William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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the King's, with his nurfe, and fourteen do-
medics, were among the number of thofe
that perifhed. A new Bertha, or, as it is
called, Perth, by a change in pronun-

( 189 )

elation incident to all living languages, was
built on a fertile plain, two miles below, on
the fame river. Hence the regularity and
beauty of Perth, formed on a regular plan
by the Court of Scotland, which held at this
period, and for many years before, an inti-
mate correfpondence both with France and
Italy. Nobles, princes of the blood, kings
themfelves left, for a time, the fequcftered
and rude regions of their native Caledonia, to
difplay their valour, and acquire new accom-
plifhments on the Continent. England,
which divided Scotland from France by local
fituation, united it to that kingdom by the
band of hoftility to a common enemy. And
thus, from the northerly pofition of Scot-
land, which connected it by political intrigues
with the enemies of England, Scottifh tra-
vellers and foldiers of fortune, imported into
their country, in times of very general bar-
barifm, feme cuftoms and modes of thinking
that were either unknown, or, from animo-
fity, rejected by their fouthern neighbours.


f 19 )

This conclufion, which might be fairly
drawn, even by reafoninga/>r/cr/, from mo-
ral nature, and the hiftory of nations, is
placed beyond doubt, by hiftoricat records,
and the very texture of the Scottifh dialecl,
in the earliest fpecimens of which, we meet
with words of both French and Italian ex-

There was formerly a wooden bridge at
Perth, which was fwept away towards the end
of the lafl century, by an uncommon flood,
in that feafon when difTolving mows, pour-
ing down in liquid torrents from the Gram-
pians, rend afunder the icy chains that bind
the river, and dam. them with irrefiftible
force againft every obftacle. After the de-
molition of this wooden ftructure, an army,
fent by King William againft the infurgents
in the north, pafied over the Tay on the ice.
From the old wooden ftruclure, a very
unfit antagonift to the Tay, the village of
Bridge-End, directly oppofite to Perth, which
appears to be riling rapidly into importance,


derives its name. A caufeway, fliM almoft
entire, with an arch covered with flag-ftones
thrown over every brook, extending from
Bridge- End, connected Perth with Scone*
at once a monaftery and royal palace. Here
the fatal marble ftone, concerning which
there was a prophecy, that wherever it fhould
be found, a Scot would wear the crown, was
depofited by Kenneth the Second, who is
confidered by the hiftorians, if not as the
firft, yet as the mofl fubftantial founder of
the Scottifh monarchy. This ftone, which,
according to hiftories built on early tradi-
tion, was brought from Spain into Ireland,
from Ireland into Argylefhire, to which, by
a bold head-land it is almoft united, and
from Dunftaffhagc, in Argylefhire, to the
centre of Scotland, was carried to Wefrmin-
fter-Abbey by Edward I. of England, who,
uniting barbarifm with profound policy, la-
boured, by deflroying or cany ing away
whatever might ferve to awaken a proud fpi-
rit of independence, to impofe the yoke of


C 192 )

Havery on an harrafTed and humbled peo-
ple. From the time of Kenneth II. about
the middle of the fourteenth century, to that
of James VII. the Kings of Scotland were
crowned at Scone, which was alfo the mofh
common place of their refidence.

The Kings of Scotland, in the choice of a
place of refidence, naturally wiihed to unite,
as much as poffible, amenity, fafety, and cen-
trical fituation. It would be difficult to find,
in the whole kingdom of Scotland, a fpot
that unites all thefe advantages more happily
than Scone. The greater! plain in Scotland,
bounded by the greateft ridge of mountains,
enhanced the magnificence of each by the light
of contraft, while the Tay, rolling with im-
petuous majefty through fertile fields, fpread
far and wide below the terrace on which the
palace {lands, fuddenly hides his head be-
tween the Hills of Moncrieft and Kinnoull.
This rapid river formed a flrong barrier
againft any fudden attack from the Picls and
the Englifh : perfonal fafety was fecured by


