SIR,-As I enter’d the east side of Scotland from Berwick upon Tweed, and have carry’d on my accounts through the Louthians, which are deservedly call’d the best and most pleasant, as well as most fruitful part of Scotland; and therein have also given you my observations of the capital city and port of the kingdom, I mean Edinburgh and Leith: So the west part having been travell’d over by me at another particular journey from England; and that I went from England by another road, I shall give you my account of it also by itself.
Passing the River Eden, or (as it is ordinarily call’d) the Solway Firth at Carlisle, we enter’d upon Scotland, on the side of Dumfries-shire, the southmost shire of the west of Scotland. The division of this county into Eskdale, Nithsdale, and Annandale, is but the ordinary marking out the rivers Esk, Annan, and Nid, as I observ’d of the rivers in the north of England, Tweedale, Tyndale, Swale Dale, and others; for the whole province makes but one Dumfries-shire, and as such you will understand it as I go on.
The Esk is a tolerable large river, and gives name to the south east part of this county; but we saw little worth notice but Kirsop, a small market town on a river of the same name, which afterwards falls into Esk, and is famous for being the place where, by a treaty, after the battle of Pinkey, the limits or borders of the two kingdoms were settled; though the borderers observ’d it no longer than serv’d for their purpose, robbing and plundering one another upon all occasions, as opportunity offer’d.
This river soon after leaves Scotland, and runs into the English border, leaving nothing behind it worth my trouble of remarking, or yours of reading, only to tell you it empties itself into the Solway Firth, which indeed receives all the rivers on this part of the island, as well from England as from Scotland.
The first place of note we came to in Scotland was Annand, or as some call it, Annandale, as they do the county, though, I think, improperly. It was a town of note, and a sea-port, and having a good river and harbour, was esteem’d a town of good trade; but it was not situated for strength; and the English took it so often, and specially the last time burnt it to the ground, in that war so fatal to the Scots, in the reign of Edward VI. that it never recover’d. Here was a good salmon fishery, and a trade to the Isle of Man, and by that to Ireland: But as the face of trade is alter’d since that time, and by the ruins of the place the merchants, and men of substance, remov’d to Dumfries, the town continues, to all appearance, in a state of irrevocable decay.
It was but a dull welcome into Scotland to see, not only by this town, that the remains of the old devastations, committed in the time of the hostilities between the two nations, were so visible, so unrepair’d, and, as we might say, so likely to continue unrepair’d; whereas, tho’ there are remains also on the English side, yet, not so plain, and in many places things much restor’d, and in a way to be more so: But the poverty of the common people, and the indolence of the gentry, will fully account for the difference. The bridge over the river at Annand is very firm and good, and there is a tolerable good market.
From hence, keeping the sea as close as we could on our left, we went on due west to Dumfries, a sea-port town at the mouth of the River Nid, or Nith, which gives name to the third division of the county call’d Nithsdale; but the town is justly the capital of the whole shire, and indeed, of all the south west part of Scotland.
Here, indeed, as in some other ports on this side the island, the benefits of commerce, obtain’d to Scotland by the Union, appear visible; and that much more than on the east side, where they seem to be little, if any thing mended, I mean in their trade.
Dumfries was always a good town, and full of merchants. By merchants, here I mean, in the sense that word is taken and understood in England (viz.) not mercers and drapers, shopkeepers, &c. but merchant-adventurers, who trade to foreign parts, and employ a considerable number of ships. But if this was so before, it is much more so now; and as they have (with success) embark’d in trade, as well to England as to the English plantations, they apparently encrease both in shipping and people; for as it almost every where appears, where trade increases, people must and will increase; that is, they flock to the place by the necessary consequences of the trade, and, in return, where the people increase, the trade will increase, because the necessary consumption of provisions, cloaths, furniture, &c. necessarily increases, and with them the trade.
This is such a chain of trading consequences, that they are not to be separated; and the town of Dumfries, as well as Liverpool, Manchester, Whitehaven, and other towns in England are demonstrations of it.
This town is situated also for an increase of commerce on the River Nid, for tho’ it stands near two leagues from the sea, yet the tide flows up to the town, and ships of burthen come close up to the key; but at about four miles below the town the largest merchant-ships in Britain might come up, and ride in safety.
There is a very fine stone bridge here over the River Nid; as also a castle, tho’ of old work, yet still good and strong enough; also an exchange for the merchants, and a Tolbooth, or townhall for the use of the magistrates. They had formerly a woollen manufacture here: But as the Union has, in some manner, suppress’d those things in Scotland, the English supplying them fully, both better and cheaper; so they have more than an equivalent by an open trade to all the English plantations, and to England itself.
The castle in this town, as well as that at Carlavrock, near the mouth of the river, and opening to the Firth of Solway, was formerly belonging to the antient family of Nithsdale, the only remaining branch of which being unhappily embark’d in the late rebellion, and taken in arms at Presten, made his escape out of the tower, and is now abroad, but under forfeiture. That last mention’d castle has been a very magnificent structure, though now, like its owner, in a state of ruin and decay.
The River Nid here parts the two counties of Galloway and Dumfries shire; and there is a gate in the middle of the bridge which is the limit between them: And this neighbourhood of Galloway, which is a great and rich province, promotes the trade of Dumfries very much.
We could not pass Dumfries without going out of the way upwards of a day, to see the castle of Drumlanrig, the fine palace of the Duke of Queensberry, which stands at twelve miles distance, upon the same river; the vale on either side the river is pleasant, and tolerably good: But when these rapid rivers overflow their banks, they do not, like Nile, or even like the Thames, and other southern streams, fatten and enrich the soil; on the contrary, they lodge so much sand and splinters of stone upon the surface of the earth, and among the roots of the grass, that spoils and beggars the soil; and the water is hurried on with such force also, as that in a good light soil it washes the best part of the earth away with it, leaving the sand and stones behind it.
Drumlanrig, like Chatsworth in Darbyshire, is like a fine picture in a dirty grotto, or like an equestrian statue set up in a barn; ’tis environ’d with mountains, and that of the wildest and most hideous aspect in all the south of Scotland; as particularly that of Enterkin, the frightfullest pass, and most dangerous that I met with, between that and Penmenmuir in North Wales; but of that in its place.
We were not so surpriz’d with the height of the mountains, and the barrenness of the country beyond them, as we were with the humour of the people, who are not in this part, by many degrees, so populous, or so polish’d, as in the other parts of Scotland. But that which was more surprising than all the rcst, was to see a palace so glorious, gardens so fine, and every thing so truly magnificent, and all in a wild, mountainous country, the like we had not seen before; where, in a word, we saw the peak of Darby restor’d, (viz.) the finest palace in all that part of Britain, erected under the mountains, full of lead-mines, and quarries of freestone, and where nothing, but what was desolate and dismal, could be expected, especially if you come to it by the said pass of Enterkin, or by the mountains of Cumock and Carrick, more to the north west of the place. This was certainly a foil to the buildings, and sets them off with all possible advantage; upon which the same hand which before gave us the lines upon the waters of Buxton-Bath, being in the company, bestow’d the following upon Drumlanrig Castle.
Just thus, with horrid desart hills embrac’d,
Was Paradise on Euphra’s border plac’d.
The God of Harmony to grace the view,
And make the illustrations just and true,
Strong contraries presented to the eye,
And circled beauty in deformity.
The happy discord entertains the sight,
And as these shew more black, that shews more bright.
As you come to the palace from the road of Edinburgh, which is by the said pass of Enterkin, you come first to the River Nid, which is just there both broad and exceeding deep, over which there is a stately stone-bridge, built by the noble founder of the castle, I mean the first Duke of Queensberry, who built the house. The building is four-square, with roundels in the inner angles of the court, in every one of which is a stair-case, and a kind of a tower on the top. This way of building, ’tis confess’d, does not seem so modern as the rest of the building; but as ’tis not seen in the front, ’tis well enough.
The house stands on the top of a rising ground, which, at its first building, lay with a steep and uncouth descent to the river, and which made the lookers-on wonder what the duke meant to build in such a disproportion’d place: But he best understood d his own design; for the house “once laid out, all that unequal descent is so beautifully levell’d and lay’d out in slopes and terrasses, that nothing can be better design’d, or, indeed, better perform’d than the gardens are, which take up the whole south and west sides of the house; and, when the whole design will be done, the rest will be more easy, the ground being a plain the other way, and the park and avenues compleatly planted with trees.
At the extent of the gardens there are pavillions and banquetting-houses, exactly answering to one another, and the greens trimm’d, spaliers and hedges are in perfection.
The inside is answerable to the outside, the apartments finely plac’d and richly furnish’d: And the gallery may well be call’d a gallery of beauties, itself’s a beauty. And being fill’d from end to end, the whole length of one side of the building, with the family-pieces of the duke’s ancestors, most of them at full length, and in their robes of state, or of office, as their history directed. William, the first raiser of the family, was only a knight and laird of Drumlanrig, who was sent ambassador to England, to ransome King James I. at that time detain’d in England. He was afterwards kill’d on the side of the French, in the great battle of Agincourt, fighting against Henry V. King of England, 1427. They were first ennobled for the real merit of their services, in the person of the first Lord of Drumlanrig, Ann. 1640. And King Charles I. made the then Lord of Drumlanrig Earl of Queensberry; a title taken from Queensberry Hill, a high, round hill, in a particular lordship of the estate, and in view of the house. After the Restoration, the grandson of the earl was created marquess and duke by King Charles II.
This was the person who built the noble palace I am speaking of, who, every way, merited the honours which the prince rather loaded him with, than bestow’d on him: He lyes buried in the parish church of Disdier or Didier, with a fine monument over him; but not like that lately erected for his son the late duke.
This last mention’d duke would require a history rather than a bare mention, in a work of this kind: But I have forbid myself entring far into the characters of persons and families; and therefore, tho’ I think myself bound to honour the merit of so great a person, I shall sum it up all in this; that as I had the honour to be known to his Grace, so I had the opportunity to see and read by his permission, several letters written to him by the late King William, with his own hand, and several more by Queen Anne, written also by her Majesty’s own hand; with such expressions of their satisfaction in his fidelity and affection to their Majesties’ service, his ability and extraordinary judgment in the affairs entrusted to him; his knowledge of, and zeal for the true interest of his country, and their dependance upon his councils and conduct, that no minister of state in Europe could desire greater testimonies of his services, or a better character from his sovereign, and this from differing princes, and at the distance of several years from one another, and, to be sure, without any manner of corresponding one with the other.
That this noble person was Lord Commissioner at the time of the Union, sat in the throne at the last parliament of Scotland, and touch’d with the scepter the Act of Parliament, which put an end to parliaments for ever in that part of Great Britain, will always be matter of history to the end of time; whether the Scots will remember it to the advantage of the duke’s character, in their opinion, that must be as their several opinions guide them.
This duke’s monument, curiously done in marble at full length, is also plac’d in the same church at Disdier, where he is buried with his dutchess, a daughter of the house of Burlington in England.
But I dwell too long here. While I was at Drumlanrig, being desir’d by the late duke to make some observations on his Grace’s estate there, which is very great, in order to some English improvement, I, in particular, view’d some of the hills to the north of the castle, and having a Darbyshire gentleman with us, who was thoroughly acquainted with those things, we discover’d in several places evident tokens of lead-mines, such as in Darbyshire, and in Somersetshire, are said never to fail; and to confirm our opinions in it, we took up several small pieces of oar in the gulls and holes, which the rains had made in the sides of the mountains, and also of a plain sparr, such as is not found any where without the oar: But the duke’s death put an end to these enquiries, as also to several other improvements then in view.
Here we were surpriz’d with a sight, which is not now so frequent in Scotland as it has been formerly, I mean one of their field meetings, where one Mr. John Hepburn, an old Cameronian, preach’d to an auditory of near 7,000 people, all sitting in rows on the steep side of a green hill, and the preacher in a little pulpit made under a tent at the foot of the hill; he held his auditory, with not above an intermission of half an hour, almost seven hours; and many of the poor people had come fifteen or sixteen miles to hear him, and had all the way to go home again on foot. I shall say nothing to it, for my business is not to make remarks on such things; only this I may add, that if there was an equal zeal to this in our part of the world, and for that worship which we acknowledge to be true, and of a sacred institution, our churches would be more throng’d, and our ale-houses and fields less throng’d on the sabbath-day than they are now. But that also by the way.
