Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bennarty Circuit

June 30 (1828).—We made our pleasant excursion to-day round the hill of Bennarty par terre, and returned par mer. Our route by land led us past Lochore, where we made a pause for a few moments. Then proceeded to Ballingray or Bingray, and so by Kirkness, where late ravages are supplied by the force of vegetation down to the shores of Lochleven. We embarked and went upon Saint Serf's Island, supposed to have been anciently a cell of the Culdees. An old pinfold, or rather a modern pinfold, constructed out of the ancient chapel, is all that attests its former sanctity. We landed on Queen Mary's Island, a miserable scene, considering the purpose for which the Castle was appointed. And yet the captivity and surrender of the Percy was even a worse tale, since it was an eternal blight on the name of Douglas. Well, we got to Blair Adam in due time, and our fine company began to separate, Lord Chief Baron going off after dinner. We had wine and wassail, and John Thomson's delightful flute to help us through the evening.

Thus end the delectations of the Blair Adam Club for this year. Mrs. Thomson of Charlton talks of Beaton's House, and other Fife wonders for the next year, but who knows what one year may bring forth? Our Club has been hitherto fortunate. It has subsisted twelve years.
This entry from Scott's Journal discusses a trip with the Blair Adam group, which was the topic of a recent post.  The trip is centered around Loch Leven Castle, and other sites that were significant to the period when Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.  Bennarty Hill appears in Scott's "The Abbot", which covers this time of Mary's life:
...Sound were his slumbers, until they were suddenly dispelled by the iron tongue of the castle-bell, which sent its deep and sullen sounds wide over the bosom of the lake, and awakened the echoes of Bennarty, the hill which descends steeply on its southern bank...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

John Leyden

June 29 (1826).—I walked out for an hour last night, and made one or two calls—the evening was delightful—

"Day its sultry fires had wasted,
Calm and cool the moonbeam rose;
Even a captive's bosom tasted
Half oblivion of his woes."

I wonder often how Tom Campbell, with so much real genius, has not maintained a greater figure in the public eye than he has done of late. The Magazine seems to have paralysed him. The author, not only of the Pleasures of Hope, but of Hohenlinden, Lochiel, etc., should have been at the very top of the tree. Somehow he wants audacity, fears the public, and, what is worse, fears the shadow of his own reputation. He is a great corrector too, which succeeds as ill in composition as in education. Many a clever boy is flogged into a dunce, and many an original composition corrected into mediocrity. Yet Tom Campbell ought to have done a great deal more. His youthful promise was great. John Leyden introduced me to him. They afterwards quarrelled. When I repeated Hohenlinden to Leyden, he said, "Dash it, man, tell the fellow that I hate him, but, dash him, he has written the finest verses that have been published these fifty years." I did mine errand as faithfully as one of Homer's messengers, and had for answer, "Tell Leyden that I detest him, but I know the value of his critical approbation." This feud was therefore in the way of being taken up. "When Leyden comes back from India," said Tom Campbell, "what cannibals he will have eaten and what tigers he will have torn to pieces!"...
The selection above from Scott's Journal shows Scott musing about Thomas Campbell, whose death was covered earlier.  John Leyden, who introduced Scott and Campbell, was known as an orientalist.  He was born in 1775, and died of fever on an expedition to Java in 1811. 
Leyden worked with Scott collecting ballads for Scott's "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border", so the two became well known to each other.  Among Leyden's own works was "Discoveries and Settlements of Europeans in Northern and Western Africa", which was inspired by the adventures of Mungo Park.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Castle Campbell

June 28 (1828).—Off we go to Castle Campbell after breakfast, i.e. Will Clerk, Admiral Adam, J. Thomson, and myself. Tremendous hot is the day, and the steep ascent of the Castle, which rises for two miles up a rugged and broken path, was fatiguing enough, yet not so much so as the streets in London. Castle Campbell is unaltered; the window, of which the disjointed stone projects at an angle from the wall, and seems at the point of falling, has still found power to resist the laws of gravitation. Whoever built that tottering piece of masonry has been long in a forgotten grave, and yet what he has made seems to survive in spite of nature itself. The curious cleft called Kemp's Score, which gave the garrison access to the water in case of siege, is obviously natural, but had been improved by steps, now choked up. A girl who came with us recollected she had shown me the way down to the bottom of this terrible gulf seven years ago. I am not able for it now.

"Wont to do's awa frae me,
Frae silly auld John Ochiltree."

Quote above from Ramsay's Tea-table Miscellany (1795), vol. i. p. 125.

The passage above is from Scott's Journal.  Castle Campbell sits in the town of Dollar (Scotland) and was the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, after it passed from the Stuart family to Colin Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll.  The castle was burned by the Scots in 1654, in retaliation for Campbell support for Oliver Cromwell.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

John Murray

John Murray's birth was covered in an earlier post, along with some of the contributions he made to the publishing house his father started.  His death occurred on June 27, 1843.  His life roughly covers that of Walter Scott's.  Murray first published Scott's work in 1807; Marmion.  He also became part owner of the Edinburgh Review that year.

Among Murray's other major contributions to the literary world were his publication of Lord Byron's "Childe Harold", and Thomas Moore's "The Life of Lord Byron".

Saturday, June 26, 2010

George IV of England

On June 26, 1830, George IV of England passed away, at age 67.  George reigned as king for only ten years, but ruled as prince regent from 1811 to 1820, when his father George III died.  George III suffered bouts of insanity during this time. 

George IV was known for his jovial living, and Walter Scott enjoyed organizing his visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and entertaining the king.  George became the first English monarch to visit Scotland since 1650.  It was due to Scott's orchestration of the pageantry that the tartan became inextricably associated with Scotch life.

Scott mentions George's passing the next day in his journal:

June 27 (1830)...The whole day of pleasure was damped by the news of the King's death; it was fully expected, however, as the termination of his long illness. But he was very good to me personally, and a kind sovereign. The common people and gentry join in their sorrow. Much is owing to a kindly recollection of his visit to this country, which gave all men an interest in him.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Blairadam Antiquarian Club

June 25 (1826).—Another melting day; thermometer at 78° even here. 80° was the height yesterday at Edinburgh. If we attempt any active proceeding we dissolve ourselves into a dew. We have lounged away the morning creeping about the place, sitting a great deal, and walking as little as might be on account of the heat.

Blair-Adam has been successively in possession of three generations of persons attached to and skilled in the art of embellishment, and may be fairly taken as a place where art and taste have done a great deal to improve nature. A long ridge of varied ground sloping to the foot of the hill called Benarty, and which originally was of a bare, mossy, boggy character, has been clothed by the son, father, and grandfather; while the undulations and hollows, which seventy or eighty years since must have looked only like wrinkles in the black morasses, being now drained and limed, are skirted with deep woods, particularly of spruce, which thrives wonderfully, and covered with excellent grass. We drove in the droskie and walked in the evening.
The last few days in New York City have been in the high 80's/low 90's with plenty of humidity - a treat Scott rarely, if ever experienced.  A real treat must have been the antiquarian club centered around the Blairadam estate that three generations of Adams' worked on.  Purchased by architect William Adam in the1730's, sons John, James, and Robert developed the policies. 
Scott and eight others gathered around the time of the Summer Solstice for Friday night meetings at Blair Adam led by William Adam's grandson William.  The group planned trips to sites of historical interest, which they visited the next day.  The weekend included Sunday services at Cleish Church.
As described in Metcalfe and Erskine's "Sir Walter Scott and the Blair Adam Club" (article published in The Scottish Review), Scott modeled grounds around Abbotsford on the model of Blair Adam (Shenston's Leasowes).

