Chapter 3  
The Necessity of a Food Surplus
Mention has been made of social control and we can move from sources with which we are familiar to those which will be new. Elias’ view of social control has already been indicated and is concerned with the movement to conform to standards of manners. The kind of social control under discussion by Elias is mainly class relative. It is the control of entry to the upper classes – a control by exclusion. Within the present study, however, this kind of social control is limiting as it does not concern direct access to the food supply. While Braudel does not actually use the term, his ‘social control’ would be couched in economic terms. “The attitude of the bourgeois hardened considerably towards the end of the sixteenth century, and even more in the seventeenth. The problem was to place the poor in a position where they could do no harm …”1
The most obvious place to exercise control over the poor is to put them into a workhouse. Foucault2 saw the logical extensions of this enclosure as being the boarding school, military barracks, workshops and the modern factory. He did not consider the agricultural extension of the workhouse ideal and Chapter Four of the present study goes into some detail relative to the Scottish situation. Within the present chapter we can provide an introduction in terms of earned hospitality whereby the agricultural worker earned his bed and board in return for his labour as a ploughman and soldier.
The Food Supply and Social Control
It is argued in the chapter on agriculture that the landowners in Scotland held control over the supply of food (and accommodation) to their workers. Of less concern in that chapter but by way of looking at it in a general way we ought to establish that this type of situation is well rooted in our social system. “In Britain, hierarchical differentiation in cuisine has been exceptionally well marked since 1066, when an alien conqueror’s highly articulated food culture became, and remains to this day, a powerful instrument of social control. The Norman culinary invasion ensured that all subsequent breaks and divisions in British food culture would tend to be expressed in terms of social class and status, rather than of food as such.”3 Had there been a different form of land allocation and subsequently, land ownership, those on the land’ may have had a different history to tell.
Thus the lords and lairds took what they wanted as part of the display of wealth as we will see in looking at Scottish hospitality. Those at the operative level of the creation of that wealth were forced to feed on a poverty diet.
        “If for any reason, good or bad, conscious or otherwise, it is in the interest of one economically stronger group to coerce another, then in the absence of political, legal or moral restraint, that task as enormously facilitated when the weaker group can either be persuaded or forced to adopt some simple, cheaply produced food as the mainstay of its subsistence. Experience shows that this course inevitably results in a lower standard of living. The lower that standard, the easier is the task of exploitation and the nearer will the status of the weaker class approximate to serfdom.”4
Salaman’s discussion is written in the context of the role of the potato in the economy of various societies. A more detailed discussion of this type of domination within Scotland will be found in Chapter Five. We can show the type of approach to be taken later by reflecting on the general control of the food supply. Salaman passes a comment relative to eighteenth century Europe: “It may be that it is seldom a cheap food has been designedly forced on European workers, with a view of lowering their wages, but the potato has certainly been used, and that of set purpose, with a view of preventing them from rising.”5 It will be shown that commodities such as oatmeal and turnips are synonymous with the word potato in quotations such as this and in relation to Scotland.
‘Corn’ is another word which is interchangeable with ‘potato’ in the last quotation. Curtis-Bennet is not sure of his own references and states:
         “The growing of corn for subsistence had given place to the growing of corn for export.   If, as one writer has put it, ‘the urban governments of the fourteenth century … were at pains to provide a cheap and regular food supply for the masses’, the state governments of the sixteenth and subsequent centuries were at pains to provide an easy and regular profit to the landlords and large scale farmer – at the general expense of the community.”6
Thus we have progressed from a fairly simplistic view7 that social control was concerned with the regulation of manners (simplistic in the sense that there is no immediately noticeable serious outcome for those who are controlled), to a fairly intricate notion of exploitation. Another writer has discussed “… the relationship between an eighteenth-century squire and his tenants in terms of social control …” relative to “ … exercising power in his own interests or at best enforcing a rival set of norms, the norms of the central government and his own class …”8
Bearing in mind that there was no ‘squirearchy’ in Scotland we can discuss similar hegemonic considerations in terms of the landowning (often absentee landlord) class and farmers in the chapter on Agriculture. These are taken to be ‘the middle class’ who, were they living much further south would have been involved in the pursuit of their own profit which political control of key aspects of the food supply permitted “at the general expense of the community” as Curtis-Bennet put it. Some, however, were opposed to such ideas. The Anti-Corn Law League was founded in March 1839 by the middle class and derived its economic operation from the burgeoning manufactories mainly in the north of England. Its working class equivalent came in the form of Chartism and was born of a reflex against middle class political radicalism. While representing interesting avenues of further debate there is plenty of material on Chartism, Anti-Corn Law League food riots and the effect of depressions. 
Control of the Use of Alcohol
‘Ye’ll hae a wee dram’
Laws relating to the control of drink are at least as numerous as those which affect the production, distribution and consumption of food. Fortunately it is beyond the interest and scope of the present study to dwell upon the detail of either set of lawsa. No gastronomic history which includes the question of drink in Scotland can ignore the question of social control and it is the purpose of the present section to show where the later discussion will lead. A whole sociology of drink opens up with ‘You will have a wee dram?’ and the invitation has wide understanding in the English-speaking world beyond Scotland.  It can mean ‘you will have one otherwise I will be upset’ and thus a basic rule of etiquette, to accept hospitality when offered, is broken if the answer is no. It also implies that it will be more than the absolute minimum which might be offered and accepted. We will explore the idea of whisky as ‘the language of hospitality’ in Scotland in Chapter 6: The Inordinate Love of Whisky.
This emphasises the importance of the use of alcohol and if we are to look at it in Scottish society in the past an idea of the cultural overtones would be useful.
