Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 13, Part 2: Dundee, Aberdeen and the Highlands

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We left Strathern therefore, with the little country of Menteith, for our return, and went down into Angus, on the northern banks of Tay to Dundee, a pleasant, large, populous city, and well deserves the title of Bonny Dundee, so often given it in discourse, as well as in song (bonny, in Scots, signifying beautiful).

As it stands well for trade, so it is one of the best trading towns in Scotland, and that as well as foreign business as in manufacture and home trade. It has but an indifferent harbour, but the Tay is a large, safe, and good road, and there is deep water and very good anchor-hold almost all over it.

It is exceedingly populous, full of stately houses, and large handsome streets; particularly it has four very good streets, with a large market-place in the middle, the largest and fairest in Scotland, except only that of Aberdeen. The Tolbooth, or Town-Hall is an old, but large and convenient building.

The inhabitants here appear like gentlemen, as well as men of business, and yet are real merchants too, and make good what we see so eminently in England, that true bred merchants are the best of gentlemen. They have a very good and large correspondence here with England, and ship off a great deal of linnen thither, also a great quantity of corn is sent from hence, as well to England as to Holland. They have likewise a good share of the Norway trade; and as they are concern'd in the herring-fishery, they consequently have some east country trade, viz. to Dantzick, Koningsberg, Riga, and the neighbouring parts. They send ships also to Sweden, and import iron, copper, tar, pitch, deals, &. from the several trading ports of that kingdom.

These several trades occasion a concourse of shipping at the port; and there are not a few ships belonging to the place. The country behind them call'd the Carse, or the Carse of Gowry, with the vale mention'd above of Strathmoor; for Strath, in their dialect, signifies a vale, or level country; I say, all that country abounds in corn, and the port of Dundee ships off great quantities, when a plentiful crop allows it, to the great advantage of the gentlemen as well as farmers; for as the gentlemen receive all their rents in kind, they would find a great difficulty sometimes to dispose of it, if the merchant here did not ship it off, either for London or Amsterdam.

The town of Dundee stands at a little distance from the Tay, but they are join'd by a causeway or walk, well pav'd with flat freestone, such as the side-ways in Cheapside and Cornhil, and rows of trees are planted on either side the walk, which makes it very agreeable. On one part of this walk are very good warehouses for merchandises, especially for heavy goods; and also granaries for corn, of which sometimes they have a vast quantity laid up here; and these being near the harbour are convenient, as well for the housing of goods, when landed, as for the easy shipping off what lies for exportation.

The great church was formerly collegiate, being the cathedral of the place, and was a very large building; but part of it was demolish'd in the Civil War; the remainder is divided, like as others are at Edinburgh, Glasgow, &. into three churches for the present use of the citizens.

They have also a meeting-house or two for the episcopal worship; for you are to take it once for all, that north by Tay, there are far more of the episcopal perswasion than are to be found in the south; and the farther north, the more so, as we shall see in its order.

The tower upon the great church here is a handsome square building, large, and antient, but very high, and is a good ornament to the city; it resembles the great tower upon the cathedral of Canterbury, but not quite so high. There is a fine and well endow'd hospital for decay'd townsmen of Dundee, where they are well taken care of, and provided for. The Pretender was in this city soon after his landing, and staid here some time before he advanc'd to Scoon; the Laird of Claverhouse of the name of Graham, who was kill'd, as has been said, at the Battle of Gillecranky, was made Viscount of Dundee by King James VII; but enjoy'd it not long. His seat of Claverhouse is not far off, and he had the estate annex'd to the Constabulary of Dundee, given him with the title, but 'tis now in the Duke of Douglass.

It is twenty Scots miles from Dundee to Montrose, the way pleasant, the country fruitful and bespangl'd, as the sky in a clear night with stars of the biggest magnitude, with gentlemen's houses, thick as they can be suppos'd to stand with pleasure and conveniency. Among these is the noble palace of Penmure, forfeited in the late rebellion by the unfortunate Earl of Penmure, who was himself wounded in the fight near Dumblain, and with that action ruin'd a noble and antient family, and a fine estate. The surname of the family is Maul, and Maulsburgh, a small port near Montrose, bears the name still to posterity.

The town and port of Montrose, vulgarly, but ignorantly, call'd Montross, was our next stage, standing upon the eastmost shore of Angus, open to the German, or, if you please now, the Caledonian ocean, and at the mouth of the little River South Esk, which makes the harbour.

We did not find so kind a reception among the common people of Angus, and the other shires on this side the country, as the Scots usually give to strangers: But we found it was because we were English men; and we found that their aversion did not lye so much against us on account of the late successes at, and after the rebellion, and the forfeiture of the many noblemen's and gentlemen's estates among them as fell on that occasion, though that might add to the disgust: But it was on account of the Union, which they almost universally exclaim'd against tho' sometimes against all manner of just reasoning.

This town of Montrose is a sea-port, and, in proportion to its number of inhabitants, has a considerable trade, and is tolerably well built, and capable of being made strong, only that it extends too far in length.

The French fleet made land at this port, when they had the Pretender on board, in the reign of Queen Ann, having overshot the mouth of the firth so far, whither they had first design'd: But this mistake, which some thought a misfortune, was certainly a deliverance to them; for as this mistake gave time to the English fleet to come up with them, before they could enter the firth, so it left them time and room also to make their escape, which, if they had been gone up the firth, they could never have done, but must inevitably have been all burnt and destroy'd, or taken by the British fleet under Sir George Bing, which was superior to them in force.

From Montrose the shore lies due north to Aberdeen: by the way is the castle of Dunnoter, a strong fortification, upon a high precipice of a rock, looking down on the sea, as on a thing infinitely below it. The castle is wall'd about with invincible walls, said the honest Scots man that shew'd us the road to it, having towers at proper distances, after the old way of fortifying towns.

This was chiefly made use of as a prison for State-prisoners; and I have seen a black account of the cruel usage the unhappy prisoners have met with there; but those times are over with Scotland. The Earl Marshal, of the name of Keith, was the lord of this castle, as also of a good house near it, but not a great estate, and what he had is now gone; for being in the late rebellion his estate is forfeited; and we are told his Lordship, making his escape, is now in the service of Spain, where he commands an Irish regiment of foot.

From hence there is nothing remarkable till we come to Aberdeen, a place so eminent, that it commands some stay upon it; yet, I shall contract its description as much as possible, the compass of my work being so great, and the room I have for it so small.

Aberdeen is divided into two towns or cities, and stands at the mouth of two rivers; the towns are the new and the old Aberdeen, about a mile distant from one another, one situate on the River Don or Dune, the other on the River Dee, from whence it is suppos'd to take its name; for Aber, in the old British language, signifies a mouth, or opening of a river, the same which in Scotland is understood by a frith or firth: So that both these towns are describ'd in the name, (viz.) Aberdee, the mouth of the River Dee, and Aberdeen, the mouth of the River Don. So in the south-west part of the shores of Britain, and in Wales, we have Aberconway, the mouth of the River Conway, Aberistwith, and several others.

The old Aberdeen, on the bank of the Don, must, without doubt, be very antient; for they tell us the new Aberdeen is suppos'd to be upwards of 1200 years old. Nor do any of their registers tell us the particular time of its being built, or by whom. The cities are equally situated for trade, being upon the very edge of the sea; and 'tis the common opinion, that part of the old city was wash'd down by the sea; so that it obliged the citizens to build farther off: This part was that they call'd the monastery, and this may give rise to that opinion, that thereupon they went and built the New Aberdeen upon the bank of the other river, and which, 'tis evident, is built upon a piece of hilly ground, or upon three hills: But this is all conjecture, and has only probability to support it, not any thing of history.

Old Aberdeen is also on one side the county, and new Aberdeen on another, though both in that which is call'd in general the county of Marr. The extraordinaries of Aberdeen, take both the cities together, are

  1. The cathedral.
  2. The two colleges.
  3. The great market-place.
  4. The bridges, particularly that of one arch.
  5. The commerce.
  6. The fishery.
  1. The cathedral dedicated to St. Machar, tho' none knows who that Saint was, is a large and antient building; the building majestick, rather than curious, and yet not without its beauty in architecture; it appears to have been built at several times, and, perhaps, at the distance of many years, one part from another. The columns on which the great steeple stands are very artful, and the contrivance shews great judgement in the builder or director of the work. This church has been divided into several parts since the abolishing of episcopacy, as a government in the Church; (for it is not abolished in Aberdeen, as a principle, to this day) abundance of the people are still episcopal in their opinion; and they have, by the gentle government they live under, so much liberty still, as that they have a chapel for the publick exercise of their worship, after the manner of the Church of England, besides several meetings for the episcopal dissenters, which are not so publick.
  2. The two colleges; one of these are in the old city, and the other in the new.
    1. That in the old city is also the oldest college, being founded Anno 1500. by the famous bishop Elphingstone, who lies buried in the chapel or college church, under a very magnificent and curious monument. The steeple of this church was the most artificial that I have seen in Scotland, and very beautiful, according to the draught of its old building: But it is much more so now, having been injur'd, if not quite broken down by a furious tempest Anno 1361; but rebuilt after the first model by the care, and at the expence of the bishop Dr. Forbes, as also of Dr. Gordon, M.D. and several considerable benefactors. I have not room to go through the particular account of this foundation, take it in short in its original, that it consists of A Principal or master, or head, call it as you please, with a Sub-Principal, which is not usual, who is also a Professor of Philosophy.

