We now entered the shire of Air, full north from the mull of Galloway, and as before, we coasted the south Bay or Firth of Solway, parting England from Scotland; now we coasted the Firth or Sea of Clyde, which, for above sixty miles lies on the west side the shore, standing away north east from the point of the mull, or north Point of Galloway: The shire of Air is divided into three parts, Carrick, Kyle, and Cunningham.
Carrick is a more fruitful and better cultivated country than Galloway, and not so mountainous; but it is not quite so rich in cattle, and especially, not in sheep, or horses. There is no considerable port in this part of the country, yet, the people begin to trade here, and they are (particularly on the coast) great fishermen, and take abundance of fish, but not merchants to carry it abroad; sometimes they are employed by the merchants at Glasgow, and other places, to catch herrings for them. Balgony is the chief town, but tho' it stands on the coast, it has no harbour, and is a poor decayed town; the market is good, because there are many gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and the coast near it is full of people, the houses are mean, and low, and very coarse: The family of Kennedy, Earls of Cassells, are lords of great part of the country, and has a good ancient seat farther north, but we did not go to it; the late Earl of Kenmure had some interest here, but, as the family was much sunk in fortune, so, both what was left here, and in Galloway, is gone, and the honour extinct in the last earl, who being beheaded for the late rebellion, Ann. 1716. left nothing behind him worth naming in this country.
Corning to the north bounds of Carrick, we passed the River Dun, upon a bridge of one arch, the largest I ever saw, much larger than the Rialto at Venice, or the middle arch of the great bridge at York; we find many such in this country, though, I think none so very wide, except a bridge between Glasgow and Sterling; which, indeed, I did not measure, though we might have done it, there being then no water in the river. But this the people assured us, was almost thirty yards in diameter, which, as I take it, is thirteen foot wider than the Rialto.
This bridge led us into the county of Kyle, the second division of the shire of Air; and here I observed, that, contrary to what is usual, the farther north we travelled, the better, finer, and richer the country was, whereas, ordinarily the farther north we expect it to be the worse.
Kyle is much better inhabited than Carrick, as Carrick is better than Galloway; and as the soil here is better, and the country plainer and leveller, so on the banks of the river, here are abundance of gentlemen's seats, some of them well planted, tho' most of the houses are old built, that is, castle-wise, because of enemies. But now that fear is over they begin to plant, and endose after the manner of England; and the soil is also encouraging, for the land is fruitful.
Our Scotch writers tell us a long story of a great battle in this country, between King Coilus or Kylus a British king, and their Fergus I. where the former was killed, and from thence the country took his name; also another bloody battle, Ann. 1263. between King Alexander III of Scotland, and one Acho King of Norway, who came to the port of Air with a great fleet of ships, and 20,000 men on board, who, after ravaging the country, was routed, and lost both his army and 140 sail of his ships. But these Scots legends I shall say nothing to.
The capital of this country is Air, a sea-port, and as they tell us, was formerly a large city, had a good harbour, and a great trade: I must acknowledge to you, that tho' I believe it never was a city, yet it has certainly been a good town, and much bigger than it is now: At present like an old beauty, it shews the ruins of a good face; but is also apparently not only decayed and declined, but decaying and declining every day, and from being the fifth town in Scotland, as the townsmen say, is now like a place so saken; the reason of its decay, is, the decay of its trade, so true is it, that commerce is the life of nations, of cities towns, harbours, and of the whole prosperity of a country: What the reason of the decay of trade here was, or when it first began to decay, is hard to determine; nor are the people free to tell, and, perhaps, do not know themselves. There is a good river here, and a handsome stone bridge of four arches.
The town is well situated, has a very large ancient church, and has still a very good market for all sorts of provision. But nothing will save it from death, if trade does not revive, which the townsmen say it begins to do since the Union.
