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of moderation from these uncultivated savages, (as they called them,) and that they sullied their triumphs, by devastation and cruelty inflicted on a defenceless enemy. As to the burning of the castles of Lovat, Lochiel, Glengarry, Clunie, and others, some apology may be found in the necessity of punishing men, who, from the circle in which they moved, and their general intelligence and knowledge of the world, must have known the stake which they hazarded, and the consequences of a failure. Not so with their followers, who acted from a principle of fidelity and attachment, which had withstood the lapse of so many years of absence and exile, and which, by gentle treatment, might have been turned into the proper channel. Instead of this, a line of conduct was pursued infinitely more ferocious and barbarous, than the worst acts of those poor people, to whom these epithets were so liberally applied.
These cruelties compelled many of the followers of the rebel army, afraid of punishment, and unwilling to return to their homes, to form themselves into bands of freebooters, who frequented the mountains of Athole, Breadalbane, and Monteith, districts which form the border country, and often laid the Lowlands under contributions; defying the exertions of their Lowland neighbours, assisted by small garrisons, stationed in different parts of the country, to check their depredations. The harsh measures afterwards pursued were more calculated to exasperate, than to allay the discontents which they were intended to remove, and were perhaps less excusable as being more deliberate.
ABOLITION OF HEREDITARY JURISDICTIONS. 115
Abolition of hereditary jurisdiction—Suppression of the Highland
The alarm occasioned by this insurrection, determined government to dissolve the patriarchal system in the Highlands, the nature, as well as the danger of which, had the power of the clans been properly directed, was now exhibited to the country. It would appear that it was considered impracticable to effect this dissolution of clanship, fidelity, and mutual attachment, between the Highlanders and their chiefs, by a different and improved modification of the system and state of society, and, unfortunately, no course was pursued short of a complete revolution. For this purpose, an act was passed in 1747, depriving all proprietors of their jurisdictions and judicial powers; and in August of the same year, it was also enacted, that any person in the Highlands, possessing or concealing any kind of arms, should be liable, in the first instance, to a severe fine, and be committed to prison without bail till payment. If the delinquent was a man, and unable to pay the fine, he was to be sent to serve as a soldier in America, or, if unfit for service, to be imprisoned for six months; if a woman, she was, besides the fine and imprisonment till payment, to be detained six months in prison. Seven years'transportation was the punishment for a second offence.
The Highland gard was proscribed by still severer penalties. It was enacted, that any person within Scotland, whether man or boy, (excepting officers and soldiers in his Majesty's service,) who should wear the plaid, philibeg, trews, shoulder belts, or any part of the Highland garb; or should use for great coats, tartans, or party-coloured plaid, or stuffs; should, without the alternative of a fine, be imprisoned, on the first conviction, for six months without bail, and on the second conviction be transported for seven years. *
The necessity of these measures is the best apology for their severity, but, however proper it may have been to dissolve a power which led to such results, and to deprive men of authority and their followers of arms, which they so illegally used, the same necessity does not appear to extend to the garb. "Even the loyal clans," says Dr Johnson, "murmured with an appearance of justice, that, after having defended the king, they were forbidden to defend themselves, and that the swords should be forfeited which had been legally employed. It affords a generous and manly pleasure, to conceive a little nation gathering its fruits and tending its herds, with fearless confidence, though it is open on every side to invasion; where, in contempt of walls and trenches, every man sleeps securely with his sword beside him, and where all, on the first approach of hostility, come together at the call to battle, as the summons to a festival show, committing their cattle to the care of those, whom age or nature had disabled to engage the enemy; with that competition for hazard and glory, which operate in men that fight under the eye of those whose dislike or kindness they have always considered as the greatest evil, or the greatest good. This was in the beginning of the present century: in the state of the Highlanders every man was a soldier, who partook of the national confidence, and interested himself in national honour. To lose this spirit, is to lose what no small advantage will compensate, when their pride has been crushed by the heavy hand of a vin
• Considering the severity of the law against this garb, nothing but the strong partiality of the people could have prevented its going entirely into disuse. The prohibitory laws were so long in force, that more than two-thirds of the generation who saw it enacted had passed away before the repeal. The youth of the latter period knew it only as an illegal garb, to be worn by stealth under the fear of imprisonment and transportation. Breeches, by force of habit, had become so common, that it is remarkable how the plaid and philibeg were resumed at all.
