As I entered the east side of Scotland from Berwick upon Tweed, and have carryed on my accounts through the Louthians, which are deservedly called the best and most pleasant, as well as most fruitful part of Scotland; and therein have also given you my observations of the capital city and port of the kingdom, I mean Edinburgh and Leith: So the west part having been travelled over by me at another particular journey from England; and that I went from England by another road, I shall give you my account of it also by itself.
Passing the River Eden, or (as it is ordinarily called) the Solway Firth at Carlisle, we entered upon Scotland, on the side of Dumfries-shire, the southmost shire of the west of Scotland. The division of this county into Eskdale, Nithsdale, and Annandale, is but the ordinary marking out the rivers Esk, Annan, and Nid, as I observed of the rivers in the north of England, Tweedale, Tyndale, Swale Dale, and others; for the whole province makes but one Dumfries-shire, and as such you will understand it as I go on.
The Esk is a tolerable large river, and gives name to the south-east part of this county; but we saw little worth notice but Kirsop, a small market town on a river of the same name, which afterwards falls into Esk, and is famous for being the place where, by a treaty, after the battle of Pinkey, the limits or borders of the two kingdoms were settled; though the borderers observed it no longer than served for their purpose, robbing and plundering one another upon all occasions, as opportunity offered.
This river soon after leaves Scotland, and runs into the English border, leaving nothing behind it worth my trouble of remarking, or yours of reading, only to tell you it empties itself into the Solway Firth, which indeed receives all the rivers on this part of the island, as well from England as from Scotland.
The first place of note we came to in Scotland was Annand, or as some call it, Annandale, as they do the county, though, I think, improperly. It was a town of note, and a sea-port, and having a good river and harbour, was esteemed a town of good trade; but it was not situated for strength; and the English took it so often, and specially the last time burnt it to the ground, in that war so fatal to the Scots, in the reign of Edward VI. that it never recovered. Here was a good salmon fishery, and a trade to the Isle of Man, and by that to Ireland: But as the face of trade is altered since that time, and by the ruins of the place the merchants, and men of substance, removed to Dumfries, the town continues, to all appearance, in a state of irrevocable decay.
It was but a dull welcome into Scotland to see, not only by this town, that the remains of the old devastations, committed in the time of the hostilities between the two nations, were so visible, so unrepaired, and, as we might say, so likely to continue unrepaired; whereas, tho' there are remains also on the English side, yet, not so plain, and in many places things much restored, and in a way to be more so: But the poverty of the common people, and the indolence of the gentry, will fully account for the difference. The bridge over the river at Annand is very firm and good, and there is a tolerable good market.
From hence, keeping the sea as close as we could on our left, we went on due west to Dumfries, a sea-port town at the mouth of the River Nid, or Nith, which gives name to the third division of the county called Nithsdale; but the town is justly the capital of the whole shire, and indeed, of all the south-west part of Scotland.
Here, indeed, as in some other ports on this side the island, the benefits of commerce, obtained to Scotland by the Union, appear visible; and that much more than on the east side, where they seem to be little, if any thing mended, I mean in their trade.
Dumfries was always a good town, and full of merchants. By merchants, here I mean, in the sense that word is taken and understood in England i.e. not mercers and drapers, shopkeepers, etc. but merchant-adventurers, who trade to foreign parts, and employ a considerable number of ships. But if this was so before, it is much more so now; and as they have (with success) embarked in trade, as well to England as to the English plantations, they apparently encrease both in shipping and people; for as it almost every where appears, where trade increases, people must and will increase; that is, they flock to the place by the necessary consequences of the trade, and, in return, where the people increase, the trade will increase, because the necessary consumption of provisions, cloaths, furniture, and necessarily increases, and with them the trade.
This is such a chain of trading consequences, that they are not to be separated; and the town of Dumfries, as well as Liverpool, Manchester, Whitehaven, and other towns in England are demonstrations of it.
This town is situated also for an increase of commerce on the River Nid, for tho' it stands near two leagues from the sea, yet the tide flows up to the town, and ships of burthen come close up to the key; but at about four miles below the town the largest merchant-ships in Britain might come up, and ride in safety.
