Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Maria, Mar. Bvchania  
Pagination: 92-93
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Translation of text:

Ancient nobility, resting on old wealth,
Carrying a martial heart in undefeated breast.
Home of justice, and mother of the honour of studies,
Art strives with genius, geniuses with arts.
All yield to it, the merited honours of the mother
No art or genius prevails to paint.

[And thus Arthur Johnston on Old Aberdeen (Section Note):
The pious high-priest reveres you, ancient city, and rules,
And the gifts and wave of the sea makes you blessed.
An amazing bridge with one arch covers the river’s waters,
I suspect its builders are Gods.
Such was the laborious work of the Colossus of Rhodes,
Beneath which the swelling sails carried ships.
Near it the silver race of salmon enter the snares
Spontaneously, and is entangled in your nets.
There is too for you to boast of, an old and venerable church,
The rest the hands of plunderers have torn down.
This rising with twin towers is thought to be the Pharos,
And to ships shows a safe path through the waves.
Not far hence rise the castles of Phoebus and Pallas,
A golden crown and diadem cover them.
These a pious patron erected, the King with rich property
Endowed them, generous Rome gave the titles.
The Trojan horse did not emit as many Achaean footsoldiers
As the luminaries of the country produced by that house.
Noble city, do not seek a herald outside,
Within you have this people to proclaim you.

The same author on New Aberdeen (Section Note):
The new city which the mouth of the fishy Dee enriches
Takes away every ornament from ancient cities.
This is blessed by shrines sung through the whole world
And by temples not built by mortal hand.
This house sacred to the Muses of Romulus rises nearby,
Not far hence you see one of Athena.
High public buildings are red with starry pinnacles,
Here where the wide level of the forum spreads out.
You see here the palaces of nobles near to the sky
And painted and gilded houses of the people.
Why mention the three hills, three defences, such as those
On which rose the city that was capital of the world.
This too the moutain of Lanar adorns, lovelier than those,
This Spada colours with rusty waters.
From here you may see Jameson’s suburban garden,
Which I suspect is painted by the master’s hand.
The Dee gives hosts of salmon, the waves of the sea give
Your treasures, Memphis, and the wealth that India boasts of.
A bridge vaulted with sevenfold arch covers the Dee,
A tiara joined to it signifies the east [?].
Let the vulgar celebrate these things, I proclaim the citizens alone,
Compared to them others have no praise.
Their martial mind commends them and their golden courage,
And in doubtful affairs their often proven loyalty.
This is a hospitable people, and affable, and emulating the Gods,
And wealth which rules others is their servant.
If there is a place for merit, this city may rightly be called Queen
And take the title of mistress.
Other towns produce mortals, only to Heroes
This city gives birth, and demigods.

The same on the same (Section Note):
When you, whoever you are, see the Roman city with its people,
Do you call it the mistress and darling of the world?
Compare Aberdeen, Thetis washes this with servile waves,
Nor is that city far from its servant sea.
Both, set on hills, look down on subject rivers:
Both breath threats from a sparkling pinnacle.
That boast of its Fabiuses, Scipios invincible bolts of war,
And the house of the Caesars.
This city has its leading Menzies, its family of Cullen,
And senators Collinsons and Lawsons.
The Grampian city is smaller than the city on the Quirinal,
Yet the citizens here are equal in spirit and genius.]

It almost passes all belief, how large is the quantity of salmon with which this and other rivers of Scotland in either part of the kingdom abound. This fish was scarcely known to Pliny, unless it was the ‘esox’ of the Rhine [Bede and our writers called them ‘isicii’ in Latin], but in this northern part of Europe it is very well known, ‘reddish,’ as he says, ‘with purplish flesh.’ In the autumn they gather in streams and generally in shallow places, and they push out their eggs and bury them in the gravel; at this time they are so thin that they have almost nothing except small bones. From these eggs in the following spring tender little fish are born, who make for the sea and in a short time grow to their full size; returning to the rivers of their birth they strive against the waters, and if they come to any obstacle, with a flick of the tail they get up easily with a kind of leap (from which perhaps the name of salmon comes (1) ) to the admiration of onlookers, and remain in their own rivers until they give birth. At that time it is forbidden by law to catch them, scil. from 8 September to 1 December. They seem to be considered among the greatest goods of Scotland, since it is likewise provided in law that they are not to be sold to the English, unless paid for in English gold. But I leave this to others.