From the Scottish Review article:

A FEW miles to the west of Loch Leven, the scene of Sir Walter Scott's Abbot, lies the mansion house of Blair Adam. In the summer of 1817 the Lord Chief Commissioner Adam of Blair Adam, invited Sir Walter Scott, who does not appear before this time to have been intimately acquainted with the district, to spend a few days with him at Blair Adam House. Along with Scott were also included in the invitation two of his most congenial friends, Sir Adam Ferguson and Mr. W. Clark, son of Mr. Clark of Eildon, author of a well known essay on Naval Tactics, which first taught the practice of the manoeuvre of breaking the line on decided and defined principles. The little holiday party, we need scarcely say, spent a very pleasant time with their accomplished host and his son Rear-Admiral Adam—the first Sir Charles Adam.

They strolled through the Blair Adam garden and pleasure grounds—through the woods and groves. These had been laid out on the system of Shenston's Leasowes—the model after which Sir Walter Scott was then beautifying the policies of Abbotsford. In a quiet social hour, and in the heart of this scene of enchantment where the eye rested now on the gleaming surface of Lochleven and anon on the rugged basaltic brow of Benarty, with its historic pass winding round its base, Lord Adam entertained his distinguished visitor with a graphic description of the antiquarian and historic surroundings of Blair Adam. We narrate the incident in his Lordship's own words : ' I at this time told Sir Walter how singularly the place was environed with castles of great antiquity—many of them connected with historic matter of the highest concernment. That there were besides other objects of great beauty, curiosity and interest, all of them (even the most distant) within the reach of being thoroughly seen between breakfast and the evening —so that with a basket well supplied with cold meat and some bottles of good wine, we could explore the recesses of Castle Campbell (I believe the most distant), enjoy our refreshment, and return before the night set in. The places which I ennumerated, beginning at the nearest, was my own little castle of Dowhill. To the west were the castles of Cleish, Aldie, Tullibole, Castle Campbell, the scenery of the Cauldron Linn and the Rumbling Bridge. To the north I mentioned the Castle of Balfour, Burleigh, and the Castle of Balvaird, the original seat of the Stormont family.

* The writer desires to express his obligations to Sir Charles K Adam, Baronet, Blair Adam, for kindly placing at his disposal for consultation the Family Records of the Blair Adam Club.

' I represented that on the east side is the royal palace of Falkland, and also of Leslie, with its superb trees and its ancient beautiful terraces, on the banks of the river Leven, and Christ Kirk on the Green, rendered illustrious by a royal poet. That, travelling westward, there were the Castles of Strathendric and of Arnot, and the ruined castle of drained Lochore, between the Lake and Blair Adam, was the Castra Stativa Agricolaj still to be traced. To the south was Dunfermline, where Bruce is buried, and James IV. drank ' the bluid red wine.'

' Last but not least was Loch Leven Castle, seen at every turn from the northern side of Blair Adam.'

This castle as well as its neigbourhood was ere long to be invested with a new halo of romance on the publication of The Abbot in 1820.

The subject now introduced to his notice must have been congenial in no ordinary degree to the author of The Antiquary and the redactor of the Border Minstrelsy. Scott's mind has been compared by Lockhart to one of those antique Gothic fabrics with its rich imagery and tracery, half seen in the clear day light, and half by rays tinged with the blazoned forms of the past.

We do not wonder that we should be told that Scott was at once fascinated—and that the talk which ensued generated the idea of the formation of the Blair Adam Antiquarian Club. The scheme was—as follows. The select party then at Blair Adam were to be the members, with a few names of special friends to be added to the number.

They agreed to visit Blair Adam annually, arriving on the Friday in time for dinner, and leaving again for their duties in Edinburgh on the following Tuesday morning. This gave them two free days for their antiquarian excursions and explorations. On Sundays, besides going to the Parish Church of Cleish, they could ramble about the policies or stroll together to the wooded slopes of Benarty.

The time of the year chosen for these happy reunions was the summer solstice, when the days were brightest and longest...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Battle of Bannockburn

On St. John's Day (June 24) in 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn took place.  The siege of Stirling Castle by Edward Bruce focused activity in this area, and toward this day.  Bruce made a deal with Sir Philip Mowbray, who commanded the castle, that if English reinforcements did not arrive by midsummer's day (6/24), the castle would be turned over to the Scots. 

King Edward II of England moved approximately 18,000 troops to the area to prevent the loss of the castle, and to meet the Scots in pitched battle.  The Scottish forces, under King Robert Bruce, are estimated in the 6,000 - 7,000 range.  Among those may have been a group of excommunicated Knights Templar under Sir William Sinclair.  The day turned decidedly in favor of the Scots, in a major pivotal victory in the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Walter Scott includes Bannockburn in his The Lord of the Isles.  He also wrote a history, which is included in "Builders of Democracy" by Edwin Greenlaw.  A small portion is below:




King Edward the Second, as we have already said, was not a wise and brave man like his father, but a foolish prince, who was influenced by unworthy favorites, and thought more of pleasure than of governing his kingdom. His father Edward the First would have entered Scotland at the head of a large army, before he had left Bruce time to conquer back so much of the country. But we have seen that, very fortunately for the Scots, that wise and skilful, though ambitious King, died when he was on the point of marching into Scotland. His son Edward had afterwards neglected the Scottish war, and thus lost the opportunity of defeating Bruce when his force was small. But now when Sir Philip Mowbray, the governor of Stirling, came to London, to tell the King that Stirling, the last Scottish town of importance which remained in possession of the English, was to be surrendered if it were not relieved by force of arms before midsummer, then all the English nobles called out, it would be a sin and shame to permit the fair conquest which Edward the First had made to be forfeited to the Scots, for want of fighting. It was therefore resolved that the King should go himself to Scotland, with as great forces as he could possibly muster...


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

John Galt

June 23 (1826).—The heat tremendous, and the drought threatening the hay and barley crop. Got from the Court at half-twelve, and walked to the extremity of Heriot Row to see poor Lady Don; left my card as she does not receive any one. I am glad this painful meeting is adjourned. I received to-day £10 from Blackwood for the article on The Omen. Time was I would not have taken these small tithes of mint and cummin, but scornful dogs will eat dirty puddings, and I, with many depending on me, must do the best I can with my time—God help me!

The entry above from Scott's Journal was logged after the Panic of 1825/26, which bankrupted Scott.  Scott critiqued John Galt's "The Omen" for Blackwood's Magazine.