“Qui feut premier, soif on beuverye?   (What was first, thirst or drinking?)”9
The ingestion of certain fluids is often unrelated to actual bodily requirement and culture interferes with the demand mechanism.
“The virtues of alcohol have been discovered independently by many peoples, and they have found many ways of producing the alcohol: through allowing the sweet sap of palms and other plants to ferment, through fermenting grains or fruits, through chewing starches (like manioc) and fermenting the saliva-mixed product. And primitive man ransacked the plant kingdom to find substances that could be drunk, chewed or inhaled for a lift, or for a temporary escape into the world of dreams.
“These ‘perversities’ may be accepted and institutionalised by the culture, or they may be suppressed or hidden or deplored… “10
The acceptance of a particular product is to include it in the food-ways of a culture. The rejection of another product, albeit accepted by foreigners perhaps is to allocate it taboo status. Decisions are made, as Bates would concur, in the cultural context. The suppressions and hidings are deplored not only in the way people behave towards the alcoholic but in the drink law of the land which we can look at later.
The interactive elements of social control have been intimated in looking at the ‘wee dram’. It was the view of Shibutani11 that “’Social control’ refers not so much to deliberate influence or to coercion but to the fact that each person generally takes into account the expectations that he imputes to other people.” The consequence of not taking into account such imputed expectations is that entry to, or continuation within that stratum of society is not permitted. While there is no compulsion to join the other in a drink in Scotland (this was not true in previous times when we consider the detail provided by Dunlop12) possibly more than elsewhere the pressure to accept the token of hospitality (to be discussed) can be an embarrassment to the teetotaller. The social custom is taken for granted until refused.
“In some cultures alcoholic beverages are an accompaniment to most meals, in others they are a social custom, and in some they are used for their euphoric effects … An individual may drink because it has been a family custom since his childhood, because he seeks euphoria to blot out a miserable existence, because he can use it as a masked method of self-distinction, because it is a social custom at parties, because it relaxes him.”13 It would be somewhat arbitrary to decide that the use of alcohol in Scotland falls within one of Bischoff’s categories. Clearly it is a social custom, the presence of food is not a condition for its consumption but the euphoria dimension is important especially when we reflect upon the extent of general poverty in Scottish history and the obvious sacrifices which must have been made in order to make it on the hillside using ‘valuable’ grain or buying it in the city.
Still looking at drink in general terms we find that there are many dimensions and Ayer saw the act of “… raising a glass … and drinking it” as:
“… an act of self indulgence, an expression of politeness, a proof of alcoholism, a manifestation of loyalty, a gesture of despair, an attempt at suicide, the performance of a social rite, a religious communication, an attempt to seduce or corrupt another person, the sealing of a bargain, a display of professional challenge …”14
We have no need to explore each of these facets but there are a few deserving of special attention. Thus we will have concern for “… the performance of a social rite”, “the sealing of a bargain” is covered in the Dunlop debate and we can extend the idea of whisky (etc) as the
“language of hospitality” in considering Ayer’s “expression of politeness.”
Patrick15 was another to reflect upon the various cultural uses to which alcohol is put and gives wine as an example. “By social definition it may have none, one or all of the following uses in a particular society: a symbol for the blood of Christ at a communion service, a condiment or beverage with meals, a method by which heightened fun and enthusiasm may be produced at a social gathering; or a narcotic to enable people to escape, at least for a while, certain disagreeable life situations.” Perhaps the “disagreeable life situations” are created by general social control from which the drinker hopes to escape.
There are, however, numerous situations where alcohol is a significant component and social control is concerned with every individual learning the rules surrounding its use. These rules vary; some prevail across the whole population in terms of laws while others are relevant to groups of people in a more informal but nevertheless prescriptive way.
It is not the purpose of this discussion to prove that Scottish drinking habits are worse than those elsewhere, rather to show the social context in earlier times. “For it has been taught in the bosom of the family, by the father’s example and by the mother’s precept that wine, beer and spirits are useful, nay, necessary to health, and that they augment the strength. And the lessons thus indicated and too well learned have proved to be the steps which lead to wider experience in the pursuit of health and strength by larger use of the same means.”16 Here we see an expectation for the plentiful use of alcohol as a source of physical energy and health – the more one drinks the healthier one becomes!
We can draw upon another Scottish writer with a somewhat similar message although the precision of the statement reflects contemporary opinion. “Drunkenness appears to be in some measure hereditary, we frequently see it descending from parents to their children. This may undoubtedly often arise from bad example and imitation, but there can be little question that, in many instances at least, it exists as a family predisposition.17 ‘The Drinking Scot’ is the title of the discussion which explores the detail.18
Temperance and Legal Controls
The next stage of the discussion relating to the social control of drink is to consider the forces against its use in Scotland in former times. The legal constraints have virtually always been present in some form or another. The Temperance movement arose out of the lack of effect of such laws and endeavoured to increase their severity as well as perhaps attempting to be to the drunken community what the Improvers hoped to be to the agricultural community.
The President of the General Temperance Movement of Scotland in the mid nineteenth century was John Dunlop and his main work is deemed to be of sufficient importance to be summarised later19. Surprisingly, there is nothing specific to the following debate beyond that which is included in the summary. The effect which temperance societies had on earlier patterns of Scottish drinking is difficult to assess. MacNish20 saw that “They have been represented by their friends as powerful engines for effecting a total reformation from drunkenness.” To this day there has been no such reformation.