      A Professor of Divinity.
      Three Professors of the Civil Law, now reduced to but one.
      Three Professors of Philosophy, who are call'd Regents, besides the Sub-Principal.
      One Professor of the Oriental Tongues.
      One Professor of the Mathematicks.
      One Professor of Physick.

      There were formerly an organist, five choristers, and ten other fellows, as we may call them, but who were call'd also professors. In those days also they had a chancellor, who was always the bishop, and they conferr'd the degrees of Doctor of Divinity, which they do not now, except on extraordinary occasions. King James IV. was the patron of this college, but its settlement was from Pope Alexander VI. with large privileges, equal to that of Paris and of Bononia, the Bull for which is still extant; and from this, that king thus espousing the house, it obtain'd the name of King's College, though the bishop was the founder, as is said above.

      The founder also gave a library, and many other costly things; but they, it seems, suffer'd in the change of times very much.
    2. The new college, which is in the new city of Aberdeen, and is call'd the Marshallian or Marshal's College, because founded by Keith Earl Marshal, in the year 1593. And though it was a magnificent building at first, and well endow'd, yet the citizens have much beautify'd and enlarg'd it, and adjoin'd to it a noble library well stock'd with books, as well by the citizens as by the benefactions of gentlemen, and lovers of learning; as also with the finest and best mathematical instruments.

      This college likewise consists of

      A Principal.
      A Professor of Divinity.
      Four Professors of Philosophy, call'd Regents.
      A Professor of the Mathematicks.
      A Professor of Physick.

      Also a Humanity School with a Master and three Ushers, and a Musick School; the Humanity School was founded by Dr Dune.
    Those two colleges form the university, and are so call'd, but they are independent on one another; they are fam'd for having bred many men of learning; but that is not to my purpose here.
  3. The third article is the great market-place, which, indeed, is very beautiful and spacious; and the streets adjoining are very handsome and well built, the houses lofty and high; but not so as to be inconvenient, as in Edinburgh; or low, to be contemptible as in most other places. But the generality of the citizens' houses are built of stone four story high, handsome sash-windows, and are very well furnish'd within, the citizens here being as gay, as genteel, and, perhaps, as rich, as in any city in Scotland.
  4. The bridges; particularly that at Old Aberdeen, over the Don: It consists of one immense arch of stone, sprung from two rocks, one on each side, which serve as a buttment to the arch, so that it may be said to have no foundation, nor to need any. The workmanship is artful, and so firm, that it may possibly end with the conflagration only. The other bridge is upon the River Dee, about a mile west above New Aberdeen, and has seven very stately fine arches. There are several other buildings which should be describ'd, if our work was to dwell here, as the almshouses, hospitals, the great church of St. Nicholas, divided into three, with the steeple, and the two vast bells in it; the custom-house, the wharf, the port; all which, considering what part of the world they are in, are really extraordinary, and that brings me to the fifth and sixth articles, which are, indeed, of the same kind, viz.

5. and 6. The commerce and the fishery.

The fishery is very particular; the salmon is a surprising thing, the quantity that is taken in both rivers, but especially in the Dee, is a kind of prodigy; the fishing, or property, is erected into a company, and divided into shares, and no person can enjoy above one share at a time; the profits are very considerable, for the quantity of fish taken is exceeding great, and they are sent abroad into several parts of the world, particularly into France, England, the Baltick, and several other parts.

The herring-fishing is a common blessing to all this shore of Scotland, and is like the Indies at their door; the merchants of Aberdeen cannot omit the benefit, and with this they are able to carry on their trade to Dantzick and Koningsberg, Riga and Narva, Wybourgh and Stockholm, to the more advantage.

They have a very good manufacture of linnen, and also of worsted stockings, which they send to England in great quantities, and of which they make some so fine, that I have seen them sold for fourteen, and twenty shillings a pair. They alsa send them over to Holland, and into the north and east seas in large quantities.

They have also a particular export here of pork, pickl'd and pack'd up in barrels, which they chiefly sell to the Dutch for the victualling their East-India ships and their men of war, the Aberdeen pork having the reputation of being the best cur'd, for keeping on very long voyages, of any in Europe.

They export also corn and meal, but they generally bring it from the Firth of Murray, or Cromarty, the corn coming from about Inverness where they have great quantities.

In a word, the people of Aberdeen are universal merchants, so far as the trade of the northern part of the world will extend. They drive a very great trade to Holland, to France, to Hambrough, to Norway, to Gottenburgh, and to the Baltick; and it may, in a word, be esteem'd as the third city in Scotland, that is to say, next after Edinburgh and Glasgow.

From Aberdeen the coast goes on to a point of land, which is the farthest north-east part of Britain, and is call'd by the sailors Buchanness, being in the shire or county of Buchan. It was to this point the French squadron, with the Pretender on board, in the reign of Queen Ann, kept their flight in sight of the shore, being thus far pursued by Sir George Bing with the English fleet: But from hence steering away north-east, as if for the Norway coast, and the English admiral seeing no probability of coming up with them, gave over the chase, when they, altering their course in the night, stood away south, and came back to Dunkirk where they set out.

Upon this part are several good towns; as particularly Peter-Head; a good market-town, and a port with a small harbour for fishing vessels, but no considerable trade, Aberdeen being so near.

This country, however remote, is full of nobility and gentry, and their seats are seen even to the extremest shores: The family of Frazer carrys its name to Fraserburgh, on the very norther-most point of the county. Ereskines, Earls of Marr, have their family seat at Kildrummy, in the county of Marr, a little south of this part of the country, where the late unhappy earl first set up his standard of the Pretender. The Hayes, Earls of Errol, are in Buchan; and the family of Forbes, Lord Forbes, and Forbes Lord Pitsligo, are still farther, and the latter on the very shore of the Caledonian Ocean.

Nor does the remote situation hinder, but these gentlemen have the politest and brightest education and genius of any people so far north, perhaps, in the world, being always bred in travel abroad, and in the universities at home. The Lord Pitsligo, just mention'd, though unhappily drawn into the snare of the late insurrection, and forfeiting his estate with the rest, yet carries abroad with him, where-ever he goes, a bright genius, a head as full of learning and sound judgment, and a behaviour as polite, courtly, and full of all the good qualities that adorn a noble birth, as most persons of quality I ever saw.

Mr. Cambden relates, that on the coast of this country a great piece of amber was driven on shore by the force of the sea, as big, to use his own words, as a horse. I shall add nothing to the story, because 'tis hard to give credit to it; it is enough that I name my author, for I could not learn from the inhabitants that they ever saw any more of it.

From hence, the east shore of Scotland being at an end, the land trends away due west; and the shire of Bamf beginning, you see the towns of Bamf, Elgin, and the famous monastery of Kinloss, where the murther'd body of King Duff was, after many years, dug up, and discovered to be the same by some tokens, which, it seems, were undoubted.

From this point of the land, I mean Buchan-Ness, the ships take their distances, or accounts, for their several voyages; and what they call their departure: As in England, they do from Winterton-Ness, on the north-east part of Norfolk, or in the Downs for the voyages to the Southward.

From Fifeness, which is the northermost point, or head land on the mouth of Edinburgh Firth, being the southermost land of Fife, to this point of Buchan-Ness, the land lyes due north and south, and the shore is the eastermost land of Scotland; the distance between them is thirty-three leagues one mile, that is just 100 miles; though the mariners say that measuring by the sea it is but twenty-eight; and from Winterton-Ness, near Yarmouth, to this point call'd Buchan-Ness, is just 300 miles.

The river, or Firth of Tay, opens into the sea, about four leagues north from Fife-Ness; and as there is a light-house on the Isle of May, in the mouth of the Firth of Forth of Edinburgh, a little south of this point call'd Fife-Ness; so there are two light-houses at the entrance of the Firth of Tay, being for the directions of the sailors, when they are bound into that river; and particularly for their avoiding and sailing between two sands or shoals, which lye off from the south side of the entrance.