Galt was a fellow Scottish novelist, who was born about 8 years after Scott (on May 2, 1779).  His early working years as a businessman were frustrating, but chance favored his meeting Lord Byron on a business trip to Gibraltar.  He had by this point published one poem, the 'Battle of Largs", and so had a common interest with Byron.  After Gibraltar, Galt and Byron traveled together to Malta, and later met in Athens. 

A subsequent business trip for Glasgow merchant Kirkman Finlay also took Galt to Gibraltar.  By this point he was writing and publishing more works.  He is best known for "The Annals of the Parish" and "The Ayrshire Legatees".  His travels did not end with Gibraltar.  Ultimately, he crossed the Atlantic as Secretary for the Canada Land Company, founding the city of Guelph.  Another town on the Grand River is named Galt in his honor.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Malt Riots

There is much discussion about price control on whisky in Scotland currently.  Alcoholic beverages have always been a source of government revenue.  At various times, taxation has led to civil unrest.

For example, June 22, 1725 was a turbulent day in Glasgow.  Twas the beginning of violent resistence to a malt tax, set to be imposed on the 23rd.  The king's revenue officers had the chore of assessing maltsters as to the value of their product.  Glaswegian citizens felt the tax took too much out of their lives, and blocked the tax authorities from Glasgow firms.

Two days later, the mob honed in on the residence of Duncan Campbell, in Shawfield.  He was believed to have supported the malt tax in Parliament.  Troops under General Ward were called in.  The crowd attacked, and several, between 8 and 14, ended up killed as a result.

Glasgow was a rough place at that time.  Walter Scott uses the malt riot as material in his "The Heart of Midlothian":

..."You are not for gaun intill Glasgow then?" said Jeanie, as she observed that the drivers made no motion for inclining their horses' heads towards the ancient bridge, which was then the only mode of access to St. Mungo's capital.

"No," replied Archibald; "there is some popular commotion, and as our Duke is in opposition to the court, perhaps we might be too well received; or they might take it in their heads to remember that the Captain of Carrick came down upon them with his Highlandmen in the time of Shawfield's mob in 1725, and then we would be too ill received.* And, at any rate, it is best for us, and for me in particular, who may be supposed to possess his Grace's mind upon many particulars, to leave the good people of the Gorbals to act according to their own imaginations, without either provoking or encouraging them by my presence."

* In 1725, there was a great riot in Glasgow on account of the malt-tax. Among the troops brought in to restore order, was one of the independent companies of Highlanders levied in Argyleshire, and distinguished,  a lampoon of the period, as "Campbell of Carrick and his Highland thieves." It was called Shawfield's Mob, because much of the popular violence was directed against Daniel Campbell, Esq. of Shawfield, M. P., Provost of the town...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Freits (i.e. omens) follow those that look to them

Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer who is credited with being the first westerner to see the source of the Niger River.  Born within a month of Walter Scott (on September 11, 1771), he reached the source of the Niger on June 21, 1796.

Park's route to Africa did not follow a prescribed plan, perhaps validating the phrase in today's title line, with which he left Walter Scott before his return to Africa in 1805. He apprenticed as a surgeon between 1786 and 1789, then moved to Edinburgh to take classes.  He found an interest in botany.

Park subsequently moved to London, and through Sir Joseph Banks, a contact of his brother-in-law's, received a position as an assistant surgeon.  He also made several discoveries in botany at this time.  Ultimately, his observations led to an invitation from the Association for the Promotion of Discovery to join an expedition to trace the Niger.  Once again, Sir Joseph Banks played a role in his next opportunity, by promoting him for the expedition.

Through a series of difficult and ill-fated actions, Park ultimately found the source of the Niger.  Park had been given up for dead when he returned to London in December 1797 and told his tale.  Park's life turned more domestic at this point, during which he married, settled in Peebles as a doctor, and in 1804, met Walter Scott, who was then living at Ashestiel.

Park apparently withheld a substantial number of incidents that had occurred during his time in Africa.  Mostly, he considered them so fantastic as to be incredulous to the British public.  Scott was of course intrigued by these, and gleaned some accounts from Park as their friendship grew.  Park is said to have been fond of poetry as well.  Park made an impact on Scott in the two years or so they knew each other.  Park left on a new African expedition in 1806, never to return.

Scott remembers Park in one of his journal entries (October 26, 1831): ...About one o'clock our Kofle, as Mungo Park words it, set out, self excluded, to witness the fleet sailing from the ramparts.

Scott was consulted for the publication of Park's journal, and wrote a letter to J. Whishaw who edited this work:

DEAR SIR,-I am glad the anecdotes I rememberd

concerning my poor friend M[r]. Park seemd to you in
the slightest degree interesting. I have often endeavourd
to recollect the passages you mention but they were
communicated near the close of an evening of conviviality
& although I am positively certain of the scope of the
conversation I cannot at this distance of time rely on my
memory as to the particular narrative which led to it. Two
trifling circumstances occur to me respecting his habits.
The first-that his practise as a surgeon among our
lonely hills was so far from being profitable that it was
really expensive. I have known more cases than one in
which Mungo after riding five or six miles by night among
pathless hills gave his medicines as well as attendance for
nothing instead of taking the miserable half guinea from
some poor shepherd or his wife.
2d. Notwithstanding his determination again to visit
Africa the terrors of his former captivity had not ceased
to impress his imagination. When he was affected with
indigestion or any other stomach complaint he used to
start from his sleep supposing himself still a prisoner in
the tent of All.
I shall never forget the spot & the morning when I last
parted with this firm sagacious and intrepid character.
He had slept at my house at Ashestiel & in the morning
we rode together over the wild chain of pastoral hills
which divide Tweed from Yarrow. On the road he told
me his purpose of going straight from Edinr. without again
returning to take leave of his family. We were then at
the top of Williamhope-ridge & the mist floating dimly
below us down the vale of the Yarrow seemd an emblem
of the-dark & uncertain prospect before him. I remember
pressing upon him the dangers of his journey with a
military force which I then thought (though falsely as you
have shewn) the most unsafe mode of travelling since it
was inadequate for conquest & yet large enough to excite
suspicion. He refuted my objections by referring to the
subdivision of Africa into petty districts the chiefs of
whom were not likely to form any regular combination
for cutting him off & whose boundaries were soon
traversed. He referd also to their habit of seeing cofles
or caravans of all nations pass through their territories on
paying a small duty so that the march of such a party
as his own had nothing in it to alarm them with ideas of
spoil or invasion. In this sort of discourse we passd the
hills & came to a road where our paths separated-a
small ditch divided the road from the moor & in going
over it Mungo Parks horse stumbled & nearly fell. As
he recoverd him I said " thats a bad omen Mungo " to
which he answerd laughing " freits [i.e. omens] follow
those that look to them." With this proverbial
expression we parted never again to meet on this side of
the grave.
I observe that you are puzzled with the word fuff 1
which he applies to the noise of the lion[e]ss. It is a very
expressive Scottish word applicable in its primitive sense
to the explosive noise which a cat makes in flying at
a dog.
You observe with great truth that Park was rather shy
& reserved in his general habits. In addition to this I
may add that he always felt rather embarassd by indirect
inquiries which strangers to avoid the apparent rudeness
of blunt interrogation often made concerning his travels.
But said he ther[e] are two risques from this false delicacy
either that I may not understand their question or that
they may misconstrue my answer & in either case my
conversation will be reported inaccurately. He contrasted
this with the conduct of the venerable Professor
Fergusson 2 who using the privilege to which his high
talents & advanced age so well entitled him spread the
map of Africa before Park the first day he dined at
Hallyards made the traveller trace out his whole journey
inch by inch & questiond him upon the whole as he went
along with characteristick precision.
These things are scarce worth writing or reading. But
I have a peculiar veneration for the memory of my
unfortunate friend and even trifles connected with that
topick have a peculiar claim to my remembrance. If you
can extract any thing out of these trifles for your second
edition they are much at your service 1 & I am with much
respect Dear Sir Your obliged humble Servt

PICCADILLY 24 April [1815]

[Nat. Lib. Scot.]