An early indication that Scotland had a drinking problem is noted by Chambers. On May 28, 1625, “The town-council of Aberdeen … anticipated the wisdom and good manners of a later age by ordaining that: ‘no person should, at any public or private meeting, presume to compel his neighbour, at table with him, to drink more wine or beer than what he pleased, under the penalty of forty pounds’”21. In the subsequent years laws became national and “Temperance legislation, in its mildest form, may be said to date from the Home-Drummond Act of 1828 which conferred on Justices of the Peace “… the granting of certificates for the sale of liquor … Twenty-five years later, in 1853, the Forbes MacKenzie Act reduced the hours of sale (8am to 11pm), closed the public-houses on Sundays, prohibited the sale of drinks in toll-houses situated within six miles of a licensed house, and restricted the licensed grocer to selling drink for consumption off the premises only.”22 We shall have more to say about Forbes MacKenzie soon.
The “Tippling Act23 came into force in 1750 in order “to protect the poor from unfair temptation and fraudulent demands” in relation to being given credit and the subsequent request for settlement. This had arisen from the extensive amount of drinking in the first half of the
eighteenth century. Other legislation followed: Sale of Spirits Act, 186224, County Courts Act Amendment Act, 186725. (Bar credit, however, was still being provided as late as 1914. Section 8 of the Licensing Act, 192126 may have been the main breaker of ‘the slate’).
In 1834, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was set up “to enquire into the extent and causes and consequences of the prevailing intemperance among the labouring classes of the United Kingdom”. It was chaired by James Silk Buckingham and included such men as Sir Robert Peel and Lord Althorp. Mention can be made of the ‘fact’ that “… the vice of intoxication has been for some years past on the decline in the higher and middle ranks of society” 27. The focus was “the labouring classes” who were still apt to use “the many customs and courtesies still retained from a remote ancestry of mingling the gift or use of intoxicating drinks with almost every important event in life, such as the celebration of baptisms, marriages and funerals, anniversaries, holidays and festivals, as well as in the daily interchange of convivial entertainment and even in commercial transactions of purchase and sale.”28
It was in 1839 that John Dunlop recorded in great detail the “drinking usages” relating to the situations mentioned above and they are discussed in a later chapter. The Buckingham Committee, however, sought remedies “to be applied to the cure of evils so deeply rooted, so long established, so widely spread, and so strongly supported by selfish indulgence, ignorance, prejudice, custom and pecuniary interests”29 The “remedies” can be categorised as follows:
·                      “separation of the houses in Scotland in which intoxicating drinks are sold into four distinct classes …”30
·                      restrictions on the numbers of houses31 and times of opening32
·                      control of issue of licences33
·                      restrictions on availability of liquor to the Services34 and merchant service35
·                      use of licensed premises for payment of wages36
·                      meetings and societies:
not in public houses37
encouragement of Temperance Societies38
‘exclusion of ardent spirits’39
·                      reduction of temptation to drink alcohol: by making tea, coffee etc., cheaper40
·                      education:
as to the outcome of alcohol abuse41
“removal of all taxes on knowledge”42
“means of instruction to all ranks and classes of people”43
promotion of health and exercise44
·                      prohibition:
of imported spirits45
of “distillation of ardent spirits from grain”46
“In 1846 the increasing interest in the temperance movement in Scotland led to the appointment of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, under the chairmanship of Mr. Forbes-MacKenzie, to enquire into the system of granting certificates. The Committee found: 
‘That the number of homes in which spirits are sold for consumption on the premises is excessive, and ought to be restricted …’”47 The ‘Forbes-MacKenzie Act’ arose from this Select Committee. The full title was the Licensing (Scotland Act) of 185348 and legislated against various practices deemed to be undesirable. One of these was that grocers sought to obtain a benefit of the hotel namely selling alcohol for consumption on the premises. “The customer went into the shop and had a snack of bread and cheese with his beer or whisky, and grocers’ premises became a social rendyvous.”49 As if to operate swings the publicans sold groceries but an intention of the Act was to restore some order to the lowering levels of demarcations between hotels/inns, grocers and public housessee 50. The Forbes-MacKenzie Act prohibited Sunday drinking on licensed premises unless they were hotels making provision for resident guests or bone fide travellers.
Laws are made by the representatives of the people for their protection (people’s view) and their control (law makers’ view). If that is a too simplistic interpretation of social control relating to law it may suffice for the evaluation of the making of law relating to alcohol consumption. A more cynical view still is that those on the supply side had a hand in making such law.
The idea that those in the commercial world will attempt to influence law and Government policy is not new. However, it is not widely recognised that such an activity has been known for a long time. The National Trade Defence Association (NTDA) was formed in 1888 and represents all aspects of the liquor trade. Included in its objects we note: “… to watch at all times the general interests of the Trade as a whole in and out of Parliament: to secure by all legal means, regardless of party politics, the return to the house of Commons and other elected bodies, candidates favourable to Trade interests …” The NTDA soon became the major body in the liquor trade and had numerous affiliates. One of these was the Scottish Licensed Trade Defence Association which predated it by nine years.51
If it is possible to provide a shorthand term for the influence of the commercial world upon law and Government policy it will simplify the discussion. For want of a better term let it be “upward social control”. That society is influenced, ultimately, is an important component of the debate here. It is influenced in numerous respects. Arising from the relevant legislation there will be conditions imposed upon the availability of liquor, age restrictions, methods of its purchase, locations available and the types of premises upon which alcohol is sold and otherwise made available. And there will be consequences arising from the abuse of the law in respect to the conditions mentioned. This is all quite acceptable within the conventional use of the term ‘social control’ but there remains the question of ‘upward social control’.
