William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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tom, a great part of the v/ealth of the na-
tion was embarked. The check which this
magnificent, and by no means chimerical
fcheme, received from the jealoufies of the
fiftcr kingdom, and the remonftrances of
Spain, damped the ardent fpirit of the Scot-


( 236 )

tifh nation excefiively, and, by a reflux not
unnatural in the humours of men, or of
nations, threw them back into a languor
and inoccupation, which eafily fubmitted to
that ariftocratical authority and influence, to
which Scotland had always been accuftom-
ed, and from which it never recovered until
the abolition of thofe heritable jurifdictions,
in which thefe were founded. The check
which the Scots received in the affair of Da-
rien, formed, perhaps, one link in that chain
of events which led to the Union. Had the
colony that was attempted at the lilhmus of
Panama fucceeded, the fpirit of the Scottifli
nation would have been too high and proud
to have liilened to any reafonable terms of
fubmitting to the fame government with

It is remarkable, that it was by means of
the leading men of the ariftocracy, that the
Union was promoted and carried into effect ;
although that order of men were to facrifice
to that meafure, a great deal of their here-

( 2 37 )

ditary honours and confequence in their na-
tive country: whereas the tradefmen, and
the loweft of the people, who certainly could
not be any lofers by fharing in the fortunes
of the Englifh, but might probably be much
bettered by the change, were the firft, when
the articles of Union came to be debated in
the Scotch parliament, who made a brifk
ftand for the name of liberty and fovereign
power. For the very name and antiquity of
the kingdom was of great weight with the
people : though what remained of it, after
the removal of King James VI. into Eng-
land, was no more than a vain image or fh?.-
dovv of fovereign ty : fince the government,
from that time, was committed to the hands
of a few men, who not only preferred, for
the moft part, their private interefts to thole
of the public, but who often acled according
to the orders they received from ftrangers.
But, if the colony of Darien had fucceeded,
the republican and popular fpirit would have
carried all before it.


( 238 )

The opponents of the court, in the de-
bates on the Union, infifled, that parliament
had no authority to determine concerning the
alienation of the kingdom, fmce power was
not delegated to them from the free-holders,
or tenants in capite, for that purpofe. The
cornmifiioners fent into England, they al-
ledged, were neither proper judges of this
matter, nor the parliament itfelf veiled with
competent authority to decide a matter of
fo great importance ; but that there was a
right inherent in a free people, to put a flop
to the paffing of any law, as there waSj for-
merly, in the tribunes of the Roman people.
A fimilar doclrine prevails, and is eflablifhed
into a firm and uncontroverted maxim, in
the prefbyterian government of the church
of Scotland, in which it is held, that it is
not in the power of the general afTembly, to
fubvert or change any of the effential ufages
or laws in the ecclefiaflicalconflitution, with-
out the confent of two-thirds at leafl, of the
fynods and prefbyteries.



The court party, on the other hand, who
were friends to the Union, faid, that the fu-
preme authority of the nation was undoubt-
edly veiled in the parliament ; and that*
" when an election was once made, neither
" the tenants of the crown, or thofe who
<c hold of the crown in chief, nor the magi-
" ftrates of the cities, had any more right
" either to put a negative on the paflingof any"
" law, or to give a vote ; but that the people
" had delegated all their authority to thofe
f whom they had elected to reprefent them
" in parliament."

When this queftion was carried in favour
of the courtiers, in parliament, the people
out of doors, were every where thrown into
diforder and tumult. The Duke of Queen f-
berry, who was the lord commiflioner, or lord
lieutenant, adjourned the houfe till the next
day, took his coach, and was followed with
many reproaches by the people, who could
hardly forbear to lay violent hands on him.
During the whole of that night, tumults


were kept up in Edinburgh. The mob af-
faulted and fearched.thehoufe of Sir Patrick
Johnftone, theprovoflof that city: whom,
if they had found him, they would have
treated with great outrage, for no other rea-
fon, than that he was faid to have favoured
the vote in parliament for the Union. This
fpirit of refinance fpread rapidly over the
whole country. Levies of armed men were
made by feveral difcontented chiefs, who
made no fcruple of declaring their fentiments,
that the only way by which Scotchmen could
now prevent .the difgrace and ruin of their
country, was, to march under arms to Edin-
burgh, and over-awe the decifions of par-
liament. The people of Scotland entered
readily into thofe ideas and views : but the
invafion of Edinburgh and the parliament
was prevented by means partly accidental,
and partly the refult of profound contriv-
ance. In the firft place, the defigns of the
opponents of the Union were greatly retard-
ed by the feafon of the year, and by conti-