From Drumlanrig I took a turn to see the famous pass of Enterkin, or Introkin Hill: It is, indeed, not easy to describe, but by telling you that it ascends through a winding bottom for near half a mile, and a stranger sees nothing terrible, but vast high mountains on either hand, tho’ all green, and with sheep feeding on them to the very top; when, on a suddain, turning short to the left, and crossing a rill of water in the bottom, you mount the side of one of those hills, while, as you go on, the bottom in which that water runs down from between the hills, keeping its level on your right, begins to look very deep, till at length it is a precipice horrible and terrifying; on the left the hill rises almost perpendicular, like a wall; till being come about half way, you have a steep, unpassable height on the left, and a monstrous calm or ditch on your right; deep, almost as the monument is high, and the path, or way, just broad enough for you to lead your horse on it, and, if his foot slips, you have nothing to do but let go the bridle, least he pulls you with him, and then you will have the satisfaction of seeing him dash’d to pieces, and lye at the bottom with his four shoes uppermost. I pass’d twice this hill after this, but the weather was good, and the way dry, which made it safe; but one of our company was so frighted with it, that in a kind of an extasy, when he got to the bottom, he look’d back, and swore heartily that he would never come that way again.
Indeed, there were several things this last time we pass’d it, which render’d it more frightful to a stranger: One was, that there had been, a few days before, a suddain frost, with a great deal of snow; and though, a little before the snow, I pass’d it, and there was nothing to be seen; yet then I look’d down the frightful precipice, and saw no less than five horses in several places, lying at the bottom with their skins off, which had, by the slipperiness of the snow, lost their feet, and fallen irrecoverably to the bottom, where the mountaineers, who make light of the place, had found means to come at them, and get their hides off.
But that which is most remarkable of this place is yet behind, (viz.) that noted story of the Whigs in the old persecuting times, in King Charles IId’s time, and which I must give you a short account of, for I have not room for the whole history.
A troop of dragoons had been sent, by order of their commanding officer, to disturb a field-meeting, such a one as I just now describ’d. These meetings were strictly forbidden at that time and the minister, if taken, was punish’d with death, without mercy: The poor people of this country being all what they then call’d Cameronians and Whigs, (for here, by the way, the word Whig began first to be known) I say, the people being zealous in their way, would, and did hold their field-meetings, notwithstanding all the prohibitions the court could make; upon which the Government quarter’d the dragoons upon them, with orders, on all such occasions, to disperse them, and what prisoners they took they were to carry to Edinburgh, especially their ministers. Accordingly, at this time, there was an extraordinary meeting of many thousand people, and the dragoons march’d to disturb them.
As the whole country were their friends, the dragoons could not stir, but immediately notice would be taken, and the alarm given: The people at the meeting had always some stout fellows arm’d with fire-arms, to prevent a surprize, and they had so now, enough to have beaten off the dragoons, if they had attack’d them, but as they did not covet fighting and blood, otherwise than on necessity for their own defence, and that they had now timely notice given them, they chose to break up and disperse, and they were really dispers’d, when the dragoons came to the place.
However, the dragoons resolving not to lose their labour, pursued the straggling people, and ill used some of them, took others prisoners, and, among the rest, very unhappily surpriz’d their minister, which was a booty to them; and, as soon as they had him, they march’d off directly to carry him to Edinburgh, where he might depend upon being hang’d.
The poor people, terribly alarm’d at the loss of their minister; for no people in the world love their ministers like them; the cries of the one part animating and exasperating the other part, and a small body of those who were the guard before, but chose peaceably to separate, rather than dispute it with the dragoons, resolv’d to rescue their minister, whatever it cost.
They knew the dragoons would carry him to Edinburgh, and they knew, that to do so, they must necessarily go thro’ this narrow pass of Interken: They were but thirteen men on foot; but being nimble fellows, and knowing the private ways perfectly well, they reach’d the top of the hill long before the dragoons; eight of them therefore plac’d themselves in the head of the narrow way, where the dragoons were coming on one by one, or at most two by two, and very softly, you may believe, by the nature of the place.
The other five sliding down from the top of the hill, on the left of the pass, plac’d themselves, as they found to their advantage, being resolv’d to speak with the troop as they came by. It was a thick mist, as is often upon those hills, (indeed seldom otherwise) so that the dragoons could not discover them, till they were within hearing, nor then, so as to know how many they were.
When the dragoons came up within hearing, one of the five boldly calls to the commander by his name, and bids him halt with his troop, and advance no farther at his peril; the captain calls out again, who are you? and what would you have? They answer’d, deliver our minister; the captain damn’d them a little, and march’d on: The Cameronian called to him again with a threatning air-Will you deliver our minister? at which he reply’d as loud-No, you dog, and if you were to be damn’d; at which the man fir’d immediately, and shot him thro’ the heart, so that he fell from his horse, and never spoke a word, and the frighted horse, fluttering a little at the fall of his rider, fell down the precipice, and there was an end both of horse and man together.
At that very moment the eight men, at the head of the pass, shew’d themselves, though at a distance, and gave a shout, which put the whole body into a pannick fear; for had they fir’d, and the horses been put into the least confusion, half of them would have been down the precipice immediately. In short, the lieutenant that commanded next, being wiser than his captain, gave them better words, and desir’d them to forbear firing for a minute or two; and after a very short conference with his men (for they had no more officers to call a council of war with) resolv’d upon a parley, in which, upon their promising to march off and leave the pass free, they deliver’d their minister, and they carry’d him off; and glad the dragoons were of their deliverance; for, indeed, if they had been 500 instead of 50, the thirteen men might have destroy’d them all; nay, the more they had been, the more certain would have been their destruction.
But I must go back to Dumfries again, for this was but an excursion from thence, as I observ’d there: I resolv’d, before I quitted the west coast, to see all that was worth seeing on that side, and the next trip we made was into Galloway: And here, I must confess, I could not but look with grief and concern upon the country, and indeed upon the people.
Galloway, as I hinted before, begins even from the middle of the bridge of Dumfries; the first town on the coast, of any note, is Kirkubright, or, as vulgarly call’d, Kirkubry. It must be acknowledg’d this very place is a surprize to a stranger, and especially one whose business is observation, as mine was.
Here is a pleasant situation, and yet nothing pleasant to be seen. Here is a harbour without ships, a port without trade, a fishery without nets, a people without business; and, that which is worse than all, they do not seem to desire business, much less do they understand it. I believe they are very good Christians at Kirkubry, for they are in the very letter of it, they obey the text, and are contented with such things as they have. They have all the materials for trade, but no genius to it; all the oppportunities for trade, but no inclination to it. In a word, they have no notion of being rich and populous, and thriving by commerce. They have a fine river, navigable for the greatest ships to the town-key; a haven, deep as a well, safe as a mill-pond; ’tis a meer wet dock, for the little island of Ross lyes in the very entrance, and keeps off the west and north west winds, and breaks the surge of the sea; so that when it is rough without, ’tis always smooth within. But, alas! there is not a vessel, that deserves the name of a ship, belongs to it; and, though here is an extraordinary salmon fishing, the salmon come and offer themselves, and go again, and cannot obtain the privilege of being made useful to mankind; for they take very few of them. They have also white fish, but cure none; and herrings, but pickle none. In a word, it is to me the wonder of all the towns of North-Britain; especially, being so near England, that it has all the invitations to trade that Nature can give them, but they take no notice of it. A man might say of them, that they have the Indies at their door, and will not dip into the wealth of them; a gold mine at their door, and will not dig it.
It is true, the reason is in part evident, namely, poverty; no money to build vessels, hire seamen, buy nets and materials for fishing, to cure the fish when it is catch’d, or to carry it to market when it is cur’d; and this discourages the mind, checks industry, and prevents all manner of application. People tell us, that slothfulness begets poverty, and it is true; but I must add too, that poverty makes slothfulness, and I doubt not, were two or three brisk merchants to settle at Kirkubry, who had stocks to furnish out ships and boats for these things, they would soon find the people as industrious, and as laborious as in other places; or, if they did not find them so, they would soon make them so, when they felt the benefit of it, tasted the sweet of it, had boats to fish, and merchants to buy it when brought in; when they found the money coming, they would soon work. But to bid men trade without money, labour without wages, catch fish to have them stink, when they had done, is all one as to bid them work without hands, or walk without feet; ’tis the poverty of the people makes them indolent.
Again, as the people have no hands (that is, no stock) to work, so the gentry have no genius to trade; ’tis a mechanism which they scorn; tho’ their estates are not able to feed them, they will not turn their hands to business or improvement; they had rather see their sons made foot soldiers, (than which, as officers treat them now, there is not a more abject thing on earth), than see them apply to trade, nay, to merchandize, or to the sea, because those things are not (forsooth) fit for gentlemen.
In a word, the common people all over this country, not only are poor, but look poor; they appear dejected and discourag’d, as if they had given over all hopes of ever being otherwise than what they are. They are, indeed, a sober, grave, religious people, and that more, ordinarily speaking, than in any other part of Scotland, far from what it is in England; conversation is generally sober, and grave; I assure you, they have no assemblies here, or balls; and far from what it is in England, you hear no oaths, or prophane words in the streets; and, if a mean boy, such as we call shoe-blackers, or black-guard boys, should be heard to swear, the next gentleman in the street, if any happen’d to be near him, would cane him, and correct him; whereas, in England, nothing is more frequent, or less regarded now, than the most horrid oaths and blasphemies in the open streets, and that by the little children that hardly know what an oath means.
But this we cannot cure, and, I doubt, never shall; and in Scotland, but especially in this part of Scotland, you have none of it to cure.
It is the honour of Scotland that they are the strictest observers of the Lord’s -Day of any nation in the world; and, if any part of Scotland are more strict observers of it than the rest, it is in this part, and all the country from Dumfries, and the parts adjacent to Glasgow, and the Clyde, inclusive of both the towns of Dumfries and Glasgow; and tho’ this country of Galloway may be the poorest and empty of commerce, it is, perhaps, the most religious part of all Scotland. Some people, I know, will not think that an equivalent for their poverty; as to that, let every body think for themselves; ’tis my business only to relate the fact, and represent things as they are.
It must be acknowledg’d, and there my opinion concurs, they might be as religous and as serious as they are; and the more so, the better, and yet, they might at the same time be industrious, and apply themselves to trade, and to reap the advantages that nature offers them; might build ships, catch and cure fish, and carry them to all the markets in Europe, as the Glasgow merchants shew them the example. But the hindrance is in the nature of the thing; the poverty of the commons, and the indolence of the gentry forbid it; and so Kirkubry, and all the shores of Galloway must remain unnavigated; the fine harbours be unfrequented, the fish be secure and safe from nets till time and better opportunities alter the case, or a people better able, and more inclin’d to business, comes among them, and leads them into it.
But I must speak no more in generals. I left Kirkubright with a sort of concern; it is so noble a prospect, of what business, and commerce might, and I am persuaded, some time or other will do for it; the river, that enters the sea here, and makes the fine harbour I mentioned, is call’d the Dee, or the Dea, and is of a considerable long course, coming out of mountains, in the remotest north-angle of this shire, towards Carrick; and, as it is full of turnings and meanders, more than any river in Scotland, is said to run near 200 miles in its course, as a river, tho’ not above seventy miles in a line; it is sometimes on occasion of land waters, a very great river, and remains so longer than is usual in other rivers.
The country of Galloway lies due west from Dumfries, and, as, that they call the Upper Galloway, runs out farther than the rest, into the Irish seas; all that bay or sea, on the south side of it may be reckoned part of Solway-Firth, as all on the north side is called the Firth of Clyde, though near 100 miles from the river itself; as all that sea in England, between South Wales, and the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, is called the Severn sea, even to the Lands End of England, though above 100 miles from the Severn.
