9th of November

The Four Crowned Brothers, martyrs, 304. St Godfrey, bishop of Amiens, confessor, 1118.

Died. – Pope Boniface II., 532; Louyis VIII., king of France, 1226, Mo0ntpensier; Duns Scotus, theologian and scholar, 1308, Cologne; Cardinal Ximenes, governor of Spain during minority of Charles V., 1517; Madame Roland, revolutionist, guillotined at Paris, 1793.

On this Day in Other Sources.

James Bethune, Bishop-elect of Galloway, was postulated to the see of Glasgow, 9th November 1508, and consecrated on the 15th April 1509, at Stirling. He was previously Lord Treasurer, but resigned that office on his being preferred to the archbishopric. He held other great church benefices, as the abbacies of Arbroath and Kilwinning. He was made chancellor of the kingdom in 1515, and took a leading part in the politics of the time against the party of the Douglases. In 1523, he was translated to the see of St. Andrews. 

– Sketches, pp.29-70.

The Fischergate occupied what is now the lower end of Stockwell Street, that name having, in the early part of the sixteenth century, been adopted from a well, called the “Stok Well,” which had for many years stood in the Fishergate. In a deed of sale in 1487 a tenement is described as lying in vico Piscatorum juxta le Stok well; and it is stated to be bounded by a certain tenement on the south, and by another tenement on the north – a description which could not be applicable to a building in the Bridgegate, which runs east and west. But the matter is put beyond doubt by two instruments in the recently published Book of Protocols, both of the same date – 9th November, 1512 – in one of which a tenement is described as situated in “le Fischaregait,” and in the other the same tenement is described as lying “apud Stok-well” – showing that at that time the street was known by both names.1

– Old Glasgow, pp.150-161.

1  Liber Procollorum, Nos. 595, 596.

The business of the ayre being finished; and the Queen sufficiently strong; she left Jedburgh, on the 9th of November [1566]

– Life of Mary, pp.136-151.

The time was approaching when, in accordance with a recent act, the Egyptians were to depart from Scotland, under pain of being liable thereafter to be killed by any one without challenge of law. In anticipation of this dread time, one of the nation, named Moses Faw, appeared before the authorities of the kingdom, and pleaded for permission to remain under protection of the laws, on the ground that he had wholly withdrawn himself and his family from that infamous society, and was willing to give surety for his future good behaviour. The desired permission was extended to him on that condition (Nov. 9, [1609]). – P. C. R. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

On the 9th of December, [1618, the comet’s] tail was 70º in length, being, according to Kepler, the longest that had been seen for a hundred and fifty years. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

Nov. 9 [1699]. – It was customary for the Lords of Privy Council to grant exclusive right to print and vend books for certain terms – being all that then existed as equivalent to our modern idea of copyright. Most generally, this right was given to booksellers and printers, and bore reference rather to the mercantile venture involved in the expense of producing the book, than to any idea of a reward for authorcraft. Quite in conformity with this old view of literary rights, the Council now conferred on George Mossman, stationer in Edinburgh, ‘warrant to print and sell the works of the learned Mr George Buchanan, in ane volume in folio, or by parts in lesser volumes,’ and discharged ‘all others to print, import, or sell, the whole or any part of the said Mr George his works in any volume or character, for the space of nineteen years.’ 

– Domestic Annals, pp.355-378.

Nov. 9 [1709]. – The Lords of Session decided this day on a critical question, involving the use of a word notedly of uncertain meaning. John Purdie having committed an act of immorality on which a parliamentary act of 1661 imposed a penalty of a hundred pounds in the case of ‘a gentleman,’ the justices of peace fined him accordingly, considering him a gentleman within the construction of the act, as being the son of ‘a heritor,’ or land-proprietor. ‘When charged for payment by Thomas Sandilands, collector of these fines, he suspended, upon this ground, that the fine was exorbitant, in so far as he was but a small heritor, and, as all heritors are not gentlemen, so he denied that he had the least pretence to the title of a gentleman. The Lords sustained the reason of suspension to restrict the fine to ten pounds Scots, because the suspender had not the face or air of a gentleman: albeit it was alleged by the charger [Sandilands] that the suspender’s profligateness and debauchery, the place of the country where he lives, and the company haunted by him, had influenced his mien.’ – Forbes’s Journal

– Domestic Annals, pp.379-389.

2469. Owen (Robert). Report of a Plan for Relieving Public Distress and Removing Discontent by giving Employment to the Poor and Working Classes. 1821.

