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Newsletter for 24th September 2021

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  • Newsletter for 24th September 2021

    For the latest news from Scotland see our ScotNews feed at:

    Electric Scotland News

    Well we've now had our election in Canada and essentially no change as the Liberals are still a minority government. The Conservatives won the popularity vote as they did last election.


    Germany will have their own elections in the next week so we'll see what happens there.


    The new AUKUS defense deal between the USA, UK and Australia is causing ructions in the EU but at the end of the day Australia is better of with nuclear submarines than diesel powered ones. See below for more details...


    The story this week has been featured to illustrate the difficulty in transcribing old Scots into more modern Scots and how translators of the past had problems simply copying old text into new copies. I found this very interesting myself and just thought I'd share this with you.

    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers
    Note that this is a selection and more can be read in our ScotNews feed on our index page where we list news from the past 1-2 weeks. I am partly doing this to build an archive of modern news from and about Scotland and world news stories that can affect Scotland and as all the newsletters are archived and also indexed on Google and other search engines it becomes a good resource. I might also add that in a number of newspapers you will find many comments which can be just as interesting as the news story itself and of course you can also add your own comments if you wish which I do myself from time to time.

    St Andrews beats Oxford and Cambridge universities to top spot
    The University of St Andrews has taken the top spot in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, beating Oxford and Cambridge for the fist time in the guide's 30-year history

    Read more at:

    AUKUS is a victory for freedom, democracy and the rule of law
    The new defence pact between the US, Australia and Britain is one of the most important developments in Western security arrangements since the formation of Nato - one that has left friends and foes scrambling. It's also a strong signal to China that the West won't simply sit back and let it dominate the Indo-Pacific.

    Read more at:

    Why is the Scottish Ambulance Service in crisis?
    Stories have emerged of patients with serious health issues waiting hours, sometimes days, for an ambulance - with emergency crews said to be under unprecedented pressure.

    Read more at:

    Truss's replacement tears up rule book with new five point trade plan for Brexit Britain
    The Berwick upon Tweed MP was appointed to oversee the UK's trade deals as part of a reshuffle of Boris Johnson's Cabinet last week. She has an unenviable task of living up to Liz Truss's achievements.

    Read more at:

    Bringing back Beveridge
    Benefit in return for contributions' was one of the founding principles of Britain's welfare state. Over the years, however, the contributory element of our benefits system has withered away - and, as a new report makes clear, that has led to a huge loss of public faith in the way we handle social security

    Read more at:

    Canada’s status quo election
    Trudeau returned with another minority, faces uncertain future

    Read more at:

    30bn greenprint for Glasgow
    Scotland's biggest city has the world's focus on it for the climate change summit, so it's making the case for some big inward investment with which it can set an example.

    Read more at:

    SNP intransigence should not be allowed to cost Scotland a freeport
    Last week, the Daily Telegraph reported that Scotland is to miss out on a freeport after the Scottish Government walked out of talks.

    Read more at:

    Hebridean bothy sale seeks active islander
    The island's community-run heritage trust is seeking offers of over 65,000 for the stone-built Sandamhor Bothy. The property has a single room divided by a low wall, an outside toilet and a cast iron wood-burning stove for heating and cooking.

    Read more at:

    NHS Scotland's biggest crisis in five charts
    Scotland's Health Secretary Humza Yousaf says the NHS is facing the biggest crisis of its existence.

    Read more at:

    Electric Canadian

    Thoughts on a Sunday morning - the 19th day of September 2021
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can watch this at:

    Red River Settlement
    Papers in the Canadian Archives relating to the Pioneers selected by Chester Martin (1910) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Gold, Gold, in Cariboo!
    A Story of Adventure in British Columbia by Clive Phillipps-Wolley (1893) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Added a couple of videos about the Gander experience
    On the anniversary of the 9/11 to the foot of our Newfoundland page.

