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Newsletter 18th November 2011

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  • Newsletter 18th November 2011

    Electric Scotland News
    What's new on
    The Flag in the Wind
    Historical Tales of the Wars of Scotland
    R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Fighter for Justice
    Through the Long Day
    Nether Lochaber
    The Social and Industrial history of Scotland, from the Union to the present time
    Traits and Stories of the Scottish People
    The Cottagers of Glenburnie
    Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language
    Scottish Poets in America (New Book)
    Letters from the Mountains (New Complete Book)

    Electric Scotland News
    I was having a bit of a review on my publishing efforts and have concluded that I am having some problems. The first problem is publishing to the web site as each page takes around 5 minutes to save whereas it should only take a few seconds at worst. And when I have to upload graphics along with the page each graphic is taking 5 minutes to upload.

    There is a fix but it is going to take Steve to do some work on the server and that's been delayed for some time due to the fire we had. Right now our servers are still in the old house and right now that's the only stuff left in the house with no heating or water. Steve is now in a new house and we hope in the next week, or two at the most, we'll be able to at last move the servers to his new abode. All this means is that Steve has to travel to the old house to check the servers and as there is no heating it's not the best conditions to work on the servers and the fix will take some time to get into place.

    All this means that I am not publishing the normal amount of material to the site and have mostly worked on my backlog that is already sitting on the server but that is close to being exhausted.

    The other issue is that I'd forgotten just how much time and work is needed to build a new web site and thus is taking a lot of work. I have to do lots of research to find material which means talking to a lot of people and trying to track down people that can assist me in finding good content. I spent an entire day just trying to find material for Agriculture in Canada and while I now have some content up there is a lot more to do just on that one section alone. I don't have the same issues of publishing however as that site is a lot smaller so just takes the normal few seconds to save pages.

    I have been able to add new content to Electric Scotland but as an example creating the new "Scottish Poets in America" it took an entire half day to publish whereas it should only have taken half an hour.

    One saving grace about working on the site is that much of what I put up mentions lots of Scots. For example while working on the Toronto book I found that when I got to the shops and business in Toronto there were tons of Scots mentioned. I don't think it's possible to write about Canada without their being Scots involved somewhere and usually quite a few of them. That kind of reinforces the fact that the Scots had a very significant impact on Canada.

    I am also having to take time off to see to my eyesight as they did warn that when I had my eye surgery that would likely mean a higher risk of getting chataracts. Having just had my annual eye exam they did find early stages of chataracts developing so this means further visits to fix the issues and these kind of visits do take up some hours.

    It's also been suggested that I spend less time on the computer to give my eyes a rest so that also is going to impact the time I can spend.

    And so all this means is that less content will be going up and also more slowly. The saving grace on the site is that there is more on that site than anyone could read in a lifetime so there will always be something to read.

    Anyway... just thought I'd give you a heads up on how things are developing.

    Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section in our site menu and at and also

    History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
    Containing an outline of the history of the Dominion of Canada, a history of the city of Toronto and the County of York, with the townships, villages, churches, schools, general and local statistics, biographical sketches, etc.

    I've now completed this first volume. The second volume is mostly biographies and I'll be getting that up in the weeks ahead as I want to make more progress on the Makers of Canada.

    Julie Plamondon
    Corporate Communications, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

    While researching information on Agriculture in Canada I managed to talk to Julie and she was a great help and send me links to resources that would help my search for material. I decided to create a page for her where I could include the links she sent me.

    The Real Dirt on Farming 2011
    An excellent pdf publication giving a very good overview on the farming industry.

    Handel's Messiah
    A production by the Inuit people. This is a video production on YouTube.

    Farming Facts 2002
    An interesting overview of Agriculture in Canada in pdf format.

    Canada at a glance 2011
    AN interesting publication from Statistics Canada in pdf format.

    British newspaper salutes Canada
    Salute to a brave and modest nation - Kevin Myers , 'The Sunday Telegraph' LONDON

    This article was quite amazing seeing as such information is difficult to find in Canada.

