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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


Part I

A Sketch of the Moral and Physical Character, and of the Institutions and Customs of the Inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland

Sketches of the Highlanders

Section I.
Geographical Situation and Extent of the Highlands of Scotland - Inhabitants - Character - Antiquities.

The tract of country known by the name of the Highlands of Scotland, constitutes the northern portion of Great Britain. Its maritime outline is bold, rocky, and, in many places, deeply indented by bays and arms of the sea. The northern and western coasts are fringed with groups or clusters of islands, while the eastern and southern boundaries are distinguished from that part of Scotland denominated the Lowlands, by the strong and peculiar features impressed on them by the hand of Nature. A range of mountains known in Roman history by the name of Mons Grampius, at a later period called Gransbane, [Both derived from the Gaelic garu-bein, the rugged mountains] and now the Grampians, constitutes the line of demarcation between these two distinct parts of the kingdom. Within this range, as every classical reader knows, is the scene of that noble stand for liberty and independence, made by the Caledonians against the invasion of the Romans. The physical structure of the Grampian boundary is as remarkable as the general direction is striking, regular, and continuous. It forms, as it were, a lofty and shattered rampart, commencing north of the river Don, in the county of Aberdeen—extending a-cross the kingdom in a diagonal direction, till it terminates in the south-west, at Ardmore, in the county of Dumbarton—and presenting to the Lowlands throughout, a front, bold, rocky, and precipitous. The Grampian range consists of rocks of primitive formation. The front towards the south and east presents, in many places, a species of breccia. In the centre, and following the line of the range, is a remarkable bed of valuable limestone, [This great bed ox limestone is first seen in Aberdeenshire. It sometimes rises to the surface for many miles, then sinks and disappears, following, as it were the undulated and irregular direction of the surface of the mountainous country through which it passes. It runs from Brae-Mar to Athole, through the great forest, crossing the river Garry at Blair Castle, and the Tummel near the foot of Shichallain; and, taking a south-westerly direction, by Garth, Fortingall, and Breadalbane, passes through the centre of Lochtay, and the west end of Lochearn, and thence stretches through Monteith and Dumbartonshire, till it is lost in the Atlantic, north of the Clyde.] with many strata of marble [This marble takes a fine polish. The prevailing colours are blue, green and brown, intermixed with streaks of pure white. In Glentilt, within the forest of Athole, a quarry of green marble has lately been opened, and wrought to advantage.] and slate. In the districts of Fortingall, Glen-lyon, and Strathfillan, are found quantities of lead and silver ore; and over the whole extent are numerous detached masses of red and blue granite, garnets, amethysts, rock crystals, and pebbles of great variety and brilliancy.

The continuation of this great chain, is broken by straths and glens, formed originally by the rivers and torrents to which they now afford a passage. The principal straths are on the rivers Leven, Earn, Dee and Don. But besides these great straths, there are many other glens and valleys, the lower entrances of which are so rugged and contracted, as to have been almost impassable till opened by art. These are known by the name of Passes, and are situated both on the verge of the outward line, and in the interior of the range. The most remarkable are Bealmacha upon Lochlomond, Aberfoyle and Leny in Monteith, the Pass of Glen-almond above Crieff, the entrance into Athole near Dun-keld, and those formed by the rivers Ardle, Islay, and South and North Esk. By the excellent roads now constructed along their sides, these passes, formerly so difficult to penetrate, furnish the easiest entrance for horses, and the only one for carriages. Immediately within the external boundary, are also many strong and defensible passes, such as Kil-licrankie, and the entrances into Glenlyon, Glenlochy, Glen-ogle, &c. [An apology may be necessary for stating facts so generally known. But these boundaries formed one of the principal causes which preserved the Highlanders a distinct race from the inhabitants of the plains. For seven centuries, Birnam Hill, and the rocks westward of Dungarth Hill, at the entrance into Athole, formed the boundary between the Lowlands and Highlands, and between the Saxon and Gaelic languages. On the south and east of these boundaries, breeches are worn, and the Scotch Lowland dialect spoken, with as broad an accent as in Mid-Lothian. On the north and west are found the Gaelic, the kilt, and the plaid, with all the peculiarities of the Highland character. The Gaelic is the dialect in common use among the people on the Highland side of the boundary. This applies to the whole range of the Grampians : for example, at General Campbell's gate, at Monzie, nothing but Scotch is spoken, while at less than a mile distant, on the hill to the northward, we meet with the Gaelic.]

