Philobiblon: Changing entertainments

Friday, September 17, 2004

Changing entertainments

The Hon. John Erskine of Carnock was in his early 20s when he wrote his diary, covering his time in Scotland in the final years of Charles II, his flight to Holland, his time with the Earl of Argyll's invasion force and a little after.

His editor notes that in exile "to him the most remarkable feature ... was the freedom to hear preaching every Lord's day. The sad record 'I heard no preaching,' which studs the earlier portion of the diary disappears; and there is ample choice of ministers, both Scotch and English ..." (p. xxii)

The young John really was a bit of a prig, complaining, however, that in Holland medical teachers did dissections on the Lord's Day "... not only did they continue the dissection but explained those parts of a man's body which might occasion greatest laughter and disturbance among young men, yea, to all, very unsuitable thoughts for the Lord's day". (p. 167)

Nice to know some aspects of human nature (or at least adolescent nature) haven't changed then.

Journal of the Hon. John Erskine of Carnock, 1683-1687, W. Macleod Ed., Edinburgh, 1893, Scottish History Society.


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