Caledonia! Caledonia! What
recollections, what impressions in the name of the first poetical country,
whose brilliant inspirations, the direction of my studies permitted me to
learn! Here, all is natural, grand, sublime, all bears the character of
solemn, unalterable antiquity. The manners of this people, their dress,
their language even, are like themselves pure from mixture; and (a remark
without exception) wherever the original, or at least the immemorial
language has been preserved, there is still a nation, because a nation is a
In all my travels I never met
with any one Scotchman but what was a man of sense.
F. LOCKEN, D.D. (1667-1740)
SCOTIA AND THE SCOTS
THE londe Scotia hathe the
name of Scottes that [there] dwelle. The men are lyght of harte, fiers and
couragious on theyr enmyes. They love nyghe as well death as thraldome, and
they account it for slouth to dye in bed, and a great worshyppe and vertue
to deye in a felde fyghtynge agaynst enmyes. The men ben of scarsey lyvyng,
and many suffre hungre longe tyme and eate selde tofore the sonne goynge
downe, and use fleshe, mylke meates, fyshe and fruites more than Brytons:
and use to eate the lasse brede: and though the men bene semely ynough of
fygure and of shape, and fayre of face generally by kind, yet theyr owne
scottyshe clothynge dysfygure them full moche. And scottes be sayd in theyre
owne tonge of bodges painted, as it were kytte and slytte. For in olde tyme
they were marked with divers fygures and shape on theyr fleshe and skyn,
made with yren prickes, as Isidore saith, [in his] "de Vocabulis Gentium". -
Bartholomew's De Proprietatibus Rerum, c. 1250
Thereunto we finde them to be
couragious and hardy, offering themselves often unto the uttermost perils
with great assurance, so that a man may pronunce nothing to be over harde or
past their power to performe. - Holinshed's Description of Scotland.
THE NATIONAL PARADOX
Quhen that I had ouersene this
The quilk, of nature, is both gude and fair
I did propone ane lytill questioun,
Beseikand hir the same for to declare.
Quhat is the cause our boundis bene so bair?
Quod I: or quhat dois muve our miserie?
Or quhareof dois proceid our povertie?
For, throw the supporte of
your hie prudence,
Of Scotland I persave the properteis,
And als considderis, be experience,
Of this countre the gret commodities:
Firste the aboundance of fyschis in our seis,
And fructuall mountanis for our bestiall,
And, for our cornis, mony lusty vaill:
The ryche ryveris, pleasand
The lustie lochs, with fysche of sindry kyndis;
Hantyng, hawking, for nobyllis conveyabyll;
Forestis full of da, ra, hartis & hyndis;
The fresche fontanis, quhose holesum cristall strandis
Refreschis so tha fair fluriste grene medis,
So lak we no thyng that to Nature nedis.
Of every metal, we have the
Baith gold, sylver, & stonis precious,
Howbeit we want the spyces and the wynis
Or uther strange fructis delycious,
We have als gude, and more neidfull for us.
Meit, drynk, fyre, clathis, thar mycht be gart abound,
Quilkis als is nocht in al the Mapamound.
More fairer peple, nor of
Nor of more strenth, gret dedis till indure. Quharefor,
I pray you that he wald define
The principall cause quharefor we ar so pure; 
For I marvell gretlie, I yow assure,
Considerand the peple, and the ground,
That ryches suld nocht in this Realme redound.
Sir David Lyndsay
 i.e. poor, not pure,
which would be going too far.
O SI SIC OMNES!
