The description of History of Scotland
1. The Country.—The northern part of Great Britain is now called Scotland, but it was not called so till the Scots, a Celtic people, came over from Ireland and gave their name to it. The Romans who first mention it in history speak of it as Caledonia. There are two points in which the history of this country and of the people who live in it is unlike the history of most of the other countries and nations of Europe. Firstly, it never was taken into the great Roman Empire; and secondly in it we find a Celtic people who, instead of disappearing before the Teutons, held their ground against them so well that in the end the Teutons were called by the name of the Celtic people, were ruled by the Celtic kings, [Pg 2] and fought for the independence of the Celtic kingdom as fiercely as if they had themselves been of the Celtic race. But the whole of the country is not of the same nature. The northern part is so nearly cut off from the rest of Britain by the two great Firths of Forth and Clyde as to form almost a separate island, and this peninsula is again divided into Highlands and Lowlands. Speaking roughly, we may say that all the west is Highland and the east Lowland. A range of mountains sweeping in a semicircle from the Firth of Clyde to the mouth of the Dee, known as Drumalbyn or the Mount, may be taken as the line of separation, though the Lowlands extend still further north along the eastern coast. The marked differences between these two districts have had a very decided influence on the character of the inhabitants, and consequently on the national development. The Lowlands are well watered and fertile, and the people who lived there were peaceable and industrious, and both on the seaboard and inland there is early notice of the existence of populous and thriving towns. The Highlands, on the contrary, are made up of lakes, moors, and barren hills, whose rocky summits are well-nigh inaccessible, and whose heath-clad sides are of little use even as pasture. Even in the glens between the mountains, where alone any arable land is to be found, the crops are poor, the harvest late and uncertain, and vegetation of any kind very scanty. The western coast is cut up into numberless islets, and the coast-line is constantly broken by steep jagged promontories jutting out seaward, or cut by long lochs, up which the sea runs far into the land between hills rising almost as bare and straight as walls on either side. In the Highlands even in the present day there are no towns of any importance, for the difficulty of access by land and the dangers of the coast have made commerce well-nigh impossible. The Highlanders, who were discouraged by the barrenness of [Pg 3] their native mountains, where even untiring industry could only secure a bare maintenance, and tempted by the sight of prosperity so near them, found it a lighter task to lift the crops and cattle of their neighbour than to rear their own, and have at all times been much given to pillaging the more fortunate Lowlanders, of whom they were the justly dreaded scourge.