( 193 )

the facredncifc of the place j and no fpot could
be fixed on that was at once fo fecure and

Tuefday, 26th July. Leave Perth in the
morning, and pa/Ting through the South
Inch, afcend a gentle eminence, formed by
tlie doping bafe of the Hill of Moncrieff al-
ready mentioned, over which the great road
is carried to Edinburgh, called the Cloven
Craggs. Here the traveller from the fouth
is ftruck with the fudden appearance of
Strathmore, and the Grampians, the Tay,
with the town and the bridge of Perth : and
the traveller from the north, with the charm-
ing valley of Strath-Ern, through which a
river of confiderable magnitude, ifiuing from
a lake of that name, about twenty-four miles
diftant from its junction with the Tay, me-
anders in a moft romantic and pleafing man-
ner. It is bounded on the fouth by the
Ochills, green, and foftly-fwelling hills, un-
der luxuriant cultivation, and covered with


grafs to their higheft fummits. Gentle ac-
clivities rife from its northern banks, which
N here

( 194 )

liere and there feem to difcriminate Stratli-
Ern from Strathmore, but which fink and
difappear when you afcend any eminence j fo
that the courfes of both the Ern and the
Tay are feen as one varied and vaft expanfe.
Strath-Em is fuller of gentlemen's family
feats, than any other diftri6t of equal extent
in Scotland. The lower part of the valley,
which is a continuation, as it were, of the
Carfe of Cowrie, from which it is feparated
by the Tay, is extremely fertile, and highly
cultivated - } and here frauds Abernethy, the
capital of the Picts. But the great number
of gentlemen's feats with which Strath-Em
abounds, is not to be accounted for from its
fertility only : for the Carfe of Gowrie, and
other tracts, are equally fertile, though not
fo well adorned with commodious and elegant
inanfions. The Lower Strath-Em, commen-
cing from a promontory of the Ochills,
called Craig- Roffie, is inhabited by noblemen
and gentlemen, who have part of their eflates
in the hilly region on the fouth fide, or in the


( '95 )

'lefs fheltered, as well as lefs beautiful plain
of Strath more, on the north. And the Upper
Strath-Em, extending from the promontory
juft mentioned to Loch-Em, is not only the
abode of the gentlemen whofe fole property
is on the fpot, but alfo of others whofe
eftates only touch, as it were, on Strath-Ern
and which lie, for the greateft part, back-
ward amidft the Grampian Mountains,
Amongft the delightful places of refidence,
enclofed in the bofom of woods, or planta-
tions, which adorn Strath-Ern, are Lawers,
on a fhclf of a mountain, about four miles
below Loch-Ern, the refidence of Sir James,
and Colonel Muir Campbell, who fucceeded
to the title and eftates of the Earl of Laud-
hon. Two miles farther down the Ern, you
are ftruck with Auchtertyre, in the midil of
a natural wood, alfo on the fide of a moun-
tain, with the Lake or Loch of Monivair4
immediately below, and the united width
of Strath-Ern and Strathmore for a profpecl.
This is the romantic manfionof Sir William
N 2 Murray,

( 196 )

Murray, who happily uniting philofophy
with practice, has ihewn the world, how
much it is in the power of human art to ex-
trad a plentiful crop from a barren foil.
This reflection carries our view eaftward to
Dollerie, the refidence of the Laird of Crieff,
who has alfo forced the cold and barren
moor to wear the livery of the verdant lawn;
and who, uniting a tafte for literature and
general improvement with the antient hof-
pitality, and fome of the antient prejudices,
too, of his country, exhibits an originality
of character, not lefs amiable than refpec-
table. Mr. Murray of Abercarnie, on the one
fide of Dollerie, and Captain Drurnmond of
Pitkellenie on the other, (hew how many
ufeful leffbns, in agriculture arid general im-
provement, may be learnt by gentlemen of
the army.

