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The Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Chapter II - Tartans


FOREIGNERS who expect to find all Scotland lit by a sunset of romance, are disappointed in the paucity of kilts and plaids as touches of human colour upon the Highland scenery. The tartan, indeed, has gone out faster than some picturesque costumes of continental mountaineers. It was when forbidden to wear it that the thrawn Highlander clung fondly to his ancestral garb; now that he has his choice, though he may keep a kilt and gay trappings to match for occasional display, he submits to the hodden grey breeches of the Saxon for work-a-day wear. In our time, indeed, aristocratic patronage has brought forth a holiday revival of the Highland dress. Queen Victoria's admiration set Braemar reblooming with rainbow shows; and one Stuart peer of to-day is reported as offering a kilt of his tartan gratis to any clansman who will oblige him by displaying it. But these gauds are more visible on the edge of the Highlands than in their recesses; least of all on the Islands, where men rather affect seafaring blue, and it is chiefly old women who cling to the tartan shawl as head-dress. There may be more philabegs found in London than in Glasgow, or even in Inverness; and in Lochaber or Badenoch you are less sure of encountering the tartan than on Surrey heaths about Aldershot, or in the Hertfordshire meadows near Watford, whither the Caledonian Asylum has now removed its company of young Highlanders, that till a year or so back flaunted themselves in the metropolis, exciting rude urchins to derisive cries of "Scotchie! " as in lowland Scottish towns they might be greeted with "Kiltie, kiltie, cauld legs.

Those young Cockneys are as ignorant as some grown-up ladies and gentlemen and not a few authors, who ought to know that the "garb of old Gaul" is no more the "Scottish dress" than a tall hat and a red cloak is the English national costume for women. The comic papers caricaturing bank directors and church elders in tartans betray themselves as published within sound of Bow Bells. A London illustrated weekly lately put Lanarkshire miners into kilts, as a patch of local colour. A few words, then, may not be wasted in enlightening popular ignorance on a subject that has some real obscurities to invite learned controversy among such pundits as concern themselves with "the cut of Adam's philabeg."

And first let me remonstrate with Friend Ezra Q. Broadbrim of Philadelphia and Miss Virginia M'Adam of Vermont, who profess to be as much shocked at bare knees as at the Apollo Belvidere or the Venus de Medici. A generation back England had a like squeamishness, when even on the northern stage Rob Roy and the Dougal Cratur felt it proper to wear tights; nay, a century ago certain prim ladies of Edinburgh thought fit to publish in the Courant how they must avert their eyes from hairy-shanked cattle-drovers out of Highland glens. The example of our athletic youth has gone to shame down such mock modesty. As well be scandalised by the Scotch lasses who display their comely limbs in washing-tubs, not so liberally, indeed, as did their mothers, thanks to the leering of Cockney cads, who may be born at Paisley as at Peckham! And let those who find the Highland dress too Arcadian know to their confounding that the Celt, whether of Scotland or Ireland, is a model for the Saxon in the morals that here seem open to question. As to healthfulness, the experience of Highland soldiers all over the world bears out Dr. Jaeger's doctrine of a thick girdle round the middle of the body being best for both hot and cold weather: the seat of life protected, and the extremities left to take care of themselves. There is a very Cockney novel of truly Cockney days, in which "Sir Gregor Macgregor, Cacique of Poyais," appears in the Fleet Prison wearing a snuff-shop kilt, as represented by the artist ; and a visitor judges it as well he can't go out, for fear of catching cold! As to picturesqueness, ask any artist wrestling with his "Portrait of a Gentleman"—heaven help him if Mars or Minerva cannot cast some cloud over the lay figure draped by twentieth-century tailors!

The kilt is believed to be the oldest fashion of dress in the world, the original material having been fig leaves, seaweeds, or such like. In the days of Roman power a full skirt was the badge of civilisation, distinguishing the togati from braccati barbarians. The whirligig of time was to bring about an exchange of fashion as to form ; but Pliny and other writers describe the Celts of classic days as arrayed in a kind of tartan. It may have been under some Epping Forest or Hampstead Heath check that Boadicea hid her stripes, "bleeding from the Roman rods." There is question as to if, when, or how far the old Highlanders gave up trews, tight-fitting hose all of a piece, for what seems to have been a single piece of rough cloth wrapped about the upper and belted about the lower part of the body. Bare legs was certainly the feature that three centuries ago put the nickname "Redshanks" on both Scottish and Irish kernes. A Norwegian king got at home the sobriquet of Magnus Barefoot when he brought back from the Hebrides a fashion of apparel he found there. On the other hand, there are parts of the Highlands where the kilt appears never to have become popular, while in some form or other the breacan, tartan, was everywhere worn by both sexes, the first patterns of which may have been suggested by varied hues of decay in Adam's leafy garment: Eve, no doubt, had a new one at frequent intervals from some Pandemoniac Paris.