The Licensing Act of 1904, know as the ‘Balfour Act’ brought to an end the fairly extensive influence which local magistrates had over what occurred in licensed premises. “Up to 1904 the justices, to quote Lord Watson’s famous saying in Boulter v. Kent J.J.52, were ‘a body interposed between the licensee and the public for the protection of the public’. Since 1904 that has no longer been the case.”53  The same author shows that the Balfour Act was influenced by the NTDA: “… a considerable amount of the good that the Trade (i.e NTDA) was able to do in passing the Licensing Act was due to the personal acquaintance that happened to exist between one or two of their officials and one or two members of the Government. There was also a great deal to be done through the private secretaries of members and therefore they (the NTDA) had more to do with the underground working of Parliament than anyone would believe who had not seen their work.”54
From this point on, the aspects of social control are mentioned in the more specialised treatments of customs and social use of drink in ‘Drink in Scotland as viewed by John Dunlop’, ‘Public Houses’, ‘Whisky’, ‘Claret’, and other general discussion in Chapter Six. We can now look at ‘hospitality’ and see ‘control’ at work there.
Hospitality and Social Control
“To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he be beneath your roof”55 
“In French, the word Hôte is used for both host and guest, and it is as it should be, since there is no differentiation between host and guest, wherever there is true hospitality. The host, of course, provides wine and food, which money can buy, but the guests provide the pleasure of their company, which no money can buy. They bring to the table that which adds sparkle to the wine and flavour to the food, their wit and their news, an articulate appreciation of the good things provided for their delight, all of which makes the difference between a meal that is both enjoyable and memorable, and a dismal waste of money, time and trouble.
The host who confers a favour upon his guest, and the guest who confers an honour upon his host are equally hateful. Neither the one nor the other falls within the meaning of the French name, L’Hôte, a name which indicates perfect equality and understanding between two persons entertaining each other … In hospitality … there should be no bargaining: each giveth the best that he hath to give, without any sense of either inferiority or superiority.
Hospitality … is a gift. No host can hope to be a good host, nor can any guest be a good guest unless he be blessed with this wonderful gift of the spirit of hospitality.”56
Social control refers to what people do which contributes to social order. Society needs a system through which people feel a responsibility to conform to a generally accepted pattern of behaviour.
The ‘what people do’ factor starts with the person in relation to his interpersonal behaviour. There is a ripple effect to his locality and outward to the concept of public order. Since individuals cannot be relied upon, it is necessary to have agencies such as Police, the Court etc. to ensure that public order is maintained.
We shall be exploring various accounts relating to the assertion that Scottish hospitality is something rather special and not experienced elsewhere. We firstly look at hospitality in relation to social control, move on to the formation of a model then consider hospitality in the context of Scotland.
It may seem strange on first reflection that when hospitality is given or received there may be elements of social control which pervade the situation. Even if we take it at the level of ensuring that our children behave themselves when visiting another house it should be apparent that social control is to do with behavioural interaction. This behaviour concerns the context and manner in which hospitality is given, received and reciprocated.
Hospitality is connected with social control in as much that dimensions of it affect the lives of those to whom it is dispensed as part of the economic relationship. Some are fortunate enough to be able to purchase hospitality while others were dependent upon it for their survival. There are unwritten sets of rules dictating what can or cannot be done in various circumstances. There are also sets of assumptions which need to be examined.
It is appropriate to sketch out one or two alternative reasons for giving or accepting hospitality. We mentioned that some might purchase it: no reciprocity involved there, of course. The ‘hospitality industry’ has, perhaps subconsciously, promoted the notion that money can buy sincere and genuine hospitality with from one to five-star rating. We will come to term this an aspect of ‘economic hospitality’. Much more historical but with overtones within the present day is a facet of economic hospitality where the feudal lord and later, the landlord extended a somewhat coercive hospitality in return for labour, homage and, at times, defence. We will briefly look at some historical considerations before coming back to this dimension of economic hospitality.
A Little History
The extent of hospitality is one of the hallmarks of the level of culture within the advancement of society and a brief debate of the origins of hospitality can serve as another reminder of the civilizing process. The Latin hospesmeant ‘a guest’ and from this word was derived hospitium which was a place where a guest was received. From these words, as most dictionaries will reveal, we have derived hostel, hotel, hospital and hospice. The hospitium in law today is the area in an inn where the guest is served with food, drink and receives accommodation. This stems from monastic use of hospitium where mediaeval pilgrims could fund hospitality or hospitium [Wiki].
The development, evolution even, of hospitality would make an interesting study in itself. It is appropriate to briefly suggest a few milestones. Within our primitive ancestry there may have been a little entertaining of outsiders but the success of the settlement depended upon defence from those who sought to gain advantage of possessions, land or people. Population growth and the advancement of technology permitted by improved agricultural techniques accelerated the division of labour. Men who could specialise in leadership and soldiery created the castle and town and as the strong became protected by the weak (the strong merely organised the weak into a cohesive force) the extent of dependency was increased and hierarchies emerged. 
“In our modern society the State “… intervenes to protect those who still possess supplies from those who do not.” However, “It is not always the State that performs this role: they also arrange their own security, paying other people to fight.”57
Barbarity was slowly curbed and life settled down to await ‘the birth of chivalry’. The remainder of the ‘civilizing process’ has been described by Elias58 as we have seen earlier.
Hospitality on any scale emerges at the beginning of the Middle Ages. Generalising about the “whole medieval period” Henisch59 remarks that “In the cut-throat realities of everyday life, to nourish was not so much an act of love as a demonstration of power”. One had “to equal or preferably surpass, the magnificence of allies and enemies” to retain any influence or authority. “Lavish generosity was the hallmark of the important man.”  Considering that the smaller social units were scattered over the countryside and were dominated by the feudal lords we can derive the term ‘baronial hospitality’ to describe what occurred at this time. Various means were adopted to indicate status and as salt was a highly significant economic good it is not surprising that it had a role.