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Adam Ferguson

Today's subject may have done much to inspire a young Walter Scott to further his literary interests.  Dr. Adam Ferguson was Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University, and a leading figure in the Scottish Enlightenment.  Ferguson's friends included David Hume and Adam Smith.  Dr. Ferguson was born on June 20, 1723.

Ferguson is best known as something of an early sociologist. One of his major works was "Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)", which analyzed commercial society with regard to its impact on community virtues.

A generation older than Scott, a connection was made at Edinburgh University through Ferguson's son, also named Adam.  The elder Adam ran literary salons in Edinburgh, through which Walter Scott, at age 15 or so, met Robert Burns.  The story of this meeting has been told many times, which is that Burns noticed a print of the poem "The Justice of the Peace" while attending Ferguson's group, and asked who knew who had written it.  Scott had the correct answer, which is John Langhorne.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

James VI of Scotland/I of England

...The reign of James I. of England possessed this advantage in a peculiar degree. Some beams of chivalry, although its planet had been for some time set, continued to animate and gild the horizon, and although probably no one acted precisely on its Quixotic dictates, men and women still talked the chivalrous language of Sir Philip Sydney's Arcadia; and the ceremonial of the tilt-yard was yet exhibited, though it now only flourished as a Place de Carrousel. Here and there a high-spirited Knight of the Bath, witness the too scrupulous Lord Herbert of Cherbury, was found devoted enough to the vows he had taken, to imagine himself obliged to compel, by the sword's-point, a fellow-knight or squire to restore the top-knot of ribbon which he had stolen from a fair damsel;[Footnote: See Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Memoirs.] but yet, while men were taking each other's lives on such punctilios of honour, the hour was already arrived when Bacon was about to teach the world that they were no longer to reason from authority to fact, but to establish truth by advancing from fact to fact, till they fixed an indisputable authority, not from hypothesis, but from experiment...

Walter Scott's "The Fortunes of Nigel" covers James I's reign.  The passage above is from that novel.  James was born on June 19, 1566 to Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.  Both his parents were descended from Henry VII of England.  He became king on July 24, 1567, as part of Mary's agreement to abdicate the throne, following her defeat with Earl Bothwell at Carberry Hill.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pacification of Berwick

...The Presbyterian form of religion, though deprived of the weight formerly attached to its sentences of excommunication, and compelled to tolerate the coexistence of Episcopacy, and of sects of various descriptions, was still the National Church; and though the glory of the second temple was far inferior to that which had flourished from 1639 till the battle of Dunbar, still it was a structure that, wanting the strength and the terrors, retained at least the form and symmetry, of the original model...

From Walter Scott's "The Heart of Midlothian".  The passage above describes a period beginning with the Pacification of Berwick, which occurred on June 18, 1639.

The Pacification of Berwick ended the First Bishop's War, which pitted England's Charles I, who favored a bishop-led episcopalian form of church government for Scotland, against Scots interested in a bishop-free presbyterian church.

Charles' efforts to impose a new liturgy on Scotland began with the introduction of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in 1637.  This led to a riot in Edinburgh, instigated by a woman named Jenny Geddes, who threw a stool at a minister in St. Giles Cathedral.

By 1639, Covenanters on the Scots side were skirmishing with Charles' forces.  There was little bloodshed, however.  At Berwick, Charles drew troops of 18,000 against Covenanter forces led by Alexander Leslie.  Rather than fight, both sides determined they had not enough advantage, and a truce was drawn.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mary, Queen of Scots Imprisoned at Lochleven Castle

On June 17, 1567, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, following her surrender at Carberry Hill. It is thought that she bore a child while interred, but the fate of that child is unknown. Mary signed papers abdicating the throne in favor of her son James while at Lochleven, prior to her escape the following spring.  Scott writes of Mary's travails in "The Abbot"...

However weary Roland Graeme might be of the Castle of Lochleven--however much he might wish that the plan for Mary's escape had been perfected, I question if he ever awoke with more pleasing feelings than on the morning after George Douglas's plan for accomplishing her deliverance had been frustrated. In the first place, he had the clearest conviction that he had misunderstood the innuendo of the Abbot, and that the affections of Douglas were fixed, not on Catherine Seyton, but on the Queen; and in the second place, from the sort of explanation which had taken place betwixt the steward and him, he felt himself at liberty, without any breach of honour towards the family of Lochleven, to contribute his best aid to any scheme which should in future be formed for the Queen's escape; and, independently of the good-will which he himself had to the enterprise, he knew he could find no surer road to the favour of Catherine Seyton. He now sought but an opportunity to inform her that he had dedicated himself to this task, and fortune was propitious in affording him one which was unusually favourable…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Siege of Gibraltar

The Siege of Gibraltar effectively began on June 16, 1779, when Spain declared war on Great Britain, hoping to regain territory lost to the British in previous wars. Great Britain was engaged in the American War of Independence at the time, making the moment especially opportune. Part of Spain’s overall plan of attack against the English included a land based assault on British soil. But Gibraltar held strategic significance for trade in the Mediterranean region.

Spanish and allied French navies formed a blockage of Gibraltar, while land forces readied themselves to fight with British troops, which were under the leadership of George Elliot. The Brits held out, forcing Spain to commit more men to the siege, and forestalling the planned invasion of England. Various attacks on the British fort failed, and the British navy scored major victories over the blockading fleet, so that the Siege of Gibraltar ended up a decisive British victory.

Walter Scott voyaged to several European spots toward the end of his life, partly in an effort to improve his health.  He records reaching Gibraltar in his Journal...