So that night he brought me
to a place called Cockburnspath, where we lodged at an inn, the like of
which I dare say, is not in any of his Majesty's dominions. And for to show
my thankfulness to Master William Arnot and his wife, the owners thereof, I
must explain their bountiful entertainment of guests, which is this:
Suppose ten, fifteen, or
twenty men and horses come to lodge at their house, the men shall have
flesh, tame and wild fowl, fish with all variety of good cheer, good
lodging, and welcome; and the horses shall want neither hay or provender;
and at the morning at their departure, the reckoning is just nothing. This
is this worthy gentleman's use, his chief delight being only to give
strangers entertainment gratis; and I am sure, that in Scotland beyond
Edinburgh, I have been at houses like castles for building; the master of
the house his beaver being his blue bonnet, one that will wear no other
shirts, but of the flax that grows in his own ground, and of his wife's,
daughters', or servants' spinning; that hath his stockings, hose, and jerkin
of the wool of his own sheeps' backs; that never by his pride of apparel
caused mercer, draper, silk-man, embroiderer, or haberdasher to break and
turn bankrupt. And yet this plain home-spun fellow keeps and maintains
thirty, forty, fifty, servants, or, perhaps, more every day relieving three
or fourscore poor people at his gate; and besides all this, can give noble
entertainment for four or five days together to five or six earls and lords,
besides knights, gentlemen, and their followers if they be three or four
hundred men, and horse of them, where they shall not only feed but feast,
and not feast but banquet, this is a man that desires to know nothing so
much, as his duty to God and his King, whose greatest cares are to practise
the works of piety, charity, and hospitality; he never studies the consuming
art of fashionless fashions, he never tries his strength to bear four or
five hundred acres on his back at once, his legs are always at liberty, not
being fettered with golden garters, and manacled with artificial roses,
whose weight, sometime, is the last reliques of some decayed Lordship. Many
of these worthy housekeepers there are in Scotland, amongst some of them I
was entertained, from whence I did truly gather these aforesaid
observations. - John Taylor (The Water Poet).
COME TO SCOTLAND
Now as for the Nobility and
Gentry of the Kingdome: certainely, as they are generous, manly, and full of
courage: so are they courteous, discreet, learned Schollers, well read in
best Histories, delicatly linguished, the most part of them being brought up
in France or Italy: That for a generall compleat worthinesse, I never found
their matches amongst the best people of forrane Nations: being also good
housekeepers, affable to strangers, and full of Hospitality.
And in a word the Seas of
Scotland and the Iles abound plentifully in all kind of Fishes, the Rivers
are ingorged with Salmond, the high-landish mountains overcled with Firre-trees,
infinite Deere, and all sorts of other Bestiall, the Valleyes full of
Pasture, and Wild Fowle: the low layd Playnes inriched with beds of grayne:
Justice all where administered, Lawes obeyed, malefactors punished,
Oppressors curbed, the Clergy religious, the people sincere Professors and
the Country peaceable to all men. - William Lithgow (1632)
"LAT THEM SAY..."
"Our neighbour nation will
say of us, poor Scotland! beggarly Scotland! scabbed Scotland! Lousy
Scotland! yea, but Covenanted Scotland! that makes amends for all". -
Robert Calder, Scots Presbyterian Eloquence Displayed.
THE DIVINE PATRIMONY
One Mr John Hepburn,
lecturing on the second psalm, told "That there was a dialogue betwixt the
Father and the Son in heaven. The Son said, Father, will you give me my
portion now? Your portion, Son, says the Father, indeed shall you; thou hast
been a dutiful son to me, thou never angered me in thy days; what portion
will you have, Son? Will you give me poor Scotland, saith the Son? Scotland,
said the Father, truly thou shall get poor Scotland, and he proved that it
was Scotland he sought, from ver. 8. I shall give thee the outmost part of
the earth for a possession. Now, Sirs, Scotland is the outmost part of the
earth, and therefore it was given to the Son for a patrimony."
A manly surliness, with
Is on their meanest Countenances fix'd
An awful Frown sits on their threatning Brow,
And yet the Soul's all smooth, and Calm below;
Thinking in Temper, rather grave than Gay,
Fitted to govern, able to obey.
Nor are their spirits very soon enflam'd
And if provoked, not very soon reclaim'd.
Fierce when resolv'd, and fix'd as Bars of Brass,
And Conquest through their Blood can only pass.
