Site icon Random Scottish History

JOURNAL., Various Contributors (Mar., 1895), pp.171-173.

“JOHN STUART BLACKIE [scholar and poet], the unique, has passed away. We shall not look upon his like again. That strange blend of Greek and Gael, of patriot, poet, politician, preacher, and pedestrian, – beloved of a long line of students, dear to three generations of his countrymen, known of all the world – was not one man but several. Within that plaid-girt wiry frame there burned at least six distinct individualities – one cannot divide into less that complex, eccentric, perfevid, wayward personality. It is true he has not struck deep roots into lasting literature. His utterances have been in the main for the day that was passing over him. It is doubtful whether a single line he wrote will much outlive the century. But he has been a vigorous, independent, and wholesome force in Scottish life, a voice with a heart throbbing through it, and a living and refreshing influence, as impalpable perhaps, but as unquestionable and as bracing as a breeze from the sea, or a breath from those Highland hills he loved and sang.”

*     *     *     *     *

A [THOMAS] CARLYLE Centenary Committee has been formed in Glasgow, with Sir John Stirling Maxwell as chairman, and Mr. Robert Gourlay, Bank of Scotland, as hon. Treasurer, to assist the general committee in London in raising a fund to purchase the house in Chelsea in which Carlyle lived. Surely no word of commendation of the scheme is necessary for the readers of SCOTS LORE. Scotland should be well to the fore in this memorial to our great countryman.”

*     *     *     *     *

“IT is a curious thing to catch Sir Walter Scott tripping in his use of a popular expression. That he was often guilty of historical blunders and anachronisms has been demonstrated by his critics, and acknowledged with the greatest good nature by himself. But the following is a mistake of another order. In Redgauntlet (chap. xiv.), the Annan publican is made to say:- “Nanty Ewart could steer through the Pentland Firth though he were as drunk as the Baltic Ocean.” And again, in Peveril of the Peak (chap. xxvii), Chiffinch instructs his servant to overtake Lord Saville’ groom, and to “fill him as drunk as the Baltic Sea.” Now, the actual expression, still current in circles where force is preferred to elegance, is “as fou’s the Baltic.” “As drunk as the Baltic” is nonsense; whereas “as full as the Baltic” is a forcible and picturesque figure expressing the very extreme of “fulness.” That Scott had made no slip of the pen is evident from his making the blunder in two different places. In putting into the mouth of an Englishman an expression which could only have been used in Scotland, where “full” and “drunk” are synonymous, it would seem that Scott, who must frequently have heard “as fou’s the Baltic” used by his contemporaries in Edinburgh, had simply missed the point of the expression.”

Exit mobile version