Page:The dialect of the southern counties of Scotland - Murray - 1873.djvu/33

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Lothian (in the modern restricted sense of the word), and that of the Southern counties.

§ 7. As to the country north of the Firths, or Scotland proper, we find that the vulgar tongue, the lingua Scotica, was still Celtic in the reign of Macbeth. Still later, in the days of Malcolm Ceanmor, when "Queen Margaret in 1074 caused a council to be convened to inquire into the abuses which were said to have crept into the Scottish church, it was found that the clergy could speak no language but Gaelic. As Margaret, who was to be the chief prolocutor, could speak to them only in Saxon, her husband, king Malcolm, who happened to know Saxon as well as Gaelic, was obliged to act as interpreter."[1] Gaelic continued to be the language north of the Forth down to the final defeat of Donald Bane, under whom the Celtic element made its final struggle for predominance in connection with the succession to the crown and the accession of Edgar, son of Malcolm and Margaret in 1097. Such was the effect, however, of the identification of the royal dynasty with the English-speaking portion of their subjects, and of the policy of Edgar, David, and their successors, in encouraging the settlement of Anglo-Saxons, Flemings, and Normans, by grants of land, charters, and privileges, that during the course of the two following centuries, the Teutonic dialect, hitherto confined to the district south of the Forth, crept northward along the coast line to the shores of the Moray Firth, and before the death of Alexander III. was apparently the spoken tongue of the greater part of the population, the Welsh having disappeared before it in Strathclyde, and the Gaelic being confined pretty nearly to what we still designate the Highlands, and to Galloway. There is no need to account for this change by the operation of any sudden and violent causes; the Celtic dialects of the north-east, and the British of Strathclyde, disappeared before the Anglo-Saxon tongue of the court, and education, just as at a later time the Erse of Galloway and Carrick, the British of Cornwall, the Irish of Leinster, died out before the English, or as in our own day the Gaelic of Perthshire, the Cymric of Wales, the Irish of Tipperary, are ever retreating backwards before the same advancing tide. The people remain, but with the change of language they lose the greatest of their distinctive marks, and in course of time merge their history in that of the country at large.

The name of Scotland, and the language now known as Scotch, were thus in their introduction and diffusion exactly the converse of each other. Neither of them indigenous to North Britain—the name was introduced from Ireland to the extreme west, and by a gradual movement eastward and southward, in the wake of the ascendancy of the king of Scots, attained its present limits in the thirteenth century; the language, introduced from the opposite

  1. Wright—History of Scotland, p. 33