24 APRIL 1920, Page 14


" SPECTATOR."] Sra,—De gustibus non est disputandum; but perhaps you will allow a Scot—and a parish minister—to question the judgment of Sir Francis Darwin, which you appear to endorse, on some of the names in "Waverley Novels." "Dr. Blattergowl" (not, as it is printed in the Spectator, " Blattergrowi ") has always seemed to me a particularly happy name for a certain type of minister. An Englishman can hardly be expected to appreciate the fine vernacular flavour of the name in a Scottish ear; but when I say that "Blatter" means the noise of a great shower of rain, and "gowl " to scold, it is possible that even a Southron may understand the subtle suggestion of noisy dogma- tism which Sir Walter meant to convey.

I notice in Sir Francis Darwin's book one or two other names to which you do not refer, regarding which I beg respectfully to differ from his judgment. "Meg Merrilies" he regards (pronouncing it, I suppose, in English fashion) as comic. In Scotland we call it "Merrilees," and it has no comic associa- tion—it is, in fact, a well-known surname, not inappropriate to a gypsy. Another name which Sir Francis Darwin damns with faint praise is MacGuffog. It is a genuine Galloway name, and was borne by one of the witnesses in the first important case Scott ever had at the Bar—that of the Rev. John McNaught, of Girthon, a parish within a few miles of Dirk Hatteraick's cave. MacCandlish is also a well-known Galloway name (often colloquially shortened into Candlish), and may have come tinder Scott's notice in connexion with tire same case. May I add (as one who has had something to do with the Black Watch) that " Francie Macraw," as the name of an old soldier of the 42nd, is altogether admirable ? Yet Sir Francis refuses it a place in Class I. !—I am, Sir, &c.,