Monday, January 31, 2011

Bonnie Prince Charlie Passes

'Soon after his arrival I took Sir Walter to St. Peter's, which he had resolved to visit, that he might see the tomb of the last of the Stuarts...' (from Lockhart's "Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott")

As Sir Walter Scott's life was nearing its end, he toured Italy, including a visit to Rome (April 1832).  Sir William Gell was in Rome at the same time, and helped to make Scott comfortable while there.  Gell took Scott to St. Peter's Bascilica in the Vatican where Charles Edward Stuart, his brother Henry and their parents are interred.

Bonnie Prince Charlie died on January 31, 1788.  Initially, he was buried in the Cathedral of Frascati, where his brother Henry served as Bishop.  Charles' heart remains physically in Frascati, while the rest of his remains were transferred to St. Peter's.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cromwell Posthumously Executed

'The figure of Oliver Cromwell was, as is generally known, in no way prepossessing. He was of middle stature, strong and coarsely made, with harsh and severe features, indicative, however, of much natural sagacity and depth of thought. His eyes were grey and piercing; his nose too large in proportion to his other features, and of a reddish hue.

His manner of speaking, when he had the purpose to make himself distinctly understood, was energetic and forcible, though neither graceful nor eloquent. No man could on such occasion put his meaning into fewer and more decisive words. But when, as it often happened, he had a mind to play the orator, for the benefit of people's ears, without enlightening their understanding, Cromwell was wont to invest his meaning, or that which seemed to be his meaning, in such a mist of words, surrounding it with so many exclusions and exceptions, and fortifying it with such a labyrinth of parentheses, that though one of the most shrewd men in England, he was, perhaps, the most unintelligible speaker that ever perplexed an audience. It has been long since said by the historian, that a collection of the Protector's speeches would make, with a few exceptions, the most nonsensical book in the world; but he ought to have added, that nothing could be more nervous, concise, and intelligible, than what he really intended should be understood.

It was also remarked of Cromwell, that though born of a good family, both by father and mother, and although he had the usual opportunities of education and breeding connected with such an advantage, the fanatic democratic ruler could never acquire, or else disdained to practise, the courtesies usually exercised among the higher classes in their intercourse with each other. His demeanour was so blunt as sometimes might be termed clownish, yet there was in his language and manner a force and energy corresponding to his character, which impressed awe, if it did not impose respect; and there were even times when that dark and subtle spirit expanded itself, so as almost to conciliate affection. The turn for humour, which displayed itself by fits, was broad, and of a low, and sometimes practical character. Something there was in his disposition congenial to that of his countrymen; a contempt of folly, a hatred of affectation, and a dislike of ceremony, which, joined to the strong intrinsic qualities of sense and courage, made him in many respects not an unfit representative of the democracy of England...'

Sir Walter Scott's description of Oliver Cromwell comes from "Woodstock".  On January 30, 1661, Cromwell's dead body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey for a symbolic execution.  His head remained on display outside Westminster Hall until 1685.  January 30 was the day on which, in 1649, Charles I had been beheaded.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Battle of Brienne

'The result of the battle of Brienne was indecisive, and the more unsatisfactory to Bonaparte, as the part of Blucher's force engaged did not amount to 20,000 men, and the sole advantage gained over them, was that of keeping the field of battle. Napoleon's principal object, which was to divide Blucher from the grand army, had altogether failed. It was necessary, however, to proclaim the engagement as a victory, and much pains was taken to represent it as such. But when it was afterward discovered to be merely a smart skirmish, without any material results, the temporary deception only served to injure the cause of Napoleon....'

On January 29, 1814, French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte defeated combined Prussian/Russian forces at the Battle of Brienne.  Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher led the Prussian forces.  Marshal Michel Ney was instrumental in securing the town of Brienne.  Blücher was nearly captured, but escaped and later met Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.  The text above is from Walter Scott's "Life of Napoleon Bonaparte".

Friday, January 28, 2011

Edward VI of England

King Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547, succeeded by his son Edward VI. Edward was nine at the time.  He was the son of wife number three, Jane Seymour.

One of Edward's connections with Sir Walter Scott is that he continued the wars with Scotland that Scott referred to as "the rough wooing", which were fought over his betrothal to Mary Queen of Scots.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Elizabeth de Bruce

January 27.[1827]—Read Elizabeth de Bruce; it is very clever, but does not show much originality. The characters, though very entertaining, are in the manner of other authors, and the finished and filled up portraits of which the sketches are to be found elsewhere. One is too apt to feel on such occasions the pettish resentment that you might entertain against one who had poached on your manor. But the case is quite different, and a claim set up on having been the first who betook himself to the illustration of some particular class of characters, or department of life, is no more a right of monopoly than that asserted by the old buccaneers by setting up a wooden cross, and killing an Indian or two on some new discovered island. If they can make anything of their first discovery, the better luck theirs; if not, let others come, penetrate further into the country, write descriptions, make drawings or settlements at their pleasure.

Not a very popular read today.  Elizabeth de Bruce was published in 1827.  Author Christian Isobel Johnstone was a journalist who founded several periodicals with her husband.  The text above is from Scott's Journal.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Francis Jeffrey

Francis Jeffrey was the first official editor of the Edinburgh Review, which began in 1802.  Basically concurrent with Sir Walter Scott, Jeffrey was born in 1773, and died on January 26, 1850.  Jeffrey knew Scott from the Speculative Society, which they were both members of.  But knowing Scott didn't prevent Scott from canceling his subscription to the Review after Jeffrey wrote an article critical of the British military effort in Spain.

The April 1805 Review contained a criticism of Scott's "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", beginning:

'We consider this poem as an attempt to transfer the refinements of modern poetry to the matter and the manner of the ancient metrical romance. The author, enamoured of the lofty visions of chivalry, and partial to the strains in which they were formerly embodied, seems to have employed all the resources of his genius in endeavouring to recall them to the favour and admiration of the public; and in adapting to the taste of modern readers a species of poetry which was once the delight of the courtly, but has long ceased to gladden any other eyes than those of the scholar and the antiquary. This is a romance, therefore, composed by a minstrel of the present day; or such a romance as we may suppose would have been written in modern times, if that style of composition had continued to be cultivated, and partaken consequently of the improvements which every branch of literature has received since the time of its desertion....'

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Critique of Burns

It is the 252nd anniversary of Robert Burns' birth.  Sir Walter Scott met the older Burns once when he was a youth.  He also critiqued a work of Burns' in the Quarterly Review.  This review was later published in a collection of Burns critiques titled "Early Critical Reviews of Robert Burns".  In Scott's critique, he draws on the work of Dr. James Currie, whose review is also published in this book.  Scott's review is lengthy, and sometimes hard hitting, but recognizes the bard's unique gift.  It begins:


From "the Quarterly Review," February, 1809.