( 24' )

nual and heavy rains. In the fecond place,
an artificial channel was formed for receiv-
ing the fury of the people, by which it was,
with great addrefs, diverted from its object.
The Duke of Queenfberry fecretly employed
Major Cunningham, an officer of very popu-
lar reputation, to raifc the people in the wef-
tern parts of Scotland, who, to the common
dread of taxes, and hatred of the Englifh,
added an extraordinary antipathy to bifhops,
and zeal for the fafety of the Prefbyterian
religion. The eyes of all men were natu-
rally directed to the levies on foot in Air-
fhire. and other counties adjacent : and here
the genius of Scotland feemed to make the
lafl ftand for retaining, within the bounds
of that kingdom, the name, at lead, and the
infignia of fovereignty. But when the day
came for the armed people to march to Edin-
burgh, where many of their heads had al-
ready aficmbled, their commander, with the
concurrence and co-operation of different
men of confequence who acted in concert


( 242 )

with the minifter for Scotland, found means-,
on various pretences, to keep them back.

The Union was agreed to, and ratified by
both nations. But this fortunate event,
which prevented that general excitement
which had been oecafioned by the Revolu-
tion, from relapfmg into the languor of ty-
ranny, did not transfufe the free fpirit of
England into Scotland, at once. The Scot-
tifh barons ftill retained their hereditary ju-
rifdiclions undiminifned, and feveral good
families held their eftates in vafTalage of feu-
dal chiefs . For example, the Macpherfons
and Macmtofhes were the vaflals of the Duke
of Gordon j and Struan Robertfon of the>
Duke of Atholl.

The private jurifdictions being referved by
the treaty of Union, it was not until the
year 1747, that they were re-affumed by the
crown, and the people of Scotland made par-
takers of Englifn freedom. In this great
event, we have a moil remarkable proof and
example of that principle of correction and


( 243 )

amendment, which is inherent in political
grievances ; and that abufes, carried to ex-
tremities, lead to reformation. It was their
hereditary jurifdictions that enabled the heads
of certain Scottiih clans, in 1715 and 1745,
to make thofe defperate attempts which fig-
nalized, at once, the fubje6lion and the mar-
tial ardour of the poor Highlanders, in fa-
vour of the Houfe of Stuart. Their dan-
gerous efFecls became now apparent to all
who were interefled in the fafety of the king-
dom. As they were accounted private pro-
perty, it was obferved, that their holders
might part with them for an equivalent.
They were, accordingly, re- annexed to the
crown: and 150,000!. bought back to the
nation, that juftice and freedom, which had
patted away from it.

But this wife and humane political mea-
fure, great as the dangers which threatened
the ftate from the heritable jurifdidtions
were, would not, perhaps, have been adopted,
or even thought of, had not the adminiilra-
Qji tion

( 244 )

tion of the Britifh affairs been vefled, at that
period, in men who entertained a juft reve-
rence for the rights of m ankind . The prince
that filled the throne had been taught, from
his earliefV years, to cleteft political tyranny,
and the noble families who had diftinguifhed
their attachment to the principles of the Re-
volution, and to the Hanoverian SuccefTion,
and by whofe means the Britifh nation pre-
ferved, or regained their freedom, enjoyed his
confidence and his favour. In fuch aufpi-
cious circumfbances, the oppofition that was
made to the refumption of the heritable ju-
rifdictions, yielded to the recollection of re-
cent danger, and to the genuine voice of
patriotifm, and a love of freedom. Had no
rebellion taken place m Scotland, and our po-
litical conftitution advanced another ftage in
that progrefs towards abfolute monarchy,
which a great philofopher, though not a
great friend to freedom, has both predicted
and declared to be its eafieil death : in this
cafe, it is not probable that the people of


( 245 )

Scotland would have been admitted to a par-
ticipation of thofe privileges which, fortu-
nately for the Britifh empire, they now en-
joy. They would have been inftruments in
the hands of haughty and tyrannical chiefs,
as thefe again, might have been, in thofe of
an artful and unprincipled miniiler.

