Saturday 13 October 2018

Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson (1893)

Catriona continues the story of David Balfour who was introduced in Stevenson’s well-known book, Kidnapped. Kidnapped was published in 1886 but Stevenson’s ill health at the time prevented him from bringing the story to the conclusion he originally intended so he left the door open for a sequel. Catriona didn’t appear until 1893 and it is quite a different story compared with most of Stevenson’s other works, being more of an historical romance with a convoluted plot and strong female characters as opposed to high adventure and daring exploits.
Catriona starts just at the point where Stevenson left David Balfour at the end of Kidnapped - at the doors of the British Linen Company’s bank - only this time he was coming out instead of going in.

The Gist of the Story

The book is set in the mid 1750’s after the Battle of Culloden in which the Jacobites were defeated. In 1752, Colin Roy Campbell, a government official also known as The Red Fox, was shot and killed, and members of the Jacobite Stewart clan were blamed. David sets out to clear his old friend, Alan Breck Stewart and his relative James Stewart (James of the Glens) of what became known as the Appin murder.
David visits his cousin, Mr Balfour, who provides him with a letter of introduction to the Lord Advocate Prestongrange and David presents himself before him as a witness for the accused.
Prestongrange is in a difficult situation as the Campbell clan are determined that James Stewart should be hanged for the murder but he tells David that he will arrange for him to be a witness at the trial.
In the meantime, David meets Catriona Drummond, the beautiful young daughter of James More Drummond, a son of the notorious Rob Roy.
David is unimpressed with More and thinks he is an unworthy man to be the Catriona’s father. His dislike is warranted as More is working behind the scenes to get him out of the way until after the trial, which he does by getting his Highland followers to kidnap David and keep him on the Bass, an island off the east coast of Scotland.
More is a selfish, conniving man, but Catriona is devoted to him. Gradually, his treachery comes to light but not before David and Catriona are separated and she realises that her father has been a manipulator and helped to send an innocent man to the gallows.
I enjoyed the latter part of the book most of all as it describes David’s poor attempts at courting Catriona, their misunderstandings of one another, and Alan Breck’s advice to his friend on the subject.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the description of the Lowland Scots’ attitude to the ‘Heiland’ folk. My Grannie was a Lowlander and she had a typical reaction if someone did something stupid or very clumsy. She’d say, “Och, dae'n be sae Heilan’!” I only found out many years later that it was a put down of the Highlanders. I don’t know it’s like that now but the same attitude has come up in Josephine Tey’s books only she takes the side of the Highlanders and makes references to 'vile Glasgow speech.'.

Catriona contains many of the characters found in Kidnapped so it’s best to have read that book beforehand or else you’ll miss connections. Kidnapped also helps to introduce some of the Scot dialect - and be warned, it’s all through Catriona. 

Some highlights:

Upon our reaching the park I was launched on a bevy of eight or ten young gentlemen (some of them cockaded officers, the rest chiefly advocates) who crowded to attend upon these beauties; and though I was presented to all of them in very good words, it seemed I was by all immediately forgotten. Young folk in a company are like to savage animals: they fall upon or scorn a stranger without civility, or I may say, humanity; and I am sure, if I had been among baboons, they would have shown me quite as much of both...

From these I was recalled by one of the officers, Lieutenant Hector Duncansby, a gawky, leering Highland boy, asking if my name was not “Palfour.”
I told him it was, not very kindly, for his manner was scant civil.
“Ha, Palfour,” says he, and then, repeating it, “Palfour, Palfour!”
“I am afraid you do not like my name, sir,” says I, annoyed with myself to be annoyed with such a rustical fellow.
“No,” says he, “but I wass thinking.”
“I would not advise you to make a practice of that, sir,” says I. “I feel sure you would not find it to agree with you.”
“Tit you effer hear where Alan Grigor fand the tangs?” said he.
I asked him what he could possibly mean, and he answered, with a heckling laugh, that he thought I must have found the poker in the same place and swallowed it.
There could be no mistake about this, and my cheek burned.
“Before I went about to put affronts on gentlemen,” said I, “I think I would learn the English language first.”

A sample of the Scot's tongue:

“Mony’s the time I’ve thocht upon you and your freen, and blythe am I to see in your braws,” she cried. “Though I kent ye were come to your ain folk by the grand present that ye sent me and that I thank ye for with a’ my heart.”

