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
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.”