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I hold him strictly twene my armès twein,
On thee and me dependeth the trespace
A mouth he has, but wordis hath he none;
Writing her letter, awhapped all in drede,
The origin of the Lowland Scottish language has been a fruitful subject of controversy. Like the English, it is of Gothic materials; and, at a certain distance of time from the Norman conquest, is found to contain, as well as its sister dialect of the South, a considerable mixture of French. According to one theory, those Gothic elements of Scotch existed in the Lowlands, anterior to the Anglo-Saxon settlements in England, among the Picts, a Scandinavian race: the subsequent mixture of French words arose from the French connexions of Scotland, and the settlement of Normans among her people; and thus, by the Pictish and Saxon dialects meeting, and an infusion of French being afterwards superadded, the Scottish language arose, independent of modern English, though necessarily similar, from the similarity of its materials. According to another theory, the Picts were not Goths, but Cambro-British, a Celtic race, like the Western Scots who subdued and blended with the Picts, under Kenneth Mac Alpine. Of the same Celtic race were also the Britons of Strathclyde, and the antient people of Galloway. In Galloway, though the Saxons overran that peninsula, they are affirmed to have left but little of their blood, and little of their language. In the ninth century, Galloway was new peopled by the Irish Cruithne, and at the end of the eleventh century was universally inhabited by a Gaelic people. At this latter period, the common language of all Scotland, with the exception of Lothian, and a corner of Caithness, 'was the Gaelic; and in the twelfth century commenced the progress of the English language into Scotland Proper': so that Scotch is only migrated English.
In support of the opposite system, an assertor, better known than trusted, namely Pinkerton, has maintained, that “there is not a shadow of proof, that the “ Gaelic language was ever at all spoken in the Low6 lands of Scotland." Yet the author of Caledonia has given not mere shadows of proof, but very strong grounds for concluding that, in the first place, to the north of the Forth and Clyde, with the exception of Scandinavian settlements admitted to have been made in Orkney, Caithness, a stripe of Sutherland, and partially in the Hebrides, a Gothic dialect was unknown in antient Scotland. Amidst the arguments to this effect deduced from the topography of the supposed Gothic) Pictland, in which, Mr. Chalmers affirms, that not a Saxon name is to be found older than the twelfth century; and amidst the evidences accumulated from the laws, religion, antiquities, and manners of North Britain, one recorded fact appears. sufficiently striking. When the assembled clergy of Scotland met Malcolm Caenmore and Queen Margaret, the Saxon princess was unable to understand their language. Her husband, who had learnt English, was obliged to be their interpreter. All the clergy of Pictland, we are told, were at that time Irish; but among a people with a Gaelic king, and a Gaelic clergy, is it conceivable that the Gaelic language should not have been commonly spoken?
1 Lothian, now containing the Scottish metropolis, was, after several fluctuations of possession, annexed to the territory of Scotland in 1020; but even in the time of David I. is spoken of not as a part of Scotland, David addresses his faithful subjects of all Scotland, and of Lothian.
With regard to Galloway, or south-western Scotland, the paucity of Saxon names in that peninsula (keeping apart pure or modern English ones) are pronounced by Mr. G. Chalmers, to shew the establishments of the Saxons to have been few and temporary, and their language to have been thinly scattered, in comparison with the Celtic. As we turn to the south-east of Scotland, it is inferred from topography, that the Saxons of Lothian never perma, pently settled to the westward of the Avon; while the numerous Celtic names which reach as far as the Tweed, evince that the Gaelic language not only prevailed in Proper Scotland, but overflowed her boundaries, and like her arms, made inroads on the Saxon soil.
Mr. Ellis, in discussing this subject, seems to have been startled by the difficulty of supposing the language of England to have superseded the native Gaelic in Scotland, solely in consequence of Saxon