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Newsletter for 8th December 2023

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  • Newsletter for 8th December 2023

    Electric Scotland News

    11th - English pupils’ ranking out of 81 OECD countries for maths
    55th - Scottish pupils’ ranking out of 81 OECD countries for maths
    Source: Pisa/OECD


    Education and Health reports have been produced in Scotland and I have linked to them below in the Scottish News section.

    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers

    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 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. Here is what caught my eye this week...

    The Rebirth Of Israel documentary

    Watch this at:

    Palestine Or Israel? A 1982 Documentary Looks At This Issue With Old Footage

    Watch this at:

    Campus Antisemitism
    A Study of Campus Climate Before and After the Hamas Terrorist Attacks

    Read more at:

    Scottish whisky of the year is crowned in time for Christmas
    The top whisky, rum, and gin across the UK have been crowned at this year's Whisky Exchange's 'Of the Year' awards, with the number one whisky being a single malt from the Highlands.

    Read more at:

    Beira’s Place
    Thousands helped by Edinburgh rape centre set up by JK Rowling

    Read more at:

    The duchess who helped save thousands of children
    "Without her, I wouldn't be here" - that was a phrase I heard time and time again when I spoke to descendants of the 4,000 children who escaped from the Spanish Civil War in May 1937.

    Read more at:

    Conrad Black: Physicians college embraces social justice lunacy
    One of the most absurd and alarming indications of the disintegration of contemporary society is the recent revelation that the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has set up a study group whose purpose is to give what it considers to be suitable weight in professional medical training to questions of social justice and avoidance of racism.

    Read more at:

    UK beef farmers are under attack
    Here's my response to C4's The Big British Beef Battle programme, from Harry's Farm

    Watch this at;

    The full story of how it took These Islands 9 months to get a clearly false newspaper article corrected.
    Past weekend, as a result of an upheld IPSO complaint by These Islands, the Herald on Sunday finally published a correction to a story that was splashed across its front page back in March.

    Read more at:

    Crisis in classrooms
    Attacks on teachers double in last year in schools across Scotland

    Read more at:

    Scotland's health: Mental wellbeing at record low
    The Scottish Health Survey, external attempts to measure the wellbeing of people living in Scotland. What does it reveal about the nation's health?

    Read more at:

    Does nuclear power have a role in Scotland's energy future?
    The Scottish government has rejected calls to end its effective ban on the building of new nuclear power stations. But with a host of world powers agreeing to boost nuclear projects as part of the drive for net zero carbon emissions - a campaign close to the Scottish government's heart - will this position hold?

    Read more at:

    Special Scottish cabinet meeting to discuss 1bn budget black hole
    Shona Robison is due to announce the Scottish Government's draft Budget for the year ahead on December 19.

    Read more at:

    The Scot at the heart of NFL's most divisive play
    It is the NFL play that has divided America - and a Scot knows the secret of its success. The so-called 'brotherly shove' has helped push the Philadelphia Eagles to the best record in American football. Former Scottish rugby player Richie Gray spent part of the summer working with Eagles coaches to refine the technique.

    Read more at:

    Electric Canadian

    Views from Fort Battleford
    Constructed Visions of an Anglo-Canadian West by Walter Hildebrandt (2008) (pdf)

    You can read this report at:

    Farm Lands, Cheap Lands, Good Lands, Best Markets, Facts for Intending Settlers, Description of Lands in the vicinity of Winnipeg issued under the authority of a joint Committee of the City Council and Board of Trade of Winnipeg. (1888) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    History of the County of Annapolis
    Including Old Port Royal and Acadia, with Memoirs of its Representatives in the Provincial Parliament, and Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of its Early English Settlers and their Families by the Late W. A. Calnek, Member of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, Edited and completed by the author of the "Savery Geneaalogy", Judge of the County Courts of Nova Scotia, Member of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, the Wiltshire (England) Archaeological Society, and the American Historical Association (1897) (pdf)

    You can read this book at;

    Issues in the North
    Volume 1 Edited by Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe (1996) (pdf)

    You can read this volume at:

