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We did not perceive that this tract was possessed by human beings, except that once wo saw a corn-field, in which a lady was walking with some gentlemen. Their house was certainly at no great distance, but so situated that we could not descry it.
the left hand and in front. We desired our
But we visited the place at an unseasonable | time, and found it divested of its dignity and terror. Nature never gives every thing at once. A long continuance of dry weather, which made the rest of the way easy and delightful, deprived us of the pleasure expected from the Fall of Fiers. The river having now no water but what the springs supply, showed us only a swift current, clear and shallow, fretting over the asperities of the rocky bottom; and we were left to exercise our thoughts, by endeavouring to conceive the effect of a thousand streams poured from the mountains into one channel, struggling for expansion in a narrow passage, exasperated by rocks rising in their way, and at last discharging all their violence of waters by a sudden fall through the horrid chasm.
The way now grew less easy, descending by an uneven declivity, but without either dirt or danger. We did not arrive at Fort Augustus till it was late. Mr. Boswell, who, between his father's merit and his own, is sure of reception wherever he comes, sent a servant before to beg admission and entertainment for that night. Mr. Trapaud, the governor, treated us with that courtesy which is so closely connected with the military character. He came out to meet us beyond the gates, and apologized that, at so late an hour, the rules of a garrison suffered him to give us entrance only at the postern.
In the morning we viewed the fort, which is much less than that of St. George, and is said to be commanded by the neighbouring hills. It was not long ago taken by the Highlanders. But its situation seems well chosen for pleasure, if not for strength; it stands at the head of the lake, and, by a sloop of sixty tons, is supplied from Inverness with great convenience.
We were now to cross the Highlands towards the western coast, and to content ourselves with such accommodation, as a way so little frequented could afford. The journey was not formidable, for it was but of two days, very unequally divided, because the only house where we could be entertained was not farther off than a third of the way. We soon came to a high hill, which we mounted by a military road, cut in traverses, so that, as we went upon a higher stage, we saw the baggage following us below in a contrary direction. To make this way, the rock has been hewn to a level, with labour that might have broken the perseverance of a Roman legion.
The country is totally denuded of its wood, but the stumps both of oaks and firs, which are still found, show that it has been once a forest of large timber. I do not remember that we saw any animals, but we were told that, in the mountains, there are stags, roebucks, goats, and rabbits.
Early in the afternoon we came to Anoch, a village in Glenmollison of three huts, one of which is distinguished by a chimney. Here we were to dine and lodge, and were conducted through the first room, that had the chimney, into another lighted by a small glass window. The landlord attended us with great civility, and told us what he could give us to eat and drink. I found some books on a shelf, among which were a volume or more of Prideaux's Connection.
This I mentioned as something unexpected, and perceived that I did not please him. praised the propriety of his language, and was answered that I need not wonder, for he had learned it by grammar.
By subsequent opportunities of observation I found that my host's diction had nothing peculiar. Those Highlanders that can speak English, commonly speak it well, with few of the words, and little of the tone, by which a Scotchman is distinguished. Their language seems to have been learned in the army or the navy, or by some communication with those who could give them good examples of accent and pronunciation. By their Lowland neighbours they would not willingly be taught; for they have long considered them as a mean and degenerate race. These prejudices are wearing fast away but so much of them still remains, that when asked a very learned minister in the islands, which they considered as their most savage clans: "Those," said he, "that live next the Lowlands."
As we came hither early in the day, we had time sufficient to survey the place. The house was built like other huts, of loose stones; but the part in which we dined and slept was lined with turf and wattled with twigs which kept the earth from falling. Near it was a garden of turnips, and a field of potatoes. It stands in a glen or valley, pleasantly watered by a winding river. But this country, however it may delight the gazer or amuse the naturalist, is of no great advantage to its owners. Our landlord told us of a gentleman who possesses lands eighteen Scotch miles in length, and three in breadth; a space containing at least a hundred square English miles. He has raised his rents, to the danger of depopulating his farms, and he fells his timber, and by exerting every art of augmentation, has obtained a yearly revenue of four hundred pounds, which for a hundred square miles is three halfpence an acre,
Some time after dinner we were surprised by the entrance of a young woman, not inelegant either in mien or dress, who asked us whether we would have tea. We found that she was the daughter of our host, and desired her to
make it. Her conversation, like her appear-monly bog, through which the way must be picked with caution. Where there are hills, there is much rain, and the torrents pouring down into the intermediate spaces, seldom find so ready an outlet, as not to stagnate, till they have broken the texture of the ground.
ance, was gentle and pleasing. We knew that the girls of the Highlands are all gentlewomen, and treated her with great respect, which she received as customary and due, and was neither elated by it, nor confused, but repaid my civilities without embarrassment, and told me how much I honoured her country by coming to survey it.