dictive conqueror, whose severities have been followed by laws, which, though they cannot be called cruel, have produced much discontent, because they operate on the surface of life, and make every eye bear witness to subjection. If the policy of the disarming act appears somewhat problematical, what must we think of the subsequent measure of 1747, to compel the Highlanders to lay aside their national dress? It is impossible to read this latter act, without considering it rather as an ignorant wantonness of power, than the proceeding of a wise and a beneficent legislature. To be compelled to wear a new dress has always been found painful." * So the Highlanders found, and it certainly was not consistent with the boasted freedom of our country, to inflict on a whole people the severest punishment, short of death, for wearing a particular dress. Had the whole race been decimated, more violent grief, indignation and shame, could not have been excited among them, than by being deprived of this long inherited costume. This was an encroachment on the feelings of a people, whose ancient and manly garb had been worn from a period reaching back beyond all history or even tradition, f
* Dr Johnson's Journey to the Highlands.
f Some opinion may be formed of the importance which Government attached to the garb by the tenor of the following oath, administered in 1747 and 1748 in Fort William and other places where the people were assembled for the purpose; those who refused to take it being treated as rebels : " I. A. B., do swear, and as I shall answer to God at the great day of Judgment, 1 have not, nor shall have, in my possession any gun, sword, pistol, or arm whatsoever, and never use tartan, plaid, or any part of the Highland garb; and if I do so, may I be cursed in my undertakings, family, and property,—may I never see my wife and children, father, mother, or relations,—may I be killed in battle as a coward, and lie without Christian burial in a strange land, far from the graves of my forefathers and kindred; may all this come across me if I break my oath." The framcrs of this oath understood the character of the Highlanders. The abolition of the feudal power of the chiefs, and the disarming act, had little influence on the character of the people in comparison of the grief, indignation, and disaffection occasioned by the loss of their garb.
The obstinacy with which the law was resisted, proceeded no less from their attachment to their proscribed garb, than from the irksomeness of the dress forced upon them. Habituated to the free use of their limbs, the Highlanders could ill brook the confinement and restraint of the Lowland dress, and many were the little devices which they adopted to retain their ancient garb, without incurring the penalties of the act, devices which were calculated rather to excite a smile, than to rouse the vengeance of persecution. Instead of the prohibited tartan kilt, some wore pieces of a blue, green, or red thin cloth, or coarse camblet, wrapped round the waist, and hanging down to the knees like the fealdag. *
After being debarred the use of swords, they seldom went without a stick, and, as a substitute for the dirk, they carried a short knife stuck in a side pocket of the breeches, or inserted between the garter and the leg, by those who ventured to wear the hose. The tight breeches were particularly obnoxious. Some who were fearful of offending, or wished to render obedience to the law, which had not specified on what part of the body the breeches were to be
* The fealdag was the same as the philibeg, only not plaited. The mode of sewing the gilt into plaits or folds, in the same manner as the plaid, is said to have been introduced by an Englishman of the name of Parkinson, early in the last century, which has given rise to an opinion entertained by many, that the kilt is modern, and was never known till that period. This opinion is founded on a memorandum left by a gentleman whose name is not mentioned, and published in the Edinburgh MaGazine. Without knowing of the correctness of this statement, it may, with as much reason, be supposed, that breeches were never worn till the present cut and manner of wearing them came into fashion. As the Highlanders had sufficient ingenuity to think of plaiting the plaid, it is likely they would be equally ingenious in forming the kilt; and as it is improbable that an active light-footed people would go about on all occasions, whether in the house or in the field, encumbered with twelve yards of plaid, (to 6ay nothing of the expepce of such a quantity,) I am less willing to coincide in the modern opinion, founded on such a slight unauthenticated notice, than in the universal belief of the people, that the philebeg has been part of their garb, as far back as tradition reaches.