    The Golden Land
    The true story and experiences of British Settlers in Canada by Arthur E. Copping (1913) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Thoughts on a Sunday Morning - the 3rd day of December 2023 - Hope
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can watch this at:

    Letters of Agricola
    On the Principles of Vegetation and Tillage, written for Nova Scotia, and published first in "The Acadian Recorder", by John Young, Secretary of the Provincial Agricultural Board, and Honorary Member of the Massachusetts and Montreal Agricultural Societies. (1822) (pdf)

    You can read these at:

    Electric Scotland

    St. Andrews and Elsewhere
    Glimpses of some gone and of things left by the Author of "Twenty-five years of St. Andrews" and "The recreation of a country parson", Andrew Kennedy Hutcheson Bond (1894) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Reminiscences of a Stonemason
    By a Working Man (1908) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Buchan Field Club
    Thursday, 5th January, 1899, Retiring Presidential Address by Professor R. W. Reid, M.D., F.R.C.S., University of Aberdeen (pdf)

    You can read this address at:

    Plan of Education in the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen
    With the Reasons of it, drawn up by order of the Faculty. From the pen of Dr Gerard (1755) (pdf)

    You can read this old and rare document at:

    Philosophical Societies in the Scottish Enlightenment
    By Marta Śliwa (2018) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    A Celtic Dirk at Scotland’s Back?
    The Lordship of the Isles in Mainstream Scottish Historiography since 1828 by Richard Oram (pdf)

    You can read this paper at:

    The Pantropheon
    Or, History of Food, and its preparation, from the earliest ages of the world by A. Soyer (1853) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson
    Who was carried off from Aberdeen, and sold for a Slave (1826) (pdf)

    You can read his book at:

    Our Viands
    Whence they come and how they are cooked with a bundle of old recipes from cookery books of the last century by Anne Walbank Buckland (1893) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    In Quest of Reality
    Being the Warrack Lectures on Preaching in the Theological Colleges of the United Free Church of Scotland, Session 1923-24 by The Rev. James Reid, M.A., St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Eastbourne, Author of The Victory of God, etc. (1925) (pdf)

    You can read these lectures at:

    Scotch Lady of the Olden Times
    By Sheriff Campbell Smith, LL.D.

    CHARMING young women exist in abundance in all parts of the world, proper or necessary allowance being made for the very variable standard of human taste; but a charming or beautiful old woman is one of the rarest of nature’s wonderful works, and is better worthy of attention than most specimens of natural history. Therefore we give and call for a little attention to one of this peculiar class. She was for more than half a century a citizen of St. Andrews, a city not less remarkable than herself, and she was a representative of the lively intellectual life that prevailed among its venerable but desecrated ruins, clad with lichens and wall-flower, and grass grown unpaved streets a hundred years ago.
    She was the daughter of one professor and the wife of another (her father-in-law being the celebrated Principal Hunter, the editor of well-known editions of Horace and Livy, and the foremost philosophical grammarian of his day, and, so far as Scotland is concerned, probably up to the present day). She lived at the centre of the University life, which since the Reformation has been the only active intellectual life of the old city. The haunts of the golfers, though always full enough of fun and sometimes too full of smuggled whisky, and gin, and brandy, and often of fine human intellect famous in its results elsewhere, but here intent on recreation, self abandonment, and devil-may-care merriment, were seldom, if ever, known to the general polite discreet public for intellectual outbursts or results that could be published without very vigorous editing, except to the select few who were not easily astonished by practical jokes and strong language, which, though perhaps of ecclesiastical origin, had a perverse tendency among golfers to deviate considerably from ecclesiastical significance and use. Her sister was the first wife of the famous Edinburgh reviewer Francis Jeffriy and that relationship led to other migrations from St. Andrews to Edinburgh and the planting of three of her family in three homes there, which were more open and hospitable to the votaries of literature and science in Edinburgh thirty years ago than most houses in it. One was that of the eldest son John Hunter, W. S., Auditor of the Court of Session, a man of wide literary culture and true poetic taste, the friend of every poet who has breathed the air of Auld Reekie from Leigh Hunt to Sydney Dobell and Dr. Walter Smith; another that of her daughter Mrs. Stirling, the author of “Fanny Harvey,” “ Sedgeley Court,” and other clever novels, which were too thoroughly interpenetrated with common sense to attract the excitable, prurient mob of modern novelreaders ; and the third was that of her son-in-law, James Leslie, C. E., nephew of the famous Sir John Leslie, an engineer of the greatest skill and most unflinching veracity, who could write clear elegant English, out of which even lawyers could not extract a double or disingenuous meaning, whose wife, a bright beautiful woman was a wit like her mother, and like her mother not so afraid to utter her impromptus as most ladies, who have been taught to suppress every idea that seemed to deviate from commonplace by the prim, dull, cast-iron snobbery of genteel Edinburgh. Many in Edinburgh knew this noteworthy mother; she was personally known to the better intelligence of St. Andrews for a longer time than any notable character in its long history, and is remembered still. Stories not a few have been told of her in print and otherwise, a good many of them over walnuts and wine, and between the third and the tenth tumbler of toddy. Probably most of them were true in part, certainly some of them were invented and many of them were vulgarised, for her humour was as free from vulgarity as true humour ever can be. Hardly any teller of Scotch stories in our day has not retailed some of them in one form or another. Few old Scottish ladies have been more talked of. Her name has become the nucleus of so much tradition and romance that it may prove not uninteresting to set down a few facts about her even if it be impossible to dissever them entirely from the romance and varnish of story-tellers.