There is a very fine stone bridge here over the River Nid; as also a castle, tho' of old work, yet still good and strong enough; also an exchange for the merchants, and a Tolbooth, or townhall for the use of the magistrates. They had formerly a woollen manufacture here: But as the Union has, in some manner, suppressed those things in Scotland, the English supplying them fully, both better and cheaper; so they have more than an equivalent by an open trade to all the English plantations, and to England itself.
The castle in this town, as well as that at Carlavrock, near the mouth of the river, and opening to the Firth of Solway, was formerly belonging to the ancient family of Nithsdale, the only remaining branch of which being unhappily embarked in the late rebellion, and taken in arms at Presten, made his escape out of the tower, and is now abroad, but under forfeiture. That last mentioned castle has been a very magnificent structure, though now, like its owner, in a state of ruin and decay.
The River Nid here parts the two counties of Galloway and Dumfries shire; and there is a gate in the middle of the bridge which is the limit between them: And this neighbourhood of Galloway, which is a great and rich province, promotes the trade of Dumfries very much.
We could not pass Dumfries without going out of the way upwards of a day, to see the castle of Drumlanrig, the fine palace of the Duke of Queensberry, which stands at twelve miles distance, upon the same river; the vale on either side the river is pleasant, and tolerably good: But when these rapid rivers overflow their banks, they do not, like Nile, or even like the Thames, and other southern streams, fatten and enrich the soil; on the contrary, they lodge so much sand and splinters of stone upon the surface of the earth, and among the roots of the grass, that spoils and beggars the soil; and the water is hurried on with such force also, as that in a good light soil it washes the best part of the earth away with it, leaving the sand and stones behind it.
Drumlanrig, like Chatsworth in Darbyshire, is like a fine picture in a dirty grotto, or like an equestrian statue set up in a barn; 'tis environed with mountains, and that of the wildest and most hideous aspect in all the south of Scotland; as particularly that of Enterkin, the frightfullest pass, and most dangerous that I met with, between that and Penmenmuir in North Wales; but of that in its place.
We were not so surprised with the height of the mountains, and the barrenness of the country beyond them, as we were with the humour of the people, who are not in this part, by many degrees, so populous, or so polished, as in the other parts of Scotland. But that which was more surprising than all the rcst, was to see a palace so glorious, gardens so fine, and every thing so truly magnificent, and all in a wild, mountainous country, the like we had not seen before; where, in a word, we saw the peak of Darby restored, the finest palace in all that part of Britain, erected under the mountains, full of lead-mines, and quarries of freestone, and where nothing, but what was desolate and dismal, could be expected, especially if you come to it by the said pass of Enterkin, or by the mountains of Cumock and Carrick, more to the north-west of the place. This was certainly a foil to the buildings, and sets them off with all possible advantage; upon which the same hand which before gave us the lines upon the waters of Buxton-Bath, being in the company, bestowed the following upon Drumlanrig Castle.
Just thus, with horrid desart hills
Was Paradise on Euphra's border placed.
The God of Harmony to grace the view,
And make the illustrations just and true,
Strong contraries presented to the eye,
And circled beauty in deformity.
The happy discord entertains the sight,
And as these shew more black, that shews more bright.
As you come to the palace from the road of Edinburgh, which is by the said pass of Enterkin, you come first to the River Nid, which is just there both broad and exceeding deep, over which there is a stately stone-bridge, built by the noble founder of the castle, I mean the first Duke of Queensberry, who built the house. The building is four-square, with roundels in the inner angles of the court, in every one of which is a stair-case, and a kind of a tower on the top. This way of building, 'tis confessed, does not seem so modern as the rest of the building; but as 'tis not seen in the front, 'tis well enough.
The house stands on the top of a rising ground, which, at its first building, lay with a steep and uncouth descent to the river, and which made the lookers-on wonder what the duke meant to build in such a disproportioned place: But he best understood d his own design; for the house "once laid out, all that unequal descent is so beautifully levelled and layed out in slopes and terrasses, that nothing can be better designed, or, indeed, better performed than the gardens are, which take up the whole south and west sides of the house; and, when the whole design will be done, the rest will be more easy, the ground being a plain the other way, and the park and avenues compleatly planted with trees.