The groundwork of ancient costume for Scottish and Irish Celts seems to have been a linen shirt dyed with saffron or smeared with pitch; and perhaps the poorer class habitually wore little more, while the chieftains and their attendants learned from mailed foemen to use defensive armour. But what has come, rightly or wrongly, to be considered the characteristic dress of a Highlander was formerly the belted plaid, the lower part of it plaited in the manner of the kilt, the upper part capable of being folded round the body in various ways; and hydropathists should be interested to know that to keep himself warm when sleeping on the open ground, the hardy clansman used to dip his loose wrapping in water. That story of the snowball pillow scouted as effeminate luxury, is told of several clans and Burt, early in the seventeenth century, reports the scorn of Highland women for a degenerate duinewassal who had donned a Lowland greatcoat. There could have been no want of tough hardiness about the men who, under Montrose, made marches of sixty miles a day by rough mountain paths.

By and by the idea would be hit on of separating body and skirt of an encumbering costume that, serving both for dress and blanket, had to be thrown off when it came to hot fighting or active business. Thus was developed the philabeg or little kilt which we know, in its present form vainly said to be the invention of an Englishman, even of an army-tailor, and, there is strange whisper, of some Quaker! J. F. Campbell of Isla, Lord Archibald Campbell, and other writers make out, however, by help of old pictures arid older sculptures, a very good case for antiquity both of the kilt and the diverse patterns of tartan. John Major, teacher of Knox and Buchanan, speaks of the "wild Scots" as dressed in "patchwork," and going naked from mid- leg. A print in the British Museum shows kilts among the Scottish auxiliaries of Gustavus Adolphus. Sir R. M. Keith, in Frederick the Great's time, wrote home from Germany for "a plaid of my colours sewed and plaited on a waist belt . . . in which to show my nakedness to the best advantage"; but he does not use the name kilt for what in the army was at first an undress uniform. "Till he got his plaid kilted on him" took some time and this phrase, used of one of the 1745 heroes, explains the name which Burt spelt quelt.

There need be little doubt that the costume would be modified to military exigencies on the raising of the Highland regiments between the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. The kilt of those days appears to have been more "cutty," giving greater freedom to the limbs than now, when it ought to touch the knee-cap, and its wet edge may cause sore rubs on unhardened skin, as poor John Brown found when, for once in a way, sent out walking in his philabeg livery. The sporran, used as a pouch, may originally have been an apron for decency's sake, and took its present showy form in military trappings. Rob Roy's is said to have been armed with a pistol that would go off in hands trying to open it without knowing the trick. A "snuff-mill" is mentioned as one of the appendages in Georgian days. The broad bonnet, apparently a Flemish importation, belonged to Lowland as well as Highland Scotland; its ornamental border of dice is said to come from the fesse chequée in the Stuart arms, and to have been introduced as a Cavalier distinction from the plain blue bonnets of the Roundheads. All over Scotland, too, was worn the plaid, now shrunk in military use to little more than an ornament of the "garb of old Gaul," but in its full size capable of mantling the body from head to heels. The ostrich plumes of Highland regiments are, of course, modern excrescences, yet developed from the feathers that marked the rank of chief and duinewassal. The ribbons behind the bonnet are vain survivals of appendages which had a practical use in tightening or loosening it, and might be drawn down as ear -flaps. But the clansmen of old time probably went bareheaded, as barefoot but for thin brogues of hide, that made no pretence of being water-proof, and soon wore out upon metalled roads. Your wild Highlandman was sure to carry a dirk, like a butcher's knife, with as many other lethal weapons as he could come by; and if he had no buskins in which he might keep it handy in his to stick his skene-dhu, sleeve or a fold of his plaid. Silver buttons, Stewart of Garth says, were worn by those who had them, with the purpose of providing means for a decent funeral in very probable case of need. As to the gewgaws that now go with this dress, they must have been very exceptional when Burt describes a Highlander's plaid as commonly fastened by something like a fork or a skewer. The same writer dwells on bare limbs frequently disfigured by itch as a most unromantically displeasing feature of a costume which he, for his part, found "far from acceptable to the eye."