    Probably the majority of readers, who have got this length, have divined that the lady referred to is Mrs. James Hunter. She was known to every enlightened visitor of St. Andrews, for two or three human generations, and that would mean about ten generations of golfers, and fifteen generations of students, whose course may be only three or four years. Her husband was the son of John Hunter, the most famous Latinist that St. Andrews has sheltered since it sheltered George Buchanan. He was all-powerful in the University, and his son James obtained a College presentation, first to the parish of Dunino, and then to the College Church and chair of logic in the United College, to which chair he was succeeded on his death in 1845 by the more widely known Professor Spalding, who was probably the most thoroughly hardworking teacher that ever filled the St. Andrews chair of logic, not excepting its late more gifted, poetic and deep-seeing occupant, Professor Jones. James Hunter did not give himself much trouble about his students, and they did not care much for him. They said that his lectures on rhetoric and literature had been written by his brother-in-law, Francis Jeffrey, which was an unintended admission that they were well written. He was a tall, handsome man of military style and address, who used few words, talked no nonsense and would stand none. From his more capable students, such as Dr. Robert Lee of Old Greyfriars’, Edinburgh, and John Robertson, D.D. of Glasgow Cathedral, the reports that I have heard were most favourable. Dr. Robertson, the best St. Andrews student of his day, summed up what I take to be the truth, “Jamie” (the name by which both wife and students spoke of him) “ did not want ability, but he was very lazy and he took little interest in his work.” Certain it is he disclosed no zeal either for his professorial or his pulpit work; but I am not satisfied that, judged by the standard of his time, he neglected either. Certainly the general opinion was that he was rather a “driech” preacher; and of that opinion his wife never professed ignorance. Indeed, in her frank jocular style she did not hesitate to tell that she was engaging a servant girl who had agreed cheerfully to everything required of her till she was told she would be expected to attend the College Church, on which she exclaimed, “Lord, that’s an awful bondage!” Upon the whole I conclude, in spite of the opinion of evangelical servant-girls and indolent students, that Dr. James Hunter was no fool, and most probably no Pharisee. His son John wished to be a minister, but the father insisted that he should try his fortune in the legal, rather than the clerical profession, and in the result John made far more money and exercised a far wider influence. That he lived a happier life is doubtful, for his happiness appeared to be sought and found chiefly in unwearied devotion to books. One point, however, is not doubtful and that is, if Mrs. James Hunter had preached and lectured instead of her husband, all her utterances would not have perished so completely from human memory as his have done. That they would have been strictly orthodox, I for one would not like to undertake to declare as probable. She was an early specimen of that kind of rationalist that has assimilated more of the nurture than of the admonition of the Scottish manse, and she hated cant with an all but irrepressible hatred.