The wester Galloway, which is also call’d the shire of Wigtoun, from the town of Wigtoun, its capital, runs out with a peninsula, so far into the sea, that from the utmost shores, you see the coast of Ireland very plain, as you see Calais from Dover; and here is the town of Port Patrick, which is the ordinary place for the ferry or passage to Belfast or other ports in Ireland. It has a tolerable good harbour, and a safe road; but there is very little use for it, for the packet boat, and a few fishing vessels are the sum of the navigation; it is true, the passage or ferry is wide, and the boats very indifferent, without the least convenience or accommodation; and yet, which is strange, they very rarely, if ever miscarry; nay, they told us there, they had never lost one in the memory of the oldest man in the town, except one full of cattle; which, heeling to one side more than ordinary, all the cattle run to that side, and as it were, slid out into the sea; but the loading being out, the boat came to rights again, and was brought safe into the port, and none but the four-footed passengers were drown’d.
Port Patrick has nothing in it to invite our stay, ’tis a mean dirty homely place; and as we had no business here, but to see the coast, we came away very ill satisfied with our accommodations. Upon a hill near the town, we could plainly see Ireland to the west, England, (viz.) the coast of Cumberland to the south, and the Isle of Man to the south west, and the Isle of Isla, and the Mull of Kyntire to the north west.
As we pass’d the peninsula, which is formed by two arms of the sea, one on the north side call’d Lochrain, and the other on the south, call’d the Bay of Glenluce, we stop’d at Stranrawer; in the very neck of land, between both these gulphs, are good roads for ships, and full of fish, but still here is no genius for trade, or for sea affairs of any kind.
But now having said thus much of the stupidity of the people of Galloway, and especially on the sea coast, for not falling into merchandizing, fishing, &c. which would doubtless turn to great account: I must premise two things, that I may not lead the reader into an error.
1. It is not so with all the people on this western coast of Scotland, as we shall soon see in the other countries, upon the coast of Clyde, farther north, up to, and inclusive of Glasgow itself.
2. The people of Galloway itself are not perfectly idle, and neither the country, or the people capable of any thing; if it were so, the place would be uninhabited, and, indeed, unhabitable; whereas, on the contrary, it is very populous, and full of inhabitants, as well of noblemen and gentlemen, as of common people; all, which, I shall explain in few words.
1. It is not so with all the people, they are not all stupid, and without any notions of commerce, navigation, shipping, fishing, &c. that is to say, tho’ in Galloway they are generally so, from the coast, a little west of Dumfries, that is, from the mouth of the River Fleet, yet to the northward, and upon the coast of Air, Kyle, and Cunningham; it is quite another thing, as you shall hear presently.
2. The people of Galloway do not starve; tho’ they do not fish, build ships, trade abroad, &c. yet they have other business, that is to say, they are meer cultivaters of the earth, and in particular, breeders of cattle, such as sheep, the number of which I may say is infinite, that is to say, innumerable; and black cattle, of which they send to England, if fame lies not, 50 or 60,000 every year, the very toll of which before the Union, was a little estate to some gentlemen upon the borders; and particularly the Earl of Carlisle had a very good income by it.
Besides the great number of sheep and runts, as we call them in England, which they breed here; they have the best breed of strong low horses in Britain, if not in Europe, which we call pads, and from whence we call all small truss-strong riding horses Galloways: These horses are remarkable for being good pacers, strong, easy goers, hardy, gentle, well broke, and above all, that they never tire, and they are very much bought up in England on that account.
By these three articles, the country of Galloway is far from being esteemed a poor country; for the wooll, as well as the sheep, is a very great fund of yearly wealth to them, and the black cattle and horses are hardly to be valued: The gentlemen generally take their rents in cattle, and some of them have so great a quantity, that they go to England with their droves, and take the money themselves. It is no uncommon thing for a Galloway nobleman to send 4,000 sheep, and 4,000 head of black cattle to England in a year, and sometimes much more. Going from the lower Galloway hither, we were like all to be driven down the stream of a river, tho’ a countryman went before for our guide, the water swelling upon us as we pass’d, the stream was very strong, so that I was oblig’d to turn my horse’s head to the current, and so sloping over edg’d near the shore by degrees, whereas, if my horse had stood directly cross the stream, he could not have kept his feet.
This part of the country is very mountainous, and some of the hills prodigious high; but all are cover’d with sheep: In a word, the gentlemen here are the greatest sheep-masters in Scotland, (so they call themselves) and the greatest breeders of black cattle and horses.
But I was sick of Galloway, thro’ which the travelling is very rough, as well for the road, as for the entertainment; except, that sometimes we were received by the gentlemen, who are particularly very courteous to strangers, meerly as such, and we received many extraordinary civilities on that only account.
We now enter’d the shire of Air, full north from the mull of Galloway, and as before, we coasted the south Bay or Firth of Solway, parting England from Scotland; now we coasted the Firth or Sea of Clyde, which, for above sixty miles lies on the west side the shore, standing away north east from the point of the mull, or north Point of Galloway: The shire of Air is divided into three parts, Carrick, Kyle, and Cunningham.
Carrick is a more fruitful and better cultivated country than Galloway, and not so mountainous; but it is not quite so rich in cattle, and especially, not in sheep, or horses. There is no considerable port in this part of the country, yet, the people begin to trade here, and they are (particularly on the coast) great fishermen, and take abundance of fish, but not merchants to carry it abroad; sometimes they are employed by the merchants at Glasgow, and other places, to catch herrings for them. Balgony is the chief town, but tho’ it stands on the coast, it has no harbour, and is a poor decay’d town; the market is good, because there are many gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and the coast near it is full of people, the houses are mean, and low, and very coarse: The family of Kennedy, Earls of Cassells, are lords of great part of the country, and has a good antient seat farther north, but we did not go to it; the late Earl of Kenmure had some interest here, but, as the family was much sunk in fortune, so, both what was left here, and in Galloway, is gone, and the honour extinct in the last earl, who being beheaded for the late rebellion, Ann. 1716. left nothing behind him worth naming in this country.
Corning to the north bounds of Carrick, we pass’d the River Dun, upon a bridge of one arch, the largest I ever saw, much larger than the Rialto at Venice, or the middle arch of the great bridge at York; we find many such in this country, though, I think none so very wide, except a bridge between Glasgow and Sterling; which, indeed, I did not measure, though we might have done it, there being then no water in the river. But this the people assur’d us, was almost thirty yards in diameter, which, as I take it, is thirteen foot wider than the Rialto.
This bridge led us into the county of Kyle, the second division of the shire of Air; and here I observ’d, that, contrary to what is usual, the farther north we travelled, the better, finer, and richer the country was, whereas, ordinarily the farther north we expect it to be the worse.
Kyle is much better inhabited than Carrick, as Carrick is better than Galloway; and as the soil here is better, and the country plainer and leveller, so on the banks of the river, here are abundance of gentlemen’s seats, some of them well planted, tho’ most of the houses are old built, that is, castle-wise, because of enemies. But now that fear is over they begin to plant, and endose after the manner of England; and the soil is also encouraging, for the land is fruitful.
Our Scotch writers tell us a long story of a great battle in this country, between King Coilus or Kylus a British king, and their Fergus I. where the former was kill’d, and from thence the country took his name; also another bloody battle, Ann. 1263. between King Alexander III. of Scotland, and one Acho King of Norway, who came to the port of Air with a great fleet of ships, and 20,000 men on board, who, after ravaging the country, was routed, and lost both his army and 140 sail of his ships. But these Scots legends I shall say nothing to.
The capital of this country is Air, a sea-port, and as they tell us, was formerly a large city, had a good harbour, and a great trade: I must acknowledge to you, that tho’ I believe it never was a city, yet it has certainly been a good town, and much bigger than it is now: At present like an old beauty, it shews the ruins of a good face; but is also apparently not only decay’d and declin’d, but decaying and declining every day, and from being the fifth town in Scotland, as the townsmen say, is now like a place so saken; the reason of its decay, is, the decay of its trade, so true is it, that commerce is the life of nations, of cities towns, harbours, and of the whole prosperity of a country: What the reason of the decay of trade here was, or when it first began to decay, is hard to determine; nor are the people free to tell, and, perhaps, do not know themselves. There is a good river here, and a handsome stone bridge of four arches.
The town is well situated, has a very large antient church, and has still a very good market for all sorts of provision. But nothing will save it from death, if trade does not revive, which the townsmen say it begins to do since the Union.
From Air, keeping still north, we came to Irwin, upon a river of the same name; there is a port, but barr’d and difficult, and not very good, when you are in; and yet, here is more trade by a great deal than at Air; nay, than at all the ports between it and Dumfries, exclusive of the last; particularly here is a considerable trade for Scots coal, of which they have plenty in the neighbouring hills, and which they carry by sea to Ireland, to Belfast, to Carickfergus, and to Dublin itself, and the commerce occasioned by this navigation between the two countries is very considerable, and much to the advantage of the town of Irwin. They have also of late, as I was told, launch’d into a considerable trade abroad to other countries, and have some share in the fishery: but this I cannot come into the particulars of here. The town is the capital of that division of the shire of Ayre, which they call Cunningham, and is really within the Firth of Clyde, though not actually within the river itself; they stand so advantagiously for the herring fishing, that they cannot but go beyond their neighbours of Greenock, who sometimes cannot come out as the wind may blow, when the fishing-boats of Irwin can both go out and return.
As the town is better employ’d in trade than the other parts I have been speaking of, so it is better built: Here are two handsome streets, a good key, and not only room in the harbour for a great many ships, but a great many ships in it also; and, in a word, a face of thriving appears every where among them.
As is the town, so is the country in which it is situated; for when we came hither, we thought ourselves in England again. Here we saw no more a Galloway, where you have neither hedge or tree, but about the gentlemen’s houses; whereas here you have beautiful enclosures, pleasant pastures, and grass grounds, and consequently store of cattle well fed and provided.
The whole country is rich and fruitful, fill’d with gentlemen’s seats and well-built houses: It is said this enclosing the country was owing to the English soldiers, who were placed here and in Kyle by Oliver Cromwell; for at Ayre he built a citadel, the visible appearances of which remain still, and the English soldiers prompted and encouraged the people to endose and improve their lands, and instructed them in the manner of husbandry practis’d in England, which they have never left off to this day.
A little from Irwin is Kilmarnock castle, the seat of the family of Boy’d, Earl of Kilmarnock; and on the other side the castle of Eglington, the seat of the family of Montgomery, Earl of Eglington, an antient house; and the present Earl is one of the richest peers in Scotland. Just upon the borders of this county, north east, and where it joins to Clydsdale, is the castle of Loudon, the family-seat of the Earl of Loudon, of the family of Campbell, formerly Secretary of State to Queen Anne; it is a noble and beautiful seat.
But I cannot describe houses: they come too thick upon me; besides, in a country, as this is, full of noblemen’s and gentlemen’s seats, I should never travel any farther if I did, I mean in this volume.
With the division of Cunningham I quitted the shire of Ayre, and the pleasantest country in Scotland, without exception: Joining to it north, and bordering on the Clyde itself, I mean the river, lyes the little shire of Renfrew, or rather a barony, or a sheriffdom, call it as you will.
It is a pleasant, rich, and populous, tho’ small country, lying on the south bank of the Clyde; the soil is not thought to be so good as in Cunningham: But that is abundantly supply’d by the many good towns, the neighbourhood of Glasgow, and of the Clyde, and great commerce of both. We kept our rout as near along the coast as we could, from Irwin; so that we saw all the coast of the Firth of Clyde, and the very opening of the Clyde itself, which is just at the west point, or corner of this county, for it comes to a narrow point just in that place. There are some villages and fishing towns within the mouth of the Clyde, which have more business than large port towns in Galloway and Carrick: But the first town of note is call’d Greenock; ’tis not an antient place, but seems to be grown up in later years, only by being a good road for ships, and where the ships ride that come into, and go out from Glasgow, just as the ships for London do in the downs. It has a castle to command the road and the town is well built, and has many rich trading families in it. It is the chief town on the west of Scotland for the herring fishing; and the merchants of Glasgow, who are concern’d in the fishery, employ the Greenock vessels for the catching and curing the fish, and for several parts of their other trades, as well as carrying them afterwards abroad to market.
