In ‘The People’s Journal’ for the 5th December 1891, an article was publish reporting on a plan to merge the Queen’s Own Cameron (79th) Highlanders with the Scots Guards and in consequence replace their kilts with breeks. The exploits of the Highland Regiments of the British Army had become one of the most important outlets for Scottish national pride. The thin red line at Balaclava, Waterloo and many other world famous battles amplified the image of Scots as a warrior people, and it was the kilted regiments portrayed in paintings and verse which made them distinct from the other nations of the British isles (especially the English). This potential de-kilting of the Cameron Highlanders also came at a time when modern Scottish nationalism was being born as calls for Home Rule intensified. All this made the proposal to remove the kilt, this great symbol of Scottish prestige, a contentious issue with readers. The paper received months worth of correspondence, some tongue-in-cheek, others apparently with a surprising amount of vitriol. The arguments for and against the kilt presented by readers gives a brilliant insight into how late 19th century Scots saw themselves, or at least how they hoped Scotland was viewed internationally.
5th March 1892
Kilts v. Breeks.
A Grand Ancestral Dress.
To tak’ the kilts frae oor brave lads
I doot “Hersel’” is wrang;
We Scotch fowk hae a word to say
Twill gar him cheenge his sang.
In far-aff fields, whaur bluid ran deep,
Their trusty blades were there,
An’ Britain’s foes ken to their loss
If kilties can hit sair.
An’ wad ye rive frae these brave men,
Their grand ancestral dress?
Gae tak’ the medals aff their breists—
It winna hurt them less.
Th’ incentive that has urged them on
Though mony a hard-won field,
In frae them to be rudely torn,
An’ maun these heroes yield?
No! never while the dear Scotch bluid
Wild pulsates though their heart,
The “kilties” an’ their mountain dress—
Meet twa—shall never part.
The sun shall sink ‘neath you big cloud,
Nae langer licht to gie,
Lang ere our noble “kilties’” dress
Shall cease their garb to be.
J. M’Leish. 222 Preston Street, Glasgow.
The Antiquity of the Kilt.
Sir,—I was very much surprised to notice a correspondent in your issue of 6th Feb. bringing forward the Cockney fable that the kilt was invented by an Englishman, and the idea of such coming from Golspie is too much for one’s gravity at the present day. The origin of this fable is an article which appeared in the Scots Magazinein the year 1798, on the occasion of an agitation against discarding the Highland dress in the army. The writer of this article said that the kilt in its present shape was invented by an Englishman of the name of Parkinson or Rawlinson, who was manager at the lead mines at Tighandrum in the year 1728, who, finding the Highland labourers so encumbered with their belted plaids, taught them to cut the plaid and kilt asunder, and to sew them in their present shape.
The Belted Plaid
consisted of eight yards of double cloth, which was pleated and fixed by a belt round the waist, the lower part forming the kilt, the other half being attached to the left shoulder by a brooch, in the same shape as the belted plaids now worn by the Highland soldiers, which are an imitation of the old belted plaid. This was called Bocacam-an-Fheilidh. [Bocacam? Should be breacan?] It was worn on warlike expeditions and journeys, or occasions where the wearer would have to camp out. The kilt, same as now worn, was Feileadh-beag, or little kilt, was worn on everyday occasions or for hunting, when the wearer desired lightness and activity. The idea that an active and light-footed people like the Highlanders could not see the necessity of separating the kilt from the plaid without the assistance of an Englishman could only be entertained by one who knows very little about themselves or their dress. Nevertheless this fable has been repeated like a parrot cry every time any alteration is proposed in the dress or designation of the Highland regiments, or when some Cockney scribbler is suffering from a gorge of Scotch haggis.