In spight of Coward Cold, the Race is brave,
In Action Daring, and in Council Grave;
Their haughty Souls in Danger always grow,
No man durst lead 'em where they durst not go.
Sedate in Thought, and steady in Resolve,
Polite in manners, and as Years Revolve;
Always secure their largest share of Fame,
And by their Courage keep alive their Name.
The Scots are as diligent, as industrious, as apt for
Labour and Business, and as capable of it, when they are abroad, as any
People in the World; and why should they not be so at Home? and, if they had
Encouragement, no doubt they would.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT ...
The conclusion of the Abridgement of the Scotch Chronicle
is the rare and wonderful things of that Countrey; as in Orkney, their Ews
bring forth two Lambs a piece; that in the Northermost of Shetland Islands,
about the Summer Solstice, there is no Night; that in the Park of
Cumbernaule are White Kine and Oxen; that at Slanes there is a putrifying
water in a Cove; that at Aberdeen is a Vitriolin Well, that they say is
excellent to dissolve the Stone, and expel Sand from the Reins and Bladder,
and good for the Colick, being drunk in July &c. These prodigious wonders in
one Countrey are admirable, but these are not half of them. Loughness never
freezes; in Lough Lommond are fishes without fins: and 2dly the Waters
thereof rage in great waves without wind in calm weather: and thridly and
lastly, Therein is a floating Island. In Kyle is a deaf Rock 12 foot every
way, yet a Gun discharged on one side of it, shall not be heard to the
other. In another place is a Rocking-stone of a reasonable bigness, that if
a Man push it with his finger, it will move very lightly, but if he address
his whole force, it availeth nothing; with many more marvels of a like
nature, which I wou'd rather believe than go thither to disprove. - The
Observator's New Trip to Scotland (1708).
Glasgow is, to outward
appearance, the prettiest and most uniform town that I ever saw, and I
believe there is nothing like it in Britain. It has a spacious carrifour,
where stands the cross, and going round it, you have, by turns, the view of
four streets, that in regular angles proceed from thence. - Edward Burt
HIGHLAND AIR FOR HEALTH
The air of the Highlands is
pure, and consequently healthy, insomuch that I have known such cures done
by it as might be thought next to miracles - I mean in distemper of the
lungs, as coughs, consumptions &c.
An English lady ... told me
lately, that seeing a Highlander basking at the foot of a hill in his full
dress, while his wife and her mother were hard at work in reaping the oats,
she asked the old woman how she could be contented to see her daughter
labour in that manner, while her husband was only an idle spectator? And to
this the woman answered, that her son-in-law was a gentleman, and it would
be a disparagement to him to do any such work, and that both she and her
daughter too were sufficiently honoured by the alliance.
A young girl in rags, and
only the bastard daughter of a man very poor and employed as a labourer, but
of a family so old that, with respect to him and many others, it was quite
worn out. This girl was taken in by a corporal's wife, to do any dirty work
in an officer's kitchen, and, having been guilty of some fault or neglect,
was treated a little roughly, whereupon the neighbouring Highland women
loudly clamoured against the cook, saying, "What a monster is that to
mal-treat a gentleman's bairn!" And the poor wretch's resentment was beyond
expression upon that very account.
The love of kindred, so
honourable to the Highland character, procures for natural children in that
country a kindness and attention which they do not meet with elsewhere. A
married lady in the Highlands would consider her children disgraced if their
half-brothers and half-sisters were not suitably provided for in the
world.-Editorial note (R. Jameson) on above.
The Highlanders walk nimbly
and upright, so that you will never see, among the meanest of them, in the
remote parts, the clumsy, stooping gait of the French paisans, or my own
country-fellows, but, on the contrary, a kind of stateliness in the midst of
their poverty. - Edward Burt.
The young women of the
mountains of Scotland are, in general, remarkably clean, when compared with
our peasants. There is a charm in the arrangement of their hair, and an ease
and grace in their manner of holding their head. Their short petticoat,
commonly of a deep colour, shows off the whiteness of their legs, which are
admirably shaped, though large and vigorous. They have the beauty of
strength. - Charles Nodier.
