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Title: Bonnie Scotland - Painted by Sutton Palmer; Described by A.R. Hope Moncrieff
Author: Moncrieff, A. R. Hope (Ascott Robert Hope)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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produced from images available at The Internet Archive)



BONNIE SCOTLAND

    That I for poor auld Scotland’s sake,
    Some usefu’ plan, or beuk could make.
          BURNS.

[Illustration: BENEATH THE CRAGS OF BEN VENUE, PERTHSHIRE]



                        BONNIE SCOTLAND
                        PAINTED BY SUTTON
                        PALMER · DESCRIBED BY
                        A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF
                        PUBLISHED BY A. & C.
                        BLACK · LONDON · MCMXII
                              [Illustration]


                       _Published November 1904_

                        _Reprinted 1905, 1912_



Note


The author does not attempt elaborate word-pictures, that would seem
pale beside the artist’s colouring. His design has been, as
accompaniment to these beautiful landscapes, an outline of Scotland’s
salient features, with glimpses at its history, national character, and
customs, and at the literature that illustrates this country for the
English-speaking world. While taking the reader on a fireside tour
through the varying “airts” of his native land, he has tried to show how
its life, silken or homespun, is a tartan of more intricate pattern than
appears in certain crude impressions struck off by strangers. And into
his own web have been woven reminiscences, anecdotes, and borrowed
brocade such as may make entertaining stripes and checks upon a
groundwork of information. The mainland only is dealt with in this
volume, which it is intended to follow up with another on the Highlands
and Islands.



Contents


CHAPTER I
                                                                    PAGE

THE BORDERS                                                            1

CHAPTER II

AULD REEKIE                                                           23

CHAPTER III

THE TROSSACHS ROUND                                                   45

CHAPTER IV

THE KINGDOM OF FIFE                                                   69

CHAPTER V

THE FAIR CITY                                                         90

CHAPTER VI

THE HIGHLAND LINE                                                    111

CHAPTER VII

“ABERDEEN AWA’!”                                                     136

CHAPTER VIII

TO JOHN O’ GROAT’S HOUSE                                             157

CHAPTER IX

THE GREAT GLEN                                                       177

CHAPTER X

GLASGOW AND THE CLYDE                                                197

CHAPTER XI

THE WHIG COUNTRY                                                     215

CHAPTER XII

GALLOWAY                                                             244



List of Illustrations


1. Beneath the Crags of Ben Venue, Perthshire              _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

2. Tantallon Castle, on Coast of Haddingtonshire                       2

3. The Bass Rock, Firth of Forth, off Coast of Haddingtonshire         4

4. Neidpath Castle, Peeblesshire                                       8

5. Abbotsford, Roxburghshire                                          12

6. Melrose, Roxburghshire                                             16

7. Scott’s favourite View from Bemerside Hill, Roxburghshire          20

8. Edinburgh from “Rest and be Thankful”                              24

9. Edinburgh from Salisbury Crags--Evening                            28

10. Craigmillar Castle, near Edinburgh                                32

11. Linlithgow Palace                                                 36

12. The Bass Rock--A Tranquil Evening                                 38

13. Loch Achray, the Trossachs, Perthshire                            42

14. Stirling Castle from the King’s Knot                              46

15. The Outflow of Loch Katrine, Perthshire                           48

16. In the Heart of the Trossachs, Perthshire                         50

17. Brig o’ Turk and Ben Venue, Perthshire                            52

18. Birches by Loch Achray, Perthshire                                54

19. Head of Loch Lomond, looking up Glen Falloch, Perthshire          56

20. Golden Autumn, the Trossachs, Perthshire                          58

21. The River Teith, with Lochs Achray and Vennachar, Perthshire      60

22. Veiled Sunshine, the Trossachs, Perthshire                        62

23. Near Ardlui, Loch Lomond, Dumbartonshire                          64

24. The Silver Strand, Loch Katrine, Perthshire                       66

25. Loch Achray and Ben Venue, Perthshire                             68

26. The Castle of St. Andrews, Fifeshire                              70

27. Loch Lubnaig, Perthshire                                          76

28. In Glenfinlas, Perthshire                                         80

29. On the Dochart, Killin, Perthshire                                84

30. Perth from the Slopes of Kinnoul Hill                             90

31. Ben A’an, corner of Loch Katrine, Perthshire                      94

32. Loch Vennachar, Perthshire                                        98

33. A Croft near Dalmally, Argyllshire                               102

34. Wet Harvest Time near Dalmally, Argyllshire                      106

35. The Grampians from Boat of Garten, Inverness-shire               112

36. Killin, Perthshire                                               114

37. A Moor near Killin, Perthshire                                   116

38. In Glenfinlas, Perthshire                                        118

39. Looking up Glen Lochay near Killin, Perthshire                   120

40. Beneath the Slopes of Ben Ledi, near Callander, Perthshire       122

41. A Wild Spot, Killin, Perthshire                                  124

42. The Falls of Tummel, Perthshire                                  126

43. Dunkeld and Birnam from Craigiebarns, Perthshire                 128

44. A Wooded Gorge, Killin, Perthshire                               130

45. Looking up the Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire                 132

46. Killin, Head of Loch Tay, Perthshire                             134

47. Dunnottar Castle, Kincardineshire                                136

48. Old Mar Bridge and Lochnagar, Aberdeenshire                      140

49. Balmoral, Aberdeenshire                                          144

50. Strath Glass, Inverness-shire                                    148

51. A Peep of the Grampians, Inverness-shire                         152

52. The River Glass near Beauly, Inverness-shire                     158

53. Moor of Rannoch, Perthshire and Argyllshire                      162

54. The Isles of Loch Maree, Ross-shire                              166

55.   Moor and Mountain, Ross-shire                                  170

56.   Crags near Poolewe, Ross-shire                                 174

57. Inverness from near the Islands                                  178

58. Tomdoun, Glen Garry, Inverness-shire                             182

59. A Shepherd’s Cot in Glen Nevis, Inverness-shire                  186

60.   River Awe flowing to Loch Etive, Argyllshire                   190

61. A Croft near Taynuilt, Loch Etive, Argyllshire                   194

62. Glencoe, Argyllshire                                             198

63. Garelochhead, Dumbartonshire                                     202

64. Glen Sannox, Isle of Arran                                       206

65. Loch Triochatan, Entrance to Glencoe, Argyllshire                210

66.   Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran                                       214

67. The Falls of the Clyde, Lanarkshire                              216

68. A Highland View                                                  220

69.   Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Argyllshire                         226

70.   River Coe, Glencoe, Argyllshire                                230

71.   Ben Cruachan from Inverlochy, Argyllshire                      234

72. The Morven Hills from Appin, Argyllshire                         238

73. A Croft near Loch Etive, Argyllshire                             242

74. A Birch-Wood in Springtime, by Loch Maree, Ross-shire            246

75.   On the River Ayr, Ayrshire                                     250



BONNIE SCOTLAND



CHAPTER I

THE BORDERS


The dawn broadens, the mists roll away to show a northward-bound
traveller how his train is speeding between slopes of moorland, green
and grey, here patched by bracken or bog, there dotted by wind-blown
trees, everywhere cut by water-courses gathering into gentle rivers that
can be furious enough in spate, when they hurl a drowned sheep or a
broken hurdle through those valleys opening a glimpse of mansions and
villages among sheltered woods. Are we still in England, or in what at
least as far back as Cromwell’s time called itself “Bonnie Scotland”? It
is as hard to be sure as to make out whether that cloudy knoll on the
horizon is crowned by a peat-stack or by the stump of a Border peel.

Either bank of Tweed and Liddel has much the same aspects. An expert
might perhaps read the look or the size of the fields. Could one get
speech with that brawny corduroyed lad tramping along the furrows to his
early job, whistling maybe, as if it would never grow old, an air from
the London music-halls, the Southron might be none the wiser as to his
nationality, though a fine local ear would not fail to catch some
difference of burr and broad vowels, marked off rather by separating
ridges than by any legal frontier, as the lilting twang of Liddesdale
from the Teviot drawl. Healthily barefooted children, more’s the pity,
are not so often seen nowadays on this side of the Border, nor on the
other, unless at Brightons and Margates. The Scotch “bonnet,”
substantial headgear as it was, has vanished; the Scotch plaid, once as
familiar on the Coquet as on the Tweed, is more displayed in shop
windows than in moorland glens, now that over the United Kingdom reigns
a dull monotony and uniformity of garb. Could we take the spectrum of
those first wreaths of smoke curling from cottage chimneys, we might
find traces of peat and porridge, yet also of coal and bacon. Yon
red-locked lassie turning her open eyes up to the train from the
roadside might settle the question, were we able to test her knowledge
whether of the Shorter Catechism or of her “Duty towards her Neighbour.”
It is only when the name of the first Scottish way-station whisks by,
that we know ourselves fairly over the edge of “Caledonia stern and
wild”; and our first thought may well be that this Borderland appears
less stern than the grey crags of Yorkshire, and less wild than some
bleak uplands of Northumberland.

What makes a nation? Not for long such walls as the Romans drew across
this neck of our island, one day to point a moral of fallen might, and
to adorn a tale of the northern romancer who by its ruins wooed his
alien bride. Not such rivers as here could be easily forded by those
mugwump moss-troopers that sat on the fence of Border law, and--

[Illustration: TANTALLON CASTLE, ON COAST OF HADDINGTONSHIRE]

    Sought the beeves to make them broth
    In England and in Scotland both.

Is it race? Alas for the ethnologic historian, on its dim groundwork of
Picts and Celts--or what?--Scotland shows a still more confusing pattern
of mingled strains than does the sister kingdom! To both sides of the
Border such names for natural features as Cheviot, Tweed, and Tyne, tell
the same tale of one stock displaced by another that built and
christened its Saxon Hawicks, Berwicks, Bamboroughs, and Longtowns upon
the Pens and Esks of British tribes.--Is it a common speech? But from
the Humber to the Moray Firth, along the east side of Britain,
throughout the period of fiercest clash of arms, prevailed the same
tongue, split by degrees into dialects, but differing on the Forth and
the Tyne less than the Tyne folks’ tongue differed from that of the
Thames, or the speech of the Forth from that of the Clyde mouth. So
insists Dr. J. A. H. Murray, who of all British scholars was found
worthy to edit the Oxford English Dictionary, that has now three
editors, two of them born north of the Tweed, the third also in the
northern half of England. Scottish “wut” chuckles to hear how, when the
shade of Boswell pertly reported to the great doctor that his post as
Lexicographer-General had been filled by one who was at once a Scotsman
and a dissenter, all Hades shook with the rebuke, “Sir, in striving to
be facetious, do not attempt obscenity and profanity!”--or ghostly
vocables to such effect.

Is it loyalty to a line of princes that crystallises patriotism? That is
a current easily induced, as witness how the sentiments once stirred by
a Mary or a Prince Charlie could precipitate themselves round the stout
person of George IV.--Is it religion? Kirk and Covenant have doubtless
had their share in casting a mould of national character; but the Border
feuds were hottest among generations who seldom cared to question “for
gospel, what the Church believed.”--Is it name? Northerners and
Southerners were at strife long before they knew themselves as English
and Scots.

By a process of elimination one comes to see how _esprit de corps_ seems
most surely generated by the wont of standing shoulder to shoulder
against a common foe. Even the shifty baron, “Lucanus an Apulus anceps,”
whose feudal allegiance dovetailed into both kingdoms, that professional
warrior who “signed on,” now with the northern, now with the southern
team, might well grow keen on a side for which he had won a goal, and
bitter against the ex-comrades who by fair or foul play had come best
out of a hot scrimmage. Heartier would be the animosity of bonnet-lairds
and yeomen, between whom lifting of cattle and harrying of homes were
points in the game. Then even grooms and gillies, with nothing to lose,
dutifully fell into the way of fighting for their salt, when fighting
with somebody came almost as natural to men and boys as to collie dogs.
So the generations beat one another into neighbourly hatred and national
pride; till the Border clans half forgot their feuds in a larger
sentiment of patriotism; and what was once an adventurous exercise, rose
to be a fierce struggle for independence. The Borderers were the
“forwards” of this international sport, on whose fields and strongholds
became most hotly forged the differences in which they played the part
of

[Illustration: THE BASS ROCK, FIRTH OF FORTH, OFF THE COAST OF
HADDINGTONSHIRE]

hammer and of anvil by turns. Here, it is said, between neighbours of
the same blood, survive least faintly the national resentments that may
still flash up between drunken hinds at a fair. Hardly a nook here has
not been blackened and bloodstained, hardly a stream but has often run
red in centuries of waxing and waning strife whose fiery gleams are long
faded into pensive memories, and its ballad chronicles, that once
“stirred the heart like a trumpet,” can now be sung or said to general
applause of the most refined audiences, whether in London or Edinburgh.

The most famous ground of those historic encounters lies about the East
Coast Railway route, where England pushes an aggressive corner across
the Cheviots, and the Tweed, that most Scottish of rivers, forms the
frontier of the kingdoms now provoking each other to good works like its
Royal Border Bridge. Beyond it, indeed, stands Berwick-upon-Tweed, long
the football of either party, then put out of play as a neutral town,
and at last recognised as a quasi-outpost of England, whose parsons wear
the surplice, and whose chief magistrate is a mayor, while the townsfolk
are said to pride themselves on a parish patriotism that has gone the
length of calling Sandy and John Bull foreigners alike. This of course
is not, as London journalists sometimes conceive, the truly North
Berwick where a prime minister might be seen “driving” and “putting”
away the cares of state. That seaside resort is a mushroom beside
Berwick of the Merse, standing on its dignity of many sieges. The
Northumberland Artillery Militia now man the batteries on its
much-battered wall, turned to a picturesque walk; and the North British
and North Eastern Railways meet peacefully on the site of its castle,
where at one time Edward I. caged the Countess of Buchan like a wild
beast, for having dared to set the crown upon Bruce’s head. At another,
it was in the hands of Baliol to surrender to an Edward as pledge of his
subservience; and again, its precincts made the scene of a friendly
spearing match between English and Scottish knights, much courtesy and
fair-play being shown on both sides, even if over their cups a perfervid
Grahame bid his challenger “rise early in the morning, and make your
peace with God, for you shall sup in Paradise!” who indeed supped no
more on earth.

The North British Railway will carry us on near a stern coast-line to
Dunbar, whose castle Black Agnes, Countess of March, defended so
doughtily against Lord Salisbury, and here were delivered so signally
into Cromwell’s hands a later generation of Scots “left to themselves”
and to their fanatical chaplains; then over a land now swept by volleys
of golf balls, to Pinkie, the last great battlefield between the
kingdoms, where also, almost for the last time, the onrush of Highland
valour routed redcoat soldiery at Prestonpans. But tourists should do
what they do too seldom, tarry at Berwick to visit the tragic scenes
close at hand. In sight of the town is the slope of Halidon Hill, on
which the English took their _revanche_ for Bannockburn. Higher up the
Tweed, by the first Suspension Bridge in the kingdom, by “Norham’s
castled steep,” watch-tower of the passage, and by Ford Castle where the
siren Lady Ford is said to have ensnared James IV., that unlucky
“champion of the dames,” a half-day’s walk brings one to Flodden,
English ground indeed, but the grave of many a Scot. Never was
slaughter so much mourned and sung as that of the “Flowers of the
Forest,” cut down on these heights above the Tweed. The land watered
with “that red rain” is now ploughed and fenced; but still can be traced
the outlines of the scene about the arch of Twizel Bridge on which the
English crossed the Till, as every schoolboy knew in Macaulay’s day, if
our schoolboys seem to be better up in cricket averages than in the
great deeds of the past, unless prescribed for examinations.

Battles, like books, have their fates of fame. Flodden long made a sore
point in Scottish memory; yet, after all, it was a stunning rather than
a maiming defeat. A far more momentous battlefield on the Tweed, not far
off, was Carham, whose name hardly appears in school histories, though
it was the beginning of the Scotland of seven centuries to come. It
dates just before Macbeth, when Malcolm, king of a confused Scotia or
Pictia, sallied forth from behind the Forth, and with his ally, Prince
of Cumbria on the Clyde, decisively defeated the Northumbrians in 1018,
adding to his dominions the Saxon land between Forth and Tweed, a leaven
that would leaven the whole lump, as Mr. Lang aptly puts it. Thus
Malcolm’s kingdom came into touch with what was soon to become feudal
England, along the frontier that set to a hard and fast line, so long
and so doughtily defended after mediæval Scotland had welded on the
western Cumbria, as its cousin Cambria fell into the destinies of a
stronger realm. Had northern Northumberland gone to England, there would
have been no Royal Scotland, only a Grampian Wales echoing bardic boasts
of its Rob Roys and Roderick Dhus, whose claymores might have
splintered against Norman mail long before they came to be beaten down
by bayonets and police batons.

But we shall never get away from the Border if we stop to moralise on
all its scenes of strife--most of them well forgotten. Border fighting
was commonly on a small scale, with plunder rather than conquest or
glory for its aim; like the Arabs of to-day, those fierce but canny
neighbours were seldom in a spirit for needless slaughter, that would
entail fresh blood-feuds on their own kin. The Border fortresses were
many, but chiefly small, designed for sudden defence against an enemy
who might be trusted not to keep the field long. On the northern side
large castles were rare; and those that did rise, opposite the English
donjon keeps, were let fall by the Scots themselves, after their early
feudal kings had drawn back to Edinburgh. In the long struggle with a
richer nation, they soon learned to take the “earth-born castles” of
their hills as cheaper and not less serviceable strongholds.

The station for Flodden, a few miles off, is Coldstream, at that
“dangerous ford and deep” over which Marmion led the way for his train,
before and after his day passed by so many an army marching north or
south. The Bridge of Coldstream has tenderer memories, pointed out by
Mr. W. S. Crockett in his _Scott Country_. This carried one of the main
roads from England, and the inn on the Scottish side made a temple of
hasty Hymen, where for many a runaway couple were forged bonds like
those more notoriously associated with the blacksmith of Gretna Green.
Their marriage jaunts into the neighbour country were put a stop to only
half a century ago, when the

[Illustration: NEIDPATH CASTLE, PEEBLESSHIRE]

benefits of Scots law, such as they were, became restricted to its own
inhabitants. English novelists and jesters have made wild work with the
law, by which, as they misapprehend, a man can be wedded without meaning
it; one American story-teller is so little up-to-date as to marry his
eloping hero and heroine at Gretna in our time. The gist of the matter
is that while England favoured the masculine deceiver, fixing the
ceremony before noon, it is said, to make sure of the bridegroom’s
sobriety, the more chivalrous Scots law provided that any ceremony
should be held valid by which a man persuaded a woman that he was taking
her to wife. No ceremony indeed was needed, if the parties lived by
habit and repute as man and wife. The plot of Colonel Lockhart’s _Mine
is Thine_, one of the most amusing novels of our time, turns on a noted
case in which an entry in a family Bible was taken as a sufficient proof
of marriage. It is only gay Lotharios who might find this easy coupling
a fetter; though in the next generation, especially if it be careless to
treasure family Bibles, there may arise work for lawyers, a work of
charity when the average income of the Scottish Bar is perhaps five
pounds _Scots_ per annum.

Gretna Green, of course, lies on the western highroad from England,
beside which the Caledonian Railway route from Carlisle enters Scotland,
soon turning off into a part of it comparatively sheltered from invasion
by the Solway Firth, whose rapid ebb and flow make a type of many a
Gretna love story. This side too, has often rung with the passage of
armed men. At Burgh-on-Sands, in sight of the Scottish Border, died
Edward I., bidding his bones be wrapped in a bull’s hide and carried as
bugbear standard against those obstinate rebels. The rout of Solway
Moss made James V. turn his face to the wall, his heart breaking with
the cry, “It came with a lass and it will go with a lass!” And the Esk
of the Solway was seldom “swollen sae red and sae deep” as to daunt
hardy lads from the north who once and again

    Swam ower to fell English ground,
    And danced themselves dry to the pibroch’s sound.

These immigrants, unless they found six feet of English ground for a
grave, seldom failed to go “back again,” perhaps with an English host at
their heels. Prince Charlie’s army passed this way on its retreat from
Derby. But this side of the Borderland is less well illustrated by
stricken fields and sturdy sieges. It has, indeed, no lack of misty
romance of its own, such as an American writer dares to bring into the
light of common day by adding a sequel to Lady Heron’s ballad, in which
the fair Ellen is made to nurse a secret grudge at last confessed: she
could not get over, even on any plea of poetic license, that rash
assertion:

    There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far
    Who would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar!

“Fosters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves,” how they rode and they ran on those
hills and leas in days unkind to “a laggard in love and a dastard in
war”! These names belong to the English side, as does Grahame in part.
Elliot and Armstrong, Pringle and Rutherford, Ker and Home, Douglas,
Murray, and Scott, are Scottish Border clans, who kept much together as
in the Highlands. “Is there nae kind Christian wull gie me a night’s
lodging?” begged a tramp on the Borders, and had for rough answer, “Nae
Christians here; we’re a’ Hopes and Johnstones!” a jest transmuted
farther north into the terms of a black Mackintosh and red Macgregors.

The first name of fame passed on the Caledonian line is Ecclefechan,
birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, now a prophet even in his own country, but
it is recorded how a devout American pilgrim of earlier days found no
responsive warmth in the minds of old neighbours. “Tam Carlyle--ay,
there was Tam!” admitted an interrogated native. “He went tae London;
they tell me he writes books. But there’s his brither Jeems--he was the
mahn o’ that family. He drove mair pigs into Ecclefechan market than ony
ither farmer in the parish!” Tom had carried his pigs to a better than
any Dumfriesshire market. If we turned west by the Glasgow and
South-Western Railway, we should soon come among the shrines of Burns
and the monuments of Wallace. But let us rather take the central route,
on which flourishes a greener memory.

The “Waverley” route from Carlisle, a central one between those East and
West Coast lines, so distinguishes itself as passing through the cream
of the country associated with Sir Walter Scott, its first stage being
the wilds of Liddesdale, where he spent seven holiday seasons collecting
the Border Minstrelsy. This district, where “every field has its battle
and every rivulet its song,” can boast of many singers. From the days of
Thomas the Rhymer comes down its long succession of ballad-makers who
“saved others’ names but left their own unsung.” At Ednam was born James
Thomson, bard of _The Seasons_ and of “Rule, Britannia,” who surely
deserves a less prosaic monument than here recalls him. From Ednam, too,
came Henry Lyte, a name not so familiar, but how many millions know his
hymn “Abide with me”! Some of Horatius Bonar’s hymns were written during
his ministry at Kelso. About Denholm were the “Scenes of Infancy” of
John Leyden, poet and scholar, cut off untimely. Near his humble home,
now turned into a public library, is the lordly house of Minto, one of
whose daughters wrote the “Flowers of the Forest.” Thomas Pringle, the
South African poet, was born at Blakelaw, near Yetholm, the Border seat
of gipsy kings. Home, the author of _Douglas_, is said to have come from
Ancrum, which can more certainly claim Dr. William Buchan of _Domestic
Medicine_ renown. Riddell, author of “Scotland Yet,” began life as a
Teviot shepherd. If we may touch on living names, was not Mr. Andrew
Lang born among the “Soutars of Selkirk,” who has gone so far _ultra
crepidam_? But indeed a whole page might be filled with a bare catalogue
of the bards of Tweed and Teviot.

The _genius loci_, greatest of all, while born in Edinburgh, sprang from
a Border family of “Scotland’s gentler blood.” The cradle of his race
was in Upper Teviotdale, near Hawick, that thriving “Glasgow of the
Borders,” among whose busy mills the old Douglas Tower still stands as
an hotel, and rites older than Christian Scotland are cherished at its
time-honoured Common Riding. Not far off are Harden, home of Wat Scott
the reiver, and Branxholme, that after being repeatedly burned by the
English, bears an inscription of its rebuilding by a Sir

[Illustration: ABBOTSFORD, ROXBURGHSHIRE]

Walter Scott of Reformation times, whose namesake and descendant would
make its name known so widely. At Sandyknowe farm, between the Eden and
the Leader Water, he lived as a sickly child in his grandparents’
charge, and under the massive ruin of Smailholm Tower, drank in with
reviving health the inspiration of Border lore and romance--

    Ever, by the winter hearth,
    Old tales I heard of woe or mirth,
    Of lover’s sleights, of ladies’ charms,
    Of witches’ spells, of warriors’ arms;
    Of patriot battles, won of old
    By Wallace wight and Bruce the bold;
    Of later fields of feud and fight,
    When, pouring from their Highland height,
    The Scottish clans, in headlong sway,
    Had swept the scarlet ranks away.
    While stretch’d at length upon the floor,
    Again I fought each combat o’er,
    Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
    The mimic ranks of war display’d;
    And onward still the Scottish Lion bore,
    And still the scatter’d Southron fled before.

Later on, the old folks being dead, his sanatorium quarters were shifted
to his aunt’s home at Kelso, where also an uncle bought a house,
inherited by the lucky poet. For a time he attended the Grammar School,
whose pupils had for playground the adjacent ruins of the Abbey, so
roughly handled in Border wars and by iconoclastic zealots. This boy had
other resources than play, who could forget his dinner in the charms of
Percy’s _Reliques_; and his lameness did not hinder him from roaming
over the beautiful country in which Tweed and Teviot meet. Their
confluence encloses the ruins of Roxburgh Castle, once a favourite royal
residence and strong Border fortress, before whose walls James II.,
trying to wrest it back from the English, was killed by the bursting of
one of those new-fangled “engines” that were to break down moated
castles, replaced by such sumptuous mansions as Floors, the modern
_château_ of the Duke of Roxburghe. Roxburgh town has disappeared more
completely than its castle, its name surviving in that of the
picturesque Border shire where, off and on, Scott spent much of his
youth, photographing on a sensitive mind the scenes he has made famous,
and getting to know the flesh-and-blood models of Meg Merrilies, Edie
Ochiltree, Old Mortality, Dandie Dinmont, Josiah Cargill, and other
“characters” that but for him might now be forgotten.

Kelso stands almost on the site of Roxburgh, but its place as county
town is taken by Jedburgh, guard of the “Middle March,” farther to the
south, yet not so near the crooked border line. It stands upon a
tributary of the Teviot, among “Eden scenes of crystal Jed,” flowing
down from the Cheviots. Tourists do not know what they miss by grudging
time to divagate on the branches connecting the two main lines of the
North British Railway. Jedburgh, birthplace of scientific celebrities,
Sir David Brewster and Mrs. Somerville, has another grand Abbey, that
suffered much from early English tourists; and its jail occupies the
site of a vanished royal castle. In this old seat of “Jeddart justice,”
Scott began his career at the Bar, by the defence of such a poacher and
sheep-stealer as his own forebears had been on a bolder scale. Here a
few years later, he met Wordsworth in the house recently marked by a
memorial tablet; and other dwellings are pointed out as having housed
Queen Mary and Prince Charlie, while Burns has left a warm record of his
visit, so many of Scotland’s idols has Jedburgh known, and may well
reproach the hasty travellers who pass it by.

The young advocate did not waste much of his genius on defending
sheep-stealers and the like; but in those halcyon days of patronage,
through the influence of his chief, the Duke of Buccleuch, he soon got
the snug berth of Sheriff of Selkirk. This brought him to live at
Ashestiel on the Tweed, where he spent his happiest days, writing his
best poems, and beginning _Waverley_, to be laid by and forgotten for
years. Selkirk, too, has the misfortune of lying off the main line; but
strangers would do well to turn aside here for the wild pastoral scenes
of St. Mary’s Loch and the “Dowie Dens of Yarrow.” Too many, like
Wordsworth, put off this trip to rheumatic years; yet it may be easily
done by the coach routes from Selkirk and from Moffat on the Caledonian
line, that meet at Tibbie Shiels’ Inn, whose visitors’ book enshrines
such a collection of autographs; and its homely fame scorns the
pretensions of the new “hotel.” This is the heart of Ettrick Forest,
where stands a monument of its shepherd, James Hogg, unfairly
caricatured as the genial buffoon of the _Noctes_, but second only to
Burns as a popular poet, and best known over the English-speaking world
by his “Bird of the wilderness, blithesome and cumberless.” All the
schooling he had was a few months in early childhood; he taught himself
to write on slate stones of the hillside where he herded cows, and this
art he had to relearn when he first tried to sing of green Ettrick--

                  In many a rustic lay,
    Her heroes, hills, and verdant groves;
    Her wilds and valleys fresh and gay,
    Her shepherds’ and her maidens’ loves.

The North British junction for Selkirk is at Galashiels, another
thriving woollen town, whose mills may not have improved the physique of
the “braw lads of Gala Water.” Before reaching this, the main line,
holding up the Tweed where it is looked down upon by a colossal statue
of Wallace, passes two more of David I.’s quartet of Abbeys, so that the
tourist has no excuse for not visiting Dryburgh and Melrose. Melrose,
indeed, is a tourist shrine, that owns a somewhat sheltered climate,
with natural charms enough to fill its adjacent Hydropathic and the
hotels about the Abbey and the Cross, nucleus of a group of Tweedside
hamlets, to which warm red stone, sometimes filched from the ruins,
gives a snug and cheerful aspect; then the nakedness of the slopes, held
by Scott a beauty, though he laboured to clothe it with plantations,
hides nooks like that Rhymer’s Glen, where True Thomas was spirited away
by the Fairy Queen, and that Fairy Dean in which the White Lady of
Avenel appeared to Halbert Glendinning. Above rise the triple Eildon
Hills, in whose caverns Arthur and his knights lie sleeping, and from
the top, as our Last Minstrel boasted, can be seen more than forty spots
famed in history or song.

Of Melrose Abbey, the finest remains of Scottish ecclesiastical
architecture in its golden age, and of its

[Illustration: MELROSE, ROXBURGHSHIRE]

illustrious tombs, let the guide-books speak, and the romance that deals
with this neighbourhood of “Kennaquhair,” an _alias_ plagiarised by
Carlyle in his _Weissnichtwo_. Visiting it “by pale moonlight” or
otherwise, few will not turn three miles up the river to that other
showplace, Abbotsford, the Delilah of his imagination that bound Scott
in withs of care and set him to toiling for Philistines. The baronial
mansion, now overlooked by outlying villas of Galashiels, was all his
own creation, and most of the trees were planted by himself, in the
absorbing process that began with buying a hundred ill-famed acres, and
ended with such unfortunate success in making, as he said, “a silk purse
out of a sow’s ear.” When one thinks what it cost him, this exhibition
of artificial feudalism has its painful side; yet another Sir Walter, a
romancer of our own generation, declares that it “would make an oyster
enthusiastic.” But more moving is the pilgrimage from Melrose down the
Tweed to where, in St. Mary’s Aisle of Dryburgh Abbey, the most
beautiful fragment of a noble fane, among the tombs of his kin lies at
rest Scotland’s most illustrious son, he who best displayed the warp and
woof that makes the chequered pattern of his country’s nature.

When will Cockney revilers learn that Scotland is not all thrift,
caution, and kailyard prose, but a nation showing two main strains,
which Mr. John Morley suggests as the explanation of Gladstone’s complex
character? One component may be hard, practical, frugal, in politics
tending to democracy, in religion to logic; but this has been crossed by
a spirit, better bred in the romantic Highlands, that is generous,
proud, quick-tempered, reckless, reverent towards the past, rather than
eager for progress. The painter of Scottish life must recognise how
Fitz-James and Roderick Dhu are countrymen with Bailie Nicol Jarvie and
Andrew Fairservice, how Flora MacIvor is not less a Scotswoman than
Mause Headrigg or Jenny Dennison, and how the Jacobite and the
Presbyterian enthusiasm smacked of the same soil. If one shut one’s eye
to half the case, it would be easy to make out that rash impetuosity
flourished beyond the Tweed rather than the thistly prudence taken for a
more congenial crop.

Scott comprehended both of these elements. By birth and training he
belonged to the Saxon, by sympathy to the Celt. If his father was a
douce Edinburgh “writer,” one of his forebears had been that “Beardie”
who bound himself never to shave till the Stuarts came back to their
own. Brought up under the dry light of the Revolution Settlement, in his
reminiscences of childhood he transforms a worthy parish minister into a
“Venerable Priest,” and in later life he came to be himself little
better than an Episcopalian. It may be owned he had no more religion
than became a Cavalier; even the romance of superstition did not take
much hold on him, and that rhyming “White Lady” has not even a ghostly
life on his page. His favourite heroes are the like of Montrose and
Claverhouse, yet he can do justice to the stern virtues of the
Covenanters. In the sober historian mood he duly warns his grandchild
how life was galled and fettered in the good old days, which he was too
willing to see _couleur de rose_ when their picturesque incidents
offered themselves to the romancer. He turns a blind eye, perhaps, too
much on the faults of knights and princes, yet he knows the worth of
ploughmen and fisherfolk, and into Halbert Glendinning’s and Henry
Morton’s mouths he puts sentiments to which John Bright or Cobden might
say amen. He is happiest, indeed, in the past, when “the wrath of our
ancestors was coloured _gules_,” whereas we have learned, like Mr.
Trulliber’s wife, to be Christians and take the law of our enemies. His
appetite for imaginary bloodshed is a sore offence to writers like Mark
Twain, who appear less scandalised that a pork-baron, a corn-lord, or a
cotton-king should plot to be rich by starving children on the other
side of the world. But Scott’s very failings reflect the character of
his countrymen, who, Highland and Lowland, have been mighty fighters
before the Lord on a much wider field than from Berwick to John o’
Groat’s House. The pity is that this imaginative writer, who knew all
characters better than his own, should have fancied himself a shrewd man
of business, a part for which he was too generous and trustful. Of his
personal merits, the most marked is that in a class of sedentary
craftsmen notoriously apt to be irritable, bilious, jealous, and
vainglorious, Walter Scott stands out by hearty, wholesome, human
qualities which present him as the type of a Scottish gentleman.

    Whatever record leap to light,
    He never shall be shamed!

To have done with the “Scott Country,” we should hold on westward up the
Tweed to where its sources almost mingle with those of the Clyde, below
the bold mass of Tinto and other hills that might claim a less modest
title. This route would bring us by the renowned inn of Clovenfords,
“howff” of Christopher North and many another choice spirit, by
Ashestiel, then by Innerleithen, set up as a spa through its claim to
represent St. Ronan’s; and so to Peebles, a haunt of pleasure since the
days when James I. wrote of “Peeblis to the play.” For some reason or
other, Peebles and Paisley have become butts of Gotham banter, their
very names attracting the sly jests by which Scotsmen love to make fun
of themselves. But neither of them is a town to be sneezed at. Peebles,
for its part, after falling into a rather sleepy state, has been wakened
up in our time through the Tontine “hottle,” that so much excited Meg
Dods’ scorn; the huge Hydropathic that has introduced German bath
practice into Scotland; and the Institution bestowed on the town by
William Chambers, who hence set out to turn the proverbial half-crown
into a goodly fortune. Was it not at this Institution that the local
Mutual Improvement Society gravely debated the question, “_Shall_ the
material Universe be destroyed?” and decided, by a majority of one, in
the negative! When Sir Cresswell Cresswell, from his peculiar bench,
laid down the dictum that marriages between May and December often
turned out ill, it must have been a Paisley statistician who wrote to
him for the data on which he founded his assertion that “marriages
contracted in the latter part of the year, etc.” But Paisley has its
manufacturing prosperity to fling in the teeth of calumny; and Peebles
has romantic as well as comic associations, notably its Neidpath Castle
and its Manor Water Glen, haunted by memories of the Black Dwarf.

The leisurely tourist might gain Edinburgh by a

[Illustration: SCOTT’S FAVOURITE VIEW FROM BEMERSIDE HILL,
ROXBURGHSHIRE]

branch line through Peebles, and this route can be recommended to the
hippogriffs of cycles and motors. Beyond the Catrail, ancient barrier of
the Picts or the Britons of Strathclyde, our main railroad, as its way
is, keeps on straight up the course of the Gala, leaving to its right
the dreary Lammermoors; then between the Castles of Borthwick and
Crichton, it enters on the more prosaic Lothian country. To the left is
seen the Pentland ridge, and straight ahead springs up the cone of
Arthur’s Seat beaconing us to Edinburgh, goal of the race for which a
Caledonian express will be speeding along the farther side of the
Pentlands.

And not a kilt have we seen yet, since leaving London! Of this more
anon; kilts are not at home on the Borders, though I have seen one on
the Welsh Marches, worn in conjunction with a pith helmet by a retired
Liverpool tradesman. Since “gloves of steel” and “helmets barred” went
out of fashion on Tweedside, the local colour has been that modest
shepherd’s plaid displayed in Lord Brougham’s trousers to the ribaldry
of _Punch_, and even that goes out of homely wear. You may buy Scott and
Douglas tartans in the shops, but they seem vain things, fondly
invented, as indeed are some of the patterns now seen in the Highlands.
But there will be a good show of kilts in Edinburgh Castle, where once
they were like to be bestowed in the dungeon:--

    Wae worth the loons that made the laws
      To hang a man for gear--
    To reave o’ life for sic a cause
      As _lifting_ horse or mare!

And here our North British express, panting through the fat Lothians,
comes to slacken under the castellated walls of that gaol which tourists
are apt to take for the Castle--no true kilts to be looked for there
nowadays, yet perhaps at the Police Court under the head of drunk and
disorderly! So let us leave the Borderland behind with a quotation from
an American writer (_Penelope in Scotland_) who knows what’s what, and
who at first sight fairly loses her heart to Edinburgh, _haars_, east
winds, and all, that are its thorns in the flesh. “I hope,” she very
sensibly says, “that those in authority will never attempt to convene a
Peace Congress in Edinburgh, lest the influence of the Castle be too
strong for the delegates. They could not resist it nor turn their backs
upon it, since, unlike other ancient fortresses, it is but a
stone’s-throw from the front windows of all the hotels. They might mean
never so well, but they would end by buying dirk hat-pins and claymore
brooches for their wives; their daughters would all run after the kilted
regiment and marry as many of the pipers as asked them, and before night
they would all be shouting with the noble Fitz-Eustace,

    Where’s the coward that would not dare
    To fight for such a land?”



CHAPTER II

AULD REEKIE


“Auld Reekie,” as it is fondly called, still raises its smokiest
chimneys and most weathered walls along the “hoary ridge of ancient
town” that culminates in the Castle Rock, looking across a long central
line of gardens to the farther swell of land on which stands the New
Town of Scott’s day. But New Town now seems a misnomer, since the
cramped site of the old city, itself much sweetened and aerated by
innovations, is surrounded by newer towns expanding in other directions.
Southwards, of late years, Edinburgh has grown more rapidly up to the
foot of the hills that here edge the suburbs of Newington, Grange, and
Morningside. Westwards she spreads out towards Corstorphine Hill and
Craiglockhart. On the east her progress is barred by the mass of
Arthur’s Seat, but round the base of this creep rows of tall houses that
will soon connect her with Portobello, that minor Margate of the
capital, now comprised within her municipal boundaries. Northwards, she
goes on “flinging her white arms to the sea,” which she almost touches
at Granton and Trinity; and a long unlovely street leads to the Piræus
of this modern Athens, Leith, still stiffly standing aloof in civic
independence. Including Leith, which refuses to be included, the
Scottish metropolis began the century with a population not far short of
400,000.

On high in the midst of these modern settings, the charms of Old
Edinburgh are thrown into becoming relief, as the medley smartness of
Princes Street is enhanced by its facing the grim backs of the High
Street “lands.” Ruskin and other critics have said hard things of the
New Town’s architects; but their strictures do not go without question.
What, at all events, must strike strangers is an imposing solidity of
the modern buildings, whether tall “stairs”--_Anglicé_ flats--or roomy
private houses, nearly all built of a grey stone that seems in keeping
with the atmosphere; and this not only in the central streets and
squares, but in outer suburbs, innocent of brick and stucco. If a too
classical regularity has been aimed at, this is tempered by the
unevenness of the ground, breaking up the “draughty parallelograms,”
giving vistas into the open country, and at night such long panoramas of
glittering lights displayed on slopes and crests. The place, says R. L.
Stevenson, who has so well caught the picturesque points of his native
city, “is full of theatre tricks in the way of scenery.... You turn a
corner, and there is the sun going down into the Highland hills. You
look down an alley, and see ships tacking for the Baltic.” And if the
city fathers have been ill advised in the past, its municipality may
claim the credit of being first in the kingdom to take powers for
disinfecting it against the plague of mendacious and hideous
advertisements that are too much allowed to pock our highways and
byways.

[Illustration: EDINBURGH FROM “REST AND BE THANKFUL”]

A peculiar feature of the city is its “Bridges,” by which certain
streets span others at different levels, physically and socially. From
the unique Dean Bridge, in the heart of the West End, one overlooks what
might be taken for a Highland glen but for the lines of mansions that
edge it above. When I came to Edinburgh as a homesick little schoolboy,
appalled by the “boundless continuity” of street, I devoted my first
Saturday freedom to an attempt at discovering the open country. This was
happily before the days of schoolboys being driven and drilled to play.
Striking the Water of Leith at Stockbridge, I turned along the path
leading into this glen that might well satisfy desires for a green
solitude. But on reaching the village of Dean, embedded below the
bridge, I climbed up to find myself beside the dome of St. George’s
Church, lost deeper than ever in that bewildering city. Still, a little
trimmed and tamed, an oasis of wooded bank shuts in the rushing stream,
now purified and stocked with trout, where we were content to catch
loaches and sticklebacks.

What a loss to this city was the classically-minded Gothicism or
carelessness through which came to be rooted up so many noble trees that
once dotted the parks of Drumsheugh and Bellevue! But Edinburgh has been
well endowed afresh with open spaces and shrubberies, those that
separate the blocks of the New Town mainly private joint-stock
paradises, yet serving for public amenity. The Old Town is enclosed
between the noble stretch of the Princes Street Gardens on the north,
and on the south the open Meadows, with its “Philosopher’s Walk” of
Dugald Stewart’s and Playfair’s days, rising into the Bruntsfield Links.
Then the city is almost ringed about by parks, more than one of them
including grand features of natural scenery. Philadelphia is the only
city I know which has such wild scenes at her very doors, in her case
collected together in the Fairmount Park, where miles of hill and river
landscape have been left almost untouched among the streets and suburbs,
yet boasting no points so noble as the head of Arthur’s Seat, with its
girdle of crags, screes, and lakes.

This miniature Ben, imposing as it looks, is under 1000 feet high, and
easily climbed. Those almost past their climbing days may seek Blackford
Hill on the south side, where Scott tells us that he bird’s-nested as a
truant boy, and speaks of it as at a later day brought under
cultivation; but it has relapsed again to its native wildness, laid out
as a rough park and as site for the squat domes of the new Observatory.
From this eminence one gets Marmion’s view of the city, now grown up to
its foot, shut in between Arthur’s Seat and the wooded ridge of
Corstorphine, and bounded to the north across the Firth by the heights
of Fife, above which, in clear weather, stand up the blue bastions of
the Highlands. Behind Blackford, one may keep up the wooded hollow of
the Hermitage, by a public path following the stream, and thus gain the
Braid Hills, overlooking the city a little farther back. Keeping along
their edge, at some risk from flying golf balls, one can hold on to the
hotel built between the old and the new south roads. Here, at the
terminus of suburban trams, looking to the Pentlands up the valley of
the Braid Burn, by which runs a field path towards Swanston, the country
home of R. L. Stevenson, one might hardly guess oneself so near a great
city, but for the lordly poorhouse and fever-hospital buildings to the
back of Craiglockhart Hill.

In the very heart of the city are view-points fine enough to content
hasty travellers, from the battlements of the Castle, from the spire of
Scott’s Monument, from the slopes of the Calton Hill, with its array of
ready-made ruins and monuments with which Edinburgh has sought to live
up to her classical pretensions. This rises beyond the east end of
Princes Street, opposite the battlemented gaol, and a little way past
that Charing Cross of Auld Reekie, where its main ways meet between the
Post Office, the Register House and the tower of a new North British
Hotel looking down upon the glass roofs of the sunken Waverley Station.
At the other end of Princes Street, an opening before the Caledonian
Station may be called Edinburgh’s Piccadilly Circus, radiating into its
Mayfair quarter. This end is dominated by the Castle, suggesting to
Algerian travellers a duodecimo edition of that wonderful rock-set city
Constantine. It shows little of the modern fortress, rather a pile of
ugly barracks which a Japanese cruiser could knock to pieces from the
Firth; but one understands how in old days its site made it a Gibraltar
citadel, that often could hold out when the town was overrun by foemen
taking care to keep themselves beyond range of the Castle guns. Taylor,
the Water Poet, who had seen something of war in his youth, judged it
“so strongly grounded, bounded, and founded, that by force of man it can
never be confounded.” The King himself did not gain admittance on his
recent visit without a ceremony of summons by the Lord Lyon King of
Arms; but all and sundry, at reasonable hours, may stroll across its
drawbridge to lounge on the ramparts, to be conducted over historic
relics by veteran ciceroni, or to wait for the stunning report of the
gun, which, fired from Greenwich at one o’clock, brings every watch
within hearing to the test.

From this “Maiden Castle,” safe refuge for princesses of the good old
times, a conscientious tourist makes for Holyrood by the long line of
High Street and Canongate, bringing him past most of the historic sites
and monuments--the “Heart of Midlothian,” the Parliament House, the
swept and garnished Cathedral of St. Giles, beside which John Knox now
lies literally buried in a highway, as was Dr. Johnson’s pious wish for
him; the restored Market Cross, the Tron Church, Knox’s House, which
counts rather among Edinburgh’s Apocrypha, and many another ancient
mansion, once alive with Scotland’s proudest names, now degraded to an
Alsatia of huge dingy tenements, swarming forth vice and misery at
nightfall. The way narrows through an unsavoury slum as it approaches
the deserted home of kings, beyond which opens a park such as no king
has at his back door.

