SCOTCH LOCAL HISTORIES.•
WE are very glad to include in our list of Scotch local histories a new and abridged edition of the late Dr. Robert Chambers' invaluable Domestic Annals of Scotland. That indefatigable yet cautious social explorer did not quite set the example of reproduc- ing the past history of Scotland from those burgh, Kirk-Session, and other local records, which are much more complete than any-
• Culross and Tulliallan ; or, Perthshire on Forth. By David Beveridge. 2 role. Edinburgh and London : William Blackwood and Sons. 1885.—Aberdour and Inchcolme. By Rev. William Rose, LL.D. Edinburgh : David Douglas. 1885.— Domestic Annals of Scotland. By Robert Chambers, LL.D. Abridged Edition. Edinburgh : W. and R. Chambers. 1885.
thing of the kind in England ; but he certainly rendered the practice fashionable. He " has exhibited," as the author of one of the local histories mentioned below says, "in an interesting and satisfactory manner, as Thomas Carlyle did a few years pre- viously in Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, the principle of leaving historical documents to tell their own tale, and thus enabling the reader to form bis own independent conclusions." The new edition of the Annals, which consists entirely of extracts from various civil and ecclesiastical records, with short historical and other elucidations, exhibits this principle in perfection. One feels a curious interest, here verging on the weird, there on the tragic, and again on the grotesque, in watching the progress of civilisation in Scotland for nearly three centuries, between the Reformation and the Rebellion of 1745, as that is exhibited largely, although not entirely, in Edinburgh, whose streets ran blood quite as often as they ran claret. In Dr. Chambers' pages the lion lies down with the lamb ; cheek-by-jowl with a story of mad passion we find an entry about the price of meal or harvest prospects ; a crazy superstition—somehow the witchcraft mania bears an exceptionally repulsive appearance in Scotland—is re- vealed not far from such an entry as this, under date December 23rd, 1610 :—" We have now the first hint at public conveyances in Scotland in a letter of the King encouraging Henry Anderson, of Hailsand, to bring a number of coaches and wagons, ane or Mae, as he shall think expedient, for transporting of his hieness's lieges betwixt the burgh of Edinburgh and town of Leith—pro- vided that he be ready at all times for serving of his Majesty's lieges, and that he tak not aboon the sum of twa shillings Scots money for transporting of every person betwixt the said twa towns at ony time." It is unnecessary to notice at length such a work as the Domestic Annals of Scotland, at all events after the lapse of so many years since its first appearance. Still, two curious and differently interesting facts may be noticed. Dr. Chambers calculates that, in 1645, the population of Scotland was 720,000 persons, of these Edinburgh having 34,440, Glasgow and Perth each 6,600, and Dundee 11,100. A comparison of these figures with those of last Census for Scotland might lead to some curious speculations as to the causes of the comparative growth of cities and towns. One can quite understand Glasgow outstripping Edinburgh; bat why should Dundee have fallen behind in the race? In 1574 we find this entry,—" The Town Council of Edinburgh agreed with a Frenchman that he should set up a school in the City to teach his own language, for which he should be entitled to charge each child twenty-five shillings yearly, besides enjoying a salary of twenty pounds during the Council's pleasure." Yet in 1720 we read,—" All persons desirous to learn the French tongue' were apprised by an advertisement in the Edinburgh Courant that there is a Frenchman lately come to this city who will teach at a reasonable price.' This would imply that there was no native French teacher in Edinburgh previously." The experiment tried by the Edinburgh Town Council must, therefore, have failed. Was this due to the breaking-off of the old connection between France and Scotland maintained chiefly through the port of Leith ?