Robert Owen was the son-in-law of David Dale (see Nos. 163, 347, 519, 529), and projector of the socialist communities at Lanark and elsewhere. His son, Robert Dale Owen, well-known as a spiritualist, was born in Glasgow, 9th November, 1800, but at an early age became a citizen of the United States of America. 

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

To this let me add the opinion of a Highlander, who had had much to do with the publication of Gaelic books, and lives in a city.  


November, 9, 1861.               

   MY DEAR SIR, – In compliance with your request, I will now proceed briefly to give you my opinion of the poems attributed to Ossian and other ancient Celtic bards. Although a doubt never crossed my mind regarding the genuineness of these productions, yet after a careful investigation of the subject, I have now a more definite and satisfactory impression of the matter than I had heretofore. I believe that “Fingal fought, and that Ossian sang,” as firmly as I believe any other historical fact. I have now the same opinion of them that I had thirty years ago, when I first began to take an interest in these matters, namely, that such individuals lived many centuries ago, and composed poems that have been handed down from generation to generation by oral recitation, and that many of these fragments have been collected and translated into English, and published by Mr. James MacPherson of Badenoch, exactly a hundred years ago, and by others since, such as Dr. John Smith of Campbeltown, Duncan Kennedy, Hugh and John McCallum, etc. I believe all that is truly poetical and ennobling in MacPherson’s translation are the productions of Ossian and other great bards of the same era; but while I believe and maintain all this, I gave it as my humble conviction that MacPherson used unwarrantable liberties with his originals. Ossian never composed “Fingal” and “Temora” as they are given by him, and it would be much more to the credit of our country had he given these fragments just as he collected them, without linking them together as he has done, and called them “Epic Poems.” I also complain of MacPherson for excluding passages which accorded not with the theory which he wished to establish, and thus endeavoured to fix the Fingalian era according to his own fancy; but this is not the worst – I have a graver charge than any of these to bring against him. I have no hesitation in affirming that a considerable portion of the Gaelic which is published as the original of his translation is actually translated back from the English. I have discovered this by the aid of fragments (no doubt genuine) published in the Highland Society’s Report. These fragments begin at page 192, and end at page 260. A literal translation is inserted o opposite pages, with MacPherson’s translation in foot-notes. MacPherson’s translation is pretty faithful, with the exception of omitted passages, which under other circumstances might be supposed to have been translated from a different version; but when we are presented with the Gaelic, purporting to be the original, the deception is too transparent to pass undetected. I am aware that this assertion is detrimental to the honesty and veracity of Mr. MacPherson, and perhaps to the character of those who superintended the publishing of the Gaelic after his death, but I affirm this as my honest conviction of the matter; and any Highlander of ordinary intelligence may satisfy himself on this point by comparing the Report and MacPherson’s Gaelic. From this, and other circumstances, it is evident that MacPherson determined to appropriate to himself the literary glory of these productions. If not, why bequeath in his “last will and testament” £1000 to defray the expenses of publishing Ossian’s poems in Gaelic, English, and Latin? This fact, I think, ought to exonerate those superintending the Gaelic, as they were merely carrying out his request as his executors.  

   But, notwithstanding all I have mentioned, we are indebted to Mr. MacPherson for what he had done. He was the first to draw the attention of foreigners to those wonderful compositions, and others following his example, matter has been collected and preserved that would have been for ever lost. Mr. MacPherson’s translation, in my opinion, is superior to the paraphrase of Dr. Smith; but the Gaelic of Dr. Smith is genuine, with the exception of his emendations and occasional interpolations, where he thought the sense required it, and which he candidly acknowledged. Dr. Smith being a ready poet, and a thorough Gaelic scholar, spared no pains in making his “Seann Dàna” worthy of the patronage of his countrymen; and no wonder although he was disappointed when his labours were not sufficiently appreciated.  

   There are other parties who have done some harm, alleging that they were the authors of some of the compositions which passed as Ossian’s. Mr. Kennedy claimed some of his collection as his own. Mr. McCallum of Arisaig published a volume of Gaelic poems and songs in 1821, in which he gives a “Seann Dàn” under the designation of “Collath,” which in course of time was honoured by a place in “The Beauties of Gaelic Poetry,” the editor endorsing it as an ancient poem; but in 1840 Mr. McCallum published a new edition of his poems, and very coolly “removes the deception,” using his own words, and avows himself the author of “Collath,” and very modestly retains the fulsome notes which he himself appended to it on its first appearance. It is doubtful is the author would have been so ready to remove the deception had “Collath” not been so highly honoured by the editor of the “Beauties.” Mr. McCallum added a third part to “Mordubh,” and 259 lines to the second part more than is given in Gillies’ collection. He does not say that the supplement to “Mordubh” is his, neither do I charge him with imposing on the reader by this; but I am not satisfied that either the first, or last, or any part of “Mordubh”” s genuine.  