From Air, keeping still north, we came to Irwin, upon a river of the same name; there is a port, but barred and difficult, and not very good, when you are in; and yet, here is more trade by a great deal than at Air; nay, than at all the ports between it and Dumfries, exclusive of the last; particularly here is a considerable trade for Scots coal, of which they have plenty in the neighbouring hills, and which they carry by sea to Ireland, to Belfast, to Carickfergus, and to Dublin itself, and the commerce occasioned by this navigation between the two countries is very considerable, and much to the advantage of the town of Irwin. They have also of late, as I was told, launched into a considerable trade abroad to other countries, and have some share in the fishery: but this I cannot come into the particulars of here. The town is the capital of that division of the shire of Ayre, which they call Cunningham, and is really within the Firth of Clyde, though not actually within the river itself; they stand so advantagiously for the herring fishing, that they cannot but go beyond their neighbours of Greenock, who sometimes cannot come out as the wind may blow, when the fishing-boats of Irwin can both go out and return.
As the town is better employed in trade than the other parts I have been speaking of, so it is better built: Here are two handsome streets, a good key, and not only room in the harbour for a great many ships, but a great many ships in it also; and, in a word, a face of thriving appears every where among them.
As is the town, so is the country in which it is situated; for when we came hither, we thought ourselves in England again. Here we saw no more a Galloway, where you have neither hedge or tree, but about the gentlemen's houses; whereas here you have beautiful enclosures, pleasant pastures, and grass grounds, and consequently store of cattle well fed and provided.
The whole country is rich and fruitful, filled with gentlemen's seats and well-built houses: It is said this enclosing the country was owing to the English soldiers, who were placed here and in Kyle by Oliver Cromwell; for at Ayre he built a citadel, the visible appearances of which remain still, and the English soldiers prompted and encouraged the people to endose and improve their lands, and instructed them in the manner of husbandry practised in England, which they have never left off to this day.
A little from Irwin is Kilmarnock castle, the seat of the family of Boyed, Earl of Kilmarnock; and on the other side the castle of Eglington, the seat of the family of Montgomery, Earl of Eglington, an ancient house; and the present Earl is one of the richest peers in Scotland. Just upon the borders of this county, north east, and where it joins to Clydsdale, is the castle of Loudon, the family-seat of the Earl of Loudon, of the family of Campbell, formerly Secretary of State to Queen Anne; it is a noble and beautiful seat.
But I cannot describe houses: they come too thick upon me; besides, in a country, as this is, full of noblemen's and gentlemen's seats, I should never travel any farther if I did, I mean in this volume.
With the division of Cunningham I quitted the shire of Ayre, and the pleasantest country in Scotland, without exception: Joining to it north, and bordering on the Clyde itself, I mean the river, lyes the little shire of Renfrew, or rather a barony, or a sheriffdom, call it as you will.
It is a pleasant, rich, and populous, tho' small country, lying on the south bank of the Clyde; the soil is not thought to be so good as in Cunningham: But that is abundantly supplyed by the many good towns, the neighbourhood of Glasgow, and of the Clyde, and great commerce of both. We kept our rout as near along the coast as we could, from Irwin so that we saw all the coast of the Firth of Clyde, and the very opening of the Clyde itself, which is just at the west point, or corner of this county, for it comes to a narrow point just in that place. There are some villages and fishing towns within the mouth of the Clyde, which have more business than large port towns in Galloway and Carrick: But the first town of note is called Greenock; 'tis not an ancient place, but seems to be grown up in later years, only by being a good road for ships, and where the ships ride that come into, and go out from Glasgow, just as the ships for London do in the downs. It has a castle to command the road and the town is well built, and has many rich trading families in it. It is the chief town on the west of Scotland for the herring fishing; and the merchants of Glasgow, who are concerned in the fishery, employ the Greenock vessels for the catching and curing the fish, and for several parts of their other trades, as well as carrying them afterwards abroad to market.
Their being ready on all hands to go to sea, makes the Glasgow merchants often leave their ships to the care of those Greenock men; and why not? for they are sensible they are "their best seamen; they are also excellent pilots for those difficult seas.