    Mrs. James Hunter may be said to have lived in an ecclesiastical atmosphere all her days. She was born in 1773 in the manse of Auchtermuchty in Fife and she died in South Street, St. Andrews, in 1859. Her father Charles Wilson after short ministries in Auchtermuchty and in Scone, migrated to the chair of Hebrew in St. Andrews in 1780 and after that she was never far away from it until the mortal integument was carried “east the town” to the old Cathedral burying-ground. Her father was the author of a Hebrew grammar which had in its day a high reputation not confined to Scotland, and his ability and versatility were such that in 1793 he was promoted or at least translated from the Hebrew chair to the chair of Church History also in St Mary’s College. His wife was also a daughter of the church. Her father was a Fife laird and minister of the parish of Balmerino of the name of Stark which he had exchanged for Robertson (he was connected with the Struan family), the exchange to Stark being made shortly after Culloden, and for reasons not stated but most likely not of an aesthetic character. His adopted name of Stark has not yet disappeared from among the Fair Lairds of his family.

    Mrs. James Hunter went to the manse of Dunino a bride about a hundred years ago. Her daughter Susan, Mrs. Stirling (misdescribed by Carlyle oftener than once not a niece which was the feet, but as younger sister of Jeffrey’s first wife, was born there in 1799 and her son John in March 1801, Jeffrey’s marriage to the aunt, Catherine Wilson, occurring on the 1st November of that year. The paramount influence of Professor John Hunter carried his son to St Andrews and the Logic Chair in 1804, and made way in the parish of Dunino for the Rev. James Roger, a clerical apparition whom I saw in my teens, with a pale gaunt face, and an enormous white neck-cloth. He kept the Presbytery of St. Andrews in hot water for forty years, helping to blister Principal Playfair, the ancestor of a few celebrated men, in the beginning of his career, and Principal Sir David Brewster towards the end of it, ostensibly because Brewster had joined the Free Church, but chiefly because he hated him; himself a Perthshire man with a strange history, for he had been a reporter in the House of Commons at the end of last century, and had a fund of old London as also of old Scottish stories that made him one of the most interesting talkers in Fifeshire, according to Russel of the “Scotsman” and others who had talked with him. His son the Rev. Charles Rogers, with a final letter added to his name, and with less intellect than his father, achieved considerable notoriety because of the laws of slander and the Wallace monument; and also by his gossiping writings some literary fame. He was a man of extensive if not very precise knowledge, and out of his own and his father’s traditional stores he could in his prime have told a good deal about Scottish life and character which will probably never be told.

    The tale of life in Dunino and St. Andrews which Mrs. James Hunter carried in her tenacious memory is, I am afraid, also unreliable. I know that it was not free from anxiety and cares. The stipend of Dunino was small, and the emoluments of her pluralist husband in St. Andrews though considerably increased would never, so far as I can estimate, have come up to 400 a year. Dr. Chalmers occupied the Moral Philosophy chair for five years as a colleague of her husband. He was the most popular though not the most philosophical professor ever seen in St. Andrews; and Principal Nicoll’s letter inviting him to leave Glasgow for the St. Andrews professorship expressed regret that “the living cannot be reckoned higher than 300 a year.” Mrs. Hunter was by nature endowed with a sufficient amount of philosophy and of fun to enable her to be “contented with little and cantie wi’ mair,” but I fancy the philosophy was most useful when oatmeal was up to 2s. 6d. a peck, tea 5s. or 6s. a pound, and other food at famine prices, as happened often between the French Revolution and Waterloo, and once more after the drought of 1826.