   I have mentioned these circumstances in order to remove, so far as can, all that has the appearance of suspicion or doubt about the matter; but all the deceptions that have been practised do not affect the sterling worth of the poems of Ossian any more than the base coin affects the value of the real one. It will only make those into whose hands it may come try it and make sure that it is genuine.  

   It may be objected, “How could so much matter be preserved on the memories of the people without the aid of letters?” Those who have lived in the Highlands for any length of time know well how these productions have been preserved. In former times Highlanders had very little else to remember; or, rather, they did not remember much else. Socially disposed, they spent much time together; on the long winter evenings they assembled in a certain house, rehearsed and listened to these records of Fingalian achievements which were thus interwoven with their mental development. Hence the continual opposition manifested by the religious instructors of the Highlanders to “Sgeulachdan” and Ossianic poetry. These teachers had serious difficulties in getting the attention of the people, in consequence of their minds being pre-occupied and absorbed by this ancient lore.  

   Bishop Carswell, in 1567, complains of those who spent their time and intellect in perpetuating the records “concerning Tuath de dannan, Fionn MacCumhail and his heroes, rather than write and teach and maintain the faithful words of God, and of the perfect way of truth.” But Mr. Robert Kirk, of Balquhidder, who published the first metrical Gaelic version of the Psalms in 1684, is more charitably disposed towards the Fingalians. (See page 71.)  

   The assertions of Bishop Carswell are fully borne out by the well-known Christian poet, Peter Grant of Strathspey, who composed about forty years ago. He says in “Gearan nan Gaidheal:” –  

“An t-Sàbaid ghlòrmhor bu chòir a naomhadh,  
 ‘Stric chaith sinn faoin i o cheann gu ceann,  
 Le cainnt ro dhiomhain mu thiomchioll Fhianntaibh,  
 ‘S gach gnothach tiomal a bhiodh ‘n ar ceann;  
 Air cnuic ‘s air slébhtean, ‘s na tighean céilidh  
 Bhiodh-mid le chéile a’ tional ann,  
 Ach cha b’e ‘m Bìobal a bhiodh ‘ga leughadh  
 Ach faoin sgeul air nach tigeadh ceann.”
 The glorious Sabbath that should be hallowed,  
 Oft spent we in trifling from end to end  
 With useless chattering about the Feeantain,  
 And each timely matter that was in our mind.  
 On knolls or hillsides, or in visiting houses,  
 We would be together all gathering there;  
 But ‘twas not the Bible that was read there,  
 But a silly tale told without an end.  

I think these quotations prove two things; first, that Ossian’s Poems are older than James MacPherson; and second, that it is not a matter of astonishment that Highlanders could preserve so much of the poetry of former ages, seeing that they applied all their mental powers in remembering and perpetuating it. I cannot, indeed, wonder at the clergy, teachers, and catechists opposing the “conventicles” (to use an ecclesiastical term) for rehearsing and hearing Fingalian lore, as the practice interfered so much with their usefulness. But these traditions served a purpose, and accomplished their mission; and like other dispensations of antiquity they passed away. They were the “elementary school-books” of the Celts in bygone ages; they helped to strengthen and expand their memories, and to sharpen their intellects; and the morals inculcated by them were generally sound. Those who are familiar with our national proverbs and maxims, must acknowledge that the men who first uttered them, and those who gave them currency, studied human nature deeply. The Highlanders had also many problems and riddles, as you are well aware, that required much ingenuity and application to solve. I will refer you to one of these as a specimen; it goes under the designation of “Aireamh Fir Dhubhain.” You will find it, I think. in Stewart’s collection. There is much truth in what Dr. McLeod of St. Columba, Glasgow, uttered on one occasion, although he was laughed and sneered at by some for it:- “Even the superstition of the Highlanders, dark and wild as it may appear, had a happy tendency in forming the character of the Gael.” Undoubtedly it had; and while I am anxious that my countrymen should possess knowledge that will be more serviceable to them in time, and shall make them happy in eternity, I am ready to pay my tribute of gratitude to the memories of the teachers of former generations, for inculcating a sense of the instability of everything in this world, and the folly of expecting much from creature comforts – for the love of country and kindred, and for the noble, generous, and hospitable spirit they infused into society – the fruit of which I, in common with my countrymen, am reaping in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  