    Joseph Howe
    By Hon. J. W. Longley (1909). A Maker of Canada.

    This weeks Flag was compiled by Ian Goldie. In this issue he's covering some interesting ground and well worth a read. He is talking about Scottish membership in the EU and I confess I can't understand their fixation on the EU which would water down any independence that Scotland obtains. I've emailed a link to the SDA's paper on the EU to the editor, Jim LYnch, and hope he passes it around as I believe it's an important paper that should be read.

    You can get to the Flag at

    Historical Tales of the Wars of Scotland
    And of the Border Raids, Forays and Conflicts by John Parker Lawson (1839). This is a new publication we're starting on which is in 4 volumes. We intend to post up 2 or 3 stories each week until complete.

    Added this week...

    Early Christians in Britain
    Fights and Forays in Braxholme
    Exploits of Colkitto

    You can read these at

    R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Fighter for Justice
    An Appreciation of his Social and Religious Outlook by Ian M. Fraser (2002).

    Added the Bibliography which now completes this book.

    You can get to this book at

    Through the Long Day
    Or Memorials of a Literary Life during half a century by Charles MacKay LL.D. (1887)

    This week have added...

    Chapter IV - The Garrick Club 1858

    You can get to all this at

    Nether Lochaber
    The Natural History, Legends and Folk-Lore of the West Highlands by Rev. Alexander Stewart FSA Scot, (1883)

    We're now up to chapter 55.

    Chapter 52 starts...

    With a bright sun overhead, at noon as nearly vertical as it can ever be in our latitudes, and a steady, kindly warmth, and no lack now of genial showers, our West Highlands are now [June 1876] beautiful exceedingly, almost at the height and heyday of their summer loveliness, while crops of all kinds are at their present stage all that we could wish them.

    Tourists in considerable numbers are already on the move; and coaches and steamers alike are beginning to carry daily increasing crowds of passengers, so delighted with the attention paid them, and the elegance and comfort of their surroundings whether afloat or ashore, that a crack with them, as you chance to forgather of an evening, is always pleasant, for the essentials of a pleasant conversation are there to begin with; they are pleased, and you are glad that it is so; the rest is all smooth sailing.

    You meet an occasional grumbler of course; a wretch, miserable himself, and anxious to make every one else miserable also. An extraordinary curiosity, in truth, is your thorough grumbler. The faculty would probably explain it all away by a reference to dyspepsia or some serious derangement of liver. From frequent and close study, however, of a not uninteresting phenomenon, we are rather inclined to think otherwise.

    In the genuine grumbler the disposition to look at things obliquely, and from a false or foreshortened point of view, seems ingrained in and interwoven with his very nature. In everything he says and does you detect a perverseness of disposition and a thrawnness of temper that you cannot believe to be temporary or accidental, but a veritable part and portion of the man's being from the first. The old dictum about the poet, which after all is only true in a sense, is true of the grumbler absolutely. Grumblerus nascitur, non fit; he was born a grumbler, and if you put his mother in the witness box, and she chose to entertain you with reminiscences of his infancy, her testimony, we venture to say, would go to show that he kicked and screamed at existence and all the surroundings of his nursery at the earliest moment possible for such an exhibition, and that this disposition to hit out right and left indiscriminately at every one and everything, grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength, till in fulness of time he became the thoroughbred grumbler who sat opposite you at the table d'hote a week ago, or rode with you atop of the coach yesterday. With spur on heel, and once fairly in the stirrups, your grumbler is ready to tilt, in dearth of anything more substantial, at his own shadow.

    Any attempt to mollify him, however well-meant and carefully worded, only makes him worse. Do what you can, he remains a grumbler still—implacable, unappeasable. As we generally meet with him here, his grievances for the most part are as to the steamer or coach by which he has travelled, and the food that he has had to eat. Try to put him right according to your view of it, and you are sure to catch it hot and heavy for your interference in a matter which he declares concerns him alone, and yet with which he has been pestering everybody that would for a moment listen to him all the way from Oban to Staffa, or from Ballachulish to Tyndrum.