Holyrood was originally an abbey, founded by David I. “in gratitude,”
says the legend, “for his miraculous deliverance from a stag on Holy
Rood Day, and prompted thereto by a dream.” Similar stories are told of
many another prince less disposed to ecclesiastical benefactions than
David, that “sair saint to the crown”; even John of England founded one
abbey, at Beaulieu, as an act of grace prompted by nightmare visions.
Beside David’s Abbey of the Holy Cross sprang up a palace that, as well
the sacred precincts, suffered much in the troubles of the Stuart
reigns, being frequently burned or spoiled by

[Illustration: EDINBURGH FROM SALISBURY CRAGS--EVENING]

English tourists of their period, on the last occasion “personally
conducted” by one Oliver Cromwell, who had small respect either for
palaces or abbeys. In Charles II.’s time it was rebuilt somewhat after
the style of Hampton Court, while the Abbey, devastated by a
Presbyterian mob, came to be refitted with a too heavy roof that crushed
it into utter ruin. The present building is thus modern, but for the
ruins behind, and the restored portion incorporating Queen Mary’s
apartments. The name of the Sanctuary opposite was no vain one up till
about half a century ago, when impecunious debtors used to take asylum
within its bounds, privileged to issue free on Sundays, else venturing
forth to feast or sport only at the risk of thrilling adventures with
bailiffs.

Everyone who has been to Edinburgh knows the sights of this show place:
the portraits of Scottish kings, more or less mythical, “awful examples”
as works of art, the whole gallery, it is said, done by a Dutch painter
of the seventeenth century for a lump sum of £250; the tapestried rooms
of Darnley; the Queen’s bedchamber; and the dark stain on the flooring
where Rizzio is believed to have gasped out his life, after being
dragged from the side of his mistress. Every reader must know Scott’s
story of the traveller in some patent fluid for removing stains, who
pressed the use of his nostrum on the horrified custodian. What every
stranger does not know is how this “virtuous palace where no monarch
dwells” is still used for functions of state. Annually, in May, the Lord
High Commissioner takes up his quarters here as representative of the
Crown in the General Assembly of the Church, when green peas ought to
come into season to make their first appearance on the quasi-royal
table. Ireland, that makes such loud boast of her grievances, basks in
the smiles of a Lord-Lieutenant all the year, while poor patient
Scotland has a blink of reflected royalty for one scrimp fortnight,
during which the old palace wakes to the life of _levèes_, drawingrooms,
and dinners, where black gowns and coats are more in evidence than in
most courtly circles. The Commissioner’s procession from the palace to
open the Assembly lights up the old Canongate with a martial display;
and more or less festivity is held within the walls according to the
wealth or liberality of the Commissioner, who, like the Lord Mayor of
London, should be a rich man to fill his office with due _éclat_. But
when King Edward VII. recently visited Edinburgh, to the regret of the
citizens, he did not take up his quarters in the palace, pronounced
unsuitable by the prosaic reason of its drains being somewhat too
Georgian, a matter that has now been amended.

A more occasional function fitly transacted here is the election of
representative peers for Scotland in a new parliament. As every
schoolboy ought to know, our Constitution admits only sixteen Scottish
peers to sit in Parliament, most of them indeed having place there in
virtue of British peerages--the Duke of Atholl as Lord Strange, for
instance, the Duke of Montrose as Lord Graham, and so forth. Of those
left out in the cold, sixteen are “elected” by a somewhat cut-and-dried
process very free from the heat and excitement of popular voting. As I
have seen it, the ceremony seemed to lack impressiveness. Some dozen
gentlemen in pot hats and shooting jackets assembled in the Picture
Gallery before an audience chiefly consisting of ladies, more than one
of these legislators in mien and appearance suggesting what Fielding
says about Joseph Andrews, that he might have been taken for a nobleman
by one who had not seen many noblemen. Each of the privileged order, in
turn, wrote and read out a list of the peers for whom he voted, usually
ending “and myself.” Certain practically-minded peers sent in their
votes by post. The most moving incident was the expected one of an
advocate in wig and gown rising to put in for a client some unrecognised
claim to a title or protest as to precedency, duly listened to and noted
down. The whole ceremony struck one as rather a waste of time; but
perhaps the same might be said of most ceremonies. One thing has to be
remembered about these unimposing lords, that they are a highly select
body in point of blue blood, all representing old families, as the fount
of their honour was dried up at the Union, and the king can make an
honest man as soon as a Scottish peer.

The tourist who comes in for any of such functions will realise the
truth of what R. L. Stevenson says for his native city:--

     “There is a spark among the embers; from time to time the old
     volcano smokes. Edinburgh has but partly abdicated, and still
     wears, in parody, her metropolitan trappings. Half a capital and
     half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it
     has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; like the king
     of the Black Isles, it is half alive and half a monumental marble.
     There are armed men and cannon in the citadel overhead; you may see
     the troops marshalled on the high parade; and at night after the
     early winter evenfall, and in the morning before the laggard winter
     dawn, the wind carries abroad over Edinburgh the sound of drums and
     bugles. Grave judges sit bewigged in what was once the scene of
     imperial deliberations. Close by in the High Street perhaps the
     trumpets may sound about the stroke of noon; and you see a troop of
     citizens in tawdry masquerade; tabard above, heather-mixture
     trowser below, and the men themselves trudging in the mud among
     unsympathetic bystanders. The grooms of a well-appointed circus
     tread the streets with a better presence. And yet these are the
     Heralds and Pursuivants of Scotland, who are about to proclaim a
     new law of the United Kingdom before two-score boys, and thieves,
     and hackney-coachmen.”

Tourists are too much in the way of seeing no more of Edinburgh than its
historic lions and rich museums, as indicated in the guide-books. I
would invite them to pay more attention to the suburbs straggling on
three sides into such fine hill scenery as is the environment of this
city. Open cabs are easily to be had in the chief thoroughfares; and
Edinburgh cabmen have the name of being rarely decent and civil, as if
the Shorter Catechism made an antidote to the human demoralisation
spread from that honest friend of man, the horse. Give a London Jehu
something over his fare, and his first thought seems to be that you are
a person to be imposed upon; but I, for one, never had the same
experience here. I know of a stranger who took a cheaper mode of finding
his way through Edinburgh; he had himself booked as an express parcel
and put in charge of a telegraph messenger, who would not leave him
without a receipt duly signed at his destination. But the wandering
pedestrian is at great advantage where he seldom has out of sight such
landmarks as the Castle and Arthur’s Seat. There is no better way of
seeing the city than from the top of the tramcars that run in all
directions, the main line being a circular

[Illustration: CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE, NEAR EDINBURGH]

route from the Waverley Station round the west side of the Castle, then
through the south suburbs, and back beneath Arthur’s Seat to the Post
Office. Public motor cars also ply their terror along the chief
thoroughfares. The trams are on the cable system, invented for the steep
ascents of San Francisco, but out of favour in most cities. The excuse
for its adoption here was that bunches of overhead wires would spoil
such amenities as are the city’s stock in tourist trade. It has the
objectionable habit of keeping up along the line a rattle disquieting to
nervous people, while the car itself steals upon one like a thief in the
night; but it appears that accidents to life and limb are not so common
as hitches in the working.

The trams now run on Sunday, an innovation that shocks many good folk,
brought up in days when the streets of a Scottish city were as stricken
by the plague, unless at the hours when all the population came
streaming on foot to and from their different places of worship. A few
years ago, I felt it my duty to correct the late Max O’Rell, who had
gathered some wonderful stories supposed to illustrate the manners of
Scotland. As he related how, getting into an Edinburgh tramcar on
Sunday, his companion insisted on their riding inside not to be seen of
men, one was able to inform him that since the days of Moses no public
vehicle had disturbed Edinburgh’s Sabbath quiet. It is not so now; and
all the old stories about “whustlin’ on the Sabbath” and so forth will
soon be legends, so fast is the peculiar observance of Scottish piety
melting away.

R. L. Stevenson humorously called himself “a countryman of the Sabbath,”
but this institution is not so clearly a native of Scotland as has been
taken for granted. John Knox played bowls on Sunday; and the rigidity
that came in later was due as much to English Puritanism as to the
thrawnness of Scottish revolt against Catholic practices. Whatever its
origin, Sabbatarianism once weighed heavily on human nature north of the
Tweed. “Is this a day to be talking of days!” was the rebuke of the
Highlander to a tourist who ventured to remark that it was a fine
Sunday. Not so many years ago, I have known a Highland farmer refuse the
loan of a girdle to bake scones for a breadless family, “not on the
Sabbath”; yet this orthodox worthy and his sons, living as far from a
church as from a baker’s shop, seemed to spend most of the day of rest
lying by the roadside smoking their pipes and reading the newspaper. An
exiled Scot, in far distant lands, has told me how the shadow of the
coming Sabbath began to fall on his youth as early as Wednesday night.
The holy day was a term of imprisonment for juvenile spirits, its
treadmill two long services, chiefly sermon, sometimes run into one, or
separated by only a few minutes’ interval, to economise short winter
light in which worshippers might have to trudge miles to church. It is
in the Highlands and other out-of-the-way parts, of course, that such
austerities linger, while the urban populations more readily adopt
English compromises on this head.

In Edinburgh one generation has seen a great thawing of the Sabbath
spirit. I can remember the excitement caused all over Scotland by a
sermon in which Dr. Norman Macleod proclaimed that there was no harm in
taking a walk on Sunday. The _Scotsman_, a paper that has never much
flattered its readers’ prejudices, came out with a sly humorous article
headed “Murder of Moses’ Law by Dr. Norman Macleod,” and it is said that
some good people read this in the sense that the “broad” divine had
actually committed homicide. Even earlier, Edinburgh people had tacitly
sanctioned a walk to a cemetery, as echoing the teachings of the pulpit.
The story went that the present King, when at Edinburgh University, was
sternly denied admission to the Botanic Gardens on Sunday; but he might
unblamed have taken a stroll through the adjacent tombs of Warriston.
From the Dean Cemetery, the West End ventured on extending its Sunday
ramble as far as “Rest and be Thankful” on Corstorphine Hill; then it
was a fresh scandal when a very Lord of Session came to show himself on
this road in tweeds, instead of the full phylacteries that might attest
previous church-going. Of another judge living at Corstorphine it is
told that he once sought to mend the morals of a cobbler helplessly
drunk at his gate on Sunday afternoon, but was met by the hiccoughed
repartee, “Wha’s you, without your Sabbath blacks?”

In my youth the police would put a stop to skating or such like
diversions on Sabbath; but now Sunday bicycles flit over the country;
the iniquity of a Sunday band is tolerated in the parks; while a society
is suffered to promote Sunday concerts and lectures indoors. Another
sign of the times is that Christmas in Edinburgh begins to be almost as
much observed as the national festival of New Year’s Day, whereas
orthodox Presbyterianism once made a point of ignoring fasts and feasts
sanctioned by prelacy or popery. As for its own fasts, they have long
been transmuted into junketings; and the sacramental “preachings” of
large towns are now frankly abolished in favour of public holidays
answering to the English saturnalia of St. Lubbock, observed only by
banks across the Tweed. The Communion, in old days administered but once
or twice a year, and regarded in some parts with such awe that few
ventured to put themselves forward as participants, is now a frequent
rite in Presbyterian Churches, whose congregations are throwing off
their horror of ornament and ceremony, as may be seen in St. Giles.
Old-fashioned English rectors of the Simeon school have been known to
shake their heads at the services now read in the ears of descendants of
that Jenny Geddes who so forcibly testified against a prayer-book
declared by ribald jesters hateful to Scotland through its too frequent
mention of “Collect.”

The honest stranger, then, has nothing to fear from the austerity of
Scottish morals, not even the supposed risk of being married by mistake.
It will be his own fault if he fail to find a welcome across the Tweed.
Effusive manners are not the Scot’s strong point, and he may be accused
of a certain suspicion of offence, kept sharp by the careless and not
ill-natured insolence of southrons who are so free with their jovial
jests about “bawbees” and such like, well-worn and rusty pleasantries
coined in the days of Bute’s unpopularity and Johnson’s bearish
dogmatism. Among the baser sorts of Scots are still current inverse
sarcasms against English “pock-puddings,” conceived as fat and greedy;
but they would have to be fished up from a low social stratum by the
travelling gent who cannot understand that, however little disposed

[Illustration: LINLITHGOW PALACE]

Sandy may have been to hang his head for honest poverty, he ill relishes
its being flung in his face. “A sooth bourd is nae bourd,” says the old
proverb; but now, what with tourists, and trade, and Scotsmen who come
back again, bringing the spoils of the world with them, the reproach of
poverty ceases to be so sore a one.

Though in the eyes of busy Glasgow Edinburgh may pass as a retired
capital, living on its means of attraction, it has in fact several
industries from which to earn a livelihood. Along with the lodging and
amusing of strangers, it must do a good business in the tartans,
pebbles, silver-work, and other showy wares displayed in Princes Street
shop windows. “Edinbury Rock,” done up in tartan wrappers, is much
pressed upon the notice of tourists; the same indeed being sold in other
towns under their own name. As for shortbread, scones, biscuits, and
other manufactures of the “Land of Cakes,” these have invaded London,
where every baker not a German is like to be a Scot. It will be noted by
Cockney revilers as a proof of Scotch thriftiness, which might bear
another interpretation, that what costs a penny in a London baker’s shop
is here sold for a halfpenny. Well known to strangers are the Princes
Street confectioners’ shops, several of them extensive restaurants like
that one which, crowning its storeys of accommodation, has a roof garden
looking upon the Castle opposite.

The staple trades of Edinburgh have come to be printing and publishing,
and, as the nettle grows near the dock, brewing and distilling. The
great Scottish publishing firms have of late years shown a tendency to
gravitate towards London; but more than one still keeps its
headquarters here, beside some of the largest and best printing
establishments in the kingdom. It must be confessed that what is spoken
of as “_the_ trade,” is whisky, too much consumed about the premises, as
visitors are apt to note. The worst shame a Scotsman need take for
Scotland is on account of what Englishmen specially distinguish as
“Scotch.” I never heard sadder jest than the laughing comment of a group
of Dundee lasses, as they passed a braw lad wallowing in the gutter at
mid-day--“He’s having his holidays!” Yet as to this reproach, something
might be said in plea for mitigation of judgment. Something to the
purpose was said by that experienced toper who explained how “whusky
makes ye drunk before ye are fu’, but yill makes ye fu’ before ye are
drunk.” The whisky drunk by the lower classes here is a demon that takes
no disguise. It seems that, while there is more brutal intoxication in
Scotland, there may be less toping sottishness than in England. Men seen
so helplessly overcome at the ninth hour of a holiday are perhaps of
ordinarily sober habits, all the more readily affected by occasional
indulgence in fiery spirit. A woman frequenting public-houses implies a
lower depth of degradation. In the north, a larger proportion of the
population are abstainers; young people and the class of domestic
servants for instance, drink water where in English families they would
expect beer. In all classes, there are still too many Scotsmen religious
in the worship of their native Bacchus, vulgar and violent deity as he
is; but every year adds to the number of Protestants against this
perverted fanaticism. By the Forbes Mackenzie Act, all public-houses
are

[Illustration: THE BASS ROCK--A TRANQUIL EVENING]

closed on Sunday, when, however, if all stories be true, a good deal of
_shebeening_ or illicit drinking goes on in the cities. It is not
unreasonable to suppose that the austerity of Scottish Sabbatarianism
has driven many into vicious indulgence; and much is to be hoped from
the churches taking an interest in honest amusement as a help and not a
hindrance to religion. But a sneer often thrown out by strangers against
the supposed hypocrisy of Scotsmen, only shows ignorance of a country
where those most concerned about Sabbath observance have long been the
deadliest enemies of drinking habits.

Whisky, as well as golf, has now so masterfully invaded England, that
this can no longer be called “Scottish Drink,” as it was not by Burns.
In his day, home-brewed beer was the Lowland beverage, of which a
Cromwellian soldier complained as more like brose for its thickness. Up
to our day “Edinburgh Ale” made the capital’s chief contribution to the
heady gaiety of nations. Whisky came in from the Highlands, its name a
contraction of _uisgebeatha_, “water of life,” which Burns and Scott
write _usquebaugh_, the Celtic word for water being the same that
appears in so many river names _Esk_, _Usk_, _Exe_, _Axe_, and so forth.
Even in the Highlands, this mountain dew would seem to have supplanted
beer within historic times; and old writers admire the temperance as
much as the honesty and courage of Highlanders. Both Highland and
Lowland gentlemen preferred brandy, in the days when, as Lord Cockburn
tells us, claret was hawked about the Edinburgh streets in a cart, a jug
of any reasonable size being filled for sixpence.

    Firm and erect the Caledonian stood,
    Old was his mutton, and his claret good.
    Let him drink port! a beef-fed statesman cried.
    He drank the poison and his spirit died.

The preference for French wine and spirits before the days of Hanoverian
fiscalities, relates to the old alliance with France, which has left its
mark also on Scottish speech. That warning cry “Gardy-loo” (_gardez
l’eau_), which gave such scandal to early English tourists, was of
course a survival of a far-spread practice in cities before the days of
drainage or even of ash-backets (_baquets_). Many French household words
are used in Scotland at this day, as “caraff” (_carafe_), “ashet”
(_assiette_), a “jiggot” of mutton (_gigot_) a “haggis” (_hachis_); and
Burns’s “silver tassie” was of course a _tasse_. A “cummer” (_commère_)
“canna be fashed” (_se fâcher_) to step out to the “merchant’s,” who may
be “douce” or “dour” and an “honest” man (_honnête_), though sharp in
his bargains. “Ma certie (_certes_), that’s a braw (_brave_) vest!”
quoth a lass to her lad, a word here used like the French _garçon_ or
_gars_, while _gosse_ will be distinguished as a “laddie,” who grows to
be a “young lad” in spite of orgies on sour “grozers” or “grozets” and
“gheans,” which in France are _groseilles_ and _guignes_, but in England
gooseberries and wild cherries. French names too have taken root in
Scotland, Janet (Jeannette) being very common with one sex, as Louis or
Ludovic is not unknown in the other. For the matter of that, one might
string together instances of how the well of Old English flows undefiled
by time in the north.

    Then brought to him that maiden meek
    _Hose_ and _shoon_ and _sark_ and _breek_.

These words are used to this day in every Scottish cottage, as once in
the stately style of an early southron minstrel. Shakespeare and the
Bible show many picked phrases which are now wild flowers in the north;
and high example might be found for the _shalls_ and _wills_ that here
run loose from the enclosures of modern grammarians. But as Mr. David
MacRitchie suggests in an interesting pamphlet, “to _doubt_ that one is
_colded_ and can’t go to _the_ church,” seem rather specimens of French
idioms transplanted during the three centuries or so that Capets and
Stuarts stood together against the Plantagenets.

Protestantism availed to draw Scotland from the arms of France into
those of England; then Prelacy and Presbytery set the near neighbours
again at odds. For some generations, the young Scotsmen who had once
sought the Catholic schools of the Continent, were more in the way of
finishing their education at Dutch or German Universities. Scotland had
also an old connection, chiefly in the way of trade, with Scandinavia
and Poland, in both of which countries Scottish family names are
naturalised, as Swedish Dicksons and Polish Gordons. Scots students of
our day still look to Germany, under whose professors they are apt to
forget the Shorter Catechism for the categories of Kant and the secret
of Hegel. The Union was not fully consummated till Macs began to make
themselves at home in Oxford and Cambridge, while for a time the renown
of Scottish philosophy drew some of the promising English youth to
Edinburgh, whose medical school kept up the attraction. In the last
generation or two, Scotsmen have been only too ready to go south for
education, seeking a stamp of Anglified gentility as well as better
qualities which were perhaps not to be had from those rude old dominies
under whom the young laird and the barefoot loon once sat together in
friendly hatred of “carritch” and rudiments.

Such foreign communications cannot but help young Scotsmen to put their
native prejudices in due proportion, and to doubt if the sun of truth
has always shown most clearly in the sky of one small people much beset
by mists and east winds. Yet Scottish parents seem much “left to
themselves” in sending their sons and daughters beyond Edinburgh for
schooling. One of the most important industries of this city has come to
be education. It abounds in teaching of all kinds, from its venerable
University to spick and span board schools. Those who believe the fable
of Scotch niggardliness should consider that no place in the United
Kingdom, unless it be Bedford, is so rich in educational endowments, and
palatial charity schools, which have long ceased to be charities.
Edinburgh, indeed, suffered from such an embarrassment of benefactions
of this kind, that in our time, several of them have been turned into
day-schools, giving a complete education to thousands of boys and girls
of the better class. The latest large endowment, that of Sir William
Fettes for the children of necessitous families, was applied to building
a sumptuous pile, handed over _per saltum_ to the upper class as a
seminary on the model of English public schools, which only in the
course of generations came so far from the intention

[Illustration: LOCH ACHRAY, THE TROSSACHS, PERTHSHIRE]

of their pious founders. This competition has but set on their mettle
the once “New” Academy, for the best part of a century the chief school
in Scotland, and the old High School that nursed so many generations of
distinguished Scotsmen.

So, as at Bedford, where marriageable damsels complain of the _hims_ as
being either too ancient or too modern, the population of the Scottish
capital is increased by a selection of retired family-fathers, and a
swarm of youngsters who appear to thrive on the easterly winds and
haars. This hint about the weather is let slip unhappily, since I am
about to put forward a bold pretension for “mine own romantic town,” in
a character not obviously associated with it. In case of seeming too
presumptuous on its behalf, I will quote from Black’s _Guide to
Edinburgh_, which ought to be well informed on such matters:--

     “In the holiday season, when Edinburgh is deserted by the upper
     class of its inhabitants, why should it not be sought as a pleasant
     change by the inhabitants of more grimy cities or less inspiring
     scenes? It may seem strange to mention the capital of Scotland as a
     health resort; yet, when one comes to think of it, ‘Auld Reekie’
     has more claim to this extra title than many less famous places
     which flourish in full reputation for gay and picturesque
     salubrity. The fact is, that had Edinburgh not been a great city,
     it might well be a Clifton or a Scarborough, and its ancient
     dignity need not be allowed to overshadow its other merits. To
     begin with, the climate is airy and bracing, notoriously rather too
     much so at most seasons, but the sea-breezes cool the heat of
     summer, and the moderate rainfall is soon carried off on the
     sloping streets. Practically it stands on the sea, the shore being
     hardly farther from the centre of Edinburgh than from some parts
     of Brighton. By train or tram one can run down at any hour to
     Portobello, where are sands, donkeys, crowds, bathing-machines,
     pleasure-boats, and ornamental pier to satisfy the most fastidious
     Margateer. At Craiglockhart, a mile or so from the outskirts of the
     town, there is a first-class hydropathic establishment, nestling
     under the wild scenery of the Pentland Hills. Nor is mineral water
     wanting, if that be desired. In the valley of the Water of Leith,
     below the stately mansions of Moray Place, a sulphurous spring may
     be found dispensed in a little classical temple that elsewhere
     would pass for a creditable pump-room, though many citizens of
     Edinburgh, perhaps, know nothing about it. Bands play almost daily
     in one or other of the parks; and even nigger minstrels, no doubt,
     might be found, if that feature seemed indispensable to the
     character of a holiday resort. There is no want of theatrical and
     other performances. Then, as we have shown, few cities are so well
     off for coach, steamboat, and railway excursions which would bring
     one back in a day from a round through half of Scotland.”



CHAPTER III

THE TROSSACHS ROUND


Beyond Edinburgh, perhaps the best known town in Scotland is Stirling,
which hordes of pilgrims pass in the round trip of a single day through
the famous Trossachs District, displaying such a finely mixed assortment
of Scottish scenery, lochs, woods, and mountains

            that like giants stand
    To sentinel enchanted land.

Stirling, on the edge of the Highlands, played a central part, even long
after the Scottish kings had been drawn down to the rich fields of
Lothian and the Merse. From the rock on which the Castle stands, only
less boldly than that of Edinburgh, one looks over the Links of Forth,
making such sinuous meanderings upon its Carse, and across to the Ochil
Hills that border Fife; then from another point of view appear the
rugged Bens among which Roderick Dhu had his strongholds. Not fair
prospects alone are tourists’ attraction to Stirling. The palace of
James V., the houses of great nobles like Argyll and Mar, the execution
place of the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Scotland, the memorials
of Protestant martyrs, the proud monuments of Bruce and Wallace, the
ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey, with its royal sepulchre, all show this
region the heart of mediæval Scottish history. While Edinburgh grew to
be recognised as the capital, Stirling Castle was the birthplace and the
favourite residence of several among the James Stuarts that came to such
an uneasy crown in boyhood; sometimes it was their prison or their
school of sanguinary politics, when possession of the royal person
counted as ace in the game played by truculently treacherous nobles. It
has the distinction of being the last British castle to stand a siege,
raised in 1746 by the Duke of Cumberland, when, as his panegyrical
historian says, “in the Space of one single Week, his Royal Highness
quitted the Court of the King his Father, put himself at the head of his
Troops in _Scotland_, and saw the Enemy flying with Precipitation before
him, so that it may be said that his progress was like Lightning, the
rebels fled at the flash, fearing the Thunder that was to follow.” Its
ramparts look down on Scotland’s dearest battlefields, that where
Wallace ensnared the invader at the Old Bridge, and that of Bannockburn,
when Bruce turned the flower of English chivalry to dust and to gold,
for, as the latest historian says, “it rained ransoms” in Scotland after
this profitable victory.

One may speculate what might have been the fate of the United Kingdom
had Bannockburn ended otherwise. Would the barons of the north have
found a master in Edward III.? Would the Plantagenets, with Scotland to
back them, have made good their conquest of France? Would the stern
reformers across the Tweed have suffered the Tudors to shape and
re-shape the Church as they

[Illustration: STIRLING CASTLE FROM THE KING’S KNOT]

did? Would the Scottish adventurers who once kept their swords sharp as
soldiers of fortune all over Europe, have sooner found a career in
forcing themselves to the front of British society? This much seems
clear, that there has been a woeful waste of ill-blood before a union
that came about after all, in the way of peace. Yet are we so made that
the most philosophic Scot, even fresh from a course of John Stuart Mill
or Herbert Spencer, cannot look down upon these battle-grounds without a
throb in his heart. It was Bannockburn that made us a nation, poor but
free to be ourselves. Then, since we did not always come off so well in
our battles with England, naturally we make much of the points won in a
doubtful game. When I was at school there came among us perfervid young
Scots an English boy, before whom, we agreed, it would be courteous and
kind not to mention Bannockburn. Yet in the end some itching tongue let
slip this moving name, but without ruffling our new comrade’s pride. It
turned out that he complacently took Bannockburn to have been an English
victory; at all events, one more or less made no great matter to his
thinking. Englishmen take their own national trophies so much for
granted, that they are apt to forget the susceptibilities of other
peoples. Such a one was rebuked by a coachman driving him over the field
of Bannockburn. “You Scotch are always boasting of your country, but
when you come south you are in no hurry to get back again.” With thumb
pointed to the ground, the Scot made stern answer: “There was thirty
thousand o’ you cam north, and no mahny o’ them went back again!” There
are other battlefields about Stirling, of which Scotland has no such
title to be proud, as that of Falkirk, where Wallace brought his renown
to a falling market and Prince Charles Edward had but half a victory;
that of Sauchieburn, where James III. was foully slain; and that of
Sheriffmuir, the Culloden of 1715.

Let us hang a little longer upon the Castle ramparts to take a
bird’s-eye view of the stirring story that often came to centre round
this rock. Over Highland mountain and Lowland strath the clouds lift
away, giving here and there a doubtful glimpse of Scots from Ireland,
Celts from who knows how far, Britons of Strathclyde, and dim Picts of
the east, each such a wild race as “slew the slayer and shall himself be
slain,” among whom intrude Roman legions and Norse pirates, the former
falling back from their thistly conquest, the latter settling themselves
firmly on the coasts. Out of this welter, as out of the Heptarchy in the
south, emerges a more or less dominant kingdom seated on the Tay. While
the power of the Scots seems to have gone under, their name floats at
the top, so as to christen the new nation, that on the south side, from
the wide bounds of Northumbria, takes in a stable element destined to be
the cement of the whole.

The next act shows the struggle of a partly Saxonised people against the
Anglo-Norman kings and their claims to feudal superiority. The curtain
rises on a sensational melodrama of confused alarms and excursions,
where the ill-drilled Celtic supernumeraries at the back of the stage
often fall to fighting like wild cats among themselves, while the
mail-clad barons prance now on one side and now on the other, as the
scenes shift about a border-line almost rubbed out by the crossing and
recrossing of

[Illustration: THE OUTFLOW OF LOCH KATRINE, PERTHSHIRE]

armies. The heroes of the most thrilling tableaux are Wallace and Bruce;
and the loudest applause hails the culminating blaze of lime-light on
Bannockburn.

The wars of Independence are not yet at an end, but the Scots people
have learned more or less firmly to stand together, and their chiefs,
when not led astray by feud and treachery, begin to enter into the
spirit of the piece, in which France now takes a leading part. But
Banquo’s ill-fortune dogs the line not yet fully consecrated by
misfortune. Over the stage passes that woeful procession of boy kings,
most of them cut off before they had learned to rule, each leaving his
son to be in turn kidnapped and tutored by fierce nobles to whom John
Knox might well have preached on the text “Woe to thee, O land, when thy
king is a child!” more profitably than he denounced that “monstrous
regiment of women.” This act culminates in the Reformation, when for a
generation Scotland is not clear whether to cry “Unhand me, villain!” to
France, or to England, the two powers that at her side play Codlin and
Short in a tragic mask.

When James VI. had posted off to his richer inheritance, we might expect
an idyllic transformation scene of peace out of pain. But the Scot has
no turn for peace. Is it the mists and east winds that set such a keen
edge on his temper? When not at loyal war, he is robbing and raiding his
neighbours, as if to keep his hand in; and if no strife be stirring at
home, he hires himself out as a professional fighter or football player
over foreign countries and counties, for pelf indeed, but also for the
zest of the game. And now that Scotland has no longer its wonted
national exercise of defending itself against England, it developed at
home that notable taste for spiritual combat; so the next act has for
its main interest a controversy as to what things were Cæsar’s,
throughout which the hard-headed and hot-hearted theologians of the
north made fitful efforts to be loyal to Cæsar, who, on his part, gave
them little cause for loyalty.

With the Revolution Settlement and the Act of Union the stage appears
cleared for a happy denouement, which, indeed, but for episodes of
rebellion and vulgar grudges on both sides, comes on at length as the
two rivals learn how after all they are not hero and villain, but
long-lost brothers, the one rich and proud but generous, the other poor
and honest. Already, before the world’s footlights, we see them fallen
into each other’s arms, blessed by nature and fortune, to the music of
“Rule, Britannia,” amid the cheers of a crowd of colonies, though
foreign spectators may shrug their shoulders and twirl their moustaches
when invited to applaud.

But may there not be an epilogue to the sensational acts of Scottish
history? As Saxondom overcame the plaided and kilted clans, is not
Scotland in turn destined to overlie the rest of the island? Here we
approach a delicate subject of consideration. In this enlightened age
when, as a great Scotsman says, “the Torch of Science has now been
brandished and borne about with more or less effect for five thousand
years and upwards,” the truly philosophic mind should be capable of
rising above the pettiness of national prejudice. Only foolish and
uninstructed persons can cling to the belief that their peculiar
community, large or small, is necessarily identified with the highest
excellences of creation. Wise

[Illustration: IN THE HEART OF THE TROSSACHS, PERTHSHIRE]

men agree to recognise that as a poor vanity which winks fondly at the
halo consecrating its own faults, while blind to the plainest merits of
its neighbours. Excesses, defects, and compensations must be everywhere
recognised and allowed for, then at last we can take a calm and exact
account of human nature in its different manifestations regarded by the
light of impartial candour. And when in such a judicious spirit we come
to survey mankind from China to Peru, there can surely be little doubt
as to the due place of Scots in the broken clan of McAdam.

The above edifying principles were earnestly enforced upon me by a
French _savant_ with whom I once travelled in the Desert of Sahara, who
yet almost foamed at the mouth if one pointed the moral with a Prussian
helmet-spike. Hitherto, alas! international characterisations have been
coarse work, usually touched with a spice of malice. Every parish
flatters itself by locating Gotham just over its boundary, as any county
may have some unkind reproach against its neighbours, Wiltshire
moon-rakers, Hampshire hogs, or what not; and nations, too, bandy
satirical epithets, like those of a certain poet--

    France is the land of sober common-sense,
    And Spain of intellectual eminence.
    In Russia there are no such things as chains;
    Supreme at Rome enlightened reason reigns.
    Unbounded liberty is Austria’s boast,
    And iron Prussia is as free--almost.
    America, that stationary clime,
    Boasts of tradition and the olden time.
    England, the versatile and gay,
    Rejoices in theatrical display.
    The sons of Scotia are impulsive, rash,
    Infirm of purpose, prodigal of cash.
    But Paddy----

But, indeed, the rest is too scandalous for publication.

The most marked feature of the Scottish national character is perhaps an
engaging modesty that forbids me to dwell on the achievements of a small
country’s thin population, who have written so many names so widely over
the world. But it must be admitted how the King of Great Britain sits on
his throne in virtue of the Scottish blood that exalted a “wee bit
German lairdie.” Our men of light and leading are naturally Scotsmen,
the leaders of both parties in the House of Commons, for instance. Since
Disraeli--himself sprung from the Chosen People of the old
Dispensation--Lord Salisbury was our only Premier not a Scotsman. Both
the present Archbishops of the Anglican Church come from Presbyterian
Scotland. The heads of other professions in England usually are or ought
to be Scotsmen. The United States Constitution seems to require an
amendment permitting the President to be a born Scot; but such names as
Adams, Polk, Scott, Grant, McClellan, and McKinley have their
significance in the history of that country, while in Canada, of course,
Mac has come to mean much what Pharaoh did in Egypt. It is believed that
no Scotsman has as yet been Pope; but there appears a sad falling away
in the Catholic Church since its earliest Fathers were well known as
sound Presbyterians. The first man mentioned in the Bible was certainly
a Scot, though English jealousy seeks to disguise him as James I. Your
“beggarly Scot” has the Apostles as accomplices in what Englishmen look
on as his worst sin, a vice of

[Illustration: BRIG O’ TURK AND BEN VENUE, PERTHSHIRE]

poverty which, in the fulness of time, he begins to live down. Both
Major and Minor Prophets deal with their Ahabs and Jezebels much in the
tone of John Knox. A legend, not lightly to be despised, makes our
ancestress Scota, Pharaoh’s daughter; but I do not insist on a possible
descent from the lost Tribes of Israel. Noah is recorded as the first
Covenanter. Cain and Abel appear to have started the feud of Highlander
and Lowlander. Father Adam is certainly understood to have worn the
kilt. The Royal Scots claim to have furnished the guard over the Garden
of Eden, in which case unpleasing questions are suggested as to the
duties of the Black Watch at that epoch. The name of Eden was at one
time held to fix the site of Paradise in the East Neuk of Fife; but the
higher criticism inclines to Glasgow Green. In the south of Lanark,
indeed, are four streams that have yielded gold; but they compass a
country more abounding in lead, and the climate seems not congenial to
fruit trees. “I confess, my brethren,” said the controversial divine,
“that there is a difficulty here; but let us look it boldly in the face,
and pass on.”

The antiquities of Stirling contrast with the modern trimness of its
neighbour, the Bridge of Allan, lying at the foot of the Ochils two or
three miles off, a Leamington to the Scottish Warwick, the tramway
between them passing the hill on which, to humble southron tourists,
Professor Blackie and other ardent patriots reared that tall Wallace
Monument whose interior makes a Walhalla of memorials to eminent
Scotsmen like Carlyle and Gladstone. Bridge of Allan is a place of mills
and bleach works, and of resort for its Spa of saline water,
recommended, too, by its repute for a mild spring climate, rare in the
north. The “Bridge,” which we have so often in Scottish place-names,
points to a time when bridges were not matters of course; as in the
Highlands we shall find “Boats” recording a more backward stage of
ferries. This bridge spans the wooded “banks of Allan Water,” up which a
pleasant path leads one to Dunblane, with the Ochil moorlands for its
background.

Dunblane is notable for one of the few Gothic cathedrals still used in
Scotland as a parish church. Sympathetically restored, it has even
become the scene of forms of worship which scandalised true-blue
Presbyterians, while on the other hand I once came across an Anglican
lady much shocked to find how “actually there was a Presbyterian service
going on!” Carved screen, stalls, and communion table make ornaments
seldom seen in the bareness of a northern kirk, this one admirable in
its proportions and mouldings, if without the elaborate decoration of
Melrose. It has a valuable legacy in the library of a divine well known
in both countries, the tolerant Archbishop Leighton.

Among Scotsmen, Dunblane enjoys a modest repute as a place of
_villeggiatura_; to tourists it is perhaps best known as junction of the
Caledonian line to Oban, which brings them to Callander, a few miles
from the Trossachs. This line at first follows the course of the Teith,
“daughter of three mighty lakes,” past Doune Castle, not Burns’s “Bonnie
Doon,” but an imposing monument of feudal struggles and crimes, that has
housed many a royal guest, if not, as one of its parish ministers
gravely declares for unquestionable, Fitz-James himself on the night
before his adventurous chase. So late as 1745,

[Illustration: BIRCHES BY LOCH ACHRAY, PERTHSHIRE]

Home, the author of _Douglas_, had an adventure here, confined as
prisoner of war in a Jacobite dungeon, from which he escaped, with five
fellow-captives, in quite romantic style; and this, we know, was one of
the stages of Captain Edward Waverley’s journey. Farther up the river,
another place of note is Cambusmore, where Scott spent the youthful
holidays that made him familiar with the Trossachs country. Callander he
does not mention, its name not fitting into his metre, whereas its
neighbour Dunblane’s amenity to rhyme brought to be planted there a
flower of song at the hands of a writer who perhaps knew it only by
name. But Callander has grown into a snug little town of hotels and
lodging-houses below most lovely scenery, little spoiled by the chain of
lakes above being harnessed as water-works for thirsty Glasgow, whose
Bailie Nicol Jarvies now lord it over the country of Rob Roy and
Roderick Dhu.

Another way to the Trossachs is by “the varied realms of fair Menteith,”
through which a railway joins the banks of the Forth and the Clyde. The
name of Menteith has an ugly association to Scottish ears through Sir
John Menteith, a son of its earl, who betrayed Wallace to the English;
the signal for these Philistines’ onrush was given by his turning a loaf
upside down, and so to handle bread was long an insult to any man of the
execrated name. Sir John afterwards fought under Bruce; but however
Scottish nobles might change sides in the game of feudal allegiance, the
Commons were always true to patriotic resentment; and no services of
that house have quite wiped out the memory of a traitor remembered as
Gan among the peers of Charlemagne or Simon Girty on the backwoods
frontier of America. And fortune seems to have concurred in the popular
verdict, for till even the shadow of it died out in a wandering beggar,
little luck went with the title of Menteith, least of all in a claim to
legitimate heirship of the Crown; then this earldom seemed doubly cursed
when transferred to the Grahams, one of whom was ringleader in the
murder of James I.

Menteith, one of the chief provinces of old Scotland, has shrunk to the
name of a district described in a witty booklet by a son of the soil,
far travelled in other lands.[A] “A kind of sea of moss and heath, a
bristly country (Trossachs is said to mean the bristled land) shut in by
hills on every side,” in which “nearly every hill and strath has had its
battles between the Grahams and the Macgregors”; but now “over the
Fingalian path, where once the red-shank trotted on his Highland garron,
the bicyclist, the incarnation of the age, looks to a sign-post and sees
_This hill is dangerous_.” Its stony fields and lochans lying between
hummocks are horizoned by grand mountains, among which Ben Lomond, to
the west, is the dominating feature, “in winter, a vast white
sugar-loaf; in summer, a prismatic cone of yellow and amethyst and opal
lights; in spring, a grey, gloomy, stony pile of rocks; in autumn, a
weather indicator; for when the mist curls down its sides, and hangs in
heavy wreaths from its double summit ‘it has to rain,’ as the Spaniards
say.”

[A] _Notes on the District of Menteith_, by R. B. Cunninghame Graham.

Menteith became a resort before Callander, when, early in the eighteenth
century, we find Clerk of Penicuik taking

[Illustration: HEAD OF LOCH LOMOND, LOOKING UP GLEN FALLOCH,
PERTHSHIRE]

his family there on a “goat’s whey campaign,” for which remedy the
Highland borders were often visited in his day. At an earlier day, canny
Lowlanders would be shy of trusting themselves, on business or pleasure,
beyond the Forth; and, even later, we know how Bailie Nicol Jarvie
thought twice before venturing into the haunts of that “honest” kinsman
of his. As Ben Lomond dominates this landscape, so looms out the memory
of Rob Roy Macgregor, that doughty outlaw who, like Robin Hood, has
taken such hold on popular imagination. Graham as he is, one suspects
the above-quoted representative of the old earls to have his heart with
an ancestral enemy who practised a kind of wild socialism--

    To spoil the spoiler as he may,
    And from the robber rend the prey.

It appears that Scott had Rob Roy in his eye as a model for Roderick
Dhu, and it is the Macgregor country which he has given to his
fictitious Vich Alpines. Mr. Cunninghame Graham points out how the
Highland borders were always more troubled than the interior clandom,
and how here especially the vicinity of a rich lowland offered constant
temptation for followers of the “good old rule, the simple plan”
recorded by Wordsworth. The Forth made a boundary against these
predatory excursions, yet sometimes a Roderick Dhu would harry fields
and farms as far as the home of “poor Blanche of Devon,” beyond
Stirling. The “red soldiers” in turn came to pass the Highland line. On
Ellen’s Isle women and children took refuge from Cromwell’s men; Monk
marched by Aberfoyle, noting for destruction its woods that harboured
rebels; and not to speak of Captain Thornton’s unlucky expedition, no
less authentic a hero than Wolfe once commanded the fortress which the
Georges placed at Inversnaid, near Rob Roy’s home, to bridle that broken
clan of Ishmaelites.

The railway, from Glasgow or from Stirling, passes to the south of the
Loch of Menteith, with its islands, to which a short divagation might be
made. Here, on the “Isle of Rest,” shaded by giant chestnuts which
tradition brings from Rome, are the ruins of a cloister whither the
child Queen Mary was carried for refuge after the battle of Pinkie,
before setting out for France with her playmate maids of honour.

    Last night the Queen had four Marys,
      To-night she’ll have but three;
    There was Mary Beaton and Mary Seaton
      And Mary Carmichael and me.

Mary Livingston was the authentic fourth of the quartette in those days,
and Mary Fleming held the place of Mary Carmichael. The luckless heroine
of this touching ballad was a Mary Hamilton supposed by Scott to have
been one of the Queen’s attendants later on, but her identity is
somewhat dubious; and one writer shows reason to believe that the story
of her crime and punishment has been strangely shifted from the Russian
Court of Peter the Great, where she might well exclaim--

    Ah! little did my minnie think,
      The night she cradled me
    The lands that I should travel in,
      The death that I should dee!

Beyond this lake a railway branch brings us to

[Illustration: GOLDEN AUTUMN, THE TROSSACHS, PERTHSHIRE]

Aberfoyle, on the banks of the “infant Forth,” its nursery name the Avon
Dhu, “Blackwater,” haunted like a child’s dreams by fairies of whom
prudent Bailie Nicol Jarvie spoke under his breath, though he professed
to hold them as “deceits of Satan.” Here the change-house of Lucky
M‘Alpine has been replaced by an hotel offering all the comforts of the
Saltmarket, along with golf links and fishing at Loch Ard. As Ipswich
shows the very room in the White Hart occupied by Mr. Pickwick and the
green gate at which Sam Weller met Job Trotter, so among the lions here
are the ploughshare valiantly handled by Bailie Nicol Jarvie, nay, even
the identical bough from which he swung suspended by his coat tails.
Such relics let one guess why that worthy citizen would not give “the
finest sight in the Hielands for the first keek o’ the Gorbals of
Glasgow!” But he might have taken another view had he seen the great
slate quarries that now scar the braes of Aberfoyle, or that
pleasure-house on Loch Katrine set apart for Glasgow magistrates to
disport themselves at the source of their city’s water supply.

From Aberfoyle or from Callander, the rest of the journey is by road to
the Trossachs Hotel, which seems to represent Fitz-James’s imagination
of “lordly tower” or “cloister grey”; then on through the mile of
bristling pass to the foot of Loch Katrine. How many a peaceful stranger
has passed this way since the Knight of Snowdoun’s steed here “stretched
his stiff limbs to rise no more”! What “cost thy life, my gallant grey”
would be the fact that even in the poet’s day, the path to Ellen’s Isle
was more like a ladder than a road. Now the danger most to be feared is
from Sassenach cycling, which caused a coach accident in the vicinity a
few years ago. Umbrellas had replaced claymores so far back as
Wordsworth’s time; and waterproofs are the armour most displayed, where
once

    Refluent through the pass of fear
      The battle’s tide was pour’d;
    Vanish’d the Saxon’s struggling spear,
      Vanish’d the mountain-sword.
    As Bracklinn’s chasm, so black and steep,
      Receives her roaring linn,
    As the dark caverns of the deep
      Suck the wild whirlpool in,
    So did the deep and darksome pass
    Devour the battle’s mingled mass:
    None linger now upon the plain,
    Save those who ne’er shall fight again.

Macaulay, in his slap-dash style, has explained the want of taste for
the picturesque in a bailie or such like of more romantic times. “He is
not likely to be thrown into ecstasies by the abruptness of a precipice
from which he is in imminent danger of falling two thousand feet
perpendicular; by the boiling waves of a torrent which suddenly whirls
away his baggage and forces him to run for his life; by the gloomy
grandeur of a pass where he finds a corpse which marauders have just
stripped and mangled; or by the screams of those eagles whose next meal
may probably be on his own eyes.” But Dr. Hume Brown (_Early Travellers
in Scotland_) shows how there were bold and not unappreciative tourists
in the Highlands before the era of return tickets. Whatever the
guide-books say, it is certainly not the case that the Trossachs were
discovered by Scott. In Dr. T. Garnett’s _Tour through the Highlands_,
published 1800, he relates a visit

[Illustration: THE RIVER TEITH, WITH LOCHS ACHRAY AND VENNACHAR,
PERTHSHIRE]

to the “Drosacks,” and speaks of the place as sought out by foreigners.
Several years before the publication of the _Lady of the Lake_,
Wordsworth, with Coleridge and his sister, on a Scottish tour, turned
aside to this beauty-spot, which they duly admired in spite of the rain;
and there they met a drawing-master from Edinburgh on the same
picturesque-hunting errand. Dorothy Wordsworth’s _Journal_ tells us how
the cottars were amused to hear of their secluded home being known in
England; how two huts had been erected by Lady Perth for the
accommodation of visitors; and how a dozen years before the minister of
Callander had published an account of the Trossachs as a scene “that
beggars all description.”

