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Scottish Reminincenses
Chapter XV


Influence of Topography on the people of Scotland. Distribution and ancient antagonism of Celt and Saxon. Caithness and its grin. Legends and place-names. Popdlar explanation of boulders. Cliff-portraits. Fairy-stones and supposed human footprints. Imitative forms of flint. Scottish climate and its influence on the people. Indifference of the Highlander to rain. 'Dry rain.’ Wind in Scotland. Shakespeare on the climate of Morayland. Influence of environment on the Highlander.

It is impossible to wander with attentive eyes over Scotland without recognising how powerfully the topography of the country has controlled the distribution of the races that have successively peopled it, and how seriously the combined influences of topography and climate have come to affect the national temperament and imagination. As I have elsewhere discussed this subject, I will only refer briefly to it here as an appropriate ending to these chapters of a geologist’s reminiscences.

I. First as regards the Topography. Confining our attention to the Saxon and Celtic elements of the population, we can readily see from the mere form of the ground why the two races have been distributed as we now find them. On the west side of the country the Norse sea-rovers seized upon the islands and the narrow strips of cultivable land along the coasts of the mainland. They were ‘ vikings ’ or baysmen, at home on the sea and unwilling to wander far from its margin. They had no inducement to quit their harbours and surrounding farms in order to penetrate into the bleak mountainous fastnesses of the interior which they left in possession of the older Celtic people. When the Norwegian sway came to an end, and the invaders returned to the cradle of their race in the north, they left behind them some of their own stock who had intermarried with the Gaels, and as a still more enduring memorial of their presence, abundant Norse names, which still cling to hamlet, island, promontory, bay, and hill. But the selvage of coast-line which they had occupied was so narrow, and the chain of islands lay so near, that the mountaineers would have little difficulty in moving down from the high grounds, overspreading the Norse settlements, and mingling with their inhabitants.

On the east side of the country, however, the conditions were somewhat different. In that region the mountains here and there retire so far from the sea as to leave wide stretches of lowland. On these spaces of comparatively fertile land the early Teutonic invaders found more ample room for their settlements. ‘) hey accordingly possessed themselves of these tracts from Caithness southward, along the shores of the Moray Firth to Aberdeen, and thence round the eastern end of the Grampian range into the broad valley of central Scotland. They seem to have in large measure driven out the earlier Celtic people who, on this side of the island also, were left to live as best they could among the mountains. The topography which enabled the invaders to possess themselves of this territory has sufficed ever since to keep the races apart. Gradually, indeed, along their mutual boundaries, though apparently less distinctly than on the West Coast, they came to intermingle with each other. But the ancient antagonism between Celt and Saxon lasted down through the centuries, and in an attenuated form almost to our own day. The Highlander, when he used to raid the cattle and burn the farms of the Lowlander, was avenging the wrongs which his remote ancestors had suffered at the hands of the hated Sassenach. The Lowlander, on the other hand, who found himself often powerless to ward off or revenge these outrages, and had to pay blackmail to prevent their repetition, solaced himself by losing no opportunity of expressing his contempt for his Celtic neighbour. The word ‘Highland’ actually came to have an opprobrious meaning, summing up, as it did, all the bad qualities of the race to which it was applied. More particularly, the imperfect knowledge of English on the part of the mountaineers, and their slowness or inability to understand what was said to them in that language, led their Saxon fellow-countrymen to the foolish conclusion that this apparent dullness arose from innate stupidity. The poor Celts, in their efforts to express themselves in the language of the Lowlands, naturally made use of the words they heard there, so that a Highlander who was warned against doing what would have been a foolish action, could innocently exclaim, ‘ She’s no sae tarn Heelan’ to do that’ I can remember in my boyhood, being much struck by coming across some survivals of this use of the word, and of the feelings of contempt with which it was employed. There were then many stories current illustrative of what was thought to be the dense stolidity and ignorance of the Celts. The type of conceited Lowlander, so well represented in Bailie Nicol Jarvie, never realised his own vulgarity, or recognised the innate gentlemanliness of even the poorest and least educated Highlander who had escaped Sassenach contamination. But these misunderstandings have been buried and forgotten.

