Who is't keeps guard
At Versailles and at Marli?
Who but the lads
That eat bannocks of barley?"...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Charles I Surrenders to Covenanting Forces

On May 5, 1646, a beleaguered Charles I of England surrendered to Scottish forces under Alexander Leslie, Lord Leven.  Charles was between a rock and a hard place - Parliamentary forces or Scots Covenanters.  Walter Scott covers this history in his "Tales of a Grandfather":

"...In circumstances so desperate, it was difficult to make a choice. A frank surrender to the Parliament, or an escape abroad, would have perhaps been the most advisable conduct. But the Parliament and their own independent army were now on the brink of quarrelling. The establishment of the Presbyterian Church was resolved upon, though only for a time and in a limited form, and both parties were alike dissatisfied ; the zealous Presbyterians, because it gave the Church courts too little power ; the Independents, because it invested them with any control whatever over persons of a different communion. Amidst the disputes of his opponents, the King hoped to find his way back to the throne.

For this purpose, and to place himself in a situation, as he hoped, from whence to negotiate with safely, Charles determined to surrender himself to that Scotish army which had been sent into England, under the Earl of Leven, as auxiliaries of the English Parliament. The King concluded that he might expect personal protection, if not assistance, from an army composed of his own countrymen. Besides, the Scottish army had lately been on indifferent terms with the English. The Independent troops, who now equalled or even excelled them i:i discipline, and were actuated by an enthusiasm which the Scots did not possess, looked with an evil eye on an army composed of foreigners and Presbyterians. The English in general, as soon as their assistance was no longer necessary, began to regard their Scottish brethren as an incumbrance ; and the Parliament, while they supplied the Independent forces liberally with money and provisions, neglected the Scots in both these essentials, whose honour and interest were affected in proportion. A perfect acquaintance with the discontent of the Scottish army, induced Charles to throw himself upon their protection in his misfortunes.

He left Oxford in disguise, on 27th April, having only two attendants. Nine days after his departure, he surprised the old Earl of Leven and the Scottish camp, who were then forming the siege of Newark, by delivering himself into their hands. The Scots received the unfortunate monarch with great outward respect, but guarded his person with vigilance. They immediately broke up the siege, and marched with great speed to the north, carrying the person of the King along with them, and observing the strictest discipline on their retreat. When their army arrived at Newcastle, a strong town which they themselves had taken, and where they had a garrison, they halted to await the progress of negotiations at this singular crisis.

Upon surrendering himself to the Scottish army, King Charles had despatched a message to the Parliament, expressing his having done so, desiring that they would send him such articles of pacification as they should agree upon, and offering to surrender Oxford, Newark, and whatever other garrisons or strong places he might still possess, and order the troops he had on foot to lay down their arms. The places were surrendered accordingly, honourable terms being allowed ; and the army of Montrose in the Highlands, and such other forces as the Royalists still maintained throughout England, were disbanded, as I have already told you, by the King's command.

The Parliament showed great moderation, and the civil war seemed to be ended. The articlesof pacification which they offered were not more rigorous than the desperate condition of the King must have taught him to expect. But questions of religion interfered to prevent the conclusion of the treaty.

In proportion as the great majority of the Parliament were attached to the Presbyterian forms, Charles was devoted to the system of Episcopacy. He deemed himself bound by his coronation oath to support the Church of England, and he would not purchase his own restoration to the throne by consenting to its being set aside. Here, therefore, the negotiation betwixt the King and his Parliament was broken off; but another was opened between the English Parliament and the Scottish army, concerning the disposal of the King's person.

If Charles could have brought his mind to consent to the acceptance of the Solemn League and Covenant, it is probable that he would have gained all Scotland to his side. This, however, would have been granting to the Scots what he had refused to the Parliament"; for the support of Presbytery was the essential object of the Scottish invasion. On the 'other hand, it could hardly be expected that the Scottish Convention of Estates should resign the very point on which they had begun and continued the war. The Church of Scotland sent forth a solemn warning, that all engagement with the King was unlawful. The question, therefore, was, what should be done with the person of Charles..."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Storming of Seringapatam

May 4, 1799 witnessed the Battle of Seringapatam, in Srirangapatna, India.  Srirangapatna fortress was located on an island in the Cauvery River.  This battle between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore led to the death of Sultan Tipu, and victory for the East India Company.  British troops participated in the fray, led by Major General David Baird, who had once been imprisoned by Tipu (for 44 months) after the Battle of Polilur (1780).