The Sculptured Stones of Scotland
give the most undubitable proof of the age of the kilt. There are such stones at Dupplin, in Perthshire; Forres, in Morayshire; Nigg, in Ross-shire; and several at Iona; but the best of any we have seen is the tombstone of Torquil Macleod, the last chief of the Macleods of Lewis, who died in the year 1597. Martin, who made his famous tour to the Western Isles about the year 1690, gives a most minute description of the kilt and the shoulder plaid, which was only worn with the present form of kilt. On the armorial bearings of the Burnetts of Leys the dexter supporter is a Highlander dressed in the kilt, jacket, sporran, and bonnet, as neat and trim as if made by any first-class tailor at the present day—date of patent, 21st April, 1626. Sr George Mackenzie, who died 37 years before Parkinson’s time, says:—“The Burnetts of Leys carry a Highlander in bunting garb, and a greyhound as supporters on their arms to show that they were the King’s foresters in the North.” Several Highland clans have also as supporters on their arms Highlanders dressed in the Feileadh-beag. In a book printed in London in the year 1720—“The Life of Mr Duncan Campbell”—their is an illustration showing the subject of the work dressed in the kilt. In Burt’s letters from the North of Scotland, published in London, 1728, there are several illustrations of the dress in its different forms, and what Scotchman needs to be reminded of the many Jacobite songs composed about the Rebellion of 1698 and 1715, in which the philibeg or Feileadh-beag is mentioned? I might multiply proofs by the dozen, but surely enough has been given to convince anyone.
Oh, first of garbs, garment of lofty fate;
So long employed, of such an antique date;
Look back some thousand years till records fail,
And lose themselves in some romantic tale;
We’ll find our God-like fathers nobly scorned
To be by any other garb adorned—Allan Ramsay.
—I am, &c.,
J. G. Mackay. Portree.
The Late Duke of Clarence of the Kilties.
Sir,—As the kilt was my first dress, and as I wore it daily in one of our crack Highland regiments, I would like to give my opinion of it here. Those who have had the pleasure of seeing a review of British troops in England or elsewhere and gazed with a keen eye on the lines of English infantry, with their helmets, plain red coats, and breeks, as they march past, are suddenly electrified when they hear the wild strain of the bagpipes and the tune of “Highland Laddie,” which tells him the Highland Brigade is coming. As the first company approaches the white spats, diamond hose tops, tartan kilts, doublet, and the plumage of the feather bonnets towering above him in the air at once takes his eye, and as each successive company goes past he sees the great contrast between the tight-fitting breeks of the English infantry and the
Free and Easy Wave of the Kilt
and the steady step of the Highlander. After that when he sees a Highland regiment, or a man wearing a kilt, he looks at them through the spectacles of prejudice and jealousy, and gives vent to his feelings by using expressions such as those of “Hersel’” and “Hamish;” but few of them degrade themselves so far as to put their expressions before the public. Let Enlgishmen throw their spectacles aside, and they will frankly admit that they like the kilt. English girls already admit they love the men that wear it. On one occasion when escorting the colours at a field day on the Long Valley, near Aldershot, we were lying on the sand right behind, and in a good position to see the fighting line supports in the Reserve. The General and his staff, among whom was the late Duke of Clarence and Avondale, came up quite close to us, and took advantage of our position for viewing the whole line. The Prince looked down on us—the dolour party—and remarked to some of the staff
“What Brawny Legs Those Fellows Have.”
The kilt was freely discussed, and from the few words I heard the Prince say I learned that, although mounted on a prancing horse, and dressed like a gallant Hussar, his heart was warm to the tartan. And had it not a good right to be? Could he not look into the distant past and see what a long record of courageous deeds that tartan kilt had been connected with? What of battles fought and won, and the glorious service that the Highlanders had tendered in building up that great and powerful Empire of which he was so near the head? “Hersel’” asks what has that contemptible-looking thing to do with fighting? It has a great deal to do with it. The moment a man puts on the kilt it strengthens and hardens the muscles and bones of his legs, so that when he has to fight he has a good pair of legs to stand on. It also gives to his limbs that freedom of action which has so greatly aided the Highland soldier in carrying the day in all the bloody conflicts he has been engaged in. I, like every true Scotchman, think it
An Indispensable Dress
for our Highland regiments, and admire that “cold, miserable-looking thing” as the national dress of Scotland. During the time I wore it I never had rheumatic pains, I never caught a chill, or any other thing that was dangerous to health through wearing the kilt. I think it was the very reverse, and I never returned from any exercise, however hard it might have been, to find that the seams of my tight-fitting breeks had given way.—I am, &c.,
Faire Dhu. Aberlady.
