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HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.
THE INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY.
'More pure the gale where the wild thistle rears
The beginning of the history of Scotland carries us back to that dim period before the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and long after His ascension, when the British Islands were looked upon as the extremities of the earth, and the people of the south, who lived in comfort and luxury, shivered when they spoke of the cold shores of barbarian Britain. Beyond the Pillars of Hercules, far in the northern ocean, there was a gloomy region known as Ultima Thule, and this was either Iceland or the extreme north of our native land. Yet this Ultima Thule, or those islands that were on the way to that undesirable territory, cut off though they were from the world, surrounded by wild seas, veiled often in mysterious mists, and inhabited by savages, were in the secret ordering of Almighty God to become very soon strongholds of the Christian religion, and in after ages centres of the most advanced civilisation. Ancient Caledonia lay buried in dense forests, diversified by an occasional morass, or by a plain which had been cleared for a battle-ground, but neither fields nor gardens refreshed the eye; for although, with the wild beasts and birds of the forest and the fish in which the rivers abounded, the fruits of the earth formed a usual article of food, the natives were too busy to bestow on them the pains of cultivation. The nature of their employments is testified to by the many flint hatchets and arrow-heads which have been turned up by the plough, or discovered in warriors' graves. Fighting was the business of life, and the chase was its profitable recreation. The British mother gave her new-born baby boy his first food on the point of her husband's lance, praying as she did so to the gods of her country that the little one might die in the midst of hostile swords and javelins.1 Here and there appeared an enclosure of the pits that were the dreary dwelling-places of savage men; the rugged architecture of the Caterthun or British hill-fort decorated the heads of some of the most naturally fortified crags, and occasionally a grove may have been portioned off for the worship of the Caledonian gods, whoever these gods were; for although some writers suppose that the
Scandinavian mythology, peculiarly adapted to the stormy north, with its desolate hell of perpetual hard frost and dense mist, and its comfortable Valhalla of everlasting eating and drinking, obtained, and others think that they can discern indications of the abstract Druidical mythology, with spells and strange magical rites, of the adoration of the host of heaven, or of the Persian fire-worship, the truth is lost in the past. Concerning the Primeval Period we have volumes of fable, but not a word of history. The books of the antiquaries are the cromlechs or sepulchres, with their remains of stalwart skeletons, the canoes, and the stone weapons which were all that the Caledonians in their most helplessly savage state had for doing battle with one another, and with the wolves and boars and Caledonian bulls that disputed with them the dominion of the forests and mountains. Long before the first century of the Christian era the working of metals was introduced into Britain, and the beautiful leaf-shaped bronze sword, the vessels of ornamented pottery, the fragments of knitted cloth, and ornaments of bronze or native gold, testify to the great advance of the intelligent savage. The aboriginal inhabitants or natives of North Britain were a Celtic race called the Caledonians; the Picts were their lineal descendants; and the Scots who at last conquered the native Picts and gave the country their name were a people of Gaelic original, who emigrated from Scotia or Ireland, and effected a permanent settlement on the west coast of Argyle early in the sixth century. Scotia was the ancient name of the island now called Ireland, and it was not till the union of the Picts and Scots, in the ninth century, that it was transferred to Albania or North Britain. From very early times the British Islands were known to the Phoenician merchants as the Cassiterides, or Isles of Tin. About the year A.D. 78 the Roman annexation of South Britain took place; and in the year 80 Julius