I have been a great admirer of Morton for years now. I was intrigued to see how this very English traveller would view Scotland. As with his travels in the Middle East, Spain and Italy he is the most wonderful travel companion. He has a poet`s eye and he does his subject the great compliment of preparing very well for his travels so that he knows more about Scotland than most of our natives. Of course the book was written more than eighty years ago but if anything it gains from that. Morton finds and describes a traditional Scotland which still exists but can at times be overshadowed by our attempts to seem more sophisticated. No one that I know of more hauntingly evokes the romance and drama of Scottish scenery. His visit to Skye is a wonderful piece of writing. As a Scot I salute H.V. Morton.
R.V.Morton writes of his travels around Scotland with a clarity that puts you there, with him, as he describes the characters,local history, life and feeling of the moment in each place he visits. Set in the early 1900s, it is a beautifully written book that was an absolute joy and education to read. I am so pleased to find that he has others on the shelf! Ian.
i bought this book 40 years ago in a Glasgow market (the barras) and loved reading about his journey around scotland. You get a real sense of being with him and experiencing his discoveries. I loved his enthusiasm when ho found how to make scotch broth. Describing the look, the colours and the aroma alone was and is unforgettable. I am still using that recipe 40 years on. What I loved was finding out about other parts of Scotland as I was young and hadn't travelled much. This inspired me to see my own country much more.
"But always will I remember Old Edinburgh in the evening ... I like to linger on the hill in the dark, where winds whistle like swords and darkness creeps with an air of conspiracy." - from IN SEARCH OF SCOTLAND
"Many a wild Highlander at that time in Edinburgh with his chieftain must have heard stories about (Mary, Queen of Scots), how she bathed her body in wine, how you could see her riding her horse full tilt for the gates with her court far behind scattered like a hunting field over the 'Royal Mile'; how sometimes on dark nights you might meet her stealing through the streets hiding her beauty beneath a manly cloak ... Perhaps a curtain would be pulled aside and this Highlander would see her for a second against the candlelight, with pearls shining in her hair. And he would ride his shaggy pony north through wild gorges, thinking of this queen, taking with him something of her beauty, her strangeness, her remoteness from anything Scotland had ever known, home to a lonely stone hut in the heart of the hills. So she became a legend at the age of eighteen ..." - from IN SEARCH OF SCOTLAND
"... in the mountains of Scotland the moonlight has a sharper edge to it. It suggests not the amusing playful fairies of the Saxon but the witch and the warlock of the Celt. If you did see a fairy by Scotch moonlight it would be on its way to steal a baby." - from IN SEARCH OF SCOTLAND
"The piper in a city street is a misfortune, but pipers marching with the wind over a hill send blood to the head and make fingers itch for a sword. The bagpipe is the voice of the claymore. It sings the song of the sword: the sword drooping from dying fingers, the sword flashing in battle, the sword whistling in triumph, the sword sheathed in failure." - from IN SEARCH OF SCOTLAND
First published in 1929, IN SEARCH OF SCOTLAND is Henry Vollam Morton's travel essay on Scotland based on his driving tour of it.
Morton's output as a travel writer was positively prodigious. Yet, after having read only two of his other books, In Search of England (1927) and In Search of London (1951), plus this one, I am struck by his extravagant use of superlatives and the word "most." One might be tempted to whisper the aside that he might've achieved a more balanced perspective by getting out more. But the thing is, you see, he did; his wide-ranging travel narratives span five decades.
One result of the enthusiasm with which Morton writes might be the frisson of delight one experiences when reading his exquisitely descriptive prose that occasionally attains the sublime.
In SEARCH OF SCOTLAND, the author is particularly fascinated by Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the last chapter is almost entirely dedicated to Robert Burns.
The paramount highlights of Morton's own journey were apparently climbing Ben Nevis and the time spent on the Isle of Skye. Having visited Skye myself on two of several auto tours, I must agree with the words of the captain of the ferry that transported him there: "Weel - ye'll come back." Skye is indeed a magical place (though perhaps a bit less so now that the Skye Bridge carries the A87 across from the mainland to the Isle causing the closure of the venerable Kyleakin Ferry).
And, finally, as evidence of what a Renaissance Man the author was - he died in 1997 - IN SEARCH OF SCOTLAND includes his own recipe for Scotch Broth ("that divine brew"), the ability to make he would confer on all brides to insure domestic bliss. (I guess back in the day Campbell's Chunky soups just wouldn't do.)
The charm of H V Morton's travel does not diminish with the decades, but grows. This is because his elegant, witty, 1930s prose, and chats with old-time characters, take us back to his era YET ALSO he captures what is eternal about the places he visits. His trip round Holyrood House to look at the absurd paintings of Scotland's mythical kings, his hikes across wild and wet moors, his encounters with American tourists, all are brilliant pieces of writing. No one writes like this now and more's the pity. For the modest price the book would be a magnificent find if the reader wants the feel of old Scotland. (INDEPENDENT COMMENT)
Have you ever met Mr M.? Well, I'm afraid your a bit too late. Never mind, this book will take you on the High Road to Scotland. Just hop in the passenger seat of M's motor car and take that road out of London. What sort of car is it? Can't say but she certainly goes well. The world of 2010, motorways and traffic wardens does not yet exist and wont for about another 80 years or so. I don't think now that I will ever have the chance to take that journey but If you do, write a review to spread the news. That number of editions and re-prints has got to mean something pretty good. P.s. I bought another copy for my son's birthday.