We opened a book bearing so interesting a title with no little anxiety. Literary reliques vary in species and value almost as much as those of the Catholic or of the antiquary. Some deserve a golden shrine for their intrinsic merit; some are valued from the pleasing recollections and associations with which they are combined; some, reflecting little honour upon their unfortunate authors, are dragged by interested editors from merited obscurity. The character of Burns, on which we may perhaps hazard some remark in the course of this article, was such as to increase our apprehensions. The extravagance of genius with which this wonderful man was gifted, being in his later and more evil days directed to no fixed or general purpose, was, in the morbid state of his health and feelings, apt to display itself in hasty sallies of virulent and unmerited severity—sallies often regretted by the bard himself; and of which justice to the living and to the dead alike demanded the suppression. Neither was this anxiety lessened when we recollected the pious care with which the late excellent Dr. Currie had performed the task of editing the works of Burns. His selection was limited, as much by respect to the fame of the living as of the dead. He dragged from obscurity none of those satirical effusions which ought to be as ephemeral as the transient offences which called them forth. He excluded everything approaching to licence, whether in morals or religion, andthus rendered his collection such as, doubtless, Burns himself, in his moments of sober reflection, would have most highly approved. Yet applauding, as we do most highly applaud, the leading principles of Dr. Currie's selection, we are aware that they sometimes led him into fastidious and over-delicate rejection of the bard's most spirited and happy effusions...'

Monday, January 24, 2011


The Roman Emporer Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born this day, January 24, in the year 76 AD.  In addition to the famous wall crossing Great Britain, Hadrian is responsible for the Pantheon in Rome.  Hadrian's Wall was built over approximately a six year period, beginning around 122 AD.

The wall has held up well over nearly two millennia.  Better than Triermain Castle, which was built of stones from Hadrian's Wall in the 14th century.  There is a legend associated with Triermain of a weeping ghost lad, which Walter Scott placed into a poem; "The Bridal of Triermain".  The beginning of this poem, which is available at, is as follows:

The Bridal of Triermain



Come Lucy! while 'tis morning hour
The woodland brook we needs must pass;
So, ere the sun assume his power,
We shelter in our poplar bower,
Where dew lies long upon the flower,
Though vanish'd from the velvet grass.
Curbing the stream, this stony ridge
May serve us for a silvan bridge;
For here, compell'd to disunite,
Round petty isles the runnels glide,
And chafing off their puny spite,
The shallows murmurers waste their might,
Yielding to footstep free and light
A dry-shod pass from side to side.


Nay, why this hesitating pause?
And, Lucy, as thy step withdraws,
Why sidelong eye the streamlet's brim?
Titania's foot without a slip,
Like, thine, though timid, light, and slim,
From stone to stone might safely trip,
Nor risk the glow-worm clasp to dip
That binds her slipper's silken rim.
Or trust thy lover's strength; nor fear
That this same stalwart arm of mine,
Which could yon oak's prone trunk uprear,
Shall shrink beneath, the burden dear
Of form so slender, light, and fine;
So! now, the danger dared at last,
Look back, and smile at perils past!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Assassination by Gunshot

In January 1570, per Rampant Scotland, the 23rd, James Stewart, the Regent Moray, was assassinated.  The assassin, James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, shot Moray from a window.  This murder is the first recorded assassination by gunshot.  Hamilton was a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots.  Moray had been made regent on Mary's abdication of the throne.

In Frank Taylor's biography of "Regent Moray", he raises a question about Moray's end: ' Did Moray wish for the end? It is said that, though he was forewarned of Bothwellhaugh's preparations, he refused to institute a search. It is certain that he knew his peril, and yet neglected the most ordinary measures of precaution. He was never the man to risk his life without a cause, much less to fling it away in mere bravado. It may well be that he courted death, not because he was weary of living, but because he shrank from the future. Sooner or later he would be forced to deal with the occupants of the Castle, the struggle would be protracted and severe, in the event, the extreme penalty would be demanded and, with or without his consent, exacted. It may well be that he had some prescience of the day, when to sustain the mantic reputation of Knox, the foremost soldier of the Scottish Reformation would be hanged in the Grassmarket, and the brilliant Lethington driven "to end his life after the old Roman fashion." Already he had sacrificed a sister's love and an ancient friendship on the altar of his country. Who shall say that he was wholly satisfied in his own conscience of having done the right? At any rate, if he had steeled his heart against the loss of friends, he had not steeled it for their destruction. Two waves he had breasted, but he could not face the third. Suicide is ever a form of cowardice, yet that is a noble cowardice which prompts a man to lay down his life for a friend. If there be any truth in this surmise, what was said of Moray's voluntary exile after the murder of Darnley acquires a deeper and sadder meaning when applied to his own assassination. He was seeking death when it found him, "for he saw troubles breeding, in which he loved not to have a hand."...'

Sir Walter Scott was aware of the plot against Moray.  Not Scott the author, of course, but Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch.  According to the 'Dictionary of National Biography" by Sir Sidney Lee, 'SCOTT, WALTER, first Lord Scott OF Buccleuch (1565-1611), born in 1565, was the only son of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch (d. 1574), by his wife, Lady Margaret Douglas, eldest daughter of David, seventh earl of Angus, who afterwards married Francis Stewart Hepburn, fifth earl of Bothwell. The father, who latterly became a devoted adherent of Mary Queen of Scots, was privy to the design for the assassination of the regent Moray, and, counting on its occurrence, set out the day before with Ker of Ferniehirst on a devastating raid into England. In revenge his lands were laid waste by the Earl of Sussex and Lord Scrope, and his castle of Branxholm blown up with gunpowder. He was a principal leader of the raid to Stirling on 4 Sept. 1571, when an attempt was made to seize the regent Lennox, who was slain by one of the Hamiltons during the melee. Buccleuch, who had interposed to save the regent Morton, his kinsman, whom the Hamiltons intended also to have slain, was during the retreat taken prisoner by Morton (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 248), and was for some time confined in the castle of Doune in Menteith (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 156).'

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Raleigh's Muddy Cloak

'...From thence home, and after a little dinner my wife and I by coach into London, and bought some glasses, and then to Whitehall to see Mrs. Fox, but she not within, my wife to my mother Bowyer, and I met with Dr. Thomas Fuller, and took him to the Dog, where he tells me of his last and great book that is coming out: that is, his History of all the Families in England; and could tell me more of my own, than I knew myself. And also to what perfection he hath now brought the art of memory; that he did lately to four eminently great scholars dictate together in Latin, upon different subjects of their proposing, faster than they were able to write, till they were tired; and by the way in discourse tells me that the best way of beginning a sentence, if a man should be out and forget his last sentence (which he never was), that then his last refuge is to begin with an Utcunque...'

On January 22, 1661, Samuel Pepys records meeting with Thomas Fuller, the churchman known for his "The Worthies of England".  Fuller is credited also with a fictitious story that Sir Walter Scott employed in his "Kenilworth".  The story is the famous incident of Raleigh gallantly throwing his cloak atop a mud puddle so that Queen Elizabeth wouldn't get her feet dirty.  Scott repeats this incident in Kenilworth:

'Accordingly, she fixed her keen glance on the youth, as she approached the place where he stood, with a look in which surprise at his boldness seemed to be unmingled with resentment, while a trifling accident happened which attracted her attention towards him yet more strongly. The night had been rainy, and just where the young gentleman stood a small quantity of mud interrupted the Queen's passage. As she hesitated to pass on, the gallant, throwing his cloak from his shoulders, laid it on the miry spot, so as to ensure her stepping over it dry-shod. Elizabeth looked at the young man, who accompanied this act of devoted courtesy with a profound reverence, and a blush that overspread his whole countenance. The Queen was confused, and blushed in her turn, nodded her head, hastily passed on, and embarked in her barge without saying a word.

