19th of December

St Nemesion, and others, martyrs, 250. St Samthana, virgin and abbess, 738.

Born. – Charles William Scheele, distinguished chemist, 1742, Stralsund
Died. – Frederick Melchior, Baron Grimm, statesman and wit, 1807, Gotha; Benjamin Smith Barton, American naturalist, 1815.

On this Day in Other Sources.

At the same time, [Sir James Douglas] bequeathed to the Abbey a “nowche,” or jewel, of St. John, worth forty marks, or its value, and in addition, £23, 6s. 8d., for the building of the church and wages of the masons employed upon it. For the service of the monks’ refectory he gave twelve silver dishes, weighing eighteen pounds, six shillings sterling, enjoining his heirs to see that they should not be abstracted from the use of the refectory or sold. He left £10 to the monks to pray for his soul, and £26, 13s. 4d. for an offering, and lights and other necessaries for his funeral.1

– Sketches, pp.125-144.

1  Bannatyne Miscellany, II. Sir James Douglas made a subsequent testament on the 19th December 1392, and in it, while he bequeaths the same sums to the monastery, he no longer appropriates a part to the building of the church, or the payment of the workmen. Perhaps the rebuilding of the Abbey church had been completed in the meantime. – Ibid.

The publication of this sentence of death being made known to the Queen of Scots, far from being dismayed, with a steady countenance, and uplifted hands, she gave thanks to God, for her speedy relief. And, though Paulet, with the harshness of his nature, divested her of all the badges of royalty, and treated her as a woman of the meanest condition; yet, she endured it, with her usual patience, and accustomed dignity. Having with some difficulty obtained leave of him to write, she, by a letter, to Elizabeth of the 19th December, [1586,] endeavoured to clear herself of all hostility, and of malice against her; thanking God, for this condemnation, who was now pleased to put an end to her lamentable pilgrimage: And she prayed Elizabeth, that she might owe her requested favours to herself: First, that when her adversaries were glutted with her blood, her body might be conveyed, by her servants, to be buried, in France, where her mother rested in peace: Secondly, in regard she feared the secret tyranny of some, that she might not be put to death, in secret, without Elizabeth’s knowledge; but in the sight of her servants, and others, who might give testimony of her faith, of her christian departure, to prevent those false reports, with which her adversaries might load her memory: Thirdly, she asked, that her servants might freely depart whither they pleased, and enjoy those legacies, which she had bequeathed them, by her testament: All those requests she made, in the name of Christ, by their near kindred, by the soul, and memory of Henry VII. their common progenitor, and by the royal dignity which she had borne. Lastly, she earnestly entreated an answer, in her own hand; in order, that she might see, that she had not asked those last favours, in vain. Whether this letter reached Elizabeth’s hands, Camden doubts: But, that those requests were ever granted, there cannot be a doubt. About this transaction, there were infinite discourses, at that time, according to the affections, and dispositions, of men: The hard fate of Mary, and the habitual dissimulation of Elizabeth, will interest the passions of mankind, while the history of both shall remain. 

– Life of Mary, pp.304-328.

The 19th day of December, this year, [1597, King James VI.] held a parliament at Edinburgh, wherein the act of [forfeiture] of the Earls of Angus, Huntly and Erroll was repealed, and they restored to honours and estates; and one the last day of this parliament, Angus [William Douglas] did bear the crown, Huntly [George Gordon] the sceptre, and Erroll [Francis Hay] the sword, from the parliament before the King, to the palace of Holyroodhouse. In this parliament the estates granted to the King, to help defray his charge in sending ambassadors to [foreign] princes, 200,000 merks, to be paid before the first of April in the following year; to be paid as follows: 100,000 merks to be paid by the spiritual estate and clergy, 6,666 and 6 merks, 8 [shillings] 10 [pence] by the barrons and freeholders, and 33,333 merks, 4 [shillings] 6 [pence] by the burghs. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

The greater part of the herrings caught in the Clyde were taken to Greenock – which, indeed, owed its foundation and first rise to the herring fishery – where they were bought by the Glasgow merchants, and, after being cured there, were exported from Greenock to Rochelle alone, beside what went as usual to the other ports of France and the ports of the Baltic.1

But the quantity consumed in Glasgow must have been also very great. the magistrates, as I have said, used them to a large extent in making presents, and it is curious to note that the fees which they paid yearly to the counsel permanently retained for the city consisted in part of barrels or half barrels of these fish. In 1612 there is a minute od council, entitled “Act anent herrings to the Touns advocates,” which bears that the magistrates, “for the great and thankful service dune be John Nicoll wryter in Edr. to the toun,” ina a case specified, “and for the expectatioun quhlk they haif of his service to the toun, hes ordainit the thesaurer and Mr. of werk to send ane half barrel of herring to him, for this yeir only; with twa half barrels to Mr. Alexr. King; twa to Mr. Thomas Hendersoun; ane to Mr. Wm. Hay, and ane to James Winrame with 10 lb to ilk ane of their clerkis.”2 In the following year there is a payment to Jonet Lugie “for ane hoghead of herring to be sent in barrelis to the tounes men of law.” Under date 13th December, 1628, there is a minute bearing that “the provest bailyeis and counsell hes aggreit and condescendit to give yearlie to maister John Robertsoune advocatt, last chosen for them agent for the toun, ten pund of yeirlie fiall, and twa half barrellis hering, as the rest of the tounes principall advocatts gettis, during the tounes will and plesour allenarlie.” And after this there are repeated entries of payments for barrels and half barrels of herrings to the town’s advocates and others. By an entry in the burgh accounts of a later date we learn that the sum paid for “the Advocatts herring” for the year 1666 was 187 lib. 16s. 8d. (£14, 18s.). 

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

1  Brown’s History, vol. ii. p. 315.
2  Burgh Records, 19th December, 1612.

HOGG states that this spirited extravaganza was ‘written in the house of Mr. Andrew Bruce, Castlehill, Edinburgh, where a haggis one day made part of the dinner’; but it is unlikely that Burns set to work on it there and then. Chamber’s story, that the germ was the last stanza (as first printed) extemporised as grace at a friend’s house, is seemingly a variation of the same legend. The Address – (‘never before published’) – appeared in The Caledonian Mercury on 19th December 1786, and in The Scots Magazine for January 1787. 

STANZA I. LINE 5. ‘Weel are ye wordy o’  grace,’ Caledonian Mercury and 1787 (2).  

STANZA VI. LINE 2. ‘As feckless as a‘ wither’d rash,’ 1787 (2).  

STANZA VIII. LINE 3. ‘Auld Scotland wants nae stinking ware,’ 1787 (2):- See ante, Bibliographical, p. 313.  

STANZA VIII. LINE 3. as printed in The Caledonian Mercury and The Scots Magazine, reads thus:-  

‘Ye Powers wha gie us a’ that’s gude,  

Still bless auld Caledonia’s brood  

Wi’ great John Barleycorn’s heart’s blude  

In strowps or luggies;  

And on our board that king o’ food,  

A glorious Haggice.’ 

Address to a Haggis – Notes.

– December 19, 1857., p.247.


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