Probably the best district of the country for the purpose of marking the topographical conditions that determined the limits within which the two races are confined, is to be found on the east side of Sutherland and Ross, and in the county of Caithness. To this day these limits remain fairly well marked. The low ground forms but a narrow strip along the coast from the Moray Firth to the Ord. On that strip, and through the Black Isle to Tar-bat Ness, the people are Teutonic, but as we penetrate into the hills, the squalid cabins, poor crofts, peat reek, and sounds of the Gaelic tongue, tell unmistakeably that we have entered upon the domain of the Celt. Caithness offers one of the most singular pieces of topography in Scotland. Looking at the map, one would naturally regard it as a continuation of the highlands of Sutherland, and expect its population to be also Gaelic. But in actual fact, it belongs not to the mountains, but to the lowlands, and has been for many centuries in possession of the Scandinavian stock. It consists of a flat platform or tableland, in places not more than 100 feet above the sea, into which it descends in an almost continuous line of abrupt precipices. The contrast between the varied and picturesque coast-line and the tame monotony of the featureless interior is singularly striking, and again, that between the wide, moory, peat-covered plain, and the bold Sutherland mountains that spring up from its border. The names of places over this plain and along the shore bear witness to the long occupation of the territory by the descendants of the ..Norsemen. But as soon as we enter the hills, Gaelic names appear, and we find ourselves among a population that still speaks Gaelic. ,

As a consequence of the flatness of the interior of Caithness, the few roads which cross the county run for miles in straight lines. Their rectilinear direction is said to have had a curious effect on the physiognomy of the inhabitants. Two men coming from opposite quarters recognise each other long before they can come within speaking distance. A smile of recognition, however, begins to form itself on their faces, and this lasts so long, before they actually meet, that it becomes stereotyped into a kind of grin, which is alleged to be characteristic of the most typical natives of Caithness.

That the topographical features of Scotland have influenced the national imagination is well indicated by the legends and place-names that have been attached to them. A deep cleft on a mountain-crest, a bowl-shaped hollow, scooped out of a hillside, a profound ravine, a conical mound or a group of such mounds, rising conspicuously above a bare moorland, a solitary boulder of gigantic size, or a line of large boulders—these and many other prominent elements in the scenery, alike of the Lowlands and the Highlands, have arrested attention from the earliest times. As they appear so exceptional in the general topography, exceptional causes have been sought to explain them, and they have given rise to legendary beliefs that have been gradually interwoven in the mythology and superstition of the races that have dwelt among them. That these apparently abnormal features owed their origin to some form of direct supernatural agency has been tacitly assumed as their only possible explanation. Now and then they are referred to the immediate action of the Deity. Thus all over the hills and valleys of the south of Ayrshire, an incredible number of boulders of grey granite have been scattered. So abundant are they in some places as, when seen from a distance, to look like flocks of sheep, and so distinct are they in form, colour, and composition from any of the rocks round about them, that they could not fail to excite the imagination in trying to account for them. A stonebreaker who was asked how he supposed they had come to lie where they are, after a pause gave the following picturesque explanation, ‘Weel ye see, when the Almichtie flang the warld out, He maun hae putten thae stanes upon her to keep her steady.’