On the line of the Grampians, are many insulated mountains of considerable altitude, such as Benlomond, Benlawers, Shichallain, &c. The views of the Highlands obtained on a clear day from the summits of these mountains, are peculiarly imposing and magnificent, [With a good glass Arthur's Seat and the higher grounds in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh arc clearly distinguishable.] but when covered with clouds, or skirted with mists, their summits are often scarcely distinguishable from the vapours which envelope them; while their bleak and barren aspect, and the deep rocky channels with which they are furrowed, testify the violence of the tempests which have swept over them. Towards their pointed summits there is little vegetative mould; but lower down we meet with a thin covering of stunted heath, inhabited only by birds of prey, and by the white hare and ptarmigan. Still farther down is the region of the mountain deer and muirfowl, producing more luxuriant heath intermixed with nourishing pasture, and supporting numerous flocks of sheep. Towards the base are many romantic glens, watered by mountain streams, or diversified by winding lakes, and in some places beautifully wooded, and capable of producing various kinds of grain. Many of these glens contain a crowded population, and an unexpected number of flocks and herds, the principal source of the riches of the country.

The space which the Gaelic population occupied within the mountains, includes the counties of Sutherland, Caithness, Ross, Inverness, Cromarty, Nairn, Argyle, Bute, the Hebrides, and part of the counties of Moray, Banff, Stirling, Perth, Dumbarton, Aberdeen, and Angus. It may be defined by a line drawn from the western opening of the Pentland Frith, sweeping round St Kilda, so as to include the whole cluster of islands to the east and south, as far as Arran ; then stretching to the Mull of Kintyre, re-entering the main land at Ardmore in Dumbartonshire, following the southern verge of the Grampians to Aberdeenshire, cutting off the Lowland districts in that country, and in Banff and Elgin, and ending on the north-east point of Caithness.

[The names of places in this county denote a considerable mixture of Gothic and Danish. The same observation applies to the Isle of Skye, although in that island the language and manners of the people are as purely Celtic as any now in existence. In Caithness, however, two-thirds of the inhabitants speak the dialect of the Lowland Scots. Part of that country bordering on the sea coast is an uninterrupted flat of great extent. In that portion the Lowland garb is worn, and Scotch spoken ; but at the commencement of the high and mountainous country, we meet with the Gaelic; and formerly the Highland dress was worn. It would therefore appear, that this low and accessible district must at an early period have been invaded and occupied by strangers, whose progress into the interior was arrested when the natural conformation of the country enabled the original inhabitants to defend themselves, and prevent farther intrusion; otherwise it is not easy to account for the singular circumstance of an insulated district, situated 150 miles within the boundary of the Gaelic language, being inhabited by people differing in dress, habits, and dialect, from all around them.

A small district in the county of Cromarty, of five miles in length, and less than half a mile in breadth, presents the same singularity, the inhabitants having for ages spoken a language of which few or none of those around them understand a sentence. It is the same to this day, so remarkably has tie distinction of languages been preserved, by people who, from close neighbourhood, must hold frequent intercourse.]

Throughout its whole extent this county displays nearly the same features.

The means of subsistence are necessarily limited to the produce of mountain pasture, and to the grain that can be raised in a precarious climate; and that, too, only on detached patches of land along the banks of rivers, in the glens and plains, or on the seacoast. Though the lakes and rivers in the interior, and the arms of the sea, with which the coast is indented, abound with fish, the distribution of this benefit among the general population is necessarily limited by the difficulties peculiar to so mountainous a region. The same cause precludes much intercourse with the Lowlands, and the importation of commodities so bulky as provisions. The inland parts of the country must therefore, in a great degree, depend on their own resources; and hence the number of inhabitants must be small in proportion to the area of territory.

From these circumstances, as well as from the sequestered situation in which the inhabitants were placed, a peculiar character and distinctive manners naturally originated. The ideas and employments, which their seclusion from the world rendered habitual,—the familiar contemplation of the most sublime physical objects,—the habit of concentrating their affections within the precincts of their own glens, or the limited circle of their own kinsmen,—and the necessity of union and self-dependence in all difficulties and dangers, combined to form a peculiar and original character. A certain romantic sentiment, the offspring of deep and cherished feeling,—strong attachment to their country and kindred,—and a consequent disdain of submission to strangers, formed the character of independence; while an habitual contempt of danger was nourished by their solitary musings, of which the honour of their clan, and a long descent from brave and warlike ancestors, formed the frequent theme. Thus, their exercises, their amusements, their modes of subsistence, their motives of action, their prejudices, and their superstitions, became characteristic, permanent, and peculiar.

