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gave a cast of savage ferocity to their character, while their quarrels and hereditary feuds kept them in a state of alarm and disquietude, and obliged them to have recourse to stratagems and intrigues. These naturally gave rise to habits of duplicity, which had a baneful influence on their morals. Whilst a summary and arbitrary course of proceeding was sanctioned by ideas of honour, passion had no check from legal control, and retaliation must have frequently been accompanied by licentious cruelty, and a disregard of all moderation and justice. * To avoid the disorders produced
* An old historian has drawn the following picture of the state of Scotland after the murder of James I., and during the minority of his son, James II., under the administration of Livingston of Callander, the governor, and the Lord Chancellor Crighton, the imbecility of whose government was such as to leave the turbulence of the nobility without control. The strong arm of the law had never been felt in the Highlands, and hence arose the summary modes of avenging private wrongs, to which the people had recourse in the absence of judicial redress. Yet they may be said to have lived in a state of peace and repose, compared with the distractions and turbulence in the south, whenever the laws and the executive authority were for a time suspended. "Through this manner," says the author, "the whole youth of Scotland began to rage in mischief; for as long as there was no man to punish, much herships and slaughter was in the land and boroughs, great cruelty of nobles among themselves, for slaughters, theft, and murder, were their patent; and so continually, day by day,that he was esteemed the greatest man of renown and fame that was the greatest brigand, thief, or murderer. But they were the cause of this mischief that were the governors and magistrates of the realm. And this oppression and mischief reigned not only in the south-west parts, but also the men of the Isles invaded sundry parts of Scotland at that time, both by fire and sword, and especially the Lennox was wholly overthrown. Traitors became so proud and insolent, that they burned and herried the country wherever they came, and spared neither old nor young, bairn or wife, but cruelly would burn their houses and them together if they made any obstacles. Thus they raged through the country without any respect either to God or man."
Of the reign of James V. the same author writes, " The King went to the south with 12,000 men, and after this hunting he hanged Johnnie Armstrong, Laird of Kilnocky, over the gate of his castle, and his accomplices, to the number of thirty-six persons, for which many Scotchmen heartily lamented, for he was the most redoubted chieftain that had been for a long lime on the borders of Scotland or of England. It is said, that,
by perpetual strife, a plan was adopted for compensating injuries by a composition in cattle. The amount of the reparation to be made was generally determined by the principal men of the tribes, according to the rank and wealth of the parties, and the nature of the injury. Thus the aggressions of the rich could not escape with impunity; and, complete redress being the object of the arbiters, the composition was considered more honourable, as well as affording greater security against future encroachments, in proportion to the largeness of its amount. These ransoms, or compensations were called Erig.
from the borders to Newcastle, every man of whatsoever estate paid him tribute to be free of his trouble. This being done, the king passed to the Isles, and there held justice courts, and then punished both thief and traitor, according to their deserts, syne brought many of the great men of the Isles captive with him, such as Marcnnnells, Macleod of the Leu is, Macneils, Maclean, Macintosh, John Muidart, Mackay, Mackenzie, with many others that I cannot rehearse at this time, some of them to be put in wards, and some had in courts, and some he took in pledges for good rule in time coming, so he brought the Isles in good rule and peace both north and south, whereby he had great profit, service, and obedience of people a long time thereafter; and as long as he had the heads of the country in subjection, they lived in great peace and rest, and there was great riches and policy by the king's justice." *
* Lindsay of Pitacottie's History of Scotland.
Devoted obedience of the clans—Spirit of independence—Fidelity.
The chief generally resided among his retainers. His castle was the court where rewards were distributed, and the most enviable distinctions conferred. All disputes were settled by his decision ; • and the prosperity or poverty of his tenants depended on his proper or improper treatment of them. These tenants followed his standard in war, attended him in his hunting excursions, supplied his table with the produce of their farms, and assembled to gear, his corn, and to prepare and bring home his fuel. They looked up to him as their adviser and their protector. The cadets of his family, respected in proportion to the proximity of the relation in which they stood to him, became a species of sub-chiefs, scattered over different parts of his domains, holding their lands and properties of him, with a sort of subordinate jurisdiction over a portion of his people, and were ever ready to afford him their counsel and assistance in all emergencies. • Great part of the rent of land was paid in kind, and generally consumed where it was produced. One chief was distinguished from another, not by any additional splendour of dress or equipage, but by being followed by more de
• During fifty-fire years, in which the late Mr Campbell of Achala ler had the charge of Lord Breadalhane's estate, no instance occurred of tenants going to law. Their disputes were referred to the amicable decision of the noble proprietor and bis deputy; and as the confidence of the people in the honour and probity of both was unlimited, no man ever dreamed of an appeal from their decision. Admitting even that their judgment might occasionally be erroneous, the advantages of these prompt and final decisions, to a very numerous tenantry, among whom many causes of difference naturally arose from their mixed and minute possessions, were incalculable.