After Culloden, the wearing of the Highland dress was strictly prohibited, the clansmen 'stripped of their beloved tartans along with their arms. But it proved as ill to take the kilt as the breeks off a Highlander. This attempt against half-national sentiment only went to endear to the Celt his airy chequered garb; and the courts had to deal with knotty cases like that of a mountaineer who stitched up his kilt in the middle and pleaded that such a divided skirt met the requirements of the law. Likely young men caught in the kilt were handed over to the regiments in which they could wear it unbiamed. There is one comic case of a negro lad taken up for displaying the tartan livery of his master, in which he may have resembled that battalion of Hindoo Highlanders whom the Guicowar of Baroda provided with pink silk fleshings as groundwork for their exotic array. Perhaps Humphrey Clinker is not to be taken as a sober authority, on which we learn that when condemned to breeches by Act of Parliament, "the majority wear them, not in their proper places, but on poles, or long staves, over their shoulders." The law seems not to have been thoroughly enforced over the Highlands, and it became a dead letter before being repealed, when the Pretender took to swilling himself out of any risk of heroism. Now it's

Up wi' the bonny blue bonnet,
The kilt and the feather and a'!

But at that time the philabeg was as the smock frock of an English peasant. One would affectionately remonstrate with Mr. Neil Munro, who, in the seventeenth century, makes a gently-born hero "put on his kilt for town." A chief or gentleman commonly wore trews of tartan, as Prince Charlie did at Edinburgh, where on one occasion his "Highland garb" is reported as including "red velvet breeches"; and Maverley assumed the Highlander in trews to the approval of his mentor, the Baron of Bradwardine. Much farther back, for an excursion into the Highlands, "FitzJames" had equipped himself with three ells of Highland tartan at 45. 4d. the ell, "to be hose to the king's grace"

and there is reason to suppose that the wearing of the trews was common in his day. In the same century we have a note of "breekis" supplied to Argyll's son, whose pedagogue seems to have gone gowned in a plaid, as became humbler station. A kilt, indeed, does not lend itself to horsemanship. The supporters of Highland coats, of arms are sometimes represented as wearing one the kilt (occasionally marked as the "servile" dress, the other trews, which latter Mr. David Mac-Ritchie (Scottish Historical Review, July 1904) insists on as the true form of Celtic garb, handed down from the most ancient times, and would have proud Sassenachs know that they took the use as the name of trousers from the race they despised as half naked. Quoting Defoe, who describes trews-wearing Highland soldiery as "like a regiment of merry Andrews ready for Bartholomew Fair," he boldly suggests that Harlequin may belong to the clan of Celtic jugglers. But this writer appears a true Celt in his love for lost causes and costumes. When bayonets began to prick tartans, at all events, a belted plaid was the common wear of henchmen and gillies: in the Lowlander's eyes, as Macaulay says, the dress of a thief. And even a smart thief's sweetheart could boast of her Gilderoy-

He never wore a Hieland plaid,
But costly silken clothes

Highlanders of rank living among their dependants would sometimes affect the popular garment, as an English squire may show himself in corduroys; and queer figures they would have cut to our eyes, when arrayed in what Boswell took for the true style of a Highland gentleman, "purple camlet kilt, a black waistcoast, a short green cloth coat bound with gold cord, a yellowish bushy wig, a large blue bonnet with a gold thread button." Even the clergy in the far north occasionally vested themselves in the philabeg; an Anglican bishop has struck Highlanders with surprise as one who superfluously wore both kilt and trews, though not in the blue and white pattern recognised as the clerical tartan.

