Are you hungry for a taste of the Scottish countryside? Lionel Edwards obliges in his 1929 work, Scottish Sketchbook. The compilation of many sporting (and sketching) trips to Scotland, the book is a lovely gem filled with impressions of Scottish country life in early 20th Century.

"This picture is a fraud, for it suggests a midday rest after a strenuous morning over dogs in pursuit of the elusive grouse bird. In actual fact it depicts a brother artist, plus my host's dogs, on a hot August day above Loch Ness, all in that drowsy state peculiar to after luncheon on the Sabbath!"
“This picture is a fraud, for it suggests a midday rest after a strenuous morning over dogs in pursuit of the elusive grouse bird. In actual fact it depicts a brother artist, plus my host’s dogs, on a hot August day above Loch Ness, all in that drowsy state peculiar to after luncheon on the Sabbath!”

The sketches are as varied as the landscape of Scotland itself, and Edwards relates the collection to the variety and admixture of Scottish foods. There’s a lot to dig into in the book, which is full of small vignettes and memories.

“These sketches – for they do not aspire to be anything higher – have now been collected, and are served up in the mixed form of a hash. Perhaps, to continue in gastronomical terms, “Scotch Collops” would be a more appropriate title, since with one exception they have not been previously published, and therefore resemble the latter dish in being composed entirely of fresh meat.”
–– Lionel Edwards, Scottish Sketchbook, Introduction

"I hope I can claim the negative virtue of being not worse than my neighbours, but, if one can gauge the minds of others by one's own, one is bound to admit that the green-eyed monster at times mocks one's best endeavours. Although I cannot claim to be a real fisherman, even I have noticed that usually all the luck goes to 'the other boat'!"

“I hope I can claim the negative virtue of being not worse than my neighbours, but, if one can gauge the minds of others by one’s own, one is bound to admit that the green-eyed monster at times mocks one’s best endeavours. Although I cannot claim to be a real fisherman, even I have noticed that usually all the luck goes to ‘the other boat’!”

Lionel Edwards (1878-1966) was a prolific sporting artist of the early 20th Century. Born in Wales, the fifth son of a doctor, Edwards learned to love the countryside and country sport at an early age. Much of his career was spent depicting country pursuits in their element, including foxhunting, fishing and shooting.

"This memory note was made after hunting with the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire, and represents hounds climbing the park wall of Dalmahoy (now a golf club), which is one of the nearest points to Edinburgh over which hounds still hunt."
“This memory note was made after hunting with the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire, and represents hounds climbing the park wall of Dalmahoy (now a golf club), which is one of the nearest points to Edinburgh over which hounds still hunt.”

Hungry for more? This is one of over 100 books available to purchase through the NSLM Annual Auction. The Annual Auction, composed of duplicates from the Library collections, will continue until November 8. This year’s Auction includes some lovely sporting art and is perfect for holiday shopping; contact John Connolly, the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian for more information.

Advertisements

In the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, I came across a rare gem, tucked away in the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection. It’s a poem called “The Bonie Moorhen: A Hunting Song.” The manuscript is an autograph manuscript by Robert Burns (1759-1796), the foremost national poet of Scotland. Burns wrote poetry and composed songs, and he also collected Scottish folk songs for publication. Many Americans haven’t heard of Robert Burns, but still sing his song “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of each year.

Its not every day you can crack open an autograph manuscript from the king of Scottish poetry!
Its not every day you can crack open an autograph manuscript from *the* Scottish poet!

At face value, the poem is a hunting song about the difficulty of capturing a grouse in the wild. A local manages to win away with the grouse where all others failed.

The transcribed hunting song. A "moor-hen" is more widely known to us as a grouse, whose excellent camouflage and sudden flight makes it a difficult target.
The transcribed hunting song. A “moor-hen” is more widely known to us as a grouse, whose excellent camouflage and sudden flight makes it a difficult target.

However, there’s intrigue and romance afoot in this poem: The poem serves as an allegory for Burns’ relationship with Nancy McLehose, who exchanged letters with Burns in the 1780s. Nancy was estranged from her husband, and urged Burns to refrain from publishing the transparent song.

Apparently, the poem is a not-so-loosely veiled allegory about Burns and his correspondent friend, Clarinda, who married a Glasgow gentleman named Maclehose.
Apparently, the poem is a not-so-loosely veiled allegory about Burns and his correspondent friend, Clarinda, who married a Glasgow gentleman named McLehose.
Burns did not publish the poem in his lifetime, submitting to Clarinda's request not to publish. The poem was published after Burns' death.
Burns did not publish the poem in his lifetime, submitting to Clarinda’s request not to publish. The poem was published after Burns’ death.

Do you want to learn more about Robert Burns? If you’re in the region, you should check out the upcoming event, Hylton in the Highlands at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on GMU’s Prince William Campus. This year’s festival is next Saturday, January 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The day-long festival celebrates Scottish culture with music, interactive presentations, exhibits, and food tastings.

Further, the Hylton Center also hosts a Burns Supper to commemorate the life and works of Robert Burns. The event is complete with a special performance by the musical duo Alan Reid and Rob van Sante, a poetry reading, Scotch whisky tasting and the presentation of Scotland’s “National Dish,” haggis.