November 14 (1831)… I wrote to Mr. Cadell to-day, and will send my letter ashore to be put into Gibraltar with the officer who leaves us at that garrison. In the evening we saw the celebrated fortress, which we had heard of all our lives, and which there is no possibility of describing well in words, though the idea I had formed of it from prints, panoramas, and so forth, proved not very inaccurate. Gibraltar, then, is a peninsula having a tremendous precipice on the Spanish side--that is, upon the north, where it is united to the mainland by a low slip of land called the neutral ground. The fortifications which rise on the rock are innumerable, and support each other in a manner accounted a model of modern art; the northern face of the rock itself is hewn into tremendous subterranean batteries called the hall of Saint George, and so forth, mounted with guns of a large calibre. But I have heard it would be difficult to use them, from the effect of the report on the artillerymen. The west side of the fortress is not so precipitous as the north, and it is on this it has been usually assailed. It bristles with guns and batteries, and has at its northern extremity the town of Gibraltar, which seems from the sea a thriving place, and from thence declines gradually to Cape Europa, where there is a great number of remains of old caverns and towers, formerly the habitation or refuge of the Moors. At a distance, and curving into a bay, lie Algeciras, and the little Spanish town of Saint Roque, where the Spanish lines were planted during the siege.[485] From Europa Point the eastern frontier of Gibraltar runs pretty close to the sea, and arises in a perpendicular face, and it is called the back of the rock. No thought could be entertained of attacking it, although every means were used to make the assault as general as possible. The efforts sustained by such extraordinary means as the floating batteries were entirely directed against the defences on the west side, which, if they could have been continued for a few days with the same fury with which they commenced, must have worn out the force of the garrison. The assault had continued for several hours without success on either side, when a private man of the artillery, his eye on the floating batteries, suddenly called with ecstasy, "She burns, by G----!";[486] and first that vessel and then others were visibly discovered to be on fire, and the besiegers' game was decidedly up…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thomas Campbell

Another of Scott's literary connections, the Glasgow poet Thomas Campbell died on June 15, 1844.  Campbell's first strongly popular work was "The Pleasures of Hope", which was published in 1799, six months after Coleridge and Wordsworth published Lyrical Ballads.  In 1803, Campbell married his cousin Matilda Sinclair, settling in London, which was to become and important location for the rest of his life. 

One of Campbell's projects was "Specimens of British Poets" which was published in 1819, but started many years early.  This project led him to communicate with Walter Scott, as on June 28, 1805 (from

Sydenham, June 28th, 1805.


In the belief that we should be able to accommodate easily between ourselves, any difference of opinion we might have about the plan of the British Poets, I took the liberty of acting as your representative in submitting proposals to the trade. I proposed the work to be edited in volumes similar to Dr. Anderson's, (only) in size — the number of volumes about fifteen, plus or minus; Johnson's Poets, with their lives, to be the centre of the work: your ancient Poets, antecedent to Cowley, to be the right wing; and my department, the moderns since Johnson, with Ramsay, whom Johnson omitted, to be the left flank of the whole. I thought the Poets before Cowley could not be fewer than fifteen; nor do I think any rational Christian critic can diminish the number; and, to be responsible for giving a body of English Poetry since the period at which Johnson leaves off, I would not wish to be stinted to a much smaller calculation. It is true there is not the tenth part of Poets — real and spirit-proof-Poets, in the few years of this period that may be found in yours; but we are bound with the moderns, as with near relations, to take notice of smaller recommendations than would carry weight from remoter consanguinity. I must have Ramsay, who is one of my chief favourites — Burns, Cowper, Mason, Goldsmith, Darwin, Smollett, Falconer, Churchill, Armstrong, Logan, Green, T. Warton, Chatterton, and I suppose Michael Bruce, and surely Beattie. Besides, with what propriety, even if some of these worthies were unnicked, could I pretend to be the editor of Modern Poetry, and omit Langhorne, Wilkie, Mickle, Glover, Penrose, and Johnson himself? Penrose is author of one of the very finest poems in the English language — "The Field of Battle." How far below fifteen could you reduce the list? I submitted my proposal of a lumping thousand to the proprietors of the Johnson edition. Some of the more liberal booksellers stood the shock very well, but among the herd of the lower tribe, the proposal fell like a bombshell, and made them disperse in great alarm. I proposed to divide our labour and profits. Cadell and Davies were sorry for the vote being against me, and I believe would give the sum; but the general opinion was, that I should be exhorted to devise a plan with you, comprehending fewer poets and of less cost.

The time also alarmed them; for I demanded not to be bound to finish my part under eighteen months. Books, I think, are not to be promised by the calendar; so I am recommended to concert a new plan... . But how can I propose to you to stint your plan to the narrowed limits they require, after drawing off your attention from a great design of your own? How many below the mark of fifteen, is it possible or probable that you will reduce the number of poets in the prodigious space of time between Chaucer and Cowley? or how much, below the sum of £500 a-piece, is it fair for us to reduce remuneration? For my own part, I know the pestering trouble of picking up anecdotes about the moderns will occupy my time for a year.... It will certainly cost me journeys to Oxford, Scotland, and elsewhere. Now, I have a still higher idea of the importance of your taste. As a joint concern, your reputation is at stake....

I mean to be quite obstinate on this subject. I will not abate a farthing in my demand. I wish to have your sanction, in rejection of their proposal to put the great plan of our national poetry and poetical biography on a dirty little scale. The upshot will probably be breaking off on the difference of terms; and then your old arrangement with Constable will probably discourage competition. I shall in that case embark in a scheme on which I have for some time cogitated — a Collection of genuine Irish Music, and translations from the Irish, adapted as words, to which I can obtain access. Do you think it will do? I will transcribe a little song, which I mean to belong to the collection, though the subject is Gaelic.

Pray can you direct me where to find some good notes for Lochiel's Warning? I shall be much obliged to you to mention this when you write.

Believe me, with great sincerity, your affectionate friend,


Monday, June 14, 2010

Kentucky Bourbon

Today's entry represents a corollary to an important Scottish product; scotch.  Kentucky Bourbon was officially invented in the United States on June 14, 1789.  Credit for this invention is currently bestowed on Rev. Elijah Craig, from Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Craig was the son of Tolliver Craig, who settled in Lexington, KY, and fought in the Revolutionary War, defending Bryan's Station against the British and Shawnee (1782).  The Craig family name was taken from Tolliver's mother, a Scottish woman, who bore Tolliver after his father had left the scene.

Walter Scott was known to enjoy a good belt during his early years, but he was not a bourbon drinker.  The Glenlivet website boasts that when King George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822, Scott, who organized the event, procured Glenlivet for the king to drink.

Bourbon today has at least one important connection to its more more pedigreed cousin in the whisky craft.  Scotch today is often aged in barrels that have been used to age bourbon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Strathnaver Clearances

The year 1814 has gone down in history as the year of the burnings.  On June 13 of that year, Patrick Sellar, who served as factor for Lord and Lady Stafford, began burning Strathnaver.  Walter Scott commented on the clearances (generally) "In too many instances the Highlands have been drained, not of their superfluity of population, but of the whole mass of the inhabitants, dispossessed by an unrelenting avarice, which will one day be found to have been as shortsighted as it is selfish and unjust. Meantime, the Highlands may become the fairy ground for romance and poetry, or the subject of experiment for the professors of speculation, historical and economical. But, if the hour of need should come, the pibroch may sound through the deserted region, but the summons will remain unanswered."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

William Collins

Histories of William Collins credit him with sharing top honors with Thomas Gray as an 18th century poet.    He was enough of a talent for Samuel Johnson to include him in his "Lives of the Poets".  Scott, in an article published in the Foreign Quarterly Review (1827) titled "On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition; and particularly on the works of Ernest Theodore William Hoffmann" refers to him as one of the Graveyard Poets.  William Collins died on June 12, 1759.