There lives in our
neighbourhood, at a house (or castle) called Culloden, a gentleman whose
hospitality is almost without bounds. It is the custom of that house, at the
first visit or introduction, to take up your freedom by cracking his nut (as
he terms it), that is, a cocoa-shell, which holds a pint, filled with
champagne, or such other sort of wine as you shall choose. You may guess by
the introduction, at the contents of the volume. Few go away sober at any
time, and for the greatest part of his guests, in the conclusion, they
cannot go at all. - Edward Burt.
Much as we had heard of Scots
hospitality, we yet did not conceive that it ever could have been carried to
the extreme in which we found it. Our first intent was merely to stay a
night with our friend; instead of which, the neighbouring gentlemen leaguing
themselves together, agreeably detained us a considerable number of days. No
sooner had we visited one than another threw in his claim; and thus, loading
us with a profusion of unmerited, though most gratifying kindness, they
baffled our firmest resolves, and compelled us to enjoy as much satisfaction
as enlightened, well-bred, liberal society could afford; and to finish all,
some of the principal gentlemen insisted on accompanying us through the
Highlands, and actually did so.
But disinterestedness is not
exclusively confined to the better sort; the poor even share it in this
country, and according to their humble means, are as anxious to shew their
hospitality and friendship as those of the amplest extent of fortune. Many
Highlanders would be offended at the offer of a reward; accept of their
services, appear satisfied, and they are usuriously repaid for everything
they can do for you; nay, what is more surprising, this extends itself to
many of the lowest servants; one of whom, from Lord Breadalbane, having been
pressed to accept of some acknowledgment for the trouble he had been at to
oblige us, flew out of the house with all imaginable trepidation, resolutely
delining the offer, and seemingly hurt that he should be upposed capable of
accepting a pecuniary gratificaion. - Richard Joseph Sulivan (1778).
THE SCOTTISH TOWNS
The Scottish towns are like
none which I ever saw, either in England, Wales, or Ireland: there is such
an air of antiquity in them all, and such a peculiar oddness in their manner
of building. But we were most surprised at the entertainment we met with in
every place, so far different from common report. We had all things good,
cheap, in great abundance, and remarkably well dressed. - John Wesley.
THE HAPPY LAND
On the whole, I must say, I
think the time we spent there was six weeks of the densest happiness I have
ever met with in any part of my life; and the agreeable and instructive
society there in such plenty has left so pleasing an impression on my
memory, that, did not strong connections draw me elsewhere I believe
Scotland would be the country I should choose to spend the remainder of my
days in. - Benjamin Franklin.
POOR BUT NO PAUPERS
Every Sunday a collection is
made in the different congregations for the sick and necessitous, as poor's
rates are unknown in Scotland; but as the natives can practice the lesson of
being content with little, or are possessed of such a spirit of
independence, that they will not submit to the disgrace of asking alms
without urgent necessity, the small pittance thus gathered weekly, and
placed under the distribution of the minister and elders, has hitherto been
found sufficient for every purpose of regular charity. Thus in a country
where the greatest number are poor, there are ye few beggars. - Thomas
LIFT UP YOUR EYES TO THE
I am returned from Scotland
charm'd with my expedition: it is of the Highlands I speak: the Lowlands are
worth seeing once, but the Mountains are extatic, & ought to be visited in
pilgrimage once a year. None but those monstrous creatures of God know how
to join so much beauty with so much horror. A fig for your poets, Painters,
Gardiners, & Clergymen, that have not been among them: their imagination can
be made up of nothing but bowlinggreens, flowering shrubs, horse-ponds,
Fleet-ditches, shell-grottoes, & Chinee-rails. - Thomas Gray.
HERE ARE LADIES
O cruel & audacious men
The fame of ladies more than Vestals chaste;
Should you go search the globe throughout,
You will find none so pious & devout;
So modest, chaste, so handsome, and so fair,
As our dear Caledonian ladies are.