Walter Scott includes reference to Seringapatam in his story "The Surgeon's Daughter":

"...From the result of his anxious enquiries, Hartley had reason to hope, that though Seringapatam was seventy-five miles more to the eastward than Bangalore, yet, by using diligence, he might have time to throw himself at the feet of Hyder, and beseech his interposition, before the meeting betwixt Tippoo and the Begum should decide the fate of Menie Gray. On the other hand, he trembled as the Peon told him that the Begum's Bukshee, or General, who had travelled to Madras with her in disguise, had now assumed the dress and character belonging to his rank, and it was expected he was to be honoured by the Mahomedan Prince with some high office of dignity. With still deeper anxiety, he learned that a palanquin, watched with sedulous care by the slaves of Oriental jealousy, contained, it was whispered, a Feringi, or Frankish woman, beautiful as a Houri, who had been brought from England by the Begum, as a present to Tippoo. The deed of villany was therefore in full train to be accomplished; it remained to see whether by diligence on Hartley's side, its course could be interrupted.

When this eager vindicator of betrayed innocence arrived in the capital of Hyder, it may be believed that he consumed no time in viewing the temple of the celebrated Vishnoo, or in surveying the splendid Gardens called Loll-bang, which were the monument of Hyder's magnificence, and now hold his mortal remains. On the contrary, he was no sooner arrived in the city, than he hastened to the principal Mosque, having no doubt that he was there most likely to learn some tidings of Barak el Hadgi. He approached accordingly the sacred spot, and as to enter it would have cost a Feringi his life, he employed the agency of a devout Mussulman to obtain information concerning the person whom he sought. He was not long in learning that the Fakir Barak was within the Mosque, as he had anticipated, busied with his holy office of reading passages from the Koran, and its most approved commentators. To interrupt him in his devout task was impossible, and it was only by a high bribe that he could prevail on the same Moslem whom he had before employed, to slip into the sleeve of the holy man's robe a paper containing his name, and that of the Khan in which the Vakeel had taken up his residence. The agent brought back for answer, that the Fakir, immersed, as was to be expected, in the holy service which he was in the act of discharging, had paid no visible attention to the symbol of intimation which the Feringi Sahib [European gentleman] had sent to him. Distracted with the loss of time, of which each moment was precious, Hartley next endeavoured to prevail on the Mussulman to interrupt the Fakir's devotions with a verbal message; but the man was indignant at the very proposal.

"Dog of a Christian!" he said, "what art thou and thy whole generation, that Barak el Hadgi should lose a divine thought for the sake of an infidel like thee?" ..."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thomas Hood

The poet and punster Thomas Hood passed this day (May 3rd) in 1845.  Approaching age 46 when he died, he left behind a notable legacy of poems, including "The Song of the Shirt" and "Bridge of Sighs".  He also met once with Walter Scott, and recorded his impressions of that meeting (below). 

Hood was sickly most of his life, but was known for his lively wit.  He managed to continue writing with illness that would have debilitated most.  His father was involved in the book trade, which may have provided an appreciation for literary work, to which he later took a keen interest.  His early writing, mainly for "Dundee Magazine", and later "London Magazine" brought him into contact with several literary figures, including Charles Lamb, who became a close lifelong friend.  Hood's first book was "Odes and Addresses".  It is through this work that Thomas Hood and Walter Scott ultimately met, as told in "Hood's own, of laughter from year to year...":

On the publication of the Odes and Addresses, presentation copies were sent, at the suggestion of a friend, to Mr. Canning and Sir Walter Scott. The minister took no notice of the little volume; but the novelist did, in his usual kind manner. An eccentric friend in writing to me, once made a number of colons, semicolons, &c., at the bottom of the paper, adding

" And these are my points that I place at the foot
That you may put stops that I can't stop to put."

It will surprise no one, to observe that the author of Waverley had as little leisure for punctuation.

"SIR Walter Scott has to make thankful acknowledgments for the copy of the Odes to Great People with which he was favoured and more particularly for the amusement he has received from the perusal. He wishes the unknown author good health good fortune and whatever other good things can best support and encourage his lively vein of inoffensive and humorous satire

Abbotsford Melrose 4th May"

The first time I ever saw the Great Unknown, was at the private view of Martin's Picture of " Nineveh,"—when, by a striking coincidence, one of our most celebrated women, and one of our greatest men, Mrs. Siddons and Sir Walter Scott walked simultaneously up opposite sides of the room, and met and shook hands in front of the painting. As Editor of the Gem, I had afterwards occasion to write to Sir Walter, from whom I received the following letter, which contains an allusion to some of his characteristic partialities:—

" Mr Dear Mr. Hood,—It was very ungracious in me to leave you in a day's doubt whether I was gratified or otherwise with the honour you did me to inscribe your whims and oddities to me I received with great pleasure this new mark of your kindness and it was only my leaving your volume and letter in the country which delayed my answer as I forgot the address

I was favoured with Mr. Cooper's beautiful sketch of the heartpiercing incident of the dead greyhound which is executed with a force and fancy which I flatter myself that I who was in my younger days and in part still am a great lover of dogs and horses and an accurate observer of their habits can appreciate. I intend the instant our term ends to send a few verses if I can make any at my years in acknowledgment. I will got a day's leisure for this purpose next week when I expect to be in the country Pray inform Mr. Cooper of my intention though I fear I will be unable to do anything deserving of the subject. I am very truly your obliged humble servant

Edinburgh 4 March Walter Scott."

