Last week I was researching my current WIP (work-in-progress), part of which will take place in Scotland and I was looking up information about the Clearances in Scotland, when the land was taken from the crofters and consolidated for bigger profits. Not that my story has anything to do with the Clearances, certainly not the Highland Clearances or anything Highland, but I needed to know just for a throwaway line.

I came upon this in a History of Scotland page:

In 1810 Scott publishes The Lady of the Lake, a stirring historical poem of love and adventure. Loch Katrine, in a rugged gorge of the Trossachs, is the home of the heroine, Ellen Douglas. The beatiful Ellen’s Isle commemorates her, nestling in the loch against a background of high hills.

The poem is an immediate success. A new hotel is built to accomodate the rush of tourists, who wander through the landscape with their copies of the book, finding the exact spots in which to declaim the relevant passages. The Highlands acquire an aura for tourists which they have never lost.

The more things change the more they stay the same! I immediately thought of today’s tourists scampering about Europe and the UK on Da Vinci Code tours! It is rather comforting to me that people are the same in so many ways, even if they lived a long time ago.

Here for a taste of what our Regency ladies and gentlemen read in that poem is the beginning of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake:

Harp of the North! that mouldering long hast hung
On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan’s spring
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string,–
O Minstrel Harp, still must thine accents sleep?
Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep,
Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?