The Abbey of Pasely is famous in history, and to history I refer the enquirer; it lyes on the west side of the Clyde, over against Glasgow, the remains of the building are to be seen, and the town bears still the marks of being fortifyed. When I tell you this was one of the most eminent monasteries in Scotland; that the building was of a vast extent, and the revenue in proportion; you need not ask if the soil was good, the lands rich, the air healthful, and the country pleasant. The priests very seldom failed to chuse the best situation, and the richest and most pleasant part of the country wherever they came; witness St. Albans, St. Edmond's-Bury, Glastenbury, Canterbury; and innumerable other instances in England, and also many in Scotland; as St. Andrew's, Haly-Rood, Pasely, and others.
The country between Pasely and Glasgow, on the bank of Clyde, I take to be one of the most agreeable places in Scotland, take its situation, its fertility, healthiness, the nearness of Glasgow, the neighbourhood of the sea, and altogether, at least, I may say, I saw none like it.
I am now come to the bank of Clyde: My method here as in England, forbids me wandring north, till I have given you a full view of the south. Two rivers seem to cross Scotland here, as the Trent and the Mersee, cross England in the south, or as the Tyne and the Eden cross it in the north, or as the two Calders cross it in Yorkshire and Lancashire, which rise both out of the same hill, and with a mile of each other, and run one into the German ocean at Hull, and the other entring first into the Ribble, runs into the Irish Sea below Preston.
Thus the Clyde and the Tweed may be said to cross Scotland in the south, their sources being not many miles asunder; and the two firths, from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth, have not an interval of above twelve or fourteen miles, which, if they were joined, as might easily be done, they might cross Scotland, as I might say, in the very center.
Nor can I refrain mentioning how easy a work it would be to form a navigation, I mean a navigation of art from the Forth to the Clyde, and so join the two seas, as the King of France has done in a place five times as far, and five hundred times as difficult, namely from Thouloze to Narbonne. What an advantage in commerce would this be, opening the Irish trade to the merchants of Glasgow, making a communication between the west coast of Scotland, and the east coast of England, and even to London itself; nay, several ports of England, on the Irish Sea, from Liverpool northward, would all trade with London by such a canal, it would take up a volume by itself, to lay down the several advantages to the trade of Scotland, that would immediately occur by such a navigation, and then to give a true survey of the ground, the easiness of its being performed, and the probable charge of it, all which might be done: But it is too much to undertake here, it must lye till posterity, by the rising greatness of their commerce, shall not only feel the want of it, but find themselves able for the performance.
I mentioned the neighbouring situation of the Clyde, and the Forth in this place, only to observe that I make that line the bound of this circuit, and shall speak of nothing beyond it till my next. Supposing a line drawn from Dunbarton to Sterling, exclusive of the first, and inclusive of the last; or rather suppose it drawn from Glasgow to Sterling, inclusive of both, because both relate to the south or lowland part of Scotland.
I am now crossed the Clyde to Glasgow, and I went over dry-footed without the bridge; on which occasion I cannot but observe how differing a face the river presented itself in, at those two several times when only I was there; at the first, being in the month of June, the river was so low, that not the horses and carts only passed it just above the bridge, but the children and boys playing about, went every where, as if there was no river, only some little spreading brook, or wash, like such as we have at Enfield-Wash, or Chelston-Wash in Middlesex; and, as I told you, we crossed it dry-foot, that is, the water was scarce over the horses' hoofs.
As for the bridge, which is a lofty, stately fabrick; it stood out of the water as naked as a skeleton, and looked somewhat like the bridge over the Mansanares, near Madrid, which I mentioned once before; of which a French ambassador told the people the king should either buy them a river, or sell their bridge, or like the stone-bridge at Chester in the Street, in Northumberland, where the road goes in the river, and the people ride under the bridge in dry weather instead of riding over it. So when I saw such a magnificent bridge at Glasgow, and especially when I saw three of the middle arches so exceeding large and high, beyond all the rest, I could not but wonder, hardly thinking it possible, that where the passage or channel is so exceeding broad, for the bridge consists of eight arches; the river, which in its ordinary channel is so narrow as it is higher up, and at a distance from it, could ever fill up such a height, where it has so grand a space to spread itself as at the bridge.
