Season 3 Episode 15: Dr. Leith Davis on The Lyon in Mourning

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia. 

Thank you for listening in.

Dr. Leith Davis, Professor | English Department, Simon Fraser University |Director Centre for Scottish Studies | 2021 Amundsen Fellow, Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines

I am thrilled that I am meeting up with Dr. Leith Davis, Professor of English at Simon Fraser University. She is a co-founder of the Department of English’s Master of Arts program with Specialization in Print Culture and is the Director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Scottish Studies.

Leith is the author of Acts of Union: Scotland and the Negotiation of the British Nation (Stanford UP, 1998). Music, Post colonialism and Gender: The Construction of Irish Identity, 1724-1874 (Notre Dame UP, 2005). She is co-editor of Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004) and Robert Burns and Transatlantic Culture (Ashgate, 2012).  She is currently working on a monograph entitled Media and Cultural Memory in Britain and Ireland, 1688-1745.

Leith is a collector of stories – stories that have been kept safe in the folds of history waiting to be heard. Today, she shares her thoughts on the Jacobite Memoirs of The Rising of 1745 from the manuscripts of the Late Right Rev. Robert Forbes, A.M. Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church

This promises to be an extraordinary discussion. So, put the kettle on and add to your thoughts on Tea Toast & Trivia

Shown here are pieces of the dress worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie when disguised as ‘Betty Burke’, Flora MacDonald’s maid.

Thank you for joining Leith and me on Tea Toast & Trivia. And a special thank you to Leith who opened the doors of the past and shared the profound stories of brave men and women who witnessed a pivotal transition in history.

I invite you to meet up with Leith at the The Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, which was founded in 1998 as a joint venture between faculty and individuals in the community. The Centre, located at SFU’s beautiful Burnaby campus, provides a focal point for faculty, students, and all who are interested in exploring Scottish history and culture and the connections between Scotland and Canada in the contemporary global landscape.  It is a place where the past reaches out to our time and reminds us to live boldly, with courage and hope.

Until next time we meet, dear friends, be safe and be well.

Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University

D. Wallace Peach Reading Liars & Thieves, Unraveling the Veil Book One Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

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  3. Kim Mooney on Hidden Daughter – Secret Sister, A Story of Adoption
  4. Joan Dunnett on Reading Sir Walter Scott
  5. Dr. Leith Davis on The Lyon in Mourning

41 Replies to “Season 3 Episode 15: Dr. Leith Davis on The Lyon in Mourning”

  1. A wonderful interview. I am not familiar with Robert Forbes writings on the Jacobites. I have to say I think of Walter Scott’s Rob Roy when it comes to the Jacobite uprisings. I’ve been working my way through courses on the middle ages driving back and forth from work. Professor Daileader talks about historian’s perspectives and sources. He discusses how we have a skewed view of the history of the middles ages because the learned people were mostly clerics and nobles. We would have a much different perspective on medieval history if the peasants and heretics could have written their stories. Robert Forbes had a sense of the need to record the stories from the other side whose stories normally go untold.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Tim. I agree wholeheartedly that we would have a much different perspective of history if heretics and peasants had written their stories. Are you listening to the Great Courses? Sounds very interesting! Even now, we must share our stories – they are the history of our time. Thank you for adding to this conversation – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. My dear Rebecca, I enjoyed your interview with Leith very much. Being a collector of stories is so important, especially today when our cultural memories seem to be fading. Thank you both for this excellent listening. 🙏

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in Marina. Thank you for your lovely and encouraging comments. Cultural memories are powerful. I was reminded that our stories must be kept alive and valued. I remember the first time I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Music, stories, dance, art, poetry – these are gifts that remind us that we are part of a greater narrative.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Rebecca, this is an amazing discussion. I am so pleased to have listed to Dr. Leith Davis and learned about Robert Forbes writings on the Jacobites. My family visited Scotland in 2019 and I learned a great deal about the Scots. One of the places we visited was Culloden Battlefield and it was a very moving experience to walk about the battlefields, see the graves of the men who died there, and read their story. The museum presents both the English and the Scottish sides of this uprising and battle. We also visited the Palace of Holyroodhouse and learned more about this story.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Robbie! Thank you so much for listening in and adding depth and breadth to his profound conversation. I enjoyed your photos of your 2019 trip in your post on “Doors”. It is a profound experience to walk the pathways of Culloden and see how nature has reclaimed the earth for farming. Even so, the stories of long ago continue to echo through the centuries. The voices still resonate. I

