English Archers – a Scots proverb.
“IN Toxophilus, Arber’s Reprint, 1868, pp. 83-84, Ascham, referring to Textor’s quotation from Petrus Crinitus in praise of the “verye excellent shoters” among “the Scottes which dwell beyonde Englande,” admits that “they be good men of warre in their own feate as can be,” but denies their skill with the bow; and he goes on to say, “The Scottes them selves prove Textor a lyer both with authoritie and also daily experience, and by a certayne Proverbe that they have amonges them in theyr communication whereby they gyve the whole prayse of shotynge honestlye to Englysshe men, saying thus: that every Englysshe Archer beareth under hys gyrdle xxiiii Scottes.” The meaning of the proverb is plain enough. Does it not seem, however, rather remarkable that the Scots should have a proverb so complimentary to their “auld enemies”? I would not like to think that worthy Roger was himself “drawing the long bow” in quoting as a proverb what he had himself invented, and I shall be glad to have a reference to any Scots author earlier than 1545 – the year when Toxophilus appeared – where the proverb is quoted or referred.
M. G. B.”
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Blin’ as a Beetle.
“BLIN’ as a beetle” is still a phrase heard among Scottish country folk, and probably blind as a beetle is not unfamiliar even to English ears in the present day. I was, however, surprised to find how ancient the phrase is when I stumbled on it recently in reading the St. Editha, sive Chronicon Vilodunense (Horstmann’s Edition, 1883, p. 81, line 3632):
Bot as bleynde as a betulle they weron evermore
And beggers they wereon also alle herre lyffe.
Is there any earlier instance of the phrase, and, if so, where?
[A reference to the New English Dictionary – incomparably the greatest archaeological work in our language – shows that the reading quoted above antedates by a full century the earliest example of the phrase recorded (v. Beetle) by Dr. Murray.]
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A Scottish Library.
“IS there any library, accessible to the public, which aims at making a complete collection of works relating to Scotland? I have endeavoured to find several works (probably privately printed) at the Advocates’ and Signet Libraries, and the Lyon Office, Edinburgh, without success.”
“IN Dalyell’s Monastic Antiquities he mentions a family “Macaroun or Kynmacaroun,” which had the privilege of being tried for a crime nowhere but in the “Court of the Holy Trinity” at Dunfermline, and by no one but the Abbot. Where is more information on the subject to be obtained?