Sir.—This writing in favour and against the kilt is rather a curious kind of controversy, as it has developed into a compound of truth and misstatements, chaff and ill-nature, inconsistency, and, what is silliest of all, “running off the track.” I would advise all those who take part in this controversy to make no deprecatory remarks on nationalities, as far as it is possible, as it is better to “let sleeping dogs lie.” I cannot however, resist saying that the “Spanish Don” (key) would be well served if he got his backbone twisted into a corkscrew for his impudence.—I am, &c.,
Callum Brogach. Klidonan, Sutherland.
12 March 1892
Kilts v. Breeks.
Gillean An Eilidh.
Sir,—Though at present under the Stars and Stripes, the letter headed “The Kilt Denounced” urges me to take my pen, and that with the true heart of a Highlander, to censure him who calls himself “Hersel’” for his gross insult to our Highland regiments. I cannot find words to express my indignation at the very idea. Who is “Hersel’?” Is he man enough to give his name and address in full? I think he would be better engaged in meditating upon his own affairs, and pulling up his breeches so as not to look like his granny’s petticoat. If I were near enough to him while committing such absurdities to paper I would certainly have measured arms with him, and that for the unpardonable crime of comparing our Highland regiments to Asylum deserters. Had “Hersel’” been wearing his granny’s petticoat in the ranks of the 93d Highlanders, under the brave Sir Colin, climbing the heights of Alma, I don’t think he would be reckoned among those whose dress mark the grace and beauty of our Highland Brigades. As to facing the Russian cannon, he would tremble at the idea and retire, leaving his granny’s petticoat in the bush. I sing with the poet:—
Here’s to the heath, the hill, and the heather,
The tartan, the pladie, the kilt, and the feather, &c.
Long may they wear the kilt to distinguish as Highland regiments, and still more in memory of those heroes who fought and bled for the honour and glory of old Caledonia and our beloved Queen,—I am, &c.,
John M’Leod. 57 Portland Street, Cambridgeport, Boston, Mass.
It Takes a Man to Wear a Kilt.
Sir,—It is not to be wondered at that the “Sassenachs” have claimed to be the originators of the kilt, for they claim Burns, Scott, and the Highland Regiments, including the immortal Sir Colin himself, and it is but meet, therefore, that they should have invented the most famous military dress that this or any other country ever produced. But at the same time I’m afraid that “Your Golspie Correspondent” won’t be able to make good the claim. I would draw his attention to one or two facts that he seems to have overlooked in his anxiety to prove that the “garb of old Gaul” is in reality of English extraction. He at first says that Thomas Rawlinson, an Englishman, introduced the kilt, and then farther on says that “Rawlinson’s workmen, finding the long tartan wrapper usually worn by the Highlanders inconvenient, separated the lower part from the upper, so that they might when heated throw off the upper and leave the lower, which thus became the short kilt.” Now, what had Rawlinson to do with the introduction of what was in reality the invention of his workmen, and who must have been Highlanders, or they wouldn’t have worn the kilt in any form? Even taking your Golspie correspondent’s account to be true, it was Scotchmen that introduced our grand old garb, and there is no reason to doubt otherwise. “John Robb” also, no doubt, thinks the nonsense he wrote very funny, but does he not know that for at least thirty years our Highlanders have fought without the feather bonnets? Where climate permits the Glengarry is the headdress, and in tropical countries the white helmet is used, so that his reference to Tam o Shanter was rather out of date. Is growl about the expense of the uniforms of our kilty regiments is utter nonsense. The kilted dress lasts considerably longer than any other, while the feather bonnet is good for years. That is more than can be said for the gaudy rubbish exhibited on some of the other regiments, both horse and foot. “Celt’s” reference to the hussar brought to mind the story of an auld wife in the High Street of Edinburgh, who remarked one day to a neighbour when she saw a Highlander and a hussar pass up the street, that “God made the yin and the maister tyler made the ither,” referring of course to the padding of the hussar. The kilt precludes the possibility of padding, so that it takes a man to wear the kilt, while any skinny shank may don the breeks.—I am, &c.
Black Watch. Langholm.
An Inspiring Sight.