This conversation between David and his gaoler while he was captive on The Bass is found in Chapters XIV and XV contains the largest section of Scottish dialect:

“Well, Andie, I see I’ll have to be speak out plain with you,” I replied. And told him so much as I thought needful of the facts.
He heard me out with some serious interest, and when I had done, seemed to consider a little with himself.
“Shaws,” said he at last, “I’ll deal with the naked hand. It’s a queer tale, and no very creditable, the way you tell it; and I’m far frae minting that is other than the way that ye believe it. As for yoursel’, ye seem to me rather a dacent-like young man. But me, that’s aulder and mair judeecious, see perhaps a wee bit further forrit in the job than what ye can dae. And here the maitter clear and plain to ye. There’ll be nae skaith to yoursel’ if I keep ye here; far free that, I think ye’ll be a hantle better by it. There’ll be nae skaith to the kintry — just ae mair Hielantman hangit — Gude kens, a guid riddance! On the ither hand, it would be considerable skaith to me if I would let you free. Sae, speakin’ as a guid Whig, an honest freen’ to you, and an anxious freen’ to my ainsel’, the plain fact is that I think ye’ll just have to bide here wi’ Andie an’ the solans.”
“Andie,” said I, laying my hand upon his knee, “this Hielantman’s innocent.”
“Ay, it’s a peety about that,” said he. “But ye see, in this warld, the way God made it, we cannae just get a’thing that we want.”

And Alan’s opinion of David’s attempts at wooing:

“I cannae make heed nor tail of it,” he would say, “but it sticks in my mind ye’ve made a gowk of yourself. There’s few people that has had more experience than Alan Breck: and I can never call to mind to have heard tell of a lassie like this one of yours. The way that you tell it, the thing’s fair impossible. Ye must have made a terrible hash of the business, David.
...It’s this way about a man and a woman, ye see, Davie: The weemenfolk have got no kind of reason to them. Either they like the man, and then a’ goes fine; or else they just detest him, and ye may spare your breath — ye can do naething. There’s just the two sets of them — them that would sell their coats for ye, and them that never look the road ye’re on. That’s a’ that there is to women; and you seem to be such a gomeril that ye cannae tell the tane frae the tither.”
“Well, and I’m afraid that’s true for me,” said I.
“And yet there’s naething easier!” cried Alan. “I could easy learn ye the science of the thing; but ye seem to me to be born blind, and there’s where the deefficulty comes in.”

Catriona is free for Kindle here.
The book was published under the title David Balfour in the USA.

Linking to Back to the Classics Challenge 2018: Classic with Single-Word Title

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Plans for Combining Ambleside Online Years 8 & 9 Over 18 Months

In a previous post I mentioned that we were planning to do a combination of Years 8 & 9 over 18 months.  This is the Year 7, 8, & 9 in Two Years plan at AO that I'm modifying - we started at Week 25. As we were finishing up Year 7 when I decided to do a Year 8 & 9 combo, it frees us up to add in other areas we want to cover. I haven't finalised everything yet, but here are some of the selections that we have already started or are planning to start at some stage, including some Australian substitutions.

Devotional Reading

* Continuing Tozer's book The Root of the Righteous

**  By Searching by Isobel Kuhn - as with Year 7, I'm including a missionary biography/autobiography  in devotional reading.

*** C.S. Lewis or another title in the AO Year 8 selections

I think I've mentioned before that we didn't finish Trial & Triumph in the early years of AO so we started Saints & Heroes in Year 8 to cover some of the lives we missed earlier on & it's been a better option for us, I think.


As per AO Year 8 with the exclusion of Plymouth Plantation.

I started using the TruthQuest History guides when I was putting together my own curriculum with my older children. Since we started AmblesideOnline about 8 years ago, I've used them not so much as a resource for finding books, but for their commentary on the times we're studying and the worldviews those time periods espoused. I'm using this one for Year 8 and generally have Moozle read the commentary sections. I've had to purchase my copies from the USA. If I'm only after one or two books I find has reasonable postage to Australia (or used to have when I last looked!) The downside to these books are that they are spiral bound & one of mine already had the cover coming apart when I received it new. 