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I knew you would enjoy this conversation, Teagan. Leith introduced me to Robert Forbes and The Lyon in Mourning. I had never heard of him before, which is a reminder that we must continue to write our stories in whatever form that takes, whether it be in writing, poetry, dance, art. What was amazing to me was Robert Forbes’s compassion for humanity. Can you imagine how difficult it was to collect these narratives? His grief must have been his strength. History is richer for his efforts. Sending hugs back on the wing.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Riveting discussion, Rebecca and Leith. As has been said by other commenters here, it is rare but wonderful and necessary to hear the perspective of history’s “losers” — who are often the “winners” when it comes to being right and/or having more humanity than the rich and powerful who defeated them.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Sir Walter Scott says it best when he wrote in Ivanhoe: “For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.” What I love about literature and storytelling is that we can bring out truths about those who society perceives as winners. The Saurons of this world can be vanquished. Thank you or listening in, Dave – always appreciate our conversations.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Fabulous point, Dave. History is not one sided. It might even be lopsided.
      I am disconcerted with the sanitization of history. We should be as preservational and truthful as possible.
      Otherwise, how will we become wiser?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. VERY well said, Resa, and I agree. The sanitization of history is indeed dismaying — and of course purposeful on the part of “the powers that be” doing the sanitizing.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The powers…. If they like sanitizing so much, and with their ultimate brain ability; better career choices would have been: janitor, dishwasher, running a maid service, dry cleaning… sorts of things.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you Rebecca and Dr Davies. This was in a class of its own. I love history and Dr Davies brought an incredibly important period come to life. As had the reverend Forbes. It is true history is always written from the perspective of the winners and it is invaluable that the Rev Forbes recorded the other side so meticulously- like a modern historians dream source.
    The Jacobite Rebellion was essentially the beginning of the modern world. The Glorious Revolution created a virtual constitutional monarchy, under William and Mary. If the Young Pretender had succeeded, we would have gone back God appointed monarchs. Who knows if modern democracy would have developed. It was before the American and French Revolutions and these might have never happened.
    Dr Davies rightly pointed out the last testaments of the condemned with their eyes on the prize of the other world are actually the voices of martyrs. There is a rumour that the carol ‘O Come all ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) was actually a Jacobite Rebel song especially in the line born the King of Angels which is a play on born the King of Angles- with the idea James III was the harbinger of heaven on Earth.
    As you Rebecca said history is made from ordinary people but all too often they are invisible and Forbes rectified that. As you said in your summary- the ramifications of history do follow us and mostly we are unaware of them. Every generation lives in a time of transition and though we want certainty, it is the one thing we can be certain we will never get.
    If anyone is up for further reading I can recommend Niall Ferguson’s (ed.) Virtual History – incidents of counterfactual history written by some of the best young historians.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Paul – thank you so much for your detailed comments that add background to this discussion. I did not know that Adeste Fideles was a Jacobite Rebel song!!!! You had me scurrying around the internet for more information. It wasn’t a rumour, Paul. And I will never sing the song again the same way – such rich history that will add to my enjoyment. https://www.dur.ac.uk/news/newsitem/?itemno=7328. Bonnie Prince Charlie was born on December 20, my father’s birthday. The past, with all of its joys and tragedies add so much to our current reality. I am now on the search for Virtual History. Thank you for the suggestion. Sending many thanks!!!

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      1. I hope you do manage to get Virtual history Rebecca- It is intesesting and to use an old hippie term consciousness expanding. It is lovely that your dad and the Bonnie Prince shared the same birthday. I Think you are spot on- all of the past the good and bad has created the present- whether it’s Santayana or Orwell let’s remember they who control the past control the future and those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Two strong warnings about our current social trend

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      2. I agree, Paul. You reminded me of a quote by William Wilberforce: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” By the way, my sister Sarah, suggested that I listen to the audiobook 84 Charing Cross Road. It is a short read, but a strong reminder that individual acts of kindness counteract the darkness. Sending many thank!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. This is a delightful conversation, besides being historical, educational and interesting. I have listened two times and have the conversation saved to refer to it again. This has been a revelation to me since I have never read carefully about this important time in history nor have I had the privilege of visiting in the area. These are precious words from individuals who actually lived in the time and space of those times. So much tragedy and sorrow experienced by human people like us. It has entered my thoughts about people even in our own time who have and are sufferings from misunderstanding and lack of sympathy for their diverse and often intense suffering. Who will write their storie! !

