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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, I must not say what dan 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 Kehoma. 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
* Mrs 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 ma ladies 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 familiar. 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.
sed them to vicissitudes and dangers, which they shared in common. They had perchance joined in the chase or in the foray together, and remembered the adventures in which they all had participated. Their traditions referred to a common ancestry; and their songs of love and valour found an echo in general sympathy. In removing from their homes, such a people do not merely change the spot of earth on which they and their ancestors have lived. Mercenary and selfish objects are forgotten in the endearing associations entwined round the objects which they have abandoned. Among a people who cannot appreciate his amusements, his associations, and his taste, the expatriated Highlander naturally sighs for his own mountains. Even in removing from one part of the Highlands to another, the sacrifice was regarded as severe. •
The poetical propensity of the Highlanders, which indeed was the natural result of their situation, and their peculiar institutions, is generally known. When adventures abound they naturally give fervour to the poet's song; and the verse which celebrates them is listened to with sympathetic eagerness by those who have similar adventures to record or to repeat. Accordingly, the recitation of their traditional poetry was a favourite pastime with the Highlanders when collecting round their evening fire. The person who could rehearse the best poem or song, and the
• A single anecdote, selected from hundreds with which every Highlander is familiar, will show the force of this local attachment. A tenant of my father's, at the foot of Shichallain, removed, a good many years ago, and followed his son to a farm which he had taken at some distance lower down the country. One morning the old man disappeared for a considerable time, and being asked on his return where he had been, he replied, "As I was sitting by the side of the river, a thought came across me, that, perhaps, some of the waters from Shichallain, and the sweet fountains that watered the farm of my forefathers, might now be passing by me, and that if I bathed they might touch my skin. I immediately stripped, and, from the pleasure I felt in being surrounded by the pure waters of Leidnabreilag, (the name of the farm,) I could not tear myself away sooner."