Promptitude in decision, fertility in resource, ardour in friendship, and a generous enthusiasm, were qualities which naturally resulted from such a situation, such modes of life, and such habits of thought. Feeling themselves, in a manner, separated by Nature from the rest of mankind, and distinguished by their language, manners, and dress, they considered themselves the original possessors of the country, and regarded the Saxons of the Lowlands as strangers and intruders.

Whether the progenitors of this singular race of people were the aborigines of the Highlands of Scotland, is a question which it is now impossible to decide. But the earliest authentic records which history affords of the transactions of different tribes and nations, contain descriptions of the character, and accounts of the migrations of the Celts. Among this widely diffused race, though there were considerable varieties, arising from climate and situation, still, in the case of all those to whom the denomination was extended, there might be traced indelible marks of affinity, as well as a striking difference from other tribes. Caesar, in his Commentaries, informs us, that, in his time, they formed the most considerable portion of the population of Gaul. Indeed, many circumstances render it probable, that the Celtic tribes emigrated originally from the eastern provinces of Europe, retaining, in their progress westward, their religion, manners, and language. Traces of this migration may be discovered in the names of Albania, Iberia, Dalma-tia Caramania, [Albani, Dalmat, Corrimoni, &c. are names quite common in the Highlands.] &c. as well as in many appellations which we still recognise in the western parts of Europe, all of which were once, and some still are, in part, inhabited by Celts.

The most luminous and distinct account of the government, manners, and institutions of this remarkable people, as they existed in Gaul, as well as the most authentic history of some of their enterprises and transactions, is to be found in Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. The separation of a distinct class of men called the Druids, whom he describes [See Book vi. Chapters 13, 14, and 16, of his Comm. de Bello Gallico.] as the ministers of their religion, and the depositaries of their sciences and laws,—the retired and contemplative modes of life to which this order devoted themselves,—the mystery which they affected,—the reverence in which they were held,—the direction of their studies to the natural sciences, particularly to astronomy,— their opinions concerning a Providence,—and, above all, their doctrine of transmigration, with their pretensions to prophetical knowledge,—all strongly remind us of the character and institutions of the Magi.

The worship of Bel, or Baal, [1] some traces of which still remain in the Highlands, is unquestionably of Eastern origin. [See Dr Graham's (of Aberfoyle) able and learned Essay on the Authenticity of Ossian.] The Highland superstitions concerning the enchantments of the Daoni-Si, or fairies, cannot fail to bring to the recollection of the classical reader the incantations of Medea, Queen of Colchis. [See Ovid's Met. Lib. vii. fab. 2, and compare the description of Medea's cauldron, and its effects, with the fairy tale related by Dr Graham in his elegant and entertaining work, entitled, "Picturesque Sketches of Perthshire."]

[1. The anniversary of Bel (in Gaelic Bealdin) was celebrated by shepherds and children with a feast of milk, eggs, butter, cheese, &c. These remains of ancient superstitions were accompanied with many ceremonies and offerings for the protection of their flocks from the storms, eagles and foxes. This festival was held on May-day. When all was ready, a boy stood up, holding in his left hand a piece of bread, covered with a kind of hasty pudding, or custard of eggs, milk, and butter; and turning his face towards the East, he threw a piece over his left shoulder, and cried, "This to you, O Mists and Storms, that ye be favourable to our corns and pasture: This to thee, O Eagle, that thou mayest spare our lambs and kids: This to thee, O Raven," &c. These superstitious rites were common thirty years ago, but they have now disappeared even among children. Similar to this festival was the Sam-huin, or fire of peace, the origin of which tradition ascribes to the Druids, who assembled the people in the open air for the purpose of administering justice. In many parts of the country are still seen the small conical hills on which these courts are said to have been held, and which are called Tomvoide, i. e. the Court Hill. Three of these conical court hills are near the Point of Lyon, where that river enters the Tay, three miles above Castle Menzies. The anniversary of these meetings was celebrated on the 1st of November, the Halloween of the Lowlands. Immediately after dusk, large fires were kindled in conspicuous places in every hamlet. The inhabitants at the same time assembled, and the night was passed in dancing, and the observance of numberless ceremonies and superstitions, the principal object of which was, to discover occult events, and pry into futurity. These superstitious rites are admirably described by Burns in his "Halloween," and are in every respect the same as those practised in the Highlands.]