    To eke out the narrow professional emoluments the Hunters kept student boarders, and among them were the brothers McNeill from Colonsay, one of them afterwards a baronet and famous diplomatist, and the other a peer bearing in the House of Lords the name of the island of his birth, Lord Colonsay, on his way to St. Andrews College in the end of 1805 heard the victory of Trafalgar announced from the top of the stage-coach by the guard to the populace of Glasgow, as also the cheers stopped by the whisper, “Nelson is dead;” and he went on his long, slow journey to gain the highest honours in Mathematics, and a high, if not the highest, place in Dr. Hunter’s Latin class. Duncan McNeill never forgot St. Andrews College where he worked diligently, and played pranks like other students, nor the kind home that he found in the Hunters’ house, nor the caustic wisdom of the mistress of it. One of the luxuries selected by him or another young Highlander to whom she had conceded the indulgence of choosing a dish for dinner was “fried blood,” a choice which rather astonished her because of its unprecedented character, but which was duly given effect to with the assistance of salt, pepper, onions and oatmeal, and the result of much satisfaction to all who could enjoy “black pudding.” Duncan was a favourite with her, “a fine, frank, obliging lad, but he could hold his tongue better than most Highlanders”; his brother “John was very handsome but aye diplomatic: you could never see to the bottom of him.”

    Mrs. Hunter had had opportunities of seeing and seeing into most of the notabilities that lived in or visited St. Andrews for nearly three quarters of a century, and had formed opinions about most of them, though she was not always, or very ready to express them, even to discreet auditors. She knew Chalmers, a boy from Anstruther, who had entered college at the age of eleven and occupied the same rooms with Thomas Duncan, afterwards professor of Mathematics, his life-long friend; and she held a better opinion of Chalmers than most of the citizens of St. Andrews. She said, “The Toon’s folk called him ‘Daft Tam Chalmers,’ but there was naething daft about him; he was a wild merry reel-o-Bogie laddie, full of fun and mischief, but very clever. I aye thought he would turn out something uncommon, but I never thought he would turn out a saint.”

    John Campbell from Cupar Manse, the future Lord Chancellor, was there too, at the same time going through the ordinary eight years course of training for the Church, “a slow, steady, well-behaved boy. They called him ‘plain John’ afterwards. He was aye plain enough and had a big enough face, but he never looked clever. His oldest sister Jess, a friend of mine and about my own age, was far cleverer than he was.”

    John Leyden was another contemporary student at St. Mary’s College, commonly called the Divinity Hall when he was preparing to enter the Church. She admired him, but in moderation. “He was a genius, a kind of poet and a very fluent, indeed eloquent speaker, but he had a sort of skirled when he was excited and he was not always very polite. Once he apologised to me for not attending a lecture of my Jamie, that he was busy and so forth, and he hesitated and blurted out, ‘I daresay I did not lose very much’; I daresay it was not very far from the truth, but he ought not to have been so rude as to say that to me.” However, she had kindly made allowance for the effects of Leyden’s peasant education, poetic impulsiveness, and credulous simplicity, the last of which was sometimes played upon in St. Andrews, as for example, when following the friendly advice of a clergyman in the East Neuk, on the day the Presbytery gave him licence to preach, he gave them at their presbyterial dinner, a grace of an hour and ten minutes in length, and rendered it necessary that the broth should be returned to the pot. She knew, as all the college circle did, that Leyden was often in boy-like bickers in St. Andrews, including an attempt to thrash John Campbell, the Chancellor of England to be, because he had reported him according to his duty in the office of “censor” for playing truant from Church on one or more Sundays, and that he generally acted the part of a young man possessed by the spirit of the song that he sat up to sing in the fever delirium that preceded his death, “Wha daur meddle wi’ me?” Leyden’s licence to preach did not prove of much use to him, and after a year or two of absence, and six or eight months of diligent study in medical and scientific subjects he returned to St. Andrews and obtained a licence to practise medicine as a preliminary to his career in India as a doctor, scientist, and Oriental linguist, that ended prematurely on Java’s “deadly shore” on August 27.

    Regarding most of the noteworthy citizens of, and visitors to, St. Andrews, between her girlhood and old age Mrs. Hunter had tales to tell, and had formed opinions that did not err on the side of flattery and not often on the side of unctuous charity. Of her pricks and shafts of ridicule every conspicuous hypocrite in St. Andrews was afraid. She and Christopher North’s daughter, Mrs. Ferrier (after 1846), were a nameless terror to all sorts of genteel, affected pretenders. But the everlasting quarrels, especially the college quarrels of St. Andrews, had taught her to be cautious in what she said and how she said it. Her sarcastic shots were generally fired at a tangent, and if the skin they struck was thick enough they were apt to escape the attention of the person chiefly interested, and that person was not infrequently a creature belonging to the order of small deer that no epigram could save from annihilation. Therefore many of her sayings that were worth remembering have passed to the irrecoverable. Most of the remembered stories have about them an aroma of her ecclesiastical parentage and education. An old friend once intimate, long a stranger, called upon her without warning of any kind, and was saluted, “Losh keep me, Margaret Berry, I have not seen you for forty years. This must be the resurrection.” To a curiously inquisitive stranger desirous of knowing how many children she had, she answered, "Weel, I go like the woman in Scripture, out of whom came seven devils.”

