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The History of Blairgowrie

NO recreation is generally more delightful than that of viewing a stretch of country in which the large extent of its fertile lands and the number of its villages, cottages, villas, and homesteads bear ample witness to the skill and the industry, the wealth and contentment of human beings.

A large city, with its crowds, its commerce, its works of art, its exhibitions, and its splendour, dazzles and attracts many individuals, yet there is something more pleasing, more calm and sedative, in viewing from an elevated position a highly-cultivated district stretched out, as it were a map, to the gaze of the spectator.

How delightful and glorious the prospect of the luxurious and verdant valley of Strathmore, viewed from the summit of the slope of hills (the southern range of the Grampians) to the north of Blairgow rie, kno^ 11 as Knock-ma-har, locally termed “ Knocky.”

The quiet and peaceful town of Blairgowrie—“Rest and be Thankful”—lies at the foot of the slope, with its red-tiled and purple-slated roofs, the tall and pointed spires of the churches, and the dull red stalks of the public works; the whole beautifully interspersed with different specimens of trees — the hazel, the beech, and the poplar being predominant. Away beyond we gaze on fields crowned with plenty, the grand tract of country—the Howe of Strathmore—stretching between Forfar and Perth, clothed in the beautiful garb of autumn, the varied hues of the wToods showing distinctly against the dark serried ridges of the Sidlaw Hills.

“We gaze upon the spreath unshorn
In Autumn garb of tree and corn;
Strathmore, that labour’s arts adorn,
And plenty Alls,
And Ericht vale, where we were born,
’Atween the hills.

“The wilderness behind outgrew,
Of moor and moss, where peesweeps flew
And joyous screamed the slow curlew
The scene that crossed;
On this we gaze, till ’wildered too
In thought, and lost.

“We gaze upon the delta sweet,
Where Ericht and the Isla meet,
That ‘pretty carse’ before our feet
To see, a joy;
Where Xerxes’ host, again complete,
Might free deploy.

“We gaze upon the rivers, three—
The Ericht and Isla and the Tay—
The Ardle kythes not to oor e’e
For banks between,
Tho’ weel we ken far it sud be,
Not sinnle seen.

“We gaze on towns not unrenowned,
That held their ancient sites around,
Seen, or by their tokens found
Of hoverin’ reek,
Frae Forfar east, twin steeple crowned
Wi’ skyward peak,

“Tae Perth—fair city—on the green,
By winding Tay, that sits serene;
Scone, Stanley, Coupar, these between,
Burrelton and Woodside,
Newtyle exposed, by Sidlaw seen,
An’ Meigle hid.

“Dunkeld, proud Celtic city sma’,
Blairgowrie and the Rattrays twa,
Ad’ Alyth—by the Grampians a’
Sae snugly placed;
An’ Kirrie, tae complete the raw,
Far in the east.

“We gaze in venerative mood
On classic spots, seen whence we stood ;
On Glamis, yet red wi’ Duncan’s blood,
Dunsinane Hill,
And Birnam, and where dwelt the good,
Yea great, Cargill.

“We gaze on many a cherished scene,
Familiar, where our feet had been,
On'mony auld-kent fairm o’ frien’
Wi’ memories showered—
Wi’ yearnin’ heart an’ lovin’ e’en
On them we glowered.

“We gaze on mills, and wish them weel,
Of industry that tend the wheel,
On kirks, an’ Scottish fire did feel,
An’ hoped the day
We yet shall a’ bend in one beil’,
An’ truth have sway.

“Frae labour’s piles in kirks an’ mills
We gaze upon the woods an’ rills,
Theine tender bard with rapture fills;
Frae these we turn
An’ kindlier gaze upon the hills
An’ mony a cairn.

“Mons Grampius near, full an’ compac’
That may be nae mountaineous trac’,
But just the hill of our Gormack
As ’twas away
Far ’mid the scenes an’ ages back
And is this day.

“The Lomonds, Wallace’ bow-shot famed,
The Sidlaws and the Ochils named,
On Ben-a-chally, stubborn framed
Wi' ribs of rock
On Ben-y-ghloe, in Perthshire claimed
The highest block.”

We gaze . . . on the Hatton Hill and Glower-ower-iru, on Mount Blair and Kinpurnie, on the beautiful windings of the Ericht and the Tay; on the placid waters of Stormont Loch, White, Black, Fengus, ilarlee, and Clunie; on

“Deep waving fields an’ pastures green,
With gentle slopes and groves between.”

All around there are spots dear to a patriotic breast as the scene of peaceful industry in these modern times, or of deeds of heroism and renown in those that have long gone by; and as we hear the splash of the wheel, the birr and clang of machinery, and the shrill piercing shrieks of the locomotive, we can in fancy picture to ourselves the scenes of' the past. Here, where we stand, were marshalled the squadrons of Caledonia (Caoill daoin—the people of the woods) under Galgacus to oppose the Roman legions -under Julius Agricola encamped by Meik-leour and Delvine; and here our countrymen, the Caoill daoin, inflicted a heavy defeat on their enemies, though with terrible loss to themselves (a.d. 84).

Once more we hear in fancy the victorious shout of M'Alpiu’s warriors pursuing the fierce Norse Vikings at Inchtuthil on the Tay, a.d. 817 ; there, along the Howe, march the. Highland host to free their country at Bannockburn, 1314; behind us, the pipe of the clansmen’s slogan at the Battle of Glasclune, 139‘Z; from the castles of Glasclune, Drumlochy, and Gormack, behold the murderous lairds and their retainers march to the Drummond Massacre at the “ Peroclie Kyrke,” 1534; on the Haughs of Rattray, the great Montrose disband his army, 1010; Cromwell, the Protector of the English Commonwealth, at the sack of Newton Castle, 1050; the dragoons of Claverhouse pursue Donald Cargill, the Covenanter, who made his wonderful escape by leaping the cascade of the Keith, 10—; the young Laird Drummond of Newton (1700) (the future founder of the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh) romp about; Prince Charlie and his Highlanders feast at the curlers’ expense in Eppie Clark’s ale-house at the Hill o’ Blair, 1715; the “Butcher” Cumberland encamped on the Muir of Blair, 1710; the future hero of Barossa—Thomas Graham—engage at agricultural pursuits at Newton, 1780; Sir Walter Scott wander amid the wild sylvan grandeur of Tullyveolan (Craighall), 1793 ; the Royal entry of Her Majesty the Queen through the town in 1842 and 1857 ; the introduction of the rail- ay, 1855 ; the banqueting of Earl Russell in 1803, with the tumults, bickerings, and excitement prevailing in these present times.

To the . native of Blairgowrie and district wandering amid the llanos and prairies of America, the v\ ilds of Africa, the jungle of India, the bush of Australia, the isles of the South, or the snows of the North, these old associations cling tenaciously and lead him to think of home, and he naturally carries with him the feeling so beautifully expressed by Sir Walter Scott:—

“Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!”

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