    You can view these at:

    Electric Scotland

    Beth's Video Talks
    Beth has another video for you for September 15th 2021 - Gaelic with a Southern Accent

    You can watch this at:

    Beth's Newfangled Family Tree

    Hi Everyone,

    First, my wonderful, wonderful news. Tom is home and back to himself 100%! I did write a "thank you" letter to everyone which is on page 3 of this publication. There are no words in any language that can express my gratitude for all of your kindnesses. We are both clear of Covid, too.

    We are so fortunate this time, with BNFT, that Pete Hylton has an absolutely wonderful newsletter of his adventures in Scotland during this time when Scotland is opening up again. Thank you, Pete!

    There are several articles and quite a few interesting items in this issue. I had a lovely time creating this section and hope you enjoy what you read!

    Please don't forget to send me your changes, edits affecting your email address! Please don't forget to send me your genealogical queries and your Scottish clan happenings. I hope you know there is no charge for any of these items nor for Flowers of the Forest.

    I was downstairs yesterday working on my laptop when I saw from the bedroom window a magnificent antlered buck deer. He was only a few feet from the window. I was afraid to breathe and frighten him. Tom got to see him too from the big window in our bedroom! We see deer almost daily here, but since we moved here in 2012, we'd never seen an antlered buck! What a thrill. We do keep a big salt block for the deer out in the woods next to our mowed yard as there is absolutely no hunting allowed on our eight acres!

    Thank you so much. Please, everyone, stay safe, be careful and if you have not done so already, please get your Covid-19 vaccinations. Both Tom and I are alive today because of those shots!


    You can read this issue (October 2021 section 1) at:

    PS. The link to the Queens Piper story takes you to the wrong url...
    the correct one is

    Samuel Rutherford
    Added a couple of pdf publications to his page to give further information about him.

    You can read these at:

    Scottish Ballads
    An article from the Sewanee Review by Wm. Hand Browne.(1912) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    From the FolkLore Magazine (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    The Scottish Lochs
    Book Review of 'Bathymetrical Survey of the Scottish Fresh-water Lochs,' conducted under the direction of Sir John Murray, K.C.B., F.R.S., D.SC., etc., and Laurence Pullar, F.R.S.E., F.R,G.S., during the years 1897 to 1909. Report on the Scientific Results. 6 volumes. Edinburgh: Challenger Office. 1910.

    You can read this at:

    Scotland under the SNP
    A comment in the Daily Record on 20th September 2021 which produced an interesting list of Scotland's assets.

    You can read this at:

    Report of the Glasgow Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints
    Held in the Mechanic's Institution Hall, Canning Street, Calton, Glasgow, January 1852 (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Robert Campbell Genealogy
    A Record of the Descendants of Robert Campbell of County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland by Rev. Frederic Campbell (1909) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Hylton Newsletter
    Got in their September 2021 Newsletter which you can read at:

    Reports from the Commissioners
    Appointed by his Majesty to execute the measures recommended by a select committee of the house of Commons respecting the public records of the Kingdom 1800-1819 (pdf)

    You can read this at:


    Scottish Alliterative Poems
    Golagros and Gawane

    THE Scottish Text Society is much to be congratulated upon the fact that it has published so many important and well-edited texts. It is always a comfort to a student to find that the text which he reads has been well considered, and it is a distinct gain to literature when a literary document falls into the hands of the right man to edit it. Any one who will be at the pains to examine the Notes and Glossarial Index to the Scottish Alliterative Poems will easily be convinced that Mr. Amours has proved himself to have been precisely the right person to undertake the editing of these eminently difficult pieces. And his Introduction proves further that he exercises a careful and well-balanced judgment in dealing with literary questions.

    I have been attracted by the helpfulness of this edition, to a reperusal of the poems; and, observing that the editor has, in more places that one, accepted my suggestions on some difficult points, I now venture, with all diffidence, to add a few more suggestions of a similar character. Of course I only give them for what they are worth; but I dare say there are many students who will be glad, at any rate, to have some of the remaining difficulties brought under their notice once more.