"Come along, Sir Coxcomb," said Blount; "your gay cloak will need the brush to-day, I wot. Nay, if you had meant to make a footcloth of your mantle, better have kept Tracy's old drab-debure, which despises all colours."

"This cloak," said the youth, taking it up and folding it, "shall never be brushed while in my possession."...'

Friday, January 21, 2011

Colin Mackenzie

Janaury 21 [1826] '...Colin Mackenzie entered, and with his usual kindness engages to use his influence to recommend some moderate proceeding to Constable's creditors, such as may permit him to go on and turn that species of property to account, which no man alive can manage so well as he...'

From Scott's Journal, on January 21, 1826, while Walter Scott, is ruminating on his financial condition, his friend Colin Mackenzie of Portmore.  MacKenzie served as a Principal Clerk of Session, at Edinburgh.  He also contributed to Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, including a tale on Ellandonan Castle.

Ellandonan Castle,

A Highland Tale.

O Wot ye, ye men of the island of Skye.
That your Lord lies a corpse on Ardelve's rocky shore?
The Lord of the Isles, once so proud and so high,
His lands and his vassals shall never see more.

None else but the Lord of Kintail was so great;
To that Lord the green banks of Loch Duich belong,
Ellandonan's fair castle and noble estate,
And the hills of Glensheal and the costs of Loch Loung.

His vassals are many, and trusty, and brave,
Descended from heroes, and worthy their sires;
His castle is wash'd by the salt-water wave,
And his bosom the ardour of valour inspires.

M'Donald, by restless ambition impell'd
To extend to the shores of Loch Duich his sway,
With awe Ellandonan's strong turrets beheld.
And waited occasion to make them his prey.

And the moment was come; for M'Kenneth afar.
To the Saxon opposed his victorious arm;
Few and old were the vassals, but dauntless in war,
Whose courage and skill freed his towers from alarm.

M'Donald has chosen the best of his power;
On the green plains of Slate were his warriors array'd;
Every islander came before midnight an hour,
With the sword in his hand, and the belt on hit plaid.

The boats they are ready, in number a score;
In each boat twenty men, for the war of Kintail;
Iron hooks they all carry, to grapple the shore.
And ladders, the walls of the fortress to scale.

They have pass'd the strait kyle, through whose billowy flood,
From the arms of Kintail-men, fled Haco of yore,
Whose waves were dyed deep with Norwegian blood,
Which was shed by M'Kenneth's resistless claymore.

They have entcr'd Loch Duich—all silent their course,
Save the splash of the oar on the dark bosom'd wave,
Which mingled with murmurs, low, hollow, and hoarse,
That issued from many a coralline cave.

Either coast they avoid, and right eastward they steer;
Nor star, nor the moon, on their passage hat shone;
Unexpecting assault, and unconscious of fear,
All Kintail was asleep, save the watchman alone.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Monody - On the Death of David Garrick



Prize Poem at Bath-Easton.

Dim sweeps the shower along the misty vale,
And Grief's low accents murmur in the gale.
O'er the damp vase, Horatio, sighing, leans,
And gazes absent on the faded scenes.

Soft melancholy shades each sprightly grace,
That wont to revel o'er his Laura's face,
When, with sweet smiles, the garlands gayshetwin'd,
And each light spray her roseate ribbons bind.

Dropt from her hand the scattered myrtles lie;
And lo ! dark cypress meets the earnest eye!
For lifeless Garrick sighs from Genius breathe,
And weeping Beauty culls the funeral wreath. ...
Monody, the beginning of which is shown above, was published in "The Poetical Works of Anna Seward...", by Anna Seward; edited by Sir Walter Scott.  It memorializes fellow Lichfieldian David Garrick on his death, which occurred on January 20, 1779. 
Evidently Seward held warmer feelings for Garrick than for the more famous son of Lichfield, Samuel Johnson.  Seward was the source of several erroneous or misleading anecdotes about Johnson, which James Boswell spent significant time vetting.
By Johnson's account, and by most others', Garrick was one of the most talented and generous individuals a person could come across.  As related in Anna Bird Stewart's "Enter David Garrick", Garrick exhibited acting talent at an early age.  He brought a natural style of acting to the stage, once he finally began acting professionally, changing the profession profoundly.  Garrick put Shakespeare's Stratford on the map, through his acting, and by his development of the Stratford Shakespeare festival.  Garrick was also noted for his social gatherings, and behind the scenes supported a great many people financially.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Expulsion from the House of Commons

'Upon the accession of George III., and the commencement of Lord Bute's administration, Smollett's pen was employed in the defence of the young monarch's government, in a weekly paper called The Briton, which was soon silenced, and driven out of the field by the celebrated North Briton, conducted by John Wilkes. Smollett had been on terms of kindness with this distinguished demagogue, and had twice applied to his friendship,— once for the kind purpose of obtaining the dismission of Dr Johnson's black servant, Francis Barber, from the navy, into which he had inconsiderately entered ;' and again, to mediate betwixt himself and Admiral Knowles, in the matter of the prosecution. Closer ties than these are readily dissolved before the fire of politics. The friends became political opponents; and Smollett, who had to plead an unpopular cause to unwilling auditors, and who, as a Scotchman, shared deeply and personally in that unpopularity, was compelled to give up The Briton, more, it would seem, from lack of spirit in his patron Lord Bute, to sustain the contest any longer, than from any deficiency of zeal on his own part. ..'

On January 19, 1764, politician John Wilkes was expelled from the House of Commons for seditious libel.  The complaint against Wilkes involved his criticism of George III's endorsement of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1763.  Wilkes is also known for his publication the "North Briton", which Sir Walter Scott discusses above in text from a biography of Tobias Smollett he wrote.  This biography is included in "The Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.."

John Wilkes was unpopular with a great many people of his time, including Samuel Johnson. The two ultimately met, at a dinner arranged surreptitiously by Boswell.  As Boswell explains ("Life of Johnson"), 'My desire of being acquainted with celebrated men of every description, had made me, much about the same time, obtain an introduction to Dr. Samuel Johnson and to John Wilkes, Esq. Two men more different could perhaps not be selected out of all mankind. They had even attacked one another with some asperity in their writings; yet I lived in habits of friendship with both. I could fully relish the excellence of each; for I have ever delighted in that intellectual chymistry, which can separate good qualities from evil in the same person...But I conceived an irresistible wish, if possible, to bring Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wilkes together. How to manage it, was a nice and difficult matter.  Boswell facilitated conversation between the two, once he had arranged a dinner at Charles Dilly's, with common ground being found in needling Boswell about his Scotland: 'Mr. Arthur Lee mentioned some Scotch who had taken possession of a barren part of America, and wondered why they should choose it. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, all barrenness is comparative. The SCOTCH would not know it to be barren.' BOSWELL. 'Come, come, he is flattering the English. You have now been in Scotland, Sir, and say if you did not see meat and drink enough there.' JOHNSON. 'Why yes, Sir; meat and drink enough to give the enhabitants sufficient strength to run away from home.' All these quick and lively sallies were said sportively, quite in jest, and with a smile, which showed that he meant only wit. Upon this topick he and Mr. Wilkes could perfectly assimilate; here was a bond of union between them, and I was conscious that as both of them had visited Caledonia, both were fully satisfied of the strange narrow ignorance of those who imagine that it is a land of famine. But they amused themselves with persevering in the old jokes. When I claimed a superiority for Scotland over England in one respect, that no man can be arrested there for a debt merely because another swears it against him; but there must first be the judgement of a court of law ascertaining its justice; and that a seizure of the person, before judgement is obtained, can take place only, if his creditor should swear that he is about to fly from the country, or, as it is technically expressed, is in meditatione fugoe: WILKES. 'That, I should think, may be safely sworn of all the Scotch nation.' JOHNSON. (to Mr. Wilkes,) 'You must know, Sir, I lately took my friend Boswell and shewed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town. I turned him loose at Lichfield, my native city, that he might see for once real civility: for you know he lives among savages in Scotland, and among rakes in London.' WILKES. 'Except when he is with grave, sober, decent people like you and me.' JOHNSON. (smiling,) 'And we ashamed of him.'...'

