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more anstere and dangerous parts of their ed, therefore, the best domestic subject of
The Scottish Highlands are not divided
and thus the inhabitants of the con“ This spirit has risen to its greatest height fines frequently mingle, and lose by their in our own day. The singular and interest- union the distinctive features of their ing qualities of the Highland character have never been so carefully displayed, nor so character. The population of this porhighly admired, as in the times in which we tion of the Scottish territory is computed live. Poetry has cheerfully emigrated to refresh her withered laurels in the north, to be about one-eighth of the whole counand romance has sought its appropriate ob: try. The physiognomy of the Highlands scurity and terrors in the gloomy caverns, is generally grand, rough, and deterring the trackless deserts, and the obsolete fero
to the native of more genial climes, city of the Scottish Highlands. The more humble tourist has feebly impressed upon but occasionally the traveller who exevery rock some memorandum of his tran- plores them, descends into a glen or valsitory visit, and bas impregnated his labouring quarto with many anecdotes and tradi- lcy, to which only a southern atmosphere tions long since told, and as long disbelieved. is wanting to impart the beauty of an There is not a recess in this wild and inter- attractive and lovely landscape. esting country, which has not been explored by some venturous traveller,-and so much have all the arts of the south been “ Here there is nothing tame or stagnant; rendered subservient to the illustration of the mountains tower above each other in this region of mist, that there is hardly a frowning majesty, and the torrents rusla romantic spot in it, or a frowning precipice, with impetuosity along; and at every turn, or a rushing cataract, or an antique castle, the eye is arrested by some material emblem or a gloomy cave, which has not been com- of resistless force and sublimity. Even the memorated in song, or delineated in some sterility which is stamped on the more procrude specimen of the graphic art, such as minent parts of the scene, and which to the popular travels and other ephemeral works tirnid and luxurious traveller appears its are competent to supply.
ruling and repulsive characteristic, is not “ It is easy to account for all this, even without its influence in heightening the without referring to the sudden importance general effect--in stirring our sympathy for which the Highlands acquired when they the hapless beings to whose enterprise and became the special object of legislative attoil it seems for ever to deny their approtention, and the natural avidity with which priate reward,--and who, disdainful of the those secluded regions were explored when temptations which luxury presents, and the they were first thrown open to the secure dependence which it inevitably creates, research of the wondering Lowlander. cling with ardour to the untamed freedom The habits and manners of the Highlanders and high and daring spirit which are written were of a chivalrous and warlike cast; and on the frowning aspect of their native land. the story of their feuds and adventures was “In many parts of the Highlands the yet fresh in the remembrance of their coun- mountains are so bleak and utterly barren, trymen. Their character and history form- that they derive their names from the colour
of the naked rock which rises in bald and butes; in the patient endurance of hardsullen austerity: In other parts the hills are ships they have never been excelled, and clothed with heath, which in the season of its flower gives them an appearance highly the pride of a rough, but unsophisticated picturesque. The valleys which intervene race, was glowingly alive to its superiorare called glens, or straths
, according to the ity in these respects over the inhabitants magnitude of the stream by which they chance to be intersected. These streams, of the plains. which abound in every quarter--with the inland lakes which occur in great beauty " The day is not long past since Highland and variety-and the numerous arms of the Chieftains were known to value themselves sea which often stretch far into the country, not a little on their patience of fatigue, cold, impart to the Highlands every embellish- and hunger. Their pretensions, indeed, ment which scenery can derive from the have been sometimes answered with a element of water, in all its various and pic- sneer, and the merit which they boasted has turesque combinations."
been despised as the result, not of choice,
but of necessity. It is impossible, however, Industry, agricultural or commercial, not to perceive how narrow and illiberal is has, in no age, been numbered among the much all the qualities on which individuals
the insulting sarcasm-or to forget how virtues of the Highlanders. Their towns and nations justly value themselves, are decan only aspire to the denomination of pendent on accident and fortune. We must
be satisfied in such cases with appreciating villages, and to manufacturing skill and the virtue without curiously exploring its energy they have, consequently, ever source. The grandeur of Rome might bebeen strangers. Even the cultivation of come equivocal, if we should insist on mea
suring it by the poverty and rapine in which the soil, opposed as it has been by the it had its origin; and the freedom of En. natural barrenness of the country, and gland might lose much of its majestic and the influence of ancient institutions, imposing aspect, if we should trace it ni. has proceeded but slowly, and the princi- by which it has been alternately vindicated
nutely through the turbulence and tyranny pal occupation of the Highlanders at the and assailed in the lapse of many centupresent day consists in the breeding of ries.