In our time the fashion has swung round; and it is the Scottish aristocracy who now cherish a dress in which youngsters look so well, while unwise strangers too are tempted to bedeck themselves in such unfamiliar gauds. I shall never forget the figure an old friend of mine used to cut, who died a bearded Uhlan before the walls of Paris, but in youth was moved to assume grand-maternal tartans as setting for the typical aspect of a German student, round smooth face, gold spectacles, long straight hair, and all. I have seen an Italian prince, too, in this disguise, but thus he made no model for Salvator Rosa. If a foreigner take to the "garb of old Gaul," it is seldom he can live up to it. Cucullus non facit monachum. The white-kneed Cockney, conscious of his kilt" may indeed be suspected half a mile off. ("How white your knees are!" a recent novelist makes one of his characters say admiringly to the hero in Highland dress.) I was about to lay it down that this "garment of terrible possibilities" cannot be worn becomingly without youthful usage; but I refrain on consideration that most of the soldiers who swing their tartans so bravely have been fettered in breeks till they took the king's shilling.

To its military renown we mainly owe the preservation of the Highland dress; but our kilted campaigners in India and Africa are not, as a rule, men of the same breeding as those whose martial virtues were first enlisted on the side of loyalty and order. No common soldiers were the privates, some of whom rode to drill attended by a gillie to carry their arms and uniforms. All of them would be fellow-clansmen or belonging to the same district, serving under their natural chiefs, and forming a happy regimental family, easily disciplined by leaders who understood their manners and would humour their sensibilities. They had the name of being "lambs in the house as lions in the field"; welcomed after experience by poor folk upon whom they came to be quartered, who at first might have shrunk from them as half-naked Scythians. Stewart of Garth, himself an officer in the Black Watch, is most emphatic as to the good conduct of this regiment, among whom for many years the lash was never used, as it was daily in other corps. At a general punishment parade the Highlanders would be excused from attendance, such an example being held needless for them. When one of them did at last come under the cat, he was banned by his fellows as plague-stricken; and the men, we are told, would sometimes subscribe to buy out a bad character, lest he should bring disgrace upon his company. These stern warriors feared above all a threat to tell of their misconduct at home. Out of their sixpence a day they, in at least one case, joined to pay a chaplain of their own, organising themselves into a church with elders elected from the ranks. Not a few of them sent part of that poor pay home to the old people; while others had sold their bodies to the king on condition of a farm lease given by the laird to the father they might never see again.

Cawdor Castle

The Highlanders in those days were as noted for sobriety as for valour, declares General Stewart, in proof of which he asserts that when rum was served out on a campaign, the Highland soldiers alone could be trusted with three or four days' allowance at once, like officers. There is indeed reason to hold that the Highlands have not always deserved a name for intemperance. The former drink of the people was ale, if not water; whisky does not figure in their ancient songs and proverbs, as does the Pictish "heather ale," the secret of making which is long lost. With Pitt's excise laws, we are told, began the smuggling and illicit distillation that did so much to demoralise a race which, if all stories are true, has sadly fallen away from primitive virtue. So Stewart protests as to the temperance of the early Highland regiments; yet more critical observers in George I.'s reign speak of whisky houses as already a curse to the country from which those troops were raised; and indeed all travellers of that date who got themselves into print are apt to touch on a habit of "correcting" or "qualifying" the rawness of Highland air, where a funeral, as well as a feast, was like to end in a drunken fray, when dirks served for forks.

General Stewart, it must be confessed, looked back on the Highlands through a haze of full-dress tartan, glittering with silver settings and jewelled memories One can excuse this Gael for a little idealising the memory of his fathers in arms. He admits that the first Highland soldiers had some military failings, especially from the martinet's point of view. They could be led, but not driven. Like Red Indian warriors, they took the warpath eagerly, but thought no shame of dropping off at their own whim or convenience. Like Swiss mercenaries, they often suffered acutely from Heimweh, drawing them back to their beloved mountains. Desertions were frequent in early days, till the clansmen had learned what it was to be soldiers. The wonder is they were not more frequent among soldiers often enlisted by pressgang methods. The discontents which repeatedly drove them into open mutinies were bred out of misunderstandings, either on the part of men whose ignorance of English blinded them to the nature of their engagement, or of officers who could not make allowance for their susceptible character ; and they had real grievances in the bad faith of the Government when they found themselves ordered abroad or drafted into other regiments, contrary to the terms of their enlistment.