Collins was known for his talent, as well as his troubled mind.  He attended Winchester College, and began publishing verse at this time.  In 1742 he published "Persian Eclogues", which was the only work that received public support during his lifetime.  His greatest work was published on December 12, 1746; twelve odes, titled "Odes on Several Descriptive and Allegoric Subjects".

One the twelve odes, "Ode to Fear", Walter Scott quotes from in the article mentioned above.  From Scott:
...It is not so in early history, which is full of supernatural incidents; and although we now use the word romance as synonymous with fictitious composition, yet as it originally only meant a poem, or prose work contained in the Romaunce language, there is little doubt of the doughty chivalry who listened to the songs of the minstrel, "held each strange tale devoutly true", and the feats of knighthood which he recounted, mingled with tales of magic and supernatural interference, were esteemed as veracious as the legends of the monks, to which they bore a strong resemblance...

The full Ode to Fear (from

THOU, to whom the World unknown
With all its shadowy Shapes is shown;
Who see'st appall'd th'unreal Scene,
While Fancy lifts the Veil between:
Ah Fear! Ah frantic Fear!
I see, I see Thee near.
I know thy hurried Step, thy haggard Eye!
Like Thee I start, like Thee disorder'd fly,
For lo what Monsters in thy Train appear!
Danger, whose Limbs of Giant Mold
What mortal Eye can fix'd behold?
Who stalks his Round, an hideous Form,
Howling amidst the Midnight Storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy Steep
Of some loose hanging Rock to sleep:
And with him thousand Phantoms join'd,
Who prompt to Deeds accurs'd the Mind:
And those, the Fiends, who near allied,
O'er Nature's Wounds, and Wrecks preside;
Whilst Vengeance, in the lurid Air,
Lifts her red Arm, expos'd and bare:
On whom that rav'ning Brood of Fate,
Who lap the Blood of Sorrow, wait;
Who, Fear, this ghastly Train can see,
And look not madly wild, like Thee?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Double Touch and Dreaming

June 11 (1826).—Bad dreams about poor Charlotte. Woke, thinking my old and inseparable friend beside me; and it was only when I was fully awake that I could persuade myself that she was dark, low, and distant, and that my bed was widowed. I believe the phenomena of dreaming are in a great measure occasioned by the double touch, which takes place when one hand is crossed in sleep upon another. Each gives and receives the impression of touch to and from the other, and this complicated sensation our sleeping fancy ascribes to the agency of another being, when it is in fact produced by our own limbs acting on each other. Well, here goes—incumbite remis.

From Scott's Journal.

Walter Scott seems to have a somewhat practical conception of the cause of "double touch", as related to dreaming.  As a comparison, Jennifer Ford in her "Coleridge on Dreaming: Romanticism, dreams, and the medical imagination" notes:

...Coleridge was not the first person to explore the possibilities of single and double sense phenomena, but his investigations are particularly coloured by his profound and often complex meditations on dreaming and dreams...Single and double touch seem to be inexorably connected for him with organs and the flesh, but most specifically with experiences of sexuality and the sexual organs.  It is not only touch which can be delineated into single and double manifestations: vision also has this capacity, and it is quite possible that both vision and touch are at work in the derangement of the circulation in nightmairs.

The first mention Coleridge makes of single and double sense awareness occurs in September (25th) 1798..."Dined at the Table-d'hot/Wine Soup with currants in it...That night sate up till 4 in the morning and versified 200 lines/went to bed, could not sleep - saw curious instance of single and double vision...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Battle of Glenshiel

The "little rising" of 1719 involved Spanish troops and Scots Jacobites in a battle against the English.  This rising came about more as a result of King Philip V of Spain's desire to regain status and power after the Treaty of Utrecht.  Spain rolled into Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1718), after which England declared Spain in violation of the Treaty of Utrecht, and attacked a Spanish fleet off the Greek coast.

Spain embarked on a plan to ally with Jacobites against England.  George Keith, the 10th Earl Marischal at Glenshiel was engaged to lead land forces, while a Spanish fleet was deployed to join them.  The fleet never reached Scotland, dispersed by rough seas.  The rising may have lasted longer had the fleet carrying 7,000 troops reached shore.  As it was, approximately 1,000 Spaniards/Jacobites faced a similar number of British troops under General Joseph Wightman. 

Walter Scott discusses Glen Shiel in his "Tales of a Grandfather":

...On his arrival at his own island of Lewis, Seaforth speedily raised a few hundred Highlanders, and crossed over to Kintail, with the purpose of giving a new impulse to the insurrection. Here he made some additions to his clan levies ; but, ere he could gather any considerable force, General Wightman marched against him with a body of regular troops from Inverness, aided by the Monros, Rosses, and other loyal or whig clans of the northern Highlands.

They found Seaforth in possession of a pass called Strachells, near the great valley of Glenshiel. A desultory combat took place, in which there was much skirmishing and sharp-shooting, the Spaniards and Seaforth's men keeping the pass.  George Monro, younger of Culcairn, engaged on the side of Government, received during this action a severe wound, by which he was disabled for the time. As the enemy continued to fire on him, the wounded chief commanded his servant, who had waited by him, to retire, and, leaving him to his fate, to acquaint his father and friends that he had died honourably. The poor fellow burst into tears, and, asking his master how he could suppose he would forsake him in that condition, he spread himself over his body, so as to intercept the balls of the enemy, and actually received several wounds designed for his master. They were both rescued from the most imminent peril by a sergeant of Culcairn's company, who had sworn an oath on his dirk that he would accomplish his chief's deliverance.

The battle was but slightly contested ; but the advantage was on the side of the MacKenzies, who lost only one man, while the Government troops had several killed and wounded. They were compelled to retreat without dislodging the enemy, and to leave their own wounded on the field, many of whom the victors are said to have despatched with their dirks. But though the MacKenzies obtained a partial success, it was not such as to encourage perseverance in the undertaking, especially as their chief, Lord Seaforth, being badly wounded, could no longer direct their enterprise. They determined, therefore, to disperse as soon as night fell, the rather that several of their allies were not disposed to renew the contest. One clan, for example, had - been lent to Seaforth for the service of the day, under the special paction on the part of the chief, that however the battle went, they should return before next morning; this occasional assistance being only regarded in the light of a neighbourly accommodation to Lord Seaforth.

The wounded Earl, with Tullibardine and Marischal, escaped to the continent. The three hundred Spaniards next day laid down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners. The affair of Glenshiel might be called the last faint sparkle of the great Rebellion of 1715, which was fortunately extinguished for want of fuel. A vague rumour of Earl Marischal's having re-landed had, however, wellnigh excited a number of the most zealous Jacobites once more to take the field, but it was contradicted before they adopted so rash a step...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Saint Columba

Colum Cille, the "dove of the church", or Saint Columba landed in Iona in 563AD.  He passed away on June 9th, in 597AD.  During the 34 years he lived in Scotland, his missionary work introduced Christianity to the Picts. 

