George Eyre-Todd (1862-1937) was a prolific author of popular books on aspects of Scottish history who also turned his pen to editing “Scottish Poetry of the Sixteenth Century” and “Who’s Who in Glasgow”1909. In other words like your present author, he was a bit of an old hack. Like many of his contemporaries writing on Scottish subjects, in this work he is heavily influenced by the “Tartanry” stile invented by Sir Walter Scott , and takes a hopelessly romantic view of the futile rebellion led by the heavily poxed Charles Edward Stuart. (Not so “Bonnie”, really.) Do not get me wrong. Tartan is fine in its place and I wear my kilt with pride, but if you have ever spent a rainy few days stuck indoors in a Highlands hotel where the curtains, bedspreads wallpaper and curtains were all tartan, well you do realise that there is such a state as too much of a good thing.
The book presents an engaging snapshot of well-heeled tourism almost exactly half-way through that long Edwardian summer between the death of the Old Queen and the start of the Kaiser’s War. There are details of circular tours involving trains, steamers and various road conveyances, with lists of fares. A curious feature, most evident from a couple of maps, is that According to the Caledonian Railway large parts of Scotland including everything north of the Caledonian Canal and the whole of the Kingdom of Fife were virtually featureless wastes, or else like the legendary village of Brigadoon they only emerged fitfully from the Highland mists only to vanish again, leaving not a wrack behind. This is because they could only be reached via the railway whose name one dare not mention in Caledonian hearing – the N—– B——. Tourists are in fact conducted to Fort William, deep in enemy territory, but only because the approach is made via steamer on the Caledonian Canal.
The back cover has a very pleasant touch – a drawing of a Hansom with the cabbie unloading luggage, as travelers eagerly enter their hotel looking forward to their holiday.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.