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fociety the characters of men are more uniform and difguifed. The human paffions lie in fome degree concealed behind forms, and artificial manners; and the powers of the foul, without an opportunity of exerting them, lofe their vigor. The times of regular government, and polished manners, are therefore to be wished for by the feeble and weak in mind. An unfettled ftate, and those convulfions which attend it, is the proper field for an exalted character, and the exertion of great parts. Merit there rifes always fuperior; no fortuitous event can raife the timid and mean into power. To those who look upon antiquity in this light, it is an agreeable profpect; and they alone can have real pleasure in tracing nations to their fource.
THE eftablishment of the Celtic ftates, in the north of Europe, is beyond the reach of their written annals. The traditions and fongs to which they trusted their history, were loft, or altogether corrupted in their revolutions, and migrations, which were fo frequent and univerfal, that no kingdom in Europe is now poffeffed by its original inhabitants. Societies were formed, and kingdoms erected, from a mixture of nations, who, in procefs of time, loft 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 thefe among the mountains and inacceffible parts of a
country places, on account of their barrenness, uninviting to an enemy, or whofe natural strength enabled the natives to repel invafions. Such are the inhabitants of the mountains of Scotland. We, accordingly, find, that they differ materially from those who poffefs the low and more fertile and of the kingdom. Their language is pure part original, and their manners are those of an antient and unmixed race of men. Confcious of their own antiquity, they long defpifed others, as a new and mixed people. As they lived in a country only fit for pasture, they were free of that toil and bufinefs, which engrofs the attention of a commercial people. Their amusement confifted in hearing or repeating their fongs and traditions, and thefe 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 regarded, in fo far as they co-incide with cotemporary writers of undoubted credit and veracity.
No writers began their accounts from a more early period, than the hiftorians of the Scots nation. Without records, or even tradition itself, they give a long lift of antient kings, and a detail of their tranfactions, with a fcrupulous exactnefs. One might naturally fuppofe, that, when they had no authentic annals, they fhould, at least, have recourse to the traditions of their country, and have
reduced them into a regular fyftem of history. Of both they seem to have been equally deftitute. Born in the low country, and ftrangers to the ancient language of their nation, they contented themfelves with copying from one another, and retailing the fame fictions, in a new colour and dress,
JOHN FORDUN was the first who collected those fragments of the Scots hiftory, which had escaped the brutal policy of Edward I. and reduced them into order. His accounts, in fo far as they concerned recent tranfactions, deferved credit: beyond a certain period, they were fabulous and unfatisfactory. 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 æra. Fordun, poffeffed 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 of the times, was reckoned the first habitation of the Scots. He found, there, that the Irish bards had carried their pretenfions to antiquity as high, if not beyond any nation in Europe. It was from them he took those improbable fictions, which form the first part of his hiftory.
THE writers that fucceeded Fordun implicitly followed his fyftem, though they fometimes varied from him in their relations of particular tranfactions, and the order of fucceffion of their kings.
As they had no new lights, and were, equally with him, unacquainted with the traditions of their country, their hiftories contain little information concerning the origin of the Scots. Even Buchanan himself, except the elegance and vigour of his ftile, has very little to recommend him. Blinded with political prejudices, he feemed more anxious to turn the fictions of his predeceffors to his own purposes, than to detect their mifrepresentations, or investigate truth amidst the darkness which they had thrown round it. It therefore appears, that little can be collected from their own hiftorians, concerning the firft migration of the Scots into Britain.
THAT this ifland was peopled from Gaul admits of no doubt. Whether colonies came afterwards from the north of Europe is a matter of meer fpeculation. 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 thofe Gauls, who poffeffed themselves originally of Britain. It is compounded of two Celtic words, Caël fignifying Celts, or Gauls, and Dun or Don, a bill; fo that Caël-don, or Caledonians, is as much as to fay, the Celts of the bill country. The Highlanders, to this day, call themselves Caël, their language Caëlic, or Galic, and their country Caëldoch, which the Romans foftened into Caledonia. This, of itfelf, is fufficient to demonftrate, that they are the genuine defcendents of the antient Caledonians, and
not a pretended colony of Scots, who fettled firft in the north, in the third or fourth century.
FROM the double meaning of the word Caël, which fignifies strangers, as well as Gauls, or Celts, fome 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, fay they, is fupported by Tacitus, who, from feveral circumstances, concludes, that the Caledonians were of German extraction. A discussion of a point so intricate, at this distance of time, could neither be fatisfactory nor important.
TOWARDS the latter end of the third, and begin ning of the fourth century, we meet with the Scots St. Hie- in the north. Porphyrius makes the first mention rom. ad of them about that time. As the Scots were not
Ctesiphon. heard of before that period, moft writers fuppofed
them to have been a colony, newly come to Britain, and that the Pias were the only genuine defcendents of the antient Caledonians. This mistake is easily removed. The Caledonians, in process of time, became naturally divided into two distinct nations, as poffeffing parts of the country, intirely different in their nature and foil. The western coaft of Scotland is hilly and barren; towards the east the country is plain, and fit for tillage. The inhabitants of the mountains, a roving and uncontrouled race of men, lived by feeding of cattle, and what they killed in hunting. Their employ