This point of land, call'd Buchan-Ness, is generally the first land of Great Britain, which the ships make in their voyages home from Arch-Angel in Russia, or from their whale-fishing-voyages to Greenland and Spits-Berghen in the north seas; and near this point, namely, at Pitsligo, a great ship was cast away in Queen Elizabeth's time, bound home from Arch-Angel, in which was the first ambassador, which the great Duke of Muscovy sent to any of the Christian princes of Europe, and who was commission'd to treat with Queen Elizabeth for a league of peace and commerce; and on board which was a most valuable present to the queen of rich and costly furrs; such as sables, errnine, black fox skins, and such like, being in those days esteem'd inestimable. The ambassadors, it seems, were sav'd and brought on shore by the help of the people of Pitsligo; but the ship and all the goods, and among them the rich furrs, intended for the queen, were all lost, to her Majesty's great disappointment; for the queen valued such fine things exceedingly.

At the town of Peter-Head there is a small harbour with two small piers; but it is all dry at low-water: So that the smallest ships lye a-ground, and can only go in and out at high-water, and then only small vessels.

From this point of easterly land all that great bay, or inlet of the sea, reaching quite to the north of Scotland, is call'd Murray Firth; and the northermost point is Dungsby Head, which is the east point of Caithness, and opens to Pentland Firth. By Pentland Firth you are to understand the passage of the sea beyond Caithness, that is to say between Scotland and the Isles of Orkney. This bay, call'd Murray-Firth, is not in the nature of a firth, as that of Edinburgh or Tay, being the mouths of rivers; as the Humber, or the mouth of Thames in England: but it is an open gulph or bay in the sea; as the Bay of Biscay, or the Gulph of Mexico are, and such-like: and though it may receive several rivers into it, as indeed it does, and as those bays do; yet itself is an open sea, and reaches from, as I have said, Peter-Head to Dungsby Head, opposite to the Orkneys; the distance upon the sea twenty-six leagues one mile, or seventy-nine miles; but it is almost twice as far by land, because of the depth of that bay, which obliges us to travel from Pitsligo, west, near seventy miles, till we come to Inverness.

This country of Buchan, is, indeed, more to be taken notice of from what is to be seen on the sea-shore than in the land; for the country is mountainous, poor, and more barren than its neighbours; but as we coasted along west, we came into a much better country, particularly the shires of Bamff, Elgin, and the country of Murray, from whence the bay, I just now mention'd, is called Murray Firth.

Murray is, indeed, a pleasant country, the soil fruitful, water'd with fine rivers, and full of good towns, but especially of gentlemen's seats, more and more remarkable than could, indeed, be expected by a stranger in so remote a part of the country. The River Spey, which even Mr. Cambden himself calls a noble river, passes through the middle of the country. Upon the bank of this river the Duke of Gordon has a noble seat call'd after his name, Castle-Gordon. It is, indeed, a noble, large, and antient seat; as a castle much is not to be said of it, for old fortifications are of a small import, as the world goes now: But as a dwelling or palace for a nobleman, it is a very noble, spacious, and royal building; 'tis only too large, and appears rather as a great town than as a house.

The present duke has been embroil'd a little in the late unhappy affair of the Pretender; but he got off without a forfeiture, having prudently kept himself at a distance from them til he might see the effect of things. The duke has several other seats in this part of the country; and, which is still better, has a very great estate.

All the country, on the west side of the Spey, is surprisingly agreeable, being a flat, level country, the land rich and fruitful, well peopled, and full of gentlemen's seats. This country is a testimony how much the situation of the land is concern'd in the goodness of the climate; for here the land being level and plain, for between twenty and thirty miles together, the soil is not only fruitful and rich, but the temperature of the air is soften'd, and made mild and suitable to the fruitfulness of the earth; for the harvest in this country, and in the vale of Strath-Bogy, and all the country to Inverness, is not only forward and early, as well as rich and strong; but 'tis more early than in Northumberland, nay, than it is in Darbyshire, and even than in some parts of the most southerly counties in England; as particularly in the east of Kent.

As a confirmation of this, I affirm that I have seen the new wheat of this country and Innerness brought to market to Edinburgh, before the wheat at Edinburgh has been fit to reap; and yet the harvest about Edinburgh is thought to be as forward as in most parts, even of England itself. In a word, it is usual for them to begin their harvest, in Murray and the country about it, in the month of July, and it is not very unusual to have new corn fully ripe and thresh'd out, shipp'd off, and brought to Edinburgh to sale, within the month of August.

Nor is the forwardness of the season the only testimony of the goodness of the soil here; but the crops are large, the straw strong and tall, and the ear full; and that which is still more the grain, and that particularly of the wheat, is as full, and the kind as fine, as any I have seen in England.

In this rich country is the city, or town rather, of Elgin; I say city, because in antient time the monks claim'd it for a city; and the cathedral shews, by its ruins, that it was a place of great magnificence. Nor must it be wonder'd at, if in so pleasant, so rich, and so agreeable a part of the country, all the rest being so differing from it, the clergy should seat themselves in a proportion'd number, seeing we must do them the justice to say, that if there is any place richer and more fruitful, and pleasant than another, they seldom fail to find it out.

As the country is rich and pleasant, so here are a great many rich inhabitants, and in the town of Elgin in particular; for the gentlemen, as if this was the Edinburgh, or the court, for this part of the island, leave their Highland habitations in the winter and come and live here for the diversion of the place and plenty of provisions; and there is, on this account, a great variety of gentlemen for society, and that of all parties and of all opinions. This makes Elgin a very agreeable place to live in, notwithstanding its distance, being above 450 measur'd miles from London, and more, if we must go by Edinburgh.

This rich country continues with very little intermission, till we come to Strath-Nairn, that is the valley of Nairn, where it extends a little farther in breadth towards the mountains. Nor is Strath-Nairn behind any of the other in fruitfulness: From the western part of this country you may observe that the land goes away again to the north; and, as if you were to enter into another island beyond Britain, you find a large lake or inlet from the Sea of Murray, mention'd above, going on west, as if it were to cut through the island, for we could see no end of it; nor could some of the country people tell us how far it went, but that it reach'd to Loquabre: so that we thought, till our maps and farther inquiries inform'd us, it had join'd to the western ocean.

After we had travell'd about twelve miles, and descended from a rising ground, which we were then upon, we perceived the lake contracted in one particular place to the ordinary size of a river, as if design'd by nature to give passage to the inhabitants to converse with the northern part; and then, as if that part had been sufficiently perform'd, it open'd again to its former breadth, and continued in the form of a large lake, as before, for many more miles than we could see; being in the whole, according to Mr. Cambden, twenty-three miles long; but if it be taken on both sides the pass, 'tis above thirty-five miles in length.

This situation must necessarily make the narrow part be a most important pass, from the south part of Scotland to the northern countries, which are beyond it. We have been told the Romans never conquer'd thus far; and those that magnify the conquests of Oliver Cromwell in Scotland to a height beyond what was done by the Romans, insist much upon it, that the Romans never came into this part of the country: But, if what Mr. Cambden records, and what is confirm'd by other accounts from the men of learning and of observation, this must be a mistake; for Mr. Cambden says, that near Bean-Castle in the county of Nairn, there was found, in the year 1460, a fine marble vessel finely carv'd, which was full of Roman coins of several sorts; also several old forts or mounts have been seen here, which, by their remains, evidently shew'd themselves to be Roman: But that enquiry is none of my work.

In the narrow pass (mention'd above over the lake) stands the town and fortress of Inner-Ness, that is a town on the inner bank of the River Ness. The situation of it, as I have said before, intimates that it is a place of strength; and accordingly it has a castle, founded in antient times to command the pass: And some authors write that it was antiently a royal house for the kings of Scotland. Be that as it will, Oliver Cromwell thought it a place of such importance, that he built a strong citadel here, and kept a stated garrison always in it, and sometimes more than a garrison, finding it needful to have a large body of his old veteran troops posted here to preserve the peace of the country, and keep the Highlands in awe, which they did effectually ail his time.

Here it is observ'd, that at the end of those troublesome days, when the troops on all sides came to be disbanded, and the men dispers'd, abundance of the English soldiers settled in this fruitful and cheap part of the country, and two things are observ'd from it as the consequence.

  1. That the English falling to husbandry, and cultivation of the earth after their own manner, were instrumental, with the help of a rich and fruitful soil, to bring all that part of the country into so good a method and management, as is observ'd to outdo all the rest of Scotland to this day; and this not a little contributes to the harvest being so early, and the corn so good, as is said above; for as they reap early, so they sow early, and manure and help the soil by all the regular arts of husbandry, as is practis'd in England, and which, as they learnt it from England, and by English men, so they preserve the knowledge of it, and also the industry attending it, and requir'd for it to this day.
  2. As Cromwell's soldiers initiated them thus into the arts and industry of the husbandman, so they left them the English accent upon their tongues, and they preserve it also to this day; for they speak perfect English, even much better than in the most southerly provinces of Scotland; nay, some will say that they speak it as well as at London; though I do not grant that neither. It is certain they keep the southern accent very well, and speak very good English.