    To begin with Golagrot and Gawane. In I. 95, Sir Kay is told that his manners art 'unlufsum and ladlike'; and again, in 1. 160, the same discourteous knight is said to have been ‘ladlike' in his manners. The Glossary suggests 'loathly’ as the sense of 'ladlike,’ which of course makes sufficiently good sense. Nevertheless, as we find the forms laithly, laitbles, and laith elsewhere, there seems to be no sufficient reason why ladlike may not mean lad-like, or like a lad; especially when we find in I. 71 the expression ‘nouthir [neither] lord na lad,’ showing that a lad was just the very opposite to a lord. The point may well be that Sir Kay, who ought to have behaved like a lord, has behaved no better than a lad. It should be noted that the same explanation of ladlike is adopted in the New English Dictionary; bur I may be allowed to observe that it had occurred to me independently.

    Stanza 18 ends in the following fashion:

    ‘Thus iournait gentilly thyr cheualrouse knichtis
    Ithandly ilk day
    Throu mony fer contray,
    Our the mountains g[r]ay,
    Holtis and hillis?

    The editor regards the first of these lines as corrupt, as ‘the rime is wrong and the alliteration is weak.' Perhaps so; but the easiest way out of the difficulty is to alter hillis into hichtis, i.e. heights. Towards the end of stanza 20 we have the line—‘Gif thair be ony keyne knycht that can tell it'—which has to rhyme with—‘Fayne wald I wit.' This is obviously impossible, as the stress here falls upon tell, and it can receive no stress at all. I much suspect that for it we should read tit, i.e. ‘quickly,’ as in 1. 756, and we can somewhat diminish the stress upon tell by omitting the word that, which can readily be understood. The resulting line is not very commendable; still it gives a real rhyme, with a little forcing of the stress, as in other places. I would therefore conjecture to read—‘Gif thair be ony keyne knycht can tell tit? Perhaps a still better plan is to omit tell, and to take can with the sense of ‘knows.' Then knycht that can tit means ‘knight who readily knows.'

    In stanza 22, the first line is: ‘A! lord, sparis of sic speche, quhill ye speir more.' But it has to rhyme with deir and feir; so that the last word is speir. This is why the editor suggests to read quhill more ye speir. But though this amends the rhyme it ruins the position of the stresses. The right reading is clearly, I think, more quhill ye speir, with the stresses in the right place. And this explains how the corruption arose. For when the scribe came to this slightly inverted phrase, with more at the beginning instead of at the end; he ‘corrected’ it by giving it the true logical order, forgetting that it upset his rhymes. Hence, as the editor so well shows, he had further to alter steir into schare in rhe next line but one. This is a small point, but it well illustrates the nature of the mistakes into which the copyists most easily fell.

    Line 291 is wanting. The sense can be supplied by reading—‘Quhill ye have frely fangit his frendship to fest.' I have not invented this line; it is purloined from 1. 421 below. It is curious that it just gives what one wants. Similarly, line 332 is missing; but it can be neatly supplied from 1. 357, in which, by the way, the word fyne is superfluous and injurious to the rhythm and should be deleted. Favour is, of course, accented on our.

    In the note to 1. 339, we are told that that thre means ‘those three’; and two more such examples are given from another poem. It is suggested that the contraction for that has been miswritten for the contraction for the. This is very nearly right, but the true explanation is, I think, as follows. The Northumbrian for ‘those three’ is thir three; and thir was also denoted by a contraction. Thir was not so well known as that, and so a poor attempt was here made to translate it, though in at least four other places it has been allowed to stand. We should therefore read— ‘thai ordanit thir three.’

    Perhaps I may be allowed to illustrate the point by a personal anecdote. I was once travelling down Glen Shee in a carriage with a perfect stranger, when the driver made reference to ‘thir horses.' The gentleman good-humouredly turned upon me at once, saying—‘I suppose you never heard of such a word as thir before, in all your life !* This was a little more than I thought I might fairly be expected to stand, so I retorted by saying—‘O yes! I have; for I’ve edited Barbour’s Bruce! which led to a most agreeable and delightful conversation.