Their being ready on all hands to go to sea, makes the Glasgow merchants often leave their ships to the care of those Greenock men; and why not? for they are sensible they are “their best seamen; they are also excellent pilots for those difficult seas.
The Abbey of Pasely is famous in history, and to history I refer the enquirer; it lyes on the west side of the Clyde, over against Glasgow, the remains of the building are to be seen, and the town bears still the marks of being fortify’d. When I tell you this was one of the most eminent monasteries in Scotland; that the building was of a vast extent, and the revenue in proportion; you need not ask if the soil was good, the lands rich, the air healthful, and the country pleasant. The priests very seldom fail’d to chuse the best situation, and the richest and most pleasant part of the country wherever they came; witness St. Albans, St. Edmond’s -Bury, Glastenbury, Canterbury; and innumerable other instances in England, and also many in Scotland; as St. Andrew’s, Haly-Rood, Pasely, and others.
The country between Pasely and Glasgow, on the bank of Clyde, I take to be one of the most agreeable places in Scotland, take its situation, its fertility, healthiness, the nearness of Glasgow, the neighbourhood of the sea, and altogether, at least, I may say, I saw none like it.
I am now come to the bank of Clyde: My method here as in England, forbids me wandring north, till I have given you a full view of the south. Two rivers seem to cross Scotland here, as the Trent and the Mersee, cross England in the south, or as the Tyne and the Eden cross it in the north, or as the two Calders cross it in Yorkshire and Lancashire, which rise both out of the same hill, and with a mile of each other, and run one into the German ocean at Hull, and the other entring first into the Ribble, runs into the Irish Sea below Preston.
Thus the Clyde and the Tweed may be said to cross Scotland in the south, their sources being not many miles asunder; and the two firths, from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth, have not an interval of above twelve or fourteen miles, which, if they were join’d, as might easily be done, they might cross Scotland, as I might say, in the very center.
Nor can I refrain mentioning how easy a work it would be to form a navigation, I mean a navigation of art from the Forth to the Clyde, and so join the two seas, as the King of France has done in a place five times as far, and five hundred times as difficult, namely from Thouloze to Narbonne. What an advantage in commerce would this be, opening the Irish trade to the merchants of Glasgow, making a communication between the west coast of Scotland, and the east coast of England, and even to London itself; nay, several ports of England, on the Irish Sea, from Liverpool northward, would all trade with London by such a canal, it would take up a volume by itself, to lay down the several advantages to the trade of Scotland, that would immediately occur by such a navigation, and then to give a true survey of the ground, the easiness of its being perform’d, and the probable charge of it, all which might be done: But it is too much to undertake here, it must lye till posterity, by the rising greatness of their commerce, shall not only feel the want of it, but find themselves able for the performance.
I mention’d the neighbouring situation of the Clyde, and the Forth in this place, only to observe that I make that line the bound of this circuit, and shall speak of nothing beyond it till my next. Supposing a line drawn from Dunbarton to Sterling, exclusive of the first, and inclusive of the last; or rather suppose it drawn from Glasgow to Sterling, inclusive of both, because both relate to the south or lowland part of Scotland.
I am now cross’d the Clyde to Glasgow, and I went over dry-footed without the bridge; on which occasion I cannot but observe how differing a face the river presented itself in, at those two several times when only I was there; at the first, being in the month of June, the river was so low, that not the horses and carts only pass’d it just above the bridge, but the children and boys playing about, went every where, as if there was no river, only some little spreading brook, or wash, like such as we have at Enfield-Wash, or Chelston-Wash in Middlesex; and, as I told you, we cross’d it dry-foot, that is, the water was scarce over the horses’ hoofs.
As for the bridge, which is a lofty, stately fabrick; it stood out of the water as naked as a skeleton, and look’d somewhat like the bridge over the Mansanares, near Madrid, which I mention’d once before; of which a French ambassador told the people the king should either buy them a river, or sell their bridge, or like the stone-bridge at Chester in the Street, in Northumberland, where the road goes in the river, and the people ride under the bridge in dry weather instead of riding over it. So when I saw such a magnificent bridge at Glasgow, and especially when I saw three of the middle arches so exceeding large and high, beyond all the rest, I could not but wonder, hardly thinking it possible, that where the passage or channel is so exceeding broad, for the bridge consists of eight arches; the river, which in its ordinary channel is so narrow as it is higher up, and at a distance from it, could ever fill up such a height, where it has so grand a space to spread itself as at the bridge.
But my next journey satisfy’d me, when coming into Glasgow from the east side, I found the river not only had fill’d up all the arches of the bridge, but, running about the end of it, had fill’d the streets of all that part of the city next the bridge, to the infinite damage of the inhabitants, besides putting them into the greatest consternation imaginable, for fear of their houses being driven away by the violence of the water, and the whole city was not without apprehensions that their bridge would have given way too, which would have been a terrible loss to them, for ’tis as fine a bridge as most in Scotland.
Glasgow is, indeed, a very fine city; the four principal streets are the fairest for breadth, and the finest built that I have ever seen in one city together. The houses are all of stone, and generally equal and uniform in height, as well as in front; the lower story generally stands on vast square dorick columns, not round pillars, and arches between give passage into the shops, adding to the strength as well as beauty of the building; in a word, ’tis the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted.
It stands on the side of a hill, sloping to the river, with this exception, that the part next the river is flat, as is said above, for near one third part of the city, and that expos’d it to the water, upon the extraordinary flood mention’d just now.
Where the streets meet, the crossing makes a spacious marketplace by the nature of the thing, because the streets are so large of themselves. As you come down the hill, from the north gate to the said cross, the Tolbooth, with the Stadhouse, or Guild-Hall, make the north east angle, or, in English, the right-hand corner of the street, the building very noble and very strong, ascending by large stone steps, with an iron balustrade. Here the town-council sit, and the magistrates try causes, such as come within their cognizance, and do all their publick business.
On the left-hand of the same street is the university, the building is the best of any in Scotland of the kind; it was founded by Bishop Turnbull, Ann. 1454. but has been much enlarg’d since, and the fabrick almost all new built. It is a very spacious building, contains two large squares, or courts, and the lodgings for the scholars, and for the professors, are very handsome; the whole building is of freestone, very high and very august. Here is a principal, with regents and professors in every science, as there is at Edinburgh, and the scholars wear gowns, which they do not at Edinburgh. Their gowns here are red, but the Masters of Arts, and professors, wear black gowns, with a large cape of velvet to distinguish them.
The cathedral is an antient building, and has a square tower in the middle of the cross, with a very handsome spire upon it, the highest that I saw in Scotland, and, indeed, the only one that is to be call’d high. This, like St. Giles’s at Edinburgh, is divided now, and makes three churches, and, I suppose, there is four or five more in the city, besides a meeting or two: But there are very few of the episcopal dissenters here; and the mob fell upon one of their meetings so often, that they were oblig’d to lay it down, or, if they do meet, ’tis very privately.
The Duke of Montrose has so great an interest here, and in the country round, that he is, in a civil sense, Governor of this city, as he is legally of their university. His fine house at the north end of the city is not finished, so I need not enter upon a description of it. As his Grace’s family is antient, and respected very much in these parts, so is his interest preserv’d in his own person, who is generally as much respected by the people as most, if not as any of the nobility of Scotland.
Glasgow is a city of business; here is the face of trade, as well foreign as home trade; and, I may say, ’tis the only city in Scotland, at this time, that apparently encreases and improves in both. The Union has answer’d its end to them more than to any other part of Scotland, for their trade is new form’d by it; and, as the Union open’d the door to the Scots in our American colonies, the Glasgow merchants presently fell in with the opportunity; and tho’, when the Union was making, the rabble of Glasgow made the most formidable attempt to prevent it, yet, now they know better, for they have the greatest addition to their trade by it imaginable; and I am asssur’d that they send near fifty sail of ships every year to Virginia, New England, and other English colonies in America, and are every year increasing.
Could this city but have a communication with the Firth of Forth, so as to send their tobacco and sugar by water to Alloway, below Sterling, as they might from thence again to London, Holland, Hambrough, and the Baltick, they would, (for ought I know that should hinder it) in a few years double their trade, and send 100 sail, or more.
The share they have in the herring-fishery is very considerable, and they cure their herrings so well, and so much better than is done in any other part of Great Britain; that a Glasgow herring is esteem’d as good as a Dutch herring, which in England they cannot come up to.
As Scotland never enjoy’d a trade to the English plantations till since the Union, so no town in Scotland has yet done any thing considerable in it but Glasgow: the merchants of Edinburgh have attempted it; but they lye so out of the way, and the voyage is not only so much the longer, but so much more hazardous, that the Glasgow men are always sure to outdo them, and must consequently carry away that part of trade from them, as likewise the trade to the south, and to the Mediterranean, whither the ships from Glasgow go and come again with great advantage in the risque, so that even in the insuring there is one per cent, difference, which is a great article in the Business of a merchant.
The towns of Irwin and Dumfries are, as I hinted before, newly stepp’d into this trade too, and will, no question, taste the sweets of it.
The Glasgow merchants have of late suffer’d some scandal in this branch of trade, as if they were addicted to the sin of smuggling; as to that, of others, for want of opportunity, are not in capacity to do the same, let those who are not guilty, or would not, if they had room for it, throw the first stone at them; for my part I accuse none of them.
The Clyde is not navigable for large ships quite up to the town, but they come to a wharf and key at New-Port Glasgow, which is within a very little of it, and there they deliver their cargoes, and either put them on shore there, or bring them up to the city in lighters: the custom-house also is at Port Glasgow, and their ships are repair’d, laid up, fitted out, and the like, either there or at Greenock, where work is done well, and labour cheap.
I have not time here to enlarge upon the home trade of this city, which is very considerable in many things, I shall only touch at some parts of them (viz.)
Here is one or two very handsome sugar-baking houses, carried on by skilful persons, with large stocks, and to a very great degree: I had the curiosity to view one of the houses, and I think it equal to, if not exceeding most in London. Also there is a large distillery for distilling spirits from the molasses drawn from the sugars, and which they call’d Glasgow brandy, and in which they enjoy’d a vast advantage for a time, by a reserv’d article in the Union, freeing them from the English duties, I say for a time.
Here is a manufacture of plaiding, a stuff cross-strip’d with yellow and red, and other mixtures for the plaids or vails, which the ladies in Scotland wear, and which is a habit peculiar to the country.
Here is a manufacture of muslins, and, perhaps the only manufacture of its kind in Britain, if not in Europe; and they make them so good and so fine, that great quantities of them are sent into England, and sold there at a good price; they are generally strip’d, and are very much used for aprons by the ladies, and sometimes in head-clothes by the English women of a meaner sort, and many of them are sent to the British plantations.
Here is also a linnen manufacture; but as that is in common with all parts of Scotland, I do not insist so much upon it here, though they make a very great quantity of it, and send it to the plantations also as a principal merchandise.
Nor are the Scots without a supply of goods for sorting their cargoes to the English colonies, even without sending to England for them, or at least not for many of them; and ’tis needful to mention it here, because it has been objected by some that understood trade too, that the Scots could not send a sortable cargo to America without buying from England; which goods, so bought from, must come through many hands, and by long carriage, and consequently be dear bought, and so the English merchants might undersell them.
But to answer this in the language of merchants, as it is a merchant-like objection: It may be true, that some things cannot be had here so well as from England, so as to make out a sortable cargo, such as the Virginia merchants in London ship off, whose entries at the Custom-house consist sometimes of 200 particulars; and they are at last fain to sum them up thus: certain tin, turnery, millinary, upholdstery, cutlery, and Crooked-Lane wares; that is to say, that they buy something of every thing, either for wearing, or kitchen, or house-furniture, building houses or ships (with every thing else in short) that can be thought of, except eating.
