The Rev C H Dick in his Highways and Byways in Galloway and Carrick quotes the views of earlier travellers to Kirkcudbright.

A Journey through Scotland. In Familiar Letters from a Gentleman Here, to his Friends Abroad Being the Third Volume, Which Compleats Great Britain. By the Author of The Journey thro' England  was published in 1723  Bibliographers have traced the authorship to John Macky, a secret agent of the British Government in the Revolution period, who should be more widely known both in England and in Scotland if only for the excellence of his observations on the latter country, as where he says, 

" The Scots have made a greater Figure Abroad, than any other Nation in Europe; this hath been generally ascribed to the Barrenness of their Country, as not being able to maintain its Inhabitants : But this is a vulgar Error, for it's entirely owing to the Fineness of their Education. A Gentleman in Scotland, that hath Four or Five Sons, gives them equal Education. The eldest Son, though often not the finest Gentleman, succeeds to the Estate ; and the others being bred above Trades, go to seek their Fortune in Foreign Countries, and are thereby lost to their own:" and "Since their Kings came to be Kings of England, they were always govern'd as a distant Province, under the Direction of a Secretary of State. Although they had Parliaments of their own, those were generally influenced by an English Ministry, till now, by the Union, they represent themselves in the Parliament of Great Britain : and yet the Number seems too few, for so numerous a Nobility, and so populous and large a Country."

Macky's account of Kirkcudbright is the fullest that has come down to us from any period before the end of the eighteenth century, when Heron wrote. He had sailed over from The Isle of Man. "I arriv'd here", he says, "on Saturday Night, at a good Inn; but the Room where I lay, I believe, had not been washed in a hundred Years. Next Day I expected, as in England, a piece of good Beef or a Pudding to Dinner; but my Landlord told me, that they never dress Dinner on a Sunday, so that I must either take up with Bread and Butter, a fresh Egg, or fast till after the Evening Sermon, when they never fail of a hot Supper. Certainly no Nation on Earth observes the Sabbath with that Strictness of Devotion and Resignation to the Will of God: They all pray in their Families before they go to Church, and between Sermons they fast ; after Sermon every Body retires to his own Home, and reads some Book of Devotion till Supper, (which is generally very good on Sundays), after which they sing Psalms till they go to Bed "-a picture suggesting an odd mixture of piety and the flesh-pots of Egypt.

Macky was struck with the situation of the town, " a perfect Amphitheatre, like the Town of Trent on the Confines of Italy, and like it not surrounded with high Mountains, but a rocky stony Crust, which in this Country they call Crags. . . . In the middle of this crag, Country lies this little Town which only consists of a tolerable Street, the Houses all built with Stone, but not at all after the Manner of England,. even the Manners, Dress, and Countenance of the People, differ very much from the English. The common People wear all Bonnets instead of Hats ; and though some of the Townsmen have Hats, they wear them only on Sundays, and extraordinary Occasions. There is nothing of the Gaiety of the English, but a sedate Gravity in every Face, without the Stiffness of the Spaniards: and I take this to be owing to their Praying and frequent long Graces, which gives their Looks a religious Cast." The Dee he thought " the prettiest navigable River " that he had seen in Britain.

Defoe, who wrote about the same time, says, " Though its Situation is extremely convenient for carrying on a very advantageous Commerce, we saw nothing but a Harbour without Ships, a Port without Trade, and a Fishery without Nets. This is owing partly to the Poverty, and partly to the Disposition, of the Inhabitants, who are indeed, a sober, grave, religious Sort of People, but have no Notion of acquiring Wealth by Trade ; for they strictly obey the Scriptures in the very Letter of the Text, by being content with such Things as they have ." Robert Heron discourses on Kirkcudbright for about fourteen pages of his Observations made in a journey through the Western Counties of Scotland in the Autumn of M.DCC.XCIl (1792), but does not provoke quotation. More interest attaches to the visits of his friend, Robert Burns, who was sometimes the guest of Lord Daer at S. Mary's Isle. Another poet, John Keats made a walking tour through Galloway in July, 1818, and says in one of his letters, " Kirkcudbright County is very beautiful, very wild, with craggy hills, somewhat in the Westmoreland fashion. We have come down from Dumfries to the sea-coast part of it. . . . Yesterday was passed in Kirkcudbright, the country is very rich, very fine, and with a little of Devon."

Dick`s own description written in 1916 is no less glowing:

" If I may lapse once more into personal impressions, I must record that the most delightful of all the journeys which I made around Kirkcudbright was to the old fort between the farmhouse of Drummorel and Torrs Point. It is very rarely that from a height above a sea-shore one can see so much of the land. The fort looks down upon all its immediate neighbourhood, and commands such an extent of country as I should have thought incredible from a cursory glance at the map. Down at my feet were The Manxman's Lake and the estuary with their wooded shores. Barstobrick Hill, which fills the sky-line as you look northwards from the town, was now sunk to a mere hummock in the middle distance. Filling the horizon through out the huge semi-circle beginning with the Mull of Galloway and ending near Dumfries were series of blue and grey hills, some distant, but clear, and others just perceptible-Cairnharrow, Cairnsmore of Fleet, the hills north of Newton Stewart, Merrick and its neighbours, Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and the Cumnock Hills, Queensberry in Dumfriesshire, and Criffel near, New Abbey-an immense prospect containing here and there groups of squares like those on a chess-board, but really great fields where men would soon be reaping corn ; plantations contracted to the appearance of small shrubberies ; brown patches the size of a finger-nail that were wide moors with scores of sheep ; and streams like faint silver threads."

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