* The Bight by Colin Thiele & Mike McKelvey (Australian)

**  *** Longitude by Dava Sobel - I read this aloud about 8 years ago but Moozle wouldn't remember it. AO schedules it in Year 9, which will work out to be Term 2 in the combined schedule I'm doing (i.e. Week 1 here)


We'll probably skip Westward Ho!

* Shakespeare's Richard III
** ? The Merchant of Venice


Grammar of Poetry is scheduled in Year 7 but I've ended up spreading it out so at the moment we've done 25 out of 30 lessons. It's interesting but gets quite technical in places and could do with some better examples in some of the exercises.


* ** *** We'll be doing the second year of Architectural Science using these resources

We're continuing with:

Apologia Botany - this is an alternative book AO recommends for Botany & I'm using it because we already had it.

Signs & Seasons by Jay Ryan - I bought this before it was on the AO booklist but it's a little difficult to use if you're in the Southern Hemisphere. Moozle reads sections that are applicable to us & sometimes parts that are not because it interests her. As for experiments/observations - we've had a couple of occasions to observe some interesting sights, the lunar eclipse the other month, Mars, blood-red moon, for example, rather than what the book recommends.
I'm reading The Planets by Dava Sobel, which is a literary approach to the solar system. I was considering using it with Moozle but my thinking so far is that it would be better for an older student.

* ** *** Nature Studies in Australia by William Gillies & Robert Hall - I've scheduled this in Year 8 before and it's very good. 39 chapters covering a wide range of subjects. Free online

The other week Moozle read Chapter IV - What We See at the Beach and made a Notebook entry:

We'll be following the science schedule here (the combined AO Years 8 & 9) with the exception of Adventures With Microscope & First Studies in Plant Life.

Free Reads

Blanket of the Dark by John Buchan (1931) - a story of intrigue against Henry VIII. An enjoyable free read that fits in the AO Year 8 timeframe. Free for Kindle here.

'(Henry's) face was vast and red as a new ham, a sheer mountain of a face, 
for it was as broad as it was long...'

Lady in Waiting by Rosemary Sutcliff (1956) is set in Elizabethan times and tells the story of Bess Throckmorton, Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth, who becomes secretly engaged and later married to Walter Ralegh (Raleigh). It's been a long time since I read this book and I just remember that it was quite a sad story. Moozle said it wasn't one of Sutcliff's better books (it probably didn't move quickly enough for her) but it was quite good.

The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson - a story of the Wars of the Roses. Free for Kindle here.
I've been reading Stevenson a bit lately & he is a great story teller. I'd recommend any of his books.


I tend to alternate Shakespeare & Plutarch term by term, as we don't always have time to do them both each week. These are the two I plan to do:

** Cicero
*** Demosthenes

Watercolor Workshop by Sasha Prood - Moozle's older sister bought her this and she's using it to develop her watercolour skills and techniques.


Continuing with Latin Alive! from Classical Academic Press & very happy with it.


Moozle finished the second year of French for Children (Primer B) but unfortunately, the next Primer in the series won't be ready until next year sometime. Classical Academic Press suggested French First Year or French Second Year by Eli Blume in the meantime but it's only available from the USA and when I enquired it was going to cost me $200 Australian for shipping alone!!!
I bought an older edition second-hand but when I received it there was no answer key & I haven't been able to source one, so it's not much good to us. So at present we're using 'Living French' by T.W. Knight (it's ok but Moozle isn't really inspired by it) until I decide what to do...

Moozle is reading all her 'school' books on her own. I'd previously read How to Read a Book by Adler aloud but she's getting more out of it reading it on her own.

I'm still reading James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small to her - it's sort of our Natural History book but it's mostly just for fun.

I recently pulled these books I've had for many years off the shelf: Beautiful Girlhood originally by Mabel Hale but this edition has been revised by Karen Andreola. I'm using the Companion Guide, which I think is out of print, very loosely. Sometimes it has Scripture verses to study or ideas - again, I've got the book so I'm using it. I do this about once a week.

We're revisiting these folksongs I've used when the boys did Year 8 a number of years ago.

I'm sure I've forgotten a few things here but life in general has been very full. Lots of good things which I may get to post about later.
This verse from a hymn has been on my mind this past week:

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of the mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

See My Homeschool for some Australian options for high school