Legends of The Black Watch or
WOVEN up with an occasional legend or superstition gleaned among the mountains from whence its soldiers came, the warlike details and many of the names which occur in the following pages, belong to the military history of the country and of the brave Regiment whose title is given to our Book.
It is generally acknowledged that but for the retention of the kilt in the British service, and for the high character of those regiments who wear it, the military name of Scotland had been long since forgotten in Europe, and her national existence had been as completely ignored during the Wars of Wellington as in those of Marlborough; nor in times more recent had the electric wire announced that, when the cloud of Russian horse came on at Balaclava and our allies fled, "the Scots stood firm."
The kilt alone indicatedtheir country, as our Scots Lowland regiments are clad like the rest of the Line. The martial and picturesque costume of the ancient clans which is now so completely identified with modern Scotland, is one of the few remnants of the past that remain to her; and it is remarkable that it has survived so long; for it was the garb of those adventurous Greeks who fought under Xenophon, and of those hardy warriors who spread the terror of the Roman name from the shores of the Euphrates on the east, to those of the Caledonian Firths upon the west.
It was the best public service of the great Pitt when he first rallied round the British throne, as soldiers of the Highland Regiments, the men of that warlike race, who had been so long inimical to the House of Hanover.
"I sought for merit wherever it was to be found," said he; "it is my boast that I was the first minister who looked for it and found it on the mountains of the north. I called it forth, and drew into your service a hardy and intrepid race of men, who, when left by your jealousy, became a prey to the artifice of your enemies, and who, in the war before the last, had well nigh gone to have overturned the State. These men in the last war were brought to combat by your side ; they served with fidelity as they fought with honour, and conquered for you in every part of the world."
Highlander and Lowlander are now so mingled by intermarriage that there is scarcely a subject in the northern kingdom without more or less Celtic blood in his or her veins; and to this mixture of race, which unites the fire and impatience of the former to the steady perseverance of the latter, Scotland owes her present prosperity.
The Clans are passing away, and with them a thousand great and glorious historical and romantic associations; while, by the rapid spread of education,even their language cannot long survive; "but when time shall have drawn its veil over the past as over the present—when the last broadsword shall have been broken on the anvil, and the shreds of the last plaid tossed to the winds upon the cairn, or been bleached within the raven’s nest, posterity may look back with regret to a people who have so marked the history, the poetry, and the achievements of a distant age ;" and who, in the ranks of the British army, have stood foremost in the line of battle and given place to none!
26, DANUBE STREET, EDINBURGH,