But my next journey satisfyed me, when coming into Glasgow from the east side, I found the river not only had filled up all the arches of the bridge, but, running about the end of it, had filled the streets of all that part of the city next the bridge, to the infinite damage of the inhabitants, besides putting them into the greatest consternation imaginable, for fear of their houses being driven away by the violence of the water, and the whole city was not without apprehensions that their bridge would have given way too, which would have been a terrible loss to them, for 'tis as fine a bridge as most in Scotland.
Glasgow is, indeed, a very fine city; the four principal streets are the fairest for breadth, and the finest built that I have ever seen in one city together. The houses are all of stone, and generally equal and uniform in height, as well as in front; the lower story generally stands on vast square dorick columns, not round pillars, and arches between give passage into the shops, adding to the strength as well as beauty of the building; in a word, 'tis the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted.
It stands on the side of a hill, sloping to the river, with this exception, that the part next the river is flat, as is said above, for near one third part of the city, and that exposed it to the water, upon the extraordinary flood mentioned just now.
Where the streets meet, the crossing makes a spacious marketplace by the nature of the thing, because the streets are so large of themselves. As you come down the hill, from the north gate to the said cross, the Tolbooth, with the Stadhouse, or Guild-Hall, make the north east angle, or, in English, the right-hand corner of the street, the building very noble and very strong, ascending by large stone steps, with an iron balustrade. Here the town-council sit, and the magistrates try causes, such as come within their cognizance, and do all their publick business.
On the left-hand of the same street is the university, the building is the best of any in Scotland of the kind; it was founded by Bishop Turnbull, Ann. 1454. but has been much enlarged since, and the fabrick almost all new built. It is a very spacious building, contains two large squares, or courts, and the lodgings for the scholars, and for the professors, are very handsome; the whole building is of freestone, very high and very august. Here is a principal, with regents and professors in every science, as there is at Edinburgh, and the scholars wear gowns, which they do not at Edinburgh. Their gowns here are red, but the Masters of Arts, and professors, wear black gowns, with a large cape of velvet to distinguish them.
The cathedral is an ancient building, and has a square tower in the middle of the cross, with a very handsome spire upon it, the highest that I saw in Scotland, and, indeed, the only one that is to be called high. This, like St. Giles's at Edinburgh, is divided now, and makes three churches, and, I suppose, there is four or five more in the city, besides a meeting or two: But there are very few of the episcopal dissenters here; and the mob fell upon one of their meetings so often, that they were obliged to lay it down, or, if they do meet, 'tis very privately.
The Duke of Montrose has so great an interest here, and in the country round, that he is, in a civil sense, Governor of this city, as he is legally of their university. His fine house at the north end of the city is not finished, so I need not enter upon a description of it. As his Grace's family is ancient, and respected very much in these parts, so is his interest preserved in his own person, who is generally as much respected by the people as most, if not as any of the nobility of Scotland.
Glasgow is a city of business; here is the face of trade, as well foreign as home trade; and, I may say, 'tis the only city in Scotland, at this time, that apparently encreases and improves in both. The Union has answered its end to them more than to any other part of Scotland, for their trade is new formed by it; and, as the Union opened the door to the Scots in our American colonies, the Glasgow merchants presently fell in with the opportunity; and tho', when the Union was making, the rabble of Glasgow made the most formidable attempt to prevent it, yet, now they know better, for they have the greatest addition to their trade by it imaginable; and I am asssured that they send near fifty sail of ships every year to Virginia, New England, and other English colonies in America, and are every year increasing.
Could this city but have a communication with the Firth of Forth, so as to send their tobacco and sugar by water to Alloway, below Sterling, as they might from thence again to London, Holland, Hambrough, and the Baltick, they would, (for ought I know that should hinder it) in a few years double their trade, and send 100 sail, or more.
The share they have in the herring-fishery is very considerable, and they cure their herrings so well, and so much better than is done in any other part of Great Britain; that a Glasgow herring is esteemed as good as a Dutch herring, which in England they cannot come up to.