Sir,—That the kilt is a popular dress with all true patriotic Scotchmen there can be no doubt. What other dress shows off to such advantage the splendid physique of lithe, graceful, well-built men, such as George Davidson and Kenneth M’Rae, the Scottish athletes? Yet it is true that there are many who are not physically suited to wear the kilt, and I fancy that “Hersel’,” “Hamish,” and “W. R.” should be classed with those, and that it may be advisable that they should stick to the breeks. I hope the military authorities will have more common sense—I must admit it is a scarce thing amongst them—than to abolish the kilt in the Highland Regiments, for what more inspiring sight to a Scotsman, at least, than a regiment of our kilted warriors marching along to the strains of the bagpipes? Does it not make the “blood leap in a oor veins” when we think of the glorious records the regiments hold in the annals of war? The kilt for ever!—I am, &c.,
James B. Soutar. Leeds.
Well Done Pat!
Sir,—Just a word or two anent this discussion which I would address to all sensible Scotchmen. Do Scotchmen think it necessary for a single moment to go to the trouble that they have been at to defend that which requires no defence? The kilt on many a hard-fought field has told its own tale and written its own history, and has been at the making of a good bit of English history too. But for Scotch and Irish soldiers it strikes me England during the last century would have had little worthy of being chronicled. Therefore I say to all true Scotchmen, treat the Cockney critics of your national garment with contempt; they are unworthy of anything else.—I am, &c.,
Popular with the Ladies.
Sir,—“Hersel’” with his “only a little note” denouncing the kilt, seems to have “brocht the hoose doun aboot his lugs,” judging from the tone and number of letter appearing weekly against him, which amply proves the truth of the following lines by Burns:—
But, Lord, gin ance ye pit her til’t
Her tartan petticoat she’ll kilt;
And dirk and pistol in her belt,
She’ll tak’ the street,
And rin her whittle to the hilt
I’ the first she meets.
I fully agree with some of your correspondents in their speculations as to the probable anatomical appearance of “Hersel’s” locomotive machinery, and think, like them, that he either must have dangling from his corporation
A Pair of Very “Shrivelled Shanks,”
or else have “chappies” which are perhaps a bit somewhat away from the perpendicular, the latter caused possibly by some pavement accident when he was a youngster, then “himsel’ in petticoats,” and this I should say would be as far back as least as 60 years. At anyrate, although his letter does not show very clearly whether his “ground flat” be amply furnished or not, it shows only too plainly that his “attic portion” is rather badly so, presumably owing to the number of “loose slates” lying about, and the pretty “bald” appearance of the roof in consequence. Too much attention need not be paid, I think, to the opinions of
That Oil-Sucking, Unsoaped Spanish Don
regarding the dress of the Scottish regiments he saw at Gibraltar, as the possession of that fortress—once their own—rankles so deeply in the breasts of Spaniards to expect even the slightest justice from them in anything under the sun floating the British ensign, more especially when it is borne in mind that the Black Watch is one of the regiments stationed there. The cry for the abolition of the kilt will, I am afraid, as years go by become stronger and stronger, and also at the same time become more and more difficult to resist owing to the widespread “‘Tis English you know” craze in Scotland, and the want of a separate Parliament of her own to defend her national rights. It stands to reason that the kilted regiments must be physically the best, because the dress in itself at once shows any defect in the appearance of the individuals composing them, and, were it universally adopted, few, if any, of our “corner boys” would ever again have the chance of shouldering a musket in the ranks. The physical appearance of
The Kilted Regiments,
taken as a whole, show them to be pre-eminently the regiments of the country rather than those of the town, and therefore Britain’s mainstay in times of need, and whose abolition would mean great peril to the empire at large. Some of your correspondents fail grievously in their judgment of human nature in imagining even for a moment that “Hersel’” belongs to the “regular” petticoat army, as every one knows from history that the kilt has at all times ben very popular indeed with the ladies, and is more so now, I am convinced, than ever. Yes, the kilt is, and has ever been, on the “boom” with the girls; and let a full-dressed Highland soldier cross their path at any time, ten to one the supposed popular Mr “Bobby” soon “slopes” away rather sheepishly to his beat, leaving the kilt in full possession, which, as we are told, is “nine points of the law.” Now, whether that popularity arises from patriotism among the ladies, or simply from a fellow-feeling. I am not at all very much inclined to say, as “there is no accounting for tastes,” and especially, above all others, for ladies’ tastes. I am, &c.,
Stanfield Williams. Melrose.
