« 前へ次へ »
generally double, or in two folds, formed, when let down so as to envelop the whole person, a shelter from the storm, and a covering in which the wearer wrapt himself up in full security, when he lay down fearlessly among the heather. This, if benighted in his hunting excursions, or on a distant visit, he by no means considered a hardship; nay, so little was he disturbed by the petty miseries which others feel from inclement weather, that, in storms of snow, frost, or wind, he would dip the plaid in water, and, wrapping himself up in it when moistened, lie down on the heath. The plaid thus swelled with moisture was supposed to resist the wind, so that the exhalation from the body during sleep might surround the wearer with an atmosphere of warm vapour. Thus their garb contributed to form their constitutions in early life for the duties of hardy soldiers, while their habits, their mental recollections, and the fearless spirit they nourished, rendered them equally intrepid in the attack, and firm in resisting an enemy.
In dyeing and arranging the various colours of their tartans, they displayed no small art and taste, preserving at the same time the distinctive patterns (or sets, as they were called) of the different clans, tribes, families, and districts. Thus a Macdonald, a Campbell, a Mackenzie, &c. was known by his plaid; and in like manner the Athole, Glenorchy, and other colours of different districts, were easily distinguishable. Besides those general divisions, industrious housewives had patterns, distinguished by the set, superior quality, and fineness of the cloth, or brightness and variety of the colours. In those times when mutual attachment and confidence subsisted between the proprie
itrait about the head. * The plaid was tied before on the breast, with a buckle of silver or brass, according to the quality of the person. I have seen some of the former of one hundred merks value, with the figures of various animals curiously engraved. A lesser buckle was worn in the middle of the larger. It had in the centre a large piece of crystal, or some finer stone, and this was set round with several precious stones of a lesser size."
* This is still worn by old women in Breadalbane, and other districts in Perthshire.
tors and occupiers of land in the Highlands, the removal of tenants, except in remarkable cases, rarely occurred, and consequently, it was easy to preserve and perpetuate any particular set, or pattern, even among the lower orders. *
I have dwelt the longer on the particulars of this costume, as much of the distinctive character of the people was connected with it. In Eustace's Classical Tour, he has some ingenious strictures on the European habit contrasted with the Asiatic costume. The former, he says, is stiff, formal, confined, full of right angles, and so unlike the drapery which invests the imperishable forms of grace and beauty left us by ancient sculptors, as to offer a revolting contrast to all that is flowing, easy, and picturesque in costume. The Asiatic dress, he observes, is only suited to the cumbrous pomp, and indolent effeminacy of Oriental customs: it impedes motion, and incumbers the form which it envelops. In one corner of Great Britain, he continues, a dress is worn by which these two extremes are avoided: it has the easy folds of a drapery, which takes away from the constrained and angular air of the ordinary habits, and is, at the same time, sufficiently light and succinct to answer all the purposes of activity and ready motion. With some obvious and easy alterations, he thinks it might, in many cases, be adopted with advantage.
• At Inch Ewan, in Breadalbane, a family of the name of Macnab occupied the same farm, for nearly four centuries, till within these few years, the last occupier resigned. A race of the name of Stewart, in Glenfinglas, in Menteith, has for several centuries possessed the same farms, and, from the character and disposition of the present noble proprietor, it is probable that, without some extraordinary cause, this community will not be disturbed. It would be endless to give instances of the great number of years during which the same families possessed their farms, in a succession as regular and unbroken as that of the landlords. The family of Macintyre possessed the farm of Glenoe, in Nether Lorn, from about the year 1300 down till 1810. They were originally foresters of Stewart Lord Lorn, and were continued in their possession and employments after the succession of the Glenorchy and Breadalbane families to this estate by a marriage with a co-heiress of the last Lord Lorn of the Stewart family, in the year 1435.