But though the Scots cannot do this, we may reckon up what they can furnish, and what is sufficient, and some of which they can go beyond England in.
They have several woollen manufactures which they send’ of their own making; such as the Sterling serges, Musclebrow stuffs, Aberdeen stockings, Edinburgh shalloons, blankets, &c. So that they are not quite destitute in the woollen manufacture, tho’ that is the principal thing in which England can outdo them.
The trade with England, being open, they have now, all the Manchester wares, Sheffield wares, and Newcastle hard wares; as also the cloths, kerseys, half-thicks, duffels, stockings, and coarse manufactures of the north of England, as cheap brought to them by horse-packs as they can be carried to London; nor is the carriage farther, and, in some articles, not so far by much.
They have linnens of most kinds, especially diapers and table-linnen, damasks, and many other sorts not known in England, cheaper than England, because made at their own doors.
What linnens they want from Holland, or Hamburgh, they import from thence as cheap as can be done in England; and for muslins, their own are very acceptable, and cheaper than in England.
Gloves they make better and cheaper than in England, for they send great quantities thither.
Another article, which is very considerable here, is servants, and these they have in greater plenty, and upon better terms than the English; without the scandalous art of kidnapping, making drunk, wheedling, betraying, and the like; the poor people offering themselves fast enough, and thinking it their advantage to go; as indeed it is, to those who go with sober resolutions, namely, to serve out their times, and then become diligent planters for themselves; and this would be a much wiser course in England than to turn thieves, and worse, and then be sent over by force, and as a pretence of mercy to save them from the gallows.
This may be given as a reason, and, I believe, is the only reason why so many more of the Scots servants, which go over to Virginia, settle and thrive there, than of the English, which is so certainly true, that if it goes on for many years more. Virginia may be call’d a Scots than an English plantation.
I might go on to many other particulars, but this is sufficient to shew that the Scots merchants are at no loss how to make up sortable cargoes to send with their ships to the plantations, and that if we can outdo them in some things, they are able to outdo us in others; if they are under any disadvantages in the trade I am speaking of, it is that they may perhaps, not have so easy a vent and consumption for the goods they bring back, as the English have, at London, or Bristol, or Liverpool; and that is the reason why they are now, as they say, setting up a wharf and conveniences at Alloway in the Forth, in order to send their tobaccos and sugars thither by land-carriage, and ship them off there for Holland, or Hamburgh, or London, as the market presents.
Now, though this may be some advantage (viz.) carrying the tobacco from fourteen to fifteen miles over land; yet, if on the other hand it be calculated how much sooner the voyage is made from Glasgow to the capes of Virginia, than from London, take it one time with another, the difference will be found in the freight, and in the expence of the ships, and especially in time of war, when the channel is throng’d with privateers, and when the ships wait to go in fleets for fear of enemies; whereas the Glasgow men are no sooner out of the Firth of Clyde, but they stretch away to the north west, are out of the wake of the privateers immediately, and are oftentimes at the capes of Virginia before the London ships get clear of the channel. Nay, even in times of peace, and take the weather to happen in its usual manner, there must always be allow’d, one time with another, at least fourteen to twenty days difference in the voyage, either out or home; which, take it together, is a month to six weeks in the whole voyage, and for wear and tear; victuals and wages, is very considerable in the whole trade.
I went from Glasgow to the palace of Hamilton, or as we should call it in England, to Hamilton-house: It is the palace of Hamilton, and the palace at Hamilton, for the family is according to the Scots dialect, Hamilton of that Ilk, that is of a place or town of the same name, for the town of Hamilton joins to the outhouses, or offices of the house of Hamilton. The house is large as it is, tho’ part of the design is yet unfinish’d; it is now a fair front, with two wings, two wings more there are laid out in the ichnography of the building, but are not attempted; the successor if he thinks fit, may build them.
The front is very magnificent indeed, all of white freestone, with regular ornaments according to the rules of art: The wings are very deep, and when the other wings come to be added, if ever that shall be, the two sides of the house will then be like two large fronts rather than wings; not unlike Beddington House, near Croydon in Surrey, only much larger.
The apartments are very noble, and fit rather for the court of a prince than the palace or house of a subject; the pictures, the furniture, and the decoration of every thing is not to be describ’d, but by saying that every thing is exquisitely fine and suitable to the genius of the great possessors: the late duchess, whose estate it was, was heiress of the family, but marrying a branch of the house of Douglass, oblig’d him to take the name of Hamilton, so to continue the estate in the name; and it has sufficiently answer’d that end. That match being blest with a truly glorious succession of six sons, four of whom were peers by birth, or creation (viz.) the late Duke, or rather Earl of Arran, his mother being alive, the Earls of Orkney, Selkirk, and Ruglen, besides the Lords Basil and Archibald Hamilton. But this by the way.
The situation of the house is fix’d to all the advantage imaginable; it stands in a plain, level country, near enough to the banks of the Clyde to enjoy the prospect of its stream, and yet far enough and high enough to be out of the reach of its torrents and floods, which, as you have heard, are sometimes able to terrify a whole city.
The great park is said to be six miles in circumference, wall’d round with stone, but rough, and not well lay’d; the lesser park is rather a great enclosure than a park, yet they are both extremely well planted with trees, and add to the ornament of the whole. The great park also is well stock’d with deer, and among them some very curious for the kind, whether natives of the place, or of foreign breed, I could not learn. The gardens are finely design’d, but I cannot say they are so finely finish’d, or so nicely kept as those at Drumlanrig, particularly the courtyard; the canals and ponds, design’d with some other gardens laid out in the first plan, are not compleated, and some not so much as begun upon: so that the next heirs have room enough to divert themselves, and dispose of some of their spare treasure, to carry on and compleat the true design of their ancestor.
The misfortune of the late heir, the father of the present duke, happen’d so, as that he never came to the estate, for he was kill’d before the Duchess Dowager died; so that the estate, as I observ’d, being her own, remain’d in her hands till afterward; whether this might not be the better for the present heir, I shall not determine, let others judge of that.
I was here in some doubt, whether I should take the south or the north in the next part of my progress; that is to say, whether to follow up the Clyde, and so into, and through Clydesdale, and then crossing east, view the shire of Peebles, the country on the banks of Tweed and Tivyot, or keeping to the north, go on for the Forth; and after a short debate we concluded on the latter. So we turn’d to the left for Sterling-shire, and passing the Clyde we came to Kilsyth, a good plain country burgh, tolerably well built, but not large; here we rested, and upon a particular occasion went to see the antient seat of Calendar, which seems, as well as that of Kilsyth, to be in its widow’s weeds, those two families, collateral branches both of the name of Livingston, having had their several decays, though on different occasions. The town of Falkirk is near Calendar house, but nothing in it remarkable; but the other old decay’d house of the Earl of Calendar.
Here I must take notice, though, as I have often said, antiquity is not my business, that we saw the remains, and that very plain, of the antient work, which they call Severus’s wall, or Hadrian’s wall, or Graham’s dyke, for it is known by all these: the short of which story is this; that the Romans finding it not only difficult, but useless to them, to conquer the northern Highlands, and impossible to keep them, if conquer’d; contented themselves to draw a line, so we now call it, cross this narrow part of the country, and fortify it with redoubts, and stations of soldiers to confine the Picts and Irish, and those wild nations which were without, and defend the south country from their incursions. This wall reach’d from Dunbriton Firth, so they call’d the Firth of Clyde, to the Forth, and was several times restor’d and repair’d, till the Roman empire’s declining, as is well known in story. Tho’ neither this, or the yet stronger wall at New-castle, call’d the Picts wall, could preserve the country from the invasion of the Picts, and the barbarous nations that came with them.
From Kilsyth we mounted the hills black and frightful as they were, to find the road over the moors and mountains to Sterling, and being directed by our guides, came to the river Carron: The channel of a river appear’d, indeed, and running between horrid precipices of rocks, as if cut by hand, on purpose for the river to make its way; but not a drop of water was to be seen. Great stones, square and form’d, as if cut out by hand, of a prodigious size, some of them at least a ton, or ton and a half in weight, lay scatter’d, and confusedly, as it were, jumbled together in the very course of the river, which the fury of the water, at other times, I doubt not, had hurried down from the mountains, and tumbled them thus over one another: Some of them might, I suppose, have been some ages upon their journey down the stream; for it may not be once in some years that a flood comes with a force sufficient to move such stones as those; and, ’tis probable, ’tis never done, but when a weight of ice, as well as water, may come down upon them together.
Here we pass’d another bridge of one arch, though not quite so large as that we saw in Galloway, yet not much unlike, nor much short of it; ’tis finely built of freestone, but rises so high, the shores being flat, and the walls on either side are so low, that it is not every head can bear to ride over it.
The truth is, there was need to build the bridge but with one arch, for no piers, they could have built in the middle of the channel, ever could have born the shock of those great stones, which sometimes come down this stream.
From hence, descending on the north side, we had a view of Firth, or Forth, on our right, the castle of Sterling on the left; and in going to the latter we pass’d the famous water, for river it is not, of Bannock Bourn, famous in the Scots History for the great battle fought here between King Robert de Bruce and the English Army, commanded by King Edward II. in person, in which the English were utterly overthrown; and that with so terrible a slaughter, that of the greatest army that ever march’d from England into Scotland, very few escap’d; and King Edward II. with much ado, sav’d himself by flight. How, indeed, he should save himself by a little boat, (as Mr Cambden says) that, indeed, I cannot understand, there being no river near that had any boats in it but the Forth, and that had been to make the king fly north; whereas, to be sure, he fled for England with all the speed he could; he might, perhaps, make use of a boat to pass the Tweed; but that was at least thirty or forty miles off.
Whether the Scots magnify this victory, or not, is not my business, that it was a total overthrow of the English Army is certain, and that abundance of the English nobility and gentry lost their lives there; but ’tis as true, that it was the ill conduct of the English at that time, and the unfortunate king that led them on, which were the occasion: His glorious predecessor, Edward I., or Edward III. his more glorious successor, never lost such a battle. But let the fault be where it will, this is certain, that the English lost the day, and were horribly massacred by the Scots, as well after as in the fight, for the animosity was implacable between the two nations, and they gave but little quarter on either side.
Sterling was our next stage, an antient city, or town rather, and an important pass, which, with Dunbarton, is indeed the defence of the Lowlands against the Highlands; and, as one very knowingly said, Dunbarton is the lock of the Highlands, and Sterling-Castle keeps the key. The town is situated as like Edinburgh as almost can be describ’d, being on the ridge of a hill, sloping down on both sides, and the street ascending from the east gradually to the castle, which is at the west end; the street is large and well built, but antient, and the buildings not unlike Edinburgh, either for beauty or sight.
The church is also a very spacious building, but not collegiate; there was formerly a church, or rather chapel, in the castle, but it is now out of use; also a private chapel, or oratory in the palace, for the royal family: But all that is now laid aside too. The castle is not so very difficult of access as Edinburgh; but it is esteem’d equally strong, and particularly the works are capable to mount more cannon, and these cannon are better pointed; particularly there is a battery which commands, or may command the bridge; the command of which is of the utmost importance; nay, it is the main end and purpose for which, as we are told, the castle was built.
They who built the castle, without doubt built it, as the Scots express it, to continue aye, and till somebody else should build another there, which, in our language, would be for ever and a day after: The walls, and all the outer works are firm, and if no force is us’d to demolish them, may continue inconceivably long, at least we have reason to believe they will; for though the other buildings grow old, the castle seems as firm and fair, as if it had been but lately built.
The palace and royal apartments are very magnificent, but all in decay, and must be so: Were the materials of any use, we thought it would be much better to pull them down than to let such noble buildings sink into their own rubbish, by the meer injury of time: But it is at present the fate of all the royal houses in Scotland; Haly-Rood at Edinburgh excepted: It is so at Lithgow, at Falkland, at Dumfermling, and at several other places.