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Botany Bay

'...Dined with John Swinton en famille. He told me an odd circumstance. Coming from Berwickshire in the mail coach he met with a passenger who seemed more like a military man than anything else. They talked on all sorts of subjects, at length on politics. Malachi's letters were mentioned, when the stranger observed they were much more seditious than some expressions for which he had three or four years ago been nearly sent to Botany Bay...'

On January 18, 1788, 736 convicts were delivered to Botany Bay's penal colony by Britain's First Fleet.  Botany Bay was the site of James Cook's landing in 1770.  The text above comes from Scott's Journal; July 10, 1826.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Battle of Falkirk Muir

'WaveRleY riding post, as was the usual fashion of the period, without any adventure save one or two queries, which the talisman of his passport sufficiently answered, reached the borders of Scotland. Here he heard the tidings of the decisive battle of Culloden. It was no more than he had long expected, though the success at Falkirk had thrown a faint and setting gleam over the arms of the Chevalier. Yet it came upon him like a shock, by which he was for a time altogether unmanned. The generous, the courteous, the noble-minded Adventurer, was then a fugitive, with a price upon his head; his adherents, so Brave, so enthusiastic, so faithful, were dead, imprisoned, or exiled. Where, now, was the exalted and high-fouled Fergus, if, indeed, he had survived the night at Clifton? Where the pure-hearted and primitive Baron of Bradwardine, whose foibles seemed foils to set off the disinterestedness of his disposition, the genuine goodness of his heart, and his unshaken courage? Those who clung for support to these fallen columns, Rose and Flora, where were they to be sought, and in what distress must not the loss of their natural protectors have involved them? Of Flora, he thought with the regard of a brother for a sister: of Rose, with a sensation yet more deep and tender. It might be still his fate to supply the want of those guardians they had lost. Agitated by these thoughts he precipitated his journey.'

An victory and an opportunity missed for Charles Edward Stuart's forces. The battle itself was largely over in 20 minutes, and earned the man Hawley replaced, General Cope £10,000.  Legend has it that Cope bet that Hawley would be beaten by the Highlanders, as he had been.  Unfortunatley for the Jacobite cause, Stuart did not want to have Hawley pursued, after his defeat.  Hawley regrouped, and was ready at the Battle of Culloden.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ridolfi Plot

"What, Hal Hempseed?" replied the mercer. "Why, you may remember he was a sort of a gentleman, and would meddle in state matters, and so he got into the mire about the Duke of Norfolk's affair these two or three years since, fled the country with a pursuivant's warrant at his heels, and has never since been heard of."

The Duke of Norfolk's affair spoken of in Walter Scott's "Kenilworth" is the Ridolfi Plot, which sought to eliminate Elizabeth I from the throne in favor of Catholic Mary Queen of Scots.  Roberto di Ridolfi, who is credited with hatching the plot, was a Florentine banker with ties to William Cecil, among others.  Mary was to marry cousin Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, as part of the plan.

The conspiracy fell apart due primarily to the work of Admiral John Hawkins, who worked as a counter-espionage agent, and learned of Ridolfi's plan from Spain's Ambassador to England.  On January 16, 1572, Thomas Howard was tried for treason for his role in the conspiracy.  He was found guilty, and executed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Columbus Leaves the New World

'...Agreeably to your advice, I have actually read over Madoc a second time, and I confess have seen much beauty which escaped me in the first perusal. Yet (which yet, by the way, is almost as vile a monosyllable as but] I cannot feel quite the interest I would wish to do. The difference of character which you notice, reminds me of what by Ben Jonson and other old comedians were called humours, which consisted rather in the personification of some individual passion or propensity, than of an actual individual man. Also, I cannot give up my objection, that what was strictly true of Columbus becomes an unpleasant falsehood when told of some one else. Suppose I was to write a fictitious book of travels, I should certainly do ill to copy exactly the incidents which befell Mungo Park or Bruce of Kinnaird. What was true of them would incontestably prove at once the falsehood and plagiarism of my supposed journal. It is not but what the incidents are natural—but it is their having already happened, which strikes us when they are transferred to imaginary persons. Could any one bear the story of a second city being taken by a wooden horse?...'

The text above was taken from a letter Walter Scott sent to the English poet Anna Seward, taken from John Gibson Lockhart's "Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott".  The main topic was MacPherson's Ossian poem fraud.  Scott evokes Christopher Columbus, and the events during his travels as unfit for repackaging in fiction. 

What were some of Columbus' adventures?  On the day he departed the New World to return to Spain, January 15, 1493, he considers many circumstances in his journal, as translated by Cecil Jane.  'He [Columbus] says that he wished to depart, because now there is no profit in remaining, owing to those disagreements which had occurred; he must mean the dispute with the Indians...that all the abundance of gold was in the district of the town of La Navidad...there would be difficulties in the island of Carib, because that people is said to eat human flesh...and to the island of Matinano, which is said to be entirely peopled by women without men, and to see both, and to take some, as he says...'

Friday, January 14, 2011

Order of the Templar Approved

"Tush," said the Abbot, "thou canst tell us if thou wilt. This reverend brother has been all his life engaged in fighting among the Saracens for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre; he is of the order of Knights Templars, whom you may have heard of; he is half a monk, half a soldier."

Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert is Walter Scott's Templar character in "Ivanhoe".  On January 14, 1129 the Order of the Templar was approved at the Council of Troyes, which was called by Pope Honorius II.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Saint Mungo's Day

'The dusky mountains of the western Highlands often sent forth wilder tribes to frequent the marts of St. Mungo's favourite city. Hordes of wild shaggy, dwarfish cattle and ponies, conducted by Highlanders, as wild, as shaggy, and sometimes as dwarfish, as the animals they had in charge, often traversed the streets of Glasgow. Strangers gazed with surprise on the antique and fantastic dress, and listened to the unknown and dissonant sounds of their language, while the mountaineers, armed, even while engaged in this peaceful occupation, with musket and pistol, sword, dagger, and target, stared with astonishment on the articles of luxury of which they knew not the use, and with an avidity which seemed somewhat alarming on the articles which they knew and valued. It is always with unwillingness that the Highlander quits his deserts, and at this early period it was like tearing a pine from its rock, to plant him elsewhere. Yet even then the mountain glens were over-peopled, although thinned occasionally by famine or by the sword, and many of their inhabitants strayed down to Glasgow--there formed settlements--there sought and found employment, although different, indeed, from that of their native hills. This supply of a hardy and useful population was of consequence to the prosperity of the place, furnished the means of carrying on the few manufactures which the town already boasted, and laid the foundation of its future prosperity....'