At the extent of the gardens there are pavillions and banquetting-houses, exactly answering to one another, and the greens trimmed, spaliers and hedges are in perfection.
The inside is answerable to the outside, the apartments finely placed and richly furnished: And the gallery may well be called a gallery of beauties, itself's a beauty. And being filled from end to end, the whole length of one side of the building, with the family-pieces of the duke's ancestors, most of them at full length, and in their robes of state, or of office, as their history directed. William, the first raiser of the family, was only a knight and laird of Drumlanrig, who was sent ambassador to England, to ransome King James I at that time detained in England. He was afterwards killed on the side of the French, in the great battle of Agincourt, fighting against Henry V King of England, 1427. They were first ennobled for the real merit of their services, in the person of the first Lord of Drumlanrig, Ann. 1640. And King Charles I made the then Lord of Drumlanrig Earl of Queensberry; a title taken from Queensberry Hill, a high, round hill, in a particular lordship of the estate, and in view of the house. After the Restoration, the grandson of the earl was created marquess and duke by King Charles II.
This was the person who built the noble palace I am speaking of, who, every way, merited the honours which the prince rather loaded him with, than bestowed on him: He lyes buried in the parish church of Disdier or Didier, with a fine monument over him; but not like that lately erected for his son the late duke.
This last mentioned duke would require a history rather than a bare mention, in a work of this kind: But I have forbid myself entring far into the characters of persons and families; and therefore, tho' I think myself bound to honour the merit of so great a person, I shall sum it up all in this; that as I had the honour to be known to his Grace, so I had the opportunity to see and read by his permission, several letters written to him by the late King William, with his own hand, and several more by Queen Anne, written also by her Majesty's own hand; with such expressions of their satisfaction in his fidelity and affection to their Majesties' service, his ability and extraordinary judgment in the affairs entrusted to him; his knowledge of, and zeal for the true interest of his country, and their dependance upon his councils and conduct, that no minister of state in Europe could desire greater testimonies of his services, or a better character from his sovereign, and this from differing princes, and at the distance of several years from one another, and, to be sure, without any manner of corresponding one with the other.
That this noble person was Lord Commissioner at the time of the Union, sat in the throne at the last parliament of Scotland, and touched with the scepter the Act of Parliament, which put an end to parliaments for ever in that part of Great Britain, will always be matter of history to the end of time; whether the Scots will remember it to the advantage of the duke's character, in their opinion, that must be as their several opinions guide them.
This duke's monument, curiously done in marble at full length, is also placed in the same church at Disdier, where he is buried with his dutchess, a daughter of the house of Burlington in England.
But I dwell too long here. While I was at Drumlanrig, being desired by the late duke to make some observations on his Grace's estate there, which is very great, in order to some English improvement, I, in particular, viewed some of the hills to the north of the castle, and having a Darbyshire gentleman with us, who was thoroughly acquainted with those things, we discovered in several places evident tokens of lead-mines, such as in Darbyshire, and in Somersetshire, are said never to fail; and to confirm our opinions in it, we took up several small pieces of oar in the gulls and holes, which the rains had made in the sides of the mountains, and also of a plain sparr, such as is not found any where without the oar: But the duke's death put an end to these enquiries, as also to several other improvements then in view.
Here we were surprised with a sight, which is not now so frequent in Scotland as it has been formerly, I mean one of their field meetings, where one Mr. John Hepburn, an old Cameronian, preached to an auditory of near 7,000 people, all sitting in rows on the steep side of a green hill, and the preacher in a little pulpit made under a tent at the foot of the hill; he held his auditory, with not above an intermission of half an hour, almost seven hours; and many of the poor people had come fifteen or sixteen miles to hear him, and had all the way to go home again on foot. I shall say nothing to it, for my business is not to make remarks on such things; only this I may add, that if there was an equal zeal to this in our part of the world, and for that worship which we acknowledge to be true, and of a sacred institution, our churches would be more thronged, and our ale-houses and fields less thronged on the sabbath-day than they are now. But that also by the way.