The bad weather proved too much for Coleridge, who turned back from the
tour here; and his muse seems not to have been inspired by this land of
the mountain which he found also a land of the flood. Wordsworth,
however, made several attempts to annex Scotland to his native domain.
Truth to tell, the lake poet’s harp sounds sometimes out of tune across
the Border, as witness his woeful travesty of the “Helen of Kirkconnel”
story, and the philosophic considerations which he attributes to Rob Roy
over what may have been that bold outlaw’s grave. There is one verse in
his “Highland Reaper” which seems a perfect epitome of the future
Laureate’s qualities, who, if he “uttered nothing base,” could come too
near being commonplace. “_Will no one tell me what she sings?_” is
surely in the flat tone which one irreverent critic describes as a
“bleat.” “_Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow_”--is not this the false
gallop of eighteenth-century verse, out of which Wordsworth vainly
believed that he had broken his Pegasus? But in such pinchbeck setting,
what a pearl of price--

    For old, unhappy, far-off things,
    And battles long ago!

Thus to him, too, “Caledonia stern and wild” could breathe her secret,
while to put life into the raids and combats of long ago was for another
bard who plays drum and trumpet in the orchestra of British poetry. I am
not going to string vain epithets on the Trossachs, familiar to all
readers if only from the pages of their great advertiser. But let me
hint to tourists who come duly furnished with the _Lady of the Lake_,
that Black’s _Guide to the Trossachs_ includes an excellent commentary
on the poem from what may seem an unpoetical source, the pen of an
Astronomer-Royal, Sir G. B. Airey, whose topographical analysis will be
found most instructive. These scenes appear somewhat trimmed since an
old writer described the Highlands “as a part of the creation left
undrest.” The lake edges have been smoothed off, as the “unfathomable
glades” of the Trossachs are opened up by a road, below the line of the
old pass and the hill tracks by which the Fiery Cross was sped towards
Strath-Ire.

For an account of this country as it is in our day, we may refer to a
French story by a writer named, of all names, André Laurie, whose native
heath ought to be the bonny braes of Maxwelton. This book has the
serious purpose of giving a view of English school athletics, and
pointing the moral that Frenchmen so trained would be all the fitter for
_la revanche_. The hero, sent to school in England, is, as part of his
educational course, taken by the schoolmaster on a shooting excursion in
the Highlands.

[Illustration: VEILED SUNSHINE, THE TROSSACHS, PERTHSHIRE]

They put up at the _White Heart_, one of the principal hotels of
_Glascow_, and the landlord is so interested in their bold enterprise
that he personally conducts them on the _chasse aux grouses_. Nay more,
he equips them with a pack of piebald pointers, well trained to retrieve
in water, which he had come by in a remarkable manner: a certain Lord
Stilton, breakfasting at the hotel, with true British generosity made
his host a present of these matchless hounds by way of _largesse_ for an
excellent dish of trout--a rare treat, it seems, in this part of the
world.

The first day’s proceedings of the sporting troop are most notable. They
“leave the civilised country” at Renfrew. How they get across the Clyde
does not appear; but there are no doubt stepping-stones in all Highland
streams. Having thus invaded the Lennox, they forthwith stalk its
desolate moors from Loch Lomond to Loch Katrine, where as a touch of
local colour the author is careful to point out that one must not use
the word lakes. Nine or ten strong, the company is thrown out in
skirmishing order, those who have guns marching in front behind the
dogs, while the unarmed members are invited to bring up the rear “as
simple spectators.” Scotland being such a proverbially hospitable
country, they do not judge it necessary to provide themselves with leave
or license, but their hotel-keeper for two or three shillings hires a
bare-legged shepherd in “a short petticoat” to show them where the game
lies. In spite of this liberality, towards the end of the day the bag
amounts only to three or four head, including one hare, explained to be
a _rara avis_ hereabouts, and one fierce bull which has given a spice
of danger to their sport. In the evening, however, the grouse begin to
“rise,” spring up “every instant under their feet,” and nearly two dozen
are brought down, enough to serve for supper. The question of lodging
presents more difficulty, the Trossachs being an “absolutely desert”
country without a village for six leagues round; but the whole party are
comfortably accommodated in a fisherman’s hut, fifteen to twenty feet
square, which must have been a tight fit for ten, even though there was
no furniture beyond a table, two benches and a sheepskin. With genuine
Scottish pride the fisherman refuses to accept a bawbee from his guests;
though rather too much given to “bird’s eye tobacco” and “that
abominable product of civilisation Scotch whisky,” he is a superior
person, by his parents designed for the national church, but the honour
of “wearing a surplice,” it is explained, had not seemed to him worth
the frequent birching which makes the discipline of parish schools in
the north.

Next day, for a change, the strangers give themselves up to the kindred
sport of angling; and two of them undertake the Alpine ascent of one of
the peaks above Loch Katrine, but, without a guide, come to sore grief,
and have to be rescued by a search party led by those sagacious pointers
in true Ben St. Bernard style. In such cases, our author points out “the
superiority of the savage over the civilised man, at least in the
desert.” Only to the Highland fisherman had it occurred that those
luckless adventurers might want something to eat; but he, taught by
experience, produces in the nick of time a bottle of whisky, a biscuit
and a slice of bacon; and thus

[Illustration: NEAR ARDLUI, LOCH LOMOND, DUMBARTONSHIRE]

the perishing hero’s life is saved to “dance a Scottish _gigue_”--O M.
Laurie, M. Laurie, O!

The dancing comes through a luxurious experience of Highland high-life,
when this band of youths fall in with an old schoolfellow, a Scottish
nobleman who bears what seems the exotic title of Lord Camember, but his
family name is that well-known aristocratic one of Orton. He welcomes
them to his castle, where his coming of age is being celebrated by
crowds strangely enormous for such a “desert country,” who are
entertained under tents “vast as cathedrals,” with splendid hospitality
open to all comers, fountains flowing with beer, speeches, music,
dancing, and fireworks. As _bouquet_ of the festivities, he invites the
strangers to a review of his stags, driven together “in full trot” till
their gigantic antlers “gave the illusion of the marching forest in the
Macbeth legend.” The drive past lasts more than an hour, in the course
of which are enumerated 5947 horns, so that, allowing for absentees, the
young lord estimates a round number of seven thousand as the stock of
his deer forest. There could have been no such head of game in the
district when Fitz-James galloped all the way from the Earn to Loch
Katrine after one stag, losing it as well as his way. One can’t help
feeling that our author’s excursion through the scenes of his story must
have been an equally rapid one.

The Trossachs pass leads us to that lake that gets a fair-seeming name
not from any saint, but from the Highland _Caterans_ who once infested
its banks; and it is hinted that “Ellen’s Isle” may have come to be
christened through Scott’s mistaking the Gaelic word _Eilean_ (island).
There was, indeed, a certain Helen Stuart who played a grimly fierce
part in defending this place of refuge, as related in the poem, but her
exploit was performed against Cromwell’s soldiers. In sight of the
“Silver Strand,” tourists are wont to take steamboat as far as
Stronachlachar, and there cross by coach to the “bonny, bonny banks of
Loch Lomond.” They whose “free course” moves not by “such fixed cause,”
might well hold on to the head of Loch Katrine, crossing to Loch Lomond
over the wild heights of Glengyle; or they would not find it amiss to
turn back to Aberfoyle, thence past Loch Ard and the Falls of Ledard,
following the track round Ben Lomond on which Rob Roy led Osbaldistone
and the Bailie out of his country. But one knows not how to direct
strangers to that wild region vaguely outlined by the above-mentioned
French author, where our generation may shoot grouse and bulls as they
go, and find quarters in any convenient hut or castle, when the
Trossachs hotel happens to have “not a bed for love or money.” His
story, one fears, must be counted with the mediæval wonders of Loch
Lomond, fish without fins, waves without wind, and such a floating
island as still emerges after hot summers in Derwentwater.

Dorothy Wordsworth, for one, rather belittles Loch Katrine as an
“Ulswater dismantled of its grandeur and cropped of its lesser
beauties,” though she compliments the upper part as “very pleasing,
resembling Thirlmere below Armboth.” But no critic can carp at the fame
of Loch Lomond as the most beautiful lake in Scotland; and one author
who, as a native of the Lennox, is not indeed unprejudiced, Smollett to
wit, gives it the palm over all the lakes he has seen in Italy or
Switzerland. Dr. Chalmers wondered if there would not be a Loch Lomond
in heaven.

[Illustration: THE SILVER STRAND, LOCH KATRINE, PERTHSHIRE]

“A little Mediterranean” is the style given by a seventeenth-century
English tourist, Franck, to what Scott boldly pronounces “one of the
most surprising, beautiful, and sublime spectacles in nature,” its
narrow upper fiord “lost among dusky and retreating mountains,” at the
foot opening into an archipelago of wooded islands, threaded by
steamboats, while up the western shore runs one of the best cycling
roads in the kingdom, past memorials of Stuarts and Buchanans,
Colquhouns and wild Macfarlanes. On the other side are caves associated
with the adventures of Rob Roy, and spots sung by Wordsworth. And all
this wonderland is overshadowed by Ben Lomond, its ascent easily made on
foot or pony-back by a traveller not bound to do this whole round in one
day. But let him beware of getting lost in the mist and having to spend
all night on the mountain, as was the lot of that New England Sibyl,
Margaret Fuller. Also he should not imitate a facetious friend of mine
who left his card in the cairn at the top, and two or three days later
received it enclosed in this note: “Mr. Ben Lomond presents his
compliments to Mr. ---- and begs to say that not only does his position
prevent him from returning visits, but he has no desire for Mr. ----’s
further acquaintance.”

At the foot of Loch Lomond we regain the rails that will carry us to
Edinburgh, to Glasgow, to Stirling, or to the western Highlands. The
first stage is down the Vale of Leven to Dumbarton, _arx inexpugnabilis_
of old Scotland, its name _Dunbritton_ recording the older days when it
was the stronghold of a Cumbrian kingdom. Here the literary _genius
loci_ is that not very ethereal shade Tobias Smollett, who, born on the
banks of Leven, has nothing to say of the Trossachs, but looked back on
the scene of Roderick Random’s pranks as an eighteenth-century Arcadia,
that could move him to a rare strain of sentiment in his “Ode to Leven
Water.”

    Devolving from thy parent lake,
    A charming maze thy waters make,
    By bowers of birch, and groves of pine,
    And hedges flower’d with eglantine.
    Still on thy banks, so gaily green,
    May numerous herds and flocks be seen,
    And lasses chanting o’er the pail,
    And shepherds piping in the dale,
    And ancient faith that knows no guile,
    And industry embrown’d with toil,
    And hearts resolved, and hands prepared,
    The blessings they enjoy to guard.

[Illustration: LOCH ACHRAY AND BEN VENUE, PERTHSHIRE]



CHAPTER IV

THE KINGDOM OF FIFE


Like Somerset, claiming to be something more than a mere shire, the
county half fondly, half jestingly entitled a kingdom, lies islanded
between two firths, cut off from the world by the sea and from the rest
of Scotland by the Ochil ridges. The “Fifers” are thus supposed to be a
race apart; but it would be more like the truth to take Fifeishness as
the essence of Saxon Scotland. Fife is, in fact, an epitome of the
Lowlands, showing great stretches of practically prosaic farming, others
of grimy coal-field, with patches of moor, bog, and wind-blown firs,
here and there swelling into hill features, that in the abrupt Lomonds
attain almost mountain dignity in face of their Highland namesake, sixty
miles away. Open to cold sea winds, it nurses the hardy frames of
“buirdly chiels and clever hizzies”; and all the invigorating discipline
of the northern climate is understood to be concentrated in the East
Neuk of Fife, where a weakling like R. L. Stevenson might well sigh over
the “flaws of fine weather that we call our northern summer.” It is in
the late autumn that this eastern coast is at its best of halcyon days.
As we have seen, the poet lived a little farther south who still laid
himself open to Tom Hood’s reproach--

    ‘Come, gentle spring, ethereal mildness come!’
    O Thomson, void of rhyme as well as reason,
    How could’st thou thus poor human nature _hum_--
        There’s no such season!

In the _Antiquary’s_ period, we know how Fife was reached from Edinburgh
by crossing the Firth at Queensferry, as old as Malcolm Canmore’s
English consort, or by the longer sail from Leith to Kinghorn, where
Alexander III. broke his neck to Scotland’s woe. A more roundabout land
route was _via_ Stirling, chosen by prudent souls like the old wife who,
being advised to put her trust in Providence for the passage, replied,
“Na, na, sae lang as there’s a brig at Stirling I’ll no fash
Providence!” Lord Cockburn records how that conscientious divine, Dr
John Erskine, feeling it his duty to vote in a Fife election, when too
infirm to bear the motion of boat or carriage, arranged to walk all the
way by Stirling, but was saved this fortnight’s pilgrimage by the
contest being given up. Till the building of its Firth bridges, the
North British Railway’s passengers had to tranship both in entering and
leaving Fife, a mild taste of adventure for small schoolboys. Now, as
all the world knows, the shores of Lothian are joined to Fife by that
monumental Forth Bridge that humps itself into view miles away. Then all
the world has heard of the unlucky Tay Bridge, graceful but treacherous
serpent as it proved in its first form, when one stormy Sabbath night it
let a train be blown into the sea. By these constructions the line has
now a clear course on which to race its Caledonian rival, either for
Perth or Aberdeen. But

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF ST. ANDREWS, FIFESHIRE]

there is no racing done on the cobweb of North British branches woven to
catch Fife-farers, at whose junctions, as a local statistician has
calculated, the average Fifer wastes one-seventh of his life or
thereabouts. Ladybank Junction, stranded on its moor, used to have the
name of a specially penitential waiting-place, which yet lent itself to
romantic account in one of those _Tales from Blackwood_.

The towns of Fife are many rather than much. Cupar, the county seat, is
still a quiet little place, whose Academy stands on the site of a
Macduff stronghold, recalling that Thane of Fife with whom the Dukedom
of our generation is connected only in title. “He that maun to Cupar,
maun to Cupar,” says the proverb, but few strangers seem to risk this
vague condemnation. When James Ray passed through the town on his way to
Culloden, he has little to tell of it unless that he put up at the
“Cooper’s Arms” which, more by token, was kept by the Widow Cooper. The
above proverb, by the way, seems to belong to Coupar-Angus, usually so
distinguished in spelling, and is transferred to its namesake by
“Cupar-justice,” a Fife version of the code honoured at Jedburgh. A
Scotch cooper or couper may not have to do with barrels, unless
indirectly in the way of business, but is also a chaffer or chapman,
_par excellence_, of horses; and one would like to believe, if
philologists did not shake their heads, that these towns got their name
as markets, like English Chippings and Cheaps.

In an out-of-the-way edge of the county, below the Lomonds, lies
Falkland, whose royal palace, restored by the late Marquis of Bute, was
the scene of that dubious tragedy enacted in the _Fair Maid of Perth_,
where the dissolute Duke of Rothesay is a little white-washed to
heighten the dramatic atrocity of his death. A few miles behind
Queensferry is Dunfermline, another place where kings once sat “drinking
the blood-red wine,” now a thriving seat of linen manufacture, among its
mills and bleachfields containing choice fragments of royal and
ecclesiastical architecture, as well as modern adornments given by its
bounteous son Mr. Andrew Carnegie, native of the town where Charles I.
was born, and Robert Bruce buried beside Malcolm Canmore and his queen.
There are some fine modern monuments in the new church, which adjoins
the monastic old one, testifying stiffly to Presbyterian distrust of
Popish arts; and altogether Dunfermline is one of those places that
might well “delay the tourist.”

But the largest congregation in Fife is that “long town” of Kirkcaldy,
flourishing on jute and linoleum since the days when Carlyle and Irving
were dominies here, the former a humane pedagogue, though he scourged
grown-up dunces so unmercifully, while the bygone peace of the place was
often broken by the wailing of Irving’s pupils under the tawse with
which he sought to drive them into unknown tongues. Kirkcaldy has older
historic memories; but somehow it is one of those Scottish towns that,
like Peebles and Paisley, lend their names to vulgar or comic
associations. Was it not a bailie of Kirkcaldy who said, “What wi’ a’
thae schules and railways, ye canna’ tell the dufference atween a
Scotchman and an Englishman noo-a-days!”

Let the above words be text for a sermon, to which I invite
seriously-minded readers, while the otherwise-minded may amuse
themselves by taking a daunder among the lions of Kirkcaldy. The
subject is Scottish Humour, which Englishmen are apt to rank with the
snakes of Iceland or the breeks of a Highlander. Foreigners do not make
the same mistake, as how can they when the best known English humorists
are so often Scotsmen or Irishmen? It is the pure John Bull whose
notions of the humorous are apt to be rather childish; so when he gets
hold of a joke like that about the surgical instrument, he runs about
squibbing it in everybody’s face, and never seems to grow tired of such
a smart saying, nor cares to ask if there be any truth in it beyond the
fact that one people may not readily relish another’s wit or wisdom.

The vulgar of all nations have a very rudimentary sense of the comic,
coarse enough in many Scotsmen who can appreciate no more pointed
repartee than--

    The never a word had Dickie to say,
    Sae he ran the lance through his fause bodie!

The characteristic form of English humour is more or less good-natured
chaff, bearing the same relation to keen raillery as a bludgeon does to
a rapier. A master of this fence was Dr. Johnson, who, if his pistol
missed fire, knocked you down with the butt end of it. Sydney Smith’s
residence in Edinburgh should have given him a finer style, which he
turned to so unworthy use in mocking at Scottish “wut.” As to the
distinction between wit and humour, I know of no better than that which
defines the one as a flash, the other as an atmosphere. It may be
granted that the Scottish nature does not coruscate in flashes. But what
your Sydney Smiths do not observe is that it develops a very high
quality of humour, which has self-criticism as its essence. Know
thyself, has been styled the acme of wisdom; and when the Scotsman’s
best stories come to be analysed, the point of them appears to be a more
or less conscious making fun of his own faults and shortcomings, which
is a wholesomer form of intellectual exercise than that parrot-trick of
nicknaming one’s neighbours. The bailie’s boast above quoted is a
characteristic instance over which an Englishman may chuckle without
seeing the true force of it. All those hoary _Punch_ jests as to “bang
went saxpence,” and so forth, are good old home-made Scottish stories,
which the southron brings back with him from their native heath, and
dresses them up for his own taste with a spice of malice, then rejoices
over the savoury dish which he has prepared by seething poached kids in
their mother’s milk. Yet often print fails to bring out the true gust
that needs a Doric tongue for sauce; and the Englishman who attempts any
Scottish accent is apt to merit their fate who ventured to meddle with
the ark, not being of the tribe of Judah. The effect of such a story
depends as much on the actor as on the words. To mention but one of many
noted masters of this art, who that ever spent an evening with the late
Sir Daniel Macnee, President of the Scottish Academy, could hold the
legendary view of his countrymen’s want of fun? He had to be heard to be
appreciated; but, at the risk of misrepresenting his gift, here is one
of his anecdotes. He was travelling with a talkative oil merchant who,
after much boast of his own business, began to rally the other on his
want of communicativeness--“Come now, what line are you in?”--“I’m in
the oil trade too,” confessed the painter, whereupon his companion fell
to pressing him for an order.--“We’ll do cheaper for you than any house
in the trade!” At last, to get rid of his persistency, Sir Daniel said,
“I don’t mind taking a gallon from you.”--“A gallon! Man, ye’re in a
sma’ way!”

Perhaps this humour is a modern production, like certain fruits
cultivated in Scotland “with deeficulty.” There were times, indeed, when
life here was no laughing matter. But even the sun-loving vine is all
the better for a touch of frost at its roots, and the best wines are not
those the most easily made. In contrast with other home-brewed fun that
soon goes flat, and with such cheap brands as “Joe Miller,” the vintage
of Scottish humour, if not distinguished by effervescing spurts of
fancy, has body and character which only improve by age, keeping well
even when decanted, and giving a marked flavour when mixed with less
potent materials, into _Punch_, let us say. There is also a dry quality
thrown away on palates used to the public-house tap; Ally Sloper, for
instance, might not taste the womanthropy, as he would call it, of that
bachelor divine who began his discourse on the Ten Virgins with “What
strikes us here, my brethren, is the unusually large proportion of
_wise_ Virgins.” A good Scotch story, with the real smack upon the
tongue, bears to be told again, like an aphorism distilled from the
wisdom of generations. Sound humour is but the seamy side of
common-sense, for a sense of the incongruous degenerates into nonsense
if not shaped by a clear eye for the relation and proportion of things.
If the reader will consider the many specimens of Scottish humour now
current in England, or to be drawn from such treasuries as Dean
Ramsay’s; and if he will reflect on their weight and minting, he may
understand the value of this coinage in the national life.

The northern Attic salt abounds in one savour that appears in a hundred
stories like that of the preacher who, at Kirkcaldy or elsewhere,
apologised for his want of preparation: “I have been obliged to say what
the Lord put into my mouth, but next Sabbath I hope to come better
provided!” If there is any subject which the Scot takes seriously it is
religion, that yet makes the favourite theme of his jests. Revilers have
gone so far as to state that the incongruous elements of Scottish humour
are usually supplied by a minister and a whisky bottle. It is certainly
the case that a Scotsman relishes playing upon the edge of sacred
things, and that the pillars of his church will shake their sides over
stories which strike Englishmen as irreverent. But has not vigorous
faith often shown a tendency to overflow into backwaters of comicality,
as in the gargoyles of our cathedrals, the mediæval parodies of church
rites, and the homely wit of Puritan preachers? There are some believers
who can afford a laugh now and then at their sturdy solemnities, others
who must keep hush lest a titter bring down their fane like a house of
cards. Familiarity with the language of the Bible counts for a good deal
in what seems the too free handling of it in the north. But note how the
irreverence of the Scot’s humour is usefully directed against his own
tendency to fanaticism. It is only of late years, I think, that he has
taken to joking on the religious practices of his neighbours, whose
shortcomings once seemed too serious for joking. That

[Illustration: LOCH LUBNAIG, PERTHSHIRE]

“one” of the servant girl who described the services at Westminster
Abbey as “an awful way of spending the Sabbath” may be taken as a sign
of growing charity. Yet, in the past, too, a Scotsman seldom chuckled so
heartily as over any rebuke to priestly pretension within his own
borders. Jenny Geddes’s rough form of remonstrance with the dignitary
who would have read the mass in her lug was a practical form of Scotch
humour, that on such subjects is apt to have a good deal of hard earnest
in it. As for the Kirk’s own ministers, the tyranny ascribed to them by
Buckle has long been tempered by stories at their expense. Buckle’s
famous comparison of Spain and Scotland is vitiated by his leaving out
of account that natural sense of humour that has aided popular
instruction in counteracting superstition. Dean Ramsay ekes out Carlyle
and other weighty authors who explain how Irving found no depth of earth
in Scotland for the seeds of his wild enthusiasm, and why the tourist
seeks in vain for winking Madonnas at Kirkcaldy, long ago done with all
relics and images but the battered figureheads of her whalers.

Kirkcaldy’s whalers now grow legendary, and strangers beholding her
shipping to-day, may take for a northern joke that this ranks as the
third Scottish port of entry; but the fact is that a whole string of
Fife harbours are officially knotted together under its name, as all
North America was once tacked on to the manor of Greenwich, and every
British child born at sea belongs to the parish of Stepney. The
coast-line here is thick-set with little towns of business and pleasure,
grimy coal ports and odorous fishing havens, alternating with bathing
beaches and golf-links in the openings of the low cliffs. At the
western edge has now been taken in the old burgh Culross, pronounced in
a manner that may strike strangers as curious. Not far from the Forth
Bridge is the prettiest of Edinburgh seaside resorts, Aberdour, with its
own ruins to show, and the remains of an abbey on Inchcolm that shuts in
its bay, and behind it Lord Moray’s mansion of Donibristle, part of
which stands a charred shell, burned down and rebuilt three times till
its owner accepted what seemed a decree of fate. Opposite Edinburgh,
Burntisland’s prosaic features make a setting for the castle of Rossend,
with its romantic scandal about Queen Mary and Chastelard. Beyond
Kirkcaldy come Leven and Largo, trying to grow together about the statue
of Alexander Selkirk; and Largo House was home of a more ancient
Fifeshire mariner, Andrew Wood, his “Yellow Frigate” a sore thorn in
England’s side, as commemorated by a novel of James Grant, who wrote so
many once-so-popular romances of war. Fife coast towns have a way of
sorting themselves in couples. At the corner of the bay overlooked by
Largo Law, Elie and Earlsferry flourish together as a family bathing
place, behind which, at the pronunciation of Kilconquhar the uninitiated
may take a thousand guesses in vain. Then we have Anstruther and Crail
on Fifeness, that sharp point of the East Neuk of Fife. Round this, at
the mouth of the Eden, we come to St. Andrews, “gem of the province.”

Everybody has heard of St. Andrews, but only those who have seen it
understand its peculiar rank among seaside resorts. It is distinguished
by a certain quiet air, like some high-born spinster’s, accustomed to
command respect, whose heirlooms of lace and jewellery put her above
any need of following the fashions. Her parvenu rivals must lay
themselves out to attract, must make the best of their advantages, must
ogle and flirt, and strain themselves to profit by the vogue of public
favour. St. Andrews does not display so much as an esplanade, standing
secure upon her sober dignity, a little dashed, indeed, of Saturday
afternoons by excursions from Dundee. Other sea-side places may be said
to flourish, but the word seems inappropriate in the case of this
resort, that yet thrives sedately, as how should she not with so many
strings to her bow? First of all she is a venerable University city,
whose Mrs. Bouncers ought to make a good thing of it with the students
and the sea-bathing visitors playing “Box and Cox” for them through the
winter session and the summer season. Then she is a Scottish Clifton or
Brighton of schools, recommended by the singular healthiness of the
place. Unless in the smart new quarter near the railway station, the
dignified bearing of an ancient town carries it over the flighty manners
of a watering-place. The only pier is a thing of use, where the
wholesome smell of seaweed mingles with a strong fishy flavour. No
gilded pagoda of a bandstand profanes the “Scores,” that cliff road
which your Margates would have made into a formal promenade. A few
bathing machines on the sands alone hint at one side of the town’s
character. In one of the rocky coves of the cliff is a Ladies’ bathing
place, which I can praise only by report. But the Step Rock, with its
recent enclosure to catch the tide, is now more than ever the best
swimming place on the East Coast.

What first strikes one in St. Andrews is its union of regularity and
picturesqueness, and of a cheerful well-to-do present with relics of a
romantic past. Its airy thoroughfares, with their plain solidity of
modern Scottish architecture, form an effective setting for bits of
antiquity, such as the ivy-clad fragment of Blackfriars’ Chapel, and the
Abbey wall, beneath which no professor cares to walk, lest then should
be fulfilled a prophecy that it is one day to fall upon the wisest head
in St. Andrews. The architectural treasures of this historic cathedral
city would alone be enough to make it a place of pilgrimage. “You have
here,” says Carlyle, “the essence of all the antiquity of Scotland in
good and clean condition.” Southron strangers will hardly understand how
these fragments of ecclesiasticism have become a nursery of Protestant
sentiment. A generation ago it was stated that but one solitary Romanist
could be found in the little city. Generations of Scottish children,
like myself, have been shown that gloomy dungeon at the bottom of which
once pined the victims of Giant Pope, a sight to fill us with shuddering
horror and hate of persecuting times; but we were not told how
Protestants could persecute, too, while they knew not yet of what spirit
they were. What shades of grim romance haunt these crumbling walls, what
memories of Knox and Beaton, what dreams of the old Stuart days! I never
realised the power of their associations till one evening, on the
Scores, there sat down beside me two French tourists who had somehow
strayed into St. Andrews, and their light talk of boulevards, theatres,
and such like, seemed sacrilegious under the shadow of the Martyrs’
Memorial.

[Illustration: IN GLENFINLAS, PERTHSHIRE]

I have an acquaintance with St. Andrews going back more than half a
century. My introduction to club life was at _the_ club here, then a
cottage of two or three rooms, into which I was invited under charge of
my nurse, and treated to the refreshment of gingerbread snaps by a
member who seemed to me little short of a patriarch. In the scenery of
my childhood, nothing stands out more clearly and cheerfully than those
sandy green links dotted with red jackets and red flags, not to speak of
the red balls with which enthusiasts bid defiance to snow and ice. Nay,
another among my earliest reminiscences is of seeing the multitudinous
seas themselves incarnadined, when, for once, the golfers allowed their
attention to be drawn from their own hazards. A cry had been raised that
a lady was drowning; then every group of red jackets within hearing
forgot their balls, flung down their clubs, raced across the links,
dashed into the waves, and struggled emulously to the rescue. I think a
caddie, after all, was the fortunate youth who had the glory of
achieving such an adventure.

Since those days, when feather balls cost half-a-crown and few profane
foreigners had penetrated its mysteries, the Golf Club has been
transformed in a style becoming the chief temple of this Benares, hard
by a more modest “howff” for the “professionals” who are its Brahmins,
where little “caddies” swarm like the monkeys of an Indian sanctuary.
For golf is the idol of a cult that draws here many pilgrims from far
lands, now that, in the international commerce of amusement, while
barelegged little Macs take kindly to cricket, the time-honoured
Caledonian game spreads fast and far over England, over the world,
indeed, for on dusty Indian _maidans_ good Scotsmen can be seen trying
to play the rounds of Zion in that strange land, and under the very
Pyramids a golf course is laid out, where the dust of Pharaohs may serve
as a tee, or a mummy pit prove the most provoking of bunkers. In the
home of its birth this pastime flourishes more than ever. Parties are
given for golf along with tea and tennis; schools begin to lay out their
golf ground as well as their football field; and at St. Andrews we have
the Ladies’ Links, where many a masculine heart has been gently spooned
or putted into the hole of matrimony. Fair damsels may even be seen
lifting and driving in a “foursome,” an innovation frowned at by some
old stagers, who hardly care to talk about the game till it is ended,
and then can talk of nothing else. “_Tee_, veniente die, _tee_,
decedente--!” is the song of St. Andrews, which asks for no more
absorbing joy than a round in the morning and a round in the evening. In
the eyes of inveterate golfers, all prospects are poor beside those
links that make the Mecca, the Monte Carlo, the Epsom of the royal game,
so one is free to give up the surrounding country as not much
contributing to the attractions of the place, many of whose visitors
hardly care to stir beyond their beloved arena, unless for a Sunday
afternoon walk along the shore as far as that curious freak of the
elements known as the Spindle Rock.

Besides its devotion to the game where clubs are always trumps, St.
Andrews has in the last generation had an attraction for celebrities in
literature and science. The University staff, of course, makes a
permanent depot of intellect. The facile essayist A.K.H.B. was long
parish minister here, when the Episcopal bishop was a nephew of
Wordsworth, himself an author too well known to schoolboys. Here Robert
Chambers spent the evening of his days. Blackwood the publisher had a
house close at hand, where many famous authors have been guests. In the
vicinity, too, is Mount Melville, seat of Whyte-Melville, the novelist.
Not to mention living names, the late Mrs. Lynn Linton was a warm lover
of St. Andrews. It must have been well known to Mrs. Oliphant, more than
one of whose novels take this country for their scene.

Is it impertinent to say a word in praise of a writer, too soon
forgotten at circulating libraries, where she was but too voluminously
in evidence for the best part of her lifetime? Had she been content with
a flat in Grub Street, Mrs. Oliphant might now be better remembered than
by the mass of often hasty work for which her way of life gave hostages
to fortune and to publishers. Her novels often smell too much of an
Aladdin’s lamp that had to be rubbed hard for copy; there is awful
example to money-making authorship in a middle period of them that
scared off readers for whom again she would rise to her early charm.
Defects she had, notably a curious warp of sympathy that led her to do
less than poetic justice to prodigal ne’er-do-weels; but her chief fault
was in writing too much, when at her best she was very good. Her best
known stories are those which deal with English life; yet she was not
less happy in describing her native Scotland, having an extraordinary
insight that set her at home in very varied scenes and classes of
society. Few writers are found in touch with so many phases of life.
Even George Eliot, sure as she is in portraying her Midland middle-class
life, seems a little _depaysé_ when she strays among fine folk; and many
a skilful novelist might be mentioned who falls into convention or
caricature as soon as he gets out of his own familiar environment. But,
after Sir Walter, I doubt if there be any author who has given us such a
varied gallery of Scottish characters, high and low, divined with
Scott’s sympathy and often drawn with Jane Austen’s minute skill. Her
servants and farmers seem as natural as her baronets and ministers, all
of them indeed ordinary human beings, not the freaks and monsters of the
overcharged art that for the moment has thrown such work as hers into
the shade.

Of her tales dealing with Fife, perhaps the best, at least the longest,
is “The Primrose Path,” a beautiful idyll of this East Neuk, its scene
laid within a few miles of St. Andrews, evidently at Leuchars, where
such a noble Norman chancel is disgraced by the modern meeting-house
built on to it, and the old shell of Earl’s Hall offered itself as a fit
setting for the drama of an innocent girl’s heart, that at the end
shifts its stage to England. The hero, he that is to be made happy after
all, plays a somewhat colourless part in the background; but heroes have
license to be lay figures. The real protagonist, the imperfectly
villainous Rob Glen, seems to walk out of the canvas; and all the other
characters, from the high-bred, scholarly father to the love-sick
servant lass, are alive with humour and kindliness. As for the scenery,
it is thus that Mrs. Oliphant puts the East Neuk in its best point of
view:--

[Illustration: ON THE DOCHART, KILLIN, PERTHSHIRE]

     “There does not seem much beauty to spare in the east of Fife. Low
     hills, great breadths of level fields: the sea a great expanse of
     blue or leaden grey, fringed with low reefs of dark rocks like the
     teeth of some hungry monster, dangerous and grim without being
     picturesque, without a ship to break its monotony. But yet with
     those limitless breadths of sky and cloud, the wistful clearness
     and golden after-glow, and all the varying blueness of the hills,
     it would have been difficult to surpass the effect of the great
     amphitheatre of sea and land of which this solitary grey old house
     formed the centre. The hill, behind which the sun had set, is
     scarcely considerable enough to have a name; but it threw up its
     outline against the wonderful greenness, blueness, goldenness of
     the sky with a grandeur which would not have misbecome an Alp.
     Underneath its shelter, grey and sweet, lay the soft levels of
     Stratheden in all their varying hues of colour, green corn, and
     brown earth, and red fields of clover, and dark belts of wood.
     Behind were the two paps of the Lomonds, rising green against the
     clear serene: and on the other side entwining lines of hills, with
     gleams of golden light breaking through the mists, clearing here
     and there as far as the mysterious Grampians, far off under
     Highland skies. This was one side of the circle; and the other was
     the sea, a sea still blue under the faint evening skies, in which
     the young moon was rising; the yellow sands of Forfarshire on one
     hand, stretching downwards from the mouth of the Tay, the low brown
     cliffs and green headlands bending away on the other towards
     Fifeness--and the great bow of water reaching to the horizon
     between. Nearer the eye, showing half against the slope of the
     coast, and half against the water, rose St. Andrews on its cliff,
     the fine dark tower of the college church poised over the little
     city, the jagged ruins of the castle marking the outline, the
     cathedral rising majestically in naked pathos; and old St. Rule,
     homely and weather-beaten, oldest venerable pilgrim of all,
     standing strong and steady, at watch upon the younger centuries.”

From the flattest part of Fife, let us turn to its inland Highland
side. The main North British line to Perth, after passing a dreary
coal-field, brings us suddenly beneath the bold swell of Benarty, round
which we come in view of the Lomonds with Loch Leven sparkling at their
foot. Here indeed we soon get into the small shire of Kinross; but this
may be taken as a dependency of the kingdom of Fife, its lowlands also
running on the west side into a miniature Highland region, reached by
the railway branch that from Loch Leven goes off to Stirling by the
Devon Valley and the Ochils, at the end of which Clackmannan vies with
Kinross as the Rutland of Scottish counties.

Loch Leven is celebrated for its breed of trout, and for that grey tower
half hidden by trees on an islet, which was poor Mary Stuart’s prison.
The dourest Scotsman’s heart has three soft spots, the memory of Robert
Burns, the romance of Prince Charlie, and the misfortunes that seem to
wash out the errors of that girl queen. This is dubious ground, into
which tons of paper and barrels of ink have been thrown without filling
up a quaking bog of controversy. I myself have heard a distinguished
scholar hissed off the most philosophic platform in Scotland for
throwing a doubt on Queen Mary’s innocence, so I will say no more than
that her harshest historian, if shut up with her in Loch Leven as page
or squire, might have been tempted to steal the keys and take an oar in
the boat that bore her over those dark waters to brief freedom and
safety. Had Charles Edward only had the luck to get his head cut off in
solemn state, how much more gloriously dear might now be his memory!

As Scott points out, Fife was noted for a thick crop of gentry, who
were apt to be found on the side of the Queen Marys and Prince Charlies,
whereas its sturdy common folk rather favoured Whig principles. Not far
from Kinross, the grey homespun of Scottish life is proclaimed by one of
those ugly obelisks that have so much commended themselves for the
expression of Protestant sentiment. At Gairney Bridge, on the Fife and
Kinross border, in 1733, four suspended ministers formed themselves into
the first Presbytery of the Original Secession Church, a most
fissiparous body which brought forth a brood of sects not yet altogether
swallowed up in the recent union of the Free and United Presbyterian
churches. I am bound to special interest in that foundation, for as a
forebear of mine appears riding away from the shores of Loch Leven in
Queen Mary’s train, so one of those four seceders was my
great-great-great-great (or thereabouts) grandfather, Moncrieff of
Culfargie, himself grandson of a still remembered Covenanter. His
spiritual descendants make a point of the fact that being a small laird,
he yet testified against the unpopular system of patronage, and thus is
taken to have been before his time. But _Plato amicus_, etc., or as
Sterne translates, “Dinah is my aunt, but truth is my sister,” and a
closer examination reveals among the heads of my forefather’s testimony
against the Church of Scotland a conscientious protest in favour of
executing witches and persecuting Roman Catholics, so perhaps the less
said about his views the better. A few years before, a poor old wife,
rubbing her hands in crazy delight at the blaze, had been burned as a
witch for the last time in Scotland; and the “moderate” ministers were
now content to ignore an imaginary crime which a few years later became
wiped out of the statute-book.

The ancestral shade should know how filial piety urged me, perhaps alone
in this generation, to perform the rite of reading his works, which
indeed want such “go” and “snap” as are admired by congregations who
“have lost the art of listening to two hours’ sermons.” He was truly a
painful and earnest preacher, in one volume of whose discourses I note
this mark of wide-mindedness, that it is entitled “_England’s_ Alarm,”
whereas other old Scottish divines seem rather to treat the neighbour
country as beyond hope of alarming. His brother-in-law, Clerk of
Penicuik, characterises Culfargie as “a very sober, good man, except he
should carry his very religious whims so far as to be very uneasy to
everybody about him.” It is recorded of him that he prayed from his
pulpit for the Hanoverian King in face of the Pretender’s bristling
soldiery, like that other stout Whig divine whose petition ran, “As for
this young man who has come among us seeking an earthly crown, may it
please Thee to bestow upon him a heavenly one!”

Loyalty to the same line was less frankly shown by a very different
member of our clan, Margaret Moncrieff, a name little renowned on this
side the Atlantic, while she figures in more than one American book as
the “Beautiful Spy.” Being shut up among rebels in New York, when the
besieging Engineers were commanded by her father Colonel Moncrieff, she
got leave to send him little presents, among them flower-paintings on
velvet, beneath which were traced plans of the American works. The
device being discovered, it might have gone hard with her but for Yankee
chivalry, that expelled that artful hussy unhurt, in the end to bring no
honour upon her name, if all tales of her be true.

The ancestral worthy whose memory has led me into a digression, lived
and laboured in Strathearn, to which from Kinross we pass by Glenfarg,
no Highland glen but a fine gulf of greenery with stream, road, and
railway winding side by side through its banks and knolls, that called
forth Queen Victoria’s warm admiration on her first visit to Scotland.
At the other end of this Ochil gorge we are welcomed to Perthshire by
the wooded crags of Moncrieff Hill, round which the Earn bends to the
Tay; then some dozen miles behind, rises the edge of the true Highlands,
where “to the north-west a sea of mountains rolls away to Cape Wrath in
wave after wave of gneiss, schist, quartzite, granite, and other
crystalline masses.”



CHAPTER V

THE FAIR CITY


Perth, the central city of Scotland, whose name has been so
flourishingly transplanted to the antipodes, is a very ancient place.
Not to insist on fond derivation from a Roman _Bertha_, there seems to
have been a Roman station on the Tay, probably at the confluence of the
Almond; and curious antiquarians have found cause for confessing to
Pontius Pilate as perhaps born in the county, a reproach softened by the
consideration of his father being little better than a Roman exciseman.
The _alias_ of St. Johnston Perth got from its patron saint, who came to
be so scurvily handled at the Reformation. At this date it was the only
walled city of Scotland. Before this, it had been intermittently the
Stuart capital in such a sense as the residence of its Negus is for
Abyssinia; and farther back Tayside was the seat of the Alpine kingdom
that succeeded a Pictish power. Now sunk in relative importance, Perth
makes the central knot of Scottish railway travelling; so on the Eve of
St. Grouse its palatial station becomes one of the busiest spots in the
kingdom, though the main platform is a third of a mile long. To the
stay-at-home public it may perhaps be best known by an industry that

[Illustration: PERTH FROM THE SLOPES OF KINNOUL HILL]

has given rise to the proverb “See Perth and _dye_,” one which might
have darker significance in days when this low site depended for
drainage on the floods of the Tay flushing its cellars and cesspools.
But its own citizens are brought up to believe that no Naples of them
all has so much right to the title of the “Fair City.”

Legend tells how Roman soldiers gaining a prospect of the Tay from the
heights south of Perth, exclaimed on its North Inch as another Campus
Martius; but later visitors have not always shared the local admiration.
One modern Italian traveller, Signor Piovanelli, after wandering two or
three hours about the Perth streets, took away an impression of dull
melancholy; but then he began with an unsatisfactory experience at the
Refreshment Room. An else conscientious French tourist explains the
bustle of Perth station as its being the rendezvous of the inhabitants
seeking distraction from their _triste_ life. These be ignorant
calumnies. At least our northern York is a typical Scottish town, well
displaying the strata of its development. In quite recent years it has
been much transmogrified by a new thoroughfare, fittingly named Scott
Street, which, running from near the station right through the city, has
altered its centre of gravity. The old High Street and South Street,
with their “vennels” and “closes,” lead transversely from Scott Street
to the river, cut at the other end by George Street and John Street,
which had supplanted them as main lines of business. “Where are the
shops?” I was once asked by a bewildered party of country excursionists,
wandering unedified about the vicinity of the station. In those days one
had to send them across the city to the streets parallel with the
river; but now Scott Street has attracted the Post Office, the Theatre
and the Free Library, and bids fair to become the Strand or the Regent
Street of the Fair City, fringed by such a display of latter-day villas
as attests the prosperity of its business quarters.

Fragments of mediæval antiquity also must be sought for towards the
river. Off John Street stands the old Cathedral, in the practical
Scottish manner shared into three places of worship, once containing
dozens of altars, among which an impudent schoolboy threw the first
image-breaking stone that spread such a ripple of iconoclasm through the
shrines of Scotland. Close by, on the river bank, the Gaol occupies the
site of Gowrie House, where James VI. had his mysterious or mythical
escape from treason. The Parliament House, too, has vanished, its memory
preserved by the name of a “close,” the Scottish equivalent for alley.
The citizens have lately adopted a traditional “Fair Maid’s” house as
their official lion, to which indicators point the way from all over the
city. This, whatever the higher criticism may say of its claims, has
been well restored as a specimen of a solid burgher’s home in those days
when Simon the Glover was so vexed by the vagaries of his Highland
apprentice and by the roistering suitors of his daughter. Since then,
Perth has not wanted Fair Maids; but in our time the title has sometimes
had a satiric tang as implying what the French stigmatise as _une
rosse_.

Simon, as we know, lived close to the royal lodging, which, after the
destruction of the castle, was wont to be thriftily taken in the great
monastery of Blackfriars, now represented only by the names of a house
and a street. In it were enacted stirring scenes of history as well as
of fiction, its darkest tragedy the murder of James I. on a February
night of 1437. Handsome, brave, a scholar and poet, with the advantage
of an involuntary English education, in quieter times this king might
have shown himself the best of the Stuarts. He had the welfare of the
people at heart, and on his return from the captivity in which he spent
his boyhood, tried to bring some degree of order among the lawless feuds
of his barons, using against them indeed high-handed and crooked means
that were the statecraft of the age. Thus he roused fell enemies who
were able to take him unawares, though the story goes that, like
Alexander and Cæsar, he had warning from an uncredited seer. Betrayed by
false courtiers, he was retiring to bed when the monastery rang with the
tramp and cries of the fierce Highlandmen seeking his blood. While the
queen and her ladies tried to defend the door, Catherine Douglas giving
her broken arm, says the legend, as a bar, James tore up the flooring
and let himself down into a drain which he had, unluckily, blocked up a
few days before, since in it his tennis balls got lost. There he was
discovered by the conspirators, and after a desperate struggle their
leader, Sir Thomas Graham, stabbed him to death. Not a minute too soon,
for already the good burghers were roused to the rescue, and the
regicides had some ado to spur off to the Highlands, safe only for a
time, the principal criminals being taken for tortures that horrified
even their cruel contemporaries.

