Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0341. Tuesday, 25 April 1995.
Date: Monday, 24 Apr 1995 22:50 ET
Subject: Western Isles
Bill Godshalk suggests that "it would have been hard to supply a rebel in
eastern Scotland from the western isles," and Scott Shepherd agrees that this
is one of those Shakespearean geographical whims like the coast of Bohemia.
Let's note first that Shakespeare is only following Holinshed here: "Makdowald
. . used also such subtle persuasions and forged allurements, that in a small
time he had gotten together a mighty power of men: for out of the western Isles
there came unto him a great multitude of people . . . and out of Ireland . . .
no small number of _Kerns and Gallowglasses_." Such folk are not as far from
"eastern Scotland" as Bill and Scott seem to suppose--in a couple of days
sailing they can get up the Clyde to Glasgow; from there overland to the head
of the Firth of Forth is less than the distance from London to Oxford. It's not
as though they had to go all the way around the top.