More usually the popular fancy has fixed on the Devil, with his copartnery of wizards, warlocks, witches and carlines, as the authors of the more singular parts of a landscape. I have already referred to this aspect of diabolic agency, and by way of further illustration may cite here an example of the kind of legend which has grown up in all parts of the country. I was once directed to a shoemaker in the village of Carnwath as possessing more local knowledge of his district than anyone else. By a piece of bad luck for himself, but of good fortune for me, on the day of my call upon him the man had so injured a finger that he could not at the moment continue to ply jhis trade. He was accordingly delighted to accompany me over the ground, and point out some of the changes which it had undergone within his own memory. A conspicuous feature in the district was furnished by a number of boulders of dark stone scattered over the surface between the River Clyde and the Yelping Craig, about two miles to the east. Before farming operations had reached their present development there, the number of these blocks was so much greater than at present that one place was known familiarly as ‘Hell Stanes Gate’ (road), and . another as ‘ Hell Stanes Loan.’ The tradition runs that Michael Scott, the famous wizard, had entered into a compact with, the Devil and a band of witches to dam back the Clyde with masses of stone to be carried from the Yelping Craig. It was one of the conditions of such pacts that the name of the Supreme Being should never on any account be mentioned from the beginning to the end of the transaction. All went well for a while, some of the stronger carlines having brought their burden of boulders to within a few yards from the river, when one of the younger members of the company, staggering under the weight of a huge block of greenstone, exclaimed, ‘O Lord! but I’m tired.’ Instantly every boulder tumbled to the ground, nor could witch, warlock, or devil move a single stone one yard further. And there the blocks had lain for many a long century, until the modern farmers blasted some of them with gunpowder to furnish material for dykes and road-metal, and got rid of others by tumbling them into holes dug to receive them.

The shoemaker, however, though he enjoyed the popular explanation, had got far beyond the thraldom of old superstition, and had made some acquaintance with modern science. When I asked him how he would himself account for the scattering of these blocks of stone over the district, he replied at once; ‘ O, ye ken, they cam on the backs o’ the icebairges,’ and he proceeded to give me a graphic picture of what he supposed must have been the condition of Clydesdale when it lay below an icy sea, across which the stones were transported and were left where they now lie.

In many cases the origin of striking local features is referred to the doings of powerful witches alone, as in the case of Ailsa Craig, which is said to be the work of

A witch so strong
That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs.

The legend relates that for some purpose she designed to carry over a hill to Ireland, and selected one near Colmonell. Having lifted it up in her apron, she set off on her broomstick through the air, but unfortunately, when some mdes out over the firth, her apron-strings broke, and the huge mass fell into the water, where its upper part has projected ever since as the well-known ‘ craggy ocean-pyramid.’ In proof of the truth of this tale, the hollow is pointed out from which the rock was removed.

Even among the minor topographical features of the country, the natural play of the imagination may be seen where the instinctive feeling for the detection of resemblances has led to the recognition of so many likenesses to men and to animals, sometimes obvious, sometimes far-fetched, among the outlines of hills and crags. This tendency may be seen at work in every country. Anyone can perceive the strikingly lion-like aspect of Arthur’s Seat, which seems to sit watching over Edinburgh, ready to spring at a foe. The profile of Samuel Johnson’s (some say Lord Brougham’s) face and his portly body have long been familiar on the southern front of Salisbury Crags, though it seems to me that the mouth is wider open and the chin hangs a little more than when I used to admire it as a boy. The *tooth of time* is incessantly gnawing at all such cliffs, and while some fancied resemblances are gradually effaced, others are brought into existence. Travellers up Loch Carron see in front of them on the summit of the mountain Fuar Thol a gigantic recumbent profile, which from generation to generation is likened to that of some contemporary personage. At present it is spoken of as the face of a well-known politician whose features are familiar in the pages of Punch. Our grandchildren will find a likeness in it to some one of their own time. In the little anchorage of the Shiant Isles, the face of one of the surrounding cliffs presents the outline of a man in the attitude so often depicted in the background of Teniers’ pictures.