From the windings of the Blackfriars quarter, one emerges by what was
the North Port, upon Perth’s famous Inch, bordered by erections that a
generation ago were the modest West End of the city--Athole Place, the
Crescent, Rose Terrace, and Barossa Place. At the foot of the Inch, by
the river, stands a tall obelisk in honour of the 90th Regiment, the
“Perthshire Volunteers,” now amalgamated with the Cameronians; and near
it the customary statue of Prince Albert, one of the first inaugurated
by Queen Victoria, who then insisted on knighting the Lord Provost of
the city, a worthy grocer, much to his discontent, and, if all tales be
true, to his loss in business. Perth, as becomes the ex-capital, has a
Lord Provost, who cannot meet the Lord Provost of Glasgow without
raising sore points of precedence. Invested with special powers when
Perth was a royal residence, its magistrates were not persons to be
trifled with, as an English officer found early in the eighteenth
century. This mettlesome spark, quartered here, had fatally stabbed a
dancing-master who stood in the way of troublesome attentions to one of
his pupils. The same day, tradition has it, the slaughterer was seized,
tried, and hanged under the old law of “red-hand,” then put in force for
the last time. An ornament to the story is that the criminal’s brother
commanded a ship of war in the Firth of Forth, over which was the way to
Edinburgh, and that he long kept watch for a chance of capturing some
Perth bailie on whom to take revenge. These were the good old times.

By the bridge at the foot of the North Inch, a pretentious classical
structure, marking the era of Provost Marshall whom it commemorates,
rears its dome above a Museum of Antiquities such as becomes an ancient
city. This faces the end of Tay Street, the pleasant river-side
boulevard between the North and South Inches,

[Illustration: BEN A’AN, CORNER OF LOCH KATRINE, PERTHSHIRE]

towards the farther end of which a newer Museum contains a remarkable
natural history collection. At its corner of South Street are the County
Buildings, adorned with portraits of local worthies, and at the end of
High Street, the City Buildings with windows illustrating Perth’s
history. Perth has now two bridges and everything handsome about
it--besides the Dundee railway bridge with its footway from the South
Inch. The central bridge is only three or four years old, but here stood
one washed away in 1621, since when the citizens had long to depend on
what is now the old bridge below the North Inch.

This bridge leads over into the transpontine suburb, above which, on the
slopes of Kinnoul Hill, the rank and fashion of the city have inclined
to seek “eligible building sites,” _Scotticè_, “feuing plots.” The banks
of the river, too, on this side have long been bordered by villas and
cottages of gentility; but about “Bridge End” there is still a fragment
of the humbler suburb that has had more than one famous sojourner in our
time. Here, in a house now distinguished by a tablet, and afterwards in
Rose Terrace opposite, John Ruskin spent bits of his childhood with an
aunt, wife of the tanner whose unsavoury business had the credit of
keeping the cholera away from Bridge End. That amateur of beauty, for
his part, has nothing but good to say of Perth: he remembers with
pleasure the precipices of Kinnoul, the swirling pools of the
“Goddess-river,” even the humble “Lead,” in which other less gifted
children have found “a treasure of flowing diamond,” now covered up to
belie his vision of its defilement; and his lifelong impression was
that “Scottish sheaves are more golden than are bound in other lands,
and that no harvests elsewhere visible to human eyes are so like the
‘corn of heaven’ as those of Strath Tay and Strath-Earn.” Yet youthful
gladness turned to pain, when through his connection with Perth Ruskin
came to make that ill-matched marriage with its fairest maid, afterwards
known as Lady Millais. Their brief union he passes over in silence in
his else most communicative reminiscences; and the writer were
indiscreet indeed who should revive rumours spun round a case of
hopeless incompatibility. One misty legend, probably untrue, declares
him, for certain reasons, to have vowed never to enter the house in
which her family lived, that Bowerswell mansion, a little up the hill,
where a crystal spring had often arrested his childish attention. He did
enter the house once, to be married, according to the custom of the
bride’s Presbyterian Church: _hinc illae lacrimae_, according to the
legend.

Like that great prose-poet, the reader’s humble servant, without being
able to boast himself a native of Perth, spent part of his youth here
and has pleasant memories that tempt him, too, to be garrulous. I have
no recollection of seeing Ruskin at Perth, but I well remember Millais
in the prime of manly beauty. In the early days of his fame he lived
much with his wife’s family at Bowerswell; and several of the children
he then painted so charmingly were playmates of mine, who would come to
our Christmas parties in the picturesque costumes he had been putting on
canvas. For some reason or other, he never proposed to immortalise my
features; but I have boyish memories of him that seem to hint at the two
sides of his art. My sister sat for one of his most famous pictures, on
which, in the capacity of escort to his child model, I had the
unappreciated privilege of seeing him at work. What struck a little
Philistine like me was how the painter paid no attention to a call to
lunch, working away in such a _furor_ of industry as I could sympathise
with only if mischief were in question. Someone brought him a plate of
soup and a glass of wine, which he hastily swallowed on his knees, and
again flung himself into his absorbing task. My internal reflection was
that in thus despising his meals this man showed such sense as
Macfarlane’s geese who, as Scott records, loved their play better than
their meat. But a quite different behaviour on another occasion excited
stronger disapproval of the future P.R.A. in my schoolboy mind. When out
shooting with my father one hot day, I took him to a little moorland
farm where the people would offer us a glass of milk. Millais rather
scornfully asked if they had no cream. They brought him a tumblerful,
the whole yield for the day probably, and he tossed if off with a “Das
ist kleine Gabe!” air that set me criticising the artistic temperament.
It was a fixed notion with young Scots that all English people were
greedy: “Set roasted beef and pudding on the opposite side o’ the pit o’
Tophet, and an Englishman will make a spang at it!” exclaimed the
goodwife of Aberfoyle. Thus we give back the southron’s sneer for our
frugal poverty. Our old Adam might welcome the good things of life that
fairly came our way; but we schooled each other in a Spartan point of
honour that forbade too frank enjoyment. Millais was born very far
south; and there are those who say that he might have been a still
greater painter, had he shown less taste for the cream of life.

From Bowerswell, an artist had not far to go for scenes of beauty. The
road past the house, winding up to a Roman Catholic monastery built
since those days, leads on into the woods of Kinnoul Hill, which is to
Perth what Arthur’s Seat is to Edinburgh. No tourist should, as many do,
neglect to take the shady climb through those woods, suggesting the
scenes of a tamed German “Wald.” At the farther side one comes out on
the edge of a grand crag, the view from which has been compared to the
Rhine valley, and to carry out this similitude, a mock ruin crowns the
adjacent cliff. We have here turned our backs on the Grampians so finely
seen from the Perth slope of the hill, and are looking down upon the Tay
as it bends eastward between this spur of the Sidlaws and the wooded
outposts of the Ochils opposite, then, swollen by the Earn, opens out
into its Firth in the Carse of Gowrie, dotted with snug villages and
noble seats such as the Castle of Kinfauns among the woods at our feet,
a scene most lovely when

    The sun was setting on the Tay,
    The blue hills melting into grey;
    The mavis and the blackbird’s lay
      Were sweetly heard in Gowrie.

The Gowrie earldom, once so powerful in Perth, has disappeared from its
life; but the title is still familiar as covering one of those districts
of a Scottish county that bear enduring by-names, like the Devonshire
South Hams or the Welsh Vale of Glamorgan. To a native ear, the scene is
half suggested by the word _Carse_,

[Illustration: LOCH VENNACHAR, PERTHSHIRE]

implying a stretch of rich lowland along a river-side, whereas Strath is
the more broken and extensive valley of a river that has its upper
course in some wilder Glen or tiny Den, the _Dean_ of so many southern
villages. The course of the Tay from Perth to Dundee, below Kinnoul,
ceases to be romantic while remaining beautiful in a more sedate and
stately fashion as it flows between its receding walls of wooded
heights, underneath which the “Carles of the Carse” had once such an ill
name as Goldsmith’s rude Carinthian boor, but so many a “Lass of Gowrie”
has shown a softer heart--

    She whiles did smile and whiles did greet;
    The blush and tear were on her cheek.

There are various versions of this ballad, whose tune makes the Perth
local anthem; but they all tell the same old tale and often told, with
that most hackneyed of ends--

    The old folks syne gave their consent;
    And then unto Mass-John we went;
    Who tied us to our hearts’ content,
      Me and the Lass o’ Gowrie.

Many a stranger comes and goes at Perth without guessing what charming
prospects may be sought out on its environing heights. But half an
hour’s stroll through the streets must make him aware of those Inches
that prompt a hoary jest concerning the size of the Fair City. The North
and South Inches, between which it lies, properly islands, green flats
beside the Tay, are in their humble way its Hyde Park and Regent’s Park.
The South Inch, close below the station, is the less extensive, once
the grounds of a great Carthusian monastery, then site of a strong fort
built by Cromwell, now notable mainly for the avenue through which the
road from Edinburgh comes in over it, and for the wharf at its side that
forms a port for small vessels and excursion steamers plying by leave of
the tide. On the landward side, beyond the station, Perth is spreading
itself up the broomy slopes of Craigie Hill, which still offers pleasant
rambles. Beyond the farther end stands a gloomy building once well known
to evil-doers as the General Prison for Scotland; but of late years its
character has undergone some change; and I am not sure how far the old
story may still keep its point that represents an inmate set loose from
these walls, when hailed by a friendly wayfarer as “honest man,” giving
back glumly “None of your dry remarks!”

A more cheerful sight is the golf links on Moncrieff Island, above which
crosses the railway to Dundee. This neighbour has long surpassed Perth,
grown on jute and linen to be the third city of Scotland, its name
perhaps most familiar through the marmalade which used to be
manufactured, I understand, in the Channel Islands, when wicked wit
declared its maker to have a contract for sweeping out the Dundee
theatre. Northern undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge are believed to
have spread to southern breakfasts the use of this confection in the
form so well known now that its materials are so cheap. The name has a
Greek ancestry, and the thing seems to have come to us as
quince-preserve, through the Portuguese _marmelo_, in time transferred
and restricted to another fruit. Oranges, indeed, could not have been
as plentiful as blackberries in Britain, when the Euphuist Lyly
compared life without love to a meal without marmalade.

Such a twenty-miles digression from the South Inch implies how little
there is to say about it. Now let us take a dander up the larger North
Inch, Perth’s Campus Martius, at once promenade, race-course, review
ground, grazing common, washing green, golf links, cricket-field, and
area for unfenced football games in which, summer and winter, young
Scots learn betimes to earn gate-money for English clubs. Opposite the
Perth Academy appears to have been the arena where that early
professional, Hal o’ the Wynd, played up so well in the deadly match by
which the Clan Kay and the Clan Chattan enacted the less authentic
tragedy of the Kilkenny cats. This spacious playground is now edged by a
neat walk, which makes the constitutional round of sedate citizens, who
on the safe riverside have the spectacle of pleasure boating against the
difficulties of a strong stream and shallow rapids, and of the pulling
of salmon nets in the season. Here a barelegged laddie, with the rudest
tackle, has been known to hook a 30-lb. fish, holding on to the monster
for two hours till some men helped him out with his fortune. The salmon
of the Tay, reared in the Stormontfield Ponds above Perth, are famous
for size, a weight of over 70 lbs. being not unknown; and cavillers on
other streams cannot belittle its bigger fish by the sneer of “bigger
liars there!” The keeping of fish in ice, and railway communications,
have much enhanced the price, to the astonishment of a Highland laird
who in a London tavern ordered a steak for himself and a “salmon for
Donald” without guessing that his henchman’s meal must be paid for in
gold as his own in silver. The old story of masters contracting not to
feed their servants on salmon more than twice a week, is told, by Ruskin
for one, of Tayside as of other river-lands. But so masterful are the
demands of London now, that salmon may sometimes be dearer on the banks
of the Tay than in the glutted metropolitan market. The Tay has another
treasure, for now and then valuable pearls have been fished out of it by
boys who, in a dry summer, can wade across its shallows just above the
old bridge. A very different sight might be seen here when the river was
frozen across and roughened by a jam of miniature icebergs.

Half-way up the town side of the Inch, where a few trees dotted across
it mark its old limits, extended more than a century ago, stands the now
restored mansion of Balhousie, which used to be known as _Bushy_ by that
curious trick of contraction, more common in Scottish than in English
names, that drove a bewildered foreigner to complain of our pronouncing
as _Marchbanks_ what we spelt as _Cholmondeley_. But one notes how in
Scotland as in England, the tendency is to restore such words to their
full sound, as in this case. Near the station in Perth is Pomarium
Street, marking the orchard of the old Carthusian monastery, or, as some
have held, the outskirt of the Roman City. _Consule Planco_, I knew it
only as the _Pow_; but out of curiosity I lately tried this abbreviation
in vain on a postman and on a telegraph boy of the present generation.
Methven, near Perth, was always pronounced _Meffen_; Henry VIII. spells
it _Muffyn_; as Ruthven was and perhaps still is _Riven_. The station of
Milngavie is no longer

[Illustration: A CROFT NEAR DALMALLY, ARGYLLSHIRE]

proclaimed by railway porters as _Millguy_, and the place
Claverhouse--no hero indeed at spelling--spells _Ruglen_, tends to
assume its full dignity of Rutherglen, as Cirencester or Abergavenny
lose their old contractions in this generation’s mouth. Many other
examples might be given of a change, with which, I fancy, railway
porters have much to do; but one of the best authorities on such
matters, Dr. H. Bradley, puts it down to what he calls half-education,
setting up spelling as an idol. As for the altered pronunciation of
Scottish family names, that seems often to come from English blundering,
modestly adopted by their owners. Bálfour, to take a distinguished
example, was Balfoúr, till the trick of southern speech shifted back the
accent. Forbes is still vernacularly a dissyllable in the Forbes
country, as in _Marmion_, and in the old schoolboy saw about General 4
B’s, who marched his 4 C’s, etc. Dalziels and Menzies must have long
given up in despair the attempt to get their names properly pronounced
in the south as _Déél_ and _Meengus_. The family known at home as
_Jimmyson_ become now content to have made a noise in the world as
Jameson. But some such changes have been long in progress. It was
“bloody _Mackengie_” whom audacious boys dared to come out of his grave
in Greyfriars’ Churchyard; and if we go far enough back we find the name
of this persecutor written Mackennich. In the good old times every
gentleman had his own spelling, as what for no? There is a deed, and not
a very ancient one, drawn up by certain forebears of mine, in which,
among them, they spell their name five different ways. In general, it
may be remembered, the _z_ that makes such a stumbling-block to
strangers in so many Scottish names, is to be taken as a _y_. When we
have such real enigmas as Colquhoun and Kirkcudbright to boggle over,
the wonder is that Milton should make any ado at Gordon or “Galasp,” by
which he probably meant Gillespie.

Nearly opposite Balhousie, which has suggested this digression, across
the Tay, peeps out the house of Springlands, which reminds me how Perth
has been the cradle of a sect. The Sandemans of Springlands in my youth
exhibited some marked religious leanings, but none of them, I think,
followed the doctrine of their ancestor. The sect in question was
founded in the days of early methodism by John Glass, a Scottish
clergyman; but his son-in-law, Robert Sandeman, proved so much the Paul
of the new faith by preaching it as far as America, that there, as in
England, the body is known as Sandemanians, while in Scotland they still
sometimes bear the original name Glassites. Their most famous member was
Michael Faraday, who preached in the London meeting-house. Its doctrine
had, like Plymouth Brethrenism, a strange attraction for old Indian
officers, who, cut off from home influences, repelled by surrounding
heathenism, and their brains perhaps a little addled by the sun, have
often been led to read odd meanings into revelations and prophecies,
studied late in life. There used to be a detachment of retired veterans
encamped about Perth as headquarters of their Bethel, whose wives and
children, in some cases, attended the Episcopal Chapel. A peculiarity of
their belief was an absolute horror of being present at any alien
worship, even family prayers, as I could show from some striking
instances. This must have borne hard on soldier converts, who, in the
army, are allowed a choice of only three forms of worship. “No fancy
religions in the service,” growled the sergeant to a recruit who
professed himself a Seventh Day Baptist: “fall in with the Roman
Catholics!” Another note of the Sandemanians was an unwillingness to
communicate their views, what even seemed a resentfulness of inquiry by
outsiders. Disraeli excused a similar trait in the Jews by the dry
remark, “The House of Lords does not seek converts.” I once in the
innocent confidence of youth asked a Glassite leader to enlighten me as
to their faith, and was snubbed with a short “The doors are open.” But I
never heard of any stranger trusting himself within the doors of that
meeting-house. Report gave out a love-feast as a main function, from
which the sect got “kailites” as a nickname. The kiss of peace, it was
understood, went round; and ribald jesters represented the presiding
official as obliged to exhort, “Dinna pass over the auld wife!” This
much one can truly say of the congregation, that they were kind and
helpful to each other, a Glassite in distress being unknown in the Fair
City, where they had adherents in all classes. As for their spiritual
exclusiveness, against that reproach may be set the old story of the
“burgher” lass who, having once attended an “anti-burgher” service with
her lad, was rebuked by her own kirk-session for the sin of “promiscuous
hearing.”

Above the Inch comes the less trim space called the “Whins,” where lucky
caddies glean lost golf balls in its patches of scrub and in pools
formed by the highest flowing of the tide from the Firth. With this ends
the public pleasure-ground; but the walk may be prolonged along the
elevated bank of the river, above the sward that makes the town
bathing-place, and brown pools that Ruskin might have found perilous as
well as picturesque, but as he speaks of himself as keeping company with
his girl cousin, not to speak of the fear of his careful mother, we may
suppose that he made no rash excursions into the water. One deep swirl
within a miniature promontory is aptly known as the “Pen and Ink”; then
higher up a shallow creek encloses the “Woody Island,” no island to
bare-legged laddies who here play Robinson Crusoe.

The opposite bank shows a lordly park with timber that should bring a
blush to the cheek of Dr. Johnson’s ghost, concealing the castellated
Scone Palace, seat of its Hereditary Keeper, Lord Mansfield, who has
another enviable home beside Hampstead Heath. Little remains of the old
royal Castle and Abbey of Scone; the Stone of Destiny, that ancient
palladium, fabled pillow of Jacob’s vision of the angels, on which the
Scottish kings were crowned, has been in Westminster Abbey since Edward
I.’s invasion. The modern mansion contains some relics of Queen Mary and
her son, but its owners do not encourage visitors. An eminence near at
hand is known by the curious name of the Boot Hill, tradition making it
formed by the earth which nobles after a coronation emptied out of their
boots, so stuffed that each proud baron might feel the satisfaction of
standing on his own ground!

Half-a-dozen miles farther up the river, on this side, one is free to
seek the top of Dunsinnan Hill for what is believed to have been the
site of Macbeth’s Castle, and for a fine prospect of the Grampians with
Birnam Wood in the foreground. Shakespeare, and the legend he
followed,

[Illustration: WET HARVEST TIME NEAR DALMALLY, ARGYLLSHIRE]

make no account of the fact that a considerable river guarded Dunsinnan
from hostile advance of its distant neighbour. Yet a parish minister of
these parts has convinced himself that the author of _Macbeth_ must have
known the neighbourhood. One conjecture is that he visited Perth with a
far-strolling troop of actors. “You will say next that Shakespeare was
Scotch!” exclaimed a scornful southron to a Scot who seemed too
patriotic; and the cautious answer was, “Weel, his abeelity would
warrant the supposeetion.” As for Macbeth and his good lady, it is time
that some serious attempt were made to whitewash their characters, as
Renan has done for Jezebel, and Froude for Henry VIII. No doubt these
two worthies represented the good old Scottish party, strong on
Disruption principles and sternly set against the Anglican influences
introduced through Malcolm Canmore, in favour of whose family the
southern poet shows a natural bias. Did we know the whole truth, that
gracious Duncan may have had a scheme to serve the Macbeths as the
Macdonalds of Glencoe were served by their guests. The one thing clear
in early Scottish history is that the dagger played a greater part than
the ballot box, and that scandals in high life might sometimes be
obscured by an eloquent advocate on one side or other. Sir Walter does
give some hints for a brief in Macbeth’s case, though in his _Tales of a
Grandfather_ he sets the orthodox legend strutting with its “cocked hat
and stick.” Macbeth, as he says, probably met Duncan in fair fight near
Elgin; and the scene of his own discomfiture appears to have been the
Mar country rather than the Tay valley.

But we are still strolling on the right bank of the Tay, to be followed
for a mile or two up to the mouth of the Almond, a pretty walk, which
few strangers find out for themselves. There is in Scotland a want of
the field paths which Hawthorne so much admired in England, “wandering
from stile to stile, along hedges and across broad fields, and through
wooded parks leading you to little hamlets of thatched cottages,
ancient, solitary farmhouses, picturesque old mills, streamlets, pools,
and all those quiet, secret, unexpected, yet strangely-familiar features
of English scenery that Tennyson shows us in his idylls and eclogues.”
Every inch of tillable land is in the north more economically dealt
with; the farmer, struggling against a harsher climate, cannot afford to
leave shady hedges and winding paths; his fields are fenced by
uncompromising stone walls against a looser law of trespass. Embowered
lanes, too, “for whispering lovers made,” are rarer in this land of
practical farming. Here it is rather on wild “banks and braes” of
streams, unless where their waters can be coined into silver as
salmon-fishings, that lovers and poets may ramble at will, shut out from
the work-a-day world by thickets of hawthorn, brier, woodbine, and other
“weeds of glorious feature”:--

    The Muse, nae poet ever fand her
    Till by himsel’ he learned to wander
    Adown some trotting burn’s meander,
          An’ no think lang.

If any ill-advised stranger find the streets of the Fair City dull, as
would hardly be his lot on market-day, let him turn to Kinnoul Hill for
a noble scene, and to the Tay banks for a characteristic one of broad
fields and stately woods, backed by the ridge of the Grampians a dozen
miles away. For another sample of Scottish aspects he might take the
Edinburgh road across the South Inch, and over by Moncrieff Hill to the
Bridge of Earn, where he comes into the lower flats of Strathearn, on
which a tamed Highland stream winds sinuously to the Tay between its
craggy rim and the rounded ridge of the Ochils. The village has a
well-built air, due to the neighbourhood of Pitkaithly spa, that in
Scott’s day was a local St. Ronan’s, whose patrons lodged at the Bridge
of Earn, or even walked out from Perth, to take the waters, which before
breakfast, on the top of this exercise, must have had a notable effect
in certain cases. The original Spa in Belgium owed much of its credit to
the fact of its springs being a mile or two out of the town. Our
forefathers’ ignorance of microbes seems to have been tempered by active
habits: it was more than a dozen miles Piscator and his friends had to
trudge from Tottenham before reaching their morning draught at
Hoddesdon. As for Pitkaithly, there is at present an attempt to
resuscitate the use of its waters, still dispensed near Kilgraston, a
house founded by a Jamaica planter, who had two such sons as General Sir
Hope Grant and Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A.

This part of Strathearn is a flat lowland plain, on which, once in a
way, I have seen a pack of foxhounds, whereas, in the ruggeder mass of
the county, as English squires must be scandalised to learn--

    Though space and law the stag we lend,
    Ere hound we slip or bow we bend,
    Whoever recked where, how, and when,
    The treacherous fox is trapped or slain.

Where foxes are sometimes like wolves for size and destructiveness, a
Highland fox-hunter ranks with a rat-catcher. But Fife, at hand over the
Ochils, is a civilised region in which Reynard claims his due
observance. Near its border, still in Perthshire, is the sadly-decayed
town of Abernethy, whose Round Tower makes the only monument of the days
when it was a Pictish capital. Another seat of Pictish princes, not far
away, was at Forteviot, near the Kinnoul Earls’ Dupplin Castle, where
Edward Balliol defeated the Regent Mar in a hot fight, before marching
on to Perth to be crowned for a time, when Scotland, like Brentford, had
two kings. If only for their natural amenities, these spots might well
be visited; yet to tourists they are unknown unless as way-stations
respectively on the rival North British and Caledonian railways from
Edinburgh to Perth. But to me each of their now obscure names is dearly
familiar, since the days when they were landmarks on my way back from
school, from which in those days one came back more gladly; and
_Auchterarder_, FORTEVIOT, FORGANDENNY, made a _crescendo_ of joyful
sounds, each hailing a stage nearer home.



CHAPTER VI

THE HIGHLAND LINE


From Perth to Inverness runs the Highland Railway, that pierces through
the heart of the Grampians. Giving off a branch to Loch Tay and coach
routes to other choice nooks of the noblest northern county, this line
mounts among the wilds of Atholl, and near its highest level brings us
into Inverness-shire; then it descends to the old Badenoch Forest, down
the upper course of the Spey, past Kingussie to Aviemore, where its main
track turns over the Findhorn, and by Culloden to the capital of the
Highlands. There is not a finer railway ride in the kingdom, as the
tourist knows well enough from his programmes, so the Highland line
needs no advertisement here.

But there is an older use of this name, for the irregular line along
which the Highlands fall in a broken wave upon the richer country, a
zone pointed out by Scott and other writers as the most charming part of
Scotland. The austere spirit of mountain solitudes is not so easily
caught as the varied charms of a debateable land, where “the rivers find
their way out of the mountainous region by the wildest leaps, and
through the most romantic passes,” and Nature’s rugged features straggle
down among good roads and inns, the practical and the picturesque
throwing each other into alternate relief. This is the special
loveliness of southern and eastern Perthshire, across which the
Grampians make an oblique border, once too often marked with fire and
sword, while its straths and lake basins repeat in miniature the same
mingling of Highland and Lowland scenery, and of homes thus contrasted
by “Ian Maclaren”:--

     “The lowland farm stands amid its neighbours along the highway,
     with square fields, trim fences, slated houses, cultivated after
     the most scientific method, and to the last inch, a very type of a
     shrewd, thrifty, utilitarian people. The Highland farm is
     half-a-dozen patches of as many shapes scattered along the
     hillside, wherever there are fewest stones and deepest soil and no
     bog, and those the crofter tills as best he can--sometimes getting
     a harvest, and sometimes seeing the first snow cover his oats in
     the sheaf, sometimes building a rude dyke to keep off the big,
     brown, hairy cattle that come down to have a taste of the sweet
     green corn, but often finding it best to let his barefooted
     children be a fence by day, and at certain seasons to sit up all
     night himself to guard his scanty harvest from the forays of the
     red deer. Somewhere among the patches he builds his low-roofed
     house, and thatches it over with straw, on which by and by, grass
     with heather and wild flowers begins to grow, till it is not easy
     to tell his home from the hill. His farm is but a group of tiny
     islands amid a sea of heather that is ever threatening to overwhelm
     them with purple spray. Anyone can understand that this man will be
     unpractical, dreamy, enthusiastic, the child of the past, the hero
     of hopeless causes, the seer of visions.”

We have already crossed the Highland line to the Trossachs. Now, in a
few hours’ walk by less famous scenes, let me lead the reader right up
into the Highlands

[Illustration: THE GRAMPIANS FROM BOAT OF GARTEN, INVERNESS-SHIRE]

from the North Inch of Perth. Our way shall be the green banks of the
Almond, with only now and then a turning aside on the roads which are
seldom the most pleasing features of a Scottish countryside. The name,
properly _Almaine_, as Wordsworth has it, seems of the same origin as
the Irish Bog of Allen, _Moine Almhaine_ in Celtic. There is more than
one Almond in Scotland, which has countless streams of which this is a
type, a true Highland water, now gathering into creamy pools, now
rushing over pebbly shallows, here pent in a leafy glen, there rippling
by open fields and works of man, everywhere wilful, cheerful, and eager.

At the Almond mouth, over which it straggles thinly in summer to join
the swirls of the Tay, is believed to have stood the Roman station that
may or may not have been the original Perth. The tributary’s right bank
is edged by a wide sward, up which anglers and other idlers can stroll
freely for miles, unless barred by the red flag of a rifle range that
has sent not a few marksmen to Wimbledon and Bisley. On this side stands
a fragment of Huntingtower, a castle of the Gowries, widely known by the
song founded on an obscure ballad, with the same motive as the English
“Nut-brown Maid,” in which a high-born lover--supposed to have been a
Duke of Atholl--puts his sweetheart to the test by pretending to take
leave, to be poor, to be already married; then, when nothing can shake
her fidelity, rewards her with full avowal--

    Blair in Atholl’s mine, Jeanie!
    Little Dunkeld is mine, lassie!
    St. Johnston’s bower and Huntingtower--
    And a’ that’s mine is thine, lassie!

Here the idle stream is harnessed to service in bleachworks, whose white
ware spread on green slopes makes a feature of the scenery about Perth.
Above the villages of Almondbank and Pitcairn Green, the stream, like
Simon Glover’s apprentice, throws off its industrial disguise to put on
a Highland garb of rocks and dells and bosky braes. A beautiful spot is
the Glen of Lynedoch, famed by a touching tradition which the graves of
Bessie Bell and Mary Gray attest as no mere legend. These “bonny
lasses,” as their song styles them, were bosom friends who beside the
Almond built themselves a bower as refuge from the Great Plague, raging
in Perth as in London. According to the story, they were visited by a
lover who brought them food, and with it the fatal infection. Prosaic
critics point out that such bowers were used as isolation huts for
suspected cases. At all events, the girls died in their hermitage, and
were brought to be buried at Methven Church, but the Methven folk stoned
back the bearers of contagion from the ford; then in death, as in life,
the bodies found a home by the Almond. Their fate was so well though
vaguely remembered, that both Burns and Scott came to make inquiries
about the grave, which had already been enclosed by the owner of the
property, and is now marked by a railing, beneath a clump of yews, and
by the inscription “They lived--they loved--they died.”

A more modern romance haunts this glen. Here stands in ruin the deserted
mansion of a laird driven by grief into renown. This was Thomas Graham,
who in the latter part of the eighteenth century devoted himself to such
“improvements” as were then the fashion with

[Illustration: KILLIN, PERTHSHIRE]

cultured landowners, and planted exotic growths now running wild among
the native greenery. The death of his beautiful wife, painted by
Gainsborough, struck him so deeply to heart, that, when over forty years
of age, he went to the wars, and rose to be the Lord Lynedoch who won
the battle of Barossa. He had two other Peninsular veterans as
neighbours, all three of them eyewitnesses of Sir John Moore’s burial at
dead of night, Sir George Murray, Wellington’s Quartermaster-General,
and Sir David Baird, of whom it is told that, when his mother heard how
he was among Hyder Ali’s prisoners, chained two and two, her first
remark was, “Lord pity the chiel that’s chained to oor Davie!” On either
side are scenes of battles long ago: to the south, Methven, a disaster
for Bruce, and its neighbour Ruthven, a victory for Montrose; to the
north, Luncarty, where the founder of the Hay family is said to have
turned the tide of battle against the Danes, by rushing in with his
plough coulter like a legendary Nicol Jarvie.

Glenalmond, little sought as it is by strangers, is better known to many
of Mudie’s subscribers than they may be aware, being clearly the chief
scene of “Ian Maclaren’s” popular tales, in which, while dwelling so
much on the character of the inhabitants, the author seems strangely
reticent as to natural charms, well hinted at indeed in the title
_Bonnie Brier Bush_. Drumtochty--the real name of a farm--is Logie
Almond with its Heriotsfield village; Kildrummie is Methven; and
Muirton, of course, is Perth. Some of his personages, also, appear taken
from real prototypes, touched up into very much of fancy pictures, if
neighbours are to be believed.

A little higher comes Trinity College, Glenalmond, founded as a buttress
to the Scottish Episcopal Church, on the model of English public
schools. Its first head was Dr. Charles Wordsworth, nephew of the poet,
formerly second master at Winchester, and once tutor to Mr. Gladstone,
with whom his conscientious disagreement in politics barred the
ecclesiastical promotion which he deserved as well as his brother,
Christopher of Lincoln. He never rose farther than the elective
bishopric of the diocese which it pleases Scottish Episcopalians to
style that “of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane”; and of late years
their prelates have taken to sign themselves by such territorial
designations, assumed by men whose legal status in the country is that
of dissenting ministers. When Dr. Wordsworth became bishop, the whole
income of himself and his score of clergy was some £2000 a year; but he
had a private endowment in “Wordsworth’s Greek Grammar,” which enabled
him without shame to give out from the pulpit, as I have heard, “It is
my dooty to announce to you that a collection will be made in this
chapel, next Sunday, for the purpose of increasing the income of the
Bishop of the diocese.” He was a learned and amiable man, but without
much knowledge of human nature, as shown by his earnest effort to preach
an Eirenicon between his exotic prelacy and Scotch Presbyterianism. In
his memoirs he states that his Glenalmond pupils were the most Christian
and gentlemanly boys he ever knew, on which let me comment that I have
reason for calling some of them arrant poachers, whom the discipline of
early days did not restrain from going fishing in the “wee short hours
ayont the twal’.” He cherishes the recollection that he

[Illustration: A MOOR NEAR KILLIN, PERTHSHIRE]

had to expel only three of them, and that these were all “schismatics.”
I take him to have been deficient in sense of humour, to judge by the
gusto with which he read aloud his great-uncle’s most droning effusions.
He would probably not have relished a story a friend of mine used to
tell of North-Western Canada. Those wilds, in early days, were the
charge of an Archbishop, who, visiting an unsophisticated part of his
diocese, put up with a Scotch Presbyterian farmer as owner of the best
house in the settlement. This hospitably entertained prelate, remarking
how a newly born baby made part of the family, delicately inquired as to
whether it had been yet baptized, and hinted that the parents might like
to take advantage of such an occasion. But the good man seemed not duly
pleased by the honour thus proffered. “I’ll just step ben, and see what
the mistress thinks,” he said awkwardly; then presently returning:
“We’re both much obliged to ye, sir--we take it kindly; we know ye mean
well; but if ye’ll no mind, the mistress would rather wait till a
regular meenister comes round.”

The attempt to root a Winchester on the Highland border did not for a
time find much deepness of earth, but the school has since flourished
under other masters. Its lordly building had the fate of being set on
fire by an unworthy pupil, son of an ex-Minister, whose connections
could not save him from being brought to justice. A more tragic scandal,
now a generation old, was when the owner of the neighbouring mansion,
the second legal dignitary of Scotland, having been convicted of
parliamentary bribery on the previous step of his career, both cut his
throat and threw himself into the Almond. This points the moral of an
abuse that has flourished more rankly in Scotland than in England,
whereby legal posts go as spoils of party victory, though indeed a
better era seems inaugurated by a Conservative Government which recently
honoured itself by giving the highest judicial office to a political
opponent as the most worthy. But we should not get far, if we are to
stop for all the stories of fire and blood that haunt the Highland line.

Glenalmond now leads us fairly into the Highlands, and by the river we
hold up through the Sma’ Glen, or as Wordsworth calls it, the Narrow
Glen, whose lion is the legendary grave of Ossian, man or myth, that had
a more congenial birthplace in the “tremendous wilds” of Glencoe
declared by Dickens “fearful in their grandeur and amazing solitude.”

    In this still place, where murmurs on
    But one meek streamlet, only one,
    He sang of battles, and the breath
    Of stormy war, and violent death;
    And should, methinks, when all was past,
    Have rightfully been laid at last
    Where rocks were rudely heaped, and rent
    As by a spirit turbulent;
    Where sights were rough and sounds were wild,
    And every thing unreconciled,
    In some complaining, dim retreat
    For fear and melancholy meet;
    But this is calm; there cannot be
    A more entire tranquillity.

Our half-day’s walk may be prolonged to a whole one by path up the
Almond and across to Loch Tay; but if one seek pleasant quarters not so
far off, at Newton

[Illustration: IN GLENFINLAS, PERTHSHIRE]

Bridge he may turn south by Foulford and Monzie to Crieff. This cheerful
little border town ranks as favourite _sommerfrische_ of Scots folk,
apart from those places that are more sought by tourists. Well situated,
looking south from the lowest slope of the hills, almost in the centre
of the country, it is unusually dry as well as airy and genial, not pent
in like Callander, nor too bracing for cold-blooded folk like Braemar.
So Crieff has now two railways and everything handsome about it. Its
spacious market-place proclaims it an old borough, with tolbooth, cross,
and iron “jougs” for the terror of offenders; and here once the “kind
gallows of Crieff” gave Lowlanders’ answer to that high-flown boast--

    Aye, by my soul, while on yon plain
    The Saxon rears one shock of grain;
    While of ten thousand herds there strays,
    But one along yon river’s maze,
    The Gael, of plain and river heir,
    Shall with strong hand redeem his share!

Why the _kind_ gallows? not even Scott can say, but he suggests the idea
of this seeming a kindred or natural doom to the Highlanders, who, it is
said, used to doff their bonnets on passing a shrine fatal to so many of
their blood. The gallows have now been well replaced by an endowed
public school on the Scottish pattern; and perhaps the most important
institution of modern Crieff is the Hydropathic, which, under the
shelter of the Knock Woods, gathers Saxon and Celt together in sober
amity. There are other such hostelries about the Highland line; but that
of Crieff, one of the earliest, is still one of the most popular.

“Hydropathics” in Scotland--nobody thinks of calling them
Establishments--do not much depend on hydropathy, which, in summer at
least, falls to the background of their sociable life. They are more
concerned with the administration of water internally. Where whisky is
devoutly worshipped, there arises a strong nonconformist party leagued
against the devil’s sacrament, hence the vogue of these big temperance
hotels, in which unhappy moral weaklings will be sometimes kept by their
families, while others, conscious of feeble will, are glad to be out of
the way of temptation. In the holiday season, the better class of
townsfolk much affect the wholesome amusements of such _pensions_, most
of them palatial and some expensive. And if strong drink be necessary
for human happiness, it is whispered how that can be enjoyed, _sub
rosa_, even within the walls of a hydropathic, with all the added zest
of a “fearful joy.” As the rigour of Maine laws does not always hinder
an American hotel guest from “seeing the striped pig” or “giving ten
cents to the baby,” so here there has been observed such a demand for
“shaving water” at various hours of the day, that one conscientious
manager made a practice of putting a piece of soap into each jug so
required. Several hydropathics, indeed, have so far relaxed their
original rules as to connive at the appearance of bottles upon the
well-spread table. Certain large ones tend to become too gay and
worldly, patronised by young swells from Glasgow and Dundee, who take
every opportunity of putting on company manners and evening dress. But
those haunts of ephemeral gaiety find their business slack off with the
holiday season; and their prosperity

[Illustration: LOOKING UP GLEN LOCHAY NEAR KILLIN, PERTHSHIRE]

has not always answered to that of others which stick to quiet ways and
moderate charges.

The Crieff Hydropathic has all along taken a stand among the latter
class, has even had a name for special austerity, due perhaps to the
fact that it is frequented by Presbyterian ministers, as one at
Harrogate is by Roman Catholic priests. But the Scottish clergy, however
formidable in the pulpit, are by no means reluctant to unbend out of it,
within the limits of becoming mirth, as we should know from Dean Ramsay;
and I don’t think I ever made one of such a jovial and friendly
congregation as was gathered in this house in the days when not only
strong drink but cards and dancing were under an interdict. One scandal
shocked the proprieties of the place. The doctor, its guiding genius and
strict censor, had gone to be married. The cat being thus engaged, the
mice took advantage of the occasion. Returning unexpectedly from his
honeymoon, our moral and medical director found the kids of his
abandoned flock capering in the drawing-room. I shall never forget the
face with which he stood at the doorway like the statue in Don Juan,
then turned away speechless from sorrow or from anger. His helpless
indignation reminded me of a carter, noted for bad language, on whom
certain graceless loons are said to have played a trick by stealthily
letting down the tilt of his cart as it tugged up a load of sand; then
they took a short cut to the hill top and disposed themselves for
listening to his remarks at a safe distance; but all he could gasp out
on discovering his loss, was, “Rin awa’ hame, laddies: I’m no equal to
the occasion!” Perhaps that new character as a bridegroom softened the
doctor’s severe rule. It is said that even Crieff has to some extent
conformed to the world, yet I doubt if its frequenters have a happier
time of it than in those Saturnian days.

One meets queer characters at such a place, “gorgons and _hydros_ and
chimæras dire,” as a humorist of the neighbourhood used to call them. A
few real invalids and some imaginary ones crop up among the crowd of
ruddy and buxom pleasure-seekers. There was one gentleman, I remember,
who gorged himself at every meal and spent most of the day in snoring
about the public rooms; but at idle intervals buttonholed all and sundry
to expatiate on his woeful lot of having lost both sleep and appetite. A
rarer hydropathic case, and a purple patch on the general tone of honest
_bourgeoisie_, was a still young ne’er-do-weel bearing more than one of
Scotland’s honoured names, who had been in, and out of, two crack
regiments, had run through two fortunes, so he boasted, and looked on
himself as heir to two or three more. Crippled by a drunken fall, his
friends kept him practically imprisoned in this uncongenial retreat. His
sole luxury was a daily carriage airing; and he liked to drive round the
grounds of a certain castle near Crieff, within which the owner, his
uncle, would not let him set foot. It was painful to hear him talk of
what he would do when he came in for the property. He died before the
uncle and the other kinsfolk from whom he had hoped to inherit, a victim
of that plague through which this country has hardly a house where there
is not one dead, soul or body.

One of the great attractions of Crieff is its being

[Illustration: BENEATH THE SLOPES OF BEN LEDI, NEAR CALLANDER,
PERTHSHIRE]

environed by noble and famous mansions, some of their parks thrown
liberally open to visitors. Close at hand on the Lowland side is
Drummond Castle with its grand woods and gardens, seat of the old family
of Perth, that has had strange vicissitudes: its representative now
unites several titles in that of the Lincolnshire Earl of Ancaster,
while the direct line of the Perth Earls was ruined by its Jacobite
loyalty. On the hills behind are the grounds of Ochtertyre, which
inspired Burns’s muse; and the often-visited Falls of Turret are, among
several cascades, within a short walk. Behind the Knock lie Ferntower,
once home of Sir David Baird, and Monzie Castle, which strangers must
remember to pronounce with its z silent. Southrons will have some
difficulty also in getting their tongues round the name of Cultoquhey,
famed by the Laird of Cultoquhey’s prayer: “From the greed of the
Campbells, from the pride of the Grahams, from the ire of the Drummonds,
and the wind of the Murrays, Good Lord deliver us!” This laird’s name
was Maxtone, which hints at his having emigrated from the Borders among
such uncongenial neighbours; but in the whirligig of time his descendant
has taken on “the pride of the Grahams,” being now Maxtone-Graham, with
Murrays and Drummonds still around him. The old laird’s familiarity with
the Litany may be explained by the fact of Muthill, a village near at
hand, having kept for itself an Episcopal chapel through all
adversities, as well as a parish church with rare relics of Catholic
antiquity. The church and castle of Innerpeffray are other points of
interest in a neighbourhood whose old families seem to have held their
own against English and American invasion; but the Grahams themselves,
Highland clan as they pass for and duly equipped with a tartan, seem to
have come from the south, where Scott puts Roland Græme’s kin in the
Border “Debateable Land.”

Of all the lairdly homes about Crieff, the best known in the world
should be Gask, through the several authors whom the Oliphant family has
produced. One daughter of this house was Lady Nairne, christened
Carolina after the unfortunate prince for whom it had suffered poverty
and exile. There was a Charles also, and George III. is said to have
been tickled to hear how, every day after dinner, the old laird would
turn to his son with “_Charles_, the king’s health!” More than any other
writer, by her Jacobite ballads and her _remaniements_ of popular songs,
“the White Rose of Gask” has inspired a tender sentiment of the lost
cause to thrill so many hearts and piano strings, long after Scottish
royalists had transferred their worship to such clay idols as George IV.
In my youth, indeed, there were still Perthshire men who spoke more or
less heartily of the Hanoverian “usurpers.” I myself was brought up in a
touch of the same sentiment, though that my father’s Jacobitism went not
very deep appeared from the gusto with which he used to tell the tale of
his translating to a lady the inscription on the monument at St. Peter’s
dedicated by King George to the “last of the Stuarts,” whereupon a
Yankee standing by put in the remark, “I guess George was right smart to
say it was the _last_ of them!” Lady Nairne’s hereditary feeling for the
Stuarts might not perhaps have endured the test of experience; she was a
devout Protestant, and in her old age showed sympathy with the Free
Church movement, which is the antipodes of Jacobitism. So modest was
she,

[Illustration: A WILD SPOT, KILLIN, PERTHSHIRE]

that for the greater part of her life, her neighbours, and her own
husband, were not aware of her hand in the songs which had crept into
wide popularity. It was taken for granted that Burns must be the author
of her noblest strain, the “Land o’ the Leal,” better known than
understood, as we remember from Mr. Gladstone’s blunder in confusing
heaven and Scotland. “The Laird o’ Cockpen,” “Caller Herrin’,” “Will ye
no come back again?” are other favourites among her songs, grave and
gay; but her most recurrent theme was that glorified memory that, like
Queen Mary’s, can wing a sentiment to pierce the joints of Scotland’s
logical armour,--

    Charlie is my darling,
        The young Chevalier!

Most charming are the walks by the Highland streams that at Crieff fall
into the Earn; and tempting the longer excursions on which brakes carry
off sociable parties from the Hydropathic. The railway takes us on up
Strathearn to Comrie, a still more beautiful resort lying on a rich
plain between the wooded heights of Glen Lednock and “lone Glenartney’s
hazel shade,” by which one might tramp across to Callander, from the
basin of the Tay into that of the Forth. A prosaic critic observes that
there is no hazel shade in this glen; but the poet always declined to
“swear to the truth of a song.” There is no spot in Scotland that so
well unites lush Lowland charms with rugged features as Comrie; and it
prides itself on being the only spot in Britain troubled by earthquakes,
several slight shocks sometimes being felt in a year, which may bring a
stone wall tumbling down, while scaring wild fowl, making the trout
leap in the burns, fluttering the poultry yard and rattling the plates
in the goodwife’s kitchen.

A few miles higher up, the Earn debouches from its Loch at St. Fillans,
near which “the stag at eve had drunk his fill” before being roused by
Fitz-James’s hounds. I once made his day’s course mainly on foot, but by
a more arduous line over the top of Ben Voirlich, and moreover without
any breakfast till I came upon a shepherd’s shanty in the afternoon;
then instead of being welcomed at eve by any Lady of the Lake, I found
every bed full at the Trossachs Hotel, as may often be the lot of weary
wight in this much-toured district. Loch Earn, hitherto a quiet
backwater in the stream of travel, has lately been thrown open by a
railway, at its head bringing one to the Oban line from Callander, whose
lights are now the fiery cross that “glance like lightning up
Strath-Ire.”