During the interval between the Union
and the commencement of the war that was
terminated by the peace of Paris, in 1763,
Scotland remained in a (late of inactivity
and languor : and, as an emphatic proof
that this was really the cafe, it is remarked,
that there is fcarcely one good houfe to be
found in that country, which was not built
either before the firft, or fmce the laft of
thefe events. The abolition of heritable ju-
rifdictions, the riling fpirit of liberty, that
general energy which was the natural remit
of a fuccefsful and glorious weir, in which
the Scots, and particularly the Highlanders,
had their full fhare, produced in that coun-
try as rapid a change, in the fpace of even

( 246 )

ten years, as is to be found in the hiftory of
any nation. A fpirit of adventure and ex-
ertion manifefted itfelf, not only in arms,
but in arts of every kind, both mechanical
and liberal. The extreme ardour of lite-
rature and fcience which takes place in Scot-
land, has been noticed, and very happily ex-
prefled by the learned and eloquent editor of
Bellendenus, a native of that country : Scotia
jam omnis inphikfophia excolendafervet, ut it a
dicam, ac tumultuatur .

Let us now defcend from Stirling, a fit
centre for taking a furvey of Scotland, and
purfue our journey to Carron, by Bannock-
burn, where that grand and decifive battle
was fought which compleated, in 1314, the
recovery of Scotland from the arms of Eng-

Edward II. of England,' purfuing the am-
bitious defign of his immediate predeceflbr
cni the Englifh throne, aflembled forces from
all quarters, with a view of effecting, at one


( 247 )

blow, the reduction of Scotland. " He
<c fummoned," fays Hume, " the moft war-
" like of his vafials from Gafcony : he inlifted
<f troops from Flanders and other foreign
** countries : he invited over great numbers
<l of the diforderly Irifli as to a certain. prey :
<c he joined to them a body rf tne Wellh,
* c who were actuated by like motives : and
" aflembling the whole military force of
" England, he marched to the frontiers with
<f an army, which, according to the Scotch
" writers, amounted to an hundred thoufand
" men, but which was probably much infe-
" rior to that number.

" The army, collected by Robert, exceed-
" ed not thirty thoufand combatants ; but
" being compofed of men, who had diftin-
" guifhed themfelves by many acts of valour,
" who were rendered defperate by their fitu-
" ation, and who were enured to all the va-
" rieties of fortune, they might juftly, under
u fuch a leader, be deemed formidable to the

" moll

( 248 )

" moft numerous and beft appointed armies.
" The Caftle of Stirling, which, with Eer-
" wic, was the only fortrefs in Scotland,
" remained in the hands of the Englifh, had
" long been beficged by Edward Bruce : Phi-
" lip de Mowbray, the governor, after an
" obftinate defence, was at lail obliged to
" capitulate, and to promife, that, if, b.
c< a certain day, which was now approach-*
* c ing, he was not relieved, he fhould open
" his gates to the enemy.* Robert, there-
cc fore, fenfible that here was the ground on
" which he muft expecl the Englifn, chofe
" the field of battle with all the (kill and
<f prudence imaginable, and made the necef-
" fary preparations for their reception. He
ct poflecl himfelf at Bannockburn, about two
" miles from Stirling j where he had a hill
" on his right flank, and a morafs on his
* c left : and, not content with having taken
^ thefe precautions to prevent his being fur-

*' rounded

* Rymer, vol. iii. 481.

( 249 )

" roundal by the more numerous army of
{C the Englifh ; he forefaw the fupcrior
tf flrength of the enemy in cavalry, and made
" provifion againft it.

{< Having a rivulet in front, he command-
" ed deep pits to be dug along its banks,
" and fharp flakes to be planted in them;
<c and he ordered the whole to be carefully
" covered over with turf.* The Engliih ar-
" rived in fight on the evening, and a bloody
" conflict immediately enflied between two
" bodies of caval Ure Robert, who

:s at tlie head of the Scots, engaged in
<c fingle combat with Henry de Bohun, a
" gentleman of the family of Hereford ; and
" at one Mroke cleft his adverfary to the chin
tc with a battle axe, in fight of the two armies,
" The Englifli horfe fied with precipitation
<c to their main body.

" The Scots, encouraged by this favour-
f c able event, and glorying in the valour of


* T. de la More, p. 594.

( 250 )

" their prince, prognofticated a happy hTue
<f to the combat on the enfuing day : the
" Englifh, confident in their numbers, and
ft elated with paft fuccefTes, longed for an
<c opportunity of revenge : and the night,
" though extremely fhort in that feafon and
" in that climate, appeared tedious to the im-
" patience of the feveral combatants.

