Something of the old Scotch and English manners are still perceptible among the people in this part of Virginia; and there are bits of dialect and phrase which show how little the communities have been affected during the last century by the influences which have so transformed the populations of other sections of America. While England has gone on from change to change, and has even been capable of complete revolution in certain matters, Virginia has altered but little. Until now immigration has had no inducements to come and unlock the treasure-house of the grand mountains of the South-west, and so the people have lived under pretty much the same laws and customs that prevailed in England two centuries ago. Yet the absence of the rushing, turbulent current of immigration has had its compensating advantages in allowing the growth of families in which the hereditary love of culture and refinement, and the strictest attention to those graces and courtesies which always distinguish a pure and dignified society, are preeminently conspicuous.
Edward King, The Great South; A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co., 1875.
“Poeta nascitur non fit,”–we are taught as axiomatic by the highest authority. So, also, of nations–they are not made; neither can they be laid off upon the map, by rule and compass, to suit the fancy, interest, or whim of any man or set of men. After all the wars in Europe for the last five hundred years, the boundaries assumed in the beginning of their national lifehood are much the same to-day. Napoleon I. did not level the Pyrenees, neither could he. Spain and France exist now as they did before Rome and Carthage. Nations, then, are not made, but born; born of identity of race, language, interest; born of similarity of climate, production, pursuit; born of congeniality of thought, feeling, habit, taste, religion; born not of treaties, leagues, constitutions; born not of man, but of nature and of God. In nature similarity of substance is, the condition precedent to crystallization. A nation is a natural crystal, and similarity, also, is the condition and law of its being.
Judged by this criterion, how could, how can ever the Northern and Southern people unify? What similarity, pray, was there, or will there ever be, between Plymouth and Jamestown, between Boston and Charleston, Raleigh and Rochester, Nashville and Detroit, Milwaukee and Mobile, New Orleans and Chicago? What attraction could exist between Puritan and Cavalier, between Rev. Cotton Mather and Capt. John Smith, between the Blue Laws of Connecticut and the perfect toleration of Maryland? What congeniality is there between the productions of the North and the South; between the ice of New Pond and the rice of Santee river; the enormous granite monoliths of Quincy and the saccharine juiciness of the cane of Atchafalaya; between the Jerome clock of Connecticut and the cotton bale of Alabama? Whom, therefore, God and nature have put asunder, man cannot join together.
— Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 32, Issue 2, Feb 1861; pp. 119.
The Witch of Ben Cruachan.
On the top of Ben Cruachan is the spring from which Loch Awe was filled, and this is how they say the event happened:–Aged Bera lived in the cave of the Great Rock. She was a daughter of Grenan the Wise. For many ages her ancestors inhabited that country–a princely family, hospitable and powerful. Bera was the last of that renowned family. She owned as her inheritance each fair grassy glen all around Ben Cruachan, and the many flocks that fed in every dell and strath around. To Bera was entrusted that secret spring of many virtues, hid from the knowledge, and beyond the ken of the world. That became the spring of woe to Bera, and to her father’s race! There was a great flagstone on the mouth of the spring, and it was Bera’s duty to place the flagstone over the spring about sundown and to lift the same stone away as soon as the beams of the morning light began to gild the horizon. There were words graven on this flagstone, like ancient writing, but no eye ever beheld the stone that could read the secret letters. One of those days, Bera happened to be out hunting the deer among the rugged steeps of Ben Cruachan, and, being faint with the weariness of the chase, she no sooner returned home at night, and set herself on her bed of rashes under the leafy shade, then she fell asleep and neglected to place the flagstone over the mouth of the spring! The water quickly poured forth like a great river which could not be stayed! Swiftly streamed the flood, like a torrent or great waterfall, down the side of the mountain, from rock to rock, till the waters filled the glen, which from that time is called Loch Awe. On the third day poor Bera awoke. She looked down the glen, but instead of that green and most beautiful and lovely glen, nothing could be seen but water. Bera gave forth a dreadful scream which was echoed by every crag and grove and dell, and Ben Cruachan quivered to its centre! Bera left this poor world! She ascended to the lofty halls of the great princes from whom she sprung–far far up beyond the vision of created eyes, among the thin white clouds of heaven. Up there her scream may still be heard, and is the dread of the shepherds and hunters of Ben Cruachan. On dark clouds she is seen hovering around the top of the Ben; there oft-times may be heard her song of sorrow, and often she is abroad amid the roar of the tempest. On the dark skirts of the black clouds of the sky she is often seen sporting in wild fury. Like a tall pillar of the whitest mist she is seen hunting the deer on the hill, with her bow and her quiver of arrows! In white foam she is seen on the flood ; from cascade to cascade, from pool to pool, till at length she reaches Loch Awe, on which she may be seen swimming like a calm, white swan from island to island. From the broken ruins of Kilchurn, from the old abbey of Innisfail and of Inniswraith, are often heard her dismal wail. And on the peaks of Ben Cruachan she is often seen on a summer’s morning rising in her airy robes of mist to welcome the sun, till she is quickly lost from view amid bright and joyful birds of the air.
WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country’s gods,
Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Every burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.
‘Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
’Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
‘Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorred,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
‘Rome, for empire far renowned,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!
‘Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier’s name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize—
Harmony the path to fame.
‘Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Armed with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
‘Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.’
Such the bard’s prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch’s pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rushed to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurled them at the foe.
‘Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heaven awards the vengeance due:
Empire is on us bestowed,
Shame and ruin wait for you.’
— William Cowper.
Bruti posteritas cum Scotis associata
Anglica regna premet, Marte, labore, nece.
Flumina manabunt hostili tincta cruore
Perfida gens omni lite subacta ruet,
Quem Britonum fundet Albanis juncta juventus:
Sanguine Saxonico tincta rubebit humus:
Regnabunt Britones Scotorum gentis amici
Antiquum nomen insula tota feret;
Ut profert aquila veteri de turre locuta,
Cum Scotis Britones regna paterna regent.
Regnabunt pariter in prosperitate quieta
Hostibus expulsis, judicis usque diem.
John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, lib. III., cap. xxii., quoting a poem of Gildas.
[The posterity of Brutus in league with the Scots shall harrass England with war, toil, and death; the rivers shall flow discoloured with blood, and the perfidious nation shall sink subdued by every contest. The British and Albanian youth united shall overwhelm them, and the soil be crimsoned with Saxon blood. The Britons shall reign in friendship with the Scots; the whole island shall bear its ancient name, as the eagle which spoke from the old tower declares; the Britons and Scots shall rule over the kingdoms of their ancestors, and reign alike in profound peace, after the expulsion of their enemies, until the day of judgment.]
All hail! the Confederated States. All honour to gallant South Carolina, who gave the first impulse to the Revolution which brought the new nation into being. All gratitude to the benign Providence that darkened the understandings of men in power and converted seeming obstacles into tremendous agencies for hastening and perfecting the great and good work consummated at Montgomery. Wisely, nobly have the Confederated States chosen their leaders. Valour and Statesmanship are at the helm. The new keel cuts the waters of a glorious sea. It is morning. Angry clouds are near at hand, and soon the thunder of battle will be bellowing in the skies. But the not distant azure is all serene and fair; resplendent with fresh light and the dewy tints of roses and of gold. The ship will outride the storm. Already we catch the balmy breath of the tropics. There is our haven.
Pity and shame! that the Border States prefer not to share the proud destiny of the new Republic. But they have chosen. They would be slaves. Virginia grovels in the dust at SEWARD’S feet. The sons of patriots lick the coarse hand of an ill-bred, foul-mouthed fanatical tyrant. The children of ANDREW JACKSON clutch tremblingly the knees of ANDREW JOHNSON. The descendants of DANIEL BOONE are pleading like frightened women for peace. It is their right. Let no one disturb them.
The Confederate States remain a fixed, unalterable fact. Civil liberty has found a house of refuge, a home, safe forever alike from the tyranny of kings and from the despotism of agrarian mobs and lawless democracies! The eyes fill and the heart swells with exceeding joy at the thought. ‘Tis a grand achievement, a mighty Revolution. Humanity is exalted by this bold and unparalleled stroke for freedom. Man’s capability of self-government is vindicated by this daring exercise of the right of that government. Henceforth the name of Southerner shall be the synonym of liberty. To the Confederate States, as to the last and only permanent abode of Republican institutions, the best and bravest blood, the loftiest spirits, and the most cultivated intellects on this continent, will surely repair. The very cream and excellence of American life will be compacted in the new nation. For highminded independent people, for fertile soil, for genial climate, for magnificent destiny, the peer of this youthful nation will not be found in all the world. God speed it!
— Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 32, Issue 3, Mar 1861; p. 340.