The important guests, then were afforded the courtesy of being placed above the salt and provided with food which suited their social position. Social control was at work in as much that seniority was judged by the (social) distance of one’s seat from the king, baron or other head of household. Those who ate “humble pie” (made from the umbels or giblets and offal) and who “could not make ends meet” (ruffs worn round the neck prevented the tying of the napkin – the poor had no napkins)60 never met anyone of standing and were kept in their place below the salt.
While the salt cellar has nothing more than metaphorical social significance today, the seating hierarchy is still pursued with vigour and all eyes are turned towards the top table of a modern banquet. In the home there are similar placement considerations and when hospitality is dispensed, care is taken to demonstrate acceptance of the visitor. In the same way that the fatted calf was set on the spit for visiting nobles in former times, some consideration is today given as to the provision of (socially) suitable food for those who enter our house. “In this country the ritual of dining has come down to us from a time when dinner was the only regular meal of the day. We ‘dress for dinner’ not daily as we used to but on occasion. We sit in order of seniority, men and women alternately. We may touch nothing on the table till it has been offered to us by the host or hostess, or by their servants. On formal occasions we begin with ‘grace’ and end with ‘the loyal toast’”61
A Little Orgasm
In the middle nineteenth century the Milanese author Giovanni Rajberti, published a manual of good manners, the first in Italy destined not for the nobility but for the middle classes: The Art of Hospitality Explained to the People. It was important to address these instructions to the people, the author insisted, since the aristocrats already knew how to behave, thanks to long-standing familiarity with banquets. The people, on the other hand, needed to be instructed, especially in matters of moderation and balance. At the table of the popular classes, in point of fact, "there reigned a real fear of never paying sufficient tribute to one's host and his food. The result was that these lower classes moved into a kind of virtual food orgasm, making them go way beyond the deliberation, restraint and know-how that are those first necessary components of the beautiful in all the arts. The result: overly generous heaped dishes, too heavily seasoned and flavored, and a preponderance of foods characteristically and oppressively spicy and stimulating."
Massimo Montanari has written a very interesting book – “Food is Culture”. The extract is on page 120. It seems like hospitality out of control.  There is plenty of associated information at
A Little Economics
‘Economic Hospitality’ has been gradually introduced into the debate and it is appropriate to clarify some of the dimensions of it. Already we have seen a brief historical perspective of it where the lord of the manor needed to entertain to maintain his economic, and from that, his social position. The relationship he had with those who were dependent upon him for protection can be viewed in terms of economic hospitality.
There are those today who provide hospitality for moneyb, as an economic good and we will need to look at factors on that side of the supply/demand equation before considering the consumer’s position. This will remind us of the various social factors which we come back to in discussing ‘reciprocity’. We will firstly continue with the historical considerations.
When the term ‘Baronial hospitality’ was introduced it related to the entertainment of visitors of some social importance. In order to maintain social position, “lavish generosity” was the criterion of importance. Taken to an extreme we have ‘potlatch’ as was practised by North American Indians where property was destroyed in front of those whom it was hoped to impress. See chapter note 6 or Wiki for further information.
But ‘baronial hospitality’ of the type described would have been impossible without a good number of supporting dependants at the disposal of the lord of the manor, or the laird / landowner in Scotland. They were required for domestic consumption (use of their labour alongside firewood and the food they served). Veblen distinguished between vicarious and conspicuous consumption (to be discussed): Goody did not consider that such a distinction was necessary. “Until recent events overwhelmed the ancient kingdom, conspicuous consumption took the form of a surfeit of servants who performed a variety of household tasks and each of whom had to be fed from the table of the lord”see 62 Henisch63 would add that “the conception of understated elegance was not one which came easily to the medieval mind, and a host liked to use expensive ingredients, and be seen to use them, as a compliment to his guest and a proof of his own prosperity. For the purpose of conspicuous consumption spices were a godsend.”
There was an economic reciprocity where protection, food and accommodation were provided in return for labour and subservience. It was ironic that the key part of the employment requirement was that males took up arms and laid down their lives for their liege. In times of peace they, their wives and older children worked hard to maintain the food surplus after which the economic prosperity of the feudal estate could be improved.
There were inevitably economic considerations in entertaining important visitors and agreements about the exchange of goods, services and favours were made at the medieval dining table. This is not, however, the key element of ‘baronial hospitality’ which has greater significance in terms of the lives of ordinary people in feudal times when considered in the light of control.
It may be useful to distinguish between the two interpretations given and ‘Baronial Hospitality Type A’ is the historically longer lasting disbursement of food, accommodation and protection to the ordinary people. ‘Type B’ is the more social version in earlier times but nevertheless important entertaining of visitors who were given a display of wealth and military power with the unstated threat of a full-blooded response to any later attack if relationships became sour.
‘Hospitality for profit’ seems to be a rather long-winded title for the everyday activity of providing food and lodging. Far easier is ‘commercial hospitality’. The main ideas within ‘commercial hospitality’ concern providing and purchasing hospitality as an economic good. They lean towards social control in as much that there is a mixture of economic and social rules which apply in the situation. If hospitality is normally a cultural activity the introduction of cash into the situation does not put it on to a solely economic footing. Innkeepers of yesteryear and hoteliers of today need to be as polite as any other trader.
Without going into every variation on the commercial hospitality theme, we can discern the dimensions of scale – the large and the small where the former is termed ‘professional hospitality’ which we will discuss first. The Hotel and Catering Industry is founded upon commercial hospitality64 and the term ‘professional hospitality’ derives from the notion that it is a full time occupation employing a body of knowledge relating to the practice of catering and hotel keeping. This leaves the small scale operation often based upon the family business and we will refer to this as patronial hospitality.
