Page images
[ocr errors]

of the soul, without an opportunity of

exerting them, lose their vigour. The times of regular government, and polished manners, are therefore to be wished for by the feeble and weak in mind. An unsettled state, and those convulsions which attend it, is the proper field for an exalted charaćter, and the exertion of great parts. Merit there rises always superior; no fortuitous event can raise the timid and mean into power. To those who look upon antiquity in this light, it is an agreeable F. and they alone

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

doms erected, from a mixture of nations, who, in process of time, lost all knowledge of their own origin.

" If tradition could be depended upon, it is only among a people, from all time, free of intermixture with foreigners. We are to look for these among the mountains and inaccessible parts of a country : places, on account of their barrenness, uninviting to an enemy, or whose natural strength enabled the natives to repel invasions. Such are the inhabitants of the mountains of Scotland. We, accordingly, find, that they differ materially from those who possess the low and more fertile part of the kingdom. Their language is pure and original, and their manners are those of an antient and unmixed race of men. Conscious of their own antiquity, they long despised others, as a new and mixed people. As they lived in a country only fit for pasture, they were free of that toil and business, which engross the attention of a commercial people. Their amusement consisted in * or repeating their songs and traditions, and these intirely turned on the antiquity of their nation, and the exploits of their forefathers. It is no wonder, therefore, that there are more remains of antiquity among them, than among any other people in Europe. Traditions, however, concerning remote periods, are only to be Koło, in Iv.

so far as they co-incide with cotemporary writers of undoubted credit and veracity.

[ocr errors]

John Fordun was the first who colleóted those fragments of the Scots history, which had escaped the brutal policy of Edward H. and reduced them into order. His accounts, in so far as they concerned recent transactions, deserved credit: beyond a certain period, they were fabulous and unsatisfactory. Some time before Fordun wrote, the king of England, in a letter to the pope, had run up the antiquity of his nation to a very remote a ra. Fordun, possessed of all the national prejudice of the age, was unwilling that his country should yield, in point of antiquity, to a people, then its rivals and enemies. Destitute of annals in Scotland, he had recourse to Ireland, which, according to the vulgar errors ofthe times, was reckoned

, the first habitation of the Scots. He found,

there, that the Irish bards had carried their Pretensions to antiquity as high, if not beyond any nation in Europe. It was from them he took those improbable fićtions, which form the first part of his history.

[ocr errors][merged small]

historians, concerning the first migration of the Scots into Britain.

[ocr errors]

From the double meaning of the word Caël, which signifies strangers, as well as Gauls, or Celts, some have imagined , that the ancestors of the Caledonians were of a different race from the rest of the Britons,

« PreviousContinue »