“F. L.,” Bunemmen, says if he only knew who “Hersel’” is he would go miles to see what like he is. “Callum Brogach,” he observes, gave a good reason for his legs and knees being unfit to wear the kilt. He has no doubt “Hersel’s” garb is “lying under the fourteen pound blanker.” If it is he does not wonder at him feeling the kilt a little airish. The Highlanders will wear the kilt should “Hersel’” spend all the ink and paper between John o’ Groat’s and Land’s End in writing it down.
19 March 1892
Kilts v. Breeks.
An English Admirer of the Kilt.
Sir,—Being a constant reader of your valuable paper, and seeing the important controversy on the question of kilts v. breeks, I, as a late member of the Seaforth Highlanders, wish to give my experience of the kilt, and to stand up for the bonny lads who wear it. Although a true-born Englishman, I think I am justified in doing so. A large majority of that corps are Englishmen. I am sure they can boast of having quite as well-formed legs as the Scotch. Then, again, we—and when I say we I mean England, bonny Scotland, and “ould” Ireland—have fought many a gallant battle irrespective of breeks and kilts side by side, and won many a laurel for Queen and country. No true Scot should be ashamed of the kilt that his country is so proud of.—I am, &c.,
A. E. D. Derbyshire.
A Spurious Highlander.
Sir,—I would advise “Hersel’” to keep on as he is doing, dealing in old trousers and other rags, as the good time he is looking forward to may be in the very distant future. He tells us he is as true a Scot or Highlander as ever trod on heather. Well, I don’t know how he is as a Scot, but certainly he is not a true Highlander. I presume he is like many more of the fraternity—Highland when he is on a tour of the Highlands, and a Lowlander when he is in the Lowlands.—I am, &c.,
Is the Kilt a National Dress!
Sir,—The kilt is, or rather was, a Celtic garment. Is Scotland a Celtic country? The great mass of the Scottish people, to whatever race they may belong, most unquestionably don’t belong to the Celtic. They don’t and never did wear the kilt. How then can the kilt be called the national dress?—I am, &c.,
“Strip us of our very Kilt!”
Sir,—We may banter among ourselves about kilts and breeks, but as Scotchmen we mean to assert our rights regarding the abolition of the kilt in the army. Are these English Tories envious of our religious, political, and educational qualifications? They are not content with monopolising our land and abolishing three-fourths of our Highland small holdings to give room and place for deer-stalking, and now they want to strip us of our very kilt!—I am, &c.,
Sir,—The “gallingua” your kilt champion correspondents are indulging in is only two characteristic of the poultry-yard. Mr Pullet is usually a very uncommunicative creature, unless startled by taking hold of his tail and depriving him of a few long feathers, of which he is very proud and vain. This may account for the poetical “Cock-a-doodle-do”—which, I am informed, is a cackle of defiance—that was raised by “Roderick Dhu.” I am confident that it is not those who are compulsorily made to wear the kilt that uphold it; but silly, look-at-me creatures, who by some relative’s death inherit more money than brains, and who, did they lack the former ingredient in proportion to the latter, would be aptly termed the “village natural.” I have worn the kilt, and know too well it is cold and uncomfortable in comparison with trousers, wven when made of worsted—“home-spun and dyed.” It just gives one the sense of walking in his night-gown in the open-air, and an indescribable sense of vanity.—I am, &c.,
A “Culloden Link” on the Kilt.
Sir,—I cannot understand how any true Scot can write or speak to the dispraise of the kilt, seeing the high prestige the tartan and kilt have so nobly gained in Britain’s wars. To have seen the magnificent array of kilted heroes that strode up the heights of Alma—their firm step and grand military bearing were enough to make the heart of a Scotchman throb with chivalrous delight at the sight of the kilted warriors of his native land, and exclaim—
Oh! ye warriors of the minstrel land,
Yonder your bonnets nod, your tartans wave,
The rugged form may mark the mountain band,
And harsher features and mien more grave;
But ne’er in battlefield throbb’d heart so brave
As that which beats beneath the Scottish plaid.
And when the pibroch bids the battle rave,
And level to the charge your arms are laid,
Where lives the desperate foe that for such onset staid?
None but a degenerate Scot, “whose spindle-shank’s a good whip lash, and his nieve a nut,” would be so base as to despise the kilt which graced the sturdy limbs of “the thin red line” which rolled back the hordes of Muscovite cavalry that vainly assailed the impregnable and kilted line of bonnets, kilts, and tartan hose.