Saint Mungo's life began mysteriously.  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (, his mother was named Thenaw, and was a daughter of British prince Lothus. His father is unknown.  Kertigern, as the Saint is also known, began an austere mission life at age 25 in Cathures, on the Clyde, which became Glasgow. 

Saint Mungo and Saint Mungo's Church appear in Walter Scott's "Rob Roy", from which the text above comes.  Saint Mungo died on January 13, 603, and January 13 is his Feast Day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fairy Mythology

On January 12, 1667, Samuel Pepys records in his diary '...So home to supper, and then to read a little in  Moore's [More's] "Antidote against Atheisme," a pretty book, and so to bed.'

Henry More is labeled a Cambridge Platonist, a category of philosophers distinguished by having a theological background.  Among others, More taught Anne Finch, sister to Heneage Finch, who was part of yesterday's post.

More's book begins 'The grand truth which wee are now to bee imployed about, is the proving that there is a God..'  The book treats witches and superstition along the way.  More's work is tied in to Walter Scott's and William Shakespeare's, in Minor White Latham's "Elizabethan Fairies, the fairies of folklore and the fairies of Shakespeare".

As Latham writes, 'Only in the philosophical and religious treatises, and in discourses proving the existence or nonexistence of witches, as the works of Henry More, Glanvil, John Webster, Edward Fairfax, Harsnet, Hobbes, and Robert Kirk are the fairies of folklore to be found...'

And on Shapespeare: 'By 1648, the fairies of A Midsummer Night's Dream, might well have sat as the models for the fairies mentioned in the Cosmographic of Peter Heylyn, where they are defined as " a pretty kind of little Fiends or Pigmey-Devils, but more inclined to sport than mischief." In 1653, in an Antidote against Atheism by Henry More, the fairies are referred to as "those little Puppet-Spirits, which they call Elves or Fairies."..'

And on Sir Walter Scott:

'In 1802-1803, Sir Walter Scott, in his essay "On the Fairies of Popular Superstition," called attention to the influence of Shakespeare upon the fairies of native tradition. Among the causes which he assigned for the change in the characteristics of the English fairies from those of the traditional dwarfs or berg-elfen of the Gothic and Finnish tribes from whom he would have them derive, he noted " the creative imagination of the sixteenth century " :

Many poets of the sixteenth century, and above all, our immortal Shakespeare, deserting the hackneyed fictions of Greece and Rome, sought for machinery in the superstitions of their native country.

" The fays, which nightly dance upon the wold," were an interesting subject; and the creative imagination of the bard, improving upon the vulgar belief, assigned to them many of those fanciful attributes and occupations, which posterity have since associated with the name of fairy. In such employments, as rearing the drooping flower, and arranging the disordered chamber, the fairies of South Britain gradually lost the harsher character of the dwarfs, or elves. Their choral dances were enlivened by the introduction of the merry goblin Puck, for whose freakish pranks they exchanged their original mischievous propensities. The fairies of Shakespeare, Drayton, and Mennis, therefore, at first exquisite fancy portraits, may be considered as having finally operated a change in the original which gave them birth.

While the fays of South Britain received such attractive and poetical embellishments, those of Scotland, who possessed no such advantage, retained more of their ancient, and appropriate character.

The original folk fairies "of Britain, and more especially hose of Scotland," Scott represented as " retaining the unamiable qualities, and diminutive size, of the Gothic lves."The fairies of England he seems to have regarded s harmless.   Scott's essay is an important document in the history of English fairy mythology, since it is one of the first statements, if not the first; of Shakespeare's influence on the fairies of popular superstition and of Shakespeare's use of Robin Goodfellow, and one of the first statements of the existence, in the 16th century, of two conceptions of fairyland, that of folk tradition and that created by Shakespeare.'

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mount Etna Erupts

On January 11, 1693, Mount Etna erupted.  Sicily suffered an earthquake with this eruption that caused 60,000 deaths, and precipitated a 5-10 meter tsunami. 

Sir Walter Scott traveled through southern Italy in 1831, but did not witness an eruption.  He did, however, help to preserve some accounts of these eruptions in "A Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts ...", which was published in 1812.  These tracts relate to the reign of Charles II.  Mount Etna erupted in 1669, destroying the town of Nicolosi, and killing 20,000.  This eruption caused a substantial flow of lava, and an earthquake.  The lava reportedly took eight years to cool.  Here is one of the tracts about the eruption from an eyewitness:

'A true and exact Relation of the late prodigious Earthquake and Eruption of Mount Etna, or Monte Gibello, as it came in a Letter written to his Majesty, from Naples, by the Right Honourable the Earl of Winchelsea, his Majesty's late Ambassador at Constantinople, who, in his Return from thence, visiting Catania, in the Island of Sicily, was an Eye-witness of that dreadful Spectacle. Together with a more particular Narrative of the same, as it is collected out of several Relations sent from Catania. Published by Authority, 1669.

The author of this tract, which was published by authority, is thus commemorated by Horace Walpole:—Heneage Finch, second Earl of Winchelsea, was " first cousin of the Chancellor Nottingham, and made a figure at the same period. He was intimate with Moncke, and concerned in the Restoration; soon after which he was sent ambassador to Mahomet the Fourth. Moncke had given the earl the government of Dover-castle, which was continued to him ; and when King James was stopped at Feversham, he sent for the Earl of Winchelsea, who prevailed on the king to return to London. The earl voted for giving the crown to King William, by whom he was continued lord lieutenant of Kent. He died soon after in HJSJ). On his return from Constantinople, visiting Sicily, he was witness to a terrible convulsion of Mount Etna, an account of which he sent to the King."—Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, apud Works, I. 420.

