Badass Santa, in his wisdom and generosity, delivered tomes to be mined for the materials that will craft Series 2 of The Frontier Partisans Podcast.
As of now, the plan is for a three-parter:
• The Highland Frontier.
The Highland Line was a frontier zone for centuries. The English and the Lowland Scots thought and spoke of the Highlanders in virtually identical terms as the “Wild Irish” and the North American Indians — as “savages” or “barbarians” who either had to be brought to true Christian civilization or extirpated….
• The Saga of Rob Roy MacGregor.
Warrior, skilled cattle drover, rustler, outlaw, guerrilla fighter. Rob Roy is as Frontier Partisan as they come.
• The Highlanders on the North American Frontier.
Exiled from their homeland, many Highlanders found their way onto the frontiers of North America. Some fought in Highland regiments raised for the Seven Years War (in North America, The French & Indian War). Some became traders among the native peoples. In the American Southeast, Scots intermarried with the Cherokee and Creek Indians; Highland names abound among the leadership of both peoples. To the north, Scots were extraordinarily active in the Fur Trade, especially from the late 18th through early 19th Century.
Some of these colonized people became colonizers in their turn; some walked a different path that leaves a poignant trace of what might have been:
“We were Cree and we were Scottish,” says Albert MacLeod, a Winnipeg Métis whose Lewis-born ancestor joined the Hudson’s Bay Company. “We were comfortable with that. We had our own way of living. We had a vision of how our future might be. But we could only have found our way to that future if we’d been left alone — and we weren’t left alone.” (Colin C. Calloway — White People, Indians and Highlanders).
The MacGregor book is THE scholarly work on the legendary Highland Rogue. WH Murray was famed as a mountaineer as well as a writer. Clanlands is a bit of fun, featuring Outlander stars Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser). It had to be prised from the clutches of daughter Ceili (“It has pictures!?!”).
While it’s a lark, Clanlands also offers a serious look at some bloodsoaked history. Apparently McTavish has long been fascinated with the Glencoe Massacre, and his recounting of the events is quite good. And I love the descriptions of his experience of frisson (or, as Heughan describes it rather hilariously “a Meg Ryan moment”) when handling Jacobite artifacts from the ’45.
Series 2 will roll out in January…
Christmas Day in these parts was rather dank and chilly. With the prospect of several days off in a row ahead of me (an unprecedented luxury), I felt completely at ease indulging in lounging about and laying in some background on the turbulent Stuart/Stewart dynasty — in the delightful company of the lovely Prof. Kate Williams.
There is nothing more satisfying on a grey day than copious quantities of beef, cheese, and hours of bloody British history. It’s also perversely comforting to recognize that our current plague-and political-turmoil-ridden state is really standard fare. Our current conspiracy theorists are pikers compared to the baby-in-a-bedpan scandal-mongering monarch-topplers of the so-called Glorious Revolution.
Topped it off with a tale of Queen Bess’s Devonshire Sea Dogs…
Which put me in mind of NC Wyeth and Westward Ho!…
…And Robert E. Howard…
Solomon Kane’s Homecoming
The white gulls wheeled above the cliffs, the air was slashed with foam,
The long tides moaned along the strand when Solomon Kane came home.
He walked in silence strange and dazed through the little Devon town,
His gaze, like a ghost’s come back to life, roamed up the streets and down.
The people followed wonderingly to mark his spectral stare,
And in the tavern silently they thronged about him there.
He heard as a man hears in a dream the worn old rafters creak,
And Solomon lifted his drinking-jack and spoke as a ghost might speak:
“There sat Sir Richard Grenville once; in smoke and flame he passed.
“And we were one to fifty-three, but we gave them blast for blast.
“From crimson dawn to crimson dawn, we held the Dons at bay.
“The dead lay littered on our decks, our masts were shot away.
“We beat them back with broken blades, till crimson ran the tide;
“Death thundered in the cannon smoke when Richard Grenville died.
“We should have blown her hull apart and sunk beneath the Main.”
The people saw upon his wrist the scars of the racks of Spain.
“Where is Bess?” said Solomon Kane. “Woe that I caused her tears.”
“In the quiet churchyard by the sea she has slept these seven years.”
The sea-wind moaned at the window-pane, and Solomon bowed his head.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and the fairest fade,” he said.
His eyes were mystical deep pools that drowned unearthly things,
And Solomon lifted up his head and spoke of his wanderings.
“Mine eyes have looked on sorcery in dark and naked lands,
“Horror born of the jungle gloom and death on the pathless sands.
“And I have known a deathless queen in a city old as Death,
“Where towering pyramids of skulls her glory witnesseth.
“Her kiss was like an adder’s fang, with the sweetness Lilith had,
“And her red-eyed vassals howled for blood in that City of the Mad.
“And I have slain a vampire shape that sucked a black king white,
“And I have roamed through grisly hills where dead men walked at night.
“And I have seen heads fall like fruit in a slaver’s barracoon,
“And I have seen winged demons fly all naked in the moon.
“My feet are weary of wandering and age comes on apace;
“I fain would dwell in Devon now, forever in my place.”
The howling of the ocean pack came whistling down the gale,
And Solomon Kane threw up his head like a hound that sniffs the trail.
A-down the wind like a running pack the hounds of the ocean bayed,
And Solomon Kane rose up again and girt his Spanish blade.
In his strange cold eyes a vagrant gleam grew wayward and blind and bright,
And Solomon put the people by and went into the night.
A wild moon rode the wild white clouds, the waves in white crests flowed,
When Solomon Kane went forth again and no man knew his road.
They glimpsed him etched against the moon, where clouds on hilltop thinned;
They heard an eery echoed call that whistled down the wind.