Now up wi’ the kilties and bonne blue bonnets,
When put to their mettle they’re ne’er kenned to fail.
Yes, I have seen heroes of 100 years of age and upwards who never had the breeks on their limbs, and had borne the kilt with all the impetuous energy of a Highland charge through ranks of highly-disciplined troops, and driven them from the field in confusion and dismay n the brief space of a few minutes. These old heroes I allude to walked the earth with a springy step, alike free from rheumatism and many of the frailties incident to old age. Long may the kilt be beloved by every true Scot.—I am, &c.,
Wm. Robertson. Broughty Ferry.
The Kilt and Bagpipes.
Sir,—As an experienced wearer of the kilt, both in Her Majesty’s service and out of it, would you kindly allow me to point out the advantages possessed by a kilted soldier over an ordinary infantry man, viz.—Perfect freedom of action in both upper and lower extremities, and the loins properly girded. This gives the Highlander a decided advantage in all movements where action is required. I may add that the bagpipe is by far the best instrument for marching purposes, and I am perfectly sure that a Scots regiment dressed n the kilt and marching to bagpipe music will cover more ground than any other regiment in Europe.—I am, &c.,
Hamish Griesck. Glasgow.
“Facts are Chiels that Winna Ding.”
Sir,—Wake up, ye sons of the dead, don the kilt in honour of your forefathers, whose bodies have long since crumbled into dust; wear it as a motto of the inheritance of the fame and liberty they have made you heir to by the blood of their hearts. Yes, I say, wear it—were it only to show that you are entitled to a fraction of a Scotchman’s fame, the flame of which will never be extinguished. Wield you pens, “as the claymore days are gone,” and close the babbling prattle of an “Englishman,” who would have the presumption to even breathe that an Englishman was equal to a Scotchman. No, no; never was. If the Englishman looked up the history of Scottish battles, he would there learn the fact that eight Englishmen were not a match for a single Scot, let alone four. To prove the Scotch superiority, and the truthfulness of the above remarks, I give the following statistics from both Tytler’s and M’Kenzie’s “History of Scotland.”
Battle of Bannockburn, 1314 (won), 2 ½ to 1 Scot.
Battle of Stirling, 1297 (won), 3 to 1 Scot.
Battle of Otterburn, 1316 (won), 3 to 1 Scot.
Battle of Galloway, 1313 (won), 3 ½ to 1 Scot.
Battle of Connor, 1316 (won), 4 to 1 Scot.
Battle of Kelrose, 1315 (won), 5 ½ to 1 Scot.
Battle of Carrickfergus, 1316 (won), 8 to 1 Scot.
The above will, I hope, convince the “Englishman” that one Scot was once on a time equal at least to four Englishmen, whatever may be the case at the present time.—I am, &c.,
J. T. H.
26 March 1892
Kilts v. Breeks.
Lang may our noble tartan wave
Abune the knees o’ Scotchmen brave,
An’ wha says na is but a knave,
Or Southern Loon;
Oors is the garb that ne’er clad slave
Of puir poltroon.
The garb oor noble faithers wore
A name has won on ilka shore,
An’ still when battle’s thunders roar
There to be seen,
Aye foremost, as in days o’ yore,
Oor tartan green.
An’ noo this cooardly cuiff “Hersel,’”
Sae scant o’ heart, an’ brains as well,
That he’s a Scot he’s fain to tell.
A Scot? I doot it!
Some jingle-jointed clerkly swell—
That’s juist aboot it.
Na, na, “Hersel’”; ye ne’er shall wear
The garb that Scotia hauds sae dear;
I trow ye man jist grin and bear
Yer crookit shanks.
Sic pins as yours, I trow, could ne’er
Mak’ Heilan’ ranks.
Then gather, Scotsmen, ane an’ a’,
What care we for this Southern jaw?
They ne’er shall tak’ our kilt awa’
While owre the graves
O’ Scotia’s clansmen, brave an’ braw,
Oor thistle waves!
A. Dunn. Edinburgh.
A Relic of Barbarism.