The point of the distinction made between ‘patronial’ and ‘professional’ hospitality is not only a matter of scale and concerns the distance of the provider from the consumer. In the former there is a necessity for congeniality and personal service while in the latter the provider acts vicariously and the hospitality act is delegated many places down the management line until it reaches the personal service operative. The normal term is waiter etc. It is a moot point whether the customer, euphemistic-ally called ‘guest’, feels that he has received a personal service or considers that he has gained value for money in the act of hiring his status as a guest.
As the object of attention has now shifted from provider to consumer and as there are various titles for the latter it would be appropriate to identify ‘consumer hospitality’. This may be said to take two forms and in ‘Type A’ we see the conventional hotel guest, lodger, etc. The customer in the hotel is termed ‘guest’ for probably the same reason that the working class ‘lodger’ is called a ‘paying guest’ in the lower middle class home. All that is being suggested is that the euphemistic reference can mitigate the discomfort felt by the provider of commercial hospitality even if, with the ‘PG’, it is less than a cottage industry.
There is a situation which allows the hotel guest to be consumer and provider of hospitality at the same time. While consuming hospitality as a guest he can often dispense it to relatives or friends who are staying in the hotel or visiting him there. The classification which can be designated here is ‘Consumer Hospitality Type B’. This, however, is not intended to be taken as the main dimension of consumer hospitality. The hotel guest or restaurant customer acting as host at his table is a host within the social space surrounding it and conventional rules of hospitality act within it. ‘Reciprocity’ is bound up within these rules and is now considered.
Much Reciprocity
In considering the conventional meaning of hospitality where donor and receiver are within more or less the same social grouping an important characteristic of it is reciprocity. This is not limited to a mere repayment of the loanand he who repays considers the amount quite carefully. “Just as a courtesy has to be returned, so must an invitation. Here we find traces of the traditional basis, the aristocratic potlatch: and we see at work also some of the fundamental motives of human activity: emulation between individuals of the same sex, the basic ‘imperialism’ of men – of origin part social, part animal or psychological no doubt. In the distinctive sphere of our social life we can never remain at rest. We must always return more than we receive; the return is always bigger and more costly.”65
Veblen commented on “the potlatch or the ball” as being costly entertainments adapted in order that the guest is made to serve as a means to an end. “He consumes vicariously for his host at the same time that he is a witness to the consumption of that excess of good things which his host is unable to dispose of single handed.” These conspicuous and vicarious consumptions of valuable goods (and services of uniformed lackeys) serve as “the means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.”66 Where the ideals portrayed in the potlatch stand out is in the Maussian assertion that reciprocity needs to be manifested in bigger and better hospitable activities. But taken at everyday level, perhaps the most basic assumption is that hospitality is only, after all, an act of friendliness, but let us take that a stage further. In essence a loan is extended for there is the obvious social obligation to return the kindness at some stage in the future as identified by Mauss, with interest. Burgess67, however, sees it as a “one-sided friendly gesture” but this is so only until the donor realises that the opportunity to reciprocate has been ignored.
A Model of Hospitality
The purpose of the model presented here is to draw threads together of the previous discussion and to show the main points. We have considered the supply of bed, board and protection in return for labour and the extension of that idea which need not be elaborated in this study is slavery. At the other extreme might be the indiscriminate display of wealth destruction as in potlatch where there is little regard for generosity and, likewise, requires no full debate. The three main strands as discussed are ‘conventional’, ‘commercial’ and earned’ hospitality and are set out in the continuum in figure 3.1
Figure 3.1
Slavery   <<<<             HOSPITALITY         >>>>      Potlatch 
                             ↑                    ↑                          ↑

                       Earned            Commercial          Traditional
                     Hospitality           Hospitality           Hospitality   

Slightly less arduous than ‘baronial hospitality’ is the situation somewhat later in the civilising process where protection became less significant a factor, the agricultural territory around the castle expanded and farms were started. We will term this ‘tied hospitality’ as the workers did not become free men until much later in the course of history. This term also covers those servants in the rich town-households. The feudal elements of the relationship between the master and his retinue carry over to the present day and are noticeable in the residential accommodation afforded to the modern agricultural worker. We will investigate ways in which earlier workers on the farm were ‘tied’ to the laird’s estate by paying wages in the form of food and accommodation in Chapter Four.
There is one dimension which distinguishes all this from conventional hospitality which is reciprocity. There is no social opportunity for those mentioned so far to receive hospitality if provided or to provide hospitality if received if one is purchasing it. The economic dimensions range from the purely financial within ‘earned hospitality’ to the socio-economic factors involved within ‘conventional hospitality’.
‘Conventional hospitality’ cannot be distinguished from ‘earned hospitality’ or ‘commercial hospitality’ on the grounds that there is no economic relationship between giver and receiver. It is, however, beyond purely financial economics. If A gives B a £20 dinner in A’s own home or in a restaurant, it is more than giving him a £20 cheque for dinner at a restaurant. As has been discussed, the ‘loan’ consideration while virtually ignored in every day life hospitable interaction cannot be omitted from this analysis. The economic loan is less significant than the social loan but the latter is more difficult to qualify. The concept of ‘received hospitality’ is usually tied up with the obligation to return the invitation. One exception that springs to mind may actually create an alternative interpretation of professional hospitality where in the business and professional world, invitations are given and a meal provided never to be reciprocated due to the possible perception of the role of the provider of hospitality. Figure 3.2 sets out the main considerations.