When awful beauty puts on all her charms,
Nought gives our sex such terrible alarms,
As when the hoop & tartan both combine
To make a virgin like a goddess shine.
Let Quakers cut their clothes unto the quick,
And with severities themselves afflict;
But may the hoop adorn Edina's street,
Till the South Pole shall with the Northern meet.
GRACE BEFORE MEAT
A conversation took place,
about saying grace at breakfast (as we do in Scotland) as well as at dinner
and supper; in which Dr. Johnson said, "It is enough if we have stated
seasons of prayer; no matter when. A man may as well pray when he mounts his
horse, or a woman when she milks her cow (which Mr Grant told us is done in
the Highlands) as at meals; and custom is to be followed." - Boswell.
DINNER AT INVERARAY CASTLE
Towards the end of the
dessert the ladies withdrew, in conformity with the custom of the country.
The toasts then commenced, and a great number was drank with spirit and
vivacity. The English [sic] provide for everything; and if the diuretic
influence of the liquors is felt, there are certain utensils at hand, which
are used without ceremony; and as the ladies here are extremely delicate,
this may be the reason for their withdrawing before the toasts begin. -
Faujas de Saint-Fond (1784)
In general the women display
an elegance and agility in their gait, and many of them have charming
persons. - Idem.
Even among the oranges, the
myrtles, and the jasmines of Italy, I shall often meditate on the wild and
romantic beauties of this spot. - Idem.
THE HUSBANDS' PARADISE
Nothing prompts the desire to
get married like the sight of the numerous happy households which are to be
found in this country. I have often said that Scotland is the husbands'
Paradise. These gentlemen, however, don't appear to appreciate their good
fortune, and take it all as a matter of course. - The Chevalier de
Then I had to call on a
minister fifteen or twenty miles farther on. If in the remote depths of a
French province a traveller were to halt at a country clergyman's house he
would find, I suppose, a human being, but no more. Here I was received as an
honoured guest. My host talked to me on all sorts of topics with the
courtesy and address of a man of the world, and in addition gave me some
valuable information about my itinerary even to the most distant parts. -
I took the opportunity of
going several times to the subscription balls given every three weeks at
Montrose by the local lairds. I never saw a very large company, but it was
perfectly chosen and really brilliant. The Scottish dance, or reel is
extremely difficult for a foreigner to follow; the time is so fast and so
different from the French country-dances, that very few can master it, but
the natives dance it very gracefully and nimbly.
Besides, in this excellent
country, you drink neat. I several times joined in fairly copious libations,
but in particular I can never forget the white Lisbon of a certain doctor
who proposed Royalist toasts that I could not possibly refuse to a degree
that sent so much loyalty to my head that I was glad there was a wall on my
way back to my inn. - Idem.
THE SUTHERLAND CLEARANCES
I have never - not even in
Galicia-seen any human habitations so bad as the Highland black-houses....
The Irish cabin, I suppose must be such a heap of peat with or without
stones, according to the facility of collecting them, or the humour of the
maker. But these men-sties are not inhabited, as in Ireland, by a race of
ignorant and ferocious barbarians, who can never be civilized till they are
regenerated-till their very nature is changed. Here you have a quiet,
thoughtful, contented, religious people, susceptible of improvement, and
willing to be improved. To transplant these people from their native
mountain glens to the sea coast, and require them to become some
cultivators, others fishermen, occupations to which they have never been
accustomed-to expect a sudden and total change of habits in the existing
generation, instead of gradually producing it in their children; to expel
them by process of law from their black-houses, and if they demur in obeying
the ejectment, to oust them by setting fire to their combustible
tenements-this surely is as little defensible on the score of policy as of
morals. - Southey.