Sir,—The kilt is simply a relic of ages of barbarism, and is not peculiarly Scotch, but was common in some form or other to all semi-barbarous tribes. Some of your correspondents would have us believe that a man to be opposed to the kilt must be possessed with some physical the kilt must be possessed with some physical defect which this dress would reveal. Surely it is not necessary that any one should have deformed limbs to recoil from the idea of walking about the streets half-naked. If antiquity is the glory of the kilt, why do we not go a little further back and limit ourselves to one garment—the simple waist-cloth—such as was worn by our forefathers in prehistoric times, and is still to be seen among the savages of Africa? The great body of Scotchmen would hail with delight the downfall of that dress, which is so thoroughly out of harmony with the age of civilisation in which we live. I feel confident that the day is not far distant when prejudice shall have been swept out of the British Army.—I am, &c.,
The Antiquity of the Kilt.
Sir,—Mr J. G. Mackay in your issue of the 5th says, “I am very much surprised to notice a correspondent in your issue of 6th Feb. bringing forward the Cockney fable that the kilt was invented by an Englishman, and the idea of such coming from Golspie is too much for one’s gravity at the present day.” But I am not surprised at anything that comes from a Mackay. I merely at the time gave a quotation, and for Mr Mackay’s edification I give another from the Rev. Mr Sage’s “Parish Life in the Highlands,” page 34, and no one had a better opportunity of knowing the Mackays than Mr Sage. Speaking of a certain George Mackay, he says he was “a man of note in his time, but choleric and hasty in temper—a propensity which has markedly characterised the whole race of Mackays.” This peculiar characteristic of the Mackays, in addition to another which is locally known of the same clan as “a crack,” was recognised years before he saw the quotation referred to by, among others,
Your Golspie Correspondent.
Kilt and Bagpipes a Better Stimulant than Glenlivet.
Sir,—During the troublesome times of the Indian Mutiny, I, along with a small party of my troop of Bengal Horse Artillerymen happened to be on escort duty. We were encamped at Futtiepore—which was a few months before a hard-fought battlefield. We were in a sore plight, footsore and wearied. Some of us were thinking of those we were very likely not to see again, when all at once the wild but inspiring strains of the bagpipes reached our ears, and in a few seconds the 79th Cameron Highlanders, in their beautiful kilts, made their appearance, and I wish “Hersel’” had been there at the time; but fortunately for him as well as for us there were none of the breed there. The pipers played
“The Campbells Are Coming.”
The effect was electrical. Every man of us jumped to our feet. We felt like new men. The kilt and the bagpipes were a better stimulant than the best Glenlivet. I felt as if I was within touch of those I loved, and saw dear Auld Scotia rise up before me like some beautiful fairy. Never did I see such enthusiasm. All for us were Scotchmen for the time being. It would have fared badly with any amount of Pandies had they made their appearance at the time. We felt as if we could kill three at a blow. And
The Kilt Did It!
And what memories of auld lang syne it kindled! I think it will be an everlasting disgrace to blot out the gallant 79th. By the way, what will be done with the honours of the regiment? Are they to be handed over to the Scots Guards? In conclusion, I think the kilt a noble dress for a soldier where it can be worn with comfort—in countries such as this, and in most countries at certain seasons. But the kiltie masher is a thing to be despised, as well as those of “Hersel’s” type.—I am, &c.,
The Kilt in Canada.
Sir,—Do Scotch people allow characters like “Hersel’” and “Hamish” to run at large? I always though auld Scotland was well supplied with insane institutions. If they are escaped maniacs I hope they’ll be soon captured, and confined under lock and key. I think theirs are cases of primary dementia. I am strongly opposed to allow the public press running the risk of being polluted by the likes of them coons. When we Scotchmen turn out on Dominion Day in this country, if we can’t afford the whole and full kiltie suit we put on what we call the half dress—plaid and blue bonnet, with trousers. The public would not know you to be sons of Scotland unless you were dressed in kilts. We have more civilians wearing kilts on holidays in Canada than those who wear Highland suits in the whole of Scotland. I suppose you have heard of the Scottish Volunteer Regiment we are getting in this city of Toronto. They wear the Davidson tartan in kilts and plaids, and are under the command of Colonel Davidson. This fine battalion is confined to Scotchmen and Scotch Canadians only. The kilt is getting very fashionable here every day, not only among the men and boys, but the fair sex are wearing them in Canada.—I am, &c.,
N. M. Mackenzie. Toronto.