Mr. Beveridge's Cutross and Tulliallan and Dr. Ross's Aberdour and Inchcolme are very good examples of Dr. Chambers's general "principle," already alluded to, applied to particular districts of Scotland,—a principle of which it is, perhaps, only necessary to say that it leads to the converse of multum in parvo. The one deals with a quaint and historically interesting little section of Perthshire, situated on the Firth of Forth, and which ought, from its geographical posi- tion, to be in Fifeshire ; the other, with a picturesque portion of that county confronting Edinburgh from across the Firth. Both writers will seem to their English readers to have somewhat overdone their tasks. Dr. Ross is apt to fly from his subject into historipal disquisition or specnlation,—a fact, perhaps, to be accounted for by his having originally arranged his materials in the form of public lectures. Mr. Beveridge devotes two handsome volumes of four hundred pages each to two parishes, which comprise between them twenty-two square miles. Yet he is a painstaking and careful writer, and his book, in spite of its length, is never tedious. A considerable historic interest attaches to Culross, which contains sixteen of the twenty-two square miles that constitute "Perth- shire on Forth," and is notable now mainly for its situation, which attracted the admiration of Scott, Cobbett, and Carlyle when visiting or passing through it. It was once, as the ruins of its monastery show, an important ecclesiastical centre. It was the birthplace of St. Mango, and is associated closely with the history of the elder and younger St. Serf. Nearer our own time, Culross enjoyed a reputation and temporary prosperity as the chief seat of the once important girdle-manufactory of Scotland. Its vicinity has been the scene of not very success- ful experiments in coal-mining. Finally, Culross Abbey—now a country house—was the birth-place of Lord Dundonald, the most audacious of naval commanders and of Radical politicians. Aberdour and Inchcolme are full of the memories and miracles of St. Columba, St. Fillan, and other worthies whose names are to be found in the Scotch Saints' Calendar ; and in such Dr. Ross positively revels.
These two works are, however, mainly of value because, like Mr. Edgar's Old Church Life in Scotland—illustrated by the Kirk Session Records of the Ayrshire parish of Mauchline—they reproduce the social history of Scotland. Probably no book of its kind is better, certainly none is more detailed, than Mr. Beveridge's Culross and Tulliallan. Having a small picture to paint, he has painted it with the painstaking care of a Dutch artist of the old school, the result being Dutch vividness. By extracts from the Kirk-Session and burgh records of this little Scotch town, Presbyterianism is revealed striking hard blows at the moral laxity and superstition of Romanism, suc- cumbing to Cromwell, temporarily submerged by a " deboshed Episcopacy, finally triumphant and vindictive, putting forth all its theocratic strength, enjoining and enforcing the "bitter " observance of Sunday, suppressing by censures and fines almost every imaginable offence, from the drunken excesses of " penny " weddings to absence from the Lord's Supper, " flyting " (Anglia, scolding), and " dinging " one's wife. What a successful tyrant and Torquemada must have been the Rev. John Duncan, minister of the " First Charge " in Culross about the middle of the seventeenth century, and what a portrait he would have made had there been a Burns in his period or his parish for him to sit to ! Indeed, a kind of inglorious but by no means mute
Burns did rebel against Mr. Duncan in the person of a Mrs Bessie Cowey, whom we find cited before the Kirk Session on
November 2nd, 1650, and accused of " Vile and scornful blasphemous language against honest and good people and chiefly against ministers." Having been rebuked for swearing by one Archibald Bacoolme, and " a woman of the other syd of the water," Mrs. Cowey-
" Rallied on him, calling him hypocrit ; and the woman reproving hir she fell out against hir, and railled on hir and the people on the other syd, calling them a pack of hyprocrits and puritans and suchlyk, and said we had got a swinger set up in the pulpit now to rain on the people, and a glyod taverne queen, his wyf, and that she hoaped in God to see all the ministers driven yet as sheep to the slaughter, and clapping her hands, so begid, 'If every one sold doe as I wold, we should draiv the ministers out of the pulpit.' "
Sometimes Kirk Sessions took a curious view of the compara- tive heinousness of Sabbath-breaking and ordinary offences against the law. Dr. Ross makes this quotation from the minutes of the Kirk Session of Aberdour for August 30th, 1724 :—
" It being reputed that David Allan, Robert Thompson, and John Reid, had broken the Sabbath Day, by stealing apples on that day, they were cited, and, compearing, they all acknowledged that it was only eleven of the clock on Saturday night, and that they were very sorry it should so have happened, and promised never-to border so near on that day again ; and were exhorted to carry as Christians, to behave themselves as those that know that God will not let them go unpunished that break his day without serious repentance."
"Anything more confused than this either in an intellectual or moral point of view," Dr. Ross says truly," it is hardly possible to conceive, in connection with the proceedings of a court of conscience." The Aberdour censors do not seem to have regarded pilfering as an offence at all, apart from Sabbath-breaking.