They have also much of the English way of living among them, as well in their manner of dress and customs, as also of their eating and drinking, and even of their dressing and cookery, which we found here much more agreeable to English stomachs than in other parts of Scotland; all which, and several other usages and customs, they retain from the settling of three regiments of English soldiers here, after they were disbanded, and who had, at least many of them, their wives and children with them.

The fort, which was then built, and since demolish'd, has been restor'd since the revolution; and a garrison was always kept here by King William, for the better regulating the Highlands; and this post was of singular importance in the time of the late insurrection of the Lord Marr for the Pretender; when, though his party took it, they were driven out again by the country, with the assistance of the Earl of Sutherland, and several other of the nobility and gentry, who stood fast to the king's interest.

Here is a stately stone bridge of seven large arches over the River Ness, where, as I said above, it grows narrow between the sea and the lake; small vessels may come up to the town, but larger ships, when such come thither, as they often do for corn, lye at some distance east from the town.

When you are over this bridge you enter that which we truly call the north of Scotland, and others the north Highlands; in which are several distinct shires, but cannot call for a distinct description, because it is all one undistinguish'd range of mountains and woods, overspread with vast, and almost uninhabited rocks and steeps fill'd with deer innumerable, and of a great many kinds; among which are some of those the antients call'd harts and roebucks, with vast overgrown stags and hinds of the red deer kind, and with fallow-deer also.

And here, before I describe this frightful country, it is needful to observe that Scotland may be thus divided into four districts, or distinct quarters, which, however, I have not seen any of our geographers do before me, yet, I believe, may not be an improper measurement for such as would form a due idea of the whole in their minds, as follows:

  1. The South Land, or that part of Scotland south of the River Tay, drawing a line from the Tay, about Perth, to Loch-Lomond, and down again to Dumbarton, and the bank of Clyde.
  2. The Middle, or Midland, being all the country from the Tay and the Lough-Lomon, north to the Lake of Ness and the Aber, including a long slope to the south, taking in the western Highlands of Argyle and Lorn, and the isles of Isla and Jura.
  3. The North Land, being all the country beyond Innerness and the Lough, or River Ness, north, drawing the line over the narrow space of Glengary, between the Ness and the Aber, and bounded by them both from the eastern to the western sea.
  4. The islands, being all the western and northern islands (viz.) the Hebrides, the Skye, the Orkneys, and the Isles of Shetland.

Upon the foot of this division I am now, having pass'd the bridge over the Ness, enter'd upon the third division of Scotland. call'd the North Land; and it is of this country that, as I am saying, the mountains are so full of deer, harts, roe-bucks, &.

Here are also a great number of eagles which breed in the woods, and which prey upon the young fawns when they first fall. Some of these eagles are of a mighty large kind, such as are not to be seen again in those parts of the world.

Here are also the best hawks of all the kinds for sport which are in the kingdom, and which the nobility and gentry of Scotland make great use of; for not this part of Scotland only, but all the rest of the country abounds with wild-fowl.

The rivers and lakes also in all this country are prodigiously full of salmon; it is hardly credible what the people relate of the quantity of salmon taken in these rivers, especially in the Spey, the Nairn, the Ness, and other rivers thereabout. The several countries beyond the Ness are:

} And beyond
those the
islands of
{ Orkney and

The Earl of Sutherland has a castle beyond Innerness, call'd Dunrobin, situate on the eastern shore, which his lordship was sent down by sea to take an early possession of in the late rebellion; and which, if he had not done, would soon have fallen into the hands of the late Earl of Marr's party; but by his coming timely thither it was prevented, and the country on that side kept from joining the troops of the Pretender, at least for that time.

Innerness is a pleasant, clean, and well built town: There are some merchants in it, and some good share of trade. It consists of two parishes, and two large, handsome streets, but no publick buildings of any note, except as above, the old castle and the bridge.

North of the mouth of this river is the famous Cromarty Bay, or Cromarty Firth, noted for being the finest harbour, with the least business, of, perhaps, any in Britain; 'tis, doubtless, a harbour or port, able to receive the Royal Navy of Great Britain, and, like Milford-Haven in Wales, both the going in and out safe and secure: But as there is very little shipping employ'd in these parts, and little or no trade, except for corn, and in the season of it some fishing, so this noble harbour is left intirely useless in the world.

Our geographers seem to be almost as much at a loss in the description of this north part of Scotland, as the Romans were to conquer it; and they are oblig'd to fill it up with hills and mountains, as they do the inner parts of Africa, with lyons and elephants, for want of knowing what else to place there. Yet this country is not of such difficult access, as to be pass'd undescrib'd, as if it were impenetrable; here being on the coast Dornoch a Royal Burgh, situate upon the sea, opposite to that which they call Tarbat Bay, eminent for the prodigious quantity of herrings taken, or, which rather might be taken here in their season. There is a castle here belonging also to the Earl of Sutherland, and it was the seat of a bishop; but the cathedral, which is but mean, is now otherwise employ'd.

All the country beyond this river, and the Loch flowing into it, is call'd Caithness, and extends to the northermost land in Scotland.

Some people tell us they have both lead, copper, and iron in this part of Scotland, and I am very much inclin'd to believe it: but it seems reserv'd for a future, and more industrious age to search into; which, if it should happen to appear, especially the iron, they would no more have occasion to say, that nature furnish'd them with so much timber, and woods of such vast extent to no purpose, seeing it may be all little enough to supply the forges for working up the iron stone, and improving that useful product: And should a time come when these hidden treasures of the earth should be discover'd and improv'd, this part of Scotland may no longer be call'd poor, for such a production would soon change the face of things, bring wealth and people, and commerce to it; fill their harbours full of ships, their towns full of people; and, by consuming the provisions, bring the soil to be cultivated, its fish cur'd, and its cattle consum'd at home, and so a visible prosperity would shew itself among them.

Nor are the inhabitants so wild and barbarous as, perhaps, they were in those times, or as our writers have pretended. We see every day the gentlemen born here; such as the Mackenzies, McLeans, Dundonalds, Gordons, McKays, and others, who are nam'd among the clans as if they were barbarians, appear at court, and in our camps and armies, as polite, and as finish'd gentlemen as any from other countries, or even among our own; and, if I should say, outdoing our own in many things, especially in arms and gallantry, as well abroad as at home. But I am not writing panegyricks or satyrs here, my business is with the country. There is no room to doubt, but in this remote part of the island the country is more wild and uncultivated, as it is mountainous, and (in some parts) thinner of inhabitants, than in the more southern parts of the island.

Here are few towns, but the people live dispers'd, the gentry leading the commons or vassals, as they are call'd, to dwell within the respective bounds of their several clans, where they are, as we may say, little monarchs, reigning in their own dominions; nor do the people know any other sovereign, at least many of them do not.

This occasions the people to live dispers'd among the hills without any settled towns. Their employment is chiefly hunting, which is, as we may say, for their food; though they do also breed large quantities of black cattle, with which they pay their lairds or leaders the rent of the lands: And these are the cattle which, even from the remotest parts, as well as from other in the west and south, are driven annually to England to be sold, and are brought up even to London, especially into the countries of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex.

Having thus, as I say, few or no towns to describe north of Innerness, it must suffice that I thus give a just description of the country in general: For example, it is surrounded with the sea, and those two great inlets of water, mention'd above, call'd the Ness and the Abre: So that except a small part, or neck of land, reaching from one to the other, and which is not above six miles, I mean that country which Mr. Cambden calls the Garrow, or Glengarrough, others Glengary; I say, this neck of land excepted, the whole division, as form'd above under the head of the North Land, would be a distinct island, separated from all the rest of Great Britain, as effectually as the Orkneys or the Isle of Skey is separated from this.

In a word, the great Northern Ocean surrounds this whole part of Scotland; that part of it to the east, mention'd just now, lyes open to the sea without any cover; the west and north parts are, as it were, surround-ed with out-works as defences, to break off the raging ocean from the north; for the western islands on one side, and the Orkneys on the other, lye as so many advanc'd fortifications or redoubts, to combat that enemy at a distance. I shall view them in their course.

From Dunrobin Castle, which, I mention'd before, you have nothing of note offers itself, either by sea or land; but an extended shore lying north and south without towns and without harbours, and indeed, as there are none of the first, so there are wanting none of the last; for, as I said Cromarty Bay, there is a noble harbour without ships or trade; so here nature, as if providentially foreseeing there was no room for trade, forbore giving herself the trouble to form harbours and creeks where they should be useless, and without people.

The land thus extended as above, lyes north and south to Dungsby-Head, which is the utmost extent of the land on the east side of Britain, north, and is distant from Cromarty eighteen leagues north. This point of Dingsby, or Dungsby-Head, is in the north part, as I observ'd of Buchan and Winterton before; 'tis the place from whence the sailors take their distances, and keep their accounts in their going farther north; as for example; From this point of Dingsby-Head to the Fair Isle, which is the first of Shetland, or the last of the Orkneys, call it which we will, for it lyes between both, is 25 leagues, 75 miles.