As for the Earls of Mar, in the reign of Alexander III, William Earl of Mar is named among those who were opposed to the King. When David Bruce was in power, Donald [Scotichronicon 12.33]; as guardian of the kingdom he was slain in his bed before the battle of Dupplin by Edward Balliol and his English helpers; his daughter Isabella King Robert Bruce took as his first wife, by whom he fathered Marjory the mother of Robert Stewart King of Scots. Under the same David is mentioned Thomas Earl of Mar, who was exiled in the year 1361. And under Robert III Alexander Stewart was Earl of Mar, who fell in the battle at Harlaw against the Islanders in the year 1411. In the times of James I it is stated in the Scotichronicon, ‘Alexander Earl of Mar died 1435, a bastard son of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, son of Robert II King of Scots, to whom, as a bastard, the King succeeded in heredity (2).’ John younger son of James II afterwards used this title; convicted of having by magical arts plotted the destruction of the King his brother, he perished by cutting open a vein. And after him Robert Cochrane from Latonium[?] was raised to this dignity by James III, but soon was hanged by the peers. After that it was not in use until Queen Mary adorned her illegitimate brother James with this honour, and not much later when the title of Earl of Mar had been discovered to belong by old right to John Lord Erskine, she conferred on him as honorary title Moray in place of Mar, and created John Erskine, a man of ancient nobility, Earl of Mar; his son of the same forename now enjoys the same honour, a member of the King’s Council in both kingdoms: [now his grandson enjoys the same forename and honours.]

BUCHAN (Section Note)

Where Buchan, in Latin Boghania and Buchania, now projects into the sea above the River Don, the Taizali once had their home. This more recent name is derived by some from cows (3), although the land is more suited to grazing sheep, whose wool is especially praised. Although the rivers in this area are generally abounding in salmon, yet they never enter the River Ratra[?], as Buchanan reported. He also reported that on the bank of the Ratra there is a cave near Slains Castle, ‘whose nature it seems should not be overlooked. Water dripping from a natural arch is immediately turned into pyramids of stone, and if it were not that by the work of men the cave is repeatedly cleared, the space up to the arch would be soon filled. Now the stone which is created in this way has a nature mid-way between ice and rock: for it is friable and never solidifies to the hardness of marble.’

Also a hugh mass of amber, which actually equalled in size the body of a horse, was thrown up on this shore not many years ago. The learned call this ‘succinum’, ‘glessum’ and ‘chrysoelectrum’, and Sotacus thought it is sap, which among the Britons flows down from trees into the sea and hardens; and Tacitus felt likewise, when he writes (4), ‘I should believe that there are richer woods and groves, as in the secret parts of the East where incense and balsam are exuded, so in the islands and lands of the West: being pressed out and liquified by their nearness to the sun’s rays they flow into the closest sea, and by the force of storms wash up on the opposite shores.’ Now Serapio and scientists of more recent ages wish it to come out of bituminous earth beneath the sea and near the sea; waves and storm throw it out, in part fish eat it. But where have I wandered to? I shall return to the path, and may the admission gain pardon for the wanderer.

In the reign of Alexander II Alexander Cumyn flourished in the honour of Earl of Buchan; he married the daughter and one of the heirs of Roger de Quincy, Earl of Winchester in England; and his grand-daughter through a son brought the same title to her husband Henry de Beaumont. For he in the reign of Edward III had a place in the Parliamentary Assemblies of England by the name of Earl of Buchan. Later Alexander Stewart son of King Robert II was Earl of this place; he was succeeded by John younger son of Robert Duke of Albany, who was summoned to France by Charles VII King of France with seven thousand Scots troops and did sterling service against the English, and earned such praise, when Thomas Duke of Clarence, brother of Henry V King of England, was slain at Beaugé and as great a victory was won over the English as ever happened, that he was made Constable of France. But three years later, along with the brave men Archibald Douglas Earl of Wigton and the Duke of Touraine, etc., in the changing fortune of war he was defeated at Verneuil by the English and fell. Yet these, as he says,

France will ever gratefully remember
as her own citizens, to whom she gave titles and tombs.

Certainly, that under Charles VI and VII France was preserved and Aquitaine won back with the removal of the English, the French cannot fail to acknowledge was due in great measure to the loyalty and bravery of the Scots. Now the Earldom of Buchan was next given by James I, moved by pity, to George Dunbar, whom he had previously by Parliamentary authority stripped of the Earldom of March on account of his father’s crime; not much later James son of James Stewart of Lorne, known as the Black Knight, gained this honour from Joan Somerset and left it to his heirs; and in the absence long ago of male ones it came through a daughter to the younger Douglas of Lochleven. [The daughter, heiress to that Earldom, was given in marriage to the son of John Erskine Earl of Mar by his second wife, from which marriage was born the present Earl of Buchan.]

The coast turns back from Buchan and faces north: here is Boyne and the small prefecture of Banff, and also Enzie a little territory of lesser note and the castle of Rothiemay, dwelling of the Barons of Saltoun, whose surname is Abernethy. [The Barony of Rothiemay was sold to John Gordon of Cairnburrow, who owns it today; his elder son, while he was in the company of the Lord of Aboyne in Frendraught Tower, perished at night with three others from sulphurous dust; this incident was described in very elegant verses by Arthur Johnston, which I have thought worthwhile to insert at this point. (Section Note)

On John Gordon, Viscount of Melgum, and John Gordon of Rothiemay,
burnt in Frendraught castle.
You highest fires, and farthest lamps of the universe,
Unsleeping torches, and stars that do not know setting in the sea,
Everlasting monuments of altered shape,
Great and lesser wild Bears and guard of the Erymanthian maid;
And you, Dragon, who watchfully look around the Lycaonian Bears,
Once pierced by Hercules’ arrows;

  [Continuation of text]

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