In the park, adjoining to the castle, were formerly large gardens, how fine they were I cannot say; the figure of the walks and grass-plats remains plain to be seen, they are very old fashion’d; but I suppose the gardens might be thought fine, as gardens were then; particularly they had not then the usage of adorning their gardens with ever-greens, trimm’d and shap’d; trees espalier’d into hedges and such-like, as now: They had, indeed, statues and busts, vasa, and fountains, flowers and fruit; but we make gardens fine now many ways, which those ages had no genius for; as by scrouls, embroidery, pavillions, terrasses and slopes, pyramids and high espaliers, and a thousand ornaments, which they had no notion of.
The park here is large and wall’d about, as all the parks in Scotland are, but little or no wood in it. The Earl of Mar, of the name of Ereskin, who claims to be hereditary keeper of the king’s children, as also hereditary keeper of the castle, has a house at the upper end of the town, and very finely situated for prospect, but I cannot say it is so for any thing else, for it is too near the castle; and was the castle ever to suffer a close siege, and be vigorously defended, that house would run great risques of being demolish’d on one side or other; it stands too near the castle also for the site of it to be agreeable.
The Governor’s lady (who was the Countess Dowager of Marr, when we were there, and mother of the late exil’d Earl of Marr), had a very pretty little flower-garden, upon the body of one of the bastions, or towers of the castle, the ambrusiers, serving for a dwarf-wall round the most part of it; and they walk’d to it from her Ladyship’s apartment upon a level, along the castle-wall.
As this little, but very pleasant spot, was on the north side of the castle, we had from thence a most agreeable prospect indeed over the valley and the river; as it is truly beautiful, so it is what the people of Sterling justly boast of, and, indeed seldom forget it, I mean the meanders, or reaches of the River Forth. They are so spacious, and return so near themselves, with so regular and exactly a sweep, that, I think, the like is not to be seen in Britain, if it is in Europe, especially where the river is so large also.
The River Sein, indeed, between Paris and Roan, fetches a sweep something like these some miles longer, but then it is but one; whereas here are three double reaches, which make six returns together, and each of them three long Scots miles, or more in length; and as the bows are almost equal for breadth, as the reaches are for length, it makes the figure compleat. It is an admirable sight indeed, and continues from a little below the great bridge at Sterling to Alloway, the seat of the present, or rather late Earl of Marr, the present Earl being attainted for treason, and so dead, as a peer or earl, though alive in exile. The form of this winding may be conceiv’d of a little by the length of the way, for it is near twenty miles from Sterling to Alloway by water, and hardly four miles by land.
One would think these large sweeps, or windings of the stream, should check the tide very much: But, on the contrary, we found the tide of flood made up very strong under Sterling-bridge, even as strong almost as at London-bridge, but does not flow above seven or eight miles farther: The stream of the river growing narrow apace, and the rapid current of all rivers in that country checking the tide, when it comes into narrow limits; the same is the case in the Tyne at Newcastle, and the Tweed at Berwick; in both which, though the tide flows as strong in at the mouth of the rivers, yet the navigation goes but a very little way up, nothing near what it does in this river.
The bridge at Sterling has but four arches, as I remember, but they are very large, and the channel widens considerably below it; at Alloway ’tis above a mile broad, and deep enough for ships of any burthen. So that the Glasgow merchants cannot but be in the right to settle a ware-house, or ware-houses, or whatever they will call them here, to ship off their goods for the eastern countries.
I was, indeed, curious to enquire into the course of this river, as I had been before into that of the Clyde as to the possibility of their waters being united for an inland navigation; because I had observ’d that the charts and plans of the country brought them almost to meet; but when I came more critically to survey the ground, I found the map-makers greatly mistaken, and that they had not only given the situation and courses of the rivers wrong, but the distances also. However, upon the whole, I brought it to this; that notwithstanding several circumstances which might obstruct it, and cause the workmen to fetch some winding turns out of the way, yet, that in the whole, a canal of about eight miles in length would fairly join the rivers, and make a clear navigation from the Irish to the German Sea; and that this would be done without any considerable obstruction; so that there would not need above four sluices in the whole way, and those only to head a bason, or receptacle, to contain a flash, or flush of water to push on the vessels this way or that, as occasion requir’d, not to stop them to raise or let fall, as in the case of locks in other rivers.
How easy then such a work would be, and how advantagious, not to Scotland only, but even to Ireland and England also, I need not explain, the nature of the thing will explain itself. I could enter upon particular descriptions of the work, and answer the objections rais’d from the great excess of waters in these streams in the winter, and the force and fury of their streams: But ’tis needless, nor have we room for such a work here; besides, all those who are acquainted with such undertakings, know that artificial canals are carefully secur’d from any communication with other waters, except just as their own occasion for the navigating part demands; and that they are so order’d, as to be always in a condition to take in what water they want, and cast off what would be troublesome to them, by proper channels and sluices made for that purpose.
Those gentlemen who have seen the royal canal in Languedoc from Narbon to Thoulouse, as many in Scotland have, will be able to support what I say in this case, and to understand how easily the same thing is to be practis’d here; but I leave it to time, and the fate of Scotland, which, I am perswaded, will one time or other bring it to pass.
There is a very good hospital at the upper end of this town for poor decay’d tradesmen merchants. They told us it was for none but merchants, which presently brought Sir John Morden’s Hospital upon Black-Heath to my thoughts; but I had forgotten where I was: And that in Scotland every country shop-keeper, nay, almost every pether is call’d a merchant; which, when I was put in mind of, I understood the foundation of the hospital better.
There is a very considerable manufacture at Sterling, for what they call Sterling serges, which are in English, shalloons; and they both make them and dye them there very well; nor has the English manufacture of shalloons broke in so much upon them by the late Union, as it was fear’d they would. This manufacture employs the poor very comfortably here, and is a great part of the support of the town as to trade, showing what Scotland might soon be brought to by the help of trade and manufactures; for the people are as willing to work here as in England, if they had the same encouragement, that is, if they could be constantly employ’d and paid for it too, as they are there.
The family of Ereskin is very considerable here; and besides the Earl of Marr and the Earl of Buchan, who are both of that name, there are several gentlemen of quality of the same name; as Sir John Ereskine of Alva, Colonel Ereskine, at that time Governor of the castle; and another Colonel Ereskine, Uncle to the Earl of Buchan, a very worthy and valuable gentleman, who, tho’ he does not live at Sterling, has a considerable interest there, and was at that time Honourary Lord Provost of the town.
We had here a very fine prospect both east and west; eastward we could plainly see the castle of Edinburgh, and the hill call’d Arthur’s Seat, in the Royal Park at Haly-Rood House, also the opening firth presents all the way from Alloway to the Queens-Ferry, mention’d above. North we could see Dumfermling, and the field of battle, call’d Sheriff-muir, between it and Sterling; and some told us we might see Dumbarton castle west; but it was hazy that way, so that we could not see it, the prospect south is confin’d by the hills.
But our business was not to the north yet; still having a part of the border to view, that we might leave nothing behind us to oblige us to come this way again: So we went from Sterling, first east and then south-east., over some of the same hills, which we pass’d at our coming hither, though not by the same road. The Duke of Argyle has a small house, which the family call’d the Low-land House, I suppose in distinction from the many fine seats and strong castles which they were always possess’d of in the Highlands: this seat was formerly belonging to the earls of Sterling, and the country round it, south of the Forth, is call’d Sterlingshire, or Strivelingshire, and sends a member to parliament, as a shire or county. The family of the earls of Sterling is extinct, at least, if there are any of the name, as is alledg’d, they live obscurely in England. They make great complaint at Sterling, which they derive from the Papists, that the old Earl of Marr, who built the family-house under the castle, as I have just now said, was a clergy-man and prior, or abbot of the famous monastery of Cambuskeneth, a religious house, of the Order of the Augustines, which stood not far off.
That upon the Reformation the said abbot turn’d Protestant and married, and was created Earl of Marr: That he was so zealous afterwards for the change of religion, that he set his hand to the demolishing of his own monastery; and that he brought away the stones of it to Sterling, and built this fine house with them; upon which the Romanists branded him with sacrilege and avarice together, and gave him their curse, which is not unusual in Scotland; which curse, they tell you, now fell upon even the house itself, for that the family being hereditary governors of Sterling Castle; and besides, having another house at Alloway, four miles from it, the new built house was never inhabited to this day, at least not by the family to whom it belong’d, and is at last forfeited to the crown.
This clamour, however, did not hinder him from going on with his house, which he finish’d, as you see; but ’tis suppos’d those reproaches occasion’d his setting up several inscriptions, as well without the house as within; some of them are worn out with time, others are legible; whereof this distich in a Scots dialect, I think, points at the case.
Speak forth, and spare nocht,
Consider well, I care nocht.
The words seem to want a paraphrase, which I shall make as short almost as the lines, though not in rhime; I take it to import much like the Duke of Buckingham’s inscription on the frize of his new house in the Park at St. James’s, Spectator fastidiosus sibi molestus: The builder had heard the rumours and reproaches of the people, but bids them speak out plainly, and say their worst; for that, if they consider’d well, and would say nothing but what was true, he had nothing to be concern’d at.
From Sterling, as I said, we came away west, and went directly to Lithgow, or Linlithgow, and from thence to Clydsdale, that is to say, the country upon the banks of the Clyde; in doing which last we pass’d the old Roman work a second time, which I still call Severus’s wall, because we are assur’d Severus was the last that repair’d it, though he might not make it; and more especially, because the men of learning there generally call it so; the remains of it are very plain to be seen.
There is nothing remarkable between Sterling and Lithgow but Bannockbourn, which I have mention’d already, and some private gentlemen’s seats, too many to repeat.
Lithgow is a large town, well built, and antiently famous for the noble palace of the kings of Scotland, where King James VI. and his queen kept their Court in great magnificence. This Court, though decaying with the rest, is yet less decay’d, because much later repair’d than others; for King James repair’d, or rather rebuilt some of it: and his two sons, Prince Henry, and Prince Charles, afterwards King of England, had apartments here; and there are the Prince of Wales’s Arms, over those, call’d the Princes’ Lodgings to this day. Here it was that the good Lord Murray, the Regent, who they call’d good, because he was really so, as he was riding through the town into the palace, was shot most villainously from a window, and the murtherer was discover’d. He dy’d of the wound with the utmost tranquillity and resignation, after having had the satisfaction of being the principal man in settling the Reformation in Scotland in such a manner, as it was not possible for the Popish party to recover themselves again; and after seeing the common people over the whole kingdom embrace the Reformation, almost universally, to his great joy, for he was the most zealous of all the nobility in the cause of the Reformation, and unalterably resolv’d never to give way to the least allowance to the Popish Court, who then began to crave only a toleration for themselves, but could never obtain it; for this reason the Papists mortally hated him, and, at length, murther’d him. But they got little by his death, for the reformers went on with the same zeal, and never left, till they had entirely driven Queen Mary, and all her Popish adherents out of the kingdom, yet we do not find the true murtherer was ever discover’d: But this is matter of history.
At Lithgow there is a very great linnen manufacture, as there is at Glasgow; and the water of the lough, or lake here, is esteem’d with the best in Scotland for bleaching or whitening of linnen cloth: so that a great deal of linnen made in other parts of the country, is brought either to be bleach’d or whiten’d.
This lough is situate on the north west side of the town, just by the palace; and there were formerly fine walks planted on both sides, with bordures and flowers from the house to the water’s edge, which must be very delightful.
The Church of St. Michael makes a part of the royal building, and is the wing on the right hand of the first court, as all the proper offices of the court made the left: But the inner court is the beauty of the building, was very spacious, and, in those days, was thought glorious. There is a large fountain in the middle of the court, which had then abundance of fine things about it, whereof some of the carvings and ornaments remain still.
Here the kings of Scotland, for some ages, kept their Courts on occasion of any extraordinary ceremony. And here King James V. reinstituted, or rather restor’d the Order of the Knights of St. Andrew, as the Order of Knights of the Bath were lately restor’d in England. Here he erected stalls, and a throne for them in St. Michael’s Church, and made it the Chapel of the Order, according to the usage at Windsor: The king himself wore the badges of four orders (viz.) that of the Garter conferred on him by the King of England; that of St. Andrew being his own; that of the Golden Fleece conferr’d on him by the emperor, then King of Spain; and of St. Michael, by which it appears he was a prince very much honour’d in the world.