Further illustration of this universal ^habit of mind may be gathered from even the smaller objects in nature. Children delight to recognise resemblances in things; the grown man learns to detect differences. Yet in regard to things that are unfamiliar, the man’s first instincts are those of the child. He seizes on the likeness which the newly observed objects bear to some already known to him, and he may even go so far as to mistake similarity for identity. Perhaps in no department of nature does this habit of mind manifest itself more flagrantly than in the mineral kingdom. People who know little or nothing of minerals or rocks, readily enough perceive a resemblance between some pieces of stone and certain plants, animals or inanimate objects, with which they at once compare or even identify them. In the vast majority of cases, there is no real connection between the stone and the object which it resembles. The likeness is merely accidental and external. Among the multitudinous shapes which concretions of mineral matter have assumed, a curious collection might be made of imitative., forms. The ‘ fairy stones ’ of Scotland, found as concretions among deposits of clay, present endless rude figures of manikins, or portions of the human body, of fishes, birds, plants, cannon-balls, snuff-boxes, shoes, and innumerable familiar objects. Similar concretions occur all over the world, and have long attracted popular notice.

An Orkney laird once wrote to me that his people, while removing flagstones from the shore of his island, had made an extraordinary discovery, no less than ‘ the footprints of men, women, children and animals/ all impressed on the solid stone and in excellent preservation, and he courteously offered to send me some specimens of these interesting remains. The identification of the impressions as human relics was of course out of the question, for the rock that contained them belonged to the Old Red Sandstone, which was deposited long before any trace of man appeared upon the earth. Nevertheless, as there was just a possibility that among the specimens, there might be some new fossils,, which might add to our knowledge of the flora or fauna of that ancient formation, I asked the proprietor to be good enough to send a few examples of the ‘ find.’ In due course one or two large boxes arrived containing several hundredweight of stone. But every one of the specimens was merely the cast of a mineral concretion. Yet they were curiously like footprints. One looked as if a young man, in going out to a ball, had stepped with his dress-boot upon soft mud, into which he had sunk about an inch. Another seemed as if it might have been made by a rough-shod farmer, springing from his dogcart upon the surface of a muddy pool. There were prints resembling misshapen female feet, and one or two might, with a little imagination, have been taken for prints of infants, whose fond mothers were trying to make them stand on a soft clay floor. But not a single one of them had anything to do with a human being, or with any fossil plant or animal.

The flints which lie dispersed through the chalk, and which are distributed in such profusion over the surface of parts of the northeast of Scotland, present many curiously imitative shapes, either belonging to them originally, or brought about by the irregular fracturing and rolling which the stones have undergone under the sea or on the beds of rivers. The following letter, written to me by a workman in the south of England, where chalk-flints are immensely abundant, and are largely used for road making and other purposes, may be taken as an illustration of the popular view of these objects. It is given verbatim et literatim.

I have a collection of flints In fantistic Shapes of a human Race such as leg with foot also feet harms legs Hand with finger also finger skul and other Parts of Human frame about 50 Pieces weight nearley One hundred I have also Kelt harrow heds speer heds and set. My Collection of the Human Race is a splended one and I dont think they Can be beeten they look as natrel as the boddy they or far sale and honestly worth a thousand Pounds I will take a Reasonable Offer for them they are on View at my House and I should like to find a Home for them. Faithfully yours, - Gravel Thrower.

II. Not less important than the topography of a country, as a factor in the bodily and mental development of a people, is the Climate. Alike in prose and verse the climates of northern countries have been abundantly maligned, though it has been generally allowed that they produce men of mark both in body and mind. We are told that the sun * ripens spirits in cold northern climes,’ and that courage, strength, and endurance may be looked for in people inured to exertion in these regions. In English literature the climate of Scotland has naturally offered a convenient butt for sarcasm and abuse, coupled occasionally with an admission that, at all events, it has fostered a sturdy race. Waller, in order to enhance his praise of the doings of Cromwell in Scotland, speaks of his successes over

A race unconcuered, by their clime made bold,
The Caledonians, arm’d with want and cold.