From Drumlanrig I took a turn to see the famous pass of Enterkin, or Introkin Hill: It is, indeed, not easy to describe, but by telling you that it ascends through a winding bottom for near half a mile, and a stranger sees nothing terrible, but vast high mountains on either hand, tho' all green, and with sheep feeding on them to the very top; when, on a suddain, turning short to the left, and crossing a rill of water in the bottom, you mount the side of one of those hills, while, as you go on, the bottom in which that water runs down from between the hills, keeping its level on your right, begins to look very deep, till at length it is a precipice horrible and terrifying; on the left the hill rises almost perpendicular, like a wall; till being come about half way, you have a steep, unpassable height on the left, and a monstrous calm or ditch on your right; deep, almost as the monument is high, and the path, or way, just broad enough for you to lead your horse on it, and, if his foot slips, you have nothing to do but let go the bridle, least he pulls you with him, and then you will have the satisfaction of seeing him dashed to pieces, and lye at the bottom with his four shoes uppermost. I passed twice this hill after this, but the weather was good, and the way dry, which made it safe; but one of our company was so frighted with it, that in a kind of an ectasy, when he got to the bottom, he looked back, and swore heartily that he would never come that way again.
Indeed, there were several things this last time we passed it, which rendered it more frightful to a stranger: One was, that there had been, a few days before, a suddain frost, with a great deal of snow; and though, a little before the snow, I passed it, and there was nothing to be seen; yet then I looked down the frightful precipice, and saw no less than five horses in several places, lying at the bottom with their skins off, which had, by the slipperiness of the snow, lost their feet, and fallen irrecoverably to the bottom, where the mountaineers, who make light of the place, had found means to come at them, and get their hides off.
But that which is most remarkable of this place is yet behind, that noted story of the Whigs in the old persecuting times, in King Charles IId's time, and which I must give you a short account of, for I have not room for the whole history.
A troop of dragoons had been sent, by order of their commanding officer, to disturb a field-meeting, such a one as I just now described. These meetings were strictly forbidden at that time and the minister, if taken, was punished with death, without mercy: The poor people of this country being all what they then called Cameronians and Whigs, (for here, by the way, the word Whig began first to be known) I say, the people being zealous in their way, would, and did hold their field-meetings, notwithstanding all the prohibitions the court could make; upon which the Government quartered the dragoons upon them, with orders, on all such occasions, to disperse them, and what prisoners they took they were to carry to Edinburgh, especially their ministers. Accordingly, at this time, there was an extraordinary meeting of many thousand people, and the dragoons marched to disturb them.
As the whole country were their friends, the dragoons could not stir, but immediately notice would be taken, and the alarm given: The people at the meeting had always some stout fellows armed with fire-arms, to prevent a surprise, and they had so now, enough to have beaten off the dragoons, if they had attacked them, but as they did not covet fighting and blood, otherwise than on necessity for their own defence, and that they had now timely notice given them, they chose to break up and disperse, and they were really dispersed, when the dragoons came to the place.
However, the dragoons resolving not to lose their labour, pursued the straggling people, and ill used some of them, took others prisoners, and, among the rest, very unhappily surprised their minister, which was a booty to them; and, as soon as they had him, they marched off directly to carry him to Edinburgh, where he might depend upon being hanged.
The poor people, terribly alarmed at the loss of their minister; for no people in the world love their ministers like them; the cries of the one part animating and exasperating the other part, and a small body of those who were the guard before, but chose peaceably to separate, rather than dispute it with the dragoons, resolved to rescue their minister, whatever it cost.
They knew the dragoons would carry him to Edinburgh, and they knew, that to do so, they must necessarily go thro' this narrow pass of Interken: They were but thirteen men on foot; but being nimble fellows, and knowing the private ways perfectly well, they reached the top of the hill long before the dragoons; eight of them therefore placed themselves in the head of the narrow way, where the dragoons were coming on one by one, or at most two by two, and very softly, you may believe, by the nature of the place.