The ladies of Edinburgh
possess a more graceful deportment than those of London; they are at once
slenderer and more fragile. Up to the present time I have found among them
fewer laughing Hebes than haughty Junos and stately-walking Dianas. . . . To
grace of figure the young ladies of Edinburgh add, for the most part, the
charm of some agreeable talents. There are few of them who are not
musicians, and who are deficient in extraordinary skill in the labours of
the needle; there are few of them also unacquainted with French. - Amedee
THE SOUL OF THE GAEL
The Highlanders are a grave
and intelligent people, of a turn of mind peculiarly inquisitive, and
susceptible of improvement from education. This spirit of curiosity, for
which the Highlander is remarkable, and the consequent information which he
is generally found to possess with regard to distant places and events, may
be partly at least attributed to that expansion of mind which he naturally
acquires from a rambling and excursive mode of life, and the daily
opportunities he enjoys of contemplating nature on the most extensive scale.
To the same circumstances it would seem we are to attribute that slight dash
of melancholy with which the Highland character is uniformly tinged. The
melancholy of the Highlander being far more morose, and having no tendency
to misanthropy, seems rather to be a habit of mind produced by the combined
effects of sensibility, solitude, and the habitual contemplation of sublime
scenery. Little employed in cultivating the ground, his mind is not fettered
by minute attention to a single spot; the range of his excursions is wide,
but it is lonely. In tending his flocks he scales the lofty mountains, and
traverses the extensive moor or dusky forest, and has occasion from time to
time to contemplate the grandest objects in nature-the war of the
elements-the impetuous torrent sweeping everything before it-the thunder of
heaven, reverberating, in repeated peals, among the mountains-the violence
of the winds, rendered furious, by being pent up in a deep and narrow valley
-and snow coiled up in heaps, that interrupts for weeks the intercourse of a
whole district. All these circumstances, alike unfavourable to frivolousness
of thought, are well calculated to fix down the mind to habits of sober
thinking, and to impress it with serious meditation on the vicissitudes of
human affairs. Notwithstanding this general character of what may be called
pensive susceptibility, which belongs to the Highlander, he is in the
highest degree alive to joyous feelings. The Highlanders are fond of music
and of dancing, with diversions of all kinds. In ancient times, hen the
hospitality of the chieftain furnished subsistence to his numerous
dependants, it is remembered, in the traditions of the generation last
passed, that the recitation of ancient Celtic poetry formed their favourite
amusement; thus innocently did they Nine the garland of poesy around dark
Winter's brow. - Beriah Botfield (1829).
Virtues peculiarly Scotch-of
self-denial, submission to severe hardship without repining, education and
refinement much beyond their condition, with considerable ambition and
aspiring thoughts. - Mrs Grace Fletcher.
My impressions of the
hospitality, kindness, and superior information of the Scotch, in comparison
with those of the same rank in England, were confirmed by my second visit to
Scotland. - Eadem.
Il y a beaucoup d'amour dans la
classe des paysans en Ecosse. - Stendhal.
One cannot but be conscious
of an underlying melancholy in Scotswomen. This melancholy is peculiarly
attractive in the ball-room, where it gives a singular piquancy to the
enthusiasm and earnestness that they put into their national dances. -
THE HIGHLAND SOLDIER
The Highlander is never a
smart soldier, but he is always a good soldier, and soon made one, if not
too harshly treated. - Felix MacDonogh.
THE HIGHLAND CHIEF
When in one of the Hebrides
myself, the whole fortnight was one scene of hunting, shooting, banqueting,
dancing, fiddling, and piping; fresh fish was caught daily by the chief's
fishermen; game in abundance supplied the table, at which the laird presided
with all the dignity of an absolute, petty prince, and what added to the
romantic appearance of the mansion and the scenery, was a tower covered with
ivy, the ruins of a distant church, a peep at the sea, and the piper's
walking in a stately manner up and down before the window.
When my friend came south, I
saw him daily in Edinburgh; he walked about town with all the majesty of a
scenic king, although he came up to Edinburgh to raise money; for he had so
many clansmen and kinsmen, friends (connections), foster brothers and
dependants, that he was much straitened in his affairs, although this did
not appear at home, where he bred and grew everything for his family's
consumption, and had nothing to pay for but his liquors and clothing. His
person was erect, his complexion fresh, but sunburnt, his eye as keen as a
hawk's, his voice loud and authoritative, his manner distant from pride, but
warm and kind when in private and entertaining his friends. He complained
bitterly of the narrowheartedness of monied men. - Idem.