The 42nd—originally the 43rd—Regiment was first formed out of the companies of the Black Watch in 1739. Three years later they were marched into England, to their surprise and suspicion, soothed by a representation that the king wished to see the finest regiment in his service. Over the border they found themselves regarded with such curiosity as to-day would be excited by the sight of our Maori or Sikh auxiliaries; then their good conduct and imposing array were worth a friendly reception, that for a time lulled their distrust. But this awoke again in London, where rumours ran that they had been decoyed so far to be transported to the American plantations; and the Cockneys of that day, as well as the clowns of southern counties, seem to have been more inclined to coarse jests than the northern English, who had better cause for respecting the wild Highlandmen. Traitors were also at work among them, putting into their heads the idea that "after being used as rods to scourge their countrymen, they were to be thrown into the fire."

Having been reviewed on Finchley Common by Marshal Wade, the regiment gave itself leave to start bodily homewards, under the leadership of a Macpherson corporal, taking a line across country between the two great north roads, and dodging from wood to wood, so that for two or three days their march could not be traced by the amazed authorities. In a wood a few miles from Oundle they were intercepted and surrounded by a force from Northampton; then, no doubt half-starved and much bewildered, after some parley they surrendered. Three men were shot as an example in the Tower. The rest let themselves be shipped over to Flanders for a baptism of foreign fire at Fontenoy, where their conduct proved so excellent that they were trusted with the service of covering the retreat. After 1746 they had a long term of exile, from which, out of more than a thousand, not a hundred men came back to their native heath. Ever since—

We have sailed owre many a sea, my lad,
We have fought 'neath many a sky;
And it's where the fight has hottest raged
That the tartans thickest lie.

The Highland regiments grew used to getting more than their fair share of foreign service; but for long their fiery spirits were apt to flare up into mutiny against real or imaginary injustice. After such risings, when it was thought necessary to make an example, men would come forward to offer themselves for trial and punishment as scapegoats. Stewart tells a story of one private, marched to Edinburgh to be tried for his life, who got leave of his officer to turn aside alone to Glasgow for the settlement of important business, and, true to his word, made a dramatic appearance at the last moment among his fellow-prisoners, having struggled with accidental delays like the hero of Schiller's Burgschaft.

It was vulgar crime that appears to have been almost unknown among these touchy braves, whose virtues and failings remind us of honourable schoolboys. By tens of thousands such men laid their bones all over the world to pave the British Empire. Till the end of the century fresh regiments could be raised from the Highlands, as well as corps of Fencible militia and volunteers. The drain of the long French war first made the supply run short. The ranks of the Highland regiments began to be recruited from outside, from the scum of London and Dublin, as Stewart bitterly complains; and this alloy went far to debase their early character. There are too few real Highlanders in the ranks since the glens from which they were recruited have been stocked with sheep and deer in place of men. The Celt seems to have much lost his martial ardour, now that other careers are open to him. In our day recruits have actually been rejected from the Black Watch because they could speak nothing but Gaelic, or perhaps as showing too much of the ancestral grudge against discipline.

Of late years more care has been taken to give Scotsmen only the privilege of serving in regiments for which recruits would willingly come forward from all parts of the kingdom. The majority of "Highland" soldiers are at least Lowland Scots, and some battalions have a considerable percentage of real Highlanders, which will be much larger in the militia contingent. But, as General Stewart noticed, Sassenachs, Irishmen, Cockneys, and other aliens soon catch the infection of enthusiasm for tartans, bagpipes, and the proud traditions of regiments that are the Zouaves or Bersaglieri of our service. They have lost, indeed, the old bonds of caste and custom that held them closely together, for good and evil, like the Brahmin sepoys who stirred mutiny in our Indian army. But still esprit de corps is strong enough in regiments to make them jealously loyal to their own special uniform. In the South African war they needed more than one order to make them hide their showy tartan by a khaki apron worn in front the other side an enemy is not expected to see. And when prosaic War Office authorities talked of smudging all the bright stripes and checks into some such plain dull tint as a less striking mark for Boer rifles, the veldt "heather was on fire" with wrath of Seaforth and Gordon Highlanders who could not tell you where Seaforth is, or how the Gay Gordons came to have to do with the Highlands. To reconcile this sentiment with practical exigencies, a Scottish artist has lately been at work designing tartans that will preserve the distinctive check in a low-toned scheme of colour. This would be but a development of the old practice, which in several cases distinguished a showy design for full dress from the less voyani effect of the clan's hunting tartan.