As Scotland never enjoyed a trade to the English plantations till since the Union, so no town in Scotland has yet done any thing considerable in it but Glasgow: the merchants of Edinburgh have attempted it; but they lye so out of the way, and the voyage is not only so much the longer, but so much more hazardous, that the Glasgow men are always sure to outdo them, and must consequently carry away that part of trade from them, as likewise the trade to the south, and to the Mediterranean, whither the ships from Glasgow go and come again with great advantage in the risk, so that even in the insuring there is one per cent, difference, which is a great article in the Business of a merchant.
The Glasgow merchants have of late suffered some scandal in this branch of trade, as if they were addicted to the sin of smuggling; as to that, of others, for want of opportunity, are not in capacity to do the same, let those who are not guilty, or would not, if they had room for it, throw the first stone at them; for my part I accuse none of them.
The Clyde is not navigable for large ships quite up to the town, but they come to a wharf and key at New-Port Glasgow, which is within a very little of it, and there they deliver their cargoes, and either put them on shore there, or bring them up to the city in lighters: the custom-house also is at Port Glasgow, and their ships are repaired, laid up, fitted out, and the like, either there or at Greenock, where work is done well, and labour cheap.
I have not time here to enlarge upon the home trade of this city, which is very considerable in many things, I shall only touch at some parts of them:
- Here is one or two very handsome sugar-baking houses, carried on by skilful persons, with large stocks, and to a very great degree: I had the curiosity to view one of the houses, and I think it equal to, if not exceeding most in London. Also there is a large distillery for distilling spirits from the molasses drawn from the sugars, and which they called Glasgow brandy, and in which they enjoyed a vast advantage for a time, by a reserved article in the Union, freeing them from the English duties, I say for a time.
- Here is a manufacture of plaiding, a stuff cross-striped with yellow and red, and other mixtures for the plaids or vails, which the ladies in Scotland wear, and which is a habit peculiar to the country.
- Here is a manufacture of muslins, and, perhaps the only manufacture of its kind in Britain, if not in Europe; and they make them so good and so fine, that great quantities of them are sent into England, and sold there at a good price; they are generally striped, and are very much used for aprons by the ladies, and sometimes in head-clothes by the English women of a meaner sort, and many of them are sent to the British plantations.
- Here is also a linnen manufacture; but as that is in common with all parts of Scotland, I do not insist so much upon it here, though they make a very great quantity of it, and send it to the plantations also as a principal merchandise.
Nor are the Scots without a supply of goods for sorting their cargoes to the English colonies, even without sending to England for them, or at least not for many of them; and 'tis needful to mention it here, because it has been objected by some that understood trade too, that the Scots could not send a sortable cargo to America without buying from England; which goods, so bought from, must come through many hands, and by long carriage, and consequently be dear bought, and so the English merchants might undersell them.
But to answer this in the language of merchants, as it is a merchant-like objection: It may be true, that some things cannot be had here so well as from England, so as to make out a sortable cargo, such as the Virginia merchants in London ship off, whose entries at the Custom-house consist sometimes of 200 particulars; and they are at last fain to sum them up thus: certain tin, turnery, millinary, upholdstery, cutlery, and Crooked-Lane wares; that is to say, that they buy something of every thing, either for wearing, or kitchen, or house-furniture, building houses or ships (with every thing else in short) that can be thought of, except eating.
But though the Scots cannot do this, we may reckon up what they can furnish, and what is sufficient, and some of which they can go beyond England in.
- They have several woollen manufactures which they send' of their own making; such as the Sterling serges, Musclebrow stuffs, Aberdeen stockings, Edinburgh shalloons, blankets, &. So that they are not quite destitute in the woollen manufacture, tho' that is the principal thing in which England can outdo them.
- The trade with England, being open, they have now, all the Manchester wares, Sheffield wares, and Newcastle hard wares; as also the cloths, kerseys, half-thicks, duffels, stockings, and coarse manufactures of the north of England, as cheap brought to them by horse-packs as they can be carried to London; nor is the carriage farther, and, in some articles, not so far by much.
