Letters from Marageret MacDonald in Glasgow, to her brother Roderick MacDonald in Melbourne, Australia 1875-1879, plus some of her jottings.

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Letters from Marageret MacDonald in Glasgow, to Roderick MacDonald in Melbourne, Australia 1875-1879, plus some of her jottings.

Transcripts of two letters from Margaret MacDonald having left Inverness after the death of her husband, Robert, now living in Glasgow with John, Alexander, & Margaret, her children, to her son Roderick in Australia

Glasgow, 11 Clyde Street, Partick, 4th April 77.

Dear Roderick & Joanna,

We were very glad at receiving a paper from you last week with the good news of an addition to your family, you have now one baby each to play with.  May they be of great pleasure & may they live long to be of great comfort to you.  I hope by this time that baby and her mother are getting on well & able to go about.  All our friends here are in good health at present, except myself.  I am troubled very much with a cough and a closing in my chest sine I came here owing to the dampness of the house that we are living in.  If the weather would get dry up that I would get better.

We had very wet & stormy weather here all the winter and spring.  The farmers are far behind in their sowing.  We had a letter from Eliza Findlay last week.  She says that her father was for some days ill with a cold he got in the Canal when he was engaged with taken up a vessel that went on her side in the water.  He says that he is more than 30 years working about the work of the Canal he never had got a cold like it with a severe cough.  Tommy his son who is in this town learning to be a engineer, he had a letter from home & telling us that his father was working.  James Leitch his Aunt's son is going to Melbourne today on the ship called the Loch Veanachar.  He expects to be their in two months.  He said that he would call upon you.  I did not desire him go but said it of his own accord, & I did not like to say no to him, & as he is Thomas Findlay's sister's son that you will try to give him a cup of tea or coffee in the passing on a journey to see his friends up the country.  He is a very steady young man.  I do not know how it is with you at Melbourne but here at Glasgow all the classes of all the Trades & drapers too are very hard times of it with rents and taxes & slow sales.  Along with a number of the Tradesmen are to turn all out tonight, if the masters will not give them a penny more an hour.  It will cause a great distress in many a family, especially those that did not join the Society like my sons.  They were in the Society before but dropped it, saying that they could not manage to do that as they were endeavouring to send some help to us when at Inverness, but if they would go canny about it they might have done it.  Others will have according to the number of their family, from 10sh to 12sh per week.  It is now they see their foolishness, & now they will not get a penny.  Alick was off work since a month with an accident he met with which his middle finger of his right hand was crushed in the machine , the skin did not heal all about it yet.  They were both busy making ready for a launch on those days & Johny was in the act of rubbing soft soap to the planks of the vessel that was ready to be launched, when a splinter of the plank went through the hollow of his hand.  He worked on with it all that evening, & every beat he was giving it with the hammer it was putting it in father.  By the time he came home it was very much swollen with him that we had to poultice it till it suppurated & when it broke I saw some little bit of a hair coming out of it I pulled it and was ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? (it was inches in)

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We at long last we received a letter from Henrie.  He said that he was going to write you himself soon.  That the reason why he did not write to you or I, he was out in the interior for a long time at work up in the Country.  I must conclude as I am afraid of being late for the Post Office.  I making many blunders here with my hurry, excuse me.  When you will write send us word how Mrs. Urquhart is & give her my compliments & let me know if she is getting better of her complaint.

With kind love to you all
I remain your's Affectionately
Margaret MacDonald

When you write to us
Address  Mrs MacDonald
No15 Clyde Street, Partick, Glasgow
As this house is so damp we are
going to remove at the term day
from No11 to No15 Clyde Street
it is the same street Partick, Glasgow


At No 15 Clyde Street, Partick, Glasgow. July 24th.

Dear Roderick & Joanna,

I am just going to say who.  I can write you a few lines to let you know that I received your letter, & we were all very glad to hear that you & your family & that Mrs Urquhart was a little better when you wrote us.  I wrote to you a letter to you let you know that James Leitch was going to Melbourne as one of the crew of the ship Loch Veanachar of Glasgow.  He went twice across the Atlantic with this captain & I was of the mind at that time to send you some books if he could take them safe to you to Melbourne.  I sent word to him by Maggie Findlay to tell him to come to see us at Partick before he would join the ship.  He did come and it is then that he told us what he was intending to do when he would reach Melbourne.  His aim was, that whenever he would reach Melbourne that he would not take his trunk with him as usual, but to take two or three small pillow slips with his wearing clothes.  So by the help of one of the sailors as we generally do when we go to get our clothes washed, we are not so sharp looked after, & to start away to where his father's friends are in the country not intending to go back again by the same boat,

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as his friends had advised him to go with them for some time till he would learn the sailmaking from them which pays well there rather than to be going to sea as a sailor.  He desired me to tell you that he is very sorry that he could not manage to go with it, as his friends were coming to meet him.