The other five sliding down from the top of the hill, on the left of the pass, placed themselves, as they found to their advantage, being resolved to speak with the troop as they came by. It was a thick mist, as is often upon those hills, (indeed seldom otherwise) so that the dragoons could not discover them, till they were within hearing, nor then, so as to know how many they were.
When the dragoons came up within hearing, one of the five boldly calls to the commander by his name, and bids him halt with his troop, and advance no farther at his peril; the captain calls out again, who are you? and what would you have? They answered, deliver our minister; the captain damned them a little, and marched on: The Cameronian called to him again with a threatning air-Will you deliver our minister? at which he replyed as loud-No, you dog, and if you were to be damned; at which the man fired immediately, and shot him thro' the heart, so that he fell from his horse, and never spoke a word, and the frighted horse, fluttering a little at the fall of his rider, fell down the precipice, and there was an end both of horse and man together.
At that very moment the eight men, at the head of the pass, shewed themselves, though at a distance, and gave a shout, which put the whole body into a panic fear; for had they fired, and the horses been put into the least confusion, half of them would have been down the precipice immediately. In short, the lieutenant that commanded next, being wiser than his captain, gave them better words, and desired them to forbear firing for a minute or two; and after a very short conference with his men (for they had no more officers to call a council of war with) resolved upon a parley, in which, upon their promising to march off and leave the pass free, they delivered their minister, and they carryed him off; and glad the dragoons were of their deliverance; for, indeed, if they had been 500 instead of 50, the thirteen men might have destroyed them all; nay, the more they had been, the more certain would have been their destruction.
But I must go back to Dumfries again, for this was but an excursion from thence, as I observed there: I resolved, before I quitted the west coast, to see all that was worth seeing on that side, and the next trip we made was into Galloway: And here, I must confess, I could not but look with grief and concern upon the country, and indeed upon the people.
Galloway, as I hinted before, begins even from the middle of the bridge of Dumfries; the first town on the coast, of any note, is Kirkubright, or, as vulgarly called, Kirkubry. It must be acknowledged this very place is a surprize to a stranger, and especially one whose business is observation, as mine was.
Here is a pleasant situation, and yet nothing pleasant to be seen. Here is a harbour without ships, a port without trade, a fishery without nets, a people without business; and, that which is worse than all, they do not seem to desire business, much less do they understand it. I believe they are very good Christians at Kirkubry, for they are in the very letter of it, they obey the text, and are contented with such things as they have. They have all the materials for trade, but no genius to it; all the oppportunities for trade, but no inclination to it. In a word, they have no notion of being rich and populous, and thriving by commerce. They have a fine river, navigable for the greatest ships to the town-key; a haven, deep as a well, safe as a mill-pond; 'tis a meer wet dock, for the little island of Ross lyes in the very entrance, and keeps off the west and north-west winds, and breaks the surge of the sea; so that when it is rough without, 'tis always smooth within. But, alas! there is not a vessel, that deserves the name of a ship, belongs to it; and, though here is an extraordinary salmon fishing, the salmon come and offer themselves, and go again, and cannot obtain the privilege of being made useful to mankind; for they take very few of them. They have also white fish, but cure none; and herrings, but pickle none. In a word, it is to me the wonder of all the towns of North-Britain; especially, being so near England, that it has all the invitations to trade that Nature can give them, but they take no notice of it. A man might say of them, that they have the Indies at their door, and will not dip into the wealth of them; a gold mine at their door, and will not dig it.
It is true, the reason is in part evident, namely, poverty; no money to build vessels, hire seamen, buy nets and materials for fishing, to cure the fish when it is catched, or to carry it to market when it is cured; and this discourages the mind, checks industry, and prevents all manner of application. People tell us, that slothfulness begets poverty, and it is true; but I must add too, that poverty makes slothfulness, and I doubt not, were two or three brisk merchants to settle at Kirkubry, who had stocks to furnish out ships and boats for these things, they would soon find the people as industrious, and as laborious as in other places; or, if they did not find them so, they would soon make them so, when they felt the benefit of it, tasted the sweet of it, had boats to fish, and merchants to buy it when brought in; when they found the money coming, they would soon work. But to bid men trade without money, labour without wages, catch fish to have them stink, when they had done, is all one as to bid them work without hands, or walk without feet; 'tis the poverty of the people makes them indolent.