In the other direction, a road from Crieff goes by the Sma’ Glen to
Dunkeld, the gate of the mountains for the Highland Railway. This
resort, as tourists know, is a kind of Perthshire Buda-Pesth, the old
town of Dunkeld being on the left bank of the Tay, while the station is
at Birnam on the other side. Village seems a fitter title for Dunkeld
than town, yet it might claim to be a city in right of its Cathedral,
whose choir is still the parish church. This is an ancient sanctuary to
which in part was transplanted the influence of ruined Iona. Gavin
Douglas, the translator of Virgil, was bishop here, but came to die of
the plague in London. With Dunkeld also is connected the memory of Neil
Gow, first of three generations of fiddlers who for Scotland’s artless
tunes did what Burns, Lady Nairne, and other writers did for its
songs.

[Illustration: THE FALLS OF TUMMEL, PERTHSHIRE]

The Cathedral, as well as the Falls of Braan, the Rumbling Bridge and
other lions are in the grounds of the Duke of Atholl, _the_ Duke of this
part of the world. The Duke of fifty years ago was a “character” who
might be styled the last of the great Highland chiefs. This generation
may have forgotten the sensation caused by his trying to shut the way
through Glen Tilt, and his personal encounter with two Cambridge
undergraduates, who got the best of the scrimmage. Among Leech’s most
effective sketches in _Punch_ were that “Ducal Dog in the Manger” and
the cartoon in which His Grace appeared playing the part of Roderick Dhu
to the young Sassenachs. It was said that the Duke took his revenge on
the artist by inviting him to shoot, the highest honour that can be
hoped for in that part of the world; and in the end the pass was opened
by a chieftain “so late dishonoured and defied.”

Since his day the champion obstructionist of this district was the
veteran Sir Robert Menzies, who lately died much respected in the
Rannoch country, in spite of an extraordinary itch for litigation, with
his own family as well as with strangers. His most famous “ganging law
plea” perhaps was with a railway company that, by the hands of
half-a-dozen porters, had dragged the chieftain out of a carriage in
which his ticket did not entitle him to ride. The fate of a reverend
English tourist who landed from Loch Rannoch on his grounds was told
with a shudder; and I must be thankful for my own escape when caught in
the act of more than barefaced trespass in bounds where stranger was not
always “a holy name.” With a friend of mine, in our hot youth, I had
gone in to swim, when on the lake bank we heard a stern voice and
looked back to see Sir Robert’s tartans waving over our clothes. Thus
“at advantage ta’en,”

    I dare not say that now _our_ blood
    Kept on its wont and tempered flood

But the “dangerous chief,” seeing nothing in our Arcadian innocence to
chafe his mood or cloud his brow, turned off with a courteous
salutation--“Doubt not aught from mine array!”--and the sun’s next
glance shone “on bracken green and cold grey stone.”

Across the Tay from Dunkeld, in the old duke’s time, reigned an
eccentric laird, to whose taste for building are due the baronial Birnam
Hotel and other costly structures in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Oliphant
hangs the scenes of a novel about his own empty and unfinished mansion;
and the chief building among the woods of Murthly is now an Asylum. As
for Birnam Wood, that has long marched off the face of the earth, to
bear out the truth of Shakespeare’s legend; but one or two ancient trees
are pointed out as stragglers. Birnam was a favourite haunt of Millais,
a keen sportsman as well as lover of the scenery which forms oases in
the later stage of his art, when he seemed too much concerned to boil
that large pot in Palace Gate.

From Dunkeld it is easy to reach the heart of the Highlands. A dozen
miles of the high road takes us up to hill-girdled Pitlochrie, and
through that pass where Dundee was shot, as pious souls whispered, with
a silver bullet, while his claymores sheared down the Lowland soldiers,
whose prudent leader, himself from the farthest north, gained in defeat
the lesson to invent a more adaptable

[Illustration: DUNKELD AND BIRNAM FROM CRAIGIEBARNS, PERTHSHIRE]

bayonet. So terrifying seemed long this Pass of Killiecrankie that a
body of Hessian soldiers, brought over in the ’45, are said to have
flatly refused to march through it. But as usual, the victorious onrush
at Killiecrankie did not carry the tartans far. They were checked at
Dunkeld, dourly defended against them by troops of sternest temper, that
Cameronian regiment raised among the most stubborn Whigs, who here had
their baptism of fire and their chance of wreaking vengeance for bitter
memories of Claverhouse. Their colonel, Cleland, fell in this fight with
the barelegged foes he had satirised in verse bristling with scornful
hatred of the “Highland host” brought down as a scourge for the
west-country Covenanters. “They need not strip them when they whip
them!” the Presbyterian poet exclaims like any ribald Cockney, and goes
on to hint how the upper garments of such gallows-birds would not be
worth the hangman’s fees. So little love was lost between kindly Scots
of those days, on opposite sides of the Highland line!

Cleland is buried in Dunkeld Cathedral, where Sir John Steell’s modern
monument to officers of the 42nd reminds us how this Perthshire regiment
was first embodied in the Dunkeld district about half a century after
the Revolution, having its origin as the Black Watch, so called from
their dark tartans as distinguished from the _sidier roy_, red soldier.
They were originally raised to keep the peace on the Highland line, much
as Parfidio Diaz has in our day put down the brigands of Mexico by
enlisting the survivors as Rural Guards; but it would be too much to say
that such a loyal and brave corps was made out of the leavings of that
kind gallows of Crieff. Some of the private soldiers held themselves so
proudly, that when a party was brought to show their exercise before
George II. and the king ordered them to be tipped with a guinea apiece,
each man, it is told, re-bestowed this donation upon the palace porter.
Their tartan is a neutral one, forming the groundwork of several others,
for time was when no Macpherson would don the hated trappings of the
MacTavish. War Office arrangements have played havoc with this sentiment
by sometimes redistributing the territorial corps in red-tape bundles;
some years ago a Ross-shire militia battalion tacked on to the Cameron
Highlanders--not to be confused with the west-country Cameronian
regiment--was said not to have a single Cameron in the ranks, a change
from days when Sandy MacDonalds or John Campbells had to be numbered in
the kindred ranks like a long line of kings. The good discipline as well
as the prowess of Highland soldiers was remarkable in early days, men of
the same name and birthplace keeping up each other’s _esprit de corps_,
and no praise or punishment being more effectual than the thought of
what might be posted as to a man’s conduct on the door of his parish
church.

The raising of Highland regiments, indeed, was sometimes carried on
after the methods of the press-gang, or by landlords putting pressure on
tenants who might be fathers of stout sons. There is a story of
half-a-dozen brawny Celts tied neck and heels in a cart as recruits for
the Laird of Macnab’s “Volunteers”; and clansmen have been hunted down
in the mountains when they refused to follow the modern fiery cross.
There

[Illustration: A WOODED GORGE, KILLIN, PERTHSHIRE]

would be many a tragic tale of desertion like that of the “Highland
Widow,” especially when English martinets added pipe-clay to Highland
accoutrements. But active lads were seldom backward to follow chief or
laird leading them to war; then

    Bring a Scotsman frae his hill,
    Clap in his cheek a Highland gill,
    Say, “Such is royal George’s will,
        And there’s the foe!”
    He has nae thought but how to kill
        Twa at a blow.

As in the instance of the Cameronians, all Scottish regiments do not
wear the kilt; and of those who do, but few men are to this manner born
in our generation. Alphonse Daudet puts his little hero “Jack” into a
kilt under the title of _costume anglaise_, which is no more absurd than
the way in which English writers speak of this as the “Scottish dress.”
There are even Highland Celts whose ancestors never wore it; and in its
palmy days the kilt was the “servile dress” of clansmen, whose chiefs as
a rule went in trews. Now it is affected rather by the upper class; and
the soldiers who swagger so jauntily in tartans are more like to have
grown up in corduroy breeks. But for this fact, I should have laid down,
as warning to strangers, that the “garb of Old Gaul” cannot be donned to
advantage without youthful familiarity. The wearing of such a costume,
indeed, needs some practice. A Highland battalion of trews stationed at
Southsea became adopted into a kilted regiment some twenty years ago,
when a corporal and file of men were detached from the latter as
instructors for the neophytes how to carry their new honours
unblushingly, so as forthwith to be christened the “South Sea Islanders”
by an _h_-less populace. The London Scottish Volunteers should wear the
kilt by right of having Highland blood or Highland property; and it is
enviously whispered that their qualification in most cases may be the
possession of a tartan paper-knife.

It is, of course, the prowess of our Highland regiments that has made
their dress as dear in Scotland as once over half of it this was hated
and despised. The tartans are dyed by the blood of a hundred
battlefields, as by memories of green braes and purple moors. Crude and
_criant_ may be some of their colourings, but not more so than is the
tricolour or the Union Jack. Even if the kilt in its present form were
more or less a modern invention, it is at least older than the Stars and
Stripes, and we know what passionate loyalty that gaudy pattern can call
forth. The other day, I forgathered with a Lowland Seaforth Highlander,
fresh from South Africa, to whom I communicated a report that the War
Office thought of putting him into trousers. “They daren’t!” he cried,
his eye ablaze with all the fire of Killiecrankie, where his progenitor
might have chosen for the nonce to be equipped in the lightest running
costume.

Strange how the Celtic leaven rises in the stodgy composition of British
nature! What is this infectious quality it has? We are Saxons in
business, and well for us it is so; but in hours of ease and sentiment
we hark back to the race older on our mother earth. English settlers in
Ireland notoriously become _Hibernis Hiberniores ipsis_. English workmen
in Welsh quarries, it is said,

[Illustration: LOOKING UP THE PASS OF KILLIECRANKIE, PERTHSHIRE]

learn to speak Welsh rather than their comrades English. In the long run
the stolid Teuton grows to be proud of his lighter strain. I who write
can trace my descent with unusual clearness back to a Norman adventurer
whose progeny appears to have settled for a time in the Breadalbane
Highlands, but long ago came down to opener straths--

    The mountain sheep were sweeter,
    But the valley sheep were fatter.

The alliances of my kin were for generations with the English-speaking
Lowlands, where their neighbours had cause to look on the wild
Highlandmen as an American backwoodsman looked on Mohawk or Shawnee
warrior. My forebears “had no use for” kilts, if some perhaps for dirks
and claymores. I know of only one recent strain of Highland blood, and
that at second hand through England, to make me a Celtic quadroon, so to
speak. Yet there is many a Scot, with no more claim to Highland lineage
than mine, who cannot see the tartan even in a Princes Street
shop-window, or hear the pibroch wailing over forgotten graves of his
father’s foes, without a certain stir of spirit which a biological
philosopher might explain as waves of molecular disturbance propagated
through the nerve centres by vague emotional combinations organised in
the earlier experiences of the race. Boswell confessed to the same
weakness, and what had he to do with the Highlands?

Where were we before launching forth into such a chequered digression on
the “lad wi’ the philabeg”? In the Atholl country, by Loch “Tummel and
banks of the Garry.” Above the Pass of Killiecrankie, the pedestrian
who does not shun a thirty-miles walk to Braemar may turn off through
Glen Tilt, with its gloomy gorges and snowy falls. But the coach-road to
the Cairngorm Highlands goes from Dunkeld to Blairgowrie, then northward
by the Spittal of Glenshee, the highest highway in Britain, at one point
over 2000 feet, whose “Spittal” was a Hospital or Hospice that made a
Highland St. Bernard’s. I once sought to hire a horse at an inn on this
road, but the landlord explained how it had gone off with “a man called
Morell Mackenzie, who seemed in an awfu’ hurry.” That locally unknown
celebrity was in haste to an illustrious patient on Deeside, an errand
that would breed much bad blood in another country.

The first stage of the journey is lowland rather than highland, its
chief feature being a chain of small lochs, stocked with perch, on one
of which stands Cluny Castle, cradle of the “Admirable Crichton.”
Blairgowrie, with Rattray for its tiny Westminster, rivals Crieff as the
second town in Perthshire, but is not so much a place of resort, laying
itself out rather as an understudy of Dundee by its flax-spinning mills
on the Ericht; and it seems a miniature of that longest and busiest of
towns, the German Elberfeld strung out along the Wupper valley. Wildly
romantic still is the walk up the Ericht, whose shaded pools and rapids,
above the town, come down through a grand gorge overlooked by Craighall,
one of several candidates for the honour of having sat to Scott as
“Tullyveolan.” From this gap in the Highland line a short branch puts us
on the main line of the Caledonian Railway, which competes with the
North British as route to Aberdeen.

[Illustration: KILLIN, HEAD OF LOCH TAY, PERTHSHIRE]

Other Caledonian branches lead off to charming glens on the old Highland
line, now facing east towards the lowlands of Forfar and Kincardine. But
of Alyth, Edzell, Lochee, one need only say that they lie among sweet
and noble scenes as well worth visiting as others better known to
tourist fame, and that even prosaic Kirriemuir, Mr. Barrie’s “Thrums,”
is a base for long moorland tramps into Deeside, over a part of the
Highlands as yet innocent of railways.



CHAPTER VII

“ABERDEEN AWA’!”


There seems no general name to fit a part of Scotland which has a very
marked character, that lowland shelf lying beyond the Grampians along
the Moray Firth, where the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, Moray, and Nairn
are comparatively flat on the north side, but on the south rise into
grand mountains. The “back end of the Highlands” would not be a
dignified title; “Moray and Mar” is not an inclusive one, nor is
“Deeside and Speyside.” One seems driven to indicate this as the
district of which Aberdeen is the capital, environed by the “four
nations,” Angus, Mar, Buchan, and Moray, a division of local mankind
copied by her university from Paris.

Angus _alias_ Forfar, and Kincardine _alias_ the Mearns, are lowland
counties whose streams come down from a Highland background to a
coast-line of broad sandy links on the Tay estuary, and weatherworn
sandstone cliffs facing the open sea. We might linger here by notable
names beyond Dundee--Arbroath, with its ruined Abbey, the scene of the
_Antiquary_; Montrose, that Flemish-like town that has belied its
Cavalier name by rearing such sons as Andrew Melville, the reformer, and
Joseph Hume, the

[Illustration: DUNNOTTAR CASTLE, KINCARDINESHIRE]

economist; Stonehaven, seat of the Barclays of Ury known in so different
ways; and Brechin, with its Cathedral and Round Tower, neighboured by
castles old and new. In this countryside settled the head of W. E.
Gladstone’s family, which, however, had moved from some _Gledstone_ or
“Hawk’s rock” in the south of Scotland to make fortunes in England by
trade. Sir Thomas, the great Liberal’s brother, was a sound
Conservative, of whom is told that at an election, seeing a son of the
soil anxious to salute him, he stopped his carriage, and accepted a
grasp of the horny hand, qualified by “For the sake o’ yer brither!”

By the wild glens of the North and South Esk let us pass into Braemar,
mountain region of Mar, the very cream of the Highlands, whose highest
summits, Ben Nevis left out of account, are grouped in the south of
Aberdeenshire. A generation ago Ben Nevis had not been crowned by
revolutionary surveyors, and Ben Macdhui was still held monarch of
Scottish mountains, keeping his state among the Cairngorms, that here
have half-a-dozen truncated peaks over or hardly under 4000 feet, Ben
Muich Dhui, as Gaelic purists would have us call it, Brae-riach,
Cairntoul, the Peak of Cairngorm, Ben-a-bourd, and Ben A’an, heads of
the grandest mountain mass in the British Isles. This is the native
heath of sturdy Highland stocks, Farquharsons, Macphersons, and
M‘Hardys, Durwards, Coutts, and Stuarts, of whose exploits and
traditions more than one book has been written. The folklorist will not
be surprised to find how the legends of Braemar re-echo those of other
lands. Here a crafty female Ulysses disables a giant and plays off on
him a joking name that puts the stupid fellow to a loss in calling for
help. Here a MacTell wins his liberty by shooting at a mark placed on
the head of his wife, with an arrow in reserve for the tyrant, in case
his first aim should not be true. Here an outlawed David in tartans lays
his sword on the throat of a sleeping Saul, then awakens him to
reconciliation. Here a squire of low degree comes by his high-born lass
in the end; and the youngest of three brothers of course wins the race
of fortune, though handicapped like a Cinderella.

This majestic crown of Scotland was chosen as the home of our late
Queen, but not then for the first time had Braemar and its Castleton to
do with royalty. If all tales be true, here was the cradle of Banquo’s
race, he to whom the fateful sisters promised a long line of kings,
himself cut off as foretaste of so many violent ends. Malcolm Canmore,
son of Duncan, had a seat at Braemar, where he often lived with his
Saxon wife. He is said to have founded the autumn gathering, now tamed
into a spick and span show of holiday Highlanders, but in old days a
grand hunting party, more than once an assemblage for serious purposes.
Taylor, the Water Poet, on his “Penniless Pilgrimage,” after being duly
rigged out in tartan, was taken by Lord Mar to the Braemar Hunt, when
under mountains to which this Cockney declares that “Shooters’ Hill,
Gad’s Hill, Highgate Hill, Hampstead Hill” are but mole-hills--

    Through heather, moss, ’mongst frogs and bogs and fogs,
      ’Mongst craggy cliffs and thunder-battered hills,
    Hares, hinds, bucks, roes are chased by men and dogs,
      Where two hours’ hunting fourscore fat deer kills.
    Lowland, your sports are low as are your seat,
    The Highland games and minds are truly great!

It was under cover of the Braemar hunt of 1715, such a gathering as a
generation later had Captain Waverley for eye-witness, that Mar hatched
the Jacobite rebellion against George I., of which Scott aptly quotes--

    The child may rue that is unborn
    The hunting of that day.

When the Pretender’s standard was raised at the Castleton, a hollow of
rock by the Linn of Quoich, known as “the Earl of Mar’s Punchbowl,” is
said to have been filled with several ankers of spirits, gallons of
boiling water, and hundredweights of honey, a mighty brew in which to
drink success to that unlucky enterprise. In 1745, also, the sons of Mar
gave their blood freely to the cause of the Pretender, though this time
their lords were rather on the Whig side. Jacobite sentiment remained
strong in the district up to our own time. In 1824 was buried at
Castleton Peter Grant, who passed for being 110 years old, and probably
the last survivor of Culloden. To his dying day he would never drink the
Hanoverian king’s health, yet this constancy seems somewhat marred by
the fact that, like Dr. Johnson, he accepted a pension from the usurping
line. In our time all devotion to memories of Prince Charlie have been
transferred to the sovereign lady who here would have lived as a private
person, so far as possible, but was sore hindered by the snobbish
curiosity that mobbed her even in the village church. Not that Highland
loyalty is always enlightened, if we may believe a story told by Mr.
George Seton of one Donald explaining to another the meaning of the
Queen’s Jubilee: “When ye’re married twenty-five years, that’s your
silver wedding; and fifty years is your golden wedding; and if your
man’s deid, they ca’ it a Jubilee”!

Braemar, indeed, with its bracing air and glorious mountains, is not for
every tourist. Hotels are few and dear; there is little accommodation
between cot and castle; ramblers are not made welcome in the deer
forests around; and a countryside of illustrious homes cannot be left
open to all and sundry. When royalty be in residence, there are no doubt
keepers on the watch who have to guard something better than game; and
the trespassing stranger may find himself under observation as strict as
that of Dartmoor or Portland Island. In the promised elysium of
socialism both palaces and prisons may be turned into hydropathics; and
Braemar, 1000 feet above the sea, makes a princely health resort, with
no want of water. But access to this backwater of travel is itself
somewhat prohibitive to the strangers who would scamper over Scotland in
six days. The railway from Aberdeen comes no farther up the Dee than
Ballater. The direct access to Castleton is that of a long coach drive
by the Spittal of Glenshee. Pedestrians have the best of it in rough
tramps up Glen Tilt or Glen Clova from the south, or from Aviemore on
Speyside, over a pass 2750 feet high, and with a chance of losing their
adventurous way in Rothiemurchus Forest, where Messrs. Cook’s coupons
are of no avail. Once at the village capital of the district, one can
visit most of its lions on pony-back, the Falls of Corriemulzie and of
the Garrawalt, the Linn of Dee, Glen Cluny and Glen Callater, and even
the top of the mighty Muich Dhui, thus ascended by Queen Victoria. But
the Cairngorms show their jewels rather to him who, like

[Illustration: OLD MAR BRIDGE AND LOCHNAGAR, ABERDEENSHIRE]

Byron, can roam “a young Highlander o’er the dark heath,” climbing “thy
summit, O Morven of snow,” and getting cheerfully drenched among the
“steep frowning glories of dark Lochnagar.”

If peer or poet could hasten from these royal Highlands, Byron’s
restless muse might rejoice in the motor cars that now connect Braemar
with the fortunate Deeside railway. Down the strath of Dee, we descend
to the lowland country by beautiful gradations. Past the old and the new
Castles of Braemar, past Invercauld, Crathie, and Abergeldie, by the
“Rock of Firs” and round the “Rock of Oaks,” is the way to Ballater, a
neat little town about a railway terminus, that makes it more of a
popular resort. On the other side of the river are the chalybeate wells
of Pananich, one of those unfamed spas held in observance by country
folk all over Scotland. It was at a farmhouse here that Byron spent his
Aberdeen school holidays; and happy should be the schoolboy who can
follow in his steps, forgetting examinations and cricket averages. But
alas! for the Aberdeen citizen who, on trades’ holidays, seeks this
lovely scene when it is veiled in mist and pelting showers. Him the
Invercauld Arms receives as refuge; him sometimes a place of sterner
entertainment. There is also a temperance hotel. Over the Moor of
Dinnet, the railway takes us to Aboyne, another pleasant resort on
Deeside, along which we find hotels for tourists and sportsmen, a
hydropathic for health-seekers, a sanitorium for consumptives, and
thickening villages which, on the lower reaches, become the Richmonds
and Wimbledons of Aberdeen.

The Granite City of Bon Accord, with its old Cathedral and Colleges, if
for a little overgrown by that upstart Dundee, comes after Edinburgh and
Glasgow in dignity, well deserving such attention as Dr. Johnson gave to
its lions. It has shifted its site from the Don towards the Dee, between
whose mouths it almost touches the sands, and golf and sea bathing are
among its pleasures, while in an hour the Deeside railway runs one up
into the Highlands. The old town has here dwindled to a suburb, the new
one laid out with striking regularity and solidity, relieved by such
nooks as the Denburn Gardens, across which Union Street reaches by the
tower of the Town Hall to Castlegate and the Cross, where a colossal
statue of the last Duke of Gordon and an imposing block of Salvation
Army buildings represent a contrast of old and new times.

The Aberdonians, as is known, pride themselves on a hard-headedness
answering to their native granite. The legend goes that an Englishman
once attempted to defraud these far northerners, but the charge against
him was scornfully dismissed by an Aberdeen bailie: “The man must be
daft!” By the rest of Scotland, Aberdeen is looked on as concentrating
its qualities of pawkiness, canniness, and thrawnness; the Edinburgh man
cracks upon it the same sort of jokes as the Cockney upon Scotland in
general. The accent and dialect of this corner, strongly flavoured with
Norse origin and sharp sea-breezes, are quite peculiar. Norse origin, I
have said--and this has been held the main stock; but a recent
anthropological examination seems to show that even in seaward Buchan
only a minority of the school children are fair-haired. This sketch has
nothing for it but resolutely to forswear all such upsetting inquiries,
which nowadays go so far as to deny that any part of Scotland was purely
Celtic, and may some day prove us the original strain of Adam, whose
migration from Paradise to replenish the whole earth would be quite
consistent with a birthright in “Aberdeen awa’!”

Aberdeenshire is on the whole a matter-of-fact county, by industry rich
in “horn and corn,” not without its pleasant nooks, and on the south
rising into those royalest Highlands. Buchan, the most Aberdeenish part
of Aberdeen, has a grandly rugged coast, with the cauldron called the
Buller of Buchan, and the Dripping Cave of Slains for famous points,
till lately much out of the way of travel, but now a railway opens the
golf links of Cruden Bay, between the old and the new Slains Castles,
whose lord, as Boswell observed, has the king of Denmark for nearest
north-eastern neighbour to the High Constable of Scotland. Beyond, at
this bleak corner, come the fishing towns of Peterhead and Fraserburgh,
where Frasers are as thick as blackberries, their name, along the coast,
being no distinction without a _tee_-name (_agnomen_) by which a
prosperous fisherman may sign his cheques, or an ill-doing one be haled
before the sheriff.

Inland, Aberdeen is rather the country of the gay Gordons, no real
Hielandmen, but emigrants from the south, of whom it is not for me to
say good words, inasmuch as I am kin to their hereditary neighbours,
which is as much as to say enemies, the Forbes. Yet, “in spite of
spite,” one must admit that the Gordons flourish here, as on their
native borderland, in Poland, in Russia, indeed all over the world. The
“Cock of the North” has cause not to crow so boldly as of yore; and
regiments cannot now be raised by bounty of a Gordon Duchess’ kisses;
but no less than three noble houses of the name have seats in this
region, lordliest among them Gordon Castle, the northern Goodwood.

The interior of this promontory has a prevailing aspect of prosperous
commonplace; but here, too, are patches of romance and superstition.
Turriff, for instance, looks as quiet a little town as any in the
kingdom, yet at the Trot of Turriff was shed the first blood of our
civil wars. A pool in the river has a wild legend of family plate thrown
into it in those troubled times and found in guard of the devil by one
who dived for its recovery. This is a legend of Gicht, the home of
Byron’s mother, that also has the subterranean passage of tradition,
explored by so many a piper, whose strains were heard dying away
underfoot till they went silent in what uncanny world! Near Gicht, Fyvie
Castle contains a secret chamber which must not be opened on pain of the
laird’s death, and a stone that weeps for any approaching calamity to
his house. There came a new laird from London, a man of metropolitan
scepticism, nay, even a teetotaller, who regaled his scandalised
neighbours with zoedone and such like. He was reported to have given out
an intention of opening the secret chamber, but when pressed to do so in
presence of certain local dignitaries, he turned it off with a laugh.
Mark the sequel: this gentleman died suddenly very soon afterwards, so
he might have opened the fateful chamber _whatever_. One of the
treasures of the castle, a scrap of faded tartan from Prince Charlie’s
plaid, reverently preserved under a glass case, was being exhibited to
me by the parish minister, when he felt himself tapped on the shoulder
by

[Illustration: BALMORAL, ABERDEENSHIRE]

the laird: “Did I hear you say the _Pretender_?”--a softened form of
Lady Strange’s rebuke for the same lapse, “_Pretender_, forsooth, and be
dawmed to ye!” Another family in this district is believed, and believes
itself, never to have thriven since its head was cursed by a Macdonald
massacred in Glencoe. These are but samples of the old-world ideas that
turn up in the soil so carefully tilled by Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk.

Maybe the reader has never heard of Johnny Gibb--then the loss is his.
This book is well known in Scotland as a head of the “kailyard” school
that has flourished here since the days of Galt, though only of late
some caprice of taste gave it a vogue in the south. The examples most
popular in England do not always commend themselves to Scotsmen, who
find one and another aspect of their character overcharged to move the
sighs or grins of barren readers. At home is better appreciated such a
writer as William Alexander, who, risen from herd loon to editor of an
Aberdeen paper, knew his countryfolk thoroughly, and depicted them with
an art that never oversteps the modesty of nature. One can hardly press
Johnny Gibb on a stranger, weighted as he is with an uncouth dialect and
with a serious stiffening of Disruption principles. But, to my mind, if
Dr. John Brown had not written _Rab and his Friends_, William
Alexander’s _Life among my ain Folk_ would be the flower of the
kailyard: a collection of humble Aberdeenshire idylls, as seen by a
shrewdly humorous eye, which can soften in not overstrained sentiment
when it regards the “little wee little anes” and “wee bit wifickies”
that draw from sons of a hard soil such endearing diminutives so
characteristic of their wind-bitten speech. If I am not mistaken,
George Eliot’s _Scenes of Clerical Life_ may have set a copy for these
round-hand pages, not to be taken as lessons in spelling, for only too
faithfully do they reproduce the local dialect.

Johnny Gibb deals with the essence of Presbyterianism, as distilled in
Aberdeenshire Strathbogie during the non-intrusion controversy. But this
part of the country is, in fact, much divided as to religious sentiment.
About Aberdeen, the old Episcopal church is still rooted in the soil,
elsewhere in Scotland rather a greenhouse plant. The Covenanters made
war upon this prelatic city, and in its county Montrose brewed the storm
that swept down upon Whigamore strongholds. Hereabouts it was
Presbyterian divines who, after the Revolution Settlement, had sometimes
to be inducted at the bayonet’s point upon unwilling parishioners; then
Cumberland’s soldiers marching to Culloden could find plenty of sport in
burning non-juring meeting-houses. The Roman Catholic element is still
strong also, especially in the Highland part, many of the clans, from
Aberdeen across to Skye, having stuck to the old faith. The Frasers have
two heads, him of the Lovat branch a Catholic, but his namesake of
Saltoun a Protestant. Blairs College on Deeside is a notable Catholic
seminary, containing fine portraits of Queen Mary and Cardinal Beaton.
The Roman Cathedral of Aberdeen has no cause to hide itself, but stands
up boldly among its Free Church neighbours. In some parts of Scotland, a
Papist is looked on askance, but in this northern belt, the two creeds
have come to a _modus vivendi_, the parish minister perhaps saying grace
before dinner and the priest returning thanks.

On the same shoulder of Scotland a similar contrast is shown in the
matter of climate. The point of Buchan ended by Kinnaird Head has the
name of being the coldest part of the kingdom, but farther up the Moray
Firth, the counties of Moray and Nairn are so situated and sheltered as
to be more genial than most of England. Forres, which Shakespeare vainly
imagined as a bleak and blasted heath “fit for murders, treasons,
stratagems,” has in fact the mean climate of London, cooler in summer,
warmer in winter; and the whole district vies with East Norfolk for the
honour of being Britain’s driest corner, so that the Forres Hydropathic,
with its miles of pine-wood walks, makes both a winter and a summer
resort, while a light and porous soil supports fat farming.

The country has many beauty spots also, even among its lowland features,
swelling to the Highlands of Brae Moray, from which Wolves of Badenoch
once swept down upon its folds as Roderick Dhus upon the Forth’s “waving
fields and pastures green.” The Findhorn, in whose valley Gordons and
Cummings have met lovingly, Professor Blackie calls “one of the finest
stretches of dark mountain water and picturesque wood in the Highlands.”
Mr. Charles St. John is eloquent in praise of this river, where he made
so careful studies in natural history. Rising in a wild solitude, it
leaves the open ground to hide its charms among noble forests and
beneath steep cliffs, at whose foot the angler may have to run for his
life, its sudden spates now pressed up in a gorge a few feet wide, then
making a bore-like wave on such a dark basin as that of the old Bridge
of Dulsie, “shut in by grey and fantastic rocks, surmounted with the
greenest of grass swards, with clumps of the ancient weeping birches
with their gnarled and twisted stems, backed again by the dark pine
trees. The river here forms a succession of very black and deep pools,
connected with each other by foaming and whirling falls and currents, up
which in the fine, pure evenings you may see salmon making curious
leaps.” Another notable reach shows the grounds of Altyre with its
heronry. From these wooded gorges, so rich in finned and feathered life,
the river emerges on a tamer plain, to enter the sea by the Sahara of
Culbin, a singular coast-line, where cultivated fields have been long
ago overwhelmed by sandhills, banks of shingle, and piles of stones, all
barren but for patches of bent and broom, sheltering huge foxes, hares,
and rabbits, that sally forth to prey upon the farms behind, like any
Highland chieftain. Moray and Nairn thus present a fine variety of
scenery, dotted by ancient mansions like Darnaway Castle, with its hall
that holds a thousand armed men, and Cawdor Castle, which one legend
makes the scene of Macbeth’s murder. No part of Scotland indeed, has
more ruined shrines and strongholds than the old _Moravia_, a name once
extending beyond the present bounds of Moray _alias_ Elgin.

Elgin, the town, built of a warm, yellow sandstone that helps it to a
cheerful look, may call itself a city in right of what seems to have
been the noblest Cathedral in Scotland, violated by wild Highlandmen
when this lowland strip too much invited plunder and ravage. The town
has other ruins to show, besides those of Pluscarden Priory some miles
off, and of Spynie Palace on the way

[Illustration: STRATH GLASS, INVERNESS-SHIRE]

to Lossiemouth, Elgin’s rising bathing-place, whose name should be
familiar to readers of George MacDonald’s novels. A little farther along
the coast, Nairn, which a Scots king boasted for so long as to have one
end in the Highlands, the other in the Lowlands, is now able to hold
itself up as the “Brighton of the North,” recommended by a mild climate,
and by golf-links on the shore, not perched on diabolic downs, as behind
the Londoner’s resort.

Gouty southrons may well find their way so far north, but they do ill to
pass by the recesses of this country, now that the Highland Railway cuts
straight across from Aviemore to Inverness. Grantown above Speyside,
indeed, is much sought as a high and dry health resort. Another place
that begins to put in a claim to the same favour is Tomintoul, at the
south end of Banff, the loftiest village in the Highlands, a hundred
feet or so higher than Buxton, and with a chalybeate well that would
work fashionable cures if it could only get a London doctor to patronise
it, while the sub-Alpine site and the mainly Catholic population might
help to give an illusion of _Swillingheim-am-Fluss_ or _Argent les
Eaux_. A very illustrious author expressed the picturesqueness of
Tomintoul by calling it the “dirtiest, poorest village in the whole of
the Highlands,” but that was a generation ago, and the Tomintoulers are
not likely to insist on perpetuating such a compliment, as Aberdeen
solicitors to this day take the higher style of Advocates, because once
so addressed by King James. A more famous spring, as yet, of this region
rises in a distillery which does not want a _vates sacer_--

    Fairshon had a son who married Noah’s daughter,
    And nearly spoilt ta Flood, by drinking up ta water,
    Which he would have done, I verily believe it,
    Had ta mixture been only half Glenlivet.

But we have jumped over Banff, which may resent being taken for an
appendage of Aberdeen,--long, narrow strip squeezed in between Moray and
Mar, as it runs up from its northern cliff face, set with fishing
villages, to the grand Highlands of Deeside. Banff has a bad name among
Scottish counties for a certain fault of morals which has been charged
upon all Scotland, though as a matter of fact it attaches only to some
parts, and pleas may be given in excuse: for one, the custom of such
irregular unions as under the name of “handfasting” were long winked at
in this corner; for another, the accommodating Scottish law that wipes
out by legal marriage a transgression too lightly treated by local
opinion, as not by Jean Armour’s lover when, now and then, his song
turned out a sermon. In other respects Banff may pose as a homespun
Arcadia. Some twenty years ago, when I knew it, there were not thirty
policemen in the whole county, and the county town was hard put to it to
confine prisoners for a single night. The only familiar crime was that
wont to be solemnly indicted before the Sheriff as “Making a great
noise, opposite, or nearly opposite the Free Church Manse, cursing and
swearing, and challenging to fight,” _i.e._ in the blunter English of
southern police courts, being drunk and disorderly; then it would be a
point of legal acumen not to fine the almost always repentantly avowing
offender more than he was likely to have at command. The authorities
stood in dread that some Englishman or the like would break the law more
seriously, as happened when a vagrant conjuror with an Italian name, but
speaking in a strong Whitechapel accent, conjured a pair of boots into
his illegal possession, and had to be sent all the way to Elgin at the
expense of the county. Later on, Banff got a jail of its own opened,
which I one day visited and found the only captive sociably doing a job
of work for the keeper’s wife. One case of theft, indeed, was not
unknown, that of boys brought into illicit relations with apples or the
like; but when an urchin was sentenced to be whipped for such puerile
weakness, the small police force, with the fear of his mother in their
eyes, struck, or rather refused to strike, and I believe the culprit
went scot-free.

The absence of vulgar crime is still more marked in the Highlands,
where, but for whisky and religious zeal, there would be little need of
magistrates. “Ye see, if they stole anything, they couldn’t get it off
the island,” a Bute cynic once explained to me; but on the mainland
opposite, I have known the ladies of a family leave their bathing dress
hanging over the hedge by the roadside for weeks together. It was only
on the grand and gallant scale that John Highlandman made a confusion
between _meum_ and _tuum_. But a distinctly litigious disposition in
trifles keeps northern lawyers from starving among clients who, like
Bartoline Saddletree and Peter Peebles, often cherish a strong amateur
interest in law. In Dandie Dinmont’s country, we know, a man was “aye
the better thought o’ for having been afore the Feifteen.”

Now that everybody subscribes to an Encyclopædia, it may not be
necessary to remind readers how the Scots law is founded on the Roman,
and how the practice of courts differs north and south of the Tweed. The
administration of justice in Scotland seems now an example to England,
whatever it may have been in the past. Feudalism died slow here. Baron
courts continued to be held to our own day, though shorn of such unjust
privilege as that by which the lord’s bailie decided questions between
himself and his tenants. There was a time when only high treason was
withheld from the jurisdiction of these private Solons. Then they lost
power to adjudicate in the “four pleas of the crown,”--murder, rape,
robbery, and arson, unless in the case of the slayer taken red-hand or
the thief _infang_ with the stolen property in his possession within the
barony bounds. So late as 1707 Lord Drummond was good enough to “lend”
his executioner to the city of Perth. After Culloden, hereditary judges
like the Baron of Bradwardine were wholly deprived of the right of
_furca et fossa_, the drowning of female and hanging of male offenders.
Yet a generation ago the dispensers of minor justice in certain towns
were the “bailies” of the superior, whom in one case I have known to be
an Australian squatter and his distant deputy a respectable carpenter,
while in such a town as Dalkeith, the Duke of Buccleuch appointed an
able lawyer as permanent magistrate. The adoption of the Police Act
brought this state of things to an end; and the baron’s judicial rights,
if not formally abolished, have practically dwindled out of existence.

The part of police magistrate and county court judge is doubled by the
sheriff, an official whose title may be a

[Illustration: A PEEP OF THE GRAMPIANS, INVERNESS-SHIRE]

stumbling-block to Englishmen, and still more to inquiring foreigners
like Count Smalltork. Nothing is apter to perplex our Continental
neighbours than the irregularities of our constitution, the overlapping
of boundaries, the general want of such symmetrical and consistent
arrangement as recommends itself to the Latin or the well-drilled Teuton
mind. What a pitfall for the foreign student of our institutions lies in
the fact of a sheriff being an honorary dignitary in an English county,
an elected constable in an American one, but a paid and permanent judge
north of the Tweed! The shire reeves here were in feudal times
hereditary lieutenants of the Crown, who, as the baron handed over
judicial authority to his clerkly bailie, appointed legal
representatives, still entitled Sheriffs Depute, also known as Sheriffs
Principal, as they have come to be. These well-paid offices are prizes
of the bar, held by successful advocates in Edinburgh, who only in
special cases or by way of appeal are called to judgment. The everyday
work of minor justice, civil and criminal, is done by resident paid
officials, called Sheriffs Substitute, each, in his own district,
wearing a halo of authority as “the Sheriff,” usually an advocate who
has resigned the risks of practice to devote himself to this safer if
less ambitious career, as is the case with the French magistracy. There
are also Justices of the Peace, as in England, but these do not come so
much before the public.

It need hardly be said that such a professional judge, assisted in
important criminal cases by a jury, and checked in civil suits by right
of appeal to his principal, makes a clearer fountain of justice than the
Great Unpaid of an English Bench, who with the best intentions as to
fairness must often depend on their clerk for law. In some points of
procedure, too, the Scottish system sets a good example to the English.
Prosecutions are not left in private hands, but are conducted by a
public official. The Procurator-Fiscal is the Attorney-General of the
Sheriff’s Court, also performing the duties of Coroner without the
meddling of a jury or reporters, though in late years public inquests in
certain cases of death have been introduced into Scottish practice.
Petty offenders are disposed of by the Sheriff off-hand. More serious
charges he remits to the consideration of the Crown officers in
Edinburgh, who decide before what court the prisoner shall be tried. The
first step is his being brought to private audience of the Sheriff, who,
taking care that he do not prejudice his cause, invites him to tell his
story, often the only way of getting at the real facts. Another
practical arrangement is that of a “pleading diet,” at which criminals
with no defence have a chance of submitting to the law and being
sentenced with as little ado as may be.

While certain crimes, made heinous by the law of Moses, are still marked
on the Scottish statute-book as to be punished with Draconian severity,
and while in “good old days” the gallows, the lash, and the
branding-iron were as freely used as south of the Border, the
administration of the law here has come to be notably mild. Executions
are rare, as, indeed, are cases of premeditated murder. In criminal
trials, a Scottish jury numbers fifteen, and their verdict is that of
the majority. Perhaps a deeper sense of the issues of life and death
begets a stronger reluctance to send a fellow-man to the scaffold, and
often prompts the verdict of “Not proven,” by which so many a criminal
goes free yet hardly stainless.

From Aberdeen to Inverness there are three railway routes over an
entanglement of Highland Railway and Great North of Scotland branches
that have their main knot at Elgin. One line runs from Banff along the
Moray Firth, giving fine views across to the opposite shore of Cromarty.
Another turns up the Spey, and by this beautiful strath would bring us
into the heart of the Highlands. The Speyside line considerately does
not hurry passengers through its picturesque environments. There is a
legend about this railway that the town council of Elgin--no wiser in
their generation than Oxford and Cheltenham--sent up to London a
deputation to oppose it in Parliament, when a Cockney crier made such
strange work of the names Elgin and Craigellachie, that the worthy
citizens sat on unconscious that the bill was being passed without
question.

The Speyside line has ways of its own, or had in former days, when I
once remonstrated with a clerk who had given me, unasked, a return
ticket, and he drily answered, “Ye needn’t take a return unless ye like;
but it’s cheaper”--as it was, by five shillings! At one stage of our
journey, the meeting of a Presbytery or some such function swelled the
company in the single carriage to nearly a score, which so much
exercised the mind of an elder that I heard him remark to a minister,
“Doesna this remind ye, sir, of the saying of Daniel the prophet, ‘_many
shall run to and fro_’?” As if exhausted by its unusual burden, the
train stopped some couple of hours at Craigellachie, giving one time to
make a “Spey cast,” but for the want of license and tackle. At the end
of nearly a day’s journey from Banff, I reached the Boat of Garten, too
late for any southward train that evening. Like other “boats” and
“bridges” of the Highlands, this has a snug little inn, enlarged I fancy
since then, when it had only one good bedroom, in which more than one
crowned head has lain to rest. A friend of mine was occupying this when
a telegram announced the arrival of the Empress of the French. Of course
he turned out, then the people of the house sought his advice in
adorning the chamber. He found them hastily fastening up over the
Empress’ bed their most striking work of art, which happened to be a
picture of the battle of Waterloo! Much more like Celtic courtesy was
the conduct of William Black’s Highland veteran, who scrupled to wear
his tartan trews before a Frenchwoman, for fear of reviving sore
memories.



CHAPTER VIII

TO JOHN O’ GROAT’S HOUSE


Unless for that modern knight-errant, the cyclist, speeding to achieve
the quest of John o’ Groat’s House, the far northern Highlands seem as
unduly neglected by tourists as the southern mountains of Wales. Yet
across the Moray Firth, that half insulates the north end of Britain,
lie charms and grandeurs none the less admirable for being somewhat out
of the scope of tourist tickets. The best face of this region it turns
to adventurers who brave the Hebridean seas; but also it has winning
smiles and impressive frowns for those who on the east side follow the
Highland line to its Pillars of Hercules.

The railway to the far north begins by running westward from Inverness
to round the inner basin of the Moray Firth at Beauly, indeed a _Beau
lieu_. Here, beside the ruins of a priory, is a seat of Lord Lovat,
whose shifty ancestor, after Culloden, lurked for six weeks in a secret
chamber of Cawdor Castle, but was finally run down in a hollow tree
after adventures trying for the age of fourscore and four. The falls of
Kilmorack make perhaps the finest point in a district full of
attraction. Gilliechrist is noted for a grim story that does not go
without question: in the church here a congregation of Mackenzies is
said to have been burned alive, to the sound of the bagpipes, by their
Christian enemies of Glengarry, a memory of ancient manners which
Wordsworth laments as “withering to the root.” One of Lord Lovat’s
hiding-places was an island in the river, that afterwards became a
summer retreat of Sir Robert Peel; and its romantic cottage was for a
time the home of the two Sobieski or Allan brothers who made a
mysterious claim to represent the Stuarts, and were treated with royal
honours by some Scottish families. They were a stately pair, after a
somewhat theatrical style, taking the part of silent Pretenders in the
Highland dress, on which they published a sumptuous volume. In later
years, when both were well-known figures in the Reading-room of the
British Museum, they, or at least one of them, came down to lodgings in
Pimlico, where I have heard pseudo-majesty calling for his boots from
the upper floor like a dignified Fred Bayham.

All this part of the railway is set among varied beauty, as it bends
away from the western mountains and curves about the heads of the deep
eastern firths. Beyond Beauly, it crosses the neck of the peninsula
called the Black Isle, on which stand the ex-cathedral city of Fortrose,
and Cromarty on the deep inlet guarded by its cave-worn Sutors, where
one can ferry over the mouth of this Cromarty Firth to the farther
promontory, ended by one of Scotland’s several “Tarbets,” name denoting
an isthmus or portage. Cromarty no longer exists as a separate and
much-separated county, of which Macbeth seems to have been Maormor or
satrap. Before the boundary

[Illustration: THE RIVER GLASS NEAR BEAULY, INVERNESS-SHIRE]

adjustment in our generation, several Scottish shires had outlying
fragments islanded within their neighbours’ bounds, an arrangement
probably due to the intrigues of interested nobles; but this one was all
_disjecta membra_, the largest lying away up in the north-west corner of
Ross, with which environing county Cromarty is now incorporated. The
county town, at the point of the Black Isle, still flourishes in a
modest way, after shifting its site so that the Cross had to be bodily
removed. It has reared at least two notable sons, one that literary
Cavalier Sir Thomas Urquhart, who so well translated Rabelais while a
prisoner in the Tower, whence he published other ingenious works that
but feebly represent his industry, for some hundreds of his manuscripts,
lost at the battle of Worcester, went to such base uses as lighting the
pipes of Roundhead troopers. The other was Hugh Miller, the
stone-mason’s apprentice, who rose to be an esteemed author, a geologist
of note, and editor of the _Witness_, that full-toned organ that lifted
with no uncertain sound the testimony of the Free Church.