Maggy was washing for a Lady of the name of Mrs. Veitch some weeks ago, and the day she saw her the day, & she wished her to go for two days with her to repair her sons clothes as he was going to sea, & Maggy asked her what port he was going to, & she said that he was going to Melbourne.  She told her that she had a brother in Melbourne in a Warehouse, & that he would like to get some books that he left behind him when he went to Melbourne if we could.  She told her to make up a parcel of some of them & that she would try if his trunk would hold them after his clothes would be packed.  The ship is Advertised to sail on the 31st of July.  She may not manage to sail for a few days afterwards.  She is called the Loch Lomand.  What if the Customhouse Officer will interfere with the parcel of books.  I think that it would be better not to go near the ship till a few days after her arrival.  She is a sailing ship not a steamer.  She belongs to the same company as the Loch Veanachar that Jamie Leitch went away.  Never say a word to anybody about Leitch. Jamie Leitch running away from the ship.

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This young man that is to go out from this city  is Mr Veitch, apprentice sailor on board the Loch Lomand.  He took a notion to the sea & they could not get him to settle to any other business.  He is a thoughtless young man.  The Books that we are to send we will send a list of them inside the letter.  We had not so many books now as we had when father was living.  Before he got very poorly he wrote to a Bookseller in this town to try & get them sold for him, so he sent a box full of them to him & soon after that he failed & never got a halfpenny for them.  The big Herbal you spoke of - I had to sell it for we were so hard up for want of money to support us as they could not get a stroke of work to do.  They are now on strike since three months & there is not a hand taken on yet, nor no word about it.  There is no much work on & they are doing the jobs that they have on hand by the foremen and the apprentices of which they have a great numbers as they will save more money by that plan.  There is a great distress among the labouring classes in here.  They had been oblige to sell all their furniture, & even their bedclothes they had to sell.  We are sending you a paper which will give you the rest of the news.  Their are some books still belonging to you here but we could not venture to send them at this time. Such as the Glencoe would be thought rather heavy.  We heard from Henry, he is well but complaining of not getting but little wages.  You spoke of your likeness.  We have none but the cards you took from Calcutta.  Maggie, John, Alick send their best to you all as the Mail is to start.  I send my kind love to you all.  Margaret MacDonald.

We sent the first on by the Mail Steamer Rangoon which was wrecked.

Handwriting can always be tricky to decipher, but at least when it is in English it is usually easy to guess what a word that is dificult to make out may be from its context.  However as far as the transcription of the Gaelic goes, I do not understand it and only recognise a few words of it, therefore any guessing of dificult to read words is just that.  Therefore the transcription of the Gaelic verse in the following is potentially dubious in its accuracy.

A part of Mr MacGregor's Lecture at Inverness.  The following Stanza's are a specimen of their songs when tramping the "cisean": -

1st  Siubhlaibh, siubhlaibh, cuidichibhleinn
Siudaibh, siudaibh, cuidichibh leinn
Siubhlaibh, siubhlaibh, cuidichibh leinn
Is thigibh gu h-ealamh a'chuideachadh leinn

2nd Thigibh gu h-ealamh gun stadadh gun mhoille
Thigibh gu h-ealamh achuideachadh leinn
Thigibh le beannach  le paitteas gun ghaime
Is thugaibh ur cuideach gu togarr dhuimie

For the parching process

Buailibh an sguabag
Is buailibh gu leirt
Buailibh an sguabag
Is buailibh gu geuris
Buailibh gu grad
Buailibh gun stad
Buailibh sair fad
Buailibh shigach bad

'Santeine ma lasair
Is loisgear an "Gradan"
'Sgu h-eamh bithid'n atag
Na laid h'ans a'ghriosaich

Bithidharan uraig nagillean-ibh
As a mhuic shirghair
Bithidharan gradain nam nachfada
Aigluchd nam eug's nan luth-chleas
Thigibh a nis a mhnathan tha
Is greasaeibh gu luath a mhuill bras
Gus amfaigh na h-uile lon ma thrath
Se beannachdon aird gabhuileachd


The Poetess Mary McLeod better known to Highlanders as "Mairi Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh" alludes to the descent of MacLeod, her chief, in the graqphic words

Slioch olghair nan lann
Thogadh stroittean ricrann
'Nuair a thoisich iad ann
Cha bu lionsgaradh gann
Feir ab fhirinnich bann
Priseil an dream
Rioghail gun chall corach. At the grind-n
Ma nighean dubh, dhfhas boidhededubh
Mo nighean dubh na breigan
Ged theireadh cach gun robh thu dubh cheil
Sco geal sangruth leam fhein thu.