Again, as the people have no hands (that is, no stock) to work, so the gentry have no genius to trade; 'tis a mechanism which they scorn; tho' their estates are not able to feed them, they will not turn their hands to business or improvement; they had rather see their sons made foot soldiers, (than which, as officers treat them now, there is not a more abject thing on earth), than see them apply to trade, nay, to merchandise, or to the sea, because those things are not (forsooth) fit for gentlemen.
In a word, the common people all over this country, not only are poor, but look poor; they appear dejected and discouraged, as if they had given over all hopes of ever being otherwise than what they are. They are, indeed, a sober, grave, religious people, and that more, ordinarily speaking, than in any other part of Scotland, far from what it is in England; conversation is generally sober, and grave; I assure you, they have no assemblies here, or balls; and far from what it is in England, you hear no oaths, or prophane words in the streets; and, if a mean boy, such as we call shoe-blackers, or black-guard boys, should be heard to swear, the next gentleman in the street, if any happened to be near him, would cane him, and correct him; whereas, in England, nothing is more frequent, or less regarded now, than the most horrid oaths and blasphemies in the open streets, and that by the little children that hardly know what an oath means.
But this we cannot cure, and, I doubt, never shall; and in Scotland, but especially in this part of Scotland, you have none of it to cure.
It is the honour of Scotland that they are the strictest observers of the Lord's-Day of any nation in the world; and, if any part of Scotland are more strict observers of it than the rest, it is in this part, and all the country from Dumfries, and the parts adjacent to Glasgow, and the Clyde, inclusive of both the towns of Dumfries and Glasgow; and tho' this country of Galloway may be the poorest and empty of commerce, it is, perhaps, the most religious part of all Scotland. Some people, I know, will not think that an equivalent for their poverty; as to that, let every body think for themselves; 'tis my business only to relate the fact, and represent things as they are.
It must be acknowledged, and there my opinion concurs, they might be as religous and as serious as they are; and the more so, the better, and yet, they might at the same time be industrious, and apply themselves to trade, and to reap the advantages that nature offers them; might build ships, catch and cure fish, and carry them to all the markets in Europe, as the Glasgow merchants shew them the example. But the hindrance is in the nature of the thing; the poverty of the commons, and the indolence of the gentry forbid it; and so Kirkubry, and all the shores of Galloway must remain unnavigated; the fine harbours be unfrequented, the fish be secure and safe from nets till time and better opportunities alter the case, or a people better able, and more inclined to business, comes among them, and leads them into it.
But I must speak no more in generals. I left Kirkubright with a sort of concern; it is so noble a prospect, of what business, and commerce might, and I am persuaded, some time or other will do for it; the river, that enters the sea here, and makes the fine harbour I mentioned, is called the Dee, or the Dea, and is of a considerable long course, coming out of mountains, in the remotest north-angle of this shire, towards Carrick; and, as it is full of turnings and meanders, more than any river in Scotland, is said to run near 200 miles in its course, as a river, tho' not above seventy miles in a line; it is sometimes on occasion of land waters, a very great river, and remains so longer than is usual in other rivers.
The country of Galloway lies due west from Dumfries, and, as, that they call the Upper Galloway, runs out farther than the rest, into the Irish seas; all that bay or sea, on the south side of it may be reckoned part of Solway-Firth, as all on the north side is called the Firth of Clyde, though near 100 miles from the river itself; as all that sea in England, between South Wales, and the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, is called the Severn sea, even to the Lands End of England, though above 100 miles from the Severn.
The wester Galloway, which is also called the shire of Wigtoun, from the town of Wigtoun, its capital, runs out with a peninsula, so far into the sea, that from the utmost shores, you see the coast of Ireland very plain, as you see Calais from Dover; and here is the town of Port Patrick, which is the ordinary place for the ferry or passage to Belfast or other ports in Ireland. It has a tolerable good harbour, and a safe road; but there is very little use for it, for the packet boat, and a few fishing vessels are the sum of the navigation; it is true, the passage or ferry is wide, and the boats very indifferent, without the least convenience or accommodation; and yet, which is strange, they very rarely, if ever miscarry; nay, they told us there, they had never lost one in the memory of the oldest man in the town, except one full of cattle; which, heeling to one side more than ordinary, all the cattle run to that side, and as it were, slid out into the sea; but the loading being out, the boat came to rights again, and was brought safe into the port, and none but the four-footed passengers were drowned.