“ Every one has heard of the spirit of cattle, for which they find a ready mar- clanship, which formed the most characterket in the Lowlands. Turf and unhewn istic feature of Highland manners down to rock supply the materials of their simple a very late period. The bond of union dwellings; in these they reside during strong, that the duty of the members of the
created by this singular institution was so the winter months, but on the approach clan towards their chief, superseded all of warmer weather, repair to their sum
other obligations. To defend him, whoever
might be the assailant-to sacrifice lite and mer huts, or shielings, in the mountains, fame for him, whatever might be the cause where they tend their herds, and occupy in which he had embarked--to despise sii themselves, during the season, in pastoral authority which he resisted—to know no avocations. Milk and its coarser prepa- which had not the sanction of his conduct
law of morals, nor perhaps of religion, rations constitute the basis of their dict; and example-to subrnit both mind and and the luxury of animal food is obtained body to his sacred and uncontrollable sway
--were the cardinal principles in the narrow only by the rongh but inspiring labours education of every monntaineer, which he of the chace-labours in which this hardy durst not infringe but at the hazard of death and indefatigable race have ever de- and infamy:--This singular and apparently
terrific authority was in its origini strictly lighted, as affording the image of those patriarchal. The Highlanders were divided sterner and more destructive pursuits into numerous tribes, ellectually spparated which formed almost the sole occupation from each other, for all other purposes but
those of hostility, by the natural boundaries of their progenitors, and acquired for of mountains, rivers, and lakes, which inthem a fame which would be more ho- tersect the country in all directions. By the Dourable were it less sanguinary.
simple theory of their domestic goverb
ment, each tribe or clan formed but one The habits and occupations of the family, and the chief was the father of that Highlanders are favourable to the virtues fainily: His power over his children was attached to the character of a half-civi- unlimited, both in peace and war;--their lized people. Fortitude is one, and not duty to him knew no bounds but their powe
er of discharging it. As the fountain of their the least, of their distioguishing attri.. blood, and the father of their race, he was
encircled with a superstitious veneration; more refined state of society it would be and to guard the sanctity of his person, to utterly impracticable. It presents a picensure the success of his projects, to sustain the course of his fortunes, the banded ture of the most perfect despotism, exstrength of his clan was ever ready at a alted, it is true, by sentiment and feeling signal. This comprehensive, but amiable of no vulgar order, but still so completely despotism, had no memory of ancient conquest to inspire distrust, and few examples at war with every civilized institution, of present tyranny to embitter resentment. that it is impossible to regard it with raThe obedience of the tribe was unlimited; tional complacency, or to reflect without but the reciprocal duties of the chief were marked with all the precision of inveterate pleasure that it no longer exists. Yet usage. He held the allegiance of his clan, we would not have our readers suppose by the condition of that extended affection for every member of it, and zealous regard which constituted its basis, or imagine us
us insensible to the generous enthusiasm to their interests, which belonged to the very idea of the parental relation on which cold and deaf to those soul-stirring feelhis authority was founded. He lived on ings that bound the Highlander to bis babits of familiarity and friendship with all the individuals of his clair; he let his lands paternal chieftain. The author has beauto them upon easy terms; he was constantly tifully illustrated the nature of this conattended by a certain number of his family; ncxion, and in his concluding observation and in all the simple relations of a society anticipated us in the wish that a system thus constituted, the friendly and social principle displayed itself in a prominent 50 liberal and in such entire harmony inauner, and veiled the austerity of that with the finest attributes of our nature, power of which it was at once the origin could be rendered compatible with the and the limit.
" The more numerous clans were subdivi- interests of a great and civilized nation. ded into different branches, all acknowledge ing the authority of the common head; "In his chief he recognised the upwearied but each owning, at the same time, the in- benefactor of the tribe ; under his auspices termediate or derivative power of a chief- he enjoyed whatever comforts his habits tain, who was generally a cadet of the fami- and condition required; and to the same ly of the chief of the clan. To the chief- consecrated head he looked up as the guartain, in time of war, was assigned the con- dian of his kindred, and the avenger of his mand of a company in the clan regiment, - wrongs. The entire relation betwixt the the supreme command being lodged in the chief and the clan, betwixt the sovereign chief. Little can, indeed, be said for the and the subject, was one of real and condiscipline of these rude levies—but their stant beneficence. Under this simple and heroism and devotion have become prover- benign system of government, intrigue bial. By a sagacious policy, the clans were and faction, and turbulence, must have in general kept in distinct bodies in the been unknown; or if they did chance to field,—the chief had his proper place in the rear their hideous shapes, must have been array,--and the order observed was such, instantly chased away by the unsophisthat every individual fought under the im. ticated indignation of obedient and dutiful mediate observation of his nearest friends children. To resist the authority of the and relations, whose esteem he was most chief, implied an odious combination of ambitious to secure. The courage and con- treason and of parricide : And instead of instancy of the clans have been commemo- volving the rebel in the doubtful imputations rated by a series of exploits, which form a of misguided patriotism, fastened on him prominent part in the history of the island; the stigma of a frightful revolt against the but the desperate enthusiasm of the clans- most sacred rights and feelings of kindred. men was ever roused to the highest pitch How could a contention for the sovereignty, when danger approached the person of their arise in a state where the title of the chiet chief:-And many instances have occurred, was not derived from election, nor dependin which they have furiously rushed on cer- ant on accident, but fixed by the same imtain death for his preservation. He wlio mutable law which, by giving priority in should have hesitated thus to act, would for birth to the parent, invests him with the ever have been treated by his kinsmen as an natural government of his children? To outcast, and branded by his tribe as the dispute such a title, would have been to greatest of cowards and villains."