This end of Scotland, like the south-west, has been strongly Whig in its
sympathies. Even its Highland clans were often led by their chiefs to
support the Protestant succession. It was a Mackay who commanded for
King William against Claverhouse; the Munroes did service to King George
against the Pretender; and President Forbes of Culloden kept the
Mackenzies, or many of them, from joining the prince, who at his mansion
spent a last quiet night on Scottish soil. Hugh Miller tells us how the
Cromarty folk watched the smoke of Culloden across the Firth, of their
rejoicing for Cumberland’s victory, and of their savage exultation over
Lovat’s head. Religious enthusiasm here was kin to that of the
Covenanters. To the south, as we have seen, lies a belt of Catholicism;
and some glens of the Highlands shelter knots of Episcopacy; but when
the Gael does take to Presbyterianism, he likes it hot and strong. This
was the diocese of the “Men,” those inquisitorial elders who played such
a severe part in church life of older days. The Free Church movement
found great acceptation in the Highlands, so much so that in many
parishes the Old Kirk has been almost deserted. And the Free Church in
the far north is still largely officered by a school of ministers, who,
fervidly rejecting the conclusions of criticism and latitudinarian
liberality, are known as the “Highland host,” by humorous inversion of a
phrase that once applied to an instrument of the prelatical party. The
recent broadening of this body’s base has here been fiercely resisted,
some congregations even coming to blows over Disruption principles.
There was a time when the Sabbath could be said not to come above the
Pass of Killiecrankie; but now the northern Highlands are the fastness
of a Sabbatarianism that dies hard all over rural Scotland. In Ross, the
late Queen Victoria had the unwonted experience of being refused horses
for a Sunday journey by a postmaster incarnating the spirit of John
Knox; then it is understood that Her Majesty gave directions he should
in no way suffer for conscience’ sake. There were “godly” lords in these
parts, to whose influence Hugh Miller attributes this temper of faith;
and here was the diocese of that “Black John” the “Apostle of the
North,” whose field-preachings stirred the bones of martyrs to old
prelatic tyranny.

It is no wonder that Hugh Miller became a champion of the Free Church in
its pristine glow. Alas! his promising career was cut short by his own
hand. It is believed that the trial of reconciling the Mosaic geology
with advancing science proved too much for his brain. Had his lot been
cast in our generation, divines of his own beloved communion would have
taught him more accommodating interpretations, that might have helped to
a longer lease of usefulness one of Scotland’s many self-taught sons,
whose _Schools and Schoolmasters_ remains the best book on this
countryside.

At Dingwall, the little county town of Ross, which, like the Devonshire
Torrington, has been fondly thought to resemble Jerusalem in site, a
short branch line turns westward to Strathpeffer, the Scottish
Harrogate, thriving apace since it got a railway. Till then its clients
were chiefly local, many of them seeking an antidote to more potent
waters distilled hereabouts; but now in the later part of the season it
is crowded with visitors from both sides of the Border. Strathpeffer has
varied advantages to bring patients all the way from London. It boasts
the strongest sulphur water in the kingdom, also such an effervescing
chalybeate spring as is rarer in Britain than in Germany; it has adopted
peat baths, douches, and other balneological devices from the Continent;
while a remarkably good climate helps it to distinction among northern
spas. It is sheltered by mountains from the wet and windy west; then its
show of flourishing crofts, originally granted to a disbanded Highland
regiment, attests a genial summer; and beside the Pump-room Highland
Eves tempt the drinkers with tantalising piles of strawberries,
forbidden by the faculty as plum-pudding at Kissingen; but it is to be
feared that British invalids are less docile to _Kurgemäss_ rules. The
village lies in a valley begirt by charming scenery of “dwarf Highlands”
about the course of the Conon and other streams. Hugh Miller worked here
as a mason lad, and his “recollections of this rich tract of country,
with its woods and towers and noble river, seem as if bathed in the rich
light of gorgeous sunsets.” The long summer evenings light up patches of
heather over which is the way to such beauty spots as Loch Achilty, the
Falls of Conon, and the Falls of Rogie, that have been compared to
Tivoli. Close at hand is Castle Leod, famed for enormous Spanish
chestnuts that give the lie to Dr. Johnson; and farther off are other
ancient mansions, Brahan Castle, whose gardens were laid out by Paxton;
Coul with its fine grounds, and the spectral ruin of Fairburn Tower.
Above the village the wooded ridge of the Cat’s Back leads to a noble
view from green Knockfarril, where is perhaps the best of the “vitrified
forts” so common in the far north. Rheumatic patients would once
celebrate their cure by dancing a Highland fling before the Pump-room, a
saltatory exercise said to have originated in the experience of a kilt
among midges. To prove themselves sound in wind and limb, Sassenach
visitors might ascend Ben Wyvis, the “Mount of Storms,” a ten-miles
tramp or pony ride. There is no difficulty on the way unless a bog at
the bottom, that must be skirted in wet weather; and the prospect from
the top is rarely extensive in proportion to the trouble of reaching it:
on a fine day may be seen the mountains of Argyll, of Braemar, of
Sutherland, and of Skye, perhaps grandly half revealed through distant
haze or thunderstorm.

[Illustration: MOOR OF RANNOCH, PERTHSHIRE AND ARGYLLSHIRE]

At Dingwall diverges also the branch line to Lochalsh, the ferry for
Skye. This takes one through a real Highland country, where at
Auchnasheen goes off the coach route to Loch Maree, which some judge the
finest scene in Scotland. Less smiling than Loch Lomond, it lies more
wildly among naked pyramids of quartz, Ben Slioch the most conspicuous
point of them, but this lake has the same beauty of wooded islets at the
lower end, where a group of half-drowned hillocks “form a miniature
archipelago, grey with lichened stone, and bosky with birch and hazel.”
On one of these are the ruins of a chapel of the Virgin Mary, who was
perhaps godmother to Loch Maree. Beyond it open the sea-inlets Torridon,
Gairloch, and Loch Ewe; and the coast northwards by Ullapool and Loch
Inver is pierced by deep fiords and overlooked by grand summits, worn
down from Himalayan masses of old. On the road from Garve to Ullapool,
beside the strath looking down to Loch Broom, an oasis of greenery
enshrines the Measach Falls of Corriehalloch, a stream tumbling through
a deep-bitten chasm, which some have pronounced the grandest Highland
scene in the _genre_ of that Black Rock ravine mentioned below. If we
are ever to reach John o’ Groat’s House let us turn away from the
transparent waters of this coast and from the gloomy glories of Skye.
The sportsmen to whom these northern wilds are best known would not
thank any guide of idle tourists, and such a guide must be pitied in his
task of repeating epithets.

From Dingwall the railway holds up the side of the Cromarty Firth by a
country of Munroes and Mackenzies, who have taken all the world for
their province. A notable natural feature here is the chasm of the
Black Rock, through which a stream from Loch Glass leaps in a series of
cascades gouging out an open tunnel that sometimes is only a few yards
wide at the top, whence one looks down upon waters foaming into gloomy
linns, an American cañon in miniature, its edges bristling like the
Trossachs, its mouth thus described by Hugh Miller:--

     “The river--after wailing for miles in a pent-up channel, narrow as
     one of the lanes of old Edinburgh, and hemmed in by walls quite as
     perpendicular, and nearly twice as lofty--suddenly expands, first
     into a deep, brown pool, and then into a broad, tumbling stream,
     that, as if permanently affected in temper by the strict severity
     of the discipline to which its early life had been subjected, frets
     and chafes in all its after course, till it loses itself in the
     sea. The banks, ere we reach the opening of the chasm, have become
     steep and wild and densely wooded, and there stand out on either
     hand giant crags, that plant their iron feet in the stream; here
     girdled with belts of rank, succulent herbs, that love the damp
     shade and the frequent drizzle of the spray; and there, hollow and
     bare, with their round pebbles sticking out from the partially
     decomposed surface, like the piled-up skulls in the great
     underground cemetery of the Parisians.... And over the sullen pool
     in front we may see the stern pillars of the portal rising from
     eighty to a hundred feet in height, and scarce twelve feet apart,
     like the massive obelisks of some Egyptian temple; while in gloomy
     vista within, projection starts out beyond projection, like column
     beyond column in some narrow avenue of approach to Luxor or Carnac.
     The precipices are green, with some moss or byssus, that, like the
     miner, chooses a subterranean habitat--for here the rays of the sun
     never fall; the dead mossy water beneath, from which the cliffs
     rise so abruptly, bears the hue of molten pitch; the trees, fast
     anchored in the rock, shoot out their branches across the opening,
     to form a thick tangled roof, at the height of a hundred and fifty
     feet overhead; while from the recesses within, where the eye fails
     to penetrate, there issues a combination of the strangest and
     wildest sounds ever yet produced by water: there is the deafening
     rush of the torrent, blent as if with the clang of hammers, the
     roar of vast bellows, and the confused gabble of a thousand
     voices.”

Turning away from the sea, the line soon strikes it again at the ancient
borough of Tain, on the Dornoch Firth. Near the head of the inlet we
cross into Sutherland, and soon by the gorge of the Shin come to Lairg,
port of the mail-cars that cruise into far corners of this county. The
southern land, whose name tells how it was once counted part of nakeder
Caithness, has truly northern features of mountains and open moors,
lakes, “waters,” “straths,” and the “kyles” of its coast, those deep
narrow sounds taking their Gaelic name from the same root as Calais.
Three of its five sides are washed by the sea. The interior is chiefly
given up to deer and sheep, with here and there an oasis of moorland
farm, rescued from the heather as Holland from salt water, and only by
ceaseless industry held against Nature’s encroachments. Too much of the
land, indeed, makes “a wilderness of brown and ragged moorland,” whose
“monotonous features” are “masses of wet rock and dark russet heather,
black swamps, low and bare hills, and now and again the grey glimmer of
a stream or tarn” among heights “dulled with hurrying showers and
glittering out again to the sun.”

The fish of its inland waters is one of Sutherland’s richest harvests.
Its lakes are legion; one large parish alone is said to contain hundreds
of sheets; and the coming and going of anglers keeps up the good roads
and fair inns of a thinly-populated region, from which have been swept
away the traces of homes made desolate by the “Sutherland evictions.”
Loch Shin, running half across the county from Lairg, is the longest
lake, about which man has waged feeble war with the sternness of Nature;
but the wildest scene is Loch Assynt, near the west coast, tapering
among a group of grand mountains such as the Sutherlandshire Ben More
and the three-peaked mass of Quinaig. This remote nook seems neglected
by authors, yet a picturesque novelist might here find material for a
second _Legend of Montrose_, whose last adventure brought him to be
captured by Macleod of Assynt and confined in the Castle of Ardvreck. As
for the features of the west coast, behind which rise so wildly
weather-worn crags above glacier-planed glens and fiords, like those of
Norway on a smaller scale, they are thus summed up by Mr. John Sinclair
in his _Scenes and Stories of the North of Scotland_:--

     “The Gaelic word ‘Assynt’ is a compound and signifies ‘out and in.’
     If so, like almost all place-names in the Highlands, it is most
     fitting and felicitous. Indeed it applies admirably, not only to
     the district so called, but to the entire west coast of Sutherland
     from the borders of Ross-shire to Cape Wrath itself. Looking, for
     instance, at the map, we can still see in the endless contortions
     of the shore, as we used to do when children, the figures and
     profiles of men and beasts--not one of them in any degree like to
     any other. There are brows flat and high on the headlands; eyes
     large and small in the lochs and tarns; noses Roman, Grecian,
     _retroussé_, on the rocky capes; bay-mouths wide and narrow, open
     and shut, drooping in sadness, curving upward in joy; chins which
     are impudent, and chins which are retiring; cheeks smooth and
     furrowed, shaven and bearded; and in all these you can clearly see,
     if you have any discernment at all, grumpy grandfathers and
     grinning fools, laughing children and scolding

[Illustration: THE ISLES OF LOCH MAREE, ROSS-SHIRE]

     dominies, gaping crocodiles and snarling monkeys, weeping maids and
     wistful lovers. The surface of the country inland from the shore is
     extremely varied, rugged, and wild, but full of interest and charm
     for healthy and buoyant natures. If you believe, as I for one do,
     that in order to see the beauties and taste the sweets of land and
     water there is needed not only sight but _insight_, which is
     something far more and better, you will find at every turn of the
     highway new matter of surprise and admiration. Island-studded bays
     like Badcall, picturesque retreats like Scourie; deeply indented
     lochs like Laxford, the ‘Fiord of salmon’; distant views of a
     mountain-chain of peaks; long successions of rocky knolls crowned
     with brushwood and heather--these are a few of the elements which
     go to make up the panorama between Assynt and the Kyle of Durness.
     When at length you look down over the brindled cliffs of Cape
     Wrath; when you behold its rugged masses of God-made masonry; when
     you hear the thunder-throb of the waves in its vaulted caverns;
     when you gaze to south and west and north over the hungry heaving
     sea, you can but look and marvel and adore.”

The north coast, with its Cave of Smoo and its Kyles of Durness and of
Tongue, is also grandly broken. The east shore, along which the railway
runs to Helmsdale, is rather a strip of fields and woods. In the
south-east corner lies Dornoch, which enjoys the distinction of being
the smallest county town in the kingdom, literally a village, with a
restored Cathedral as proof of city dignity, and on the site of its
Episcopal palace a prison that has been closed for want of custom among
the honest Highlanders. There has been little crime here since the last
witch was burned on British soil in 1722 at Dornoch. What brings
strangers to Dornoch, now that it has a railway branch, is its
golf-links, extending for thousands of acres on the seashore; and this
far-northern understudy of St. Andrews offers a remarkably good autumn
climate, often mild up till Christmas. Not much bigger is Golspie, with
its sea-girt pile of Dunrobin, seat of the ducal family that, owning
most of Sutherland, and having incorporated the title and estate of
Cromarty as well as the English peerages of Stafford and Gower, can hold
up its head as the largest landowner in Britain. With a thousand or so
people of its own, Golspie has a good hotel, from which strangers may
visit the Dunrobin Glen and waterfall, the traces of gold-working that
once promised to pay in this neighbourhood, and Ben Bhraggie
conspicuously crowned by Chantrey’s statue of the first Duke of
Sutherland.

Above Helmsdale, the Ord ridge makes the Caithness frontier, round the
end of which winds what is literally a highroad into our northernmost
county, described by Pennant as more terrible than the Penmaenmawr track
that used to be the bugbear of travellers to Ireland. The road has been
improved, but the railway is here forced away from the sea, seeking an
entry into Caithness farther inland. The southern part of this county is
still Highland, where the train runs on miles and miles over unbroken
stretches of heather; then farther north these fall away into a windy
expanse of hollows and ridges, in which Nature would seem to have come
short of material for ending off our island with picturesque effect; the
central part has even been called the most forlorn wilderness in
Britain. Caithness, like other countrysides, has been “improved” in our
time; but still it shows wide, cheerless prospects of bog and waste,
with peat stacks more frequent than trees, and scattered, turf-walled
houses having their thatch bound on by straw ropes and weighted down by
stones to keep them from being blown away. Verses signed by the
well-known initials, “J. S. B.,” set in a frame of honour at John o’
Groat’s House, describe the bareness and bleakness of these poor fields,
fenced by

    Flagstones and slates in a row
    Where hedges are frightened to grow;

and

    Shrubs in the flap of the breeze,
    Sweating to make themselves trees.

The most flourishing production of Caithness appears to be the
flagstones, layers of mud and fish bones pressed together ages ago,
which its quarries send forth to pave more genial regions. Its waters,
too, grow a valuable crop, as one may know who has ever seen the
multitudinous herring-fishing fleet set sail from Wick in the long
summer twilight. Angling can be had in a chain of some dozen lochs
drained by the Thurso river that runs through the county from south to
north, at the mouth of which over 2500 salmon were once netted in one
haul. In the south, if heather were edible, the folk should be fat; and
below darkly naked cones, we find glens such as Berriedale, in parts
rich as well as romantic, like a miniature Switzerland of which Morven
is the Matterhorn.

Here again we have a duodecimo edition of Highlands and Lowlands bound
together. In the north-east the people are tall and sturdy, with plain
marks of Scandinavian origin, like their _sters_ and _dales_. On the
south and west rather, we find clans bearing such names as Mackay,
Sutherland, Keith, and Gunn, the last certainly a Norse tribe who can
wear only an adopted tartan. Most illustrious of all were the Sinclairs,
that held the now dwindled Earldom of Caithness, one of those Norman
families settling themselves so masterfully all over Scotland. From this
farthest point of the kingdom, hundreds of them followed their Earl to
Flodden, and hardly one came back to tell the tale of that “Black
Monday,” since when, it is said, no Sinclair will cross the Ord ridge on
a Monday. Another sore loss fell on the clan a century later, when a
certain Colonel Sinclair, heedless of what foreign enlistment
regulations had then taken shape, led a regiment of his clan to serve
Gustavus Adolphus against Norway, but, attacked by Norwegian peasants in
a narrow gorge, more than half of them were crushed beneath rocks hurled
down from above, as the French soldiers in Tyrol, or the Turks in
defiles of the Kurdish Dersim. The monument on the spot records the
death of fourteen hundred kindly Scots, which appears an exaggeration;
but it is said that not a score escaped with their lives. Many other
grim and gory tales might be told of this race, as some are in Mr. John
Sinclair’s book above mentioned. The shells of castles fringing these
shores have as often as not had a Sinclair lord at one period or other,
like Castle Sinclair, almost crumbled away, while the older Girnigo, on
to which it was built, still stoutly defies the weather. To-day the most
outstanding branch of the family is that of Thurso, first distinguished
in a new field by Sir John Sinclair’s _Statistical Account of Scotland_,
and by his improvements in the county; then by the author of _Holiday
House_, and by more than one dignitary of the English Church. This
family is notable for stature as well as

[Illustration: MOOR AND MOUNTAIN, ROSS-SHIRE]

wisdom. I forget whether it was Catherine Sinclair’s father or brother
who was said to have three dozen feet of daughters; and when he put down
a new pavement--probably from his own quarries--opposite his house in
Edinburgh, it was readily nicknamed the “Giant’s Causeway.” The main
branch of the Sinclairs, whose titles at one time, says Sir Walter,
might have wearied a herald when they were not so rich as many an
English yeoman, is represented near Edinburgh by the ruins of Rosslyn
Castle and the monuments of that beautiful chapel--

    Where Rosslyn’s chiefs uncoffined lie
    Each baron for a sable shroud
    Sheathed in his iron panoply.

The railway, forking for the only Caithness towns, Wick and Thurso, with
their ports Pulteneytown and Scrabster, does not give a fair view of the
county. Its most impressive features, as at our other Land’s End, are to
be looked for in its rim of brown cliffs, tight-packed layers of
flagstones, their faces “etched out in alternate lines of cornice and
frieze,” here dappled by hardy vegetation, there alive with clamorous
sea-fowl. Like the granite, slate, and serpentine edges of Cornwall,
these sandstone rocks have been carved by wind and water into boldest
shapes of capes and bays, dark caverns, funnels, overhanging shelves and
gables, swirling “pots” and foaming reefs, isolated stacks lashed by
every tide, broken teeth bored and filled by every storm, and the deep
chasms here called _geos_, that sometimes lead down to beaches rich in
fine and rare shells, for one, “John o’ Groat’s Buckie,” akin to the
cowries of the tropics. In the damp crevices, also, grow rare herbs such
as that “Holy Grass” found by Robert Dick of Thurso, one of Mr.
Smiles’s “discoveries” in the species of self-helped naturalists. More
truly than of Cornwall, it may be said that Caithness seldom grows wood
enough to make a coffin. Where Cornwall comes short of Caithness is in
the numerous castles, not all of them left to decay, that on the verge
of those northern precipices might often be confounded with Nature’s own
ruins. It was only about the beginning of the eighteenth century that
such strongholds could be deserted for snugger mansions. Here, in 1680,
was the scene of our last private war, when the head of the Breadalbane
Campbells invaded Caithness with a small army, that overcame the
Sinclairs, it is said, by the wily stratagem of causing to be stranded
on their coast a ship freighted with whisky to drown the enemy’s
prudence and resolution.

Traces of older inhabitants are very frequent in Caithness, its moors
thickly strewn with hut circles, standing stones, tumuli, and those
curious underground excavations known as “Picts’ Houses,” which appear
to have been dwellings rather than burial-places. One usual feature of
such burrows is the cells and passages fitting a smaller race than our
noble selves, who must crawl on hands and knees in grimy explorations
not likely to be undertaken by the general tourist. Hence there is
reason to suppose that Scotland and other countries have been inhabited
by a stunted race of aborigines, like the dwarfish Ainos of Yesso or the
pygmies who turn up in various parts of Africa. Mr. David MacRitchie, an
antiquary who has paid special attention to so-called Pictish remains,
is doughty champion of a theory which connects the dimly historic Picts
or Pechts and the legendary Fians with the whole fabulous family of
fairies, elves, goblins, brownies, pixies, trolls, or what not, who are
represented as dwarfish and subterranean, issuing forth from their
retreats to hold varied relations of service or mischief with ordinary
men. The name of the Fians, belonging to Ireland as well as to the
Scottish Highlands, and fitly represented in the dark doings of Fenians,
may point to Finland, where small Laplanders still exist in flesh and
blood. The “good people,” who long haunted Highland and Lowland
glens,--but it seems they cannot abide the scratching of steel pens or
the squeaking of slate pencils,--were apt to be tiny, of retiring
habits, and in the way of disappearing underground. So the fairies may
have been real enough, for all the scorn of that “self-styled science of
the so-called nineteenth century.” Scott, who seems well disposed to the
theory, tells us of stunted, servile clans, such as the M‘Couls, who
were hereditary Gibeonites to the Stewarts of Appin. In our own time
Hebridean herds have been found encamped inside beehive hillocks of turf
such as opened to take in the captives of fairy adventure. As for the
objection that such beings sometimes appeared as giants rather than
dwarfs, it will be remembered how a similar transformation came quite
easy to Alice in Wonderland, how _omne ignotum pro magnifico_ is very
apt to hold true in a misty climate, and how visions of the spiritual in
this country have often had an origin disturbing to the senses--

    Wi’ tippenny we’ll fear nae evil,
    Wi’ usquebaugh we’ll face the devil.

But neither Mr. MacRitchie, in his _Fians, Fairies, and Picts_ and
other writings, nor any of his brother ethnologists, has much to tell us
about John o’ Groat, whose house is the shrine of so many cyclists,
wheeling piously from the Land’s End, a road of more than nine hundred
miles at the shortest, through hundreds of villages, scores of towns,
and dozens of cities or places of fame. All that way they come to see a
low grassy mound and a flagstaff in front of an hotel, a mile or two
west from the pointed stacks of Duncansbay Head. The story goes that
this John was a Dutchman by descent, whose family, split into eight
branches, kept up meeting for an annual feast; then to avoid squabblings
for precedence, John hit on the idea of an octagonal table in an
eight-sided house, with eight doors and eight windows, in which, let us
trust, his kinsmen were not at sixes and sevens. Here we may have some
hint of such a contest for chieftainship as is not unknown among
Highland clans, else the folk-lorists must find this a hard text to
expound. Three, seven, and nine are all mystic numbers; five is
time-honoured in the East, as four in the Western world; two and ten
have a practical importance; six bears with it a sense of satisfaction,
as do a dozen or a score; thirteen and fourteen fit themselves to legend
and superstition; even four-and-twenty blackbirds have been sagely
interpreted as the hours of the day and night; but what can one say of
eight in tale or history? It might take a mathematician to make a myth
here. Maybe the points of the compass, doubled for the sake of emphasis,
are at the bottom of it. Perhaps there is some political allusion to
James VI.’s Octavian board of administrators. Or may some printer, short
of copy, not

[Illustration: CRAGS NEAR POOLEWE, ROSS-SHIRE]

have tried his hand at composing an octavo legend? Possibly the story is
more or less true, in which the Scotticised Dutchman is further stated
to have flourished as owner of a ferry to the Orkneys. The suggestion
that his fare was a groat must give way before the fact of Groat being
apparently a real Dutch name. Nor is it “past dispute” that here geese
are bred from barnacles, as asserted by sundry authors, among them that
tourist of Cromwell’s time, Richard Franck, who seems to have made his
way so far, and gives us much quaint information about divinity,
scenery, and fishing, spoilt by a most affected style, by slap-dash
spelling of names, and by an evident “scunner” at his model Izaak
Walton.

One thing seems certain, that John o’ Groat was a humbug if he gave out
this non-existent house of his for the northernmost point of our
mainland, as stiff-kneed cyclists fondly reckon. That honour properly
belongs to Dunnet Head, the lofty line of red cliffs stretching to the
east of Thurso Bay, hollowed out by billows that shake the lighthouse on
the farthest point, from which one looks to the Orkneys over the “still
vexed” Pentland Firth. I wonder if that modern John o’ Groat be still to
the fore, who some twenty years ago was presented with a testimonial for
his constancy in carrying across the mail during the lifetime of a
generation. He belonged to a school of ancient mariners who had the
knack of smelling their way about the sea, whereas our modern Nelsons,
it seems, don’t know where they are till they have gone down into their
cabin and worked out a sum. I once crossed with this “skeely skipper,”
and was much struck by his method of navigation. A thick fog came on
half-way across a tide that races at ten miles an hour; then to clear
his inner light, he had up a glass of grog, through which he took
frequent observations. Every now and again he stopped the engines and
bawled out into the fog without any response; but when at last a muffled
hail came back, we were within a hundred yards of Scrabster Pier. On
another occasion, he is said to have hit it off still more closely,
carrying away the pier-head as a proof of his straight-steered course.

But here we must turn back, lest a darkless summer day tempt us to cross
to Orkney, and on to the much-battered Shetlands by the stepping-stone
of the Fair Isle, whose name, like that of the foreign Faröe Isles,
denotes not beauty but sheep. This muggy and windy archipelago, indeed,
is hardly Scottish ground, but an ex-Danish possession, held in pledge
by us for a princess’s dowry that seems like to be paid on the Greek
Calends. Its people indignantly decline to be called Scotchmen. And
though our Thule has grand and fine features of its own, too often
wrapped in fog, they are hardly such as go to make up the character of
Bonnie Scotland.



CHAPTER IX

THE GREAT GLEN


The Highland Line is an oblique one, in the main facing south-east; and
in much the same direction, between the head of deep inlets, extends the
cleft of some threescore miles that cuts the Highlands into near and off
halves, the former far the harder worked as a tourist ground, the latter
retaining more of its Celtic poverty, while not less richly endowed by
nature. From either side smaller glens and straths, each the “country”
of some clan, debouch into Glenmore, bed of a chain of lochs and streams
linked together as the Caledonian Canal, their varying levels made
navigable by the locks that come easier to a Sassenach tongue. This
canal is now nearly a century old. In the century before its trenches
were opened, King George’s soldiers had islanded the farther Highlands
by a road between three fortified posts, in the centre and at either end
of this Great Glen, thus used as a base for dominating and civilising a
region over which the fiery cross ran more freely than the king’s writ.
The northernmost of the three, Fort-George, above Inverness, is still a
military station, serving as depot for the Seaforth and Cameron
Highlanders.

Inverness is called the capital of the Highlands, though it lies on an
edge of Celtic Scotland, at the north end of the Great Glen, and near
the head of the Moray Firth. This is not a Gaelic city, whose
inhabitants had at one time the fame of speaking the best English in
Scotland, or, for the matter of that, in England, a merit sometimes
traced back to a colony of Cromwell’s soldiers. Of late years, to tell
the truth, the speech of Inverness has hardened and vulgarised somewhat
in the mouths of a very mixed population; yet still in some of the
secluded glens of the county may be heard a tongue not their own used
with a melodious refinement unknown within the sound of Bow Bells.

Smart, cheerful, and regularly built, Inverness has the air of a lowland
town, spread out on a river plain, across which fragments of the
Highlands have drifted from the grand mountains in view, as the Alps
from Berne. The Ness has the distinction of being the shortest river in
Britain, shorter even than London’s New River; but its course of only a
few miles, from Loch Ness to the Moray Firth’s inner recess, is enough
to make it a resort for big salmon and small shipping. Hector Boece
records a former great “plenty and take of herring,” which vanished “for
offence made against some Saint.” Sheltered from the winds of the east
and the “weather” of the west, the district has a genial climate where,
indeed, the air often “nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our
gentle senses.” Shakespeare, not having the advantage of _Black’s
Guide_, says little about the scenery around, which has been much
described in _Wild Eelin_, William Black’s last and not his worst novel,
though it has the deplorable fault of

[Illustration: INVERNESS FROM NEAR THE ISLANDS]

bringing in real personages not less thinly disguised than Inverness is
as Invernish.

The famous Castle still stands by the river-side, in its modern form
serving as a court-house and prison for ungracious Duncans made both
drunk and bold; while the grounds of its “pleasant seat” are a lounge
for honest inhabitants, kept in memory, by a statue of Flora Macdonald,
how Prince Charles Edward’s men blew up the old blood-stained walls.
Opposite, across the river, is the modern Cathedral of the Episcopal
Church, here a considerable body which once had a soul of Jacobite
sentiment. Inverness shows several fragments of antiquity, most revered
of them that palladium Clach-na-Cudain--“stone of the tubs,” now built
into the base of the restored Town Cross. A little way up the river its
“Islands” have been adapted as a unique “combination of public park and
natural wilderness, of clear brown swirls and eddies under the
overhanging hazels and alders, and open and foaming white cataracts
where artificial barriers divert the broad rush of the river.” This
beauty-spot of wood and water no stranger should fail to seek out; then
not far beyond he may gain Tom-na-hurich, “hill of the fairies,” which
makes a picturesque cemetery, commanding what a pre-Wordsworthian writer
describes as “a boundless view of gentlemen’s seats, seated generally
under the shelter of eminences, and surrounded by wooded plantations.”
Another fine prospect can be had a mile or so behind the station from
the heights called “Hut of Health,” on which have been built extensive
barracks.

The hotels of Inverness are not too many to accommodate the crowds that
flit through it in the tourist and shooting season. It has two annual
galas, when accommodation may be hardest to find for love or money. The
first is the “Character Fair” in July, so called because then some half
a million changes hands over dealings in wool on the security of the
dealer’s character, not a fleece being brought to market, nor even a
sample, unless of human brawn and beards well displayed in the brightest
of tartan and the roughest of homespun. The second is the Northern
Meeting in September, gayest and smartest of those gatherings by which
the old Highland games, dress, and music are kept up. But ah! this touch
of local colour is too like the artificial bloom on a faded cheek. The
glow of tartans here revived by what a German might call “Sunday
Highlanders,” is but a Vanity Fair. The stalwart athletes, some of them
“professionals,” who exert themselves to make a London holiday, have
little more of Arcadian simplicity than the fine folk who look on. The
clansmen forget old feuds; the chiefs no longer command the old loyalty;
the greyness and greed of our practical world are settling down over the
Highlands, conquered by gold, as hardly by southron steel.

If the pensive tourist seek a purer vision of the past, let him go out
to the lonely station of Culloden Moor, some half a dozen miles from
Inverness. From the great viaduct that here typifies modern enterprise,
he may hold up the Nairn to the roughly overgrown field on which are
half buried those pre-historic stones of Clava, monuments of a past
beyond Scott’s ken. Then, crossing the river and mounting the heights,
he comes on the commonplace road that will lead him over Drumossie,
where the romantic cause fell hopelessly when Cumberland’s red-coats
mowed down and bayoneted its jealous, sullen, and weary champions, more
than a tenth of them dying here for the Prince who, according to one
story, fled basely, but others report him as forced from the field. Fir
plantations and fields have now clad the wild nakedness of this
tableland; but by the roadside are seen the mounds beneath which lie
each clan together, still shoulder to shoulder, and the monumental cairn
that is yearly hung with votive wreaths by a certain perfervid Jacobite.
If these men gave way before disciplined valour and artillery, if their
own martial spirit was marred by quarrelsome ill-temper, let us remember
how many of them joined or rejoined the cause when it was as good as
lost, after the Jacobite squires of the south had held back from its
first flush of success. The next time the Cockney be moved to his sneer
about bawbees, let him consider how neither bribes, nor threats, nor
torture could tempt these poor Highlanders to betray their prince in his
desperate wanderings with a price set on his head. And let us all
forget, if we can, the cruelty with which the victors followed up that
last rout of sentimental devotion. One poor fellow took hundreds of
lashes on an English ship of war, without opening his mouth to confess
how he had ferried the fugitive to a safer isle. Such stories of humble
fidelity are too much forgotten by historians who bear in mind how the
heads of certain houses--father and son--ranked themselves on opposite
sides with a politic eye to escape forfeiture, whether James or George
were king. The most romantic case, if true, is that of the Macintosh in
the royal ranks, said to have yielded himself prisoner to his own wife,
who had taken his place at the head of the rebellious clansmen. Another
family manœuvre turned out luckily for a Lowland peer who, as
preparation for taking the field with the Pretender, treated himself to
a foot-bath which his prudent wife made so hot that her valorous spouse
could not boot nor spur for many a day, and thus was kept out of
political hot water. The same story, indeed, is told of another couple,
whose sympathies were divided the opposite way on.

Where are the sons of the scattered clans? Many of them peacefully
settled among law-abiding Lowlanders, many of them gone to America,
where among other mountains, on fruitfuller straths and by mightier
streams, they often cherish their Gaelic and their kilts, sometimes
against sore pricks of climate and mosquitoes, sharper than the
ancestral itch of dirt and poverty. In one district of Nova Scotia
alone, there are said to thrive three thousand of those Macdonalds whose
offended pride hung back from the clash of Culloden. Before the ’45,
emigration to America had already begun with the colony settled in
Georgia by General Oglethorpe; even earlier indeed hardy Highlanders and
Orkneymen were in demand for service in the wilds of Hudson’s Bay; but
after Culloden the exodus became considerable, increasing as the
chieftains, turned into lairds, found idle and prejudiced dependants
only in the way of improving their estates; and “another for Hector!”
came to mean a fresh clansman shipped across the Atlantic to see
Lochaber no more. Harsh as it was, the wrench proved often a blessing in
disguise, when the last look at those misty Hebrides had softened into a
tender memory with the farmers of New Glengarry or ice-bound Antigonish.
Our day saw two Prime Ministers of Canada who, if kept at home, might
have

[Illustration: TOMDOUN, GLEN GARRY, INVERNESS-SHIRE]

been carrying the southron’s game-bag, as one of them perhaps did in his
bare-legged youth.

Perhaps the most remarkable Highland-American has never been duly
brought into the light of history, as neither has that mysterious
soldier of fortune Gregor MacGregor, “Cacique of Poyais,” who made such
a stir in two worlds, but is now hardly remembered unless by the mention
of him in the _Ingoldsby Legends_, and the banknotes of his bankrupt
kingdom, treasured by collectors of curiosities. Did the general reader
ever hear of Alexander MacGillivray, who was born at once a Highland
gentleman and a Red Indian chief? His career, which I hope to write some
day, if once able to bridge over certain gaps in my information, makes
an extraordinary mixture of romance with very opposite features, better
fitting the vulgar idea of a Scot.

Some time during the Jacobite disturbances, one Lachlan MacGillivray
emigrated from Inverness to the Southern States, where he became a
prosperous Indian trader, and, perhaps in the way of business, married a
“princess” of the great Creek Confederacy. Alexander, the son of this
mésalliance, was well educated and brought up to trade, but early in
life betook himself to his mother’s people, among whom his attainments
as well as his birth gave him influence. Rank, by Indian law, as by
“Lycian custom,” being inherited on the spindle side, before he was
thirty he had been recognised as chief of the Creeks, and for many years
played a leading part in their fitful politics. Little is known of his
rule beyond the main facts, our clearest accounts of him being derived
from a rare book written by another young adventurer, the Frenchman
Leclerc Milfort, whose story, in plain English, seems not to be always
trusted.

According to himself, Milfort, having also wandered among the Creeks,
was chosen by them as their war chief, an office separate from the civil
headship of an Indian tribe. Then the Scotsman and the Frenchman appear
to have governed the Creeks for years, making a congenial disposition of
power, the one the head, the other the hand, of a powerful though
somewhat unstable body politic. MacGillivray had no stomach for
fighting, was even a coward, if Milfort is to be believed; but he was
crafty, resourceful, and of a clear Caledonian eye to the main chance.
Milfort found him living in a good house, with herds of cattle and
dozens of negro slaves. Another source of profit he had in a secret
partnership with a firm of brother Scots at Pensacola, to which he
directed the trade of the Creek nation, jealously intrigued for by their
British and Spanish neighbours. The Revolutionary War had nearly caused
a rupture between these Creek consuls. MacGillivray’s sympathies were
with the British; Milfort had no scruple in fighting against the
Americans, but when French troops came to take part in the struggle, he
was disposed to side with his compatriots. His colleague, however,
persuaded him to remain neutral; and by this Scotsman’s influence, the
Creeks seem to have been kept from throwing into the scale the weight of
their war parties. The canny chief entered into a maze of tricky
negotiations with the various bordering Powers, pretending to each to be
in its special interest, receiving bribes from all, throughout, as far
as his dealings can be traced, “true to one party, and that is
himself.”

The States having secured their independence, the eagerness of American
settlers to press over the Creek bounds had almost brought about an
Indian war with the great republic. Scenes of bloodshed took place on
the frontier; and if MacGillivray was cunning and not warlike, he showed
the civilised virtue of humanity in sparing and rescuing captives. Peace
was negotiated by an Indian deputation which he led to New York. A
secret article provided for his being appointed a general in the U.S.
service, with a pension of $1200. At the same time, or soon afterwards,
the wily chief accepted similar distinctions and payments from the
British and the Spanish Governments, and between them he must have
enjoyed a considerable income for steadily promoting his own interests,
while impartially betraying all his rival employers in turn.

But the arrangement which he brought about with young Uncle Sam roused
the Indians against him. A rebel leader appeared in one “General”
Bowles, who, originally a private soldier, in the course of many dubious
adventures more than once played the pretender among the Creeks. A civil
war raged in the Confederacy; MacGillivray at one time was driven to
flight; but, still backed up by Milfort, he succeeded in partly
restoring his power, though not with the same firmness. In the middle of
his tortuous policies, he died at the age of fifty, leaving a son, who
was sent home to Scotland, where old Lachlan is said to have been still
alive in Inverness-shire. It was his half-breed nephew, William
Weatherford, who, later on, led the last struggle of the Creeks against
American encroachment.

As for Leclerc Milfort, he was left for a time struggling against Bowles
and other rivals for authority. According to his own story, the French
Revolution brought him back to France, where he laboured to persuade
Buonaparte how easily an empire might be won in America. It is said that
the First Consul was taken by the idea, and that in 1801 a small French
expedition had even been prepared to conquer the Creek country under
Milfort’s guidance. But vaster plans interfered with any such scheme,
and in 1803, Louisiana and the great South-West were sold by France to
the United States. The ex-chief had a chance to gratify his taste for
fighting at home, when France was invaded in 1814; but he did not return
to resume the authority of which he boasts in his book, so rare that I
have never seen a copy except my own. If one only had all the truth
about these two white adventurers, what a strange romance it would make!

The Highlands may be all the more prosperous for the new husbandry that
drove so many of their sons to seek fortune in distant lands, often to
find fame. It might be well for the people to have such enterprise
roughly forced on a conservative spirit which scowled at the
introduction of potatoes, turnips, and other improvements to their
backward culture. What their good old days were in truth may be guessed
in the smoky huts where they still love to pig together, stubbornly
refusing to adapt themselves to an order in which sheep are found more
profitable than men, and deer than sheep. The big sheep-farmer from the
south makes more of the land than the easy-going crofter; yet the
smallest drop of Celtic blood cannot but stir to see a clansman touching
his hat for tips from

[Illustration: A SHEPHERD’S COT IN GLEN NEVIS, INVERNESS-SHIRE]

southron stockbrokers, and serving as obsequious attendant to the
American millionaires who enclose his native heath. Naturally the
Highlander is a gentleman, for all his faults, with instinctive courtesy
to soften his somewhat sullen pride. More than once I have had a tip
refused by a Highland servant, as nowhere else in the world unless in
the United States before their social independence, too, began to be
demoralised by the largesses of successful speculators, who, after
piling up dollars by “rings” and “corners,” find they can buy less
observance for their money at home than by corrupting a race declared by
Mrs. Grant of Laggan, herself reared in America, “to resemble the French
in being poor with a better grace than other people.”

The Highlander was a born sportsman as well as a gentleman, who by his
paternal chiefs would not be called closely to account for every deer
and salmon that went to eke out his frugal fare. Now he can shoot or
fish only in the way of business, the very laird making two ends meet by
letting out his moors and streams to a stranger, in whose service the
sons of warriors play the gamekeeper and gillie, with more or less good
will, loading the gun and carrying the well-stocked luncheon basket,
perhaps not always very hearty in hunting down those Ishmaelite brethren
who do a little grouse-netting on their own account for the supply of
London tables by the 12th of August. Sometimes the Gael takes revenge by
being able to hint his scorn for the sportsmanship of these new masters;
but as often, to do them justice, they will not give him this poor
satisfaction. A well-known southron humorist tells a story which needs
his voice to bring out the point, how he missed a deer, to the disgust
of the keeper, and how, trying to conciliate this worthy by admiration
of a fine head, he got the dry answer--“It’s no near so fine as the one
ye shot this morning--a-a-at!”

Deer-stalking is a sport that still demands manly skill and hardihood,
however many menials can be hired to mark down and circumvent the great
game. So much cannot always be said of other shooting, when the noble
sportsman entrenches himself behind fortifications to which the fierce
wild fowl are driven to be shot down by gun after gun placed in his
hands. Sport, that was once a bond between classes, becomes more and
more a monopoly of the rich. The very meaning of the word suffers a
change in our day from the doing of something oneself to a performance
where most of the activity is by paid assistants or “professionals.” One
good feature of Highland sport is in not lending itself to the
collection of gate-money from a mob of lookers-on; but the
dollar-hunting and _coup_-landing chieftain need not expect to be loved
by those whom he would fain bar out of his solitary playground.

I, too, have lived in Arcadia, and was duly entered at this craft, not
that I ever took very heartily to it, or that a big capercailzie, then a
_rara avis_ in Highland woods, ran much more risk from me than from Mr.
Winkle. But I know the free joy of tramping over wet moors behind dogs,
shooting for sport and not for slaughter, lunching off bread and cheese,
or a cold grouse, with fingers for forks, and coming home to a dinner
won by one’s own hands. That old-fashioned muzzle-loading work is
scorned by the present generation who, indeed, pay such rents for moors
and coverts that they have some reason to be keen after a big bag. Well
I remember a true Nimrod’s scorn for the first great noble in our part
of the world who _sold his game_! We children in the nursery would be
fed on grouse and salmon to use up what could not be sent away as
presents; and, for my part, I have never quite got over a stickjaw
conception of these expensive dainties.

There was a Highland shooting which in those days seemed a paradise of
schoolboy holiday. It belonged to a well-known Scottish peeress married
to a French nobleman, on whom it was thrown away, though their son grew
to be of a different mind. Thus it came on a long lease into the
occupation of keen sportsmen of my family, who naturally did not care to
build for their inevitable successors. The “lodge” was a short row of
white cottages, the centre one turned into a parlour, the others into
bedrooms; and as youngsters grew up, extra accommodations were provided
in the shape of a tent and iron shanties, the whole group backed by a
thin clump of wind-blown firs visible some dozen miles away on the bare
mountain side. All through the summer months it made an encampment for a
band of kilted youngsters, “hardy, bold, and wild,” taking in the
Highland air at every pore, with miles of moor and burn for their
playground, which they knew not to be haunted by the victims of Druid
rites. Not that more sophisticated guests were unknown at this eyry of
eyases. The great little Earl Russell, at that time, if I am not
mistaken, Prime Minister, was tenant of a neighbouring moor. One day he
had come over for a sociable beat, broken in on by a messenger, hot foot
across the heather, bearing a huge official envelope superscribed with
the name of a ducal colleague. The statesman requested a private
apartment in which to examine this communication, but the only closet
available was a bedroom, where he opened the cover to find--a caricature
of himself from _Punch_!

I have been led away by a grumble at the self-indulgent and
well-appointed sportsmen who in this generation invade my native heath.
But, however much they make themselves at home here, we chuckle to think
that they at least cannot tune their ears to the native music. For what
says the poet--

    A Sassenach chief may be bonnily built,
    He may purchase a sporran, a bonnet, and kilt;
    Stick a skean in his hose--wear an acre of stripes--
    But he cannot assume an affection for pipes.

Another comfort taken by the dispossessed son of the mist is in hearing
the weather abused by strangers, who may as well stay at home under
shelter of their Twopenny Tubes and Burlington Arcades if they are
afraid of rain. Dr. Johnson was not, and a gentler critic of his time
observed that the Highlanders minded snow “no more than hair powder.” In
the warm south of England, I once caught a cold which stuck to me all
summer and seemed like to settle on my lungs. Late in autumn, in a kill
or cure mood, I went down to the dampest side of the Highlands, got wet
from morning to night, and in a week my cough had gone like dew from the
heather. But nature’s hydropathy does not always work so well, even on
seasoned constitutions. The severest loss of our Volunteer force, as
yet, on British soil, has been from that soaking royal review at
Edinburgh, when Highlanders were killed and crippled by a long railway
journey in drenched clothes, even though at the way-stations matron

[Illustration: RIVER AWE FLOWING TO LOCH ETIVE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

and maid brought them patriotic offerings of dry hose, with which at
least to “change their feet.”