From the same Dingsby-Head to Sumburgh-Head, that is to Shetland, is 32 leagues, 96 miles, and to Lerwick Fort in Shetland no miles.

Thus from Buchan-Ness to Sumburgh-Head in Shetland, is 47 leagues.

And from Winterton Ness near Yarmouth, on the coast of Norfolk, to Buchan Ness, on the coast of Aberdeen, is just 100 leagues. So from Winterton to Shetland is 147 leagues, 441 miles.

But this is the proper business of the mariners. I am now to observe that we are here at the extreme end or point of the island of Great Britain; and that here the land bears away west, leaving a large strait or sea, which they call Pentland Firth, and which divides, between the island of Great Britain, and the isles of the Orkneys; a passage broad and fair, for 'tis not less than five leagues over, and with a great depth of water; so that any ships, or fleets of ships may go thro' it: But the tides are so fierce, so uncertain, and the gusts and suddain squalls of wind so frequent, that very few merchants-ships care to venture thro' it; and the Dutch East-India ships, which come north about, (as 'tis call'd) in their return from India, keep all farther off, and choose to come by Fair Isle, that is to say, in the passage between the islands of Orkney and Shetland. And here the Dutch send their squadron of men of war generally to meet them, because, as if it were in a narrow lane, they are sure to meet with them there.

Here the passage is not only broader; for it is at least nine leagues from north Ranalsha, the farthest island of the Orkneys, to Fair Isle, and five more from Fair Isle to Shetland: So that they have a passage of fourteen leagues between the Orkneys and Shetland, with only a small island in the way, which has nothing dangerous about it; also the mountainous country being now all out of reach; the sea is open and calm, as in other places; nor is there any dangerous current or shoals to disturb them.

In the passage, between the lands end of Britain and the Orkneys, is a small island, which our mariners call Stroma, Mr. Cambden and others Sowna; 'tis spoken much of as dangerous for ships: But I see no room to record any thing of that kind any more than that there are witches and spirits haunting it, which draw ships on shore to their misfortunes. Such things I leave to the people who are of the opinion the Devil has such retreats for doing mischief; for my own part I believe him employ'd in business of more moment.

As Dingsby-Head is the most northerly land of Great Britain, 'tis worth observing to you that here, in the month of June, we had so clear an uninterrupted day, that, though indeed the sun does set, that is to say, the horizon covers its whole body for some hours, yet you might see to read the smallest print, and to write distinctly, without the help of a candle, or any other light, and that all night long.

No wonder the antient mariners, be they Ph?nician or Carthaginian, or what else you please, who in those days knew nothing of the motion of the heavenly bodies, when they were driven thus far, were surpris'd at finding they had lost the steady rotation of day and night, which they thought had spread over the whole globe.

No wonder they talked much of their Ultima Thule, and that the Elysian fields must lye this way; when they found that they were already come to everlasting day, they could no longer doubt but heaven lay that way, or at least that this was the high way to it; and accordingly, when they came home, and were to give an account of these things among their neighbours, they fill'd them with astonishment; and 'twas wonderful they did not really fit out ships for the disco very; for who would ever have gone so near heaven, and not ventur'd a little farther to see whether they could find it or no?

From hence west we go along the shore of the firth or passage, which they call Pentland; and here is the house so famous, call'd John a Grot's house, where we set our horses' feet into the sea, on the most northerly land, as the people say, of Britain, though, I think, Dungsby-Head is as far north. Tis certain, however, the difference is but very small, being either of them in the latitude of 591/6 north, and Shetland reaching above two degrees farther. The dominions of Great Britain are extended from the Isle of Wight, in the latitude of 50 degrees, to the Isles of Unsta in Shetland, in the latitude of 61 degrees, 30 minutes, being ten degrees, or full 600 miles in length; which island of Unsta being the most remote of the Isles of Shetland to the north east, lyes 167 leagues from Winterton Ness in Norfolk.

Here we found, however mountainous and wild the country appear'd, the people were extremely well furnish'd with provisions; and especially they had four sorts of provisions in great plenty; and with a supply of which 'tis reasonable to say they could suffer no dangerous want.

  1. Very good bread, as well oat bread as wheat, though the last not so cheap as the first.
  2. Venison exceeding plentiful, and at all seasons, young or old, which they kill with their guns wherever they find it; for there is no restraint, but 'tis every man's own that can kill it. By which means the Highlanders not only have all of them fire-arms, but they are all excellent marksmen.
  3. Salmon in such plenty as is scarce credible, and so cheap, that to those who have any substance to buy with, it is not worth their while to catch it themselves. This they eat fresh in the season, and for other times they cure it by drying it in the sun, by which they preserve it all the year.

They have no want of cows and sheep, but the latter are so wild, that sometimes were they not, by their own disposition, used to flock together, they would be much harder to kill than the deer.

From hence to the west point of the passage to Orkney is near twenty miles, being what may be call'd the end of the island of Britain; and this part faces directly to the North Pole; the land, as it were, looking forward just against the Pole Star, and the Pole so elevated, that the tail of the Ursa Major, or the Great Bear, is seen just in the zenith, or over your head; and the day is said to be eighteen hours long, that is to say, the sun is so long above the horizon: But the rest of the light is so far beyond a twilight, by reason of the smallness of the arch of that circle, which the sun makes beneath the horizon, that it is clear and perfect day almost all the time; not forgetting withal, that the dark nights take their turn with them in their season, and it is just as long night in the winter.

Yet it is observable here, that they have more temperate winters here generally speaking, than we have to the most southerly part of the island, and particularly the water in some of the rivers as in the Ness, for example, never freezes, nor are their frosts ordinarily so lasting as they are in the most southerly climates, which is accounted for from the nearness of the sea, which filling the air with moist vapours, thickens the fluids and causes that they are not so easily penetrated by the severity of the cold.

On this account the snows also are not so deep, neither do they lie so long upon the ground, as in other places, except it be on some of the high hills, in the upper and innermost part of the country, where the tops, or summits of the hills are continually cover'd with snow, and perhaps have been so for many ages, so that here if in any place of the world they may justly add to the description of their country,

--vast wat'ry lakes, which spread below,
And mountains cover'd with eternal snow.

On the most inland parts of this country, especially in the shire of Ross, they have vast woods of firr trees, not planted and set by men's hands, as I have described in the southern part of Scotland, but growing wild and undirected, otherwise than as nature planted and nourished them up, by the additional help of time, nay of ages. Here are woods reaching from ten, to fifteen, and twenty miles in length, and proportioned in breadth, in which there are firrs, if we may believe the inhabitants, large enough to make masts for the biggest ships in the Navy Royal, and which are rendered of no use, meerly for want of convenience of water carriage to bring them away; also they assure us there are a sufficient quantity of other timber for a supply to all Britain.

How far this may be true, that is to say, as to the quantity, that I do not undertake to determine: But I must add a needful memorandum to the Scots noblemen, &. in whose estates these woods grow, that if they can not be made useful one way, they may be made so another, and if they cannot fell the timber, and cut it into masts and deals, and other useful things for bringing away, having no navigation; they may yet burn it, and draw from it vast quantities of pitch, tar, rosin, turpentine, &. which is of easier carriage, and may be carried on horses to the water's edge, and then ship'd for the use of the merchant, and this way their woods may be made profitable, whatever they might be before.

We find no manufactures among the people here, except it be that the women call their thrift, namely, spinning of woollen, or linnen for their own uses, and indeed not much of that; perhaps, the time may come, when they may be better and more profitably employ'd that way; for if as I have observ'd, they should once come to work the mines, which there is reason to believe are to be found there, and to search the bowels of the earth, for iron and copper, the people would soon learn to stay at home, and the women would find work as well as the men; but this must be left to time and posterity.

We were now in the particular county called Strathnaver, or the Vale on the Naver, the remotest part of all the island, though not the most barren or unfruitful; for here as well as on the eastern shore is good corn produced, and sufficient of it at least for the inhabitants; perhaps they do not send much abroad, though sometimes also they send it over to the Orkneys, and also to Shetland. This county belongs to the Earl of Sutherland whose eldest son bears the title of Lord Strathnaver.

And now leaving the northern prospect we pass the opposite point west from Dingsby-head, and which the people call Farro-head, tho' Mr. Camden (by what authority, or from what originals I know not) gives it a long account of, and calls these two points by two opposite names:

The east point, or Dingsby-head, he calls Virvedrum Promontorium .

The west point, or Farro-head, he calls Saruedrum Promontorium .