On a wing of the lofty mountain of Ben-
voirloch, which rifes by a gentle afcent from
Loch-Ern, till its precipitous fouth-weftern
front is feen by a fpectator from Stirling


( '97 )

Caftle, in a line with thofe of Ben-Lomond,
Ben-more, and Ben-Leddia, ftands Caftle-
Drummond, commanding Strath more, as far
as the eye, unoppofed by hills or banks, can
reach, and down Strath-Ern and the Carfe of
Cowrie, to the town of Dundee. Machany,
the antient feat of the noble family of
Strathallan, would have fhewn to Dr. John-
fon, if he had happened to vifit it, that tim-
ber trees grow in Scotland ; and that a vene-
ration for the antient ceremonies and orders
of the church, is not baniflied wholly from
the main-land to the ifles on the weftern
fhores of Scotland. It is impollible to pafs
over the venerable beauties of Innerpaffray,
fronting Caftle-Drummond, in a concavity
of the ferpentinizing Ern, its caftle, the an-
tient feat of the Lords of Maderty, its chapel,
public library and fchool, both eftablimed
for the good of the community, and car-
rying back the mind to the antient fituation,
and the genius of Scotland, Faffing along
the banks of the Ern, on the remains of a
N 3 Roman

Roman caufeway, you come to Dupplin, the-
refidenceof the Earl of Kinnoull, to whofe
eftate, according to the valued rent, thelargeft
in Perthfhire, InnerpafFray is, now united.
extenfive park, where there are more old trees
than in mod other places in Scotland, on a rifing
ground that commands the Lower Strath-Era,
and at full tide, a view of the Frith of Tay.
On the oppofite fide of the valley, on the nor-*
them fide of the Ochills, and about a mile
weftward, is the houfe, and the wood of In-
vermay, the fubjecl of a fine Scotch ballad
and air, through which the water of May
precipitates itfelf in many a fan taftic form j
and, after interfering a pleafant plain be-
low, difcharges itfelf into the Ern at the
bridge of Forteviot. At Forteviot, a final!
village with a church, there once flood a
monaftery, with an hunting feat of King
Malcolm Canm ore's. Veftiges of the mo-
,naftery weie to be feen at a fmall eminence
called the Hafy, that is, the Holy Hill, with-
in the memory of the prefent generation :


C ^99 )

but 1 palace, monaflery, and the Haly Hill it-
felf, are now completely fvvept away by the
capricious Tallies of the water of May, which
continually changes its gravelly bed, and
/ports with the toils of laborious man. It
would be tedious to enumerate, much more
to defcribe, all the manfions, with adjacent
pleafure ground, which run in a continued
chain from the conflux of the Em and the
May, to that of the former of thefe rivers
with the Tay, a courfe of ten miles, and form
one fpacious and beautiful enclofure. It
may j uft be mentioned, that in this groupe
we find the pleafant refidences of Mr. Oli-
phant of Roflie, a gentleman diftinguifhed by
his ikill in hufbandry, and what is called the
police of the country j of Lord Ruthven, of
Sir Thomas MoncriefF, and of the Knights
of Balmanno, now attached to the eft ate of
Invermay. In the Lower Strath-Ern there is
a famous fpring of faltifh water, a cathartic
vfed with eminent fuccefs in fcorbutic and
other cafes, called Pitkethly- Wells. The
N 4 Upper

( 200 )

Upper Strath-Ern, from the loch to thevil-
lage of Crieff, fituated on a fpur of the GrarrH
plans, which advances a little into the noble
expanfe formed by the union of Strathmore
and Strath-Ern, and which is called the
Montpelier of Scotland, is reforted to, in

the fummer, for the purity of the air, goat-

whey, and its rural charms, by people from

Edinburgh, Glafgow, and other places.
Woods, mountains, lakes, and thefo/umjic*
cum cum aquis fuentibus, confpire to render
this one of the moft charming fpots that
imagination can conceive. Here the people
fpeak both Erfe and Englifh. There is not
any other place in Scotland where the High-
lands and the Gallic tongue penetrate, at this
day, fo far into the Low Country. This valley,
from its verdant appearance, is called Erne,
or green : it was antiently a principality, or
county-palatine, and the inheritance of a
branch of the royal family of Scotland : and
it Hill gives a title to a prince of the blood of


