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tain little information concerning the origin of the Scots. Even Buchanan himself, except the elegance and vigour of his style, has very little to recommend him. Blinded with political prejudices, he seemed more anxious to turn the fictions of his predecessors to his own purposes, than to detect their misrepresentations, or investigate truth amidst the darkness which they had thrown round it. It therefore appears, that little can be collected from their own historians, concerning the first migration of the Scots into Britain.
That this island was peopled from Gaul admits of no doubt. Whether colonies came forward from the north of Europe is a matter of mere speculation. When South Britain yielded to the power of the Romans, the unconquered nations to the north of the province were distinguished by the name of Caledonians. From their very name, it appears that they were of those Gauls who possessed themselves originally of Britain. It is compounded of two Celtic words, Cael signifying Celts, or Gauls, and Dun, or Don, a hill; so that Cael-don, or Caledonians, is as much as to say, the Cilts of the hill country. The Highlanders to this day call themselves Cael, their language Gaelic or Galic, and their country Caeldoch, which the Romans softened into Caledonia. This of itself is sufficient to demonstrate, that they are the genuine descendants of the ancient Caledonians, and not a pretended colony of Scots, who settled first in the north, in the third or fourth century.
From the double meaning of the word Cael, 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, and that they received their name upon that account. This opinion, say they, is supported by Tacitus, who, from several circumstances, concludes that the Caledonians were of German extraction. A discussion of a point so intricate, at this distance of time, could neither be satisfactory nor important.
Towards the latter end of the third, and beginning
of the fourth century, we meet with the Scots in the north. Porphyrius makes the first mention of them about that time. As the Scots were not heard of before that period, most writers supposed them to have been a colony newly come to Britain, and that the picts were the only genuine descendants of the ancient Caledonians. This mistake is easily removed. The Caledonians, in process of time, became naturally divided into two distinct nations, as possessing parts of the country, entirely different in their nature and soil. The western coast of Scotland is hilly and barren; towards the east, the country is plain, and fit for tillage. The inhabitants of the mountains, a roying and uncontrouled race of men, lived by feeding of cattle, and what they had killed in hunting. Their employment did not fix them to one place. They removed from one heath to another, as suited best with their convenience or inclination. They were not therefore improperly called, by their neighbours, ScUite, or the wandering nation; which is evidently the origin of the Roman name of Scoti.
On the other hand, the Caledonians, who possessed the east coast of Scotland, as the division of the country was plain and fertile, applied themselves to agriculture and raising of corn. It was from this, that the Gaelic name of the Picts proceeded; for they are called, in that language, Cruithnich, i, e. the wheat or corneaters. As the Picts lived in a country so different in its nature from that possessed by the Scots, so their national character suffered a material change. Unobstructed by mountains or lakes, their communication with one another was free and frequent. Society, therefore, became sooner established among them than among the Scots, and consequently they were much sooner governed by civil magistrates and laws. This, at last, produced so great a difference in the manners of the two nations, that they began to forget their common origin, and almost continual quarrels and animo. sities subsisted between them. These animosities, aft:
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some ages, ended in the subversion of the Pictish kingdom, but not in the total extirpation of the nation, according to the most of the Scots writers, who seemed to think it more for the honour of their countrymen to annihilate than reduce a rival people under their obedience. It is certain, however, that the very name of Picts was lost, and those that remained were so completely incorporated with their conquerors, that they soon lost all memory of their own origin.
The end of the Pictish government is placed so near that period to which authentic annals reach, that it is mat. ter of wonder, that we have no monuments of their lane guage or history remaining. This favours the system i have laid down. Had they originally been of a different race from the Scots, their language of course would be different. The contrary is the case. The names of places in the Pictish dominions, and the very names of their kings, which are handed down to us, are of Gaelic original ; which is a convincing proof that the two nations were of old one and the same, and only divided into two governments, by the effect which their situation had upon the genius of the people,
The name of Picts was perhaps given by the Romans to the Caldonians who possessed the east coast of Scotland, from their painting their bodies. This circumstance made some imagine that the Picts were of British extract, and a different race of men from the Scots. That more of the Britons who fled northward from the tyranny of the Romans, settled in the low country of Scotland than among the Scots of the mountains, may be easily imagined from the very nature of the country. It was they who introduced painting among the Ficts. From this circumstance proceeded the name of the latter, to distinguish them from the Scots, who never had that art among them, and from the Britons, who discontinued it after the Roman conquest.'