May it please your Majesty,

In my voyage from Malta to this place, wherein I have used all the diligence the season hath given me leave, I touched at Catania in Sicily, and was there kindly invited by the bishop to lodge in his palace, which I accepted, that so 1 might be the better able to inform your majesty of that extraordinary fire, which comes from Mount Gibel, fifteen miles distant from that city; which, for its horridness in the aspect, for the vast quantity thereof, (for it is fifteen miles in length and seven in breadth) for its monstrous devastation, and quick progress, may be termed an inundation of fire, a flood of fire, cinders, and burning stones, burning with that rage as to advance into the sea six hundred yards, and that to a mile in breadth, which I saw; and that which did augment my admiration was, to see in the sea this matter like ragged rocks, burning in four fathom water, two fathom higher than the sea itself, some parts liquid and moving, and throwing off, not without great violence, the stones about it, which, like a crust of a vast bigness, and red-hot, fell into the sea every moment, in some place or other, causing a great and horrible noise, smoak and hissing in the sea; and thus, more and more coming after it, making a firm foundation in the sea itself. I staid there from nine a clock on Saturday morning to seven next morning, and this mountain of fire and stones, with cinders, had advanced into the sea twenty yards at least, in several places ; in the middle of this fire, which burnt in the sea, it hath formed a passage like to a river, with its banks on each side very steep and craggy, and in this channel moves the greatest quantity of this fire, which is the most liquid, with stones of the same composition, and cinders all red-hot, swimming upon the fire, of a great magnitude ; from thi& river of fire doth proceed under the great mass of the stones, which are generally three fathom high all over the country, where it burns, and in other places much more, there are secret conduits or rivulets of this liquid matter, which communicates fire and heat into all parts more or less, and melts the stones and cinders by fits in those places where it toucheth them, over and over again ; where it meets with rocks or houses of the same matter (as many are) they melt and go away with the fire; where they find other compositions they turn them to lime or ashes, (as I am informed.) The composition of this lire, stones, and cinders, are sulphur, nitre, quick-silver, sal-amoniac, lead, iron, brass, and all other metals. It moves not regularly, nor constantly down hill; in some places it hath made the vallies hills, and the hills that are not high are now vallies. When it was night I went upon two towers in diverse places, and could plainly see at ten miles distance, as we judged, the fire to begin to run from the mountain in a direct line, the flame to ascend as high and as big as one of the highest steeples in your majesty's kingdoms, and to throw up great stones into the air; I could discern the river of fire to descend the mountain of a terrible fiery or red colour, and stones of a paler red, to swim thereon, and to be some as big as an ordinary table. We could see this fire to move in several other places, and all the country covered with fire, ascending with great flames in many places, smoaking like to a violent furnace of iron melted, making a noise with the great pieces that fell, especially those which fell into the sea. A cavalier of Malta, who lives there, and attended me, told me, that the river was as liquid, where it issues out of the mountain, as water, and came out like a torrent with great violence, and is five or six fathom deep, and as broad, and that no stones do sink therein. I assure your majesty, no pen can express how terrible it is, nor can all the art and industry of the world quench or divert that which is burning in the country. In forty days time it hath destroyed the habitations of twenty-seven thousand persons, made two hills of one, one thousand paces high a-piece, and one is four miles in compass, as your majesty will see by the draught that 1 take the boldness to send herewith ; it was the best I could get, but hath nothing of the progress into the sea; the confusion was so great in the city, which is almost surrounded with mountains of fire, that I could not get any to draw one, but I have taken care to have one sent after me for your majesty. Of twenty thousand persons which inhabited Catania, three thousand did only remain ; all their goods are carried away, the cannons of brass are removed out of the castle, some great bells taken down, the city gates walled up next the fire, and preparation made for all to abandon the city.

The night which I lay there, it rained ashes all over the city, and ten miles at sea it troubled my eyes. This fire in its progress met with a lake of four miles in compass, and it was not only satisfied to fill it up, though it was four fathom deep, but hath made of it a mountain.

I send also to your sacred majesty a relation in print which the bishop gave me, wherein the beginning is related, and several curious passages. I must humbly beseech your pardon for the hindering your majesty so long from your better employments : And I beseech you, great sir, ever to believe I love and reverence your person above all expression : For I am

Your majesty's
most obedient, most humble,

and most faithful

subject and servant,


Naples, the 27th of April,
7th of May, 1669. '

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mary Russell Mitford

'...Did I, when talking of 'Waverley,' tell you that I had happened a year or two ago to meet with a most curious book—alluded to, though not named, in that -work—entitled, 'Some Passages in the Life of Colonel Gardiner, by Dr. Doddridge?' This Colonel Gardiner is the Colonel G of Waverley,' and this biographical morceau is exactly calculated to form le pendant to the life of Johanna Southcote with which Mr. Toser will probably some day favour the world. The supernatural illumination is precisely the same in both cases, though I cannot find that the worthy colonel ever fancied himself in the family-way, or that he ever made any money of his conversion. Of course he was more fool and she is more knave—if knave can ever be feminine, which, alas! for the sex, I fear it can.

I am still firmly of opinion that Walter Scott had some share in 'Waverley;' and I know not the evidence that should induce me to believe that Dugald Stewart had anything to do with it. He! the triptologist!—as Horace Walpole says. He! the style-monger, whose periods, with their nice balancing and their elaborate finish, always remind me of a worthy personage in blue and silver, yclept, I believe, the Flemish Hercules, whom I have seen balancing a ladder on his finger, with three children on one end and two on the other—he write that half French, half English, half Scotch, half Gaelic, half Latin, half Italian—that hotch-potch of languages—that moveable Babel called 'Waverley!' My dear Sir William, there is not in the whole book one single page of pure and vernacular English; there is not one single period, of which you forget the sense in admiration of the sound...'

Mary Russell Mitford had fairly mixed opinions on Walter Scott's writing.  She refers to it as "dull as the fat weed that grows on Lethe's bank (he never could write ' Guy Mannering ' I am sure—it is morally impossible!)" - with the exception of the Scott's Life of Dryden, which she was reading.

But Scott loomed large in her reckoning, and she was on to something when she suspected in 1814 that he had "something to do with Waverley".  The text above, as well as the quote in the paragraph following, was published in "The Life of Mary Russell Mitford", edited by Alfred Guy L'Estrange.  The first comes from a letter Mitford wrote to Sir William Elkord on December 14, 1814.  Waverley was published in 1814, and Scott's authorship was still not public at that point.

Ms. Mitford's most notable work is "Our Village", which contains sketches of rural life.  Mary Russell Mitford died on January 10, 1855.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pitt's Income Tax

Rampant Scotland indicates that the income tax was introduced in Great Britain this day, January 9, in the year 1799.  William Pitt's (the younger) tax of 10% on earnings (above £60) was imposed to fund a defense against Napoleon.  The tax was abolished three years later, when Pitt's replacement as Prime Minister, Henry Addington, imposed a tax on property, creating five Schedules for taxation (property and income sources).   Income taxation was repealed soon after Napoleon was defeated (1816 for the income tax, 1815 for Napoleon), not being reintroduced until 1842 (under Robert Peel).

Sir Walter Scott was subject to the income tax, and Addington's new tax scheme.  In 1813, Scott was troubled by the imposition of tax on literary labor.  The following is reported in John Gibson Lockhart's "Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott":

'....The poet's allusion to " taxing men" may require another word of explanation. To add to his troubles during this autumn of 1813, a demand was made on him by the commissioners of the income tax, to return in one of their schedules an account of the profits of his literary exertions during the last three years. He demurred to this, and took the opinion of high authorities in Scotland, who confirmed him in his impression that the claim was beyond the statute. The grounds of his resistance are thus briefly stated tn one or his letters to his legal friend in London.

To John Richardson, Esq. Fluyder Street, Westminster.