Safe Maxims for All.  -  The world estimates men by their success in life;  and by general consent success is evidence of superiority.  Never, under any circumstances, assume a responsibilty that you can avoid consistently with your duty to yourself and others.  Base all your actions on a principle of right;  preserve all your integrity of character in doing this;  never reckon the cost.   Remember that self interest is more likely to warp your judgement than all other circumstances combined:  therefore look well to your duty when your duty is concerned.  Never make money at the expense of your reputation.  Be neither lavish nor niggardly - of the two avoid the latter - a mean man is universally despised;  but public favour is a stepping-stone to preferment - therefore generous feelings should be cultivated.  Let your expenses be such as to leave a balance in your pocket - ready money is a friend in need.  Keep clear of the Law;  for when you gain your case you are generally a loser of money.  Never relate your misfortunes, and never grieve over what you cannot prevent.  No man who owes as much as he can pay, has any moral right to endorse a bill for another.  No monied man has the moral right to enter on engagements of speculations, hazarding his estate, without the consent of his wife.


Water Power in an American State.   The whole area of the State of Maine is about 30,000 miles, of which the great primeval northern forests contain about 20,000 square miles.  It is largely composed of tall pines.  There are about 1800 lakes in the State, covering nearly 3000 square miles.  Nearly all these lakes be at the head of the rivers which run to the sea, and their great altitude gives to their descending waters an immense power.  Rangely Lake is 1500feet, & Lakes Umbagog & Moosehead are each 1000 feet above the level of the sea, and the whole surface of the state is, on an average, 600 feet in elevation, so that the waters of all the lakes & rivers must fall that distance.  It is estimated that the total water power of the State is equal to the combined working energy of 4,000,000 horses or 84,000,000 men labouring day & night all the year round, or, counting that which is available, exceeds the actual working power of all the men in the United States, England, France, and Germany.


Robert Fraser & Sons, 96 Church Street, Established 1820.  Patterns, Card of Shapes, & form of Self-Measurement on Application.
Robertson & Watt, 26 Union Street, Sends Patterns & Forms for Self-Measurement Post Free.


Meteorological Notes. -We are indebted to Mr. D. Forbes, Culloden, for the following interesting notes: - On Tuesday & Wednesday of last week the thermometer in the shade at Culloden rose to 81F and 80Frespictively.  So great a degree of heat has not been experienced for at least thirty-four years.  The rainfall in June amounted to 0.778 inches, and in July 0.397 inches;  and if we add what fell up to the 8th of the present month, the total fall is only 1.228 inches.  This summer would thus appear to equal, if not surpass, the often quoted one of 1826, in both heat & dryness.  Between 1868 and 1826 there is an interval of 42 years; and if we search back for another period of excessive drought we find one in 1784, which deducted from 1826 gives another corresponding interval of 42 years, a coincidence which, to say the least of it, is somewhat remarkable, and worthy of the attention of those who assert that particular kinds of weather can be traced as occurring in cycles.


93rd Sutherland Highlanders.
To the Editor of the Inverness Courier _ rt
Sir, - If you will be so good as to insert this letter in your widely-circulated Highland journal, the subject of it may interest some of your numerous readers, and probably some of those now or formerly connected with the above Highland Regiment.  When visiting the Channel Islands last year, and in going  over an old cemetery in the Island of Guernsey, I came upon an old Tombstone in a dilapidated condition, with the following inscription upon it, almost illegible: -
"Serjeant Samuel MacDonald, of the 93rd Regiment, or Sutherland Highlanders, was interred here on the 9th of May 1802, having served his king and country for 24 years.  He died esteemed by his officers & beloved by his fellow soldiers, in the 41 year of his age.  He measured when living six feet ten inches in height, was well proportioned and of immense strength;  he was a native of the county of Sutherland.  It would appear that, in 1820, the 79th Highlanders were quartered in the Island of Guernsey, and that the Serjeants of that distinguished corps, at their own expense, renewed not only the inscription but the tombstone, because a ribbon or garter had been cut on the stone above the inscription, on which, with much difficulty, I made out the following words: - "Renewed by the Serjeants of the 79th Highlanders in 1820".  A few more seasons will totally obliterate all traces of the resting place of MacDonald and the kind intention and effort of his brother Serjeants of the Cameron men to perpetuate his memory.
I procured an estimate of the expense of renewing the tombstone.  It amounted to 2.10sh.  Should anyone connected with the family of MacDonald, or with his old corps, feel disposed to incur this expense, I would undertake to see that their wishes are carried out in a substantial & satisfactory manner.   I am , &c,
One of the Old Forty-second