Of Irish extraction, Columba came to Scotland with 12 fellow monks, all of whom lived an ascetic life.  He established his church on the island of Iona.  As his life drew to a close, he is said to have that fact, and so walked into his church, and breathed his last by the altar.

References to St. Columba occur frequently in Scottish texts, often associated with Iona.  Walter Scott refers to him in the poem "Glenfinlas":

...'Twas Moy; whom in Columba's isle
The seer's prophetic spirit found,
As with a minstrel's fire the while,
He waked his harp's harmonious sound.

Full many a spell to him was known,
Which wandering spirits shrink to hear;
And many a lay of potent tone,
Was never meant for mortal ear.

For there, 'tis said, in mystic mood,
High converse with the dead they hold,
And oft espy the fated shroud,
That shall the future corpse enfold.

O so it fell, that on a day,
To rouse the red deer from their den,
The Chiefs have ta'en their distant way,
And scour'd the deep Glenfinlas glen....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Robert Stevenson

Lighthouse builder, friend of Sir Walter Scott, and grandfather of author Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Stevenson was born on June 8, 1772.  Stevenson's three sons followed him in the engineering trade.  The trip to the Northern Lights that Scott took with Stevenson (published in Scott's journal "Northern Lights or a Voyage in the Lighthouse Yacht to Nova Zembla and the Lord where in the summer of 1814") has been covered in a previous post on Bell Rock Lighthouse, which was designed by yesterday's subject, John Rennie.

The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses has a page on its website discussing the trip that Stevenson and Scott took together in 1814.  This page mentions that Scott may be responsible for persuading Stevenson that an old castle at Kinnaird Head should be preserved (

Monday, June 7, 2010

John Rennie

On June 7, 1761, the civil engineer John Rennie was born.  Rennie had a facility for mechanical work, and as a youth spent time in Andrew Meikle's (inventor of threshing machine) workshop.  Rennie attended Edinburgh University between 1780 and 1783.  In 1784, he visited James Watt, who offered him a position.  Rennie accepted, moving to London to work on a steam engine being built by Boulton & Watt.

Rennie worked on several projects in London, including canals (Kennet and Avon), docks (London docks), harbors (Holyhead harbor), and bridges (London bridge).  He is also credited with designing and building the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Rennie received early schooling in Prestonkirk.  Walter Scott drew upon this area, including Haddington for some of his character inspiration.  Some of these are detailed in "Reminiscences of the royal burgh of Haddington and old East Lothian agriculturists".  For example (West Port):

...Witches of old were burned in the Gallows Green. Sir Walter Scott had no doubt these atrocious events in his eye when, in his novel of the Bride of Lammermoor, he describes an interview betwixt old Alice, Ravenswood, Henry and Lucy Ashton, in the following words :

— ** * They think,' said Henry Ashton, who came up at that moment, and whispered into Ravenswood's ear,
* that she is a witch that should have been burnt with them that suffered at Haddington.'

" ' What is that you say,' said Alice, turning towards the boy, her sightless visage inflamed with passion ;

* that I am a witch, and ought to have suffered with the helpless old wretches who were murdered at Haddington.?'" ...


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Joseph Bonaparte Crowned King of Spain

On June 6, 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte made his older brother Joseph I, King of Spain.  Joseph's rule was challenged immediately by revolt against the French, which was the beginning of the Peninsular War.  England and Portugal joined Spanish guerrillas, ultimately throwing off the French yoke.  Joseph abdicated the throne after the Battle of Vitoria (1813), which was led by Arthur Wellington.

Walter Scott covers Joseph in his "Life of Napoleon Bonaparte", including these comments:

"...In accepting the crown of Spain at the hands of Napoleon, Joseph, who was a man of sense and penetration, must have been sufficiently aware that it was an emblem of borrowed and dependant sovereignly, gleaming but with such reflected light as his brother's imperial diadem might shed upon it. He could not but know, that in making him King of Spain, Napoleon retained over him ail his rights as a subject of France, to whose emperor, in his regal as well as personal capacity, he still, though a nominal monarch, was accounted to owe all vassalage. For this he must have been fully prepared. But Joseph, who had a share of the family pride, expected to possess with all others, save Bonaparte, the external appearance at least of sovereignty, ana was much dissatisfied with the proceedings of the marshals and generals sent by his brother to his assistance. Ench of these, accustomed to command his own separate corps d armee, wilh no subordination save that to the emperor only, proceeded to act <>n his own authority, and his own responsibility, levied contributions at pleasure, and regarded the authority of King Joseph as that of a useless and in•effective civilian, who followed the march along with the impedimenta and baggage of the camp, and to whom hide honour was reckoned due, and no obe•dience. In a word, so complicated became the slate of the war and of the government, so embarrassing the rival pretensions set up by the several French generals, against Joseph and against each other, that wlien Joseph came to Paris to assist at the marriage of Napoleon and Maria Louisa, he made an express demand, that all the French troops in Spain should be placed under his own command, or rather that of his major-general; and in case this was declined, he proposed to abdicate the crown, or, what was equivalent, that the French auxiliaries should be withdrawn from Spain. Bonaparie had, on a former occasion, named his brother generalissimo of the troops within his pretended dominions; he now agreed that the French generals serving in Spain should be subjected, without exception, to the control of Marshal Jourdan, as major-general of King Joseph. But as those commanders were removed from Bonaparte's immediate eye, and were obliged to render an account of their proceedings both to the intrusive king and to Napoleon, it was not difficult for them to contrive to play off the one against the other, and in fact to conduct themselves as if independent of both..."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Adam Smith

The author of "The Wealth of Nations" (1776), and the man responsible for the economic concept of the invisible hand of the marketplace, was born on June 5, 1723.  Smith was born in Kirkaldy, Scotland.  A major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, he became a friend of David Hume, among others.

Walter Scott includes a reference to Adam Smith in the introduction to "The Fortunes of Nigel", in which the fictional Captain Clutterbuck interviews the Author of Waverly:

"...Captain. You are determined to proceed then in your own system ? Are you aware that an unworthy motive may be assigned for this rapid succession of publication ? You will be supposed to work merely for the lucre of gain.

Author. Supposing that I did permit the great advantages which must be derived from success in literature to join with other motives in inducing me to come more frequently before the public, that emolument is the voluntary tax which the public pays for a certain species of literary amusement; it is extorted from no one, and paid, I presume, by those only who can afford it, and who receive gratification in proportion to the expense. If the capital sum which these volumes have put into circulation be a very large one, has it contributed to my indulgences only ? or can I not: say to hundreds, from honest Duncan the paper-manufacturer to the most snivelling of the printer's devils, "Didst thou not share ? Hadst thou not fifteen pence ?" I profess I think our Modern Athens much obliged to me for having established such an extensive manufacture; and when universal suffrage comes in fashion, I intend to stand for a seat in the House on the interest of all the unwashed artificers connected with literature.

Captain. This would be called the language of a calicomanufacturer.