Now let us turn to the tourist, who has neither lust nor license to
ruffle the least feather of grouse or gull, but calls forth angry
passions when his red guide-book or her sunshade come scaring the prey
stalked by lords of Cockaigne and Porkopolis. He and she, by coveys,
swarm in various directions from Inverness, but chiefly by the
Caledonian Canal, that highroad of pleasure, as once of business,
between the North and the South Highlands. Had we seen this road “before
it was made,” we should find little difference to-day, unless for a few
more modern mansions that have swallowed up many a lowly home, still,
perhaps, marked by patches of green about the ruined mountain shielings
where, as on Alpine pastures, Highland _Sennerin_ made butter and cheese
through the long summer days. A steamboat carries one right through the
Great Glen, beneath mountain giants, clad in nature’s own tartan of
green and purple chequered by brown and grey, with bare knees of crag,
and streaming sporrans of cascade, and feathers of fir-wood, too often
wrapped in a plaid of mist, or hidden by a mackintosh of drenching rain.
Else, against the clear sky-line, one may catch sight of a noble stag on
the hill head, displayed like its crest, sniffing motionless at the
steamer far below, unconscious of an unseen enemy stealing up the
rearward corrie with heart athrob for his blood, which, at the pull of a
trigger, may or may not stain the heath.

From its port below Craig Phadric, believed to have been the stronghold
of a king older than Duncan, then past the hill bearing his name, the
Canal soon takes us through the fertile strath into the wilder
Highlands. The first stage of that grand panorama is through deep Loch
Ness, where on one side Mealfourvonie towers like a hayrick, round which
goes the way to those remote Falls of Glomach, called the noblest in
Britain, and on the other are more easily reached the Falls of Foyers,
chained and set to work by an Aluminium Company that did not tremble at
the rhapsody of Christopher North:--

     “Here is solitude with a vengeance--stern, grim, dungeon solitude!
     How ghostlike those white, skeleton pines, stripped of their rind
     by tempest and lightning, and dead to the din of the raging
     cauldron! That cataract, if descending on a cathedral, would
     shatter down the pile into a million of fragments. But it meets the
     black foundations of the cliff, and flies up to the starless heaven
     in a storm of spray. We are drenched, as if leaning in a hurricane
     over the gunwale of a ship, rolling under bare poles through a
     heavy sea. The very solid globe of earth quakes through her
     entrails. The eye, reconciled to the darkness, now sees a
     glimmering and gloomy light--and lo, a bridge of a single arch hung
     across the chasm, just high enough to let through the triumphant
     torrent. Has some hill-loch burst its barriers? For what a world of
     waters come now tumbling into the abyss! Niagara! hast thou a
     fiercer roar? Listen--and you think there are momentary pauses of
     the thunder, filled up with goblin groans! All the military
     music-bands of the army of Britain would here be dumb as
     mutes--Trumpet, Cymbal, and the Great Drum! There is a desperate
     temptation in the hubbub to leap into destruction. Water-horses and
     kelpies, keep stabled in your rock-stalls--for if you issue forth
     the river will sweep you down, before you have finished one neigh,
     to Castle Urquhart, and dash you, in a sheet of foam, to the top of
     her rocking battlements.... We emerge, like a gay creature of the
     element, from the chasm, and wing our way up the glen towards the
     source of the cataract. In a few miles all is silent. A more
     peaceful place is not among all the mountains. The water-spout that
     had fallen during night has found its way into Loch Ness, and the
     torrent has subsided into a burn. What the trouts did with
     themselves in the ‘red jawing speat’ we are not naturalist enough
     to affirm, but we must suppose they have galleries running far into
     the banks, and corridors cut in the rocks, where they swim about in
     water without a gurgle, safe as golden and silver fishes in a
     glass-globe, on the table of my lady’s boudoir. Not a fin on their
     backs has been injured--not a scale struck from their starry sides.
     There they leap in the sunshine among the burnished clouds of
     insects, that come floating along on the morning air from bush and
     bracken, the licheny cliff-stones, and the hollow-rinded woods.”

At the head of Loch Ness our boat takes to locks again at Fort-Augustus,
now turned into a Catholic monastery, arms yielding to the gown. Hence,
if the rain persistently blot out all prospect, we might hasten on by
branch railway to the West Highland Line, passing near those geological
lions called the “parallel roads” of Glenroy. Else we thread the water
between the heights of Keppoch and Glengarry, marked by the cairns of
many a forgotten feud, and through Loch Oich and Loch Lochy come to
cross the West Highland Railway at Banavie, where the Canal descends to
sea level by a staircase of locks like that at Trollhatta on the not
less famous waterway from Gothenburg to Stockholm.

Loch Oich, the smallest of the chain into which the Garry comes down
from its basin, has an authentic legend as retreat of Ewen Macphee,
perhaps the last British outlaw above the rank of a lurking poacher or
illicit distiller. Early in the nineteenth century he enlisted in a
Highland regiment, from which he deserted, and though captured and
handcuffed, made a romantic escape to his native wilds of Glengarry.
After camping in the woods till the hue and cry after him had died out,
he settled on an islet of Loch Oich, where he took to himself a wife and
reared a sturdy brood. For long he played Rob Roy on a small scale,
“lifting” sheep and helping himself to game, while he enjoyed the
sanctity of a seer’s reputation. When a southern landlord bought the
property, he established a not unfriendly _modus vivendi_ with this
tackless tenant, who introduced himself to the new owner by sticking his
dirk into the table as title-deed to his island--“By this right I hold
it!” But by and by the minions of the law pressed upon his retreat; and
in spite of a resolute defence, in which his wife handled a gun like a
modern Helen Macgregor, he was arrested for sheep stealing, and taken to
prison, where he pined away after a long life of lawless freedom. Bales
of sheep skins and tallow, found hidden about his fastness, were
evidence of how he had lived at the expense of his neighbours, a feature
too much left out of sight in modern regret for the picturesque old
times.

Banavie--that seems to be a kilted cousin of Banff, and forebear of the
Rocky Mountain paradise an American geographer presumes to spell
_Bamf_--is close to Fort-William, the southernmost of the three military
posts that bridled the Great Glen. In Stuart days this was Inverlochy,
scene of that battle between Montrose and Argyle. It is now a town of
snug hotels, over which rises the proclaimed monarch of British
mountains, his gloomy brow often crowned with mist and his precipitous
shoulders ermined with snow at any season. But if the weather favour,
from the Observatory Tower at the top,

[Illustration: A CROFT NEAR TAYNUILT, LOCH ETIVE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

one has the far-spread prospect masterly laid out by Sir Archibald
Geikie:--

     “While no sound falls upon his ear, save now and then a fitful
     moaning of the wind among the snow-rifts of the dark precipice
     below, let him try to analyse some of the chief elements of the
     landscape. It is easy to recognise the more marked heights and
     hollows. To the south, away down Loch Linnhe, he can see the hills
     of Mull and the Paps of Jura closing the horizon. Westward, Loch
     Eil seems to lie at his feet, winding up into the lonely mountains,
     yet filled twice a day with the tides of the salt sea. Far over the
     hills, beyond the head of the loch, he looks across Arisaig, and
     can see the cliffs of the Isle of Eigg and the dark peaks of Rum,
     with the Atlantic gleaming below them. Farther to the north-west
     the blue range of the Coolin Hills rises along the sky-line, and
     then, sweeping over all the intermediate ground, through Arisaig
     and Knoydart and the Clanranald country, mountain rises beyond
     mountain, ridge beyond ridge, cut through by dark glens, and varied
     here and there with the sheen of lake and tarn. Northward runs the
     mysterious straight line of the Great Glen, with its chain of
     lochs. Thence to east and south the same billowy sea of
     mountain-tops stretches out as far as eye can follow it--the hills
     and glens of Lochaber, the wide green strath of Spean, the grey
     corries of Glen Treig and Glen Nevis, the distant sweep of the
     moors and mountains of Brae Lyon and the Perthshire Highlands, the
     spires of Glencoe, and thence round again to the blue waters of
     Loch Linnhe.”

Hitherto the drenched tourist has been too ready to hasten away towards
drier Saxondom by steamboat or rail from the end of the Caledonian
Canal, ignorant what choice spots may hereabouts be lingered among, such
as that “Dark Mile,” which some have found better worth seeing than the
Trossachs, and Glen Nevis that, opening as a lush valley, mounts by
rushing falls into recesses of wild magnificence. Now the West Highland
Railway takes one on through Glenfinnan and the Lochiel country, where
Charles Edward raised that last standard of rebellion, against the
prudent judgment of the Cameron chief whose loyal pride yet followed it
to Culloden, and where a tall column records how a later Cameron fell as
gallantly in the service of the established dynasty. Thus we come to
Arisaig on the west coast, and to Mallaig opposite Skye, in which a book
that draws to its end must not venture to enter upon the most gloomily
grand aspects of Highland scenery. All this, like the country above the
Moray Firth, comes under the head of “counsels of perfection”; but every
conscientious Highland tour takes in Inverness, on the round made by the
Highland Railway and the Caledonian Canal, the most perfunctory minimum
being the Trossachs trip, which might be extended to pass by Oban and
the Clyde.



CHAPTER X

GLASGOW AND THE CLYDE


At the junction of salt and fresh water navigation, beside Fort-William,
the tourist begins a new stage of his journey, if in haste, speeding by
the West Highland Railway through beautiful glens and over bleak and
bare moorlands to come on the Clyde at Helensburgh. The older pilgrimage
is by steamer down Loch Linnhe to Oban, past Ballachulish, where, if the
Saxon can get his tongue round its name, he may land to visit “dreary
dark Glencoe,” whose grimly sublime seclusion seems in keeping with its
tragic memories and with its legendary fame as birthplace of Ossian.

Oban, “Charing Cross of the Highlands,” which Cockneys sometimes confuse
with Holborn, and which in thick weather may rather suggest the Tilbury
Docks, had in Dr. Johnson’s day one “tolerable inn,” now multiplied into
a forest of hostelries, “a huddlement of upstart houses,” above which
the shell of an unhatched Hydropathic looks down on darker ruins of the
“Land of Lorne.” Here the not impecunious traveller might tarry long to
visit the islands around or the lochs and falls inland. Turning his back
on the cloudy Atlantic, he may take the Caledonian Railway by Loch Awe,
Loch Tay and Loch Earn, and thus be wafted to Perth, Edinburgh, or
Glasgow, while at Tyndrum it is open to him to make a cut across to the
West Highland Line. But his most beaten path is still a watery one, on
to the Crinan Canal, and through it to Ardrishaig, where he enters on
the safe and luxurious navigation of the Clyde.

This is not a guide-book that can afford to expatiate in small print on
all the aisles and monuments of this grand estuary, with its lochs
opening like side chapels. The stranger will do well to halt almost
wherever he pleases, and at a dozen resorts has a choice of steamboats
plying up and down _the_ water, as a Glasgow man calls it, even as his
ancestors named the Esks and Avons which for them were alone familiar.
The butterfly tourist, if he get a fine day or two, may settle on
Tarbert, the isthmus of Cantire; or at Inveraray, the ducal
village-capital of Argyll; or at Dunoon, its largest town; or at
Rothesay, the Swindon Junction of this inland voyaging; or at the
Cumbraes, whose minister prayed for “the adjacent islands of Great
Britain and Ireland”; or at one and another of those snug bathing-places
that almost line the shores. The gem, the _bouquet_, the crown of all
Clyde scenery is, of course, Arran, to know which _non cuivis
contingit_. But if he can find quarters in some airy hovel with rats
running about the roof, or on some shake-down of an hotel annexe, and if
the rain clears up over Goatfell, the reader will not regret taking my
word for the exceeding loveliness of glens and corries, which have
inspired painters, poets, and even guide-book makers.

Many writers have described Clyde voyaging. To

[Illustration: GLENCOE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

save myself trouble, let me borrow from the ingenious M. Jules Verne,
who in his _Rayon-Vert_ gives a remarkable account of this region and
its inhabitants. It is always well to see ourselves as others see us,
especially through the eyes of a famous story-teller. This story of his
is intended to be amusing, and he appears to succeed in being funnier
than he knew by reading up Sir Walter Scott and other works of fiction,
then “combining his information.”

The time is the present day; the scene opens on the Clyde; the _dramatis
personæ_ are as follows: Two old bachelor brothers, Sam and Sib Melvill,
have been avowedly “lifted” from those chieftains of the southron clan
Cheeryble. They live together in kindly one-mindedness; they take snuff
out of the same box; they quote Ossian in alternate stanzas, also Scott,
and such good old Scottish proverbs as “let us leave that fly tranquil
on the wall.” They especially agree in spoiling their niece, Miss Helena
Campbell, who, like other heroines of fiction, is beautiful to behold,
and like other Scottish damsels of rank, does her hair up in a snood,
believes in valkyries and “browines,” then, though as good as she is
charming, has a most troublesome obstinacy in getting her own way. This
is a rich family, who have a town house in Glasgow and a cottage near
Helensburgh, opposite the promontory always spelt “Rosenheat,” a cottage
of much gentility, with a tower, a terrace, and a park. Over a large
household rule two faithful retainers of the olden time, (1) the
“intendant” Partridge, who always sports tartan in the form of a kilt
“above the philabeg,” with blue bonnet, cow-skin brogues and other
trappings of a Highland butler’s livery; (2) a venerable housekeeper,
who, like all housekeepers in the Highlands, bears the title of
“Luckie,” but is also styled Dame Bess, and addressed by Partridge as
“Mavourneen,” that well-known Scottish term of endearment, while her
masters invariably summon her by crying “Bet! Beth! Bess! Betsey!
Betty!” each word taking up a line, so as to make what printers call
“fat” and what French authors, from the great Dumas downwards, must find
very convenient for stretching out “copy.”

Though Sam and Sib are Glasgow aristocrats, they seem so far in touch
with the great metropolis as to take in the _Morning Post_, in which one
day Miss Campbell reads an account of a wonderful green ray shed by the
unclouded sun at his setting on an open sea horizon. Nothing will serve
this wilful young lady but at once setting out to behold such an optical
phenomenon. Gifted as she is, our heroine can have passed no high
standard of geography, but her uncles explain to her that Oban is the
nearest place at which an open sea view can be had. _Va pour Oban!_ she
exclaims. The sly uncles agree on the trip, all the more readily as they
are aware how at Oban happens to be sojourning a certain Aristobulus
Ursiclos, on whom they have their eye as an _excellent parti_ for their
ward.

The household is at once thrown into a confusion of packing, for by
seven o’clock next morning it is necessary to be in Glasgow to catch the
Oban steamer _Columba_, which seems rather a roundabout route for
residenters at Helensburgh. At this early hour the party punctually
embark, to be carried admiringly down the scenery of the Clyde, though,
indeed, the faithful steward and housekeeper, always in attendance,
shake their heads in sad harmony at every stage over the engines and
smoke stacks that are overshadowing good old Highland customs, the sole
example of which here given is unhappily referred to the Orkney
Kirkwall. Messrs. MacBrayne have no cause of complaint as to praise of
the steamer and her accommodations; but the proprietors of Murray’s
_Guide_, with which the party are provided rather than Black’s, might
find ground of action in the French printers’ libellous misspellings of
names. That work is duly drawn on for notices of Dumbarton Castle, of
Greenock, of ruined strongholds, and of the distant crests of Arran and
Ailsa Craig. The passengers hold stiffly aloof in groups, except of
course some French tourists, who bring their native sociability with
them; but there is none of the British _morgue_ about Partridge, when he
claps his hands in applause at the sight of a tower ruined for the
MacDouglases by his young mistress’ clan. They sail safely through the
Kyles of Bute, past Ardrishaig, by the Crinan Canal, then up the
Hebrides archipelago to Oban, where they install themselves, regardless
of expense, in the best rooms of the Caledonian Hotel, awaiting the
first fine sunset to catch the green ray.

At this _ville des bains_, not more than “a hundred and fifty years
old,” in August crowded with bathers, who do not satisfy French ideas of
propriety by a bathing costume _souvent trop rudimentaire_, our friends
soon fall in with Aristobulus Ursiclos, a mere Lowlander, who wears no
kilt but, on the contrary, aluminium spectacles and such like, and
having graduated both at Oxford and Edinburgh, is a scientist _pour
rire_, not to say a prig and pedant of the darkest dye, seizing every
chance to lecture on meteorology, mineralogy, chemistry, astronomy, in
short _de omni re scibili_. It goes without saying that Miss Campbell at
first sight takes a strong dislike to this false hero, who at once sets
about playing the superior person over such a childish fancy as the
green ray, also excites her contempt by his awkwardness at the British
game of “crocket.” Equally of course, a true hero has already been
provided, a ram caught in one of the handy thickets of romance as due
sacrifice to Hymen. This is Oliver Sinclair, a young and sympathetic
artist, who sends notes of his travels to the celebrated _Edinburgh
Review_, but at present has nothing more pressing on hand than to attach
himself to the party.

The episodes of the story henceforth turn upon repeated efforts to see
the green ray, always baffled by the weather or by some clumsy
interference of Mr. Aristobulus, who can never understand when he is not
wanted, though able to rebuke his companions’ enthusiasm for the sea by
instructing them that it is merely a chemical compound of hydrogen and
oxygen with 2½ per cent of chloride of sodium. In vain they hire a
carriage-and-four to drive to the “village of Clachan,” and on to one of
the outlying islands, from which there is a clear sea view, at Oban, as
we know, blocked by the island of “Kismore.”

After weeks of disappointment and bad weather, the whole party take
steamer for Iona, where they put up at the “Duncan Arms,” feasting daily
upon a truly Scottish _menu_ of haggis, hotch-potch, cockie-leekie,
sowens and oat cake, the Highland Cheeryble brothers pledging one
another in pint stoups--containing four English pints, we

[Illustration: GARELOCHHEAD, DUMBARTONSHIRE]

learn--of “foaming usquebaugh,” also in a drink called “whisky,” with
strong beer, “mum,” and “twopenny” flavoured with a _petit verre_ of
gin. A Scottish breakfast, it appears, is a slighter meal, consisting of
“tea, butter, and sandwiches.” This good cheer is so engrossing that
only after a few days they recall the fact of there being some ruins on
Iona, which are then visited and described at much length, with all due
enthusiasm on the part of the author. Dr. Johnson declares the man
little to be envied whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of
Iona. That man is soulless Aristobulus, who excites our heroine’s
indignation by the cold-blooded manner in which he would peep and
geologise among so sacred monuments, hammering off a piece of a cross to
examine it as a mineral specimen. Worse, just as she was about to see
the green ray, this unlucky spoil-sport lets off a gun, scaring up a
cloud of gulls to obscure the for once bright sunset.

Miss Campbell is determined at any cost to shake off such a hateful
suitor. She hears of another island called Staffa, from which a still
opener view can be had. Nothing will hinder that in the frequented port
of Iona a “Cowes-built” yacht is waiting to be hired. The obedient
uncles charter her forthwith, engage a brass-bound captain and a crew of
six men, provision her suitably, and sail off for Staffa, which, as the
author explains, is at no great distance. Aristobulus, with his hammer
and spectacles, is left behind, henceforth dropping out of the story.

Our heroine, having had the geological marvels of Staffa explained to
her, is so delighted that she proposes to buy the island. Their yacht
blown away before a storm, the passengers encamp in a cave and go
through perilous adventures, for the scenery of which the guide-book
comes in useful. Oliver Sinclair, whose life Helena had been the means
of saving at his first appearance on the scene, now in turn rescues her
in most romantic style; and the young pair are so taken up with each
other that they almost forget all about the green ray in search of which
those long-suffering uncles have been dragged so far. At last comes one
clear glorious sunset, lighting up a panorama of sea line that could not
but have excited admiration even in “the most prosaic merchant
(_negotiant_) of the Canongate.” As the sun disappears, all the party
behold the long-sought wonder, all but the hero and heroine, who are too
intent on the rays lit in each other’s eyes by a “light that never was
on sea or land.” After this, there is nothing left but “Bless you, my
children,” and a sumptuous marriage in “St. George’s Church, Glasgow,”
transported for the occasion, apparently, from Hanover Square. All
which, if one skip the guide-book passages, makes a very striking
account of Scottish manners and customs, but prompts some doubt of the
author’s accuracy when he comes to deal with such more remote regions as
the moon or the bottom of the sea.

It seems a rule with French writers to be careless about the local
colour of their foreign scenes. Well known is the haughty answer of
Victor Hugo to the Englishman who ventured to remonstrate with him on
his Lords “Tom Jim Jack,” and other ornaments of British aristocracy. He
at least spared Scotland,--or was it he who translated the Firth of
Forth by _le premier du quatrième_, as another _traducteur_ elevated “a
stickit minister” into _un prêtre assassiné_? If it be true that Dumas’
chief “ghost” was by origin a Scotsman named Mackay, that voluminous
romancer was ill-served in the wild work made for him of British
topography. D’Artagnan, landing at Dover, found our posts “pretty well
served,” so well, indeed, that starting at 2.30 P.M. he rode to London
in four hours, then on to Windsor, followed the king to a hunting-ground
two or three leagues beyond, and galloped back to Buckingham House, all
before nightfall, a feat that beats Dick Turpin and John Gilpin. When
Charles I. exclaimed “_Remember!_” with his dying breath, he was of
course addressing that _preux chevalier_ Athos, hidden below the
scaffold; and what Athos should remember was how the king had stowed a
million of money in two barrels under the vaults of the Abbey of
Newcastle. In due time Athos goes to turn up this deposit, then from
Monk’s camp at Coldstream on the Tweed, he and the General stroll over
to Newcastle in the course of half an hour or so. Athos of course comes
off successful in this midnight quest, but not so Monk, who, as M. Dumas
first informed us, was kidnapped by D’Artagnan in the midst of his army
and carried off in a fishing boat from Coldstream to Holland, to be laid
bound before his lawful king, brought back after all in time to prevent
Athos from exterminating a company of Scottish soldiers in defence of
his million. The whole series of those Three Musketeers’ adventures
contains many such curious side lights on the history of our country. In
a comic opera, of course, one need not read up for examinations; yet
Scribe’s _Dame Blanche_, bearing to the _Monastery_ and _Guy Mannering_
much the same relation as Thackeray’s _Rebecca and Rowena_ to
_Ivanhoe_, should not have opened with a rustic Scots couple hard up for
a godfather to their child, nor ended with the sale of an estate that
carried with it a peerage and a seat in Parliament.

Perhaps, after all, Scottish writers may be trusted for a more faithful
picture of their own country; and one would commend the reader rather to
Sarah Tytler’s _St. Mungo’s City_ as a truthful and taking tale of
Glasgow life, including a trip on the Clyde under characteristic
circumstances. Only this trip is not one to be suggested to strangers,
since it is an incident of Glasgow Fair, that concentrated week of more
than Bank Holiday-making, when the great city of the West disperses
itself to its waterside resorts so recklessly that in the familiar rainy
weather churches as well as police stations may have to be thrown open
to thousands of roofless and hundreds of senseless guests. Let the Sir
Charles Grandisons of the south, and the Miss Ophelias of the States mix
themselves rather with the Trades Holidays’ bustle of Edinburgh, or the
12th August distraction of Perth station.

     “The steamer (as our author describes this popular excursion),
     fluttering with flags from stem to stern, was pushing down the
     river on the sunny yet showery summer day, preceded and followed by
     many similar vessels, through the labyrinth of shipping from every
     part of the world--past wharves and warehouses deserted by
     toilers--past the yards, well known to ship-builders, with skeleton
     ships on the stocks, where the sheds were forsaken and the din
     mute. Down and down the living freight went, till green pastures
     and ripening cornfields began to smile under the very

[Illustration: GLEN SANNOX, ISLE OF ARRAN]

     frown of the hills rising in the distance. Here was the
     heart-shaped rock of Dumbarton, with the castle where Wallace had
     lain a prisoner. There were the crowded roofs of Greenock,
     clustered under its own storm-cloud, hanging over the city
     churchyard where Highland Mary was laid to rest. Yonder ran the
     Tail of the Bank, by which fleets have ridden at anchor, where
     Colin’s solitary ship was seen through the morning mists by the
     sharp eyes of the loving gude-wife, so fain to tell that her man
     was ‘come to town.’ This was the entrance to the loch by whose
     shore the race of Macallum More slept soundly. Across the river the
     warning white finger of the Cloch Lighthouse bade belated crafts
     beware. Roseneath was fair as when Jeanie Deans landed under the
     guardianship of the Duke’s man. At Toward Point the tenderest of
     Highland tragedies lingered with the memory of the old clan Lamont.
     At last the twin islands of Bute and Arran came full in sight, and
     Goatfell rose, brown and grey and russet--not purple as
     yet--unrivalled from the sea, and held up a rugged face to the
     fleecy clouds.”

Reversing this route, and shortening it by train from Greenock, we come
to St. Mungo’s City, by Liverpool’s leave, the second in Britain, yet
none of your mushroom Chicagos, but a good old Lanark borough that has
spread itself far over two counties, since the days when its Broomielaw
harboured a few small craft, and its Fair was confined to the Green, on
which the Earl of Moray encamped before crushing Queen Mary’s cause in
half an hour, at the battle of Langside, its field now within the
extended municipal bounds. In her time Glasgow was already known as the
Market of the West, showing the rudiments of a varied fabrication in its
plaiding, and in such a “Glasgow buckler” as the adventurous Queen would
fain have carried when she wished she were a man to “lie all night in
the fields,” and swagger mail-clad along the crown of the causeway.

Max O’Rell and other moderns have said very unkind things of Glasgow;
but all the early travellers extol the prettiness, pleasantness, and
cleanness of this city on a once limpid river, qualities not so apparent
nowadays. Along with too many most squalid slums, Glasgow has fine
features in her ancient Cathedral, in her lofty Necropolis, in her
picturesque Trongate, in her noble University Buildings elevated above
the West End Park, and in her central square with its forest of
illustrious effigies, “an open-air Madame Tussaud’s.” But these
monuments are not so remarkable as the wealth and manifold industry of
which signs abound on every hand, drowning the rustic charms noted by
Defoe and Burt. In the Commonwealth days Richard Franck had dubbed
Glasgow the “non-such of Scotland”--“famous and flourishing”--on whose
“beautiful palaces” and warehouses “stuft with merchandise” he
expatiates in his conceited style. Even the crabbed Matthew Bramble was
“in raptures with Glasgow.” Pennant twice calls this “the best built of
any second-rate city I ever saw,” and tells how Glasgow had been
“tantalised with its river,” soon to be deepened into such a highway of
traffic.

By the middle of the eighteenth century Glasgow had not 20,000
inhabitants, but she began to make her fortune fast while the rest of
Scotland rather sullenly prepared to exchange thistly patriotism for
more profitable crops. Rum and tobacco were the foundation of a
prosperity that came to be checked by the American Revolution; then the
long-headed worthies of the Saltmarket took up cotton, and cotton was
weighed down by iron, and iron was set afloat as well as wood; and a
host of other trades sprang up, among them that Turkey-red dyeing that
is for Glasgow what its purple was for Tyre.

On Glasgow Green, we are told, James Watt thought of the steam condenser
that was the great practical step towards starting such
merry-go-roundabouts here at Fair time, and so many wheels on which the
progress of the world has spun with such acceleration “down the ringing
grooves of change.” If the first model of a steamship was made in
Edinburgh, the first passenger paddle-boat that plied in Britain was
that between Greenock and Glasgow in 1812. Glasgow, not quite so large
as Edinburgh in James Watt’s lifetime, had then begun to give the
capital the go-by, even before she became environed by a wilderness of
“pits and blast furnaces that honeycomb and blacken the earth, and burn
with a red glare throughout the night for many a mile around,” where
another writer describes daylight showing “patches of sour-looking grass
surrounded by damp stone walls; gaunt buildings soot-begrimed and
gloomy; and an ever-increasing blue-grey mist pierced by tall chimneys.”
St. Kentigern, whose _petit nom_ was Mungo, could hardly now identify
the site of his hermitage among noisy Clyde ship-yards and busy streets,
noted by jealous neighbours as too familiar with

    The merchant rain that carries on
    Rich commerce ’twixt the earth and sun.

The relations between the two chief cities of Scotland have been a
little stiff since Glasgow rose so high in the world, as how should a
laird of old pedigree, crippled by forfeitures and mortgages, not look
askance from his castellated turrets on the spick and span buildings of
an upstart millionaire neighbour, the one standing on his name and
title, the other on his shrewdness, honesty, and strict attention to
business rather than the graces of life. One suspects Sarah Tytler to be
no west-countrywoman, from her kindly hits at Glasgow cotton lords and
iron lords, with more money than they always knew what to do with, a
generation ago; yet she loudly extols their generosity and public
spirit; and in our time Bailie Jarvie’s successors have distinguished
themselves, like their rivals at Manchester and Liverpool, by a liberal
patronage of art, proof of which may be seen in the new Corporation
Gallery that is a legacy of the last Exhibition. Edinburgh wits are not
so scornful now towards Glasgow cits, as in the days when Kit
North--himself a Paisley body--joked his coarsest at the expense of the
“Glasgow Gander,” and Aytoun told scandalous tales of the Glenmutchkin
Railway and the Dreepdaily Burghs.

In spirit and sentiment, the two cities have not always seen eye to eye.
Auld Reekie often showed herself a bit of a Tory, the ladies of the
family having even a tenderness for Jacobitism and philabegry, since Rob
Roy lived not so close to their gates, and they knew the Dougal Cratur
only as a red-nosed porter or town-guard of bygone days: thus the Red
Indian, beneath whose war-paint the western settler could see no good
unless mark for a bullet, might be hailed as a noble savage in Boston or
New York. But Glasgow has always been

[Illustration: LOCH TRIOCHATAN, ENTRANCE TO GLENCOE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

Whig, with grey homespun for its own wear rather than the tartans it
manufactured in the way of business. It would have as little dealing as
might be with the Pretender, an unwelcome guest who took it on his way
back to the Highlands, and forced the citizens to rig out his ragged
army with coats, shirts, and bonnets. In the troubled days of early
Radicalism, again, the city of the west seethed with sedition, almost
breaking out into revolt.

Glasgow was also markedly Presbyterian from an early date, and its
monuments may well be crowned by one to John Knox. Its Cathedral is said
to have been defended by pious craftsmen against an iconoclast mob; but
in this reformed fane, under Charles I., met the Covenanting Assembly
whose denunciation of prelates counts as the second Reformation. Even in
the days when they dealt in rum, the Glasgow folk were noted as sober
and douce, their morals, indeed, being pushed to austerity. Episcopal
ministers and other bad characters were driven out of St. Mungo’s
bounds, when its licensed preachers became chosen from the “High flying”
party of the Church. Theatrical performances were here held in horror
after these had ceased to be banned in the capital. And as for the
Sabbath-keeping that was the sacrament of old Presbyterianism, hear what
Mr. H. G. Graham, in his instructive _Social Life of Scotland in the
Eighteenth Century_, has to record of Glasgow:--

     “To secure proper observance of the Sabbath, compurgators, or
     ‘bumbailies,’ patrolled the streets and wynds on Saturday night to
     see that by ten o’clock all folk were quietly at home; and if
     incautious sounds betokening untimely revelry issued from behind a
     door, or a stream of light from chinks of a window-shutter
     betrayed a jovial company within, they entered and broke up the
     party which dared to be happy so near the Lord’s own day. On
     Sabbath, as in other towns, the seizers or elders, in their turn,
     perambulated the streets during divine service, and visited the
     Green in the evening, haling all ‘vaguers’ to kirk or session. The
     profound stillness of the Sabbath was preternatural, except when
     the multitudinous tramp of heavy shoes came from a vast voiceless
     throng of churchgoers. In these streets of which the patrols ‘made
     a solitude and called it peace,’ at all other hours no persons
     passed, no sound was heard, no dog dared bark. In the mirk Sabbath
     nights no lamp was lit, because all but profane persons were
     engaged in solemn exercises at home. During the day the
     window-shutters were, in strict households, just opened enough to
     let inmates see to walk about the room, or to read the Bible by
     sitting close to the window-panes.”

Times have changed in Glasgow, for here Sunday trams came to be suffered
before they desecrated Edinburgh. A certain _vieille roche_ minister of
Arran, not yet forgotten, who used to startle strange worshippers by
addressing them, “O ye towrists and eemissaries of the deevil!” was
also, if all tales be true, in the way of warning his flock that they
grew wicked as Glasgow folk, and almost as bad as them of Edinburgh--the
superlative profligacy of London being no doubt taken for granted. But
some such moralist seems to have met his match in two Glasgow urchins
whom he rebukefully catechised: “Whaur will laddies gang that play
themselves on the Sabbath?” With real or assumed innocence one of the
boys answered, “Tae the Green!” Then, on the stern corrector more fully
explaining the drift of that question, he heard the lad exclaim, “Rin
awa,’ Jock; we mauna listen to the bad man sweirin’!”--an attitude now
largely taken towards extreme Sabbatarians, even in Glasgow.

The more liberal spirit of contemporary Glasgow is largely due to its
popular minister of half a century ago, Norman Macleod, who infected the
Scottish Church with much of his own heartiness and width of mind. Many
good stories are told of him, such as, a generation earlier,
crystallised rather round the eminent personality of Dr. Chalmers, also
a Glasgow minister. One, which Macleod used to tell of himself, seems an
essence of the national character as developed under modern influences.
This burly West Highlander, along with a reverend brother of feebler
physique, having taken boat among the Hebrides, they were caught in such
a storm that one of the boatmen proposed the ministers should pray; but
“Na, na,” said another; “let the little ane pray, but the big ane maun
tak’ an oar!” He has also told with much gusto how, in the early days of
his ministry, he was put to the test of orthodoxy by a deaf old woman,
who, adjusting her ear-trumpet, screamed at him, “Gang ower the
fundamentals!” Another story, not so likely to be quite true, but
representing a very human side of his nature, refers to a notorious
Glasgow murderer, who capped a cold-blooded crime by treating himself to
the services of this approved divine on the scaffold. It is said that
the ghostly counsellor was so sickened by the man’s cant, that on his
last words, “Good-bye, Doctor: we shall meet again in the next world!”
Macleod could not refrain from ejaculating, perhaps in the less emphatic
Greek, “God forbid!”

_Good Words_, the popular magazine founded by Dr. Norman Macleod, made
a powerful solvent of Presbyterian severity, introducing into family
life stories for Sunday reading, along with broader views that called
forth loud protests from more orthodox theologians. Another such
influence was the novels of Dr. George MacDonald, in which he tossed and
gored Calvinism with much acceptance, when formal statements of his
doctrine would have been recognised as having _foenum in cornu_. The
“Kailyard” Muse so much in vogue of late quite openly flirts with the
carnal man, cuts up the Shorter Catechism to make curl-papers for more
“up to date” sentiments, and grinds down the forefathers’ faith for
picturesque local colour. This generation hardly yet recognises a turn
of the tide that floats such fiction into popularity. The plain fact is,
which some do not love to hear stated, that the Churches of Scotland are
passing into a transition state of unstable compounds, that would have
horrified their old doctors. The absolute has thawed into the relative,
and some of the once so solid landmarks of faith are already evaporating
out of a fluid state into a very gaseous one. It is hard for hereditary
believers to measure their drift from cast-off moorings; but the many
Scotsmen living out of Scotland see, as a stranger does not, how the
currents are setting. And even to an outsider who takes any interest in
theology, it must appear that the logical turn formerly devoted to
dogmatising on the darkest mysteries is now exercised rather in
explaining away the standards and confessions once held so sacred, still
nominally in honour, but no more consistent with actual belief than the
foregoing mixed metaphors are with each other.

[Illustration: GLEN ROSA, ISLE OF ARRAN]



CHAPTER XI

THE WHIG COUNTRY


Scorched and blasted as much of the ground about Glasgow is, this city
lies hard by some of the finest and most famed scenes of Scotland, to be
easily reached by land or water. Even busy Paisley, nurse of poets as
well as of weavers, has a point of high antiquarian interest in its
restored Abbey Church; and a stretch of moorland rises behind smoky
Greenock, with its monuments to James Watt and to “Highland Mary.” Not
to speak of land-and sea-scapes “down the water,” up the river,
Clydesdale shows us on what green banks and braes Glasgow once stood,
which may yet spread its octopus arms about Cadzow and Bothwell Castles
and the Tower of “Tillietudlem.” There has been talk of harnessing to
industry those rushing Falls of Clyde, the upper linn, Bonnington, a
miniature of Niagara that is already slave to the Philistines. Below
this fall, the mills of New Lanark record the well-meant industrial
experiments of David Dale and his son-in-law Robert Owen. In a cave near
the Stonebyres Fall, young William Wallace took hiding after he had
slain the English sheriff at Lanark, where now the hero’s statue stands
over the church door, strangely arrayed in a kilt that gives him
somewhat the aspect of that snuff-shop Scotsman. Wallace came from the
Renfrewshire Ellerslie, and many of his guerilla exploits were in this
west country, though his noblest monument has found a proper site near
Stirling. Ayr, town of “honest men and bonnie lasses,” cherishes other
legends and memorials of him, here almost forgotten in the renown of
Robert Burns’s birthplace near the mouth of his “bonnie Doon.” An hour’s
stroll along the seashore from Ayr brings us to that humble cottage,
better neighboured by “Alloway’s auld haunted kirk” than by the
pretentious classical monument that so ill fits Scotland’s “barefoot
Muse.” Then from this coast to Dumfries, the valleys of the Ayr and the
Nith are sown with memories and needless monuments of the poet who spoke
the people’s heart. Above Nithsdale, in the south of Lanark, rise the
Lowther Hills, that for height might call cousins with some Highland
Bens. Here stands Leadhills, the highest village in Scotland, birthplace
of Allan Ramsay; and near the wider pass, through which went the old
highroad to the south, may be sought out the “sudden and immense depths”
of the Enterkin, renowned by Defoe and by Dr. John Brown, as gloomy
scene of an encounter between persecuting dragoons and the armed
Covenanters, who had many a fastness in this hill-country.

The “Scott country” has its brightest associations in chivalric war. The
“Burns country,” which is also the Wallace country and the Bruce
country, has been the cradle of the strongest Scottish sentiment, as of
the most popular movements. Long before Burns was born, it got the
familiar name of the Whig country, as congenial soil

[Illustration: THE FALLS OF THE CLYDE, LANARKSHIRE]

for those aspirations after both political and religious freedom that
have gone so far in shaping our constitution. Burns, it will be noted,
had sucked in the political better than the religious spirit of the
region; though he confesses that “the Muses were all Jacobites,” and
once in a way he fires up with--

    The Solemn League and Covenant,
    Cost Scotland blood,--cost Scotland tears,
    But it sealed Freedom’s sacred cause.

Here first arose the nickname Whig or Whiggamore, as its opposite Tory
did in Ireland, both of them originally no compliments. A Whig of our
time is taken to be an eminently sober and staid, not to say lukewarm
politician; but the first Whigs were fierce and dour enthusiasts, one
derivation of the name connecting it with _whey_, as what should hint at
sour-faced sectaries. In the mouth of an Episcopalian, Whig meant a
Presbyterian, while a moderate Presbyterian used the word to stigmatise
those extremists whose doctrine was made white-hot by the _perfervidum
ingenium_ natural to this nation. Moderate Presbyterian is a relative
term, Presbyterianism in general having been such a rebound from Popery
and Prelacy that it sought to hold itself _toto coelo_ apart from them,
and in small matters as well as in great went to antipodes of
opposition, so that in some parts of Scotland, at this day, heathen
rites and customs are unwittingly better preserved than those of
Catholic Christendom. But indeed it was an Irish Orangeman who, being
asked for a death-bed profession of faith, desired to be furnished with
the heads of Roman doctrine, and “whatever they believe, I don’t.”

The south-west corner of Scotland, after being an early stronghold of
the Reformation, was the native heath of those stern non-conformists who
got the by-names of “West-country Whigs,” “Wild Whiggamores,” and so on,
known also with good reason as “Hillmen,” “Wanderers,” “Martyrs,” and in
history specially as the “Covenanters.” That Solemn League and Covenant
of theirs had been accepted on both sides of the Border; but the English
Independents came to flout it as no more binding than “an old Almanac,”
and to the Scottish Cavaliers it made a hated symbol of their long
eclipse, while the right Presbyterian clung to it as an almost inspired
standard of truth. When the reactionary measures of the Restoration
brought back Prelacy to Scotland, hundreds of ministers gave up their
homes and stipends to the more compliant “curates” that braved popular
scorn for the sake of a living. This feeling was not, indeed, national;
in the north, as has been shown, the adherents of Episcopacy held their
own, and sometimes had to be forcibly ejected after the Revolution
settlement. But in the “Whig Country” almost all the ministers left
their cures, gaining in reverence what they lost in stipend. The most
eloquent and zealous of them became, each in his sphere, nucleus of
those conventicles and hillside gatherings that drew from the parish
churches the cream of Presbyterian faith, along with some of the skim
milk, for Covenanting youngsters would find a carnal savour in
sermon-going that involved a chance of open-air adventure. Jock Elliot
or Kinmont Willie might have proved religious enough, when hard knocks
was the exercise of the day. Scott gives the Covenanting preachers
credit for taming the wild moss-troopers who had been recalled to
activity on the Borders by the troubles of that time. But fanaticism was
the main alloy in the devotion of old men and tender women, whose
sacrifices and sufferings for what they held the truth have endeared
their memory to their children, nay, to all Scotland.

Scott has been accused of prejudice against the Covenanters, as
represented in _Old Mortality_; but surely this charge is unjust. More
than one of his ancestors stood out on that side in those unhappy times,
a fact that would alone have bespoken his sympathy. To my mind--making a
little allowance for stage effect--his novel gives a not unfair view of
the two parties’ manners and motives; and as a historian he thus
describes the Covenanting conventicles, that left his countrymen with an
acquired taste for field preaching, till such ministrations had
degenerated into the scenes of Burns’s “Holy Fair”:--

     “The view of the rocks and hills around them, while a sight so
     unusual gave solemnity to their acts of devotion, encouraged them
     in the natural thought of defending themselves against oppression,
     amidst the fortresses of nature’s own construction, to which they
     had repaired to worship the God of nature, according to the mode
     their education dictated and their conscience acknowledged. The
     recollection, that in these fastnesses their fathers had often
     found a safe retreat from foreign invaders, must have encouraged
     their natural confidence, and it was confirmed by the success with
     which a stand was sometimes made against small bodies of troops,
     who were occasionally repulsed by the sturdy Whigs whom they
     attempted to disperse. In most cases of this kind they behaved with
     moderation, inflicting no further penalty upon such prisoners as
     might fall into their hands, than detaining them to enjoy the
     benefit of a long sermon. Fanaticism added marvels to encourage
     this new-born spirit of resistance. They conceived themselves to be
     under the immediate protection of the Power whom they worshipped,
     and in their heated state of mind expected even miraculous
     interposition. At a conventicle held on one of the Lomond hills in
     Fife, it was reported and believed that an angelic form appeared in
     the air, hovering above the assembled congregation, with his foot
     advanced, as if in the act of keeping watch for their safety. On
     the whole, the idea of repelling force by force, and defending
     themselves against the attacks of the soldiers and others who
     assaulted them, when employed in divine worship, began to become
     more general among the harassed non-conformists. For this purpose
     many of the congregation assembled in arms, and I received the
     following description of such a scene from a lady whose mother had
     repeatedly been present on such occasions: The meeting was held on
     the Eildon hills, in the bosom betwixt two of the three conical
     tops which form the crest of the mountain. Trusty sentinels were
     placed on advanced posts all around, so as to command a view of the
     country below, and give the earliest notice of the approach of any
     unfriendly party. The clergyman occupied an elevated temporary
     pulpit, with his back to the wind. There were few or no males of
     any quality or distinction, for such persons could not escape
     detection, and were liable to ruin from the consequences. But many
     women of good condition, and holding the rank of ladies, ventured
     to attend the forbidden meeting, and were allowed to sit in front
     of the assembly. Their side-saddles were placed on the ground to
     serve for seats, and their horses were tethered, or piqueted, as it
     is called, in the rear of the congregation. Before the females, and
     in the interval which divided them from the tent, or temporary
     pulpit, the arms of the men present, pikes, swords, and muskets,
     were regularly piled in such order as is used by soldiers, so that
     each man might in an instant assume his own weapons.”--_Tales of a
     Grandfather._

We know what rampagious Tories were John Wilson

[Illustration: A HIGHLAND VIEW]

and James Hogg, but one was a west-countryman by birth, and the other a
son of moorland hillsides; and even they are found testifying to the
cause of their kin. “The ancient spirit of Scotland,” exclaims the
shepherd at _a Noctes_, “comes on me from the sky; and the sowl within
me re-swears in silence the oath of the Covenant. There they are--the
Covenanters--a’ gathered thegither, no in fear and tremblin’, but wi’
Bibles in their bosoms, and swords by their sides, in a glen deep as the
sea, and still as death.... When I think on these things--in olden times
the produce o’ the common day--and look aroun’ me noo, I could wush to
steek my e’en in the darkness o’ death, for, dearly as I love it still,
alas! I am ashamed of my country.”

Alas! alas! indeed, for this rhapsody makes part of a fulmination
against Catholic emancipation, a question on which such whiskified
Protestants proved themselves too true sons of the Covenanters. The
proscribed Whigs were not less hot in testifying against all other
creeds than in asserting their own spiritual liberty. When the
Government offered their consciences some measure of relief, the “Black
Indulgence” proved as hateful as persecution, which, indeed, they would
willingly have directed against other sects, as against “right-hand
deflections and left-hand way-slidings” in their own body. The only sect
of that day that would not persecute was the Quakers, whose turn did not
come; and Quakerism, as judged by Wodrow, seemed but “a small remove
from Popery and Jesuitism,” or from what one of his heroes styled that
“stinking weed,” Prelacy. On the other side of the Atlantic Roger
Williams for the first time had begun to preach religious toleration;
but there the prevalent sentiment was expressed by a Puritan divine who
denounced “Polypiety as the greatest impiety in the world.” Puritan or
Prelatist, it was the party in power on which rested the guilt and the
shame of spiritual tyranny. On the other hand, the suffering party may
have entered into a renown of virtues beyond their desert. A generation
that hardly knows the _Fourfold State_ even by name, sees little in
those martyrs but their wrongs, their harshness and narrowness forgot,
their own occasional crimes, their misspent zeal for “dogmas long since
dead, pious vituperation on antagonists long buried in dust and
forgetfulness; breathless insistence on questions which time has
answered with a yawn.”

