« PreviousContinue »
times on the left, and sometimes on the right bank of the Erne to Pitkethley Wells and the- bridge of Erne. What he has said of Aberuethey, and of the inhabitants of the Ochiis and of Aberuethey, both of which lie out of Ihe route of other travellers, is very curious and interesting.
"The situation of Aberuethey, for the capital of a nation from Scandinavia, was naturally and well chosen. The bay of St. Andrews, ami the Frith of Tay, within a mile of which Abernethey is situated, is exactly opposite to the sea that opens an ea*y communication with Denmark, Sweden, and the west part of Norway; countries wilh which the Pictish conquerors and colonists would naturally be desirous of keeping up an easy intercourse: not, perhaps, for the purpose of commerce, of which there was very little in those times, but of aid, when necessary, and protection: in the same manner we may presume that our colonies in North America clung closely at first to the mother country. The steep and high hill, almost overhanging the capital, was a natural fortress. The whole plain of Strathmore, and , particularly the Carse of Gowrie and Strathenic, afforded a plentiful store of provisions; and the glen, as well as another passage where Macduff's Cross now stands, between Ahernethey and Newburgh, opened an easy communication with Pkhtlandia, now called Fife.
"The town of Abernethey,seen at a distance, appears like a grove of trees. It consists of one street, with a few narrow alleys or wynds. It is divided among as many proprietors almost as there are householders; aud these, I think, must be about a hundred. Every one has a garden behind his house, narrow, but of
great length, sloping northward le the plain, or rising gently on the lowermost parts of the great bill oa the south, which they tall the Muckk Benn, or Binn. Tbe* bare also most of them some acres of land, from three to five or si*. aHjoining to the town. The Miickle Binu is common to all the burgesses of Abernethey. It anWts pasture for sheep and a few young bullocks. It has been the custom for <<ges, I suppose, and certainly for many years, for the lairds of Aberoeibey, in imitation, no doubt, of lords aad greater lairds, to ttecorate »he»r residences with rows of tree*, one planted on each side for the whole exteat of their gardens."
The simple manners and manner of life of those poor, but happy lairds of Abernethey, beint; circumstantially described, it is observed of them, on the w hole, that having " milk, eggs, potatoes, porridge, and aboedahce of preaching, they are well coBtented." As Aberuethey wis at first, and for a considerable time, "the capital of the Skcedbrs," a numerous religious sect, and which has from Scotland ramified into England, and all countries speak ng the English language, Mr. Hall gives their history, with the leading features in their doctrine and character. —The description of their Suerement Wtek, otherwise called, by way of eminence, the Occasion, which was communicated by a friend, is lively, and, though somewhat ludicrous, not, on the whole, unfaithful.
"The Sacrament week of the Seceders at Abernethey, which may be considered as the holy city, the Jerusalem of the Seceders, is one of the greatest curiosities to be seen in Scotland; being a lively representation and remembrancer of tlie turns of
lie covenant and field conventicles, 'he same spirit that assembled the ovenanters on London-hill in (lie eign of Charles II. draws together he Seceders at this day *, annually o the Muckte BInn, at Abemethey, rbich is held generally in June or uly, when the labours of the spring re over, and those of the harvest lave not commenced (for there is carcely any thing of what is called ri England hay-harvest, in Scotland), .nl when the days are long, and the tights short.
"When the anniversary of the occaion draws near, the sermons for some keeks are animated with more than isual seal and fervour. The Sunday ruinediately preceding that of the Sairament Sunday, may be considered is the actual commencement of the reigious campaign, which is continued, itber in reconnoitering, as it were, ind various movements, or in hot iction. On that Sunday, the miniser states the duty of communicatng; but, at the same time, the danger of communicating unworthily, md of " eating and drinking damlation to themselves," in such strong anguage, that it is a great wonder bat any one, believing as they do, ihould venture on the consecrated dements. In fact, some modest and ugenuous spirits, as well as those of i melancholy cast, do hang luck from the communion, while others of i more sanguineous temperament and greater presumption, bold} advance to the communion table, rejoicing in some motion of the animal spirits, or emotion, which they call the faith of nssuiance. The Mondays, Tuesdays, anil Wednesdays, are employed by the minister iu examin
ing and conversing with intended, particularly young communicants. The elders,-in the mean time, make reports concerning their neighbours, and warn the minister to be very cautious how he admits such aud such an one to the table, without sifting him lo the bottom: in which reports they are supposed frequently to gratify their private resentments, or other malignant passions.
Meanwhile, the news of the approaching occasion at Abemethey spreads far and wide. Travellers in every direction, east, west, south, and north, inquire at the inns where they stop, into the cause of so ninny people, men and women, trudging aloug the roads for the space of ten or twenty miles. Even the ferryboat between Slratherne and the Carse of Cowrie, the latter but little tinctured as yet with religious zeal, is unusually busy. The glen of \bernethey, hearing the tread of unusual feet, is astonished at this invasion of bis solitary reisjn!