    Give a man of this kind the softest cushion in the coziest corner of Cleopatra's barge; the box seat in the victor's own chariot in a triumphal procession; a first and full supply of all the delicacies at the table of Apicius of De re Culinaria fame, and he would still be the same fault-finder and grumbler.

    One way of shutting up the inveterate grumbler, very effectual in most cases, is to fool bim to, the top of his bent—to give him line, in the piscatorial sense. If he complains that his seat on the coach is hard and the rails behind hurt his spine, assure him at once, in a confidential sort of way, that you believe the axle is horribly twisted, and is as likely as not to snap in twain just about half-way down the next incline.

    If he complains of the dust, give it as your candid opinion that the Road Trustees should be heavily fined for not allaying the nuisance by a properly arranged water-cart service all over the Black Mount. If he complains that the steamer trembles in all her timbers, and the steam, as it escapes at the calling-places, makes a horrible noise, agree with him at once, hinting that an explosion of the boiler is by no means an unlikely event through the carelessness of the coal-begrimed stoker, who is just then cooling himself at an open airhole, and wiping his brow with a wisp of tow.

    If at dinner he abuses the soup, ask him how it could possibly be good, seeing that the water whereof it is made was taken a week ago, by means of a tarry bucket, from the third lock of the Crinan Canal. Does he abuse his salmon? Shake your head sadly, and point with your fork towards the round of beef, hinting that at this season cattle sometimes die a natural death, and then their carcasses are to be had for a third of the market price of good beef.

    Go with him and beyond him in this sort of way for a little, and he will soon see that you are only poking your fun at him, and the chances are that he will cease troubling you at all events with his complaints for the rest of the day. After all, however, it is but justice to observe that even your inveterate grumbler is not infrequently a much more amiable person than he seems; kind, too, after a fashion, and amazingly liberal when a proper occasion offers.

    You can read the rest of this chapter at

    The other chapters can be read at

    The Social and Industrial history of Scotland, from the Union to the present time
    By James MacKinnon (1921)

    We now have the following chapters up...


    13. Art
    14. Religious Life
    15. Poor Relief
    16. Municipal Enterprise and Social Progress
    17. Shadows of Social Life

    And this now completes this book.

    Here is how the chapter on Poor Relief starts...

    By the beginning of the nineteenth century the right of assessment for the relief of the poor, which the Act of 1579 had conferred on magistrates in burghs and justices :n rural parishes— later transferred to heritors and kirk sessions—was exercised in less than 100 parishes. Relief was given from voluntary church contributions and begging, within certain limitations, was widely recognised as a legitimate means of supplementing these doles. Unlike in England, assessment was the exception, not the rule in Scotland, and the professional beggar was a characteristic figure of social life. The voluntary system which encouraged this state of things was far from ideal. It did not provide adequately for the incapable poor, or for what were termed the "occasional poor," who through lack of employment were, especially in times of distress, unable, though willing, to maintain themselves. For the latter, in fact, there was no legal obligation at all to provide relief. It tended to perpetuate a low standard of life in the begging class, to put a premium on squalor, immorality, and crime. It might be made a success in the hands of a Chalmers, though, as we have noted, it was not a permanent one even in his own parish. It was a palliative rather than a remedy, and the tendency in the first half of the nineteenth century was to substitute for it in an ever increasing number of parishes a compulsory assessment.