It has been necessary to consider various dimensions of hospitality in order to evaluate it in its broader sense. With a view to exploring ‘Scottish hospitality’ we can now consider ‘conventional hospitality’ and the development of ‘commercial hospitality’ and with a later interest in agriculture we will use the terms ‘baronial hospitality’ and ‘tied hospitality’ under the heading of economic hospitality to help analyse its history. 
Figure 3.2 Hospitality – A Continuum 

Scottish Hospitality
Much of Chapter Four is given to discussing the earned hospitality of agriculture and the present debate can delve into some of the issues raised earlier. With virtually contradictory national characteristics, it will be interesting to see if one takes a superior position over the other. “All the world knows that the Scots are mean; and all the world also knows that they are amongst the most hospitable people in Europe. There is no point in trying to resolve the contradiction of these two reputations. The one is based upon an undoubted habit of mind or of manner amongst certain Scots; the other rests upon an undoubted, well-established and internationally recognised fact.”68 According to Trevelyan,69 “Thrift was a dire necessity, but hospitality was a national instinct.” Perhaps the meanness is a calculated saving of resources in order to be hospitable to later visitors.
Without further ado McLaren refers his reader to Dean Ramsay’s Reminiscences of Country Life and Character and this was a worthwhile recommendation. While kail is the topic of later study we can note that “Kail in England simply expresses cabbage, but in Scotland represents the chief meal of the day. Hence the old-fashioned easy way of asking a friend to dinner was to ask him if he would take his kail with the family.”70 Whether this is illustrative of the idea that there was little meat need not concern us here: the use of fish is noticeable also. “In like manner haddock, in Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire, used to express the same idea, as the expression is, ‘Will ye tak your haddock wi’ us the day?’ that fish being so plentiful and so excellent that it was a standing dish. There is this difference however, in the local usage, that to say in Aberdeen, ‘Will you take your haddock?’ implies an invitation to dinner; whilst in Montrose the same expression means an invitation to supper71
There is the view that Scottish hospitality was so strong that legislation had to be passed to curb it. If we go back far enough we find that in 1425 it was necessary to impose a fine of forty shillings if travellers stayed with friends and not in a nearby inn72 Medlik73 explained it as “the widespread hospitality of private citizens”. In two hundred years travel was to increase considerably and Donaldson74 quotes from a 1609 legal document which decreed that people should “… be furnissing of meit, drink and intertenyment to straingeris, passengeris and utheris …”
Fullarton and Baird may have detected a later lack of need to legislate to this effect in Iona elsewhere and comments that, in the early seventeenth century:
“The character and manners of the people of the Highlands and Islands are just such as might have been expected from the situation and circumstances in which they have been placed. The proprietors are an honourable, brave and high-spirited race – proud in a superlative degree of their ancestry – fond of the profession of arms – kind and hospitable to an extent, beyond the limits of their income, but reckless of their expenditure, and improvident to a fault.”75
“The Genuine Highlander, even of the lowest class is brave and kind-hearted in an eminent degree … but when providence has put it in his power, his hospitality is unbounded.”76
Not to be outdone, as it were, the Lowlander would have been grateful for some support. “Country hospitality in the Lowlands, though less frequently displayed, simply because of lack of opportunity, was no less open-hearted and overwhelming. The occasions of it, too, lasted longer than in the towns. When lairds or farmers entertained their neighbours, their guests often had to come from the surrounding countryside over land that in the south would have been thought near impassable by daylight, and which even here was more than could conveniently be managed by returning revellers after dark. It was the custom then when one asked a guest to dinner to ask him for the night.”77 “Neighbours would arrive on horseback on surprise visits of half the day in length; they were heartily welcome, for the means of passing the time in a country house were fewer than in contemporary England … Hospitality took the form of plentiful plain meats served in one course, washed down by Scottish ale and French brandy and claret.”78
Earlier in this discussion mention was made of potlatch and it can be dealt with before proceeding to consider visitors’ comments upon Scottish hospitality. Potlatch is not confined to certain North American indians it would seem and an example can be given relating to early sixteenth century Scotland. Grant discusses the first Stewart Earl of Moray (the illegitimate son of James IV). “A papal legate was visiting Scotland and Moray invited him to a banquet. Wishing to make the visitor understand that there was a great abundance thereof in Scotland, he caused a fine cup-board of fine crystal glass to be overturned, as if by accident, and had another carried in. The patriarch praised as well the magnificence of the Earl as the fineness of the crystal.”79  While tempting to term this ‘extreme hospitality’, it ranks for consideration as OTT (over the top) if not over the floor.
Since hospitality is experienced by visitors it is appropriate to include comment by some of those who ventured into a country far from their homeland and were forced to take “substitute domestic food”80 and accommodation. By no means the first of these was described by McNeill: “Fynes Morison, a graduate of Cambridge, who visited Scotland in 1598, tells us that he noticed no regular inns with signs hanging out, but that private householders would entertain passengers on entreaty or where acquaintance was claimed.”81 In the following decade Fynes Morison’s account is “interestingly corroborated” … by that eccentric genius, John Taylor, the Thames waterman. “Everywhere, indeed, in his progress through Scotland, he appears to have been feasted sumptuously, and liberally supplied with money by hospitable gentlemen who probably found his witty conversation ample recompense.”82
Hunter, in 1830 edited the Diary of Ralph Thoresby who lived in the seventeenth century. An appendix to this book is A Journal of a Tour to Scotland by Thomas Kirk of Cookridge, Yorkshire, who evidently received “plentiful hospitality” during his stay. This seems to be mainly related to the drink which was lavishly given in Banff at the Laird of Meldrum’s house, then at a tavern called “Bonnie-wife’s”, and later in the afternoon he was treated with “excellent good claret” at Huntly’s house. In Inverness he was “treated heartily with ale and usquebah” [whisky].83
At Dunbeath Castle he joined others in “deep glasses of beer till we were very merry.” In his Modern Accountpublished in 1679 he talks about wine as “the great drink of the gentry which they pour in like dishes, as if it were their natural element; the glasses they drink out of are considerably large, and they always fill them to the brim” when entertaining visitors.