The Caledonians most certainly acquired a considerable knowledge in navigation, by their living on a coast intersected with many arms of the sea, and in islands divided one from another by wide and dangerous friths.
It is therefore highly probable, that they very early found their way to the north of Ireland, which is within sight of their own country. That Ireland was first peopled from Britain is certain. The vicinity of the two islands, the exact correspondence of the ancient inhabitants of both, in point of manners and language, are sufficient proofs, even if we had not the testimony of authors of undoubted veracity to confirm it. The abettors of the most romantic systems of Irish antiquities allow it; but they place the colony from Britain at an improbable and remote era. I shall easily admit that the colony of the Firbolg, confessedly the Belgæ of Britain, settled in the south of Ireland, before the Cael, or Caledonians, discovered the north : but it is not at all likely, that the migration of the Firbolg to Ireland, happened many centuries before the Christian era.
Ossian, in the poem of Temora, [Book II.) throws considerable light on this subject. His accounts agree so well with what the ancients have delivered, concerning the first population and inhabitants of Ireland, that every unbiassed person will confess them more probable than the legends handed down by tradition in that country. From him it appears, that in the days of Trathal, grandfather to Fingal, Ireland was possessed by two nations ; the Firbolg, or Belgæ of Britain, who inhabited the south, and the Cael, who passed over from Caledonia and the Hebrides to Ulster. The two nations, as is usual among an unpolished and lately settled people, were divided into smalldynasties, subject to petty kings, or chiefs, independent of one another. In this situation, it is probable, they continued long, without any material revolution in the state of the island, until Crothar, lord of Atha, a country in Connaught, the most potent chief of the Firbolg, carried away Conlama, the daughter of Cathmin, a chief of the Cael, who possessed Ulster.
Conlama had been betrothed, some time before, to Turloch, a chief of their own nation. Turloch resented the affront offered him, by Crothar, made an irrup
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tion into Connaught, and killed Cormul, the brother of Crothar, who came to oppose his progress. Crother himself then took to arms, and either killed or expelled
Turloch. The war upon this became general between the two nations; and the Cael were reduced to the last extremity. In this situation they applied for aid to Trathal, king of Morven, who sent his brother Conar, already famous for his great exploits, to their relief. Conar, upon his arrival in Ulster, was chosen king, by the unanimous consent of the Caledonian tribes, who possessed : that country. The war was renewed with great vigour and success; but the Firbolg appear to have been rather repelled than subdued. In succeeding reigns, we leara from episodes in the same poem, that the chiefs of Atha made several efforts to become monarchs of Ireland, and to expel the race of Conar.
To Conar succeeded his son Cormac, T Book IILI who appears to have reigned long. In his latter days he seemed to have been driven to the last extremity, by an incursion of the Firbolg, who supported the pretensions of the chiefs of Atha to the Irish throne. Fingal, who then was very young, came to the aid of Cor. mac, totally defeated Colc-ulia, chief of Atha, and reestablished Coripac in the sole possession of all Ireland. [Book IV.] It was then he fell in love with, and took to wife, Ros-crana, the daughter of Cormac, who was the mother of Ossian,
Cormac was succeeded in the Irish throne by his son Cairbar; Cairbar, by Artho his son, who was the father of that Cormac, in whose minority the invasion of Swa. ran happened, which is the subject of the poem of Fingal. The family of Atha, who had not relinquished their pretensions to the Irish throne, rebelled in the minority of Cormae, defeated his adherents, and murdered him in the palace of Temora. [Book I.] Cairbar, Lord of Atha, upon this, mounted the throne. His usurpation soon ended with his life ; for Fingal made an expedition into Ireland, and restored, after various vicissitudes of fortune, the family of Conar to the possession of the kingdom. This war is the subiect of Temora : the e