From hence the vast western ocean appears, what name to give it the geographers themselves do not seem to agree, but it certainly makes a part of the great Atlantick Sea, and is to be called by no other name, for it has no land or country to derive from.

And now we were to turn our faces S. for the islands of this sea, which make the fourth division of Scotland as mentioned before. I may if I have room give as just a description of them as I can from authentick relations; for being on horse-back and no convenience of shipping presenting itself here, I am to own that we did not go over to those islands personally, neither was it likely any person whose business was meer curiosity and diversion, should either be at the expence, or run the risque of such a hazardous passage where there was so little worth observation to be found.

We therefore turned our faces to the south, and with great satisfaction after so long and fateaguing a journey; and unless we had been assisted by the gentlemen of the country, and with very good guides, it had been next to an impossibility to have pass'd over this part of the country. I do confess if I was to recommend to any men whose curiosity tempted them to travel over this country, the best method for their journeying, it should be neither to seek towns, for it would be impossible to find such in proper stages for their journey; nor to make themselves always burthensome to the Highland chiefs, tho' there I can assure them they would always meet with good treatment, and great hospitality.

But I would propose travelling with some company, and carrying tents with them, and so encamping every night as if they were an army.

It is true they would do well to have the countenance of the gentlemen, and chiefs as above, and to be recommended to them from their friends from one to another, as well for guides as for safety, otherwise I would not answer for what might happen: But if they are first well recommended as strangers, and have letters from one gentleman to another, they would want neither guides nor guards, nor indeed would any man touch them; but rather protect them if there was occasion in all places; and by this method they might in the summer time lodge, when, and wherever they pleased, with safety and pleasure; travelling no farther at a time, than they thought fit; and as for their provisions, they might supply themselves by their guns, with very great plenty of wild fowl, and their attendants and guides would find convenient places to furnish other things sufficient to carry with them.

It would be no unpleasant account to relate a journey which five, two Scots and three English gentlemen, took in this manner for their diversion, in order to visit the late Duke of Gordon, but it would be too long for this place: It would be very diverting to shew how they lodg'd every night. How two Highlanders who attended them, and who had been in the army, went before every evening and pitch'd their little camp. How they furnish'd themselves with provisions, carry'd some with them, and dress'd and prepared what they kill'd with their guns; and how very easily they travelled over all the mountains and wasts, without troubling themselves with houses or lodgings; but as I say the particulars are too long for this place.

Indeed in our attempt to come down to the southward by the coast of Tain, and the shire of Ross, we should have been extreamly disappointed, and perhaps have been obliged to get a ship or bark, to have carry'd us round the Isle of Skye into Loquhaber, had it not been for the extraordinary courtesie of some of the gentlemen of the country.

On the other hand we unexpectedly met here some English men, who were employ'd by merchants in the S. (whether at London or Edinburgh I do not now remember) to take and cure a large quantity of white fish, and afterwards herrings, on account of trade. Here we had not only the civility of their assistance and accommodation in our journey, but we had the pleasure of seeing what progress they made in their undertaking. As for herrings indeed the quantity was prodigious, and we had the pleasure of seeing something of the prodigy, for I can call it no other; the shoal was as I might say beginning to come, or had sent their vant-couriers before them, when we first came to the head of Pentland Firth, and in a fortnight's time more, the body of their numberless armies began to appear; but before we left the coast you would have ventur'd to say of the sea, as they do of the River Tibiscus, or Theisse in Hungary, that it was one third water, and two thirds fish; the operation of taking them, could hardly be call'd fishing, for they did little more than dip for them into the water and take them up.

As to the quantity, I make no scruple to say, that if there had been ten thousand ships there to have loaded with them, they might all have been filled and none of them mist; nor did the fish seem to stay, but pass'd on to the south, that they might supply other parts, and make way also for those innumerable shoals which were to come after.

Had the quantity of white fish been any way proportion'd to the undertaking as the herring was, there would no doubt have been such encouragement to the merchant, that they would never have given it over, but they found it would not fully answer: Not but there were great quantities of cod, and the fish very sizeable and good, but not so great a quantity as to make that dispatch in taking them (as they are taken with hook and line) sufficient for loading of ships, or laying up a large quantity in the season; and this I doubt discouraged the undertaking, the merchants finding the expence to exceed the return.

Here we found the town of Tain, and some other villages tollerably well inhabited, and some trade also, occasioned principally by the communication with the western islands, and also by the herring fishing, the fishing boats from other parts often putting into these ports; for all their coast is full of loughs and rivers, and other openings which make very good harbours of shipping; and that which is remarkable, some of those loughs, are infinitely full of herrings, even where, as they tell us, they have no communication with the sea, so that they must have in all probability been put into them alive by some particular hands, and have multiplied there as we find at this time.

We could understand nothing on this side of what the people said, any more than if we had been in Morocco; and all the remedy we had was, that we found most of the gentlemen spoke Frenen, and some few spoke broad Scots; we found it also much for our convenience to make the common people believe we were French.

Should we go about here to give you an account of the religion of the people in this country, it would be an unpleasant work, and perhaps scarce seem to deserve credit; you would hardly believe that in a Christian island, as this is said to be, there should be people found who know so little of religion, or of the custom of Christians, as not to know a Sunday, or Sabbath, from a working day, or the worship of God from an ordinary meeting, for conversation: I do not affirm that it is so, and I shall say no more of it here, because I would not publish what it is to be hoped may in time find redress; but I cannot but say that his Majesty's gift of I,oool . annually to the Assembly of Scotland, for sending ministers and missionaries for the propagating Christian knowledge in the Highlands, is certainly one of the most needful charities that could have been thought of, worthy of a king, and well suited to that occasion; and if prudently apply'd, as there is reason to believe it will be, may in time break in upon this horrible ignorance, that has so far spread over this unhappy part of the country.

On the other hand, what shall we say to the neglect, which for so many years past has been the occasion of this surprizing darkness among the people, when the poor abandon'd creatures have not so much as had the common instruction of Christianity, so much as to know whether there was any such thing as a God or no, much less how to worship him; and if at any time any glympse of light had been infus'd into them, and they had been taught any knowledge of superior things, it has been by the diligence of the Popish clergy, who to do them justice, have shewn more charity, and taken more pains that way, than some whose work it had been, and who it might much more have been expected from?

But the state of religion is not my present subject; 'tis certain the people have the Bible in their own language, the Irs, and the missionaries now are oblig'd to preach to them, and examine or catechise their children in the Irs language, so that we are not to despair of having this county as well instructed in time, as other parts of Britain; the rest must be left to his hand, that over rules the minds of men, and causes them to know, even in spite of the defects of common teaching.

On this coast is the Isle of Skye, lying from the west north west, to the east south east, and bearing upon the main island, only separated by a narrow strait of water; something like as the Isle of Weight is separated from the county of Southampton. We left this on our right, and crossing the mountains, came with as little stay as we could to the lough of Abre, that is, the water which as I said above, assists with Lough Ness, or Loch Ness, to separate the north land of Scotland from the middle part.

This is a long and narrow inlet of the sea, which opening from the Irish Sea S. west, meets the River Abre, or as the Scots much more properly express it, the Water of Abre, for it is rather a large lake or loch, than a river, and receives innumerable small rivers into it; it begins or rises in the mountains of Ross, or of Glengary, within five or six miles from the shore of the Loch Ness, or the Water of Ness, which is a long and narrow lake like itself, and as the Ness runs away east to Innerness, and so into the great gulph called Murray Firth, so the Abre becoming presently a loch or lake, also goes away more to the southward, and sloping south west, runs into the Irish Sea as above.

From this river or water of Abre, all that mountainous barren and frightful country, which lies south of the water of Abre is call'd Loquabre, or the country bordering on Loch Abre. It is indeed a frightful country full of hidious desart mountains and unpassable, except to the Highlanders who possess the precipices. Here in spight of the most vigorous pursuit, the Highland robbers, such as the famous Rob Roy in the late disturbances, find such retreats as none can pretend to follow them into, nor could he be ever taken.

On this water of Abre, just at the entrance of the loch, was anciently a fort built, to curb the Highlanders, on either side; it was so situated, that tho' it might indeed be block'd up by land and be distress'd by a siege, the troops besieging being masters of the field, yet as it was open to the sea, it might always receive supplies by shipping, the government being supposed to be always master of the sea, or at least 'tis very probable they will be so.

this fort the late King William caused to be rebuilt, or rather a new fort to be erected; where there was always a good garrison kept for curbing the Highlanders, which fort was for several years commanded by Lieutenant General Maitland, an old experienc'd general, who had signalized himself upon many occasions abroad, particularly at the great battle of Treves, where he serv'd under the French, and where he lost one of his hands.