Author. Cant again, my dear son : there is lime in this sack, too ; nothing but sophistication in this world ! I do say it, in spite of Adam Smith and his followers, that a successful author is a productive laborer, and that his works constitute as effectual a part of the public wealth as that which is created by any other manufacturer. If a new commodity, having an actually intrinsic and commercial value, be the result of the operation, why are the author's bales of books to be esteemed a less profitable part of the public stock than the goods of any other manufacturer ? I speak with reference to the diffusion of the wealth arising to the public, and the degree of industry which even such a trifling work as the present must stimulate and reward, before the volumes leave the publisher's shop. Without me it could not exist, and to this extent I am a benefactor to the country. As for my own emolument, it is won by my toil, and I account myself answerable to Heaven only for the mode in which I expend it. The candid may hope it is not all dedicated to selfish purposes; and, without much pretensions to merit in him who disburses it, apart may "wander, heaven-directed, to the poor."

Captain. Yet it is generally held base to write from the mere motives of gain.

Author. It would be base to do so exclusively, or even to make it a principal motive for literary exertion. Nay, I will venture to say that no work of imagination, proceeding from the mere consideration of a certain sum of copymoney, ever did, or ever will, succeed. So the lawyer who pleads, the soldier who fights, the physician who prescribes, the clergyman—if such there be—who preaches, without any zeal for his profession, or without any sense of its dignity, and merely on account of the fee, pay or stipend, degrade themselves to the rank of sordid mechanics. Accordingly, in the case of two of the learned faculties at least, their services are considered as unappreciable, and are acknowledged, not by any exact estimate of the services rendered, out by a honorarium, or voluntary acknowledgment. But let a client or patient make the experiment of omitting this little ceremony of the honorarium, which is cense to be a thing entirely out of consideration between them, and mark how the learned gentleman will look upon his case. Cant set apart it is the same thing with literary emolument. No man of sense, in any rank of life, is, or ought to be, above accepting a just recompense for his time, and a reasonable share of the capital which owes its very existence to his exertions. When Czar Peter wrought in the trenches, he took the pay of a common soldier; and nobles, statesmen and divines, the most distinguished of their time, have not scorned to square accounts with their bookseller..."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dudley Marries Amy Robsart

The heroine of Walter Scott's "Kenilworth" was Amy Robsart.  Amy was the daughter of Sir John Robsart and Elizabeth Scott.  Amy Robsart and Robert Dudley, son of Earl John Dudley of Warwick, married on June 4, 1550.

Amy Robsart is most famous for her mysterious death.  She died of a broken neck (1560), and was found at the bottom of a set of stairs at Cumnor Place.  Supposition has it that she was either murdered, to make way for a marriage between Dudley and Queen Elizabeth I.  Another possibility is suicide.

In "Kenilworth", Scott portrays the marriage between Dudley and Robsart as secret; necessarily so due to Dudley's position at Elizabeth's court:

"...Varney kneeled down, and replied, with a look of the most profound contrition, "There had been some love passages betwixt him and Mistress Amy Robsart."

Leicester's flesh quivered with indignation as he heard his dependant make this avowal, and for one moment he manned himself to step forward, and, bidding farewell to the court and the royal favour, confess the whole mystery of the secret marriage. But he looked at Sussex, and the idea of the triumphant smile which would clothe his cheek upon hearing the avowal sealed his lips. "Not now, at least," he thought, "or in this presence, will I afford him so rich a triumph." And pressing his lips close together, he stood firm and collected, attentive to each word which Varney uttered, and determined to hide to the last the secret on which his court-favour seemed to depend. Meanwhile, the Queen proceeded in her examination of Varney.

"Love passages!" said she, echoing his last words; "what passages, thou knave? and why not ask the wench's hand from her father, if thou hadst any honesty in thy love for her?"..."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Weaver Poet

Robert Tannahill, the weaver poet, was born in Paisley on June 3, 1774.  Tannahill's nickname derives from his being apprenticed at age 12 to his father, a silk weaver.  Tannahill was contemporary with Burns and Scott.  According to Rampant Scotland, Tanahill established a Burns club in Paisley (1803), and among his guests there was Walter Scott's friend James Hogg.

Tannahill shares space in statue form in the Wallace Monument at Stirling with Robert Burns and Walter Scott.

The Braes of Balquhidder (Wild Mountain Thyme)
(Robert Tannahill)

Will ye go, lassie, go, to the braes o' Balquhidder
Where the blueberries grow, 'mang the bonnie bloomin' heather;
Where the deer and the ram, lightly bounding together,
Sport 'he lang summer day 'mang the braes o' Balquhidder
Will ye go, lassie, go,
To the braes o' Balquhidder!
Where the blueberries grow,
'Mang the bonnie bloomin' heather

I will twine thee a bower by the clear siller fountain
An' I'll cover it o'er wi' the flowers o' the mountain;
I will range through the wilds, an' the deep glens sae dreary.
An' return wi' their spoils to the bower o' my dearie

When the rude wintry win' idly raves round our dwellin',
An' the roar o' the linn on the night-breeze is swellin'
Sae merrily we'll sing as the storm rattles o'er us,
Till the dear sheeling ring wi' the light liltin' chorus.

Now the summer is in prime, wi' the flowers richly bloomin'
An' the wild mountain thyme a' the moorlands perfumin'
To our dear native scenes let us journey together
Where glad innocence reigns 'mang the braes of Balquhidder

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Prince Henry Sinclair Lands in Nova Scotia in 1398

"...This adventurous huntsman married Elizabeth, daughter of Malice Spar, Earl of Orkney and Stratherne, in whose right their son Henry was, in 1379, created Earl of Orkney, by Haco, king of Norway. His title was recognized by the Kings of Scotland, and remained with his successors until it was annexed to the crown, in 1471, by act of Parliament. In exchange for this earldom, the castle and domains of Ravenscraig, or Ravensheuch, were conferred on William Saintclair, Earl of Caithness " (Scott).

From the notes to Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel", which contains several St. Clair references.

Not all are convinced that Prince Henry Sinclair's voyage to what later became America occurred, but today, June 2, in 1398, is the date credited with Prince Henry's landing at Chadebucto Bay (now Trin Bay), in Nova Scotia (

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Battle of Drumclog

June 1, 1679 saw the Battle of Drumclog being fought, in South Lanarkshire.  The battle pitted covenanting forces against John Graham of Claverhouse.  June 1st was a Sunday that year, and the fighting commenced when Covenanters, at Sunday services, learned that Graham and his troops had moved near the area. 

The Covenanters under Robert Hamilton took up a position at Drumclog, which Claverhouse and his troops could not get through, due to its boggy nature.  William Cleland attacked for the Covenanters as Graham was mired, and won the day.

Walter Scott included this battle in his novel "A Tale of Old Mortality":

"...The company had not long left the Howff, as Blane's public-house was called, when the trumpets and kettle-drums sounded. The troopers got under arms in the market-place at this unexpected summons, while, with faces of anxiety and earnestness, Cornet Grahame, a kinsman of Claverhouse, and the Provost of the borough, followed by half-a-dozen soldiers, and town-officers with halberts, entered the apartment of Niel Blane.

"Guard the doors!" were the first words which the Cornet spoke; "let no man leave the house.--So, Bothwell, how comes this? Did you not hear them sound boot and saddle?"..."