combat with destiny, to struggle against the
eternal laws of nature. There was nothing Such a system of government could to humiliate, in that inferiority which was obtain only among a people scarcely ad- stamped by nature itself; nothing to hope vanced beyond the confines of barbarigin, from an emulation, which transgressed her and it is only necessary to be acquainted an enterprise of ambition, the very naming
most sacred decrees; nothing to gain from with its outlines to perceive that in a of which would have filled every mind with
instinctive horror. Hence the simplicity character, was cherished into a spirit of and energy of this singular system, which great ferocity by the circumstances of their struck the roots of authority deep in the af- condition, and the events in which they fections of the heart, and rested the whole were called upon almost daily to partici. scheme of government on the most power- pate. They levied war against each other ful passions of our nature. How precarious without waiting for, or regarding any other the state of the most gorgeous despot, sur authority than that of their natural leaders : rounded by the fickle and jealous minions of And the general government, which on such his tyranny, compared with that of the occasions they do not appear to have reHighland chief, who counted among his at- cognised, was compelled to overlook the tendants only the willing sharers of his ex. enormity of a civil war, levied without its ploits, and had no subjects whom he did sanction, and which in any other state of not recognise as his kinsmen ang, friends! society would have been considered as an How energetic the scheme of claa govern- act of rebellion. The pretext for these outment, when compared even with the more rages was generally the right of reprisal, or liberal institutions of an enlightened policy, of revenge ; but the love of plunder apwhere power, instead of trusting to the pas- pears in inany instances to have formed the sions, which can never betray, steers its true incitement. To the spirit of revenge discourse by a shifting balance of narrow and played by them on such occasions, of which · sordid interests, and may be deceived and many examples are recorded, it would be undone by the siightest error in the various difficult to find a parallel in history.” and perplesed combination! If a great nalion possessing military discipline and science, The Highlanders were a proud people, could be governed on the patriarchal principle and even now, when civilization and reof the Highland clans, with its unity of purpose, enthusiasm of attachment, and entire de. finement have in a considerable measure votion of spirit; the united power of the world, softened the prejudices on which it was tainted as it is every where with selfishness and built, they esteem themselves superior to faction, could not long willistand its energy; their Lowland neighbours. This feeling or arrest ils progress to universal dominion."
was cherished from the highest to the The paramount power of the chief was lowest member of the clan, the principal source of the evils arising
“ for he who valued himself on his ancestry, from the patriarchal government of the and who believed that he sprung from the faHighlanders. Sanguinary contentions milyof his chief, whom he considered as the between the clans, and lawless resistance first of men, could not brook an equality with
the Lowlanders,who seldom put a high value to the general government, were the na
on these imaginary distinctions. Necessity tural consequences of a system which in- compelled some even of the more distinvested the head of every petty tribe with guished persons of the clans, to superintend uncontrollable and absolute power.
personally the operations of the most hum. ble industry; and when these lofty spirits
had to submit to drive their cattle to the " It depended on the temper and character markets in the low country, they were often of the chiefs, whether the legislature of the treated with a degree of familiarity, which kingdom should be obeyed-except by the must have been quite appalling to them. immediate application of force, within their Their pretensions were estimated by the isolated territories. The laws were of course rudeness of the Lowlander, not according disregarded, and the clans holding them to the length of their genealogies, but the selves but little responsible to them in the character of the immediate occupation in affairs either of war or peace, were often in which they were engaged. The dignity of a state of open disobedience and rebellion. the Baron' of Thundertentronkch himself, -Their isolated situation, and the principle would be in some danger in a gin shop with of family attachment on which the clans graziers and butchers ; and one cannot were individually, united, rendered them wonder, if, in similar circumstances, the jealous of each other; and their rude and delicacy of a Highland gentleman was often imperfect notions of justice, led to frequent wounded, and his fiery spirit roused, by the encroachments to constant broils, and al- unceremonious grossness of his strange most unremitting hostilities. There is no
companions.” thing accordingly for which they are more distinguished, than the frequency and vio- The barrenness of their country, and lence of their feuds, which were conducted in daring violation of the laws, if indeed their aversion to agricultural and manuthe legislature, which was too feeble to pro- facturing occupations, rendered it always tect from aggression, bad any right to exact difficult to provide for, or dispose of, the an abstinence from retaliation. The warlike spirit of the clans was thus kept in perpetual superabundant population of the Highexercise ; and their native resolution of lands. To migration the invincible at
tachment they bore to their native moun- genius for government, that he was able to
reduce to the obedience of the laws the tains was an insurmountable barrier.