The language of the Scotch Highlanders affords strong evidence of Oriental origin. It is well known, that, in the languages of Asia, the Hebrew for example, the present tense of the verb is wanting, and is supplied by inference or circumlocution. This is also the case in the Irish, the Welsh, and the Gaelic, which indeed are kindred dialects. The Gaelic presents in its construction the most prominent features of a primitive language, being for the most part monosyllabic, and, with few exceptions, having no word to express abstract ideas, or such terms of art as were unknown to a primitive people.

But to whatever conclusion we may arrive concerning the origin and early migrations of the Celtic race, it is certain that tribes described as Celtic, and exhibiting every indication of their having sprung from a common stock; preserving themselves unmixed in blood and unconnected in institutions with strangers, and retaining their own manners and language, were extensively diffused over the west of Europe. From the Straits of Gibraltar to the northern extremity of Scotland, not merely on the seacoast, but to a considerable distance into the interior, we find traces of their existence, and memorials of their history, deducible not only from the testimony of ancient writers, but from the names of mountains and rivers, the most permanent vestiges of the original language of a country. Thus, we have, in France, the Garonne, in Gaelic Garu-avon, rough or rapid river; the Seine, the Sequana of Caesar, the Seuin-avon, or silent running river: in Lombardy, the Eridanus, the Ard-an-er-avon, or east running river: and in Scotland, Iar-avon, or Irvine, the west running river. [In Gaelic, Er is east; Iar west. Thus we have Iaragael or Argyle, that is Western Gael; Iar, or Ayr, the West country; the Err, Earn, &c. streams running eastward.] But it would be endless to follow the derivations in Scotland, where a great majority of ancient names of places, rivers, and mountains, is unquestionably Celtic. Thus, even in the Lothians and Berwickshire, we have Edinburgh, Dalkeith, the river Esk, Inveresk, Inverleith, Balgone, Dunbar, Dunse, Dunglass, Drumore, Mordun, Drumseugh, Dundas, [Dundas, Dun-dos, a hill with a tuft of wood. This etymon bears an analogy to the heraldic bearings of Dundas, (a tuft of wood with a lion attempting to push through it), a family as ancient as the period when the Gaelic was the language of Mid-Lothian. The old Castle of Dundas has stood eight hundred years.] Dalmeny, A-bercorn, Garvald, Innerwick, Cramond, Corstorphine, and Dunian, in Roxburgh, with many others as purely Celtic as any names within the Grampians. In Galloway, and the western districts, Celtic names are almost the only ancient appellations of places, and of the common people, the descendants of the earliest inhabitants of whom we have authentic accounts.

Some may smile at derivations like these; but others, again, will trace, in such affinities of language, if not the only, at least the surest vestiges that still remain, of the vicissitudes and affiliations of nations whose annals extend beyond the reach of authentic history. Unluckily for the inquirer into Celtic antiquities, such vestiges form almost the only basis on which his conclusions or conjectures can rest. Amongst ancient authors, such subjects of research excited little attention; and long before the period at which modern history commences, they had been almost annihilated by the fierce and more numerous tribes, who occupied great part of the country possessed by the ancient Celts. When the Celts migrated to the westward, tribes of a very different language and character advanced upon their settlements, and spread farther to the northward. These tribes, denominated Teutones [Mr Grant, of Corrimonie, in his learned work, entitled, "Thoughts on the Gael," gives an etymology of the appellation Teutones, which he conjectures to have been the name given by the Gaelic emigrants from the east to the hordes which advanced in the same direction, upon their northern borders, peopling Russia and Scandinavia. These were called Tuadaoine, that is, Men of the North, or Teutones.] and Goths, had probably their original seats in Scythia. They gradually occupied Hungary, Germany, and Scandinavia, encroaching everywhere upon the territories of the Celts, overturning the Roman empire itself, and at length establishing themselves in Italy, Spain, Gaul, and the eastern districts of Britain. By these invasions, the Celts were either driven westward, or intermixed with their invaders. Their name and national distinctions were lost, excepting in a few inaccessible regions on the shores of the Atlantic, from which they could not be dislodged. There they still remain detached portions of an original race, preserving their physical conformation, and their peculiar institutions, nearly unchanged, until within the last fifty years; and are as easily distinguishable from the general mass of the population with which they are combined in political union, as they were from the Scythian and German tribes in the days of Caesar.