There can be no doubt that most of this dispraise of the climate has been based on mere hear-say report, and that where it has been grounded on actual personal observation in Scotland, it has generally been the result of exceedingly brief experience, during short excursions into the country. It has in large measure arisen from the confounding of climate with weather. A man who comes into a country for a few weeks, and is unlucky enough to meet with a spell of bad weather which lasts most of the time of his visit, may be pardoned if he abuses what he has himself suffered from, but he has no right to pass any judgment on the climate of the country. Climate is the average of all the variations of weather during a long succession of years, and cannot be tested by any mere summer tour. A Scot may fairly claim that his country can boast of two or three climates, tolerably well marked off from each other, but all of them healthy, and on the whole, not disagreeable. There is the oceanic climate of the western isles and firths, under which in sheltered places many flowering shrubs and evergreens flourish luxuriantly, which can scarcely be grown elsewhere in the country save under glass. The eastern climate, being further removed from the warm Atlantic waters, and more directly exposed to the chilly east-wind, is less genial. The central climate of the mountains is one of greater extremes, the summer temperature in the valleys being sometimes high, while the frosts in winter are often severe, and the snow-rifts remain unmelted in the shaded corries all the summer. To these might perhaps be added the Shetland climate, characterised by the prevalence of winds and sea-fogs. The winds are there fierce, and always more or less laden with salt from the spindrift of the surrounding ocean, so that shrubs cannot grow above the limit of their sheltering wall, and true trees are not to be seen. The white sea-fogs spread rapidly over the islands during summer, and though dense enough to blot out the view, are not always so thick as wholly to obscure the sun.

To one accustomed to more southern latitudes the chief defect of the Scottish climate is the want of sunshine. The nimbus Britannicus spreads too frequently as a grey pall across the sky. But the native who has been used to this canopy all his life, and has never seen the continuous unclouded blue of a southern clime, manages to enjoy good health, lives often a long and active life, and resents imputations on the meteorology of his country, though he reserves to himself, especially if he be a farmer, the privilege of a good grumble, when no stranger is at hand to overhear it.

Most people shun a shower, and think themselves worthy of pity if one should overtake them when they can find no shelter, or have no umbrella to protect them. But to ordinary Highlanders exposure to heavy rain is a matter of indifference, even if not a source of real pleasure. On any wet day you may see these men standing together in pouring rain, although a shed or other shelter may be close at hand. They get soaked to the skin, but it does not seem to do them any harm. In fact, they say themselves that the wet thickens the cloth of their raiment and keeps them warm. And that they are often really warm is obvious enough when the steam may be seen rising from them, as if they were drying themselves before a fire. The only concession I ever noticed a Highlander make is now and then to take off his cap, if the water is trickling from it down his neck, and to wring the rain out of it before putting it on again. As an illustration of how strong and persistent this national trait is, it may be mentioned that about the middle of the eighteenth century a Highlander from the forest of Mam More emigrated to Canada, where after some years he was visited by an old friend from Scotland who, when the man was out of the way, asked his wife and daughters whether he ever talked of the Highlands. They said he frequently did so, and though he was fairly content with his home in the colony, he would often complain that there was not rain enough. When a good heavy shower came, he would go out and stand in it till he was quite drenched; and returning into the house, dripping wet, but with a smile of satisfaction on his face, he would say, ‘What a comfortable thing rain is!'

A lady of my acquaintance on the west coast, to whom I remarked that it was a pity for ordinary mortals that so much rain fell there, immediately answered me, *O, but you must remember, it is dry rain.’ The remark appears stupidly absurd, but she was an intelligent and observant person, who would not have made an idiotic statement. I learnt that what she referred to was the rapidity with which the ram disappeared from the surface of the ground and from the garments of those exposed to it. She maintained that, owing to the more genial climate of the west, the rain, as it fell, was warmer than on the east side of the country, and owing to more rapid evaporation, and perhaps to greater porousness of the soil, it vanished out of sight sooner. Certainly from my own experience, I do not think one catches cold from severe wetting so readily on the west as on the east coast. .
In the year 1728, Aaron Hill, who is now chiefly remembered because of his connection with Pope, became popular in the north of Scotland owing to the vigorous, but ultimately unsuccessful efforts, he made to cut and float down timber on the Spey, for the uses of the navy. He was entertained by the nobles and magistrates, and received the. freedom of the town of; Inverness. Buhrhe must-have happened upon a spell. of bad weather, for when he halted at Berwick he wrote on the window of the inn the following lines:

Scotland ! thy weather’s like a modish wife;
Thy winds and rains for ever are at strife;
So Termagant a while her thunder tries,
And when she can no longer scold—she cries.

More trying to the temper than the rain is the wind that too often sweeps across the country. Men who have to ‘strive with all the tempest in their teeth,’ acquire a certain compression of the lips and look of determination which sometimes, by the end of a long and weather-beaten life, may become permanent. Edinburgh, built on ridges exposed to the breeze from all quarters, is said to be distinguished by the ‘ windy walk ’ of its inhabitants. Ami Boue was struck with the wall that ran along the middle of the earthen mound which was thrown across the central valley, in order to connect the old and the new town of that city, and he tells us that pedestrians chose one or other side of this wall according to the quarter from which the continual and often violent winds blew. ‘How many hats,’ he exclaims, ‘were lost there in a year! I wore out more umbrellas in my four years of residence in Great Britain than during all the rest of my life. Macintoshes had not been invented.’

To any one intent on some definite employment out-of-doors, such as fishing, sketching, botamsing, geological mapping, or any pursuit where quiet air is necessary, nothing can be more exasperating than a struggle against the ceaseless driving of the blast. Mere heavy rain, if it fall straight, can be endured, for it allows one to stand, to turn round, and if an umbrella be used, to consult a map or guidebook. With a furious wind, however, you can do nothing but

Grow sick, and damn the climate—like a lord.

In Scotland, as in other countries having a variable climate, the weather has long been a staple subject with which to introduce a conversation. And it is curious that even when the sky is overcast, with a threatening of rain, the usual greeting, ‘It’s a fine day,’ may not infrequently be heard as the beginning of the colloquy. So inveterate is this habit that the observation is apt to escape from the lips, even when the meteorological conditions make it grotesquely out of place, as in the case of the man who made use of it on a day of howling tempest, but immediately corrected himself: ‘It’s a fine day,’ said he,—‘but coorse.’

Remarks about the weather have been known to be resented on Sundays as an unbecoming topic of conversation for that solemn season. When the usual salutation had been made to one of the more strait-laced elders, he testily answered, ‘Ay, but whatna a day’s this, to be speakin’ about days?’

Still more gruff was the Aberdonian response to the ordinary greeting of a stranger on a country road, ‘Ou ay, fae’s findin’ faut wi’ the day. There’s some folk wad fecht wi’ a stane wa.'

The number of days in a year when an outdoor walk is impracticable on account of the weather is in Scotland far smaller than people might imagine. Of course there come storms of wind and rain that will keep one a prisoner for a day or so at a time. But even in these storms there are not infrequently lulls, when a brisk walk may be enjoyed before the tempest begins again. Geological surveying affords a good test of climate, and I have found it quite possible to carry this work on the whole year through. Snow puts a stop to it, but many winters come and go without leaving snow on the lowlands at all, or at least for more than a day or two altogether.

Those who are familiar with the peculiarly genial and healthy climate of the southern shores of the Moray Firth have sometimes thought that as good an argument as many that have been brought forward to prove that Shakespeare visited Scotland, might be based on the extraordinarily minute and accurate description which he gives of the climate of that region.

The air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses. This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve
By his loved mansionry that the heaven’s breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his bed and procreant cradle;
Where they most breed and haunt I have observed
The air is delicate.

The salubrity of the climate has been recognised for many years by medical men, who, as already mentioned, send their patients from the south of England to these northern shores.