    In 1817 the number of such parishes had risen to 152, in 1839 to 236, the total amount of the assessment being £77,000 odds, whilst the number of persons in receipt of relief, both assessed and voluntary, was 79,429, or about three per cent, of the population. The steady growth of population during this period, the increase in the number of dissenters, who were disqualified from relief from the State Church collections, and the all too frequent distress of the industrial classes resulting from the recurring industrial and commercial depression, forced upon the Government the question of a revision of the Scottish Poor Law, under which heritors and kirk sessions were not legally bound to provide for the relief of able-bodied persons in distress, though they might afford such relief at their own discretion. It was, however, but rarely exercised in favour of such applicants. The Commission found that the funds raised for poor-relief and the amount of relief afforded were in many parishes insufficient. It did not, however, go the length of recommending compulsory assessment in those parishes in which it was not in practice, being evidently reluctant to interfere with use and wont. But it advised the establishment of a Board of Supervision at Edinburgh, to which all parochial authorities should be bound to report the numbers and condition of the poor, and the amount of relief given in each parish, and which should have the power to receive complaints and the right of investigation and remonstrance. For the purpose of making these reports and conducting the correspondence with the Board, the authorities of each parish should appoint a salaried clerk. In assessed parishes the ratepayers should receive representation on the parish board, in addition to the heritors and kirk sessions.

    In burghs containing several parishes, it recommended their union for the purpose of poor-relief under a body of managers elected by the ratepayers. It recommended, but did not render compulsory, the establishment of poorhouses in every parish, or Q union of parishes containing 6000 or 8000 inhabitants, whilst advising the continuance of outdoor relief in cases in which the recipients could be properly cared for. It dealt with the provision of medical relief to the poor, the improved treatment of the insane poor, the maintenance and the education of illegitimate pauper children, the abuse of issuing passes to stranger paupers to enable them to obtain subsistence in the parishes through which they might pass on their way homeward, which encouraged imposition and vagrancy. On the question of applying funds raised by assessment to the relief of the able-bodied poor in times of depression, it decided that this was "neither necessary nor expedient." Finally, it deplored the prevalence of mendicity, and emphasised the necessity of dealing more effectively with this demoralising evil.

    You can read the rest of this chapter at

    You can read this book as we get it up at

    Traits and Stories of the Scottish People
    By the Rev. Charles Rogers LL.D., FSA Scot

    We've now added several chapters...

    Chapter I. - The Old Scottish Clergy
    Chapter II. - Anecdotes of the Poets.
    Chapter III. Lawyers and the Law.
    Chapter IV. About Royal Personages.
    Chapter V. - Eccentric Characters.
    Chapter VI. - The Wise and the Weak.
    Chapter VII. - Inscriptions, Rhymes, and Popular Sayings.
    Chapter VIII. - Some Scottish Adventurers.

    Chapter V. - Eccentric Characters starts...

    "Learned men oft greedily pursue
    Things that are rather wonderful than true,
    And in their nicest speculations choose
    To make their own discoveries strange news."


    When it does not proceed from an affectation of singularity or superiority, eccentricity may be traced to the preponderance of one faculty, or to habits of concentration respecting particular subjects of thought to the exclusion of all others. An eccentric person is the comet of the social circle; he moves in an orbit of his own, but, unlike the comet of the heavens, he occasionally impinges on the toes or the feelings of his neighbours.

    Henry David, fifth Earl of Buchan, was a most eccentric person. When Prince Charles Edward held court at Holyrood, in 1745, he formed a strong desire to obtain a private interview with the young adventurer without committing himself to his cause. In order that this might be carried out without compromise to his interests as an adherent of the reigning family, he asked his friend Lord Elcho, who had joined the insurrection, to effect his seizure at the cross, with a view to his being apparently dragged into the presence of the Prince. The capture was negotiated, but the design failed, for Charles Edward declined to give audience to any one who would not pledge himself to his cause.

    Lord Buchan was succeeded, in 1767, by his eldest son, David Stuart, a person of even greater eccentricity than his father. He was extremely vain. "I belong to a talented family, madam," his lordship remarked to the witty Duchess of Gordon. "Yes," responded the Duchess, "and I suppose the talent has come from the mother, since it has been settled on the younger branches." The Duchess referred to the Hon. Henry Erskine, Dean of Faculty, and the Hon. Thomas, afterwards Lord Chancellor Erskine, who were the younger brothers of this pedantic nobleman.