- They have linnens of most kinds, especially diapers and table-linnen, damasks, and many other sorts not known in England, cheaper than England, because made at their own doors.
- What linnens they want from Holland, or Hamburgh, they import from thence as cheap as can be done in England; and for muslins, their own are very acceptable, and cheaper than in England.
- Gloves they make better and cheaper than in England, for they send great quantities thither.
- Another article, which is very considerable here, is servants, and these they have in greater plenty, and upon better terms than the English; without the scandalous art of kidnapping, making drunk, wheedling, betraying, and the like; the poor people offering themselves fast enough, and thinking it their advantage to go; as indeed it is, to those who go with sober resolutions, namely, to serve out their times, and then become diligent planters for themselves; and this would be a much wiser course in England than to turn thieves, and worse, and then be sent over by force, and as a pretence of mercy to save them from the gallows.
This may be given as a reason, and, I believe, is the only reason why so many more of the Scots servants, which go over to Virginia, settle and thrive there, than of the English, which is so certainly true, that if it goes on for many years more. Virginia may be called a Scots than an English plantation.
I might go on to many other particulars, but this is sufficient to shew that the Scots merchants are at no loss how to make up sortable cargoes to send with their ships to the plantations, and that if we can outdo them in some things, they are able to outdo us in others; if they are under any disadvantages in the trade I am speaking of, it is that they may perhaps, not have so easy a vent and consumption for the goods they bring back, as the English have, at London, or Bristol, or Liverpool; and that is the reason why they are now, as they say, setting up a wharf and conveniences at Alloway in the Forth, in order to send their tobaccos and sugars thither by land-carriage, and ship them off there for Holland, or Hamburgh, or London, as the market presents.
Now, though this may be some advantage: carrying the tobacco from fourteen to fifteen miles over land; yet, if on the other hand it be calculated how much sooner the voyage is made from Glasgow to the capes of Virginia, than from London, take it one time with another, the difference will be found in the freight, and in the expence of the ships, and especially in time of war, when the channel is thronged with privateers, and when the ships wait to go in fleets for fear of enemies; whereas the Glasgow men are no sooner out of the Firth of Clyde, but they stretch away to the north west, are out of the wake of the privateers immediately, and are oftentimes at the capes of Virginia before the London ships get clear of the channel. Nay, even in times of peace, and take the weather to happen in its usual manner, there must always be allowed, one time with another, at least fourteen to twenty days difference in the voyage, either out or home; which, take it together, is a month to six weeks in the whole voyage, and for wear and tear; victuals and wages, is very considerable in the whole trade.
I went from Glasgow to the palace of Hamilton, or as we should call it in England, to Hamilton-house: It is the palace of Hamilton, and the palace at Hamilton, for the family is according to the Scots dialect, Hamilton of that Ilk, that is of a place or town of the same name, for the town of Hamilton joins to the outhouses, or offices of the house of Hamilton. The house is large as it is, tho' part of the design is yet unfinished; it is now a fair front, with two wings, two wings more there are laid out in the ichnography of the building, but are not attempted; the successor if he thinks fit, may build them.
The front is very magnificent indeed, all of white freestone, with regular ornaments according to the rules of art: The wings are very deep, and when the other wings come to be added, if ever that shall be, the two sides of the house will then be like two large fronts rather than wings; not unlike Beddington House, near Croydon in Surrey, only much larger.
The apartments are very noble, and fit rather for the court of a prince than the palace or house of a subject; the pictures, the furniture, and the decoration of every thing is not to be described, but by saying that every thing is exquisitely fine and suitable to the genius of the great possessors: the late duchess, whose estate it was, was heiress of the family, but marrying a branch of the house of Douglass, obliged him to take the name of Hamilton, so to continue the estate in the name; and it has sufficiently answered that end. That match being blest with a truly glorious succession of six sons, four of whom were peers by birth, or creation: the late Duke, or rather Earl of Arran, his mother being alive, the Earls of Orkney, Selkirk, and Ruglen, besides the Lords Basil and Archibald Hamilton. But this by the way.