In 1725, Edmund Burt, travelled with General Wade “determined not to enjoy himself and only to find fault.”84 He admits, however, that when entertained by the laird “Bumper John”, Laird of Culloden, his host was “a gentleman whose hospitality is almost without bounds.”85 More detail of that entertainment will be found in the discussion relating to ‘The Drinking Scot’ in Chapter 6.
Later in the eighteenth century, “Drinking tended to go on right round the clock and people would tend to think that they were lacking in hospitality if they did not make their guests drunk. Simon Fraser’s entertainment at Castle Downie was famous, as was that of his protagonist and neighbour Forbes, at Culloden House. In both establishments stretcher-bearers stood by to carry the faint off to their bedrooms. Every place at Simon’s table would be full.  At the top end with him, above the salt, would be his personal guests and nearest relatives. Further down, below the salt, would be poor or junior relatives or even humble retainers. Food and drink was dispensed to each according to his station – from claret and champagne at the top to whisky-punch and beer at the bottom.”86 Dichotomies such as were engendered by placing guests either side of the salt disappeared as the century progressed.
Perhaps there was a gradual change in drinking habits. “Drinking bouts, with their multifarious toasts and sentiments, were also an obligation of private hospitality throughout the greater part of the century, though conviviality was happily becoming more self-respecting towards the end of it. Life and character might become less original owing to such changes, but the loss was counterbalanced by the gain in refinement and propriety …”87
In including Boswell and Johnson in the comments by visitors to Scotland we have the additional benefit that there were Scottish expectations in the situations. Recognising that their ‘bread and butter’ books were an expression of gratitude for the bountiful hospitality received there were incidences when they were less pleased with their treatment. We will look at expectations first.
At the early stage of the Tour to the Hebrides88 Johnson experienced poor service of his favourite lemonade and proposes to carry lemons to Skye. “’Sir’, said he, ‘I do not wish to be thought that feeble man who cannot do without anything.’” Boswell, aware that they would be receiving Scottish hospitality counted with “Sir, it is very bad manners to carry provisions to any man’s house, as if he could not entertain you. To an inferior it is oppressive, to a superior it is insolent.”89
If Boswell and Johnson had any high expectations relating to the standard of hospitality associated with Sir Alexander MacDonald of Skye, they were soon destroyed on having their first dinner with him. “No claret appeared … But except what I [Boswell] did myself, there was no hospitable convivial intercourse, no ringing of glasses.” Indeed, other members of the family had to stand and watch the guests and his lordship “who stuck his fork into a liver pudding instead of getting room made for them.” When they had been provided with tea “there were few cups and no tea-tongs nor a supernumerary tea spoon, so we used our fingers”90
Paton researched “Drink and the Temperance Movement in Nineteenth Century Scotland” and found that “Whisky was in regular and constant use as a beverage, taken as a refreshment and with meals. It was especially important as a symbol of hospitality and a reward for small services”.91 Dunlop’s interests were not entirely different from Paton’s although about a hundred and forty years separate their researches. “In no other country does spirituous liquor seemed to have assumed so much the attitude of the authorised instrument of compliment and kindness, as in North Britain.”92
If visitors were allowed to comment upon the hospitality received, there ought to be a token reciprocity which if fulfilled in terms of Scottish comment on hospitality received in England, would fall outside the scope of the present study. The nearest we are allowed is comment from Memoirs of a Highland Lady relating to 1803. Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus travelled frequently to the Highlands. “Every good inn became a sort of home, every obliging landlord or landlady an old friend. We had cakes here, a garden with a summer-house there, a parrot further on, all to look forward to on every migration, along with the pleasant flatteries on our growth and our looks of health; as if such a train would not have been greeted joyously by every publican! We travelled slowly, thirty miles a day on average, starting late and stopping early, with a bait [sic – “a bite”] some after noon, when we children dined …” Her memoirs were published thirteen years after her death in 1885 and none the less valid for being written by a member of the aristocracy.
The account is somewhat atypical as we will see when we consider earlier inns in the discussion relating to the Scottish public house. Such positive comments passed about Scottish hospitality obviously still apply. J. Telfer Dunbar some considerable time before 1955 and as a history student “Hunting the Tartan” remarks “In the Highlands and the Islands I became increasingly aware of the generosity of the Highland heart. The courtesy of the croft was such a contrast to the artificial ‘manners’c of the larger hotel. Poverty was seldom an excuse for lack of generosity “Often I was an unknown stranger who would never be met again but often the farther I was away from ‘civilization’ the closer would my chair be to the fire.”93
Finally, a perspective from one who was brought up in the Highlands and Islands. While this study has included many of Marian McNeill’s major works which are readily available in the High Street bookshops it took numerous visits to the more ‘Olde Worlde’ and specialist second-hand bookshops to locate her (and numerous other authors’) lesser known books and contributions. In “The Scottish Companion” edited by Rhoda Spence we find a rare insight into McNeill’s childhood. Her father farmed twenty Orcadian acres “that grew oats for the porridge pot and girdle and vegetables for the kail-pot …” Although money was scarce “rigid economy is necessary but in the true Scottish tradition there were two things in which there was no economizing – hospitality and education.”94 We have been able to utilise many of the products of that education, perhaps the pity of it is not to have experienced an obviously traditional hospitality in the Orkneys.
There is an appendix to Chapter 6 which deals with food and hospitality sayings.