( 201 )

Where the country rifes by degrees from
the bed of the Ern towards the roots of the
Ochills, about feventeeti miles from Perth,
and nearly the fame diftance from Stirling,
ftands a long draggling village, called Auch-
terarder, once a royal burgh, but now,
knov/n chiefly as the feat of a Prefbytery, dif-
tinguifhed by a fmgular union of Popifh and
Antinomian principles : claiming the prero-
gatives of a Court of Inquifition, exalting
the power of the church in temporal con-
cerns, reprobating with fuperlative zeal the
efficacy of virtue towards future, as well
as prcfent happinefs, and magnifying the im-
portance of certain metaphyfical notions in
theology, which they call atfs of faith : yet it
muft not be omitted, that, among that fo*
ciety, there are men adorned with found
knowledge, and with primitive fimplicity of
manners. This place fecms to have lain
under the curie of God ever fince it was
burnt by the army in 1715. The dark
heath of the Moors of Orchill and Tul-
libardin, the naked fummits of the Gram-*


( 202 )

plans, Feen at a diHance, and the frequent vi-
fitations of the Prefbytery, who are eternally
recommending faft days, and destroying the
peace of fociety by prying into little flips of
life, and the defolation of ths place, render
Auchterarder a melancholy fcene, wherever
you turn your eyes, except towards Perth,
and the Lower Strath-Ern, of which it has
a partial profpect. About a mile fouth and
weft from Auchterarder, in a den formed by
the water of Ruthven, and the roots of the
Ochills, in the midft of an extenfive wood,
jftands Kincardine, the old feat of the Gra-
hams, and the refidence of the great Marquis
of Montrofe. Directly oppofite to this, at
the fouthern roots of the Ochills, and on a
wooded peninfula, where the extremity of a
doping hill is almoft furrounded by deep
water-courfes, in fome places improved by
art, Hands Caftle-Campbell, a feat of the
Marquis of Argyll's. It was irnpoffible that
the heads of two powerful clans, living fa
near one another, and on oppofite fides of a
narrow range of hills, could be good neigh*.


Lours. The Marquis of Argyll burnt the
caftle of the Marquis of Montrofe : and the
Marquis of Montrofe burnt the caftle of the
Marquis of Argyll.

As we have thus ftepped over the Ochills
to Caftle-Campbell, which commands a wfia
of the vale of Devon, let us relieve the gloom
of Auchterarder, by a profpect of that de-
lightful fcene.

The Devon, a truly paftoral river, rifes in
the Aichills,* or Ochills, almoft due north
from its entrance into the Forth, and a very
few miles, in a direcl line north and fouth,
from its mouth ; though the nature of th&
ground has forced it to take a very circuitous
courfe. From its fource it runs in a fouth-
eafterly direction, fometimes ruming preci-
pitately down the broken declivities of the
mountains, and in others, winding gently in
the bottoms between them. The fcenery is,


* The tradition i?, that they are called Alcbilli, which is
the fame as Oat~HilLt, from their being formerly covered
with oaks. This tradition is probable, as their height is
moderate, the foil good, and that trees, when planted there
with any judgment, r.v furc to thrive.

( 204 )

almoft every where, delightful ; the verdure
is luxuriant, and the variegated ground feafts
the eye at every ftep with a novelty of pro-
fpecl. At the Yates, or Gates of Muck-
hart, which open a communication between
Clackmannan-mire and Strath-Ern, it finds
a paflage, and defcends into the vale of
Devon. Here it runs in an oppofite direc-
tion, exactly parallel to its former courfe.
It glides along with an infinity of windings
to the weft, and then, bending to the fouth,
lofes itfelf in the Forth.