    A most ridiculous story of the Earl is related by J. G. Lockhart. In 1819 Sir Walter Scott was very ill, confined to his bed in his house in Castle Street, Edinburgh. Though aware that all visitors were strictly prohibited, the Earl determined on seeing him. Finding the knocker on the front door tied up, he descended to the area door, and, despite the remonstrances of the coachman, mounted up-stairs on his way to the invalid's bedchamber. Miss Scott met him and expostulated. It was useless. The Earl would proceed—must see Sir Walter. Meanwhile the coachman, who had again come upon the scene, gave his lordship a shove, and, with menacing gestures, indicated that any further intrusion would be resisted. The Earl reluctantly made his retreat. Sir Walter was informed of the adventure, and forthwith despatched James Ballantyne, who happened to be with him, to explain matters, and so relieve his lordship's disappointment. Ballantyne found the Earl in his library in a state of great excitement. He had gone, he said, to embrace Sir Walter before he died, to remind him that they should rest together in the same burial-place, and to show him a plan of the funeral procession which he had prepared. In the programme it was specified that his lordship should pronounce an el6ge over the remains of the departed minstrel when they had been lowered into their last resting-place.

    While nominally a patron of the arts and their cultivators, Lord Buchan was careful to avoid any draft on his finances. He was extremely penurious. A young portrait painter in the capital had been recommended to his notice, and was forthwith honoured with a commission to delineate his lordship on canvas. On the completion of the work, which was deemed quite satisfactory, the needy painter eagerly expected a handsome recompense. As none was forthcoming, he contrived, through a friend, to convey to the Earl a hint that he required the money. His lordship invited him to breakfast. The youth accepted the invitation with delight. The meal being concluded, his lordship sauntered forth into Princes Street, and, taking the artist by the arm, proceeded to walk him up and down this public thoroughfare. At noon he remembered another engagement, and parted with his protege remarking to him as he moved off, "Your fortune is now as good as made, since you have been seen in Princes Street walking familiarly with the Earl of Buchan."

    You can read the rest of this chapter at

    The other chapters can be read at

    The Cottagers of Glenburnie
    By Elizabeth Hamilton (1898)

    we have now added...

    Chapter I. An Arrival
    Chapter II. History of Mrs Mason's Childhood
    Chapter III. History of Mrs Mason Continued
    Chapter IV. History of Mrs Mason Continued
    Chapter V. Mrs Mason's Story Concluded
    Chapter VI. Domestic Sketches.— Picture of Glenburnie.—View of a Scotch Cottage in the Last Century
    Chapter VII. A Peep behind the Curtain.—Hints on Gardening

    Chapter VI on Domestic Sketches is an interesting read and starts...

    EARLY on the following morning, Mr Stewart and Miss Mary met to consult together upon the means they should employ to render Mrs Mason's situation at the farmer's somewhat comfortable; and after some deliberation, resolved, that they would postpone all preparations for that purpose, till they had visited the place, and seen what the house afforded.

    In the course of their conversation, Miss Mary expressed her surprise, that so good a couple as the Earl and Countess of Longlands should not have thought it an incumbent duty to make an ample provision for one, who had rendered them such important services.

    You are mistaken,' said Mr Stewart, ' they were not deficient in gratitude; and, to my certain knowledge, intended to settle on her a very liberal independency. But my lord was still in the prime of life, and thought he had many years to live. He therefore delayed to do, what he imagined might at any time be accomplished : and after his death, his lady, who was always indolent, gave herself up to the indulgence of grief so as utterly to forget every duty; but of this you will have no hint from Mrs Mason: for hers is truly a good mind, and one that sees every thing in the best light. She knows not what I have endeavoured to do for her, with the present lord ; and she shall never know it, for it would only hurt her to be assured of his total want of liberality and gratitude.'