pendents, and by entertaining a greater number of guests. What his retainers gave from their individual property was spent amongst them in the kindest and most liberal manner. At the castle every individual was made welcome, and was treated according to his station, with a degree of courtesy and regard to his feelings unknown in any other country. * This condescension, whilst it raised the clansman in his own estimation, and drew closer the ties between him and his superior, seldom tempted him to use any improper familiarities. He believed himself well born, t and was taught to respect himself in the respect which he showed to his chief; and thus, instead of complaining of the difference of station and fortune, or considering a ready obedience to his chieftain's call as a slavish oppression, he felt convinced that he was supporting his own honour in showing his gratitude and duty to the generous head of his family. "Hence, the Highlanders, whom more savage nations called savage, carried in the outward expression of their manners, the politeness of courts without their vices, and in their bosoms the high point of honour without its follies." *
• Dr Johnson, noticing this interchange of kindness and affectionate familiarity between the people and their landlords, thus describes a meeting between the young Laird of Coll, (elder brother of the present,) and some of his attached and dutiful retainers:—" Wherever we moved," says the Doctor, " we were pleased to see the reverence with which his subjects regarded him. He did not endeavour to dazzle them by any magnificence of dress: his only distinction was a feather in his bonnet; but as soon as he appeared, they forsook their work and clustered round him; he took them by the hand, and they were mutually delighted. He has the proper disposition of a chieftain, and seems desirous to continue the custom of his house. The bagpiper played regularly when dinner was served, whose person and address made a good appearance, and brought no disgrace on the family of Rankin, which has long supplied the Lairds of Coil with hereditary music."—Dr Johnson's Tour.
j This pride of ancestry, when directed as it was among this people, produced very beneficial effects on their character and conduct. It formed strong attachments, led to the performance of laudable and heroic actions, and enabled the poorest Highlander begging his bread to support his hardships without a murmur. Alexander Stewart claimed a descent from one of the first families in the kingdom, and through them from the Kings of Scotland; but being poor and destitute, he travelled the country as a privileged beggar. He took no money, nor any thing but a dinner, supper, or night's accommodation, such as a man of his descent might expect on the principles of hospitality. He never complained of bad fare, lodging, or any other privation. Seeing (he said) that one king of his family and name had been assassinated, another had died in a wretched cottage or mill, a queen and a king of the same blood had lost their heads upon the scaffold, and the descendants of these kings, exiles from the country of their fathers, had been supported by the benevolence of strangers; and seeing that eminent men of his blood had endured misfortunes and want with firmness and resignation,—ought not he to do the same ? and would
"Nothing (says Mrs Grant) can be more erroneous than the prevalent idea that a Highland chief was an ignorant and unprincipled tyrant, who rewarded the abject submission of his followers with relentless cruelty and rigorous oppression. If ferocious in disposition, or weak in understanding, he was curbed and directed by the elders of his tribe, who, by inviolable custom, were his standing counsellors, without whose advice no measure of any kind was decided." f
But though the sway of the chief was thus mild in practice, it was in its nature arbitrary, and, on proper occasions,
becoming to discredit bis descent by unavailing complaints against that Providence which suffered the high as well as the low to be visited by misfortune?
These may be called prejudices, but it were well if all prejudices had a similar effect in making men contented under poverty and destitution; and when such are their effects, perhaps the term prejudice, as usually understood, does not apply.
Alexander Macleod, from the Isle of Skye, was some years ago seized with a fatal illness in Glenorchy, where he died. When he found his end approaching, he earnestly requested that he might be buried in the burying-grouncl of the principal family of the district, as he was descended from one as ancient, warlike, and honourable, and stated that he could not die in peace if he thought his family would be dishonoured in his person, by being buried in a mean and improper manner. Although his request could not be complied with, he was buried in a corner of the churchyard, where his grave is preserved in its original state by the venerable pastor of Glenorchy.
• Dalrymple's Memoirs.
f Mrs Grant's Superstitions of the Highlanders.
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