The vale to which the Devon gives its
name, is at once fruitful and beautiful : for,
though art and induftry have not every where
feconded nature, yet the green fwells of the
Ochills to the north, the fine meanders of
the river amidft meadows and corn-fields, the
diftant profpecl of Stirling-Cattle to the weft,
the magnificent Forth rolling his waves on
the fouth,andthe fertile Carfes of Stirling and
Falkirk, covered with villages and gentle-
men's feats, bounding the profpect, prefent
an afTemblage both grand and pleafarit. The


/'//M.f/if/ ti.. t/ir, let rfirrrt.r .fa/ir 9jrf8Sty(rJfa>t>i/uf>nfcI'artnay

( 205 )

Devon, in one part of the valley, has been
obliged to work its way through obrrructing
rocks. In the lapfe of ages, it has worn
away the fofter parts of the ftone, and form-
ed immenfe pits, into which the water falls
with a noife and fury truly tremendous.
The hollow found which proceeds from the
bottom of the chafm, and the boiling tur-
bulence occafioned by the fall of the river
upon the inequalities of the rocks, appall
every fpectator. Juft below this, the whole
river is precipitated, in one flieet, from an.
height of forty feet, upon huge flones, torn
from the face of the rock. This fall, from
the boiling appearances jufl mentioned, is
called the Chaldron Linn. As objects of this
kind are not to be vkwed to advantage from
above, it is proper to go down by the north-
weft fide of the dell, where the defcent is
cafy, that you may have a profpect of the
cataract from below. By that way you en-
ter a narrow glen, which feems a perfect
paradife. The immenfe ilieet of water pour-

( 206 )

ing from the rock, exhibiting in its upper
parts all the colours of the rainbow, and
appearing below, where it falls upon the
rocks, like white duft or vapour ; this ad-
mirably contrafled by the dark and filent
face of the abrupt rock, in moft parts rug-
ged and naked, but in fome prefenting a few
ihrubs and pendulous trees : thefe circum-
ftances united, make an impreflion on the
mind of fomething that is folemn and aweful;
arreft the giddy tumult of human hopes and
fears, and invite to ferious reflection, and
fublime contemplation. The cppofite fide
of the glen is of a different character. The
defcent is gentle and eafy, covered with
green and flowery turf, ftrewed, towards the
bottom, with rnofiy flones and fragments of
rocks, from the fides of which fpring wild-
rofe bufh.es, and a variety of other flmibs.
Thefe, with the trees that grow over your
head, on either fide of the chafm, give /hel-
ler to a number of birds that make the vale
refound with their forigs. The mind is foon


tired of objefts by which it is fo ftrongly ex->
cited. The traveller quits the cataracl, and
ftrolls by the fide of the river, which, in the
courfe of 2 or 300 yards, finks into a cairn,
and Heals filently along its banks.

At Auchterarder we got out of the com
country, which extends the whole way from
Montrofe to this place, on the fouth fide of
the Great Strath, and to Crieff on the north,
I do not think that England can produce, in
any part of it, a larger tract of better corn.
There is not any poit-chaife kept at Auch-
terarder, although, as has already been ob-
ferved, it is nearly midway between Perth
and Stirling. In this part of the country,
from Auchterarder to Dunblane, efpecially
in the Ochills, they raife a good many black
cattle, and a few fheep. At Blackford, as
well as at Crieff, there are great annual fairs
for black cattle, which are brought thither
towards the end of harveft, from all parts of
the Highlands, and the Weftern Iflands of.
Scotland. In proportion as the country is

improved, this fpecies of traffic muft decay.
Even now, it is for the grazier to confider,
whether he might not bring his cattle to a
better account, by falting or fmoaking the
beef, and felling the hides and tallow, than
by fending them into England. The cattle
yield, on an average, from 4!. 155. to 5!. per
bullock : nearly the fame price as in the
Highlands. The country between Auch-
terarder and Dunblane, where Strathmore is
confiderably narrowed by the mutual advan-
ces of the Grampians and the Ochills, is, for
for the moft part, barren, thinly inhabited,
and ill cultivated. Though here and there
you meet with a few clumps of ragged firs,
the country is in general open and dreary.
In the midft of thunder, lightning, and hard
rain, the Ochills fcowling.on the one hand,
and the horrid Grampians on the other, we
paffed by the northern fkirts of the SherifF-
Muir, the fcene of action between the King's
troops in the year 1715, and thofe of the
Pretender, under the Earl of Marr. The