    Another Scripture character to which she could discover a casual resemblance in St. Andrews was pram’s ass. Though able to move about on her feet till the last few days of bodily decay, she sometimes sought the benefits of fresh air in a Bath chair, which was wheeled for her by a caddie who was getting rather stiff for the links, but still retained the caddie propensity of talking to whoever was ready even if unwilling to hear him. The caddie when tired wheeling, stopped pretty often and bored her with his copious discourse. During one stoppage up came a friend, and after the usual preliminaries as to health and weather she abruptly desired information. “Tell me, was it once or' twice Balaam’s ass spoke to the prophet?” Getting the answer, which she did not need, she said, turning her thumb to the caddie behind, “Mine is never dune!”

    A Free Kirk elder related by marriage, in obliging but hollow, noisy, ostentatious kind of man, called on her during one of her illnesses after she had passed the threescore and ten and recovery was thought doubtful. He was admitted to her bedroom and proposed to pray for her. She gave a languid assent. Her hearing continued good to the last, but the elder was slightly deaf and had been accustomed to hold forth at prayer-meetings. After he was fairly started in his devotions he began to shout in tones suitable for an open-air meeting at the Martyrs’ Monument or the Witch Lake, the noise had wakened her up in more ways than one, and, when he bad finished she, in her usual pungent style, said to her maid, “Does F--------- think the Lord’s deaf?” He did not think it necessary to come back to pray for her. One time when her husband was ill and so carried in his mind that he thought himself dying, he, though generally an undemonstrative man, made his household a demonstrative “Farefell,” winding up with the declaration, “We hall all meet in heaven to-night,” to which proposal she answered, “Weel, Jamie, I’m illing, only you need na’ be sae pertikler boot the time.” When her own death had become imminent she was quite serene and uncomplaining, told an effusively demonsrative relative who was weeping over her, "There’s a drap at your nose, man!” talked jocularly of her funeral, and among other things said it would be a “fine ploy” for a connection that she named, and who was alleged to be fonder of attending funerals than doing useful work.

    There was little or no malice in her wit, or in her nature. She was not given to direct condemnatory criticism, and had, when I knew her, strong tendencies to silence. She made no secret of her small regard for Sir David Brewster and his share in college disputes, and though she always welcomed the frank jocularity of Provost Playfair, she did not approve of his despotic military ways and his destruction of many of the old-fashioned features of St. Andrews in the process of converting it into a fashionable watering-place. I was very curious to learn what this strong-minded, deep-seeing daughter of an ecclesiastical nursery thought of Francis Jeffrey, “greatest of British critics,” according to more than one exalted Edinburgh opinion, but two or three attempts produced the conviction that somehow or other she did not like him and that she would say nothing definite about him except that he was an “extraordinarily clever, fluent-talking little creature” whom she could never properly understand. That she selected him for a brother-in-law I don’t think probable.

    An intense lover of old St. Andrews, she had small regard for Edinburgh and its modern hollow artificial splendours. She dared to sneer even at its hospitality. “In this braw toon you may gang from Dan to Beersheba and naebody ever spier if you have a mouth.”