In the provinces of Gallicia and Biscay in the west, and in the valleys of the Pyrenees in the south of France, and north of Spain, the inhabitants, differing, as they evidently do in manners and appearance, from the other subjects of the respective kingdoms to which they belong, exhibit a striking confirmation of this hypothesis. But it is in Lower Bretagne, in Wales, in the Isle of Man, in Ireland, and in the Highlands of Scotland, that the most distinct traces of the Celtic manners and language are to be found. In manners indeed, the inhabitants of Bretagne bear but a faint resemblance to their Celtic brethren of other countries; but the similarity of their language proves, that originally it was the same with that now spoken in Ireland, the Highlands of Scotland, &c. In language, however, the Gallicians differ less from their fellow subjects of the Spanish monarchy, than they do in physical formation, and peculiar customs. The Biscayans are remarkable for their difference in both respects; and the Basques, or inhabitants of the western Pyrenees, are distinguishable from the subjects of the two kingdoms to which they belong, by their bodily appearance and habits, as well as by a high spirit of independence, and pride of ancestry,—and, in many respects, they exhibit striking marks of an original and unmixed race. [The Basques wear a blue bonnet of the same form, texture and colour, as that worn by the Scottish Highlanders; and in their erect air, elastic step, and general appearance, bear a remarkable resemblance to the ancient race of Highlanders, whose manners and habits remained unchanged till towards the commencement of the late reign, but of which scarcely a trace now remains.]

Many points of resemblance between the Basques and Scottish Highlanders may, no doubt, be attributed as much to similarity of situation, as to a common origin. Similarity of situation, however, will not account for the remarkable traits of resemblance between the inhabitants of La Vendee and those of the north of Scotland. Widely as they differ in their external features, the manners and customs of the people of both countries are so nearly similar, that a Highlander, in reading the Memoirs [Memoirs of Madame Larochejaquelin. Edinburgh, 1816. ] of the Wars in La Vendee during the French Revolution, would almost think he was perusing the history of the events of the years 1745 and 174(3, in Scotland. In the picture which has been drawn of the zeal with which the followers and adherents of the Seigneurs crowded round the castles of their Lords; in the cordial affection and respectful familiarity subsisting between them; in their pastoral modes of life, and love of the chase; in the courage with which they took the field, and the perseverance with which they maintained their ground against disciplined armies; in their invincible fidelity to the cause they had espoused; in their remarkable forbearance from pillage or wanton destruction, in which they exhibited a noble contrast to the ferocious rapacity of the republican troops; and in their kindness to their prisoners,—we are strikingly reminded of the chiefs, the clanships, and the warfare of the Scotch mountaineers.

In tracing the remains of the Celtic race, we find that in a great proportion of Wales, in the Isle of Man, and in Ireland, the language is still preserved; [It is observed by Mr Grant of Corrimonie, that, in Connaught, and the west of Ireland, to which strangers had least access, the language still spoken differs very little from that of the Scotch Highlanders. The correctness of this observation I have had an opportunity of noticing in my intercourse with Irish soldiers, to whom I have often acted as interpreter.] but, owing to a greater admixture with strangers, at an earlier period, ancient manners are much changed, whereas, in the Highlands of Scotland, which successfully resisted their intrusion, and were never subdued by either Roman or Goth, and where the repeated attacks of Danes and Norwegians were uniformly repulsed, the remains of the language, manners, superstitions, and mythology of the Celts, are found in greater purity and originality, than in any other country.

The earliest historical records bear testimony to the warlike spirit of the people; while the facts disclosed by the Roman historians, prove that their commanders in Britain found the Caledonians very formidable enemies; and it is not to be supposed that they would record defeats and disappointments which did not befall them. According to Tacitus, the celebrated Caledonian general, Galgacus, brought against Agricola an army of upwards of 30,000 men, of whom 10,000 were left dead on the field of battle; which sufficiently demonstrates their numbers, their firmness, and their spirit of independence. Though defeated, they were not subdued, and, after three years of persevering warfare, the Roman general was forced to relinquish the object of his expedition. Exasperated by this obstinate resistance, the Emperor Severus determined to extirpate a people who had thus prevented his countrymen from becoming the conquerors of Europe. Having collected a large body of troops, he took the command in person, and entered the mountains of the Caledonians. Notwithstanding his immense preparations, however, he was completely defeated, and driven back to the plains with the loss of 50,000 men ; and subsequently, while one legion was found sufficient to keep the southern parts of the country in subjection, two were required to repel the incursions of the Gael.