I name this gentleman, not to pay any compliment to him, for he is long ago in his grave, but to intimate that this wise commander did more to gain the Highlanders and keep them in peace, and in a due subjection to the British Government, by his winning and obliging behaviour, and yet by strict observance of his orders, and the duty of a governour, than any other before him had been able to do by force, and the sword; and this particularly appear'd in the time of the Union, when endeavours were every where made use of, to bring those hot people to break out into rebellion, if possible to prevent the carrying on the treaty.

At this place we take our leave of the third division, which I call the north land of Scotland, for this fort being on the south side of the Loch Abre is therefore called inner Lochy, as the other for the like reason was called inner Ness.

We have nothing now remaining for a full survey of Scotland, but the western part, of the middle part, or division of Scotland, and this though a large country, yet affords not an equal variety with the eastern part of the same division.

To traverse the remaining part of this country, I must begin upon the upper Tay, as we may justly call it, where I left off when I turn'd away east; and here we have in especial manner the country of Brechin, the Blair as 'tis called of Athol, and the country of Bradalbin: This is a hilly country indeed, but as it is water'd by the Tay, and many other pleasant rivers which fall into it, there are also several fruitful valleys, intersperst among the hills; nor are even the Highlands themselves, or the Highlanders the inhabitants any thing so wild, untaught, or untractable, as those whom I have been a describing in the north-land division, that is to say, in Strath-Naver, Ross, Tain, &.

The Duke of Athol is lord, I was almost going to say king of this country, and has the greatest interest, or if you please, the greatest share of vassalage of any nobleman in this part of Scotland; if I had said in all Scotland, I believe I should have been supported by others that know both his person and his interest as well as most people do.

His Grace was always an opposer of the Union in the Parliament holden at Edinburgh, for passing it into an Act; but he did not carry his opposition to the height of tumult and rebellion; if he had, as some were forward to have had done, he would have possibly bid fair, to have prevented the conclusion of it, at least at that time: But the hour was come, when the calamities of war, which had for so many hundred years vext the two nations, were to have an end; and tho' the government was never weaker in power than at that time, I mean in Scotland, yet the affair was carry'd thro' with a high hand, all the little tumults and disorders of the rabble as well at Edinburgh as at Glasgow, and other places, being timely supprest, and others by prudent management prevented.

The duke has several fine seats in this country; as first at Dunkeld, upon the Tay which I mentioned before, and where there was a fight, between the regular troops and the Highlanders, in the reign of King William, another at Huntingtour, in the Strathearn, or Valley of Earn, where the duke has a fine park, and great store of deer; and it may indeed be called his hunting seat, whither he sometimes retires meerly for sport. But his ordinary residence, and where I say he keeps his court like a prince, is at the castle of Blair, farther N. and beyond the Tay, on the edge of Bradalbin upon the banks of a clear and fine river which falls into the Tay, a few miles lower.

As I have said something of this country of Bradalbin, it will be needfull to say something more, seeing some other authors have said so much: It is seated as near the center of Scotland, as any part of it can be well fixt, and that which is particular, is, that it is alledg'd, it is the highest ground of all Scotland, for that the rivers which rise here, are said to run every way from this part, some into the eastern, and some into the western seas.

The Grampian mountains, which are here said to cut through Scotland, as the Muscovites say of their Riphæan hills, that they are the girdle of the world. As is the country, so are the inhabitants, a fierce fighting and furious kind of men; but I must add that they are much chang'd, and civiliz'd from what they were formerly, if Mr. Cambden's account of them is just. I mean of the Highlanders of Bradalbin only; tho' I include the country of Loquhabre, and Athol, as adjoyning to it.

It is indeed a very bitter character, and possibly they might deserve it in those days; but I must insist that they are quite another people now: And tho' the country is the same, and the mountains as wild and desolate as ever, yet the people, by the good conduct of their chiefs and heads of clans, are much more civilized than they were in former times.

As the men have the same vigour and spirit; but are under a better regulation of their manners, and more under government; so they make excellent soldiers, when they come abroad, or are listed in regular and disciplin'd troops.

The Duke of Athol, though he has not an estate equal to some of the nobility, yet he is master of more of these superiorities, as they are called there, than many of those who have twice his estate; and I have been told, that he can bring a body of above 6,000 men together in arms at very little warning.

The pomp and state in which this noble person lives, is not to be imitated in Great Britain; for he is served like a prince, and maintains a greater equipage and retinue than five times his estate would support in another country.

The duke has also another seat in Strathearn, which is called Tullibardin, and which gives title at this time to the eldest son of the House of Athol, for the time being. At the lower part of this country, the River Earn falls into Tay, and greatly increases its waters. This river rises far west, on the frontiers of the western Highlands near Glengyl, and running through that pleasant country called Strathearn, falls into Tay, below St. Johnstons.

Soon after its first coming out from the mountains, the Earn spreads itselfe into a loch, as most of those rivers do; this is called Loch Earn, soon after which it runs by Duplin Castle, the seat of the Earl of Kinnowl, whose eldest son is known in England, by the title of Lord Duplin, taking it from the name of this castle. The late Earl of Kinnowl's son, the Lord Duplin, was marry'd to the daughter of the late Earl of Oxford, then Lord High Treasurer of England, and who was on that occasion made a peer of Great Britain.

This castle of Duplin, is a very beautiful seat, and the heads of the families having been pretty much used to live at home, the house has been adorned at several times, according to the genius, and particular inclination of the persons, who then lived there; the present earl is not much in Scotland; being created a peer of Great Britain, in the reign of the late Queen Anne, and marry'd, as above, into the family of Oxford.

This ancient seat is situated in a good soil, and a pleasant country, near the banks of the River Earn, and the earl has a very good estate; but not loaded with vassals, and highland superiorities, as the Duke of Athol is said to be.

The house is now under a new decoration, two new wings being lately added for offices as well as ornament.

The old building is spacious, the rooms are large, and the ceilings lofty, and which is more than all the appearance of the buildings, 'tis all magnificently finished, and furnished within; there are also abundance of very fine paintings, and some of great value, especially court pieces, and family pieces, of which it would take up a book to write the particulars; but I must not omit the fine picture of King Charles the First, with a letter in his hand, which he holds out to his son the Duke of York, afterwards King James the Second, which they say he was to carry to France; also a statue in brass of the same King Charles the First on horse-back; there are also two pictures of a contrary sort, namely, one of Oliver Cromwell, and one of the then General Monk, both from the life.

Also there is a whole length of that Earl of Kinnoul, who was Lord Chancellor of Scotland, in the reign of King James the Sixth, with several other peices of Italian masters of great value.

From this place we went to Brechin, an ancient town with a castle finely situate; but the ancient grandour of it not supported; the family of Penmure, to whom it belong'd, having been in no extraordinary circumstances for some time past, and now their misfortunes being finished, it is under forfeiture, and sold among the spoils of the late rebellion.

We were now as it were landed again, being after a long mountain-ramble, come down to the low lands, and into a pleasant and agreeable country; but as we had yet another journey to take west, we had a like prospect of a rude and wild part of Scotland to go through.

The Highlands of Scotland are divided into two parts, and known so as two separate countries, (viz.) the West Highlands, and the North Highlands; the last, of which I have spoken at large, contain the countries or provinces of:

} together with the Isle of Skye.

The West Highlands contain the shires or counties of:

Dunbritton or
Lorn and Cantyre.

On the bank of this River Earn lies a very pleasant vale, which continues from the Tay, where it receives the river quite up to the Highlands; this is called according to the usage of Scotland Strath Earn, or the Strath or Vale of Earn, 'tis an agreeable country, and has many gentlemen's seats on both sides the river; but it is near the Highlands, and has often suffered by the depredations of those wild folk in former times.

The family of Montrose, whose chief was sacrificed for the interest of King Charles the First, had a strong castle here called Kincardin; but it was ruin'd and demolished in those wars, and is not rebuilt. The castle of Drummond is almost in the same condition, or at least is like soon to be so, the Earl of Perth, to whom it belongs, being in exile, as his father was before him, by their adhering to the late King James the Seventh, and to the present Pretender. King James the Seventh made the father a duke, and Knight of the Garter, and governor to his son the Pretender. His eldest son who should have succeeded to the honours and titles dy'd in France, and three other sons still remaining are all abroad, either following the ruin'd fortunes of the Pretender, or in other service in foreign courts; where, we know not, nor is it material to our present purpose.

The Western Highlands are the only remaining part of Scotland, which as yet I have not toucht upon. This is that particular country, which a late great man in King James the Second's time, called the kingdom of Argyle; and upon which occasion it was a compliment upon King James, that he had conquer'd two kings, when he suppress'd the rebellion of the Whigs; namely, the Duke of Monmouth, whom in derision they called the little king of Lime, and the Earl of Argyle whom they called with much more propriety, the great king of the Highlands.