road here is the worft we met with fince we
left Fort-William. Pafs through Dunblane^
four miles on this fide of Stirling, in times
of epifcopacy a bifhop's fee, and where there
is a good library founded, in old times, like
that of Innerpaffray, and, on the eftate of
the fame proprietor, by a fubfcription among;
neighbouring gentlemen, for the inftrucbiori
and entertainment of the public. There am
funds provided, both at Dunblane and Inner-
paffray, for a librarian, for purchafing new
books, and for maintaining the ftruclure.
that contains them, The hall where the
books are kept at Innerpaffray, is a very
elegant one : but the falary allowed to the
librarian is miferably fmall, and fhould cer-
tainly be augmented. In the evening of
Tuefday, 26th of July, pafs through the
moft beautiful and the richeft part of Strath-
Allan; crofs the Forth on a large flone
bridge, and arrive at Stirling, where we ftay
all night.

O Stirling,

( 210 )

Stirling, July 27th. In the morning we
went to view the caftle. It is built on a
high rock, the weft fide of which is at lead
an hundred feet perpendicular in heighth,
Within the walls is the parliament-houfe,
which is a very large room, but now nearly*
unroofed, and falling to ruin. The palace,
alfo a very large place, is now turned into-
barracks for foldiers* The garrifon, at pre-
fent, confifts of 100 men, and a fort-major >
and about thirty-fix guns are mounted on the
ramparts. Tire Town of Stirling is built on
the fouth-eaft fide of the r-ock -> the houfes-
very old, and the ftreets narrow,

As the Scottifh nation extended their au-
thority fouthward, by their conquefts over
the Picls and Danes, and their inter-marri-
ages with England, the ufual places of their
refidence became more and more fbutherly
alfo. Dunftaffanage was exchanged for
Scone j Scone for Dunfermlmg and Falkland - y
Dunfermling and Falkland for Stirling - r Stir-
ling for Liniithgow and Edinburgh; and at


la/l Edinburgh for London. But amid/I
thefe changes, after the eftablifliment of the
monarchy of Scotland, the natural bounda-
ries which marked the land, confined, on the
whole, the choice of a place of refidence to
that fpace which is bounded by the courfes
of the Forth and the Tay on the fouth and
the north j on the weft, by the riling of the
country, towards the middle of the ifland ;
and on the eaft, by the ocean. The inter-
pofition of the Tay recommended Scone as a
proper place of refidence in the hotteft times
of war with the Englifh. But, after an al-
liance had been formed between the royal fa-
milies of the two kingdoms, by the marriage
of Margaret, the daughter of Henry VII. of
England, and James V. of Scotland ; after
hostilities between the two nations began to
be interrupted by long intervals, and the ge-
nius of both to tend to peace and concili-
ation, there was not a fpot in the whole ex-
tent of Scotland that fo naturally invited the
prefence of the King and the Court, as Stir-
O 2 ling.

( 212 )

liiig. It is ftill more centrical to the iiland
than Scone : and the fanctity of a monaftery
was not ill exchanged for the ftrength of a
fortrefs. From the lofty battlements of
Stirling-Caflle, the royal eye furveyed with
pride the bold out-lines of an unconquered
kingdom. The Grampians, the Ochills, the
Pentland-Hills, conveyed a juft idea of its na-
tural ftrength : the whole courfe of the
Forth, with his tributary rivers, from their
fource in the Highlands, near Loch- Lomond,
winding through Perth-fhire, and wafhing the
fhores of Clackmannan and Fife on the
north, and thofe of Stirling-fliire, Linlith-

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 9 of 16)