Some centuries posterior to this, we find the people forming a separate kingdom, confined within the Grampian boundaries. [This, according to the traditions of the Highlanders, is the era of Ossian, when they had a kingly government within the mountains, with all the consequent chivalry, heroism, and rivalry of young men of family. See Appendix, A.] This has been always known as the kingdom of the Scots; but to the Highlanders, only as that of the Gael, or Albanich. [The epithets England and Scotland, or Scots and English, are totally unknown in Gaelic. The English are Sassanachs, the Lowland Scots are Guals, the low country is Gualdach, (the Country of Strangers), the Highlanders are Gael and Albanich, and the Highlands Gaeldach.] The whole country immediately beyond the Grampian range, (that is, the Lowlands of Perth, Angus, and Mearns), was in possession of the Picts. Aber-nethy, said to have been their capital, [There are remarkable subterranean ruins in Abernethy. These have only been partially examined ; but they seem of great extent. The stones consist of the same red freestone which abounds in the neighbourhood, and have been prepared and squared for building, but not cut into an ornamental form; at east as far as they have been examined. The mortar, as in all old buildings, so hardened by time, that the stones give way to a blow, while the cement resists. As a striking instance of the revolutions of time, even in a country not subjected to violent convulsions of the earth, all these buildings are completely covered, in some parts to a considerable depth, with the soil, which consists of a dry loam, occasionally intermixed with gravel. The surface is quite smooth, producing crops of corn and hay, and showing no vestige of what is underneath, except where holes have been dug when the proprietor, Mr Pater-son of Carpow, a few years ago, made use of some of the stones for building a new house. The whole deserves the notice of the antiquary.] is only twenty miles distant from Birnam hill, the outward boundary at that entrance into the Highlands; and Brechin, supposed to have been another of their towns, is nearly the same distance from the eastern boundary.

These two nations of Picts and Scots, the one inhabiting the lowland territory, and the other the mountainous region, differing considerably in manners, but speaking the same language, [That the Picts, inhabiting the low and fertile districts on the east of Scotland, and to the north of the Roman province, were Gael, or Celts, and that they spoke the Gaelic language, seems to be clearly proved by Mr Grant, in his " Thoughts on the Gael." If the Picts spoke a language different from the Celtic, every trace of it has disappeared; the names of towns, rivers, mountains, valleys, &c. being either Celtic or Saxon.] were sometimes in alliance, but more frequently in a state of hostility, till the succession of Kenneth Macalpin, in right of his mother, to the throne of the Picts, A. D. 843, when the Scots and Picts were finally united under one sovereign. Gaelic continued to be the language of the Court and of the people till the reign of Malcolm III. surnamed Caenmor, who had married the sister of Edgar Etheling, A. D. 1066. From that period the Gaelic language was gradually superseded by the Saxon, until it entirely disappeared in the Lowlands.

Towards the close of the eighth century, ambassadors, it is said, were sent by Charlemagne to Achaius, King of the Scots, or, according to the Highlanders, Righ na Gael, or Albanich, i. e. King of the Gael, or of Albany. The result of this friendly communication is stated to have been an alliance between France and Scotland, [See Appendix, B.] This is indeed involved in all the uncertainty of early tradition: yet it is recorded by ancient chronicles; and, as far as it goes, con-firms the belief of the number and comparative civilization of the Caledonians; for at whatever period the friendly connection between the two countries commenced, it continued uninterrupted till James VI. of Scotland succeeded to the throne of England. The tradition that Charlemagne appointed two Caledonian professors to preside over his academical establishments at Padua and Paris, may, in like manner, be regarded as a testimony in favour of the learning of the Celts at that period. Before the age of Charlemagne, indeed, the college of Icolm-kill had reached the height of its celebrity. [Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands, printed in 1703, says of Icolm-kill, "This monastery furnished bishops to several dioceses of England and Scotland. One of these was Bishop of Lindisfern, now Holy Island." Bede states, in his third Book, that Oswald, King of Northumberland, took refuge from domestic treason in the island of Iona, where he was instructed in the doctrines of Christianity, and learned the Gaelic language. He returned home in 634, and founded the monastery of Lindisfern; and, on applying to Iona, obtained a bishop, named Aidan, to whom, as he knew Gaelic only, the Saxon king acted as interpreter, when preaching to his subjects. Caxton, who wrote in 1482, says, "King Oswald axed the Scottes, and had it granted, that Bishop Aidanus schold come and teche his people ; Thence the Kinge gave him a place of a Bishope's See in the island of Lyndesfern; then men mighte see wonders ; for the Bishop preached in Scot-tishe (i.e. in Gaelic, as the word was then understood by the English), and the Kinge tolde forth in Englishe, to the people, what it was he said or meent."]