At last, during one of his visits to London, I had the honour of a personal interview with Sir Walter Scott at Mr. Lockhart's, in Sussex Place. The number of the house had escaped my memory; but seeing a fine dog down an area, I knocked without hesitation at the door. It happened, however, to be the wrong one. I afterwards mentioned the circumstance to Sir Walter.- It was not a bad point, he said, for he was very fond of dogs; but he did not care to have his own animals with him, about London, " for fear he should be taken for Bill Gibbons." I then told him I had lately been reading the Fair Maid of Perth, which had reminded me of a very pleasant day spent many years before, beside the Linn of Campsie, the scene of Conachar's catastrophe. Perhaps he divined what had really occurred to me,—that the Linn, as a cataract, had greatly disappointed me; for he smiled, and shook his head archly, and said he had since seen it himself, and was rather ashamed of it. " But I fear, Mr. Hood, I have done worse than that before now, in finding a Monastery where there was none to be found; though there was plenty (here he smiled again) of Carduus Benedictus, or Holy Thistle."

In the mean time he was finishing his toilet, in order to dine at the Duchess of Kent's ; and before he put on his cravat I had an opportunity of noticing the fine massive proportions of his bust. It served to confirm me in my theory that such mighty men are, and must be, physically, as well as intellectually, gifted beyond ordinary mortals; that their strong minds must be backed by strong bodies. Remembering all that Sir Walter Scott had done, and all that he had suffered, methought he had been in more than one sense " a Giant in the Land." After some more conversation, in the course of which he asked me if I ever came to Scotland, and kindly said he should be glad to see me at Abbotsford, I took my leave, with flattering dreams in my head that never were, and now, alas ! never can be, realised !

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Edward Bruce Crowned King of Ireland

"...But Edward Bruce's ambition was too impatient to wait till the succession to the Scottish crown should become open to him by the death of his brother, when an opportunity seemed to offer itself which offered a prospect of instantly gaining a kingdom by the sword. This occurred when a party of Irish chiefs, discontented with the rule of the English invaders, sent an invitation to Edward Bruce to come over with a force adequate to expel the English from Ireland, and assume the sceptre of that fair island. By consent of king Robert, who was pleased to make a diversion against England upon a vulnerable point, and not, perhaps, sorry to be rid of a restless spirit, which became impatient in the lack of employment, Edward invaded Ireland at the head of a force of six thousand Scots. He fought many battles, and gained them all. He became master of the province of Ulster, and was solemnly crowned king of Ireland; but found himself amid his successes obliged to intreat the assistance of king Robert with fresh supplies; for the impetuous Edward, who never spared his own person, was equally reckless of exposing his followers; and his successes were misfortunes, in so far as they wasted the brave men with whose lives they were purchased.

Robert Bruce led supplies to his brother's assistance, with an army which enabled him to overrun Ireland, but without gaining any permanent advantage. He threatened Dublin, and penetrated as far as Limerick in the west, but was compelled, by scarcity of provisions, to retire again into Ulster, in the spring of 1317. He shortly after returned to Scotland, leaving a part of his troops with Edward, though probably convinced that his brother was engaged in a desperate and fruitless enterprise, where he could not rely on the faith of his Irish subjects, as he termed them, or the steadiness of their troops, while Scotland was too much exhausted to supply him with new armies of auxiliaries.

After his brother's departure, Edward's career of ambition was closed at the battle of Dundalk, where, October 5th, 1318, fortune at length failed a warrior who had tried her patience by so many hazards. On that fatal day he encountered, against the advice of his officers, an Anglo-Irish army ten times more numerous than his own. A strong champion among the English, named John Maupas, singling out the person of Edward, slew him, and received death at his hands : their bodies were found stretched upon each other in the field of battle. The victors ungenerously mutilated the body of him before whom most of them had repeatedly fled. A general officer of the Scots, called John Thomson, led back the remnant of" the Scottish force to their own country. And thus ended the Scottish invasion of Ireland, with the loss of many brave soldiers, whom their country afterwards severely missed in her hour of need...."

From "The History of Scotland", by Walter Scott

May 2, 1316 is the date Edward Bruce accepted the crown of Ireland.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


' I'm no wanting to learn onything at my years,' said Meg. ' If folk have onything to write to me about, they may gie the letter to John Hislop, the carrier, that has used the road these forty years. As for the letters at the postmistress's, as they ca' her, down by yonder, they may bide in her shop-window, wi' the snaps and bawbee rows till Beltane, or I loose them. I'll never file my fingers with them. Post-mistress, indeed !—Upsetting cutty ! I mind her fou weel when she dree'd penance for antenup '

From St. Ronan's Well, by Walter Scott

The second half of the ancient Celtic year begins with the fire festival of Beltane; along with Samhuinn, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh, one of the quarter-day Celtic festivals.