" My dear Richardson,

" I have owed you a letter this long time, but perhaps my debt might not yet be discharged, had I not a little matter of business to trouble you with. 1 wish you to lay before either the King's counsel, or Sir Samuel Romilly, and any other you may approve, the point whether a copyright, being Bold for the term during which Queen Anne's act warranted the property to the author, the price is liable in payment of the property tax. I contend it is not so liable, for the following reasons:—1st, it is a patent right, expected to produce an annual, or at least an incidental profit, during the currency of many years and surely It was never contended that if a man sold a theatrical patent, or a patent for machinery, property tax should be levied in the first place on the full price as paid to the seller, and then on the profile as purchased by the buyer. I am not very expert at figures, but I think it clear that a double taxation takes place. 2d, It should be considered that a book may be the work not of one year, but of a man's whole life; and as it has been found, In a late case of the Duke of Gordon, that a fall of timber was not subject to property tax because it comprehended the produce of thirty years, it seems at least equally fair that mental exertions should not be subjected to a harder principle of measurement. 3d, the demand is, so far as I can learn, totally now and unheard of. 4th, supposing that I died and left my manuscripts to be sold publicly along with the rest of my library, is there any ground for taxing what might be received for the written book, any more than any rare printed book which a speculative bookseller might purchase with a view to republication?  You will know whether any of these things ought to be suggested in the brief. David Hume, and every lawyer here whom I have spoken to, consider the demand as illegal. Believe me truly yours,

Walter Scott."
Mr. Richardson having prepared a case, obtained upon it the opinions of Mr. Alexander, (afterwards Sir William Alexander and Chief Baron of the Exchequer,) and of the late Sir Samuel Romilly. These eminent lawyers agreed in the view of their Scotch brethren; and after a tedious correspondence, the Lords of the Treasury at last decided that the Income-Tax Commissioners should abandon their claim upon the produce of literary labour. 1 have thought it worthwhile to preserve some record of this decision, and of the authorities on which it rested,
in case such a demand should ever be renewed hereafter.'

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Alexander I of Scotland Coronated

'The household of the Scottish king [Alexander II] was filled with the usual number of feudal officers, and there was an affectation of splendor in the royal establishment, which even the humility of the sainted Queen Margaret did not discourage. She and her husband used at meals vessels of gold and silver plate, or at least, says the candid Turgot, such as were lacquered over so as to have that appearance. Even in the early days of Alexander I., that monarch (with a generosity similar to that of the lover who presented his bride with a case of razors, as what he himself most prized) munificently bestowed on the church of Saint Andrew's an Arabian steed covered, with rich caparisons, and a suit of armor ornamented with silver and precious stones, all which he brought to the high altar, and solemnly devoted to the church...'

Alexander I was known for benefitting the church, as Walter Scott's example from "Scotland" illustrates.  His mother, Saint Margaret, was not canonized until 1250, but Alexander and his brothers Edgar and David (and five other siblings) would have grown up in a religious environment.  Alexander took the throne on the death of his brother Edgar; January 8, 1107.  Brother David received the kingdom of Strathclyde in Edgar's will, though as a prince, not a king.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Glasgow University


When the author projected this further encroachment on the patience of an indulgent public, he was at some loss for a title; a good name being very nearly of as much consequence in literature as in life. The title of Rob Roy was suggested by the late Mr. Constable, whose sagacity and experience foresaw the germ of popularity which it included.
No introduction can be more appropriate to the work than some account of the singular character whose name is given to the title-page, and who, through good report and bad report, has maintained a wonderful degree of importance in popular recollection. This cannot be ascribed to the distinction of his birth, which, though that of a gentleman, had in it nothing of high destination, and gave him little right to command in his clan. Neither, though he lived a busy, restless, and enterprising life, were his feats equal to those of other freebooters, who have been less distinguished. He owed his fame in a great measure to his residing on the very verge of the Highlands, and playing such pranks in the beginning of the 18th century, as are usually ascribed to Robin Hood in the middle ages,--and that within forty miles of Glasgow, a great commercial city, the seat of a learned university..'

From the intro to "Rob Roy".  Per Rampant Scotland, Glasgow University was founded on January 7, 1451. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Joan d'Arc

'...Among others who seemed of quality, the most remarkable was the Count de Dunois, the son of that celebrated Dunois, known by the name of the Bastard of Orleans, who, fighting under the banner of Jeanne d'Arc, acted such a distinguished part in liberating France from the English yoke...'

Joan d'Arc's birthdate is not known with certainty, but is often placed on January 6, 1412.  Scott included reference to her in his French-set Quentin Durward.  Joan of Arc fought in the Hundred Years War against England, as did Jean de Dunois, supporting the future Charles VII of France.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Scots Worthies

John Howie, the author of "The Lives of the Scots Worthies", lived in Lochgoin, dying on January 5, 1793. The book contains lives of Protestant reformers.  According to a biography contained in an 1853 Robert Carter and Brothers publication of this work, 'the humble occupants of Lochgoin had never swerved from the faith of their fathers. It was not, however, till the period of the second Reformation, that the Howies were brought into prominent notice, by becoming sufferers for the truth. Nor were these sufferings of a trivial nature. Lochgoin, as the reader has already seen, being peculiarly favourable for concealment, had often afforded an asylum to the harrassed Covenanters when flying from their ruthless persecutors...'

From the people in this area, Howie drew material for his biographical sketches.  Howie's first subject was Patrick Hamilton, who was martyred in 1528 as a heretic. Howie begins, 'This illustrious youth, destined to the high honour of being the first to announce the truth to his fellow countrymen, and the first to seal it with his blood, was bora in the year 1504. He was of royal lineage, being the son of Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavil, who was the son of lord Hamilton, by a sister of king James III. By maternal descent his birth was not less illustrious; his mother being a daughter of John duke of Albany, brother to the same monarch. He was early educated with a view to future high preferment, and had the abbacy of Ferne given him that he might prosecute his studies, which he did with great assiduity....'

According to John Johnston, in "Treasury of the Scottish Covenant", 'Walter Scott refers to Howie as 'the fine old chronicler of the Cameronians'.  The Reverend John Carslaw of Airdrie wrote to Walter Scott in1827, asking Scott if he had drawn from Howie's work for his "Old Mortality".  Scott replied (May 2, 1827):

SIR,—I am favoured with your letter and in reply to your enquiry beg to assure you that I did not think of
John Howie of Lochgoin,1 the fine old chronicler of the Cameronians, when the sketch of Old Mortality was drawn. In fact that character is one of the few I have ever attempted to delineate which had a real identical existence. The real name of Old Mortality was Paterson : his Christian name I have forgotten but believe it was John. He was a mason by trade, but from enthusiasm possibly something approaching to aberration of mind he forsook his family & wandered through Scotland repairing the tombs of the martyrs. It is now more than thirty years since I met him myself as far north as Dunottar in Kincardineshire on that errand. I believe he was either a Dumfriesshire or Galloway man. John Howie was of Ayrshire. Having thus answered your question to the best of my power I have only to add that the nickname of Old Mortality was generally given to Paterson by the common people, & that many knew him by no other name.
I am. Sir,
Your humble servant


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Handsel Monday

" Did you by any chance learn his name?" .

" I wot weeldid I—for he said it-was likely that an auld woman like a gipsy wife might be asking for him. Ay, ay! tell me your company, and I'll tell you wha ye are! O the villain. Aweel, sir, when he gaed away in the morning he paid his bill very honestly, and gae something to the chamber-maid, nae doubt, for Grizzy has naething frae me, but two pair o' new shoon ilka year, and may be a bit compliment at Hansel Monday ." Here Glossin found it necessary to interfere, and bring the good woman back to the point.

Sir Walter Scott employs the money giving tradition of Handsel Monday in "Guy Mannering".