" Early in the morning, Edward drew out
" his army, and advanced towards the Scots.
cc The Earl of Glocefter, his nephew, who
" commanded the left wing of the cavalry,
" impelled by the ardour of youth, ruilied
" on to attack without precaution, and fell
" among the covered pits, which had been
" prepared by Bruce for the reception of the
" enemy. This body of horfe was difor-
" dered : Glocefter himfelf was overthrown
" and {lain : Sir James Douglas, who com-
" manded the Scottifh cavalry, gave the ene-
<c my no leifure to rally, but puihed them off
?* the field with confiderabk lofs, and pur-


( 25' )

'* fued them in fight cf their whole line of
" infantry. While the Englifh army were
<e alarmed with this unfortunate beginning
" of the action, which commonly proves de-
" cifive, they obferved an army on the
" heights towards the left, which feemed to
" be marching leifurely in order to furround
" them ; and they were diftracled by their
<' multiplied fears. This was a number of
" waggoners and fumpter boys, whom Ro-
" bert had collected ; and having fupplied
" them with military flandards, gave them
" the appearance at a cliftance of a formi-
" dable body.

" The ftratagem took efFecl : a panic feiz-
" ed the Englifn : they threw down their
" arms and fled : they were purfued with
" great (laughter, for the fpace of eighty
" miles, till they reached Berwic : and the
" Scots, befides an inerKmable booty, took
" many perfons of quality prifoners, and
" above 400 gentlemen, whom Robert treat-

* c ed with great humanity, and whofe ran-
" fom was a new acceffion of wealth to the
" victorious army. The King himfelf nar^
ct rowly efcaped by taking ihelter in Dunbar,
" whole gates were opened to him by the
" Earl of March ; and he thence pafled by
" fea to Berwic."

Thurfday , July 2 3 . Arrive at Carron, where
the Carron Company have a very large fount
dery for calling all forts of implements, from
42 pounders to the mod trifling article for
domeftic ufe ; the coal, of which they ufe
100 tons per diem, is all charred before it
can be applied to the purpofe of melting
iron, as it creates a much ftronger heat in
that flate, than when the fulphur is in it.
The bellows made ufe of are amazingly large,
and worked by water. Four cylinders of
three feet diameter, are wrought by one
wheel, and the united wind created by this
force pafTes through a tube of about a foot
diameter, which is conveyed to the mouth of


the furnace. The tube is there reduced to
the fize of an inch and an half. It is natu-
ral to fuppofe, that fuch a quantity of air,
fo much compixfied, muft act with great vi-
olence : which indeed it does, and makes
more noife than the roaring of the moft vi-
olent gale of wind I ever heard. Without
this very forcible engine, they could not ob-
tain heat enough to convert the iron into a
liquid mafs. They have here four of thofe
blafts. They have alfo the krgefl pump, for
raifing water in dry weather, when they are
not fufficiently fupplied otherwife, that I ever
faw. It is worked by four piflons, each of
which is thirty inches diameter, and raifes-
four tons of water at each ftroke, which
makes about 100 tons of water in a minute*
This pump is worked by fleam.

They have adopted here a new method of bo-
ring guns, which is done by a horizontal, in-
ftead of a perpendic ular motion, and by moving
the gun inflead of the initrument : but they
would not let us examine it narrowly. Du-

( 2 54 )

ting the war, 1200 people were employed
here : but, fmce the peace, until lately, they
have had but little bufmefs. I am happy to
find they have now fome large orders from
Ruffia and Germany for great guns, and
have occafion to employ 1000 men. To a
perfon who has not been accultomed to fights
of this fort, the place would appear like Pan-
demonium ; for liquid iron is running into
the moulds of fand in all directions ; and
the men, who look like devils, are driving it
about in iron wheel-barrows, through every
part of the foundery. At night the whole
place appears in a blaze, and by the affiftance
of a large piece of water, which makes a fine
reflection, forms an exhibition that amply re-
wards the pains of going to fee it.

Near Carron the navigable canal fromGlaf-*.
gow communicates with the fea. This canal
is forty miles long, and near fifty feet broad,
which is a very unneceflary width, as boats of
fifty tons are quite large enough for carrying
on commerce by canals, and will anfwer every


( 255

purpofe better than larger veflels. The Duke
of Bridgewater, who was the firft projector
of canals in this country, feems to have been
happy enough to have attained perfection in
this mode of navigation. On the Glafgow
canal are a great number of locks, which
mufl have added greatly to the expence. I
think that on that part of the canal which
is next to Carron there are fixteen of them
in the courfe of two miles. About a mile
and a half above Carron, the canal is car-
ried upon a large bridge over the road.
Veflels come from Glafgow to the fea on this
canal, in ten hours. From the accounts I
received at Glafgow, as well as at Carron, I
was forry to find the trade on the canal will
not anfwer the expence : but I have been
lately informed, that it now pays five per
cent, to the proprietors.

