Letter by Robert Macfarlan, Recollecting Scotland

Author(s): Macfarlan, Robert


Dear Sir,

I received your letter with much
satisfaction, as it convinced me that you had
not forgot me any more than you had your
dear Scotland, in which you find so many
charms. With your present sentiments I suppose
you would act like the Scotchman who
travelling through the vale of Arno, the most
pleasant & fertile in Italy, wished himself
poſseſsed of an estate in it, & being asked by
his companion what he would do with it answered,
"why sell it to be sure & buy another in the
highlands of Scotland." You would undoubtedly confine
yourself to the Lowland, & I again would
probably settle not far from the Grampian
hills, where some extensive lake pouring its
tide into the sea should be on one side bounded by
a plain & on the other by a cloud capt mountain
seeming to ease old Atlas of part of his
load. Yet upon second thoughts I think that
even this wish gratified would not produce
absolute content. The connections, which I have
formed in London, would naturally be drawing
me into its vortex. Hence your predilection

for the land of cakes. You have not yet made
acquaintances enow in England to counterbalance
the various attachments of filial gratitude & affection,
of early habit & juvenile amusements.

Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine cunctos
Ducit & immemores non sinit eſse sui.

Our country has certainly its attractions; but there
is no mystery in the case; the attracting power
is obvious, & patriotism, where it exists, has no
other source, except it be blended with interest.
Far be it from me to think of unhinging your
patriotick principles; I know too well their
use, & the futility of the pretensions of those
who call themselves citizens of the world.
They are generally misanthropes or have no
principles at all. I therefore applaud your piety
in drawing the curtain on the nakedneſs of alma
mater & in dwelling only on her beauties, when
you were contrasting her with old England. It is
always a happy disposition that extracts good
out of evil & finds, like the bee, honey in
the bitterest herbs. _ I was going on,
but Mally is laying the cloth for supper; &
so adieu for the present to the land of cakes

The young gentlemen for their amusement
with hardly any aſsistance from me acted
the Lyar the night preceding the holidays.
Money was thought admirable as a lyar, swain
as the pretended Frenchman _ Hannay did
the principal lady with some eclats & Smith
was not contemptible as Old Wilding _ Mr.
Barzey is gone to the West Indies 400
pounds in my debt - My best respects to
my Lord Advocate. I am with much regard
your humble Sert.

Robert Macfarlan
Decr. 27. 1784


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Letter by Robert Macfarlan, Recollecting Scotland. 2023. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 28 November 2023, from

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Letter by Robert Macfarlan, Recollecting Scotland

Document Information

Document ID 312
Title Letter by Robert Macfarlan, Recollecting Scotland
Year group 1750-1800
Genre Personal writing
Year of publication 1784
Place of publication Walthamstow, England
Wordcount 454

Author information: Macfarlan, Robert

Author ID 297
Forenames Robert
Surname Macfarlan
Gender Male