An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America

An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America

by John Patterson MacLean
Epub (Kobo), Epub (Adobe)
Publication Date: 16/03/2020

A range of mountains forming a lofty and somewhat shattered rampart, commencing in the county of Aberdeen, north of the river Don, and extending in a southwest course across the country, till it terminates beyond Ardmore, in the county of Dumbarton, divides Scotland into two distinct parts. The southern face of these mountains is bold, rocky, dark and precipitous. The land south of this line is called the Lowlands, and that to the north, including the range, the Highlands. The maritime outline of the Highlands is also bold and rocky, and in many places deeply indented by arms of the sea. The northern and western coasts are fringed with groups of islands. The general surface of the country is mountainous, yet capable of supporting innumerable cattle, sheep and deer. The scenery is nowhere excelled for various forms of beauty and sublimity. The lochs and bens have wrought upon the imaginations of historians, poets and novelists. The inhabitants living within these boundaries were as unique as their bens and glens. From the middle of the thirteenth century they have been distinctly marked from those inhabiting the low countries, in consequence of which they exhibit a civilization peculiarly their own. By their Lowland neighbors they were imperfectly known, being generally regarded as a horde of savage thieves, and their country as an impenetrable wilderness. From this judgment they made no effort to free themselves, but rather inclined to confirm it. The language spoken by the two races greatly varied which had a tendency to establish a marked characteristic difference between them. For a period of seven centuries the entrances or passes into the Grampians constituted a boundary between both the people and their language. At the south the Saxon language was universally spoken, while beyond the range the Gaelic formed the mother tongue, accompanied by the plaid, the claymore and other specialties which accompanied Highland characteristics. Their language was one of the oldest and least mongrel types of the great Aryan family of speech. The country in which the Gaelic was in common use among all classes of people may be defined by a line drawn from the western opening of the Pentland Frith, sweeping around St. Kilda, from thence embracing the entire cluster of islands to the east and south, as far as Arran; thence to the Mull of Kintyre, re-entering the mainland at Ardmore, in Dumbartonshire, following the southern face of the Grampians to Aberdeenshire, and ending on the north-east point of Caithness. For a period of nearly two hundred years the Highlander has been an object of study by strangers. Travellers have written concerning them, but dwelt upon such points as struck their fancy. A people cannot be judged by the jottings of those who have not studied the question with candor and sufficient information. Fortunately the Highlands, during the present century, have produced men who have carefully set forth their history, manners and customs. These men have fully weighed the questions of isolation, mode of life, habits of thought, and wild surroundings, which developed in the Highlander firmness of decision, fertility in resource, ardor in friendship, love of country, and a generous enthusiasm, as well as a system of government. The Highlanders were tall, robust, well formed and hardy. Early marriages were unknown among them, and it was rare for a female of puny stature and delicate constitution to be honored with a husband. They were not obliged by art in forming their bodies, for Nature acted her part bountifully to them, and among them there are but few bodily imperfections. The division of the people into clans, tribes or families, under separate chiefs, constituted the most remarkable circumstance in their political condition, which ultimately resulted in many of their peculiar sentiments, customs and institutions.

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Library of Alexandria

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