She had been at Inverness to gain the common female qualifications, and had, like her father, the English pronunciation. presented her with a book, which I happened to have about me, and should not be pleased to think that she forgets me.
In the evening the soldiers, whom we had passed on the road, came to spend at our inn the little money that we had given them. They had the true military impatience of coin in their pockets, and had marched at least six miles to find the first place where liquor could be bought. Having never been before in a place so wild and unfrequented, I was glad of their arrival, because I knew that we had made them friends; and to gain still more of their good will, we went to them where they were carousing in the barn, and added something to our former gift. All that we gave was not much, but it detained them in the barn, either merry or quarrelling, the whole night, and in the morning they went back to their work, with great indignation at the bad qualities of whiskey.
These mountains may be properly enough We had gained so much the favour of our measured from the inland base; for it is not host, that, when we left his house in the morn-much above the sea. As we advanced at evening, he walked by us a great way, and enter-ing towards the western coast, I did not observe tained us with conversation both on his own the declivity to be greater than is necessary for condition, and that of the country. His life the discharge of the inland waters. seemed to be merely pastoral, except that he dif- We passed many rivers and rivulets, which fered from some of the ancient Nomades in hav-commonly ran with a clear shallow stream over ing a settled dwelling. His wealth consists of a hard pebbly bottom. These channels, which one hundred sheep, as many goats, twelve milk-seem so much wider than the water that they cows, and twenty-eight beeves ready for the convey would naturally require, are formed by drover. the violence of wintry floods, produced by the accumulation of innumerable streams that fall in rainy weather from the hills, and bursting away with resistless impetuosity, make themselves a passage proportionate to their mass.
Such capricious and temporary waters cannot be expected to produce many fish. The rapidity of the wintry deluge sweeps them away, and the scantiness of the summer stream would hardly sustain them above the ground. This is the rea son why, in fording the northern rivers, no fishes are seen, as in England, wandering in the water.
Of the hills many may be called, with Homer's Ida, abundant in springs, but few can deserve the epithet which he bestows upon Pelion, by waving their leaves. They exhibit very little variety; being almost wholly covered with dark heath, and even that seems to be checked in its growth. What is not heath is nakedness, a little diversified by now and then a stream rushing down the steep. An eye accustomed to flowery pastures and waving harvests, is astonished and repelled by this wide extent of hopeless sterility. The appearance is that of matter incapable of form or usefulness, dismissed by Nature from her care, and disinherited of her favours, left in its original elemental state, or quickened only with one sullen power of useless vegetation.
Mountainous countries are not passed but with difficulty, not merely from the labour of climbing; for to climb is not always necessary: It will very readily occur, that this uniformity but because that which is not mountain is com- of barrenness can afford very little amusement
From him we first heard of the general dissatisfaction which is now driving the Highlanders into the other hemisphere; and when I asked him whether they would stay at home, if they were well treated, he answered with indignation, that no man willingly left his native country. Of the farm, which he himself occupied, the rent had, in twenty-five years, been advanced from five to twenty pounds, which he found himself so little able to pay, that he would be glad to try his fortune in some other place. Yet he owned the reasonableness of raising the Highland rents in a certain degree, and declared himself willing to pay ten pounds for the ground which he had formerly had for five.
Our host, having amused us for a time, resigned us to our guides. The journey of this day was long, not that the distance was great, but that the way was difficult. We were now in the bosom of the Highlands, with full leisure to contemplate the appearance and properties of mountainous regions, such as have been, in many countries, the last shelters of national distress, and are every where the scenes of adventures, stratagems, surprises, and escapes.
Of the hills, which our journey offered to the view on either side, we did not take the height, nor did we see any that astonished us with their loftiness. Towards the summit of one, there was a white spot, which I should have called a naked rock, but the guides, who had better eyes, and were acquainted with the phenomena of the country, declared it to be snow. It had already lasted to the end of August, and was likely to maintain its contest with the sun, till it should be reinforced by winter.
The height of mountains philosophically considered, is properly computed from the surface of the next sea; but as it affects the eye or imagination of the passenger, as it makes either a spectacle or an obstruction, it must be reckoned from the place where the rise begins to make a considerable angle with the plain. In extensive continents the land may, by gradual elevation, attain great height, without any other appear ance than that of a plane gently inclined, and if a hill placed upon such raised ground be described as having its altitude equal to the whole space above the sea, the representation will be fallacious.
to the traveller; that it is easy to sit at home and conceive rocks, and heath, and waterfalls; and that these journeys are useless labours, which neither impregnate the imagination, nor enlarge the understanding. It is true, that of far the greater part of things, we must content ourselves with such knowledge as description may exhibit, or analogy supply; but it is true, likewise, that these ideas are always incomplete, and that, at least, till we have compared them with realities, we do not know them to be just. As we see more, we become possessed of more certainties, and consequently gain more principles of reasoning, and found a wider basis of analogy.