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    1. I believe that the preserving of stories is an essential act of humanity. Robert Forbes is a reminder that stories are broken, sacred, powerful and take on a life of their own. We owe a debt of gratitude to the diarists, letter-writers of the past who wrote down their personal stories. History is full of dates and events, but it is the narratives of ordinary people who give breath to those dates and events. I am delighted that you listened in to Leith’s discussion. I am looking forward to her return to discuss Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 5 people

  7. So many thoughts running through my mind after listening to this interview. I look forward to the eventual publication of Dr. Davis’ work on the Rev. Forbes’ document. While we often recognize ambiguity as a large part of our human nature, it’s ironic that such was not the impetus for the Jacobite rebellion; they were convinced of right and wrong or black and white. Otherwise they wouldn’t have risked their lives for it! Today’s tyrants are not so obvious and causes worth rebellion are plagued with ambiguity. I’m not sure that is either good or bad. Dr. Davis is brave for bringing forward the lost narratives; someday we will have those as well, as you wisely said, Rebecca.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Dear Mary Jo!! The idea of certainty and ambiguity has been in my mind over the years. How do we relate to uncertainty and ambiguity? Is that when we become more certain in our thinking, our approach, our actions? When we are presented with a transition that challenges our closely held value systems, do we have the flexibility to revisit our beliefs? I especially appreciated Leith’s thoughts on celebrating ambiguity for in these moments we are most human – that literature helps us to see the potentiality that is open to us. This line of enquiry continues to be one of the most exhilarating to me. There is so much to consider as we face our current reality. Thank you for our wonderful conversations. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. For me, dealing with ambiguity is a matter of first acknowledging and accepting the complexity of pretty much every aspect of ourselves, the world we live in, and our relation to it. Challenges to our closely-held belief systems are then questions, not threats.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed your conversation with Dr. Davis about The Lyon in Mourning. Her work with the manuscript must be incredibly rewarding. I appreciate your sharing the photograph of it. I find it incredible that it even survived the passage of time–and the fabric scraps! What I love most about oral history is that it preserves people’s voices and how they used language as an extension of themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed Leith’s discussion on The Lyon on Mourning. I had never heard of Robert Forbes or his undertaking to preserve the stories. I admire the archival work you have completed on your family history. It is a testament to preserving a time, place and society that is no longer with us. What happened in the past gives us a foundation upon which to create our narratives, but those voices are with us no longer. I would love to hear the voice of my grandparents, but I feel their presence in the letters and photos that remain. I especially appreciated your words: “how they used language as an extension of themselves.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have many, many voices from the past in the form of family letters to read and transcribe. Just with the few I’ve read that my grandparents’ wrote, their use of language as middle-aged people was very, very different from how they expressed themselves when they were young.

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      2. Isn’t it exciting to see our parents and grandparents’ handwriting change as they age. My father’s handwriting was strong and vibrant in his 20’s compared with his handwriting in his 80’s. Both are very precious to me.

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      3. My dad’s handwriting was always illegible. According to my mother, the only time she was able to read it was when he was courting her with letters after their initial meeting. Once they married less than a year later, she couldn’t read it. (Neither could I.)

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you Dr.Leith and Rebecca.
    I adore history, and this slice is as interesting as it gets.
    I was lured in by the swatches of fabric. I was recreating the outfit in my mind.
    What a great book to have connected with. Crazy it was secreted for so long.
    Now, I’m 100x more excited to begin drawing Tartan Art Gowns!
    I found this article about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Tartan. https://www.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/rare-bonnie-prince-charlie-tartan-remain-scotland-598090

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Resa – I am looking forward to the Tartan Art Gowns. History, colour, symbolism and storytelling. You are bringing the story alive and into our time line. Exciting stuff!!

      Liked by 2 people

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