Port Patrick has nothing in it to invite our stay, 'tis a mean dirty homely place; and as we had no business here, but to see the coast, we came away very ill satisfied with our accommodations. Upon a hill near the town, we could plainly see Ireland to the west, England, the coast of Cumberland to the south, and the Isle of Man to the south-west, and the Isle of Isla, and the Mull of Kyntire to the north-west.
As we passed the peninsula, which is formed by two arms of the sea, one on the north side called Lochrain, and the other on the south, called the Bay of Glenluce, we stoped at Stranrawer; in the very neck of land, between both these gulphs, are good roads for ships, and full of fish, but still here is no genius for trade, or for sea affairs of any kind.
But now having said thus much of the stupidity of the people of Galloway, and especially on the sea coast, for not falling into merchandising, fishing, etc. which would doubtless turn to great account: I must premise two things, that I may not lead the reader into an error.
1. It is not so with all the people on this western coast of Scotland, as we shall soon see in the other countries, upon the coast of Clyde, farther north, up to, and inclusive of Glasgow itself.
2. The people of Galloway itself are not perfectly idle, and neither the country, or the people capable of any thing; if it were so, the place would be uninhabited, and, indeed, unhabitable; whereas, on the contrary, it is very populous, and full of inhabitants, as well of noblemen and gentlemen, as of common people; all, which, I shall explain in few words.
1. It is not so with all the people, they are not all stupid, and without any notions of commerce, navigation, shipping, fishing, etc. that is to say, tho' in Galloway they are generally so, from the coast, a little west of Dumfries, that is, from the mouth of the River Fleet, yet to the northward, and upon the coast of Air, Kyle, and Cunningham; it is quite another thing, as you shall hear presently.
2. The people of Galloway do not starve; tho' they do not fish, build ships, trade abroad, etc. yet they have other business, that is to say, they are meer cultivaters of the earth, and in particular, breeders of cattle, such as sheep, the number of which I may say is infinite, that is to say, innumerable; and black cattle, of which they send to England, if fame lies not, 50 or 60,000 every year, the very toll of which before the Union, was a little estate to some gentlemen upon the borders; and particularly the Earl of Carlisle had a very good income by it.
Besides the great number of sheep and runts, as we call them in England, which they breed here; they have the best breed of strong low horses in Britain, if not in Europe, which we call pads, and from whence we call all small truss-strong riding horses Galloways: These horses are remarkable for being good pacers, strong, easy goers, hardy, gentle, well broke, and above all, that they never tire, and they are very much bought up in England on that account.
By these three articles, the country of Galloway is far from being esteemed a poor country; for the wool, as well as the sheep, is a very great fund of yearly wealth to them, and the black cattle and horses are hardly to be valued: The gentlemen generally take their rents in cattle, and some of them have so great a quantity, that they go to England with their droves, and take the money themselves. It is no uncommon thing for a Galloway nobleman to send 4,000 sheep, and 4,000 head of black cattle to England in a year, and sometimes much more. Going from the lower Galloway hither, we were like all to be driven down the stream of a river, tho' a countryman went before for our guide, the water swelling upon us as we passed, the stream was very strong, so that I was obliged to turn my horse's head to the current, and so sloping over edged near the shore by degrees, whereas, if my horse had stood directly cross the stream, he could not have kept his feet.
This part of the country is very mountainous, and some of the hills prodigious high; but all are covered with sheep: In a word, the gentlemen here are the greatest sheep-masters in Scotland, (so they call themselves) and the greatest breeders of black cattle and horses.
But I was sick of Galloway, thro' which the travelling is very rough, as well for the road, as for the entertainment; except, that sometimes we were received by the gentlemen, who are particularly very courteous to strangers, meerly as such, and we received many extraordinary civilities on that only account.
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