It is true that the greatest part of these Western Highlands, may be said to be subject, or in some respect to belong to the House of Argyle, or to speak more properly, to the family or clan of the Campbells, of whom the Duke of Argyle is the chief; but then it should be noted too, that those western gentlemen are not so blindly to be led, or guided by their chiefs as those in the north; nor when led on, are they so apt for mischief and violence. But as many of them are toucht with the Cameronian Whig, or at least the English Whig principles, they would venture to enquire what they were to do, and whom to fight against, at least before they dipt far in any hazardous undertaking.

Though the people of these countries are something more civilized than those of their bretheren mountaineers in the north, yet the countries seem to be so near a kin that no strangers could know them asunder, nor is there any breach in the similitude that I could observe, except it be that in the north Highlands, there are such great woods of fir-trees, which I have taken notice of there, and which we do not see the like of here: Nor did we see so many or so large eagles in these western mountains as in the north, tho' the people assure us there are such too.

The quantity of deer are much the same, and the kinds too, and the black cattle are of the same kind, and rather more numerous; the people also dress after the same manner, in the Plaid and the Trouse, go naked from below the knee to the mid thighs, wear the durk and the pistol at their girdle, and the targ or target at their shoulder.

Some reckon the shire of Braidalbin to belong to these Western Highlands, not that it is west in its situation, for it is rather north, and as I have mention'd, is said to be the center of Scotland; and the highest land, being in the very body of those they call the Grampian mountains; all the reason that I could find they give for reckoning this country among the Western Highlands, is because they say one part of it is inhabited by the Campbells, whose clan, as I have observed, generally possesses all the West Highlands.

But if they will claim the country, they must claim the people too, who are, if I may give my opinion, some of the worst, most barbarous, and ill governed of all the Highlands of Scotland; they are desperate in fight, cruel in victory, fierce even in conversation, apt to quarrel, mischievous, and even murderers in their passion.

At the fight which happen'd at Gillekranky, in this part of Scotland, they tell us a story of a combate between an English soldier press'd hard by a Highlander, the regiment being in disorder, for the English had the worst of it; the English soldier was singl'd out in the pursuit by one particular Highlander, and found himself in great danger, he defended himself with the club of his musquet as long as he was able, his shot being spent before, after which they came to their swords, the English man understood the backsword very well, but the Scots man receiv'd all the blows upon his targe; so that the English man could not come in with him, and at the same time he lay'd hard at the English man with his broadsword, and had cut him in two or three places, at which the English man enrag'd, rather than discourag'd, cry'd out to him, you dog says he; come out from behind the door and fight like a man , meaning from behind his great target; but the Scots man tho' as brave as the other, knew better things than that, and laying hard at him had cut him down, and was just going to kill him, when some of the regiment that saw him distrest, came up to him and rescu'd him, and took the Highlander prisoner.

It is hard to distinguish too among those Highland men, who are the best soldiers. Foreigners give it to the northern men as the more hardy and the larger bodies; but I will not undertake to decide this controversie, either of them make very good soldiers, and all the world are fond of them; nor are they equall'd in any part of the world that I have met with, if they are regimented by themselves, unmixt with other nations.

And here I must take an opportunity to rectify a mistake which has grown up to a vulgar error, and is an injury to the Scots, in some respect, at least it is robbing them of part of that honour, which is their due. The case is this;

We have frequent occasions to hear of the fame of the Irish batallions abroad, how well they behave, and what good troops they are, how they acted in such a battle, and such; how in particular they beat the Germans out of Cremona, after they had got possession of the town, and had taken the French general, the Mareshall Villeroy prisoner: How the Irish batallions in the Scots service behav'd in Sicily, and so on many extraordinary occasions. Now though it is true that these are called Irish, because they were originally such; yet 'tis as true the men are all or most of them Scots Highlanders, who upon all occasions getting over into France, always list in the Irish troops; nay in the late wars it was frequent to raise whole regiments of Highlanders for the service, but when they came over, they would take the first occasion to desert, and go over to the French, so to list in the Irish batallions, for they all speak Irish, and some have affirm'd, that they have first listed with that resolution, being generally adicted to the interest of King James the Seventh; but be that so or not, this I am well assur'd of (viz.) that most of those they call Irish in the armies of France and Spain, and to whom so many glorious actions have been justly ascrib'd, are to this day Scots Highlanders, or at least most of them are so, but this by the way.

I am now to return to our progress. Leaving the country of Brechin, and the low lands of Strathearn, we went away west; but were presently interrupted by a vast inland sea, rather than a lake called Loch Lomond. It is indeed a sea, and look'd like it from the hills from whence we first descry'd it; and its being a tempestuous day, I assure you it appear'd all in a breach, rough and raging, like the sea in a storm. There are several islands in it, which from the hills we could plainly perceive were islands, but that they are a-drift, and float about the lake, that I take as I find it, for a story, namely, a story call'd a F--as I do also that of the water of this loch, turning wood into stone.

This lake or loch is, without comparison, the greatest in Scotland, no other can be call'd half so big; for it is more than twenty miles long, and generally eight miles in breadth, though at the north end of it, 'tis not so broad by far. It receives many rivers into it, but empties itself into the Firth of Clyde, at one mouth; ;near the entrance of it into Clyde, stands the famous Dunbarton Castle, the most antient, as well as the most important castle in .'Scotland; and the gate, as 'tis call'd, of the Highlands. It is now not much regarded, the whole country being, as it were, buried in peace, yet there is a garrison maintain'd in it; and the pass would be still of great import, were there any occasion of arms in time to come; 'tis exceeding strong by situation, being secur'd by the river on one side, the Firth of Clyde on the other, by an unpassable morass on the third side, and the fourth is a precipice.

Passing from Dunbarton castle, we enter the territory of Argyle. As to the county of Lenox, the paternal estate and property of the Stuarts, it lyes extended from both sides the Levin, that is, the river, which (as I said before) empties the Loch-Lomon into the Clyde. On this side, or eastward, Lenox joins the Monteith, and runs up for some length on the east side of the loch, and on the west side it extends to the edge of the Loch-Loing, and a great way north, almost to the mountains of Loquhabre.

All our writers of the description of Lenox enlarge upon the family of Stuarts, who proceeded, as by the mother, from the Royal line of Scotland: So by the father, from Henry Lord Darnley, marry'd to Mary Queen of Scots, and afterwards basely murther'd by her, or by her order and direction.

By this Lord Darnley, who was son and heir apparent to Matthew, Earl of Lenox, this whole estate, with the title, devolv'd at last upon King Charles II., who gave the title to one of his natural sons, with the addition of duke.

Beyond this Loch-Loing begins the large extended country of Argyle, or the Western Highlands, whose extent takes in the shire or county of Lorn to the north, and Cantyre to the south, all possess'd by the Campbells, and vulgarly understood by the country of Argyle; for as for Cantyre, which is a chersonese , or peninsula, it belongs mostly, if not wholly to the Campbells; and as to Lorn, 'tis the title of the eldest son of the House of Argyle to this day.

The west side of this country lyes extended along the Irish Sea for a very great length, at least eighty miles (viz.) from the Mull of Cantyre to Dunstaffnage, and the Isle of Stackar and Listnoc, in the water of Loquhaber. On all this shore there is no town eminent for trade, no port or harbour, at least none made use of for shipping; nor are there any ships to require them, except fishing-barks and boats, which are in the season employ'd for catching herrings, of which the shoals that are found upon this coast in the season are incredible, especially in the Clyde, in Loch-Finn, and about the Isle of Arran, which lyes in the mouth of Clyde.

From the Mull of Cantyre they see Ireland very plain, it being not above fifteen or sixteen miles from the point of land, which they call the Mull to the Fair Foreland, on the coast of Colrain, on the north of Ireland. In the mouth of this sea of Clyde lyes a rock, somewhat like the Bass in the Firth of Forth, or of Edinburgh, not for shape, but for this particular, that here, as at the Bass, the Soland geese are pleas'd to come in the season of the fishery, and to breed and inhabit as they do at the Bass, and to go away and come again just at the same seasons, as at the Bass; this island is call'd the Ailze. Here are also the islands of Arran and of Bute; the first giving title of earl to the family of Hamilton, and the other the title of Duke of Rothsay to the eldest son of the Crown of Scotland, who is call'd Duke of Rothsay, from the castle of Rothsay in this island; nor is there any thing else considerable to be said of either of the islands; for as for their present condition, which is what is my particular business in this book, they have nothing considerable in or about them, except it be a tumultuous and dangerous sea for sailors, especially when a south-west wind blows hard, which brings the sea rowling in upon them in a frightful manner. However, there is one good harbour on the north side of the island, call'd Lamlach, which is their safety in such cases.

Off of the western shore of Argyle and Lorn there are abundance of islands, which all belong to the family of Argyle, or at least to its jurisdiction; as Isla, Jura, Tyrry, Mull, Lysmore, Coll, and several others of less note.


Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (London: JM Dent and Co, 1927)

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