Leave Carron, and go through Falkirk,
(near which the battle was fought) to Lin-
lithgow ; a number of gentlemen's feats on,
each fide of the road. The land well culti-
vated and planted : have a fine view of the


( 256 )

Carfe of Falkirk, which is richly covered
with corn.

Dine at Linlithgow, and vifit the old
palace, which is now a ruin. At the time of
the rebellion in 1745, part of it was habit-
able, but in 1 746 it was entirely deftroyed
by the king's army. This caftle is famous
for having given birth to Mary Queen of
Scots, and the walls of the room are ftill re-
maining, in which {he was born, The caf-
tle is fituated on an eminence, almoft fur-
rounded by a fmall lake, and commands fe-
veral beautiful profpecls. Linlithgow is a
large town, but the houfes in it are not well
built. From Linlithgow to Edinburgh, the
country is very well cultivated, efpecially as
you draw near to that city, and the profpeCl
of the Firth of Forth, and the towns to the .
northward of it, very beautiful.

In the evening get to Edinburgh . The cattle,
which is the mofl ftriking object in that antient
metropolis, is built on a very high rock, which
is acceJdible only on one fide, where there is

a draw-

bridge. Although it was confidered, before
the invention of gun-powder, as impreg-
nable, it is now incapable of any long de-
fence. It appears formidable from its com-
manding fituation : but it could not ftand a
regular fiege even for a week. Upon the
very top of the rock there is a large fquare^
confiding of buildings partly new and partly
antient. In the latter, they ftill mew the
room where the unfortunate Mary was de-
livered of James I, A door too is pointed
out to the ftranger, carefully fecured by bolts
and bars. The room into which this leads
is faid to contain the regalia of Scotland..
On this fubject, however, many are fcep-
tical, as there is not any tradition of thofe
enfigns of power having been ever fcen by
any perfon fmce the Union.

The new buildings confiil of barracks and
an armoury, as the caftle of Edinburgh is,
in reality, a fhice d'armes for military (lores
and accoutrements, to be in readinefs on
any emergency. The fquare ferves as a pa-
ll rade

( 258 )

rade for the garrifon, which generally ccft-
fiflsof five or fix companies , fometimes more,
befides a company of invalids. The efla-
blifhment here is as follows : a governor, a
deputy-governor, a fort major, a ftore keep-
er, a chaplain, a matter gunner, and three or
four quarter gunners,

On a lower part of the rock towards the
north a handfome building is creeled. The
centre is the governor's houfe: and the two
wings are occupied by the governor and the
fort major. From this rock runs a fleep
ridge, on the eaft fide, about three quarters of
a mile long. On this ridge, the old city of
Edinburgh flands, forming a very wide
flreet from the caflle to the bottom of the
ridge, where it is terminated by Holyrood-
houfe. On each fide of this flreet the decli-
vity is fo fleep, that in moft places you are
obliged to defcend by fleps. The houfes being
built on each fide of this ridge, accounts for
their being fo very high, from ten to fourteen
(lories. Choice would never have induced any


( 259 )

man to build a houfe on this fpot, or live
fourteen flories from the ground. The
obvious reafon of chufing fo commodious a
fituation, was the necefllty of being under
cover of the guns of the caftle.

In Scotland, whereno marks of regular go-
vernment, and very few of arts and commerce
are to be traced beyond the eleventh century,
and where great ferocity of manners prevail-
ed in much later periods, it is probable that
towns, and even villages were formed, for the
moil part, by a refort of the lower clafs of
inhabitants to that flielter from injury and
oppreffion which was afforded by the caftles
of the king and of the barons. The tenants,
and retainers of powerful chiefs, in all times
of turbulence and danger, would naturally
take refuge under the wings of ihofe ftrong
holds that were the maniions of the baron to
whom they belonged. The principal vaf-
fals, we may fuppofe, of the feudal chief
would, in fu'ch times, find entertainment
within the walls of the cattle ; while others,
R2 f

( 260 )

of inferior ftation, would be fain to affembte
with their families and their fubftance, as
near to them as poflible. The domains, or
part of the domains of the caftles would na-
turally, in fuch circumflances, be parcelled
out to the people. Temporary huts would
be improved into houfes; houfes into vil-
lages; and, in the progrefs of population

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 11 of 16)