The chief of a Scotch clan,
with his poniard and pistols, like a buccaneer, his cacique cap, his cloak
resembling Grecian drapery, his party-coloured hose, which, like all the
stuffs of the country, recall to mind the tatooing of the ancient
inhabitants, which they have thrown into oblivion, his club of laburnum bent
back as the sign of his command, his savage deminudity, and, with all that,
his noble and gentle mien, is a living tradition, perhaps the only one in
Europe, of our ages of strength and liberty. Though proud, and very proud of
the dazzling beauty of their dress, they do not walk-they fly without
looking at anything, without stopping at anything; and traverse towns like
lions that have lost their way. In fact they must feel there some painful
sentiments. Their inhabitants were once free like themselves, but have
precipitated themselves under the yoke of associations and laws, in order to
gratify their idleness and their cupidity. I can easily understand that the
Highlanders must despise the breeches of the civilized man. Chains come
after them. - Charles Nodier.
I muse how any man can say
that the Scotch, as a people, are deficient in humour! Why, Sawney has a
humour of his own so strong and irrepressible that it broke out all the
stronger in spite of worldly thrift, kirk-session, cutty-stool and lectures.
- Hartley Coleridge.
GENTLEMEN, THE QUEEN!
All the Highlanders are so
amusing, and really pleasant and instructive to talk to-women as well as
men-and the latter so gentlemanlike.
We were always in the habit
of conversing with the Highlanders-with whom one comes so much in contact in
the Highlands. The Prince highly appreciated the good-breeding, simplicity,
and intelligence which make it so pleasant, and even instructive to talk to
them. - Oueen Victoria.
If the gratitude which I owe
as a man and as a patriot to the people of Great Britain in general allowed
me to make any distinction between different places according to the
duration of the kindness I received, I should have to say that in Scotland I
felt as if in a second home, and that I was received as a son, and never
repudiated. . . . The chief national characteristics of the Scotch are
constancy and unwearied perseverance. These qualities have made that dreary
and barren land a home of prosperity, a flourishing paradise. Those who see
with envy that Scotchmen go anywhere, take to anything, are always and
everywhere happy, are in the habit of saying that you may bury a Scotchman
in the bowels of Vesuvius and he will find a way out. It is meant for irony,
but is the greatest compliment that can be paid to a nation.... This steady
perseverance which has wrought such wonders of material progress (setting an
example to those who consider and take counsel for years while slowly
carrying out some trivial undertaking!), does not belie itself in respect of
political sympathy and faithfulness to principles. When once a Scotchman has
become somebody's friend, he steadily remains his friend. When once he has
taken up any matter, he does not drop it again through good or evil report.
His interest is not like a fire of straw, but like that of the gathering
coal which he burns on his hearth. -Louis Kossuth.
JUNE IN THE MOUNTAINS
But it is in June, I think,
that the mountain charm is most intoxicating. The airs are lightsome. The
hill-mists are seldom heavy, and only on south-wind mornings do the lovely
grey-white vapours linger among the climbing corries and overhanging scarps.
Many of the slopes are blue as a winter sky, palely blue, aerially delicate,
from the incalculable myriad host of the bluebells. The green of the bracken
is more wonderful than at any other time. When the wind plays upon it the
rise and fall is as the breathing of the green seas among the caverns of
Mingulay or among the savage rock-pools of the Seven Hunters or where the
Summer Isles lie in the churn of the Atlantic tides. Everything is alive in
joy. The young broods exult. The air is vibrant with the eddies of many
wings, great and small. The shadow-grass sways with the passage of the
shrewmouse or the wing's-breath of the darting swallow. The stillest pool
quivers, for among the shadows of breathless reeds the phantom javelin of
the dragon-fly whirls for a second from silence to silence. - William