Tuesday, 29 January 2019

From USA to Scotland: 'The Strathmore Mystery'.

   The article below appeared in the Dundee 'Courier' on Wednesday April 3rd, 1895.  A point of interest is that Dundee is, of course, not many miles south of Glamis Castle itself.  Yet her was a local newspaper essentially recycling a tall tale culled from a foreign publication - 'Harper's Magazine' of New York - which demonstrates that versions of the 'Glamis Legend' were already been churned out by the late Victorian myth-making machine.

   The source for the Scottish newspaper story is an article titled 'Ghostly Premonitions,' by Lucy B. Lillie (Harper's New Monthly, vol. XC, 1894-5,  pp. 75-79).  The best bit is, of course, the imaginary banter between the monarch and the owner of Glamis.  But where did she get the notion that a particular Lady Strathmore got a one way ticket overseas for being too audaciously inquisitive?

A great many interesting discussions would be ended if nobody believed in the supernatural. For instance, instead of the fascinating speculations over the famous 'Strathmore mystery,' I suppose a sort of official inquiry would be made into it. Fancy that stern old Scotch castle being forced to yield up its secret! One of the never-ending torments of my breast would then be put an end to, for I confess to finding myself in the most unexpected moments and in the most unexpected places asking the same question, 'What is the Strathmore mystery?' and wishing I were Queen Victoria for half an
hour, during which I would barter with Lord Strathmore for his secret a dukedom, or promise the dungeon if he withheld it. It is very foolish to let anything get possession of all the stock of curiosity you possess. What the Strathmore mystery really is, time seems only to be answering more and more vaguely. There is an old and noble house, in which no one denies there exists a mystery, not even the possessors of the secret, a tangible something, so people say, hidden in one of the many strange places in the strange old house. A lady visiting there told me that it was easy to believe in its being bidden, since one could lose one's self twenty times a day in any one wing. The secret is confided to the heir and the steward— to none else—even the bride of the heir is denied it! It is said one Lady Strathmore was forced to live and die abroad, because she questioned her lord too often. There are many stories I might tell, some half disclosing the secret, others relegating it delightfully to the supernatural; but to record them would be to give my neighbors' fireside away, and so I must content myself with merely chronicling the fact that really in this cleareyed,  sharply clever decade there exists as curious a mystery about an old castle in Scotland as anything in the days when the witches greeted Macbeth on that weird heath.

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