"By .Wednesday night the street, with the little lanes or closes ;:bout Abemethey, is in motion. The farin-liouscs in the neighbourhood too are full of friends and brethren from distant parts of the country. The barns also are full of men and women, young and old: much ill the same manner we may suppose that Jerusalem, with its environs, was crowded at the Passover. The period of nine mouths from this date sometimes produces sad ir,fm«randunis of the barns of Al>> rnc!l ey.
"Thursday is the la'-day pre* ceding Hie sacrament. Ti> -eoi lour different ministers preach' tirrui en o'clo. k to about six or seven in >hc
3 L 2 eteoiux. evening, with an interval of only one hour for refreshment. The minister of Abemethey himself is a silent auditor: but, when all the strangers have done, he mounts the pulpit, and recapitulates to the audience the substance of their sermons, adding exhoitations of his own. An equal or grraler number of ministers continue the work of preaching in a tent on the Muckle Binn for an equal length of time.'
"This wa< written in 1776. Perhaps the zenl of the Screders has, In the !.;«c of thirty year.', been somewhat conled down. Bnt still Iiiih description is, in the tnain, applicable to the annual conveuticle at Aberuettiey, at this day.
"On Friday, there is a cessation of preaching. Ou Saturday it is resumed, but not till about oue o'clock; it is continued, however, till about eight. On the dismissal of the congregations, I nieau that within and that without doors, such of the intended communicants as had not been furnished with tickets, which they call tokens, for the communion table, receive tbem now from the ministers and elders. On Saturday evening, the voice of some one who has retired for secret prayer, is heard here and there, behind a hillock or a furze-bush, or in the thickest part of the standing corn. A dog here and there stands barking at a uoise, which indicates that some stronger is near, though he cannot sec him.
"At last the occasion Sunday itself arrives. The church is crowded more than it is easy to imagine. Even the little black gallery, on which penitent offenders against chastity sit, called the cutty stool, is crammed full: there is no disgrace in sitting iu this seat on this occasion. Pregnant women faint. ■ For their iccovery, sympathetic females loosen or cut the laces of their stays, and move them for air to the windows. But the windows are beset with dense columns of people, eager to catch some of the words of the minister, who is serving, at llie communion table; nor is it with
out much difficulty that they can be persuaded to fall back even fee a minute or two.
"In the mean time, the work of preaching, praying, and singing psalms, goes forward at the test. I have heard, that in the time of old Culfargie, it was sometimes necessary to have two tents, as no human voice could extend to the whole multitude which resorted to the occenon at Abemethey in those days; bat I never saw more than one.
** The space occupied by the multitude in front, on either wing, and at the back too of the tent, may be, including the booths and beer-staodi of publicans, about three quarters of* mile iu circumference. When a very popular preacher holds fort h, the bearers sit tkst, or seize the moment u ben they think that they have been wrought into a suitable frame of mind, to repair to the church, and press forward, as soon as they are able, to the communion table. When it is the turn of one lest gifted to fill the tent, as they call it, they beckon to their acquaintance, and retire in crowds to booths or beer-barrels to take a refreshment. From about two o'clock in the afternoon to about six or seven, when there is an interval of an hour, the people passing to and fro, between the pieacliing tent, the church, and the booths of the sulllers, forms the whole, when viewed at a distance, into one compacted scene.
"This scene is seen to great advantage oii the north, and opposite banks of the Erne, near the Rhynd. The white linen caps and red cloaks, or red or striped plaids of the women of the lower and most numerous classes; the silk cloaks ami hats of others; and the blue bonnets or the hals of the men, make altogether a very striking as well as motley ap|iear
auce. nee. The singing of psalms by so real a multitude, with Stentorian oices, to the number of twelve lousand, reverberated from the hill, i heard at a great distance, like the urn of bees. Had this scene been ievved by the Danes eucamped on le eastern slope of the bill of Mmined, they would, beyond all doubt, ave mistaken !► for the camp of the riemy, engaged in some awful insulations.
"Tlie Monday aAer the sacralent is a thanksgiving-day. There re two preachers, botb in the church nd at the tent;- but the whole serice is over by four o'clock, when all lie ministers and elders repair to the ninister's bouse, and enjoy a very ilentiful, though perhaps I iiare not enture to call it, a very hearty ilinler; for even now the intensity of lie religious tone is not wholly reaxed. Immediately after dinner, nhich is preceded by a very IonTM ;race, there is again singing of >salms, and a very long prayer.