Also he first order’d the Thistle to be added to the badge of the Order; and the motto, which since is worn about it in the Royal Arms, was of his invention (viz.) Nemo me impune lacessit. The Cordon Verd, or Green Ribband, was then worn by the Knights Companions: but the late King James II. or (as I should say, being in Scotland) the VIIth, chang’d it to the Blue Ribband, as the Knights of the Garter wear it in England.
Queen Anne, however, restor’d the Green Ribband again, and intended to have call’d a Chapter of the Order, and have brought it into its full lustre again: but Her Majesty was taken to heaven before it could be done.
Lithgow is a pleasant, handsome, well built town; the Tolbooth is a good building, and not old, kept in good repair, and the streets clean: The people look here as if they were busy, and had something to do, whereas in many towns we pass’d through they seem’d as if they look’d disconsolate for want of employment: The whole green, fronting the lough or lake, was cover’d with linnen-cloth, it being the bleaching season, and, I believe, a thousand women and children, and not less, tending and managing the bleaching business; the town is serv’d with water by one very large bason, or fountain, to which the water is brought from the same spring which serv’d the Royal Palace.
From Lithgow we turn’d to the right, as I said above, into the shire of Clydesdale: Some business also calling us this way, and following the Clyde upwards, from a little above Hamilton, where we were before, we came to Lanerk, which is about eight miles from it due south.
From Lithgow, by this way to Lanerk, is thirty long miles; and some of the road over the wildest country we had yet seen. Lanerk is the capital indeed of the country, otherwise it is but a very indifferent place; it is eminent for the assembling of the Bothwell-Bridge Rebellion, and several other little disturbances of the Whigs in those days; for Whigs then were all Presbyterians, and Cameronian Presbyterians too, which, at that time, was as much as to say rebels.
A little below Lanerk the River Douglass falls into the Clyde, giving the same kind of usual surname to the lands about it, as I have observ’d other rivers do, namely Douglassdale, as the Clyde does that of Clydesdale, the Tweed that of Tweedale; and so of the rest.
In this dull vale stands the antient, paternal estate and castle, which gives name (and title too) to the great family of Douglass. The castle is very ill adapted to the glory of the family; but as it is the antient inheritance, the heads or chief of the name have always endeavour’d to keep up the old mansion, and have consequently, made frequent additions to the building, which have made it a wild, irregular mass; yet there are noble apartments in it, and the house seems, at a distance, rather a little town than one whole fabrick. The park is very large; the garden, or yards, as they call them, not set out with fine plants or greens, or divided into flower-gardens, parters, wildernesses, kitchin-gardens, &c. as is the modern usage. In short ’tis an antient, magnificent pile, great, but not gay; its grandeur, in most parts, consists in its antiquity, and being the mansion of one of the greatest families in Scotland above 1,000 years. The history of the family would take up a volume by itself; and there is a volume in folio extant, written upon this subject only, where the heroes of the name are fully set forth, and all the illustrious actions they have been concern’d in. There are, at this time, not less than six or seven branches of this family, all rank’d in the peerage of Great Britain, namely, the Duke of Douglass, the chief of the whole clan or name, the Duke of Queensberry and Dover, the Earls of Morton, Dunbarton and March; and the Lords Mordingtoun and Forfar; the latter was lately unhappily kill’d at the fight near Dumblane, against the Lord Marr and the Pretender. But I must not run out into families; the head family of this name has been in better circumstances, as to estate, than they are at present: But the young duke does not want merit lo raise himself, when times may come that personal merit may be able to raise families, and make men great.
From Lanerk we left the wild place call’d Crawford Muir on the right, the business that brought us round this way being finish’d, and went away west into the shire of Peebles, and so into Tweedale; the first town we came to of any note upon the Tweed, is the town of Peebles, capital of the country. The town is small, and but indifferently built or inhabited, yet the High Street has some good houses on it. There is a handsome stone-bridge over the Tweed, which is not a great river here, though the current is sometimes indeed very violent.
The country is hilly, as in the rest of Tweedale, and those hills cover’d with sheep, which is, indeed, a principal part of the estates of the gentlemen; and the overplus quantity of the sheep, as also their wool, is mostly sent to England, to the irreparable damage of the poor; who, were they employ’d to manufacture their own wool, would live much better than they do, and find the benefit of the Union in a different manner, from what they have yet clone.
Before the Union this wool, and more with it, brought by stealth out of England, went all away to France, still (as I say) to the great loss of the poor, who, had they but spun it into yarn, and sent the yarn into France, would have had some benefit by it; but the Union bringing with it a prohibition of the exportation, upon the severest penalties, the gentlemen of the southern countries complain’d of the loss, at the time that affair was transacted in parliament; to make them amends for which, a large sum of money was appointed to them as an equivalent, and to encourage them to set the poor to work, as appears by the Act of Union; this money, I say, was appropriated by the Act to be employ’d in setting hands to work in Scotland, to manufacture their own wool by their own people: How much of the money has been so employ’d, I desire not to examine. I leave it to them whose proper business it is.
Here are two monuments in this country, all Scotland not affording the like, of the vanity of worldly glory. The one is in the foundation of a royal palace, or seat of a nobleman, once the first man in Scotland, next the king: It is a prodigious building, too great for a subject, begun by the Earl of Morton, whose head being afterwards lay’d in the dust, his design perish’d; and the building has not been carry’d on, and I suppose never will. The other is in the palace of Traquair, built and finish’d by the late Earl of Traquair, for some years Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, and a person in the highest posts, both of honour and profit in the kingdom, who yet fell from it all, by the adversity of the times; for his conduct under his Majesty King Charles I. being generally censur’d, and himself universally hated, he sunk into the most abject and lowest part of human life, even to want bread, and to take alms, and in that miserable circumstance died, and never saw the turn of the times, I mean the Restoration, which happen’d but a year after his death. The house is noble, the design great, and well finish’d, and no sooner done so but it was confiscated, and the owner turn’d out of it, to seek his bread from a generation of his enemies, who thought they were merciful enough in sparing his life; whether it was so or not, and what his actions were (perhaps none of the best) is not my business; but, I think, it had been a kind of mercy to him, if they had rather taken his head, the condition he was reduc’d to, being doubtless, to a man of any spirit, much worse than death; and, I question whether, if he had been an English man, he would not have put an end to the distress he was in, Brevi manu: Not that I think that is the way any Christian man ought to take to put an end to human misery, be the condition here what it will, but that we find the English less able to bear such distresses than other nations, and apter to fly into lunacies and desperation, that I believe none will dispute.
Bishop Burnet gives an account of this earl as a very mean spirited, abject person, and one that suffered himself to be made the instrument of other men’s mischiefs, and that he therefore fell so much unpity’d: But be that as it will, it is as I say, a remarkable monument of the vanity of human glory; and it is the more remarkable for this, that he was particularly drop’d and despis’d by the party he had serv’d, and who he had too faithfully adher’d to; which is a caution to all that shall come after him, to take heed how they sacrifice themselves for parties, and against the true interest of their country, they are sure to be abandon’d, even of those that employ them, as well as to be hated of those they are employ’d against.
Here we saw the ruins of the once famous Abbey of Mailross, the greatness of which may be a little judg’d of by its vastly extended remains, which are of a very great circuit: The building is not so entirely demolish’d but that we may distinguish many places and parts of it one from another; as particularly the great church or chapel of the monastery, which is as large as some cathedrals, the choir of which is visible, and measures 140 foot in length, besides what may have been pull’d down at the east end; by the thickness of the foundations there must have been a large and strong tower or steeple in the center of the church, but of what form or height, that no guess can be made at: There are several fragments of the house itself, and of the particular offices belonging to it; the court, the cloyster, and other buildings are so visible, as that ’tis easy to know it was a most magnificent place in those days. But the Reformation has triumph’d over all these things, and the pomp and glory of Popery is sunk now into the primitive simplicity of the true Christian profession; nor can any Protestant mourn the loss of these seminaries of superstition, upon any principles that agree, either with his own profession, or with the Christian pattern prescrib’d in the scriptures. So I leave Mailross with a singular satisfaction, at seeing what it now is, much more than that of remembring what it once was. I doubt not, had Traquair House been built with the stones of this abbey, some people would have plac’d all the misfortunes of the unhappy builder to that sacrilege, as is noted in the Earl of Marr’s house at Sterling: But, as it happen’d, they had no room for that.
Following the course of the Tweed, we pass’d by abundance of gentlemen’s seats and antient mansions, whose possessions are large in this country, and who, it is impossible I should, in so short a tract as this, do any more than name: Such as the family of Douglass, of whom one branch is call’d Douglass of Cavers and is hereditary sheriff of the county. The family of Elliot, of whom one is, at present, one of the Lords of Session in Scotland, and is call’d Lord Minto, in virtue of his office, being otherwise no more than Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto. There is also another gentleman of the same name, Sir Gilbert Elliot of Stobbs, both antient families, and formerly eminent, with many others, among the borderers; whether that should be mention’d as a fame to them or not, I am not a judge; the borderers, in former days, being rather known for their courage and boldness in the field, than for the justice of their manner; which being chiefly exerted in mutual excursions and invasions on one side, as well as the other, some have been so free with them, as to esteem them no better than thieves. But be that as you will, with respect to ancestors, the present heads of those families are now (at least some of them) as valuable gentlemen as any in both kingdoms, and as much respected; among these are the families of the name of Kerr, Hamilton, Hume, Swinton, and many other; as on the English side were the families of Piercy, Nevil, Gray, and the like.
The country next this, south east, is call’d Tiviotdale, or otherwise the shire of Roxburgh; and the Duke of Roxburgh has several fine seats in it, as well as a very great estate; indeed most of the country belongs to the family: His house call’d Floors is an antient seat, but begins to wear a new face; and those who view’d it fifteen or sixteen years ago, will scarce know it again, if they should come a few years hence, when the present duke may have finished the additions and embellishments, which he is now making, and has been a considerable time upon. Nor will the very face of the country appear the same, except it be that the River Tweed may, perhaps, run in the same channel: But the land before, lying open and wild, he will find enclos’d, cultivated and improv’d, rows, and even woods of trees covering the champaign country, and the house surrounded with large grown vistas, and well planted avenues, such as were never seen there before.
From hence we came to Kelsoe, a handsome market-town upon the bank of the Tweed. Here is a very large antient church, being built in the place of an old monastery of fryars, the ruins of which are yet to be seen: The church now standing seems to have been the real chapel of the monastery, not a new one erected; only modell’d from the old one; for though it is itself a great building, yet it has certainly been much larger. Its antiquity argues this, for by the building it must have been much antienter than the Reformation.
Kelsoe, as it stands on the Tweed, and so near the English border, is a considerable thorough-fair to England, one of the great roads from Edinburgh to Newcastle lying through this town, and a nearer way by far than the road through Berwick. They only want a good bridge over the Tweed: At present they have a ferry just at the town, and a good ford through the river, a little below it; but, though I call it a good ford, and so it is when the water is low, yet that is too uncertain; and the Tweed is so dangerous a river, and rises sometimes so suddenly, that a man scarce knows, when he goes into the water, how it shall be ere he gets out at the other side; and it is not very strange to them at Kelso, to hear of frequent disasters, in the passage, both to men and cattle.
Here we made a little excursion into England, and it was to satisfy a curiosity of no extraordinary kind neither. By the sight of Cheviot Hills, which we had seen for many miles riding, we thought at Kelso we were very near them, and had a great mind to take as near a view of them as we could; and taking with us an English man, who had been very curious in the same enquiry, and who offer’d to be our guide, we set out for Wooller, a little town lying, as it were, under the hill.
Cheviot Hill or Hills are justly esteem’d the highest in this part of England, and of Scotland also; if I may judge, I think ’tis higher a great deal than the mountain of Mairock in Galloway, which they say is two miles high.