While the common people amused themselves, as I will nave occasion to notice afterwards, with recitals of poetry and imaginary or traditionary tales, every chief had his bard, whose office it was to celebrate the warlike deeds of the family and of individuals of the clan, to entertain the festive board with the songs of Ossian, of Ullin, and of Oran, and to raise the feelings and energies of the hearers by songs and narratives, in which the exploits of their ancestors and kinsmen were recorded. The bards were an important order of men in Highland society. In the absence of books they constituted the library, and concentrated the learning of the tribe. By retentive memories, indispensable requisites in their vocation, they became the living chronicles of past events, and the depositaries of popular poetry. They followed the clans to the field, where they eulogised the fame resulting from a glorious death, and held forth the honour of expiring in the arms of victory in defence of their beloved country, as well as the disgrace attending dastardly conduct, or cowardly retreat. Before the battle they passed from tribe to tribe, and from one party to another, giving to all exhortations and encouragement; and when the commencement of the fight rendered it impossible for their voice to be heard, they were succeeded by the pipers, who, with their inspiring and warlike strains, kept alive the enthusiasm which the bard had inspired. When the contest was decided, the duties of these two public functionaries again became important. The bard was employed to honour the memory of the brave who had fallen, to celebrate the actions of those who survived, and to excite them to future deeds of valour. The piper, in Vol. i. r
his turn, was called upon to sound mournful lamentations for the slain, and to remind the survivors how honourably their friends had died. By connecting the past with the present, by showing that the warlike hero, the honoured chief, or the respected parent, who, though no longer present to his friends, could not die in their memory, and that, thongh dead, he still survived in fame, and might sympathize with those whom he had left behind, a magnanimous contempt of death was naturally produced, and sedulously cherished. It has thus become a singular and characteristical feature of Highland sentiment, to contemplate with easy familiarity the prospect of death, which is considered as merely a passage from this to another state of existence, enlivened with the assured hope of being again joined by the friends whom they loved. The effect of this sentiment is perceived in the anxious care with which they provide the necessary articles for a proper and becoming funeral. Of this they speak with an ease and freedom, equally remote from affectation or presumption, and proportioned solely to the inevitable certainty of the event itself. Even the poorest and most destitute endeavour to lay up something for this last solemnity. To be consigned to the grave among strangers, without the attendance and sympathy of friends, and at a distance from their family, was considered a heavy calamity ; * and even to this day,
* This feeling still exists with considerable force, and may afford an idea of the despair which must actuate people when they can bring themselves to emigrate from a beloved country, hallowed by the remains of their forefathers, and where they so anxiously desired that their own bones might be laid. Lately, a woman aged ninety-one, but in perfect health, and in possession of all her faculties, went to Perth from her house in Strathbrane, a few miles above Duntceld. A few days after her arrival in Perth, where she had gone to visit a daughter, she had a slight iittack of fever. One evening a considerable quantity of snow had fallen, and she expressed great anxiety, particularly when told that a heavier fall was expected. Next morning her bed was found empty, and no trace of her could be discovered, till the second day, when she sent word that she had slipt out of the house at midnight, set off on foot through the mow, people make the greatest exertions to carry home the bodies of such relations as happen to die far from the ground hallowed by the ashes of their forefathers. "A man well known to the writer of these pages," says Mrs Grant, " was remarkable for his filial affection, even among the sons and daughters of the mountains, so distinguished for that branch of piety. His mother being a widow, and having a numerous family, who had married very early, he continued to live single, that he might the more sedulously attend to her comfort, and watch over her declining years with the tenderest care. On her birth-day, he always collected his brothers and sisters, and all their families, to a sort of kindly feast, and in conclusion, gave a toast, not easily translated from the emphatic language, without circumlocution,— An easy and decorous departure to my mother, comes nearest to it. • This toast, which would shake the nerves of fashionable delicacy, was received with great applause, the old woman remarking, that God had been always good to her, and she hoped she would die as decently as she had lived; for it is thought of the utmost consequence to die decently." The ritual of decorous departure, and of behaviour to be observed by the friends of the dying on that solemn occasion, being fully established, nothing is more common than to take a solemn leave of old people, as if they were going
and never (topped till the reached home, a distance of twenty miles. When questioned some time afterwards why she went away so abruptly, she answered," If my sickness had increased, and if I had died, they could not have sent my remains home through the deep snows. If I had told my daughter, perhaps she would have locked the door upon me, and God forbid that my bones should be at such a distance from home, and be buried among Guallnamachair,' the strangers of the plain.'"
Now, since this woman, who was born on the immediate borders of the plains, had such a dread of leaving her bones among strangers, as she called them, although persons whom she had often seen, how much stronger must this feeling be in the central and northern Highlands, where the majority of the people never saw the plains or their inhabitants?
• Crioch onerach, an honourable death, is the common expression of a friendly wish.