"The pilgrims who had come to his holy city, after visiting, that is, iiking a near view of Culfargie, the esideuce of their first and great milister, return to their respective "unties and parishes. Travellers ili.> meet them on their return, as ravellers in an opposite direction tad done before, inquire at the first un they alight at, " What the deuce an be the meaning of so nianv peo>le here and there all along Ihe road or so many miles, as silent and lowucaM as if they were going, to he gallows ?"—" Oh! it lias been he sacrament at Abernelhey."
From the bridge of Erne our traveller crossed the country, norlhuard o Perth, which he represents as a .eiv beautilul ar.d flourishing, but eiuarkably inhospitable place, aud
where, as it was long the capital of Scotland, he recollects some striking passages in the Scottish history. He passes on through the Cirse of Cowrie, Ihe Campus frumrnio nobilh of the celebrated Buchannau, stretching along the left bank of tlie Tay, to Dundee: from Dundee, by Arbroath, and Ihe promontory of the Redhead, a most stupenduous rock, to Montrose: from Montrose up to the banks of the South Y.-V, to Brechin; from Brechin, by Stonehaven, to Aberdeen: from Aberdeen, round by Peterhead and Fyvie, to Bainff: from Bainff, by Portsoy, to Fochabers. And now, having arrived at the banks of the Spey, where he formerly, before his coming to England, passed seven years, in the course of which he made many excursions to different places; he proreeds to describe objects, aud relate matters of fact, without troubling his readers, in every instance, with the circumstauce of time, or the particular spot from whence he set out to another. His excursions extend to different parts in the interior, and mountainous parts of Bamffshire and Aberdeenshire, and over the whole course of the Spey, on both sides, almost up to its source, and into some of the straths (rallies) and glens that discharge their waters in that -parlous and rapid river. The circumstances, character, and modes of life of the inhabitants are described, and illustrated by particular examples. Natural objects too are describe-1, with some curious pheuomena and facts in natural history. On a fine ilny,'oitr traveller went to climb Bclr'mnis,* high mountain bordering oil the valley of the S|»ey, about twenty miles from the Murray Frith. It rises 8000 feet above the level of the sea; and is Ike first laud that is seen by mariners coming from the Northern Ocean. "Though the day was extremely clear before I reached the top, I fouud myself euveloped in a cloud, whence I could see any object distinctly only at a few yards distance. Perceiving a fine breeze, as I was ascending, I hoped the cloud would disperse, and therefore, though I felt it extremely cold, and myself extremely hungry, having foolishly put nothing in my pocket, I resolved to remain there some time. But, to my astonishment, while I was stepping about to keep myself warm, on the top of the hill, I perceived something of an uncommon appearance through the mist at a distance. I approached it, indeed, not without fear, and at length found it to be a phalanx of wedders, or sheep three years old, on the top of the hill, ready to defend themselves from every attack. They were arranged in a line, forming a blunt wedge, with au extremely large one in the middle, having a large black forehead, and a pair of tremendous boms. There were about a hundred in front, and about fifty on «ach side of him. A number of weaker ones were in the rear, and not one of them eating, but looking sternly at ine. I was not afraid, knowing them to be sheep; yet I was not quite, easy, as, if any fox had appeared at this time, in attacking liini and even chasing him, they might have killed me. These wedders are sent up into the hill in the eud of April, or early in May, and the proprietors never look after them till about the end of October. It is well Known they never sleep all at a time, but, as is the case witii crows, geese, and other gregarious animals, there is always one at a distance on the >ook out. They never rest in a hol
low, even in the most stormy nighi, but upon a rising ground, where they ran see all around; and ultra they are attacked by a f««x, or &>&, their assailants never fail to be kiuvd. When furiously attack- d, they Uuu themselves into a circle, ll.rir Ixads all outward, and the weaker Mix* in the centre; and if, as it sometimes happens, that a fox takes a skiing, and leaps in among them, they isstantly turn, and boxing biro with their head, and stamping him with their feel, and tossing him with their horns, never fail to kill him; his ribs being generally all broken. When domesticated, animals generally leave their protection to mas; but, when left to themselves, both instinct and experience teaches I twin how to defend themselves. When these sheep on the lop of toe hill saw 1111? retire, they grew more careless, and did not keep their ranks 10 straight; but whenever I turned, and was approaching them, they looked more steadily at me, and stood clnsei together, and formed their raaks more regularly; and I verily believe, had I attempted to attack them, tbey would have resisted. I had once a mind to try it, but I confess I was afraid, as I observed them seemingly bending their knees, to
make a spring at me.
I began to be so extremely hungry, that I would have given five shilling* for a halfpenny roll; and it beiug about four in the afternoon, 1 had thoughts of descending; when, all at once, as I was looking towards the east, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the clouds went off from the mountain, and fields, hills, riven, and other objects, thirty miles distant, all at once appeared to view. The sight was grand in the extreme, and called up immediately to my