   It is evident that the learned pride of many of our Anglo-Saxon neighbours was roused on the appearance of the Ossianic fragments. They could not conceive how an unlettered people could produce such poetry; but they ought to have remembered that the knowledge of letters is but one avenue for conveying knowledge to the human mind. I have met and associated with individuals who had “book knowledge” in abundance, but yet had neither the sense or the wit of some who knew not the letters of the alphabet, and could not be consulted with equal advantage in a case of emergency. A knowledge of letters, and of the English language, is the essence of all knowledge and wisdom in the estimation of the “Gall.” These two items are certainly requisites in our education; but it is doing the Celt great injustice to conclude that because he is ignorant of these he must be very stupid and ignorant of everything. Highlanders have serious difficulties to contend with, which require indomitable courage and perseverance to overcome. A young Celt leaves his native hills with scarcely a word of English “in his head,” and comes to the Lowlands. In course of time he masters the language of the “Gall,” competes with him, and often beats him on his own soil. There is no evidence of inferiority of intellect in this.  

   Fearing that I have done more than what you wished me to do, I remain, my dear Sir, yours faithfully,  


– Popular Tales, vol.4, pp.197-209.

   “… A writer who chooses to remain anonymous deals in the first article with ‘The Union of 1707 viewed financially.’ He first calls attention to the difficulty which he states exists in getting people to listen to any facts, figures, or fancies, whenever anyone has been rash enough to discuss, otherwise than with absolute and unqualified approval, the Union effected in 1707 between the free and independent kingdoms of Scotland and England. ‘So completely,’ he continues, ‘has the Treaty of Union been regarded as the mainspring of Scotland’s prosperity in the nineteenth century (of the eighteenth not so much is, or needs be, said), that almost every event in that country’s previous history has been relegated to obscurity or depreciated as trivial and insignificant, while the condition of provincialism into which Scotland has sunk is regarded as the acme of its good fortune.’ The writer then deals with several incidents in which the Government is called ‘English,’ the Queen the ‘Queen of England,’ ‘England’s Army,’ England’s Navy,’ though, he says, ‘the “English Parliament” considerately allows Scotland an inordinate share of the burden of maintaining both of these branches of national defence.’ He argues that only a few years after the Union ‘the Scottish leaders, alarmed at the critical condition of the old country, had to meet together and consider how its trade was hampered and destroyed by prohibitions, regulations, and impositions, laid on by England,’ but a few lines later on the writer believes it was true that ‘to ruin the trade and commerce of Scotland there were not made the outrageous attempts which the commercial classes of England used with only too complete success against their Irish competitors.’ 

   “Scotland, he thinks, would have had her share in the ‘good fortune which has befallen the United Kingdom since 1807’ if the Union of the English and Scottish Parliaments had never taken place. ‘So long as general prosperity increased by “leaps and bounds,” it was natural,’ he says, that inequalities in the contract ‘should be overlooked, but when, as now happens, the pressure of unprosperous times makes itself felt, burdens formerly borne without complaint become more galling.’ He then enters into a long inquiry, and on reviewing the results which he has endeavoured to deduce from such inquiry, states, ‘that Scotland contributes to the Imperial Exchequer a sum not far short of a million pounds sterling in excess of the proportion which corresponds to its population, but say £900,000; that of the expenditure of the general taxation of the United Kingdom there is applied to Scottish purposes a sum less than that to which it is fairly entitled in proportion to its population by £1,250,000; that the transference of the Union of Scotland with England causes a withdrawal from the former country of expenditure from private revenue which would otherwise directly benefit it, which must amount to many millions annually, but which may be moderately stated at £2,000,000, making an annual total of upwards of four million sterling – or about a pound per head per annum for the whole population of Scotland.’ If the golden shower, the product of the toil of Scotland’s hard and industrious sons, was poured upon it, it is easy to perceive, the writer contends, that the population of that country would increase; that Scottish national feeling would revive; and that ‘Scotland would rise from the position of a subordinate and little regarded province of England, as it virtually is under present arrangements, to that of a kingdom administering freely its own domestic affairs, and sharing, according to its population, wealth and importance, in the management of the Imperial concerns of the British Empire.”

– Nantwich Guardian, Wednesday 9th November, 1887.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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