The annual income of the Birbeck Building Society Exceeds A Million.
How To Purchase A House For Two Guineas Per Month.
With Immediate Possession, And No Rent To Pay.  Apply at the Office of the Birbeck Building Society, London Mechanic Institution, 29, Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane.
How To Purchase A Plot of Land, For Five Shillings With Immediate Possession. Either For Building Or Gardening Purposes.  Apply At The Office Of The Birbeck Freehold Land Society - Apply As Above.
How To Invest Your Money With The Society At 5 Per Cent Interest. Apply At The Office Of The Birbeck Deposit Bank.  All sums under 50 repayable on demand.  Current Accounts opened similar to Ordinary Bankers Cheque Books supplied. Office Hours from 11 till 5 daily, on Saturdays from 11 till 2, and on Monday Evenings, from 7 till 9.
A Small Pamphlet, containing full particulars may be obtained, Gratis, or sent post free, on application to Francis Ravenscroft, Manager.


Ether.  Sulphuric Ether is stimulant, narcotic, & antispasmodic, and is sometimes beneficially employed as a cordial in typhus and low fevers, & as an antispasmodic in spasmodic asthma, hysterics, and fainting.  It is also employed with advantage in cholera-morbus, to check the vomiting; and it allays the violence of sea-sickness.  But its effects are transitory, and, therefore, in all cases, the dose must be repeated at short intervals, of an hour or two, to produce the full effect of the remedy.
The usual dose is from half a drachm to two drachms, but it may be given to the extent of half an ounce, in any agreeable vehicle.  All Ethers must be kept in closely stooped bottles.


Cinnamon Water.  Steep one lb of bark, bruised, in a gallon and a half of water, and one pint of brandy, for two days, and then distil off one gallon.  This is an agreeable aromatic water, possessing much of the fragrance & cordial virtues of the spice.


Comparative Value of Pease and Potatoes:  Proffessor Buckmann, of the Royal and Agricultural College at Cirencester, in a report on the Agriculture on the South coast, remarks that the vast extent of grey peas cultivated there, strikes a stranger as somewhat curious, until he finds out that to a great extent they take the place of beans as a feeding crop;  and besides, that peas are even now used as an article of food amongst the poor to a greater extent than at present prevails in most parts of England.  " Go where one will ", he says, " the hucksters shops will be found to exhibit a large pan of fried peas, in the centre of which is a half-pint measure indicative of the manner in which it is retailed to the poor, and a good and sensible food it is.  This is a matter of no small importance when we consider their value in a muscle- making point of view, and if it be known that 11lbs. of peas is equal to about 20lbs. of potatoes in real feeding and strength-giving properties, no country need regret the loss of the latter fickle plant, if it has a good store of pease to fall back upon".  If this calculation be correct, a comb of peas, weighing perhaps 16 stone, at 24sh, which is more than their present price, would be equal in point of nourishment to 80 bushels of potatoes, costing at 5sh. per bushel, 20.  But according to the table of Professor Johnston, which is more nearly in agreement with the report of the French Institute, the proportion of nourishment in potatoes, as compared with peas, is about 1 to 5.  But even at this rate, potatoes at 5 sh a bushel are four times as dear as peas, considering the relative nutriment.


Asthma.  I have known strong brandy & water afford more releif than any other thing during the fit.  Dr. Dawson of Bishopwearmouth, writes in favour of gin & water, indeed, he states that suffers from the dry spasmodic Asthms have, under his observation, derived a cure from gin and water when all medecines, and every other kind of spirits had completely failed.


Take of decoction of Seneka, an ounce and a half, or two ounces, vinegar of squill, half a drachm, paregoric elixir, half a drachm.  Mix for a draught to be taken three or four times a day which will be found to promote spitting, perspiration, and urine, in a powerful manner.