The situation of the house is fixed to all the advantage imaginable; it stands in a plain, level country, near enough to the banks of the Clyde to enjoy the prospect of its stream, and yet far enough and high enough to be out of the reach of its torrents and floods, which, as you have heard, are sometimes able to terrify a whole city.
The great park is said to be six miles in circumference, walled round with stone, but rough, and not well layed; the lesser park is rather a great enclosure than a park, yet they are both extremely well planted with trees, and add to the ornament of the whole. The great park also is well stocked with deer, and among them some very curious for the kind, whether natives of the place, or of foreign breed, I could not learn. The gardens are finely designed, but I cannot say they are so finely finished, or so nicely kept as those at Drumlanrig, particularly the courtyard; the canals and ponds, designed with some other gardens laid out in the first plan, are not compleated, and some not so much as begun upon: so that the next heirs have room enough to divert themselves, and dispose of some of their spare treasure, to carry on and compleat the true design of their ancestor.
The misfortune of the late heir, the father of the present duke, happened so, as that he never came to the estate, for he was killed before the Duchess Dowager died; so that the estate, as I observed, being her own, remained in her hands till afterward; whether this might not be the better for the present heir, I shall not determine, let others judge of that.
I was here in some doubt, whether I should take the south or the north in the next part of my progress; that is to say, whether to follow up the Clyde, and so into, and through Clydesdale, and then crossing east, view the shire of Peebles, the country on the banks of Tweed and Tivyot, or keeping to the north, go on for the Forth; and after a short debate we concluded on the latter. So we turned to the left for Sterling-shire, and passing the Clyde we came to Kilsyth, a good plain country burgh, tolerably well built, but not large; here we rested, and upon a particular occasion went to see the ancient seat of Calendar, which seems, as well as that of Kilsyth, to be in its widow's weeds, those two families, collateral branches both of the name of Livingston, having had their several decays, though on different occasions. The town of Falkirk is near Calendar house, but nothing in it remarkable; but the other old decayed house of the Earl of Calendar.
Here I must take notice, though, as I have often said, antiquity is not my business, that we saw the remains, and that very plain, of the ancient work, which they call Severus's wall, or Hadrian's wall, or Graham's dyke, for it is known by all these: the short of which story is this; that the Romans finding it not only difficult, but useless to them, to conquer the northern Highlands, and impossible to keep them, if conquered; contented themselves to draw a line, so we now call it, cross this narrow part of the country, and fortify it with redoubts, and stations of soldiers to confine the Picts and Irish, and those wild nations which were without, and defend the south country from their incursions. This wall reached from Dunbriton Firth, so they called the Firth of Clyde, to the Forth, and was several times restored and repaired, till the Roman empire's declining, as is well known in story. Tho' neither this, or the yet stronger wall at New-castle, called the Picts wall, could preserve the country from the invasion of the Picts, and the barbarous nations that came with them.
From Kilsyth we mounted the hills black and frightful as they were, to find the road over the moors and mountains to Sterling, and being directed by our guides, came to the river Carron: The channel of a river appeared, indeed, and running between horrid precipices of rocks, as if cut by hand, on purpose for the river to make its way; but not a drop of water was to be seen. Great stones, square and formed, as if cut out by hand, of a prodigious size, some of them at least a ton, or ton and a half in weight, lay scattered, and confusedly, as it were, jumbled together in the very course of the river, which the fury of the water, at other times, I doubt not, had hurried down from the mountains, and tumbled them thus over one another: Some of them might, I suppose, have been some ages upon their journey down the stream; for it may not be once in some years that a flood comes with a force sufficient to move such stones as those; and, 'tis probable, 'tis never done, but when a weight of ice, as well as water, may come down upon them together.
Here we passed another bridge of one arch, though not quite so large as that we saw in Galloway, yet not much unlike, nor much short of it; 'tis finely built of freestone, but rises so high, the shores being flat, and the walls on either side are so low, that it is not every head can bear to ride over it.
The truth is, there was need to build the bridge but with one arch, for no piers, they could have built in the middle of the channel, ever could have born the shock of those great stones, which sometimes come down this stream.
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