It must be remembered that only in recent days has the Highlander, like the Red Indian, become an abstract personage. The sentiment of Highland soldiery was originally a more concrete one. They had faint idea of general patriotism, and their loyalty was not so much to their race as to their own chiefs and kin. The first bodies raised in the reign of King William were largely Campbells and other loyal clans ; but after the rising of 1715 they were disbanded as of doubtful trustworthiness. On the representation of General Wade and other officers, however, the experiment was again tried of keeping the peace of the Highlands by independent companies, on the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief. Contemporary scandal-mongers even hinted that these watchmen took turns of stealing and retrieving, so as to earn the old suspicion against custoa'es ipsos. Each company would wear the tartan of its captain, and be largely made up of his clansmen or dependants, who conceived a new respect for law when it set them in arms against their hereditary enemies. One captain was charged with stripping his tenants of their best plaids for the soldiers to cut a gallant figure in on parade occasions.

Loch Linnhe

When these companies came to be embodied as a regular regiment, the question of uniform made a sore point among men of different clans. To meet this difficulty the dark neutral Black Watch tartan is said to have been devised, which forms the groundwork of several others; but it is also claimed as one of the Campbell patterns, and half the original captains belonged to that clan, foremost in furnishing soldiers to guard Whig thrones. There were Highlanders of that day who would as soon have worn a shirt of Nessus as Argyll's trappings. Later corps, raised by noblemen in their own country, naturally took the tartan of their chiefs, whose names and colours are preserved in our modern regiments, when Gordon and Cameron Highlanders are as like to be Smiths and Robertsons. The grey kilting of the London Scottish corps seems related to the fact that no clan tartan would be generally acceptable to Highlanders of Hampstead, Highgate, and Hammersmith, few of whom could pass a searching examination in tartanology.

Even ardent Celtic eyes, military or civilian, of our generation might well be dazzled into confusing the brilliant array of Macdougalls and Macdonalds, of Macleods and Macmillans; and it is not only the Sassenach who needs the help of an illustrated dictionary for distinguishing between some hundred recognised patterns, many of them differing only by a shade, or a thin stripe of colour. Some clans, as the Campbells and the Macdonalds, split into several branches, have as many tartans, for the most part bearing a general resemblance, yet to be recognised by an expert. Some give themselves the luxury of different sets, one for full dress, another worn only by the chief and his family. There is reason to understand that in old days a greater variety of colours was displayed by the rich, while the poor had to be content with simpler designs. Some patterns seem to be of no small antiquity, handed down like the wampum records of a Red Indian tribe ; others may have been modified by circumstances or designed in rivalry to those of neighbouring clans. Certain of the best-known clans, the Gordons and the Grahams, for instance, came from the Lowlands, and would have to equip themselves with a becoming tartan, as has been done for Douglases and Dundases in quite modern times. Certain tartans displayed in shop windows are undoubtedly of recent sartorial origin. That now worn by the Cameron Highlanders was a blend designed for the sake of harmony with King George's red coat. The older patterns perhaps depended on knowledge of or access to the natural dyes used in them, got from heather, broom, roots, barks, seaweeds, or what not. Perhaps they were coloured to some extent by defiance to hereditary enemies, as in the case of the Campbell greens and the Cameron reds, contrasting like the tints of Rembrandt and of Botticelli. The hue would often be suggested by the need of slinking unseen upon sly game, over braes of turf and heather ; old writers indeed describe the general effect of tartan as brown or heathery and more glaring patterns could not have been for everyday wear.

Highland as indeed Lowland kindreds also affected the wearing of some plant in their caps, as the holly of Avenel, the thistle of Stewart, [One story of how this became the badge of Scotland suggests the geese of the Roman Capitol A Dane, moving stealthily to the attack of some Scottish stronghold, trod in the dark upon a thistle, pricking out of him a cry that alarmed the garrison.] the broom of Forbes, the sprig of fir, box, or heath that is the common badge of so many clans that it was only among near neighbours it could make a mark of distrust or defiance. Another token was the slogan or rallying-cry of the clan, often the name of some mountain or conspicuous rock in its country, as "Cruachan" was for the Macintyres and came to be for the conquering Campbells. There were further peculiarities which the Gael could interpret as easily as a Mohawk read the "sign" of Huron or of Delaware. But long before coming near enough to excite the war-cry of his foes, the keen-eyed Highlander might make out the hue of their tartans, warning him to be prepared for fight or flight, as the case might be, when the strangers were not of a friendly name. The Maclean reds and the Macleod yellows were like a danger signal on each side. It was not so, indeed, with all neighbours, which is almost as much as to say enemies. The Forbeses and the Gordons, once living beside each other on cat-and-dog terms, have tartans ill distinguished in general effect, by a thin line in the one case of white, in the other of yellow, which it would take a very sharp-sighted scout to pick out at musket range.