    You can read the rest of this chapter at

    The other chapters can be read at

    Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language
    We've made a good start at this publication and now have up...

    Editor's Preface
    Memoir of Dr. Jamieson
    Dissertation on the origin of the Scottish Language - Part 1
    Dissertation on the origin of the Scottish Language - Part 2
    Dissertation on the origin of the Scottish Language - Part 3
    Dissertation on the origin of the Scottish Language - Part 4


    Scottish Language Letter A
    Scottish Language Letter A from the Suplement
    Scottish Language Letter Baa to Bev
    Scottish Language Letter Beu to Bow
    Scottish Language Letter Box to Bya
    Scottish Language Letter B from the Suplement

    We're splitting this up into smaller pdf files to make them much faster to download.

    You can read this at

    Scottish Poets in America
    With Biographical and Critical Notices by John D, Ross (1889)

    A new book we're starting.

    We intend to add 2 poets each week until complete. The ones added this week are:

    Ainslie, Hew
    Crerar, Duncan MacGregor

    You can read these at

    Letters from the Mountains
    Being the real correspondence of a Lady (Anne Grant) between the years 1773 and 1807.

    The Advertisement to the First Edition states...

    LEST any of my readers should indulge the expectation of meeting, in the ensuing pages, either ingenious or amusing narrative, it is but candid to undeceive them.

    The simple and careless Letters here offered to the publick, carry in themselves the evidences of originality. They are genuine, but broken and interupted sketches of a life spent in the most remote obscurity . Of the little interest such sketches might possess, much is lost by the necessity of withholding those parts which contained most of narrative and anecdote.

    Why letters should be. published at all, comprehending so little to excite interest or gratify curiosity, is a question that naturally suggests itself. It cannot be truly said that the gratification of the reader could form an adequate motive for their publication: and, from the nature of them, it is obvious that the unknown author could have no purpose of vanity to answer by it. Yet may rot a picture, seldom drawn, peculiar in its shades and scenery, true to nature, and chastely coloured; may rot such a picture amuse, for a while, the leisure of the idle and contemplative?—and it is hoped, that the images here offered of untutored sentiment, of the tastes, the feelings, and habits, of those, who, in the secret shades of privacy, cultivate the simple duties and kindly affections of domestick life, may not be without utility.

    The soul that rises above its condition, and feels underlines and painful aspirations after unattainable elegance and refinement, may here find an inducement to remain. in safe obscurity, contented with the love of truth, of nature, and the "Humanising Muse;" while those distinguished beings, who are at once the favourites of nature and of fortune, may learn to look with complacency en their fellow minds in the vale of life, and to know that they too have their enjoyments.

    The hope of such a result might, in some decree, console the writer of "Letters from the Mountains:" for the painful circumstance that has elicited their publication.

    March 18, 1806.

    These letters do give us an insight into social attitudes at this time which makes them an interesting read. You can read both these volumes at

    And finally...

    Ranald sent me in a great wee story of the cheapest meal in Britain which must be a Scottish receipe!

    The RSC's Dr John Emsley said: "You simply put a piece of dry toast between two slices of bread and butter, with salt and pepper to taste. I've tried it and it's surprisingly nice to eat and quite filling.

    "I would emphasise that toast sandwiches are also good at saving you calories as well as money, provided you only have one toast sandwich for lunch and nothing else."

    The toast sandwich provides about 330 calories, and consumers could opt for the healthier alternative of margarine instead of butter. The Diabetic suggested thast you might add an egg to give you some extra protein.

    And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend.


  • #2
    Re: Newsletter 18th November 2011

    Thanks for the ES News Alastair, and do look after your eyes! As you say, there is plenty of material to keep us busy and your health comes first. Thanks!


    • #3
      Re: Newsletter 18th November 2011

      The problem I have is that I very much enjoy what I do but am now kinda torn between Electric Scotland and Electric Canadian :-)