    Please kindly to take notice that thir is the right word in 1. 471, in spite of the MS. reading thair. Mr. Amours notes the same error in 1. 202.

    In 1. 1045 we come to a more important point, viz. what is the meaning of the extraordinary phrase ‘to set upon seven’? As I have a theory of my own upon the point, I should like to ventilate it.

    My own belief is that there are no such phrases; or rather, that it was used in two totally different senses, with reference to quite different topics. It varies with the subject. If the subject is the Creator, then to set means ‘to ordain’; but if the subject is the gambler or the desperate man, then to set means ‘to stake.’ And the sense of seven varies at the same time.

    An example of the former occurs in the line cited, viz. 1. 1045. ‘I swere be suthfast God, that settis all on sevin!’ So also (as the note says) in Susan I. 264, and in the Townely Mysteries, pp. 97, 118. Mr. Amours says—‘that sets, ordains all in seven days'; with reference to the Creation. I confess I have my doubts as to this; first, because it is usual to assign to the Creation six days only; and secondly, because the use of the present tense is not, in this case, very happy. I think it means—‘He who ordains all the planets in their seven spheres’; with reference to the then universal belief in astrology and the influence of the seven planets upon almost every incident of life. For in this case, the use of the present tense is natural enough. I cannot prove this point; I only suggest it.

    But I am more sure of my second point, viz. that ‘to set upon seven’ often meant ‘to stake upon seven’ as being a good throw at dice in the game of hazard; as I have tried to show in a note to Chaucer, Cant. Tales, B 124.

    The phrase occurs in Chaucer’s Trailus, IV. 622, in a way that cannot be mistaken:

    ‘Lat not this wreeched wo thin herte gnawe,
    But manly set the world on sixe and sevene.'

    This is why the secondary sense of ‘to set upon seven’ is simply to take all hazards or to run all risks; and this is how I would interpret the expression in Golagros, 508, 668; in Morte Arthure, 2131 ; and in Sir Degrevant, 1. 1279. Set, to stake, occurs seven times in Shakespeare. See also Lydgate’s ballad called Beware of Doublenesse, 1. 77; and La Belle Dame sans Mercy, 1. 524; both in Chaucerian Pieces. I would even go as far as to suggest that the common phrase ‘to be at sixes and sevens’ arose from a phrase at gaming; the house that is in this desperate condition is a place where it is mere luck if you find what you want; since everything is left ‘at haphazard.'

    Line 551 is missing; we want something like—‘Lightly lap he on loft, and laught a lang speir.' Cf. 1. 614.

    The name of Galiot, at 1. 557, was said by Sir F. Madden to have been invented by the writer. But Galiot occurs in Lancelot of the Laik (E.E.T.S.), 1. 551, and often.

    In I. 702 occurs the unknown word hatterit. The right word is obviously hakkit, as in 1. 980. It was usual to write what looked like lk for kk; and a word that looked like halkit might easily have been turned into hatterit, by reading the i and the down-stroke of the k as tt, and interpreting the rest of the X as a contraction for er. We may confidently pronounce hatterit to be a mere ghost-word.

    In 1. 721, for that read was; it then means—‘None was so proud of his part, (that he) was praised when he went away.’ And in 1. 725 read leid, the present tense, for the sake of the rhyme; instead of led, in the past.

    Line 769 is curious: ‘Than schir Golograse for grief his gray ene brynt.’ Here Golograse hit is a ‘split’ genitive case.

    The mysterious word brathtris in 1. 994, rightly explained as ‘bracers’ or armour for the arm, is due to that confusion between t and c of which Middle English MSS. exhibit so many instances. It is rightly spelt bracher in Levins, and should be altered to bracheris here. There is no such word as bratheris; but bracher, as a variant of bracer, is duly noted in the New English Dictionary.

    Walter W. Skeat.


    And that's it for this week and hope you all have a great weekend.