The most suggestive illustration of the influence of environment upon the character of the people is probably to be found in the Highlands. There can be no doubt that the Celtic inhabitants of that region belong to the same stock as those of Ireland. We know, indeed, as a historical fact, that the southwestern districts of Scotland were actually peopled from Ireland. Yet no one familiar with the population of the two countries can fail to recognise the contrasts which they present to each other, both in general physique and in habits and temperament. Neither race has kept itself pure and unmixed, but in each case the foreign infusion has been of the same kind in varying proportions. Norsemen, Danes, Normans, English, have mingled with the Celtic stock in both islands. The Irishman, however, has had the advantage of, on the whole, a better climate. His country possesses far more level ground and a much larger proportion of arable soil. His mountains rise up for the most part as islands out of a vast plain, and thus have offered little serious impediment to the free intercourse of the people from one end of the island to the other. Hence he has been able to sow and reap his crops, and to rear his sheep, cattle and horses, with comparatively little opposition from nature. Moreover, he has escaped the shadow of the Calvinistic gloom. His religion has not repressed his natural liveliness of temperament. His clergy have not set themselves to eradicate all his superstitions and usages, habits and customs, but have allowed these free play where they were not clearly opposed to the cause of morality. And thus his gaiety, if it has not been greatly promoted by the cheerfulness of his surroundings, has at least not been always and everywhere dimmed and chastened by a contest with his environment for the means of subsistence, save where the population has increased beyond the capacity of the ground to support it, nor by a stern and inquisitorial interference on the part of his priesthood.

The fate of the Celt in the Highlands has been far different. There he has found himself in a region of mountains too rugged and lofty for cultivation, save along their bases, and too continuous to permit easy access from one district to another, yet not sufficiently impassable to prevent the sudden irruption of some hostile clan of mountaineers, carrying with it slaughter and spoliation. Shut in among long, narrow, and deep glens, he has cultivated their strips of alluvium, but has too often found the thin stony soil to yield but a poor return for his labour. For many a long century he had to defend his flocks and herds from the wolf, the fox, and the wild cat.1 The gloom of his valleys is deepened by the canopy of cloud which for so large a part of the year rests upon the mountain-ridges and cuts off the light and heat of the sun. Hence his harvests are often thrown into the late autumn, and in many a season his thin and scanty crops rot on the ground, leaving him face to face with starvation and an inclement winter. Under these adverse conditions he could hardly fail to become more or less subdued and grim. But he has likewise been exposed, more irresistibly than his fellow-countrymen of the Lowlands, to the misguided solicitude and sombre fanaticism of kirk-sessions and Presbyteries. His tales, his legends, and his superstitions have been derided by his ecclesiastical guides as foolish fables; his songs, his instrumental music, and his dances, have been stigmatised as vain and unworthy exhibitions, his musical instruments have been broken and burnt. His natural and innocent ebullitions of joy and mirth have been checked and repressed as unbecoming in a being who is journeying onward to eternity.

Need it be matter for wonder if under these various restraining influences the gaiety which the Highlander doubtless shared originally with his brother in Ireland, has been in large measure replaced by a serious sedateness, passing even into depression. When he chooses to solace himself with music, its sad cadences seem to re-echo the monotonous melancholy of the winds that sough past his roughly-built cot, or howl down his glens and across his wastes of barren moorland. But while the lighter side of his nature has thus suffered, his higher qualities have probably been only further fostered and developed. His struggle with climate and soil has strengthened in him a spirit of stubborn endurance and selfreliance, which his moral training has directed towards praiseworthy ends. This spirit finds its freest scope in the life of a soldier. In that career, also, the instincts and traditions of his race meet with their fullest realisation. And thus it has come that for more than a century and a half the British Army has had no braver or more loyal body of men than those of the Highland regiments. On many a hard-fought field, in all parts of the world, wherever deeds of heroism had to be done, the pibroch has thrilled and the tartan has waved in the front.


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