« 前へ次へ »
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 Macintyrc 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 have 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, though 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 attack 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 stopped till she 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.
on a journey, and pretty much in the same terms. People frequently send conditional messages to the departed. If you are permitted, tell my dear brother, that I have merely endured the world since he left it, and that I have been very kind to every creature he used to cherish, for his sake. I have, indeed, heard a person of a very enlightened mind, seriously give a message to an aged person, to deliver to a child he had lost not long before, which she as seriously promised to deliver, with the wonted salvo, if she was permitted. • Speaking in this manner of death as a common casualty, a Highlander will very gravely ask you where you mean to be buried, or whether you would prefer such a place of interment, as being near to that of your ancestors.
With this freedom from the fear of death, they were, and still are, enthusiastically fond of music and dancing, and eagerly availed themselves of every opportunity of indulging this propensity, f Possessing naturally a good ear for music, they displayed great agility in dancing. Their music was in unison with their character. They delighted in the warlike high-toned notes of the bagpipes, and were particularly charmed with solemn and melancholy airs, or Laments (as they call them) for their deceased friends,— a feeling, of which their naturally sedate and contemplative turn of mind rendered them peculiarly susceptible; while their sprightly reels and strathspeys were calculated to excite the most exhilarating gaiety, and to relieve the heart from the cares and inquietudes of life. %
• Mrs Grant's Superstitions of the Highlanders.
f At harvest-home, halloween, christenings, and every holiday, the people assembled in the evenings to dance. At all weddings, pipes and fiddles were indispensable. These weddings were sometimes a source of emolument to the young people, who supplied the dinner and liquors, while the guests paid for the entertainment, more agreeably to their circumstances and inclinations, than in proportion to the value of the entertainment itself. Next morning the relations and most intimate friends of the parties re-assembled with offerings of a cow, calf, or whatever was thought necessary for assisting the establishment of a young housekeeper. See Appendix, M.
1 See Appendix, N.