    Under her habitual mask of cynicism there was a large store of charity, with an additional though not inconsiderable store of contempt, yielding occasionally electric sparks of unpremeditated mischief. She took no harsh view of human folly if it was merely folly. Patrick Proctor Alexander, son of a St. Andrews professor, a man not unknown in the world of literature, though not nearly so well known as his great natural gifts might have made him, told me of some charitable but unsentimental remarks that she had made to his mother when she was grieving over youthful pranks of his own or of one of his lively handsome brothers. Says Mrs. Hunter by way of common-sense consolation, “What’s the use of breaking your heart over the frolics of a boy. If your sons have not inherited a fair share of original sin, they’ll never gather much gear in this world. Little good can come out of a lad that has no mischief in him. Students’ pranks and tricks and devilry are not worth speakin’ aboot. When you hear of your son trying to run away with a cook twice his age and auchteen stane it will be soon enough to begin to greet aboot him.”

    St. Andrews has, since the days of Clive, been a nursery of officers for the Indian Army. Two of her brothers and some other relatives attained to distinction in that service, and many of her young acquaintances entered it or tried to enter it after the test of Addiscombe examinations had been instituted. One who had entered, had had some experience, and had returned home for a time on sick leave, was boasting to her of his military experiences and accomplishments: he could discharge the duties of any man in the army, from the general to the drummer; whereat she remarked, “I see you have not forgotten the trumpeter.” Another who had not been so fortunate was still determined to make his fortune in the East; he was telling her he would go to Ceylon, he would go to Calcutta, he would even venture the length of Pekin, to which she responded by way of comment, “You’re just as weel whaur ye are. They’re sair gi’en to eatin’ puppies in Pekin.” Performances of the nature of practical jokes have been ascribed to her. She is said to have once kept a dinner-party waiting in the drawing-room for Principal Haldane, when it was only the beef-steak pie that was not up to time. Though this has found its way into print I doubt it. There is another similar, perhaps apocryphal, story. She was sometimes troubled by inquisitive genteel gossips wanting to see her children, and they were not always ready or fit for presentation to strict critics. One flay when a few callers were specially urgent to see the latest baby, and it was not convenient to produce the genuine article, she sent out the nurse to borrow a baby, the neighbouring baker’s, which was of suitable age, if it was tidy. The baker’s baby was obtained and produced, and gave great satisfaction. It was declared to be “nice, and pretty, and very like its father.” Such little bits of comedy may possibly have occurred in the house of a D.D. before this century reached its teens.

    I did not know her to speak to till she was past eighty, nor by sight till she was past seventy. She was a very serious, grave, square-headed and sagacious-looking woman that no one could have suspected of dealing in jokes, her appearance being suggestive of solidity both physical and intellectual. She had been a beauty in her youth, and her likeness in old age conspicuous by a widow’s cap or Scotch mutch is still to be seen about the centre of Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair’s Theatre of St. Andrews celebrities. The last long talk I had with her was in St. Andrews a few months before her death. 'She was moving about in her dining-room which looked across to the College Library, and met me at the door gravely and kindly. I hoped she was “pretty well.” “’Deed no,” said she, “I’m neither pretty nor weel,” and proceeded to say after a casual remark or two that life was getting burdensome, that she sometimes felt it a “perfect staw’, aye the same thing ower again,” but that she was quite resigned to whatever was decreed for her by the Power above,

    “Who sees with equal eye, the God of all,
    A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
    Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
    And now a bubble burst, and now a world."

    In quoting Pope the flush of youth seemed to come back to her pale face and the poetic fire of her girlhood seemed to glow once more under the ashes of eighty years. Pope had been the favourite poet of her youth and I heard enough to feel sure that she could still repeat scores, perhaps hundreds of his lines. I don’t know that I ever met any one who remembered the “Essay on Man” so well. She had accepted of its philosophy as sufficiently orthodox Calvinism; had striven to do her duty according to her lights and her opportunities, and she looked calmly toward the future without exaltation and without fear. I still fancy that I can hear the sound and quiet resigned tenor of her unfaltering though discontinuous words: “I don’t think that Providence can trouble itself much, about an auld wife like me, but I have never had any reason to distrust the goodness and mercy that have always followed me all my days, though I have had my own share of sorrow and care, and though I wadna’ be anxious to live my life over again. I am ready to do it or anything else that the God above all may have appointed for me and I am sure I am often ready to go away however far, for all my friends of long ago have left me here alone, and I would like to see them again, if it be God’s will.


    Weekend is almost here and hope it's a good one for you.