One might suppose those old feuds quite forgotten in our days, but I can quote a curious instance to the contrary. The tartan I have any right to is that of Forbes, in which I went bedecked when I wore what Wordsworth quite ultroneously belittles as

The Roman kilt, degraded to a toy
Of quaint apparel for a half-spoilt boy.

Half-spoilt" boy, quotha! I conceit myself, for one, brought up in more decency and order than the poet who ran so wild on Cumberland fells, wearing out his corduroys in nut-brakes, or unblushingly bare even of "cast-off weeds" when he made "one long bathing of a summer's day." The matter in hand is that at a more prudent stage of life, to save myself from being "half-spoilt" by a cold journey "on an itinerant vehicle," I addressed myself to buy a plaid, Forbes tartan of course, but not finding one thick enough in the shop, I humbled my ancestral pride to put up with the Gordon pattern. This I did on two considerations: first, that the objectionable yellow should in time bleach itself to lamblikeness; second, that the ignorant natives of the country in which I mainly live would not know the difference. But after exposure to wind and rain for a generation, the hateful hue is as bright as ever; then one day in an hotel 'bus, at Bournemouth of all places in the world, I had as companions two elderly ladies who kept looking grimly askance at that perverted tartan of mine.

"Sir," said one of them abruptly, "I hope you're not a Gordon."—"Certainly not," replied I, somewhat taken aback; "but why?"-"Because our people don't like the Gordons!" quoth this frowning dame; "we are Forbeses!" Shamedly I made confession of my fault, declaring how, in spite of appearances, I too boasted that choicest Highland descent; but my kinswomen heard me in the stony silence due to a pretended Forbes in Gordon trappings.

Hereditary instincts awoke in me to lighten up their natural resentment. I myself would think kindly of these unfortunate Gordons, and speak of them with subdued reprobation, as becomes a son of the nineteenth century. I feel no lust to lift from them a single head of cattle, however come by, nor to strip them of any tatter of character that may hang about their deplorable history. I strive to take a fair view of them as fellowmen, and would fain disguise their badges of infamy in the Perth dyeworks. Yet a candid spirit might well ask whether no critical commentator have shown cause to suspect that the enemy of mankind made his first creagh against our happiness arrayed in the Gordon tartan, its livid stripes on a green background readily suggesting that allegory of a serpent form. The white lines of my tartan are rather to be taken for traces of primitive innocence, as even a Gordon must admit and the dourest Forbes may agree that all offence of the hostile colours has long been washed in brave blood.

The clannishness, which is the obverse of such inter- tribal grudges, has not yet died out, albeit on the Stock Exchange a Macgregor makes no better price for a Vich-Alpine than for a son of Somerled. In certain secluded glens and islands is still rooted a minor patriotism which does not wholly wither under the suns of the open world. "A' Stewarts are no sib to the king!" is the semi-Sassenach's sneer at distant calling of cousins between crofter and chieftain; yet his cherished memories of descent go far to make the poorest Highlander something of a gentleman. Nor is stretching out of the ties of kindred all upon the inferior side. At least it will be only in recent times that the Highland chief takes shame for his poor relations, who still may keep some rags of the old loyalty. If you ask an English Brown whether he be connected with a namesake, his first impulse is usually towards emphatic denial, especially if he be in a condition to shun "brutes that use the wrong kind of soap." But the M'Brown is more apt to think twice before repudiating any claim of far-off kinship, a fact cynically explained by conditions, lasting longer in the north than in the south, under which the greatest man's life and property were safe in proportion to the prevalence of his name and blood. It is not so long ago since a Highlander had such a practical as well as a sentimental interest in seeing about him none but his own tartan.


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