When we came to Wooller we got another guide to lead us to the top of the hill; for, by the way, tho’ there are many hills and reachings for many miles, which are all call’d Cheviot Hills, yet there is one Pico or Master-Hill, higher than all the rest by a great deal, which, at a distance, looks like the Pico-Teneriffe at the Canaries, and is so high, that I remember it is seen plainly from the Rosemary-Top in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which is nearly sixty miles. We prepar’d to clamber up this hill on foot, but our guide laugh’d at us, and told us, we should make a long journey of it that way: But getting a horse himself, told us he would find a way for us to get up on horse-back; so we set out, having five or six country boys and young fellows, who ran on foot, voluntier to go with us; we thought they had only gone for their diversion, as is frequent for boys; but they knew well enough that we should find some occasion to employ them, and so we did, as you shall hear.
Our guide led us very artfully round to a part of the hill, where it was evident in the winter season, not streams of water, but great rivers came pouring down from the hill in several channels, and those (at least some of them) very broad; they were overgrown on either bank with alder-trees, so close and thick, that we rode under them, as in an arbour. In one of these channels we mounted the hill, as the besiegers approach a fortify’d town by trenches, and were gotten a great way up, before we were well aware of it.
But, as we mounted, these channels lessen’d gradually, till at length we had the shelter of the trees no longer; and now we ascended till we began to see some of the high hills, which before we thought very lofty, lying under us, low and humble, as if they were part of the plain below, and yet the main hill seem’d still to be but beginning, or, as if we were but entring upon it.
As we mounted higher we found the hill steeper than at first, also our horses began to complain, and draw their haunches up heavily, so we went very softly: However, we mov’d still, and went on, till the height began to look really frightful, for, I must own, I wish’d myself down again; and now we found use for the young fellows that ran before us; for we began to fear, if our horses should stumble or start, we might roll down the hill together; and we began to talk of alighting, but our guide call’d out and said, No, not yet, by and by you shall; and with that he bid the young fellows take our horses by the head-stalls of the bridles, and lead them. They did so, and we rode up higher still, till at length our hearts fail’d us all together, and we resolv’d to alight; and tho’ our guide mock’d us, yet he could not prevail or persuade us; so we work’d it upon our feet, and with labour enough, and sometimes began to talk of going no farther.
We were the more uneasy about mounting higher, because we all had a notion, that when we came to the top, we should be just as upon a pinnacle, that the hill narrowed to a point, and we should have only room enough to stand, with a precipice every way round us; and with these apprehensions, we all sat down upon the ground, and said we would go no farther.
Our guide did not at first understand what we were apprehensive of; but at last by our discourse he perceived the mistake, and then not mocking our fears, he told us, that indeed if it had been so, we had been in the right, but he assur’d us, there was room enough on the top of the hill to run a race, if we thought fit, and we need not fear any thing of being blown off the precipice, as we had suggested; so he encouraging us we went on, and reach’t the top of the hill in about half an hour more.
I must acknowledge I was agreeably surprized, when coming to the top of the hill, I saw before me a smooth, and with respect to what we expected a most pleasant plain, of at least half a mile in diameter; and in the middle of it a large pond, or little lake of water, and the ground seeming to descend every way from the edges of the summit to the pond, took off the little terror of the first prospect; for when we walkt towards the pond, we could but just see over the edge of the hill; and this little descent inwards, no doubt made the pond, the rain-water all running thither.
One of our company, a good botanist, fell to searching for simples, and, as he said, found some nice plants, which he seem’d mightily pleas’d with: But as that is out of my way, so it is out of the present design. I in particular began to look about me, and to enquire what every place was which I saw more remarkably shewing it self at a distance.
The day happen’d to be very clear, and to our great satisfaction very calm, otherwise the hight we were upon, would not have been without its dangers. We saw plainly here the smoke of the salt-pans at Shields, at the mouth of the Tyne, seven miles below New Castle; and which was south about forty miles. The sea, that is the German ocean, was as if but just at the foot of the hill, and our guide pointed to shew us the Irish Sea: But if he could see it, knowing it in particular, and where exactly to look for it, it was so distant, that I could not say, I was assur’d I saw it. We saw likewise several hills, which he told us were in England, and others in the west of Scotland, but their names were too many for us to remember, and we had no materials there to take minutes. We saw Berwick east, and the hills called Soutra Hills north, which are in sight of Edinburgh. In a word there was a surprizing view of both the united kingdoms, and we were far from repenting the pains we had taken.
Nor were we so afraid now as when we first mounted the sides of the hill, and especially we were made ashamed of those fears, when to our amazement, we saw a clergy-man, and another gentleman, and two ladies, all on horse-back, come up to the top of the hill, with a guide also as we had, and without alighting at all, and only to satisfy their curiosity, which they did it seems. This indeed made us look upon one another with a smile, to think how we were frighted, at our first coming up the hill: And thus it is in most things in nature; fear magnifies the object, and represents things frightful at first sight, which are presently made easy when they grow familiar.
Satisfied with this view, and not at all thinking our time or pains ill bestowed, we came down the hill by the same rout that we went up; with this remark by the way, that whether on horse-back or on foot we found it much more troublesome, and also tiresome to come down than to go up.
When we were down; our guide carry’d us not to the town of Wooller, where we were before, but to a single house, which they call Wooller Haugh-head, and is a very good inn, better indeed than we expected, or than we had met with, except at Kelso, for many days journey. Here we had very good provision, very well dress’d, and excellent wine. The house is in England, but the people that kept it were Scots; yet every thing was very well done, and we were mighty glad of the refreshment we found there.
Here we enquired after the famous story of Cheviot-Chase, which we found the people there have a true notion of, not like what is represented in the ballad of Chevy Chase, which has turn’d the whole story into a fable: But here they told us; what all solid histories confirm, namely that it was an in-road of the Earl of Douglass into England, with a body of an army, to ravage, burn, and plunder the country, as was usual in those days; and that the Earl of Northumberland, who was then a Piercy, gathering his forces, march’d with a like army, and a great many of the gentry and nobility with him, to meet the Scots; and that both the bodies meeting at the foot of Cheviot Hills, fought a bloody battle, wherein both the earls were slain, fighting desperately at the head of their troops; and so many kill’d on both sides; that they that out-liv’d it, went off respectively, neither being able to say which had the victory.
They shew’d us the place of the fight, which was on the side of the hill, if their traditions do not mislead them, on the left hand of the road, the ground uneven and ill enough for the cavalry; ’tis suppos’d most of the Scots were horse, and therefore ’tis said, the English archers placed themselves on the side of a steep ascent, that they might not be broken in upon by the horse. They shew also two stones which, if as I say they are not mistaken, are on the ground where the two earls were slain.
But they shew’d us the same day, a much more famous field of battle than this, and that within about six or seven miles of the same place, namely Floden-field, where James IV. King of Scotland with a great army invading England, in the year 1538, when the King of England was absent in his wars abroad, at the Siege of Tournay, was met with, and fought by the Earl of Surrey, of the ancient family of Howard, and the English army; in which the Scots, tho’ after a very obstinate fight, were totally routed and overthrown, and their king valiantly fighting at the head of his nobility was slain.
The River Till, which our historians call a deep and swift river, and in which many of the Scots were drowned in the pursuit, seem’d to me not to be sufficient to interrupt the flight of a routed army, it being almost every where passable: But, perhaps, it might at that time be swell’d with some sudden rain, which the historians ought to have taken notice of; because the river is else so small that it would seem to make us question the rest of the story.
That there was such a battle, and that this was the place, is out of all doubt; and the field seems to be well chosen for it, for it is a large plain, flank’d on the north side, which must be the Scots right, and the English left, by Flodden-Hills, and on the other side by some distant woods; the River Tul being on the Scots rear, and the Tweed itself not far off.
Having view’d these things, which we had not time for in our passing through Northumberland, we came back to Kelso, and spent the piece of a day that remain’d there, viewing the country, which is very pleasant and very fruitful on both sides the Tweed, for the Tweed there does not part England from Scotland, but you are upon Scots ground for four miles, or thereabouts. on the south side of the Tweed, and the farther west the more the Tweed lies within the limits of the country.
From Kelso we went north, where we pass’d through Lauderdale, a long valley on both sides the little River Lauder, from whence the house of Maitland, earls first, and at last Duke of Lauderdale, took their title.
The country is good here, tho’ fenc’d with hills on both sides; the River Lauder runs in the middle of it, keeping its course north, and the family-seat of Lauder, stands about the middle of the valley: ’Tis an antient house, and not large; nor did it receive any additions from Duke Lauderdale, who found ways to dispose of his fortunes another way.
From hence we kept the great road over a high ridge of mountains, from whence we had a plain view of that part of the country call’d Mid-Lothian, and where we also saw the city of Edinburgh at the distance of about twelve or fourteen miles. We pass’d these mountains at a place which they call Soutra-Hill, and which gives the title of Laird of Soutra to a branch of the family of Maitland, the eider brother of which house was Lieutenant-General Maitland, a gentleman of great merit, and who rais’d himself by the sword: He lost one of his hands at the great battle of Treves in Germany, where the French army, under the Mareschal De Crequi, was defeated by the Germans, commanded by the old Duke of Zell; he supply’d the want of his hand with one of steel, from which he was call’d Handy Maitland. He pass’d thro’ all the degrees of honour that the army usually bestows; and when the Union was transacting we saw him lieutenant-general of the queen’s armies, colonel of a regiment of foot, and governor of Fort-William at Innerlochy, of which in its place.
I could not pass this way to Edinburgh without going off a little to the right, to see two very fine seats, one belonging to the Marquess of Louthian, of the antient name of Ker, a younger branch of the house of Roxburgh, at Newbattle or Newbottle. Tis an old building, but finely situated among the most agreeable walks and rows of trees, all ful-1 grown, and is particularly to be mention’d for the nicest, and best chosen collection of pictures of any house I have seen in Scotland: The particulars are too many to enter into a description of them. The statues and busts are also very fine; and there are the most pictures of particular families and persons, as well of the royal families of France and England, as of Scotland also, that are, I believe, not only in England, but in any palace in Europe.
Not two miles from hence is the Duchess of Bucclugh’s house at Dalkeith, the finest and largest new built house in Scotland; the duchess, relict of the late Duke of Monmouth, has built it, as I may say, from the foundation, or as some say, upon the foundation of the old castle of Dalkeith, which was the estate of the great Earl of Morton, regent of Scotland, who was beheaded by King James VI. that is, of England, James I. the same that brought the engine to behead humane bodies from Hallifax in Yorkshire, and set it up in Scotland, and had his own head cut off with it, the first it was try’d upon.
The palace of Dalkeith is, indeed, a magnificent building, and the inside answerable to the grandeur of the family. It stands on a rising ground on the edge of the River Esk; the side to the river is a precipice, from whence it overlooks the plain with a majesty, like that of Windsor, on the bank of the Thames, with necessary allowance for the difference of the country, and of the two rivers, which bear, indeed, no proportion. The park is very large, and there are fine avenues, some already made and planted, others design’d, but not yet finish’d; also there are to be water-works, Jette D’eaus, and a canal, but these are not yet laid out; nor are the gardens finish’d, or the terrasses, which will be very spacious, if done according to the design. There are many fine paintings, especially of the ladies of the English court, and some royal originals; but we must not speak of pictures where Newbottle is so nigh.
The town of Dalkeith is just without the park, and is a pretty large market-town, and the better market for being so near Edinburgh; for there comes great quantities of provisions hither from the southern countries, which are bought up here to be carried to Edinburgh market again, and sold there. The town is spacious, and well built, and is the better, no doubt, for the neighbourhood of so many noblemen’s and gentlemen’s houses of such eminence in its neighbourhood.
This brought us to the very sight of the city of Edinburgh, where we rested a few days, having thus finished our circuit over the whole south of Scotland, on this side of the River Forth, and on the south side of the Firth of Clyde. So I shall conclude this letter,
And am, &c.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07