At least the westland Covenanters bore manfully the scourge which they
looked on as an instrument of righteousness, but for the time laid on
the wrong shoulders. Their enthusiasm was not to be damped by the
scenery of their secret gatherings. Boldly they took the sword against a
conformity dictated by dragoon colonels, by selfish statesmen, and by
such a sacred majesty as Charles II.’s. If only they had added to their
faith the practical spirit of the English Roundheads, who did not
neglect discipline for doctrine!

In the Whig country was borne highest that blue banner inscribed in
letters of gold “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.” At Lanark gathered to
a head the first rising of 1666, easily crushed among the Pentlands when
the rustic army had fallen back from the gates of latitudinarian
Edinburgh. At Rutherglen, near Glasgow, began the second outbreak,
stirred up by the brutal murderers of Archbishop Sharpe; then it was
near Loudon Hill, where the counties of Lanark, Ayr, and Renfrew meet,
that a half-armed congregation routed Claverhouse’s guardsmen on the
morass of Drumclog. This casual success was wasted on an army that, when
a few thousand strong, dared to defy the forces of the three kingdoms.
Torn by fanatical dissensions, paying more attention to loud-lunged
preachers than to prudent officers, it met at Bothwell Bridge the fate
that was a foregone conclusion. Cameron, leader of the “wild” or extreme
party, was followed up and slain in that desolate moorland region,
“without grandeur, without even the dignity of mountain wildness, yet
striking from the huge proportion it seemed to bear to such more
favoured spots of the country as were adapted to cultivation.” In caves
and remote cottages skulked the faithful remnant, while persecution
raged unchecked for years. Dark and bloody are the memories of that
“killing time,” and the superstitious legends that attached themselves
to the fame of the martyrs, to Cargill and Cameron, to Peden and others
in whom Scriptural gifts of prophecy blended with Celtic second sight.
Still darker stories were whispered of the persecutors, believed to have
sold themselves to the devil that they might have power over the Lord’s
people; of “bloody Mackenzie,” the Lord Advocate; of Grierson of Lag, in
whose hands a cup of wine would turn to blood; of the calm cruelty of
Claverhouse, charmed against bullets; of the ruthlessness of Dalziel,
who, with Tartar manners brought from Russian wars, with his bygone
dress and the outlandish beard unshaved since Charles I.’s execution,
might well seem an infernal monster. But all the slaughters, the
maddening tortures by boot and by thumbkins, the miserable imprisonments
on the Bass Rock and in Dunnottar Castle, the mockery of lighter spirits
among the populace, only went to harden Presbyterian endurance. The
Covenanter wrapped tighter about him his blood-stained cloak of
orthodoxy till that bitter wind blew over. Then the westland, so vainly
harried and dragooned towards conformity, proved a hot-bed of strong
Protestant and Presbyterian feeling, inspired by resentment as well as
by religion, a lesson in the use of persecution that stops short of
extermination.

The quartering of Highland clans was among those means of grace brought
to bear on the stubborn Whigs, with whose scruples the Gael as a rule
had scant sympathy. But the great western clan Campbell, neighbours of
the Whig country across the Clyde, obeyed chiefs otherwise tempered, two
of whom rank among the victims of Charles II.’s reign; and the House of
Argyll continued to furnish champions for the Whig and Presbyterian
interest. Over adjacent clans, the powerful Macallum More had too much
played the tyrant; then it was hatred to the Campbells as much as
loyalty to Charles or James that brought so many tartans round the
banner of Montrose and Dundee. On the other hand, sore memories of that
Philistine “Highland host” helped to keep the Whig country loyal in the
later Jacobite movements. It was long before “wild Highlandmen,” or
dragoons, would be looked on with a friendly eye by the sons of the
Covenanters. When the goodman one Saturday night had “waled a portion”
that led him to corrupt the verse, “another wonder in heaven, and behold
a great red _dragoon_”--he was interrupted by his wife, “I doot ye’re
making a mistake, John; there’s no’ many o’ that sort gets in there!”
but he had a sound answer ready: “Weel, woman, and doesna’ it say it was
for a wonder?” It was in another part of the country that some
misquoting Mac could chuckle over a text which seemed to make it easier
for a rich man to go through a needle’s eye than for a Cam’ell to enter
the kingdom of heaven.

Whatever they may have been in the past, no worse if more strong than
their neighbours, the Campbells of Argyll have risen on the flowing tide
of progress. The house lost nothing under that statesman who figures as
Jeanie Deans’s patron, nor under that host who so courteously
entertained Dr. Johnson, though his wife would not speak to Boswell. The
late Duke, a man of note in any station of life, was looked on as, in a
manner, chief of the Presbyterian establishment, even when--so have
times changed--he could not get one of his sons elected as member for
the county. But long before his time this Church had ceased to be one
and undivided, soon indeed showing strongly fissiparous energies, which,
till our day, kept it “decomposing but to recompose.”

More than once in these pages the writer has let the reader shy away
from a thistly exposition, which we may here yoke to and have done with
it. Nothing puzzles strangers more than the fact that till recently a
Scottish parish would have three Presbyterian Churches, differing not at
all in ritual, in discipline, or in such points of doctrine as are
visible to the naked eye unprovided with theological spectacles. It
would be difficult to give southron Gallios the faculty for splitting
controversial hairs possessed by minds trained to subtleness on the
Shorter Catechism; but an outline of the divisions of the Scottish
Church may perhaps be made plain to the meanest capacity. At least I
will try to be fair, which is more than have been all exponents of such
matters. Like most Scotsmen, I have an hereditary bias in these
controversies. One of my forebears was a Covenanter extolled among
Howie’s _Scottish Worthies_, who, after being persecuted under Cromwell
for loyalty to Charles, came to be hardly dealt with for conscience’
sake at the hands of that ungrateful king. I am proud to think of the
ancestress who, urged to move him to safe submission, answered like a
true Presbyterian wife, “that she knew her husband to be so steadfast in
his principles, that nobody needed deal with him on that head; for her
part, before she would contribute anything that would break his peace
with his Master, she would rather choose to receive his head at the
Cross.” Other friends were not so scrupulous, “two ladies of the first
quality” going so far as to send “a handsome compliment in plate” to the
“advocate’s lady,” who had the honesty to return this bribe or ransom
when she judged it impossible to save the prisoner’s life. All the same
it was saved, and he lived on till the Revolution year in a state of
proscription, sometimes hunted into hiding, but throughout a most
“faithful and painful” preacher, who “left many seals of his ministry,”
and steadily refused to put himself at ease by leaving the country, for,
“in his pleasant way,” he used to say “he would suffer where he had
sinned.” His son followed in his steps; and his grandson took a leading
part in the early movement of dissent which is presently to

[Illustration: KILCHURN CASTLE, LOCH AWE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

be shown as legacy from the Covenanting spirit. But if the memory of
these worthies weighs with me, I was brought up at an English knee, in a
church that held them much mistaken; and I was confirmed by the Anglican
Bishop of Gibraltar, within whose diocese the very Pope is a dissenting
minister. Since then I have sat at the feet of teachers from whom may be
learned that to know and to speak the truth of one’s fellow-men is the
only sure foundation for sound divinity. And perhaps an outsider may be
in a better position for taking the altitude of even the most celestial
bodies of faith.

The moving spirit of Presbyterianism has been a consciousness that
Christianity claims to be something far higher than any human
institution, the Court of Session, for instance, or even the British
Constitution. Other countries seem more willing to make practical
compromises between heaven and earth. One has heard of such a country,
whose chief ambassadors of heaven are appointed with a ceremony in which
the holiest influence is implored to direct a choice published weeks
before in every newspaper as fixedly made by very mortal authorities,
who may be notorious evil livers, open unbelievers, or what a sectarian
journal has politely qualified as “non-co-religionists.” But a
religiously minded Scot has too much logic, not to say sense of humour,
to take part in such a farce. For him the Gospel did not dawn from the
eyes of Boleyns and such like; he took his Scriptures as a law rather
than a title for rulers. His watchword has all along been Christ’s
headship of the Church, and his anathema the “Erastianism” that rendered
to Cæsar what man owes to God alone. The later Stuarts were not Cæsars
to wear any halo in his eyes; then all the more clearly he saw the
futility of their lay Popedom. That “wisest fool in Christendom” was
perhaps not so far out in his adage “no bishop, no king.” But Scotland
held its faith by the same title as he his crown; and he and his
successors found faith on the whole stronger than loyalty. The dogmas of
that faith are not the question. It was sadly coloured by the struggles
of its origin, by the character of the nation as well as the stern
scenery of the land, by persecution and by congenial Calvinistic logic
brought back from exile, and by the troubles of the time in which
Puritan influences were exchanged across the Border.

Scotsmen being, after all, but human, their serious and democratic view
of religion was held with two different degrees of intensity, which took
shape as the main parties of the Kirk. The one that came to be known as
“Moderate” was hotly reproached with Erastianism, a less unwillingness
to look on religion as a department of the Civil Service. The other had
various nicknames, the “Wild Party,” the “High-fliers,” but we may as
well call them the High Churchmen of Scotland, if it be borne in mind
that they favoured Evangelical doctrine while clinging to a union of
Church and State, in which the former was to be predominant. These were,
in fact, the heirs of the Covenanters, who on strongly Protestant soil
fought out the old quarrel between Pope and Emperor. And whereas the
English High Church has been strongest among the priesthood, in the
north, where presbyter is priest writ small, it is the laity that have
rather fostered ecclesiastic zeal. To Buckle’s representation of
Scotland as a priest-ridden people, Mr. H. G. Graham rightly objects
how it would be nearer the truth to speak of a people-ridden clergy.

The Revolution Settlement secured the victory of Presbytery over
Episcopacy, quieting the contention of a century. But when Episcopal
curates had been “rabbled” on what was a far from merry Christmas for
them, the extreme wing of the Covenanters were by no means satisfied
with King William’s toleration of unsound belief, and would accept no
status at the hands of an uncovenanted king. Long used to worship spiced
with peril, hardship, and hatred, they held aloof rather than seceded as
the Cameronians, a sect which, with its obscure sub-divisions of
Macmillanites, Russellites, Harleyites, Howdenites, and so on, still has
a feeble remnant of “Reformed Presbyterians,” while the mass of it
nearly two centuries later gravitated into the Free Church, then in part
representing their principles. The militant youth of this body had been
kept out of mischief by being embodied as the Cameronian Regiment, that
fought sturdily against Jacobites, Papists, and other enemies of a
Protestant succession, and still remembers its origin by carrying a
Bible in every knapsack, and not suffering its band to play on the
Sabbath.

But with changed times the Covenants began to lose their power as a
watchword. Having parted from its hottest gospellers in the Cameronian
following, then being cooled by milder spirits in Episcopal conformists,
presently admitted to the new order on easy terms, the Kirk’s clergy
became more moderate, not much to the satisfaction of their
congregations. The union of the kingdoms, carried through by crooked
ways, and its benefits long hidden in ignorance, soon called forth all
the “thrawn” aloofness of Scottish patriotism, for the nonce bringing
Jacobite and Cameronian sentiment into one focus. One of the early acts
of the united Parliament was to meddle with what has been a sorer
question north than south of the Tweed, the patronage of livings. The
right of patrons was now revived and confirmed by an Act making a “call”
from the congregation unnecessary to the placing of a minister. The
ministers themselves were more apt to sympathise with patronage as
easier road to a benefice than the ordeal of popular election; but the
people strongly resented the laird’s placing of a pastor over them, even
when this privilege was exercised with delicacy and conscientiousness,
and there were cases like that in Galt’s _Annals of the Parish_, when
the presentee had to be inducted by military force. This grievance,
then, became a standard in the battle between the Moderate and the High
Party, patronage being looked on as Erastianism in retail, when its
wholesale transactions in prelates and prayer-books were still angry
memories.

With hatred of patronage was involved a zeal for Evangelical doctrine,
which now began to take colour from other sources than Geneva, and to
blur out beyond the rigid lines of Calvinistic logic. Early in the
eighteenth century the Evangelical party got the name of Marrowmen, as
rallying round a little book which, published in England, gained
popularity north of the Tweed as the “Marrow” of Christian doctrine,
when edited by Boston of the _Fourfold State_. The “Marrow” came to be
condemned by a Moderate majority in the Assembly; then for teaching its
doctrines and rebuking the general luke-warmness

[Illustration: RIVER COE, GLENCOE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

of the Church, the saintly Ebenezer Erskine was censured by his
Presbytery, and finally suspended from the ministry, along with three
sympathetic brethren, Alexander Moncrieff, William Wilson, and James
Fisher. In 1733 these four suspended ministers formed themselves into
the first Presbytery of the original Secession Church, with Fife as its
focus and Erskine as its leading spirit, whose younger brother Ralph in
some respects suggests himself as its Charles Wesley, giving scandal to
severe members by his love of music and songs not David’s.

The Seceders were, in fact, the Scottish Methodists, having an early
ally in Whitfield, who, however, became a stumbling-block through his
willingness to exercise Christian fellowship with the Erastian
establishment; he professed it his duty to preach to “the devil’s
people,” whereas the Seceders would monopolise him for “the Lord’s
people.” Nay, more, if testifying scandal-mongers are to be credited,
“that grand impostor” went so far as at Lisbon to “symbolise with
Popery” by attending a Catholic Lenten service, where the Crucifixion
was represented “in a most God-dishonouring, heaven-daring, ridiculous,
and idolatrous manner.” About the same time as the Secession, rather
earlier indeed, was formed the Glassite sect, still seated at Perth; but
they went off upon a narrow side track, and may be neglected in a
general view of Scottish religious life. A generation later Pennant
reports the population of Perth as 11,000, of whom 9000 still belonged
to the Kirk, the rest being Episcopalian, Non-jurors (these chiefly
“venerable females”), Glassites, and Seceders. Independents, Baptists,
and such like came later on from England, but these exotic congregations
are still a mere scattering, hardly found outside of large towns.
Carlyle might have remembered such exceptions, when he dogmatised that
“all dissent in Scotland is merely a stricter adherence to the National
Kirk in all points.”

The Secession Church soon began to disseminate itself, but almost as
soon developed a tendency to disintegration. Over the question of the
test exacted from municipal authorities the body split into Burghers and
anti-Burghers, the latter strongly holding it inconsistent to use a form
of oath as to “the true religion presently professed within this realm,”
when in their view the religion thus professed was far from the truth.
This “breach” was acrimoniously maintained even when Test Acts had been
abolished; then the Seceders underwent further fission into “Old
Lights,” “New Lights,” and others claiming to represent the original
doctrines of the Secession. Twenty years after that first schism, a
kindred but independent sect had come to birth under the title of the
“Relief Church,” seeking relief for tender consciences from Moderate
tyranny, while its leader, Thomas Gillespie, perhaps through association
with English nonconformity, made some scrupulous exceptions to the
former seceding platform, and some touch of innovation, as the use of
hymns, upon the Presbyterian practice.

The reader need not be troubled with all the sunderings of sectlets, one
or two of which still testify in out-of-the-way corners like “Thrums.”
This much may be noted, that Presbyterian differences have been not much
exported from Scotland, though, indeed, American Churches still show
some trace of fissions that began on this side the Atlantic. The root of
such differences was usually a narrowly pent-up earnestness that looked
not for truth beyond its own horizon; but the Scot abroad has more
readily seen for himself the proper proportions of his own little Bethel
in all Christendom. Then, of course, he does not carry beyond the Border
that bone of contention, the joint connecting Church and State. The
original Seceders had not been much concerned on that point; but a long
course of abstinence from public endowments gave them new views, till
the most conspicuous device on their banner came to be “Voluntaryism”--that
is, the practical notion that ministers should be paid by those who wish
to hear them.

While these dissenting sects were multiplying themselves, the Moderate
party in the Church throve the more by their absence. During the
philosophical eighteenth century the clergy declined upon “sanctified
common sense,” some of them, “a waeful bunch o’ cauldrife professors,”
making easy accommodations with worldliness, science, and even free
thought; and as, after the extinction of the Jacobite spirit, Scotland
settled down to a course of material improvement, its official teachers
waxed fat and lethargic, while the nonjuring Episcopalians for a time
enjoyed the wholesome discipline of persecution. The popular theology
indeed was never without champions in the Kirk pulpits. A collegiate
church might have two ministers, representing either party and preaching
against each other, as when, in Greyfriars Church, young Walter Scott,
if not a “half-day hearer,” sat alternately under Principal Robertson
and Dr. Erskine, the Moderate and the Evangelical leaders. But if the
warmer doctrine were cherished in the hearts of godly hearers,
Erastianism dominated the Church courts of a generation in which Pitt’s
viceroy Dundas practically governed Scotland, and robed bullies like
Braxfield sent to banishment political martyrs, inspired by the lurid
glow of the French Revolution.

Then, the long war with Napoleon having ceased to stifle free thought
and free speech, the Tory rule of Scotland had to face a rising demand
for reform, a movement heated through the sufferings brought upon the
working classes by shiftings of economic conditions after the peace, and
by the bungling interference of Government with trade’s natural course.
The new sentiment found champions in a knot of Whig lawyers, whose
weapon was the _Edinburgh Review_. The Church was stirred by sympathy
with the popular cause, whose name had sprung from its loins. A
religious revival came in on the flowing tide of Whiggism, and with the
passing of the Reform Bill the Evangelical party began to recover their
ascendency, led by the eloquent Chalmers, himself of Tory leanings and a
convert from Moderate indifference. A by-product of this enthusiasm was
the sect popularly but incorrectly dubbed the Irvingites, which found
more acceptance about London than in Scotland.

The new fermentation soon proved strong enough to burst old bottles that
had served for the moderate vintage of faith. The spirit of the
Covenanters came to life in the “non-Intrusion Controversy,” the gist of
which was the right of the people to choose their own mouthpiece of
edification. It is rare to find a new Scotch story; but here is one that
has never yet appeared in print. I remember as a lad hearing from an old
shepherd his account of such a dispute in his native parish. “There was
a chiel’ wi’ a

[Illustration: BEN CRUACHAN FROM INVERLOCHY, ARGYLLSHIRE]

poodered heid cam’ doun frae Edinburgh,” was his account of the legal
proceedings, “and he made the folk a lang clishmaclavering speech--ye
never heard sic havers in yer born days! They needna’ care what like a
minister was pit in! It was a’ the same doctrine, and the mahn made nae
differ! But up gat an auld wise-like elder had sat in that kirk since he
was a laddie; and says he, ‘What did I hear the gowk saying? What is the
big, blethering brute tellin’ me?’ says he. ‘Does he mean for tae mak’ a
body believe that a saft, young, foozy, wersh turneep’s as guid as a
fine, auld Swedish one?’ says he.” Then this son of the Whig country
looked up to heaven, and never can I forget the solemnity with which he
declared, amid the silence of the eternal hills--“Mahn, it was a graund
answer!”

The first step was the resuscitation of a claim that the patron’s
nomination fell through unless countersigned by a call from the people.
The General Assembly passed an Act confirming this popular Veto, which
for a time went unchallenged, patrons having learned to “ca’ canny” in
the exercise of their rights. But, after some years, the momentous
Auchterarder case, where an obstinate patron persisted in forcing his
nominee on an objecting congregation, brought about a collision between
the laws of Church and State. A majority of the Court of Session,
confirmed by the House of Lords, pronounced the Veto illegal. The Church
accepted the judgment as affecting the temporalities of the living, but
refused to ordain the intruded pastor. All Scotland was in a blaze of
controversy; the very schoolboys took sides as Intrusionists and
non-Intrusionists. In the Strathbogie Presbytery seven ministers were
suspended by the Church for obeying the Court of Session, to whose bar
were brought seven others for not obeying it in the Dunkeld Presbytery.
A deadlock thus arose, out of which there appeared no escape but by
secession, so long as the Government refused to recognise the strength
of this popular movement.

A little patience would probably have brought relief by law; but the
perfervid sons of the Covenanters were in no mood for patience. The
“Headship of Christ” was in question, and no prospect of loss or
suffering appalled spirits exalted in such a cause. This movement, it
must be remembered, had small sympathy with the Voluntaryism of dissent.
Its leaders as yet strongly maintained the connection of Church and
State, only, in their eyes, the Church must stand above the State. The
Free Churchman’s attitude at the Disruption was a consistent one,
entirely reasonable from the premises on which his Church based its
teaching. He took the grand tone of the ages of faith; and there was
something noble in his disdain for mandates of earthly law, which he
treated as served by creatures of a day on the servants of the eternal
Jehovah.

The Disruption took place at the General Assembly of 1843. The retiring
Moderator, after reading a protest against the invasion of the Church’s
liberties, headed a procession to a spacious hall in the Canonmills
suburb, where, electing Dr. Chalmers as their first president, the
protesters constituted themselves the Assembly of what they maintained
to be the true Church of Scotland. The Government had expected a
secession of some score or two of hot heads; but nearly five hundred
ministers went out of their churches and manses, giving up all for
conscience’ sake with a courage that at once roused a wave of generous
sympathy. The building up of the new Church was set about with true
Scottish energy, prudence, ay, and generosity. For when Cockney jesters
sneer at Scottish poverty, they do not consider how ready this people is
to spend its savings and sparings on what it believes a good cause.
Mainly from the contributions of the poorer class was the Free Church
sustained. Most of the rich and mighty were against it, some of them
bitterly hostile, many landlords refusing ground for sites, so that at
first preachers and congregations had often some taste of the
Covenanters’ sufferings in open-air worship. Very bitter was the feeling
between the ruptured congregations and of the seceding ministers against
the “residuum,” that had to fill hundreds of empty livings in haste, not
always with the most fitting candidates. This ill-wind blew good to not
a few “stickit ministers,” who had little hoped to wag their heads in a
pulpit, and the old Adam in the Seceders found matter for much scornful
criticism of those “residuary cattle.”

Long before such animosity had died down, the new body had its churches,
manses, schools, and colleges built and endowed on a scale that gave
Scotland two Establishments instead of one. But its main strength was
the fact of its commanding the allegiance of the most spiritually minded
and intellectual among the people. Its very pride was no vainglory.
English dissent is apt to take a socially humble and apologetic
attitude. A Free Churchman never thought of himself as a dissenter, and
could not be looked down upon from any point of view. In all parts of
the country his Church took rank beside the Establishment; in some it
gained an ascendency. In the Highlands especially, where the exaltation
of warm Celtic blood goes to its highest, and where eloquent ministers
have inherited the devotion once inspired by warlike chiefs, the “Auld
Kirk” is often little more than empty walls and a stipend. There is a
tale of graceless laddies boasting against each other of their reckless
deeds. One brags of having been to the circus, which another caps by a
visit to the theatre, but the third is bold to avow a darker crime, “I
once went to the English Chaipel.” As told in some parts of the country,
this fable has a further climax of iniquity in the Established Church,
erst so dear.

While the Free Church went on flourishing apart, the Establishment was
moved to drop the main standard of so much controversy. Its General
Assembly petitioned for the abolition of patronage, which was brought
about so easily that most of the lairds interested did not choose to
demand the compensation voted to them for their thorny rights of
presentation. In principle nothing seemed to keep the Churches apart;
but the Establishment had been drifting into a broader theology and a
new toleration of liturgical worship, which separated it from an
organisation more conservative in religious matters, yet a school of
liberalism in politics that gave Mr. Gladstone his hold over Scotland.
The “Auld Kirk” lost more and more its suspicion of prelatical ways. Men
still alive can remember how Dr. Robert Lee was indicted for the
introduction of an organ and a prayer-book. Now such scandalous
innovations are perhaps the rule rather than the exception

[Illustration: THE MORVEN HILLS FROM APPIN, ARGYLLSHIRE]

in parish churches, and instrumental music has crept also into Free
Churches, where a generation ago the use of hymns was scouted as
unscriptural. For a time some faithful worshippers in the city
congregations insisted on conspicuously standing to pray and sitting to
sing psalms, like their fathers; but even in out-of-the-way places now
there is a gradual conforming to the customs once banned as English or
Papist.

The Dissenters, meanwhile, had been touched by the spirit of the time.
As far back as 1820, two of the chief sects came together again, their
walls of separation, indeed, having long fallen down. After the
Disruption a further movement of adhesion took place, and while some
congregations remained hugging their microscopic differences, most of
the dissenting bodies joined to form the United Presbyterian Church,
which, by a century’s practice rather than on original principle, has
evolved the doctrine of Voluntaryism as the backbone of its communion,
repudiating any interference of the State with the teaching of religion.

Certain fragments of secession, for their part, had been attracted into
the glowing mass of the Free Church. This Church, also, began to suffer
change. When the original stalwarts, who made much of a theoretical
relation of Church and State, died off into a minority, the second
generation was found less concerned about “Disruption principles” than
in sympathy with Evangelical doctrine. The position of Scottish
Presbyterians out of Scotland, where their differences of constitution
were idle words, helped to open shrewd eyes to the absurdity of three
Churches, all professing the same main doctrines, yet standing as
rivals to each other. As the heat of controversy grew cool, more
friendly relations became possible, and the ministers of the one might
fill the pulpits of the other. In certain parishes having a summer
population, it would be arranged to keep only one Church open in winter.
The waste of power in the three almost identical bodies could not but
strike a practical people sooner or later. The Established Church seemed
to flirt too boldly with deans and Oxford professors; but what hindered
the Free and the U.P. Church from making a match of it? After long
courtship and much discussion of settlements, their alliance was
celebrated in 1900, and now these two organisations are merged under the
title of the United Free Church.

This union was not consummated without hot opposition, a small remnant
of the Free Church standing outside and claiming at law the disposal of
the great endowments bestowed on certain principles now put into the
background. As I write, the House of Lords still delays its decision on
a question of momentous interest, which the Scottish Courts decided in
favour of the main body. There can be no doubt that what has already got
the nickname of the “Wee Free” Church better represents the views of its
spiritual fathers. But if all Churches were brought to payment of
ancestral debts, otherwise than in paper money of Creeds and
Confessions, some theological Statute of Limitations would be required.
Whatever be the result, it should prove a lesson against investing any
Church in a suit of clothes sure to be outgrown or to go out of fashion.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this particular case is, that
almost for the first time in Scottish ecclesiastical history there has
been talk of a compromise.

Another fragment had seceded some years before as the Free Presbyterian
Church, their _raison d’être_ being testimony against the Declaratory
Act by which the Free Church Assembly had loosened the bonds of
subscription, that its doctrine might run in harness with the slightly
less stringent views of the uniting body. So, in more than one parish,
instead of three may now be found four Presbyterian places of worship:
the Established Church, the United Free Church, which often has
practically taken its place, the Free Presbyterian, and a congregation
belonging to that rump of the Free Church which denounced the Union.
There were scenes of violence in the Highlands, where Free Churches came
to be hotly defended against their new title by obstinate adherents of
the order half a century old, during which Laodicean humorists had
interpreted the bells of the Establishment as ringing out “I am the Old
Kirk,” to which the Free Church answered back in a deeper note, “I am
the true old Kirk,” but then the U.P. bell jangled back, “It’s me! it’s
me!” As for the Episcopal body that now holds its head so high, only in
the last century was it suffered to have a bell at all, long paying dear
for its spells of forced supremacy.

One weaned from the Church of his forefathers, yet not from what should
be the _quod semper, quod ubique et quod ab omnibus_ of all beliefs, may
venture to give his opinion, without suspicion if not without offence,
that the Free Church of Chalmers and Guthrie best represented the true
soul of Scottish Presbyterianism and enshrined the strongest religious
life of its first generation. But in our generation this body has
generated an impulse that may lead to fresh flyting between two parties
now unequally yoked together. It had one divine eminently pious,
eminently learned, eminently loyal to his Church, unless in coming to
certain modern conclusions that are more or less freely accepted by
almost every mind qualified to judge. Him the more bigoted sort picked
out as quarry for one of the heresy-hunts which make a favourite sport
in the north. I heard the case against him put in a nutshell by one of
the old women who were too much deferred to in this matter. “It might be
true,” admitted this mother in Caledonian Israel, “that Moses did not
write the account of his own death; but if you began there where were
you going to stop?” so she was clear for muzzling that troublesome
scholar. He had been teaching his “unsound” views, without much
observation, to a few students in an out-of-the-way corner. According to
the milder laws of modern persecution, he was unwillingly driven into
renown, into wide influence, and into the arms of an English University,
that felt itself honoured in receiving such a scapegoat. All the more
enlightened spirits of his own Communion are now ashamed of the
silencing that sent him into famous exile. Many of them were ashamed of
it at the time; and the majority against him was partly made up of men
who knew that he spoke truth, but thought it not well that the truth
should be freely spoken. The theologians who take this tone are no
longer inspired by the virtue of the Covenanters, and have fallen away
from the heritage of that great preacher that feared not the face of
man, nor woman.

Enthusiasts like Knox are out of vogue in our day;

[Illustration: A CROFT NEAR LOCH ETIVE, ARGYLLSHIRE]

but perhaps can be seen all the more clearly what we owe to the
stiffness with which they stood out, that neither King nor Pope should
bind the conscience, taught by freedom to claim its rights, too, against
Parliament and Presbytery. Out of the troubles of the time when Scotland
was a distressful country, somewhat given to “the blind hysterics of the
Celt,” came the resolute temper that has turned poverty to gain and is
turning superstition to knowledge. At all events, no account of “Bonnie
Scotland” is complete that does not take in the stern and wild, not to
say grim and gloomy aspects often presented by the Whig country.



CHAPTER XII

GALLOWAY


The Whig country included Galloway, that rough south-western corner that
stretches its Mull towards Ireland in what Boece calls “ane great snout
of crags.” The whole promontory formed by the stewartry of Kirkcudbright
and the county of Wigtown, once known as Upper and Lower Galloway, and
then taking in parts of Ayr and Dumfries, seems to concentrate many of
the qualities of Scotland, _Land und Leute_. This northern Cornwall lent
itself of old as a scene for dark romance, whose combats glitter here
and there through deepest mists of history. Its Attacott people, Picts
or what not, mixed with Scots from Ireland and Gaels from who knows
where, run to dark hair and the tallest forms of Britain, perhaps even
of Europe, while their character is a blend of especially perfervid
spirit. Though this corner was the first foothold of Christianity on the
mainland, it long remained notable for untamed fierceness, like that of
the northern mountain cats. So near England, it came to glow with a
patriotism more fervent than its loyalty; and some of the doughtiest
exploits of Wallace and Bruce were done upon its borders, not always
indeed with the help of the Galwegians. Mr. S. R. Crockett, who in a
generation too forgetful of _Guy Mannering_ has come forward to give
Galloway its fair share of fame, tells us how most of its gentry, as
well as its long-limbed and hot-hearted peasants, threw themselves into
the Covenant struggle, their “Praying Societies” throughout making camps
of resistance and protest against the persecutors; and in quieter times
the same enthusiasm has flared up into will-o’-the-wisp fanaticism bred
among the moss hags. Later on, as we know from Scott, the wild coasts of
Galloway reared a daring breed of smugglers to testify for what they
called “fair trade” with the Isle of Man. That trans-atlanticised
firebrand, Paul Jones, hailed from Galloway, to which he came back to
threaten the mouth of his native Dee.

Whatever this people’s hand finds to do, it has been apt to do it with
might and main. What it chiefly finds to do in our day is the rearing of
cattle, that seem to thrive best on the promontories of our island; then
also Galloway has given its name to a hardy horseflesh, and pigs, too,
are largely reared in this region. Such an authority as the author of
_Field and Fern_ judges no beef better than that which matches the brawn
of Galloway men. And these tall fellows have the name of living to a
good old age, as witness the Galloway story of a man of threescore and
ten found “greeting” when his father had given him “his licks” for
throwing stones at his grandfather.

By this time the reader must have an inkling how the names Highland and
Lowland are but relative. The knobbed area of Scotland, which, as a
native boasted, would be as big as England “if ye flattened it oot,”
consists mainly of two uplands, that of the south smaller, greener, and
less boldly mountainous, between which dips a more thickly peopled
interval, at one point but forty miles broad from sea to sea, where only
the rich river straths and the coast plains are right lowlands, never
out of sight of sheep-dotted hills. Galloway is mainly a wild region of
rocks, lochs, moors, and bogs, in the north rising to mountains almost
as high as any in England. This ground seems too much neglected by
tourists, who yet might find here and there smart hotels to their mind,
oftener the more old-fashioned inns where they would have to do not with
managers and foreign waiters, but with housewifely Meg Dods and decent
servant lasses, now instructed by the spread of knowledge no longer to
mistake a tooth-brush as an instrument for sharpening the appetite
before dinner. We Scots have a grudge against southrons for the degree
to which they have sophisticated the hotels on more frequented routes,
especially in the matter of charges. The butterfly-travellers as well as
the bee-travellers should have a grievance against their landlords
(Limited) not so much for making hay while the holiday sun shines, as
for the tyranny that tries to impose upon them boarding-house
regulations at Piccadilly prices. My grudge at those exotic
caravanserais is that they try to set all their guests “feeding like
one,” and draw out the chief meal of the day through that sweetest hour
of the northern summer--

    ’Twixt the gloaming and the mirk,
    When the kye come hame.

[Illustration: A BIRCH-WOOD IN SPRINGTIME, BY LOCH MAREE, ROSS-SHIRE]

This grumble and others one need not make in Galloway, where strangers
not too pock-puddingish about being “done well,” would find a hearty
welcome and openings for exploring a country sacred through memories of
patriots and martyrs, dotted with ruined shrines and with strongholds of
Douglases, Kennedys, Gordons, who in their lifetime loved better to hear
the lark sing than the mouse squeak. From Newton-Stewart, not yet wide
awake to its capabilities as a tourist centre, one has half a day’s walk
northwards into the heart of the Galloway Highlands, where Merrick
raises its heathery Pentedactylon above the lovely Glen and Loch of
Trool, one of the fastnesses of Bruce’s _Wanderjähre_. Another goal in
these hills is Murray’s Monument, commemorating one of Scotland’s gifted
herd-loons, who with homely schooling raised himself to be Doctor of
Divinity and Professor of Oriental Languages. Three heights in Galloway
bear the name of Cairnsmore, the highest Cairnsmore of Carsphairn,
approached from the town of New Galloway by Loch Ken, Kenmure Castle,
and the beautiful Glenkens. Passing beyond Carsphairn to Dalmellington,
we can strike by rail into the native country of Burns, who at the
Galloway spa of Lochenbreck wrote down his “Scots wha hae,” meetly
composed by him, it is said, on a wild ride through a stormy night.

The chief town of Galloway is Stranraer, port of the shortest
sea-crossing to Belfast, by Loch Ryan; but the nearest point to Ireland
is Portpatrick, where that saint could step across the Channel long
before so much money had been sunk on an abandoned harbour. The lion of
Portpatrick is the glen and ruin of Dunskey; as that of Stranraer the
grounds of Castle Kennedy, nursing exotics that attest the mildness of
this western shore. The Irish express trains dash also past the beauties
of Glenluce and its ruins haunted by legends of Michael Scott the
Wizard, of Peden the Covenanting prophet, and of that hapless Bride of
Lammermoor, whose story seems to have been distorted as well as
transplanted to the other side of the country. Luce Bay separates the
Mull of Galloway from a broader promontory in which the lochs of Mochrum
are perhaps the finest nook. Its southern point is the green “Isle” of
Whithorn, where Scottish Christianity was planted by St. Ninian; and
still stand fragments of the famous monastery sought by James of the
Iron Belt, and many another penitential pilgrim. On the same branch line
from Newton-Stewart, Wigtown rears above its bay a monument of that
shamefullest tragedy of the Covenanting persecutions, when two women
martyrs were fastened to stakes to be drowned by the tide. At the mouth
of the Cree is Creetown, “Portanferry” of _Guy Mannering_, from which
can be visited caves fit to shelter Dirck Hatteraick, and the ruins of
Barholm, that claims to be “Ellangowan,” and to have given concealment
to John Knox. Gatehouse of Fleet is a picturesque place in the district
illustrated by the Faed brothers’ pictures, and sanctified by the
preaching of Samuel Rutherford. Farther east, on its inlet, is reached
the county town Kirkcudbright, church of St. Cuthbert, who would hardly
know his own name as now pronounced _Kirkoobry_. Here we have an
interesting museum of Galloway antiquities; and a few miles off is
Dundrennan Abbey, poor Mary’s last resting place in her troubled
kingdom, whence she gave herself to the mercy of Elizabeth after her
flight from Langside. The Kirkcudbright branch takes us back to the main
line at Castle Douglas, near which stands the grim tower of a stronghold
whose lords were once a terror to their own country, while over the
Border English nurses would hush babes to rest with--

    Hush ye, hush ye, dinna fret ye:
    The Black Douglas shall na’ get ye!

Like too many other noble Scottish names, this one has sadly
degenerated, its last exploit to be proud of ending in the catastrophe
that cut short Lord Francis Douglas’s life on the first ascent of the
Matterhorn; and his brother, the late Marquis of Queensberry, made some
stir in the world, least unenviably perhaps by the Queensberry rules of
boxing. Several members of the family have in modern days come to an
obscurely tragic end, as if urged by the Nemesis of forgotten bloodshed.
Their chief title, the Dukedom of Queensberry, had passed to the house
of Buccleuch, along with the princely seat of Drumlanrig in Nithsdale.

The oldest bridge in Scotland leads over the Nith to the largest town of
the southern counties, out of Galloway in the letter, but not in the
spirit. Dumfries, originally the fastness of Frisian pirates whose stock
would “go far,” is set among famous sites and relics. In the Church of
its Greyfriars, Bruce stabbed the Red Comyn, a deed “made siccar” by an
ancestor of the Empress of the French. Near the town are the remains of
Lincluden Abbey, “ruins yet beauteous in decay.” To the south, on the
Galloway side of the estuary, Criffel’s cone rises above the walls of
Sweetheart Abbey, built by John Baliol’s widow as tomb in which her
husband’s heart should lie upon her own. On the opposite side stands
another stately ruin, Caerlaverock Castle, where in the churchyard lies
“Old Mortality,” as “Jeanie Deans” rests at Irongray. To the north is
Lochmaben, the castle, perhaps the birthplace, of Robert Bruce. But the
name that first rises to memory in this Nithsdale countryside is Robert
Burns, tenant of Ellisland under that Dalswinton laird for whom is
claimed the honour of the earliest steamboat experiments. Bruce,
possibly born at Turnberry Castle on the Carrick coast, may have been an
Ayrshire man like Burns, who came to end his broken life at Dumfries,
now counting itself honoured by the sepulchre of one who thus wrote his
own epitaph--

    The poor inhabitant below
    Was quick to learn and wise to know,
    And keenly felt the friendly glow,
                And softer flame;
    But thoughtless follies laid him low,
                And stained his name.

Scotland’s heart warms to the memory of Robbie Burns, over whose sayings
and doings in lifetime big wigs about Dumfries were shaken and grave
eyes upturned. As if in repentance for his hard life and troubled death,
his countrymen will now hear no word against the poet, who could be
severe enough on his own frailties. And if mortal ever deserved kindly
judgment, it was he whose heart went out not only to his Jeans and
Annies, but to his “auld mare Maggie,” to a hare wounded by

[Illustration: ON THE RIVER AYR, AYRSHIRE]

“barb’rous art,” to dumb cattle left out in a storm, even to such a
“poor earth-companion and fellow-mortal” as a field-mouse; he who would
not willingly have crushed with his ploughshare a “wee, modest,
crimson-tippit flower”; who had no hatred for the very enemy of
mankind--“Wad ye take a thought and mend!” It is vain to deny or conceal
that “he had twa faults, or maybe three,” but fate indeed gave him hard
measure. Had his sphere been a higher one, he would not have been the
man he was; yet with a little ease, with wise friends to counsel
“prudent, cautious self-control,” with Pitt’s port or even Byron’s hock
and soda-water instead of tippenny and usquebaugh among spell-bound
tavern cronies, might he not have lived to draw as good an income from
the Civil Service as Wordsworth, to become a douce elder of the Kirk,
and to take a seat among the orthodox _bon vivants_ of the _Noctes_? As
it is, his humble birthplace draws more pilgrims than come to
Stratford-on-Avon from all over the world, for--

    Who his human heart has laid
    To Nature’s bosom nearer?
    Who sweetened toil like him, or paid
    To love a tribute dearer?

    Through all his tuneful art, how strong
    The human feeling gushes!
    The very moonlight of his song
    Is warm with smiles and blushes!

This singer of the people’s joys and sorrows represents the soft side to
a strong nature. From the scene of his last days it is but a step to
Annandale, cradle of a neighbour genius that is Scotland’s boast rather
than her darling. Thomas Carlyle, who ascended into such a clear heaven
of contempt for the “mostly fools” of his “swindler century,” fell short
of Burns in one highest point of wisdom. He knew himself hardly better
than did his amazed contemporaries; and seems never to have guessed what
short work some of his admired strong men would have made of one who
preached the gospel of silence in such long-drawn screeds of rhetoric,
rising often to a falsetto note. An unchristianised Calvinist and
Covenanter; a poet “wanting the accomplishment of verse”; a painter in
“hues of earthquake and eclipse”; a philosopher who “thought in a
passion”; a Stoic who could not abide the crowing of a cock; an
historian who “saw history in flashes of lightning”; a reformer “calling
down fire from heaven whenever he cannot readily lay his hand on the
match-box”; a painful preacher who has ministered more amusement than
repentance; a prophet who could not recognise the master force of his
own age; a ferocious moralist and a bitter humorist, this “great
imperfect man” owes much of his renown to a gnarled eccentricity which
at first scared away readers, but more to the ardour that has inspired
so many minds rejecting both his premises and his conclusions. To some
who receive _Sartor Resartus_ into the canon of immortality, his
idolatry of strength, so natural to the sedentary, bilious student,
seems the weakness of his character, through which he was led to work up
bloodshot halos for unscrupulous violence, from his fancy picture of Dr.
Francia to his fond glorification of Frederick the Great, till at last
he appears struggling to pervert his own moral judgment. A countryman of
his who, but for another weakness, might have made himself better
known, Patrick Proctor Alexander, has well exposed his obliquity of
vision in a burlesque that shows as much wisdom as fooling; and to my
mind the soundest judgment of Carlyle comes across the Atlantic from
James Russell Lowell:--

     “If not a profound thinker, he had what was next best: he felt
     profoundly, and his cry came out of the depths. The stern Calvinism
     of his early training was rekindled by his imagination to the old
     fervour of Wishart and Brown, and became a new phenomenon as he
     reproduced it subtilised by German transcendentalism and German
     culture. Imagination, if it lays hold of a Scotsman, possesses him
     in the old demoniac sense of the word, and that hard logical
     nature, if the Hebrew fire once gets fair headway in it, burns
     unquenchable as an anthracite coal-mine. But to utilise these
     sacred heats, to employ them, as a literary man is always tempted,
     to keep the domestic pot a-boiling--is such a thing possible? Only
     too possible, we fear; and Mr. Carlyle is an example of it. If the
     languid public long for a sensation, the excitement of making one
     becomes also a necessity of the successful author, as the
     intellectual nerves grow duller and the old inspiration that came
     unbidden to the bare garret grows shyer and shyer of the
     comfortable parlour. As he himself said thirty years ago of Edward
     Irving, ‘Unconsciously, for the most part in deep unconsciousness,
     there was now the impossibility to live neglected--to walk on the
     quiet paths where alone it is well with us. Singularity must
     henceforth succeed singularity. O foulest Circean draught, thou
     poison of Popular Applause! madness is in thee and death; thy end
     is Bedlam and the grave.’ Mr. Carlyle won his first successes as a
     kind of preacher in print. His fervour, his oddity of manner, his
     pugnacious paradox, drew the crowd; the truth, or, at any rate, the
     faith that underlay them all, brought also the fitter audience,
     though fewer. But the curse was upon him; he must attract, he must
     astonish. Thenceforth he has done nothing but revamp his telling
     things; but the oddity has become always odder, the paradoxes more
     paradoxical. No very large share of truth falls to the apprehension
     of any one man; let him keep it sacred, and beware of repeating it
     till it turn to falsehood on his lips by becoming ritual.”

After all Carlyle was not wholly a typical Scotsman. His stock seems to
have come from Cumberland, and his birthplace, not far from the Border,
is one of Scotland’s less bonnie _airts_. He was very Lowlandish,
indeed, in some features: in his perfervidness, in his intolerance, in
the coarseness of mental grain that chuckles over abusive nicknames, and
in volcanic stirrings of sympathy that enabled him to appreciate Burns.
He was above all himself, _Der Einzige_, as he proclaimed others, a most
portentous and vigorous force in literature, that has been transmuted
into different modes of intellectual motion. Whatever rank this
coruscating star may eventually take in the firmament of fame, its
spectrum is not that of Scotland. At the best, he represents but one
side of his country’s nature, as appears in his grudging and belittling
view of Scott, who more fully unites the chequered elements of the
national character.

In a generation much blinded by literary superstitions and idolatries,
Scotsmen should faithfully testify to Scott as the truest genius of
their country. With him for guide, we entered his beloved Borderland; he
has seldom been far from us as we passed through its scenes and
monuments, and still on the rhinns of Galloway and in the dales of
Dumfries, his shade attends us; nor does it wholly vanish as we cross
the Solway viaduct into “Happy England,” pronounced by a recent American
writer, after his lights, “a section more beautiful perhaps to the
eye,” forsooth, than Bonnie Scotland, but “certainly not one which
appeals more forcibly to the imagination.” Burns did something, Carlyle
almost nothing, towards fusing angry memories of the past into one
national sentiment. To the spells of that Wizard of the North we chiefly
owe it that now “Highland and Lowland, all our hearts are Scotch!” as a
romancer of our own time exclaims, who elsewhere recalls Stewart of
Garth’s story how, when a Highland regiment landed at Portpatrick after
long exile, the kilted veterans flung themselves down to kiss the ground
of Galloway, so far from their native heath.

                                THE END

           _Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

             *       *       *       *       *

Typographical error corrected by the etext transcriber:

frailities=> frailties {pg 250}





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