most daring and incorrigible portion of his When, therefore, the population of a dis- dominions, which had hitherto defied both trict increased beyond its means of sup- the policy and the power of the legitimate port, it was usual for the young men to sovereigns. It is universally acknowledged,
that under his vigorous sway the lowlands place themselves under the command of enjoyed greater security froin Highland dea chief, selected from the family of the predation, than at any period recorded in head of the clan, and either engage history, prior to the year 1745, when a new
era was introduced, and the civilization of themselves in feuds at home, or issuing the highlands was accelerated by the misforth into the plains, acquire their subsist- carriage of an enterprise, which, if it had ence by the plunder of their peaceful succeeded, would surely have prolonged
their barbarism.--It must be owned, that neighbours.
usurpers, wbo owe their rise to violence, are Their affection for the Stuarts, which more dexterous in the use of its instruments, proved so disastrous to them, is ascribed and more efficient agents of a reform,
which violence alone can accomplish, than by the author to the military reputation peaceful and legitimate sovereigns; and this they gained under the gallant and accom- perhaps is the secret of all that is attractive plished Montrose in the service
and brilliant in their character. of
“ The Highlanders were of course deterCharles I.
mined enemies of the revolution settle
ment;-and King William, it is said, fully “With the exception of some districts in occupied with his continental war, and with the west, the whole population of the High- the affairs of Ireland, resolved to purchase lands was devoted to this hapless family, from the clans, that fidelity which he could The Highlanders became favourites, of not conquer. If we are to believe the course, with Charles II, who had sense
anonymous writer in the Quarterly Reenough to feel the obligations of his House view," he intrusted the Earl of Breadalbane to their steadiness and fidelity; and he con- with 20,0001. sterling, to be distributed ferred on them the equivocal honour of among the heads of the clans, to secure chastising the covenanters, whom his frantic their acquiescence and neutrality. But this tyranny had driven to distraction and de- nobleman, it is said, managed his trust with spair. It is a bad feature, indeed, of their singular perfidy; and while he appropriated annals, that they have too often tarnished the greater part of the petty douceur to their honour by a blind attachment to des- himself, proceeded to silence the refractory potism; that their most brilliant exploits chieftains, by the most cruel measures ; have been performed with perhaps an and, in particular, by the terrific example of honest, but certainly a misguided zeal vengeance, which was exhibited in the against the liberties of the nation : and that tragedy of Glencoe, and which the writer one of their greatest achievements, the in the Review does not hesitate to charge on victory at Killicrankie, enabled an accom- Breadalbane. plished minion of tyranny to die in the " The Highlanders, in spite of every ef. exultation of victory, after having been fort to subdue their spirit, still cherished steeped to the lips in the blood of a perse their ancient prejudices, and their hostility cuted people, and achieving every crime to the protestant government established by which could entitle him to the appellation the revolution. It is said, indeed, that on of the destroyer of his country,
the accession of George the first, many of “ The honours which the Highlanders had their chiefs would willingly have acquiesced gained under Montrose were not, however, in the new establishment, which there without a sad compensation in the disasters seemed no prospect of subverting; and that inflicted upon them by the genius of a still an address of loyalty to the sovereign, submore able and sagacious captain. Oliver scribed by a great number of the leading Cromwell was not a man to be trifled with, men, was intercepted by the Duke of Arnor to permit their daring contempt of au- gyle, who saw a better prospect for his amthority, or their undisguised devotion to the bition in the disaffection, than in the loyalty Stuart family; to escape without signal of the Highland clans. This singular docuchastisement. He established garrisons at ment has been recently published,* and in Inverness, and other places in the Highlands such circumstances as renders its authen--made his disciplined troops penetrate the ticity highly suspicious. It is hardly credideepest recesses of the country-dismantled ble, that in the temper and spirit of the the castles of the chiefs--and compelled the Highlanders of those days, such an address clans to surrender their arms, and give should have been framed; and it is yet pledges of fidelity to his government.-- more incredible, that, if it bad existed, it Those even who detest the crimes of this usurper, must respect his vigour and talents *" Vol. 14. p. 313. -and it is not the slenderest proof of his t" Quarterly Review, vol. 14. p. 313.