« 前へ次へ »
under the necessity of going to service, they settle among themselves which of their number shall in turn remain at home, to take charge of their parents, and all consider themselves bound to share with them whatever they are able to save from their wages.
The sense of duty is not extinguished by absence from the mountains. It accompanies the Highland soldier amid the dissipations of a mode of life to which he has not been accustomed. It prompts him to save a portion of his pay, to enable him to assist his parents, and also to work when he has an opportunity, that he may increase their allowance,—at once preserving himself from idle habits, and contributing to the happiness and comfort of those who gave himbirth. I have been a frequent channel through which these offerings of filial bounty were communicated, and I have generally found, that a threat of informing their parents of misconduct has operated as a sufficient check on young soldiers, who always received the intimation with a sort of horror. They knew that the report would not only grieve their relations, but act as a sentence of banishment against themselves, as they could not return home with a bad or a blemished character. Generals M'Kenzie Fraser and M'Kenzie of Suddie, who successively commanded the 78th Highlanders, seldom had occasion to resort to any other punishment than threats of this nature, for several years after the embodying of that regiment.
Honesty and fair dealing in their mutual transactions were enforced by custom * as much as by established law, and generally had a more powerful influence on their character and conduct, than the legal enactments of latter periods. Insolvency was considered as disgraceful, and prima facie a crime. "Bankrupts were forced to surrender their all, and were clad in a party-coloured clouted garment, with the hose of different sets, and had their hips dashed against a stone in presence of the people, by four men, each
• Sec Appendii, P.
taking hold of an arm or a leg. This punishment was called Toncruaidh." *
Where courage is considered honourable and indispensable, cowardice is of course held infamous, and punished as criminal. Of the ignominy that attached to it, Mrs Grant relates the following anecdote: "There was a clan, / must not say what clan it is, f who had been for ages governed by a series of chiefs singularly estimable, and highly beloved, and who, in one instance, provoked their leader to the extreme of indignation. I should observe that the transgression was partial, the culprits being the inhabitants of one single parish. These, in a hasty skirmish with a neighbouring clan, thinking discretion the best part of valour, sought safety in retreat . A cruel chief would have inflicted the worst of punishments—banishment from the bounds of his clan,—which, indeed, fell little short of the curse of Kehama. This good laird, however, set bounds to his wrath, yet made their punishment severe and exemplary. He appeared himself with all the population of the three adjacent parishes, at the parish-church of the offenders, where they were all by order convened. After divine service they were all marched three times round the church, in presence of their offended leader and his assembled clan. Each individual, on coming out of the church-door, was obliged to draw out his tongue with his fingers, and then cry, audibly, ' Skud bidder keich,' (i. e.) 'This is the poltroon,' and to repeat it at every corner of the church. After this procession of ignominy, no other punishment was inflicted, except that of being left to guard the district when the rest were called out to battle." Mrs Grant adds, "It is credibly asserted, that no enemy has seen the back of any of that name ever since. And it is certain, that, to
* The Reverend Dr M'Queen's Dissertation. f I may now mention what the accomplished author suppressed, that this chief was the Laird of Grant, grandfather of the late estimable representative of that honourable family.
this day, it is not safe for any person of another name to mention this circumstance in presence of one of the affronted clan."*
Under the protection of the same principle, were placed the fidelity of domestic attachment, and the sacred obligation of the. marriage vow. "The guilty person, whether male or female, was made to stand in a barrel of cold water at the church-door, after which the delinquent, clad in a wet canvas shirt, was made to stand before the congregation, and at close of service the minister explained the nature of the offence." f
This punishment was, however, seldom necessary. The crime was not frequent, and the separation of a married couple among the common people almost unknown. However disagreeable a wife might be to her husband, he rarely contemplated the possibility of getting rid of her. As his wife he bore with her failings: as the mother of his children, he supported her credit: a separation would have disgraced his family, and have entailed reproach on his posterity. For the illicit intercourse between the sexes, in an unmarried state, there was no direct punishment beyond those established by the church; but, as usual among the Highlanders, custom supplied the defect, by establishing some marks of reprehension and infamy. These were often of a nature which showed a delicacy of feeling, not to be expected among an uneducated people, were it not that these established habits so well supplied the want of education, and of what is usually termed civilization. Young unmarried women never wore any close head dress, but only the hair tied with bandages or some slight ornament. This continued till marriage, or till they attained a certain age; but if a young woman lost her virtue and character, then she was obliged to wear a cap, and never afterwards to appear with her hair uncovered, in the dress of virgin in
* Mr* Grant on the Superstition! of the Highlanders, f Dr M'Queen's Dissertation.
nocence. Sir John Dalrymple has observed of the Highlanders, "That to be modest as well as brave, to be contented with a few things which Nature requires, to act and to suffer without complaining, to be as much ashamed of doing any thing insolent or ungenerous to others, as of bearing it when done to ourselves, and to die with pleasure to revenge affronts offered to their clan or their country; these they accounted their highest accomplishments."
Love of country—Social meetings—Traditional tales and poetry.
It has often been remarked, that the inhabitants of mountainous and romantic regions are of all men the most enthusiastically attached to their country. The Swiss, when at a distance from home, are sometimes said to die of the maladie du pays. * The Scotch Highlanders entertain similar feelings. The cause of this attachment to their native land is the same in all. In a rich and champaign country, with no marked or striking features, no deep impression is made on the imagination by external scenery. Its fertility is the only quality for which the soil is valued; and the only hope entertained from it is realized by an abundant crop. In such a country, the members of the community do not immediately depend for their happiness on mutual assistance or friendly intercourse 5 and thus an exclusive selfishness is apt to supplant the social affections. Hence, too, in the ordinary tenor of life, we seldom find amongst them any thing calculated to catch the imagination, to excite the feelings, or to give interest to the records of memory;—no striking adventures—no daring or dangerous enterprises. Amongst them we seldom hear
"Of moving accidents) by flood and field,
To the Highlanders such scenes and subjects were congenial and famiiar. The kind of life which they led expo
* During last war a Swiss soldier, confined in the French prison at Perth, was long in a lingering sickly state,from no other cause that the surgeon could discover but a constant longing and sighing for his native country. I have frequently met with instances of the same kind among Highland recruits.