When the succession of the Alpine Kings to the throne of the Picts caused the seat of royalty to be transferred from the mountains to the more fertile regions of the Lowlands, and when the marble chair, the emblem of sovereignty, was removed from Dunstaffnage to Scone, the stores of learning and history, preserved in the College of Iona, were also carried to the South, and afterwards destroyed by the barbarous policy of Edward I. Deficient and mutilated as the records in consequence are, it is impossible to ascertain the degree of civilization which this kingdom of glens and mountains had attained; but, judging from the establishment of the College of Icolm-kill, at a period, when darkness prevailed in other parts of Europe, a considerable portion of learning must be admitted to have been diffused. Hence the feelings of even Dr Johnson were powerfully awakened by the associations naturally arising from the sight of this celebrated spot. "We were now," says he, "treading that illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefit of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy, as would conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force on the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warm among the ruins of Iona."

Such a seat of learning and piety could not fail to influence the manners of the people. Inverlochay, their capital, maintained a considerable intercourse with France and Spain. [Hollingshed Chronicles.] Yet, of the progress made in the arts by the Scots of that remote period, no specimens have descended to our times except the remains of their edifices. The Castle of Inverlochay, although it has been in ruins for nearly five hundred years, is still so entire as to have furnished a model for the present Castles of Inverary and Taymouth; so far had our ancestors, at a very early period, advanced in the knowledge and practice of architecture, or rather so small has the advancement yet been, that models are still taken from the works of "savage clans and roving barbarians." [Modern architects of the first celebrity have not disdained to imitate the ornamental and magnificent designs of the "dark ages," when required to produce plans for public and private buildings of more than usual elegance; but, seeing that the specimens they exhibit in different parts of the country, are so inferior to the originals they attempt to copy, perhaps the harsh epithets of ignorance and barbarity, so often applied to those ages, might be somewhat softened. The men who designed and erected the cathedrals of Elgin and Dunkeld, could not be so savagely ignorant as they have been represented. They certainly were not ignorant of one elegant branch of the fine arts, as is proved by the superb and magnificent edifices they built and consecrated to Divine Worship; an example which might be imitated with advantage by their Presbyterian descendants, of whom it has been said, that the "Scotch build castles and fine houses for themselves, and barns for the worship of God!"] The underground foundations round that part of Inverlochay which is still standing, show that it was originally of great extent. Dunstaffnage Castle, which has been also in ruins for many centuries, exhibits equal strength of walls, but not the same regularity of plan. This may have been owing to its situation, as it is built on a rock, to the edges and incurvations of which the walls have been adapted. Urquhart Castle, which has likewise stood in ruins for many centuries, is one of the finest specimens of castle building in the country. But it must be confessed that Scotland in general, and particularly the Highlands, possesses no castles that can bear comparison with the splendid baronial residences of the more wealthy nobility of England and Wales.

In many parts of the Highlands, however, ruins and foundations of places of strength, and of castles, are so frequent, as to exhibit proofs of the existence of a population more numerous than that of latter ages. The marks and traces of the plough also evidently demonstrate that cultivation was, at one period, more extended than at present. Fields on the mountains, now bleak and desolate, and covered only with heath and fern, exhibit as distinct ridges of .the plough as are to be seen on the plains of Moray. [It has been said, in accounting for the existence of these marks of more extended cultivation, that, in ancient times, the valleys were thickly wooded, and much infested with wolves and other wild animals; and that the inhabi-ants were, in some measure, compelled to cultivate the high grounds, which were more clear of woods and wild beasts. But as wolves could not be such objects of terror to an armed population, and as it is not probable men were so void of common sense, however savage they might be, as to cultivate the more barren and exposed parts of a country, and leave the warm and sheltered untouched; it may, with some confidence, be supposed, that a stronger necessity than the dread of savage animals compelled the inhabitants to cultivate, as high as the soil and climate would produce any return for their labour. Being shut up in their mountains by the hostility of their neighbours on the plains, from whom no supply could be obtained except by force of arms, the number of inhabitants required that every spot capable of cultivation should be rendered as productive as possible: hence the higher parts were necessarily cleared and cultivated, when the low grounds were found insufficient.]

