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is simple. What contemporary had such a knowledge of his native country as would have enabled him to present a picture of it as a whole which would bring it before our eyes as he might have seen it?
He could not draw on his personal knowledge for his description, as the greater part of the country was a terra incognita to him. Locomotion in Scotland in the sixteenth century was not one of the pleasures of life; and business or some other urgent necessity were the only sufficient motives that impelled men to quit the beaten track. Strong, indeed, must have been the intelligent curiosity of any Scot who would have ventured to explore the less-known regions of his native country. Without exaggeration it may be said that a journey into Galloway or the Highlands would have been attended with as many risks as a journey into the wilds of Asia or Africa at the present day. Even in the case of England, which from the nature of its surface and from its happier circumstances was more open to general intercommunication than Scotland, the people of one part of the country had the vaguest knowledge of districts remote from their own. In the sixteenth century the inhabitants of the south of England believed that the north was peopled by a race of ogres. The words which the historian Camden, so late as 1607, uses regarding Lancashire are such as we should now employ to describe some partiallydiscovered region in the Dark Continent. Lanca
shire, he says, is that part of England " beyond the
“ mountains towards the Western Ocean." In visit. ing it in connection with the preparation of his Britannia he tells us that he did so with "a kind of dread," and deemed it prudent to invoke Divine assistance before engaging in the adventure.'
In Scotland there had as yet been no such indefatigable investigator as the antiquary, John Leland, who for a period of six years peregrinated England in search of materials to illustrate its history. At a later date than that with which we are concerned two Scotsmen travelled extensively in their native country, and each has left memorials of his observations. The one was the whimsical William Lithgow (1582-1645), who spent nineteen years in foreign travel, visited, according to his own account, every country in Europe, besides the east and the north parts of Africa, and in the course of his journeyings tramped "thirty-six thousand and odd miles." But even the fartravelled Lithgow would seem to have found locomotion in Scotland somewhat difficult, as the following remark certainly implies. It is "the ignorant presumption of blind cosmographers," he says, that has deluded people into believing that England exceeds Scotland in length, whereas, in point of fact, Scotland is the longer of the two by precisely one hundred and twenty miles. A much more serious person than Lithgow was the admirable Timothy Pont (1560 (?)-1630 (?)], who from sheer patriotism and love of knowledge visited every corner of the mainland and islands of Scotland, and to the best of his ability made exact drawings on the spot. The maps he thus made, rescued by Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, which eventually appeared in Blaeu's Atlas (1654), are the first adequate presentations we possess of the physical aspect of Scotland, and, though the picture they present belongs to a period subsequent to the reign of Mary, they may with some reserves be safely used for our present purpose.3
Of Scotland in the sixteenth century we have four descriptions of somewhat unequal value by the historians Hector Boece, John Major, Bishop Leslie, and George Buchanan. None of the four had a personal knowledge of the country as a whole, but each of them was familiar with certain parts of it. Buchanan, for example, knew his native Lennox, in youth had lived in Menteith and Fife, and in his later days had ample opportunities of seeing with his own eyes the whole eastern country from Stirling to the Border. Taken together, therefore, the four descriptions of Scotland by these historians give us a tolerably complete and accurate picture of Scotland in the sixteenth century.
Besides these four descriptions by native historians we have the notes of a few foreign visitors whom business or pleasure brought to a country which was then considered to be at the
ends of the earth, and where man and nature were supposed to be made after a pattern of their own.s Unfortunately these visitors did not go far afield in their travels, and their observations are mainly confined to the east country.
To these formal accounts by foreigners and native historians we have to add the casual references to be found in the literature as well as in the public and private documents of the period. In some respects, these are the most valuable indications of all, as they were written with no deliberate purpose of praise or faultfinding, but simply dropped from the writers' pens by the way. From these various sources, then, let us try to form some notion of the general appearance which Scotland presented in the times of Mary Stewart.
There was one peculiarity in the appearance of the country which struck all foreign visitors from Æneas Sylvius in the fifteenth century to Dr Johnson in the eighteenth-the general absence of timber in every part of the country through which they travelled. The disappearance of timber in Scotland had been a gradual process which we can trace in the successive statutes passed for its preservation. In the charters of the twelfth, the thirteenth, and the fourteenth centuries there is frequent mention of forests pertaining to the Crown, to the religious houses, and to the great feudal lords. But it is to be remembered (and the fact is sometimes forgotten) that in the mediæval sense the term “forest” simply, meant what we now understand by a “Highland forest.” 6 From the words of the charters themselves we gather that a forest was a tract of country of varying extent, dotted with clumps of trees more or less closely planted, and with open spaces adapted either for hunting or pasture. When we read of the extensive forests existing in the reigns of David I. and his successors, therefore, we are not to infer that the country to any considerable degree abounded in timber. It would appear, indeed, that as early as the reign of David it was found necessary to provide against its wholesale destruction. Turfs and peats, as we know, were already in use in David's reign, but wood was still the principal fuel ; and in the manufacture of salt-an extensive industry in Scotland from very early times—the consumption must have been a heavy drain on the most thickly-planted country. To David's reign is assigned a statute which declares that the horse and wain of anyone found cutting down trees without authority shall be escheated ; and another statute of the same period imposed a heavy fine on such as did injury to green wood.? A passage in the English chronicler, Knighton, however, would seem to imply that towards the close of the fourteenth century there were still parts of Scotland near the Border which formed a veritable virgin forest. Describing John of Gaunt's invasion of Scotland in 1380, Knighton declares that the English army had