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sir George Beaumont

'...Talking of Wordsworth, he told Anne and me a story, the object of which was to show that Crabbe had not imagination. He, Sir George Beaumont, and Wordsworth were sitting together in Murray the bookseller's back-room. Sir George, after sealing a letter, blew out the candle, which had enabled him to do so, and, exchanging a look with Wordsworth, began to admire in silence the undulating thread of smoke which slowly arose from the expiring wick, when Crabbe put on the extinguisher. Anne laughed at the instance, and inquired if the taper was wax, and being answered in the negative, seemed to think that there was no call on Mr. Crabbe to sacrifice his sense of smell to their admiration of beautiful and evanescent forms. In two other men I should have said "this is affectations," with Sir Hugh Evans; but Sir George is the man in the world most void of affectation; and then he is an exquisite painter, and no doubt saw where the incident would have succeeded in painting. The error is not in you yourself receiving deep impressions from slight hints, but in supposing that precisely the same sort of impression must arise in the mind of men otherwise of kindred feeling, or that the commonplace folks of the world can derive such inductions at any time or under any circumstances.'

The interchange recorded above is from Scott's Journal, dated January 3, 1827.  George Crabbe was posted about in December.  Scott mentions Sir George Beaumont several times in his journal.  Scott is clearly deferential to this patron of the arts.  Wordsworth and Beaumont were friends, Beaumont having supported Wordsworth by allowing the use of his farm in the Lake District.  Baronet Beaumont, who helped establish London's National Gallery, was to live just one month past Scott's journal reference.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Conqueror of Quebec

English General James Wolfe had a very successful career, which included a role in suppressing Scottish Jacobite forces in 1745.  He gained renown not for this aspect of his career, but for his role in defeating French forces holding Quebec in 1759.  William Pitt (elder) assigned Wolfe the command of an expedition to take Quebec in that year, and Wolfe successfully fulfilled his task, though died during the battle.

Author Robert Wright, in his "The Life of Major-General James Wolfe..." offers the following quote from Sir Walter Scott on the character of Wolfe (and Pitt): 'Pitt and Wolfe, therefore, were considered as characters above ordinary humanity, not so much on account of the power and eloquence of the Minister or the prowess of the General, as because they made the honour and welfare of their country their sole aim. "They dared," as Sir Walter Scott says, "to contemn wealth; the statesman and soldier of the present day would, on the contrary, not dare to propose it to himself."..'

James Wolfe was born this day, January 2nd, in the year 1727.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Coronation of Charles II at Scone

Charles II of England was the last monarch crowned at Scone.  The coronation occurred on January 1, 1651, and the following description is included in "A collection of scarce and valuable tracts: on the most interesting and Entertaining Subjects", bu Sir Walter Scott and Baron John Somers Somers:

'The following account of the coronation at Scone, when the Scottish clergy, content to have established their superiority over the crown, were in the mood of admitting Charles II. to some external marks of dignity, affords abundant illustration of Clarendon's account of his reception and treatment in the hereditary kingdom of his ancestors.

" The king was received by the Marquis of Argyle with all the outward respect imaginable; but within two days after his landing, all the English servants he had of any quality were removed from his person, the Duke of Buckingham only excepted.

" He was not present in their councils; nor were the results thereof communicated to him; nor was he in the least degree communicated with in any part of the government; yet they made great shew of outward reverence to him ; and even the chaplains, when they used rudeness and barbarity in their reprehensions and reproaches, approached him still with bended knees, and in the humblest postures. There was never a better courtier than Argyle, who used all possible address to make himself gracious to the king, entertained him with very pleasant discourses, with such insinuations, that the king did not only very well like his conversation, but often believed that he had a mind to please and gratify him ; but then, when his majesty made any attempt to get some of his servants about him, or to reconcile the two factions, that the kingdom might be united, he gathered up his countenance and retired from him, without ever yielding, to any one proposition that was made to him by his majesty. In a word, the king's table was well served: there he sate in majesty, waited upon with decency: he had good horses to ride abroad to take the air, and was then well attended; and in all public appearances seemed to want nothing that was due to a great king. In all other respects, with power to oblige or gratify any man, to dispose or order any thing, or himself to go to any other place than was assigned to him, he had nothing of a prince, but might very well be looked upon as a prisoner. — Clarendon's History, III. 286.

It is singular that, on the very day of Charles's coronation, the themes on which the clergy who officiated enlarged with most unction, were the backslidings and covenant-breaking of his grandfather and father, with the guilt of encouraging sectaries and Erastians, and the solemn, burden, that he should beware, " Ne quid detriment! ecclesia capiat"

First the king's majestic, in a princes robe, was conducted from his bed chamber, by the constable on his right hand, and the marishall on his left hand, to the chamber of presence, and there was placed in a chaire, under a cloath of slate, by the Lord of Angus, chamberlayne appointed by the king for that day, and there, after a little repose, the noblemen, with the commissioners of barons and burroughes, entered the hall, and presented themselves before his majesty.

There-after, the lord chancellour spoke to the king to this purpose: Sir, your good subjects desire you may be crowned, as the righteous and lawful heire of the crown of this kingdome; that you would maintain religion as it is presently professed and established, conform to the nationall covenant, league and covenant, and according to your declaration at Dumfermring in August last; also that you would be graciously pleased to receive them under your highnesse protection, to govern them by the laws of the kingdome, and to defend them in their rights and liberties, by your royall power, offering themselves in most humble manner to your majestic, with their vowes to bestow land, life, and what else is in their power, for the maintainance of religion, for the safety of your majesties sacred person, and maintainance of your crowne, which they intreat your majestic to accept, and pray Almightie God that for man) years you may happily enjoy the same.

The king made this answer: I do esteeme the affections of my good people more than the crownes of many kingdomes, and shall be ready, by Gods assistance, to bestow my life in their defence, wishing to live no longer then 1 may see religion and this kingdome flourish in all happiness.

Thereafter the commissioners of burroughes and of barrones, and the noble-men, accompanied his majestic to the kirk of Scoone, in order and rank according to their qualitie, two and two.

The spurres being carried by the Earle of Eglinton.  Next, the sword by the Earle of Rothes.  Then the scepter by the Earle of Craufurd and Lindesay.  And the crown by the Marques of Argyle, immediately before the king.

Then came the king, with the great constable on his right hand, and the great marishall on his left hand, his train being carried by the Lord Erskine, the Lord Montgomery, the Lord Newbottle, and the Lord Machlene, four carles eldest sonnes, under a canopy of crimson velvet, supported by six earles sonnes, to wit, the Lord Druinmond, the Lord Carnegie, the Lord Ramsay, the Lord Johnstoun, the Lord Brechin, the Lord Yester, and the six carriers supported by six noble-men's sounes.

Thus the kings majestic entereth the kirk.

The kirk being fitted and prepared with a table whereupon the honours were layed, and a chaire in a fitting place for his majesties hearing of sermon, over against the minister, and another chaire on the other side, where he sate when he received the crowne, before which there was a bench decently covered, as also seats about for the noblemen, barons, and burgesses.

And there being also a stage in a fit place erected of 14 foot square, about four foot high from the ground, covered with carpets, with two stairs, one from the west, and another to the east, upon which great stage there was another little stage erected, som two foot high, ascending by two steps, on which the throne or chaire ot state was set.

The kirk thus fittingly prepared, the kings majestie entereth the same, accompanied as aforesaid, and first setteth himself in his chaire, for hearing of sermon...'