Woods and cultivation gave a genial warmth to the climate, which planting and other improvements would probably yet restore. As an instance of these marks of the ancient population, I shall confine my observations to one district. In a small peninsula, situated between the rivers Tummel and Garry, extending from Strowan, four miles west from Blair Athole, to the Port of Lochtummel, about ten miles in length, and four miles in breadth, ending at the Point of Invergarry, below the Pass of Killiekrankie, there are so many foundations of ancient habitations, (and these of apparent note), as to indicate a remarkably numerous population. They are nineteen in number. One circular building, near the house of Fincastle, is sixty-two feet in diameter; the walls are seven and a half feet thick, and a height of five feet is still remaining. In the district of Foss there are four. On the estate of Garth there are eight, some with walls nine feet thick; the stones in two of which are so weighty, that they could scarcely have been raised to the walls without the aid of machinery. In Glenlyon [In ancient poetry, it is stated that the Fingallians had twelve castles in Glenlyon, but the ruins of seven only are visible at this day.] there are seven; and, in a word, they are scattered all over the country. Respecting these buildings, various opinions are entertained; but one thing is certain, that they must have been erected at a great expense of labour, and that a numerous people only would have required so many buildings, either for shelter or defence. Tradition assigns them to the age of Ossian, and they are accordingly denominated Chaistail na Fiann, "the Castles of the Fingallians." The adjacent smaller buildings are pointed out by names expressive of the purposes to which they were appropriated. In Glenlyon, for instance, is shown the kennel for Fingal's dogs, and the house for the principal hunters. All this, to be sure, is tradition, and will be received as such; but the traces of a numerous population in former times, are nevertheless clear and incontrovertible.

But, whatever might have been the population and state of civilization of ancient Albion, the country was destined to experience one of those revolutions which are so frequent in human affairs. The extension of their dominions occasioned the frequent absence of the kings from the ancient seat of their government. At length when, about the year 1066, the Court was removed by Malcolm Ceanmor, never to return to the mountains, the sepulchres, as well as the residence of the future kings of Scotland, were henceforth destined to be in the south; and Dunfermline became the royal cemetery instead of Icolm-kill, where so many kings, chiefs, bishops, eminent ecclesiastics, and men of learning, lie entombed. That university, which had for ages been the fountain whence religion and learning were diffused among the people, was now deserted. The removal of the seat of authority was speedily followed by the usual consequences. The Highlanders were impoverished. Nor was this the only evil that resulted from the transference of the seat of government. The people, now beyond the reach of the laws, became fierce and turbulent, revenging in person those wrongs for which the administrators of the laws were too distant and too feeble to afford redress. Thence arose the institution of chiefs, who naturally became the judges and arbiters in the quarrels of their clansmen and followers, and who, surrounded by men devoted to the defence of their rights, their property, and their power, established within their own territories a jurisdiction almost wholly independent of their liege lord. [In 1057 Malcolm Ceanmor formed several thaneships throughout the kingdom into lordships and earldoms; those in the Highlands were said to be Monteith, Lennox, Athole, Mar, Moray, Ross, Caithness, Badenoch, and Sutherland. Many descendants of these noble families still exist in the country ; but there is no representative of any in a direct line, except the present Countess of Sutherland, whose title, the most ancient in the kingdom, will Boon merge in the superior title to which the son will succeed. It is a curious circumstance, that, although there exists only one direct descendant of the thanes who were promoted on the occasion above mentioned, the families of many of those who remained as thanes, such as Mackintosh, Campbell, Mac-dougal, Maclean, Cameron, Menzies, Grant, &c, are to be traced in direct and unbroken male lineage, down to the present day. The direct succession of the Lords of the Isles ended in the fifteenth century; yet there are many thousands of their descendants, besides numerous descendants of several other families of that early period, cadets and branches of which have come down in. lineal descent, although that of the chiefs has been interrupted.]


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