Regions mountainous and wild, thinly inhabited, and little cultivated, make a great part of the earth, and he that has never seen them, must live unacquainted with much of the face of nature, and with one of the great scenes of human existence.
road from the hills on the other hand. These currents, in their diminished state, after several dry months, afford, to one who has always lived in level countries, an unusual and delightful spectacle; but in the rainy season, such as every winter may be expected to bring, must precipitate an impetuous and tremendous flood. I suppose the way by which we went is at this time impassable.
The lough at last ended in a river broad and shallow like the rest, but that it may be passed when it is deeper, there is a bridge over it. Beyond it is a valley called Glensheals, inhabited by the clan of Macrae. Here we found a village called Auknasheals, consisting of many huts, perhaps twenty, built all of dry-stone, that is, stones piled up without mortar.
We had, by the direction of the officers at Fort Augustus, taken bread for ourselves, and to
As the day advanced towards noon, we en-bacco for those Highlanders who might show us tered a narrow valley not very flowery, but any kindness. We were now at a place where sufficiently verdant. Our guides told us, that we could obtain milk, but must have wanted the horses could not travel all day without rest bread if we had not brought it. The people of or meat, and entreated us to stop here, because this valley did not appear to know any English, no grass would be found in any other place. and our guides now became doubly necessary as The request was reasonable, and the argument interpreters. A woman, whose hut was distinWe therefore willingly dismounted, guished by greater spaciousness and better arand diverted ourselves as the place gave us op- chitecture, brought out some pails of milk. The portunity. villagers gathered about us in considerable numbers, I believe, without any evil intention, but with a very savage wildness of aspect and manner. When our meal was over, Mr. Boswell sliced the bread, and divided it amongst them, as he supposed them never to have tasted a wheaten loaf before. He then gave them little pieces of twisted tobacco, and among the chil
I sat down on a bank, such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign. I had, indeed, no trees to whisper over my head, but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet. The day was calm, the air was soft, and all was rudeness, silence, and solitude. Before me, and on either side, were high hills, which, by hindering the eye from ranging, forced the mind to find enter-dren we distributed a small handful of halfpence, tainment for itself. Whether I spent the hour which they received with great eagerness. Yet well I know not; for here I first conceived the I have been since told, that the people of that thought of this narration. valley are not indigent; and when we mentioned We were in this place at ease and by choice, them afterwards as needy and pitiable, a Highand had no evils to suffer or to fear; yet the land lady let us know, that we might spare our imaginations excited by the view of an unknown commiseration; for the dame whose milk we and untravelled wilderness are not such as arise drank, had probably more than a dozen milkin the artificial solitude of parks and gardens, a COWS. She seemed unwilling to take any price, flattering notion of self-sufficiency, a placid in- but being pressed to make a demand, at last dulgence of voluntary delusions, a secure ex-named a shilling. Honesty is not greater, where pansion of the fancy, or a cool concentration of elegance is less. One of the by-standers, as we the mental powers. The phantoms which haunt were told afterwards, advised her to ask more, a desert are want, and misery, and danger; the but she said a shilling was enough. We gave evils of dereliction rush upon the thoughts; man her half-a-crown, and I hope got some credit by is made unwillingly acquainted with his own our behaviour; for the company said, if our weakness, and meditation shows him only how interpreters did not flatter us, that they had not little he can sustain, and how little he can per-seen such a day since the old laird of Macleod form. There were no traces of inhabitants, passed through their country. except perhaps a rude pile of clods called a The Macraes, as we heard afterwards in the summer-hut, in which a herdsman had rested in Hebrides, were originally an indigent and subthe favourable seasons. Whoever had been in ordinate clan, and having no farms nor stock, the place where I then sat, unprovided with pro- were in great numbers servants to the Maclel visions, and ignorant of the country, might, at lans, who, in the war of Charles the First, took least before the roads were made, have wandered arms at the call of the heroic Montrose, and among the rocks, till he had perished with hard-were, in one of his battles, almost all destroyed, ship, before he could have found either food or The women that were left at home, being thus shelter. Yet what are these hillocks to the deprived of their husbands, like the Scythian ridges of Taurus, or these spots of wilderness to ladies of old, married their servants, and the Macraes became a considerable race.
the deserts of America?
It was not long before we were invited to mount, and continued our journey along the side of a lough, kept full by many streams, which with more or less rapidity and noise crossed the
As we continued our journey, we were at leisure to extend our speculations, and to inves
tigate the reason of those peculiarities by which | Trent. A tract intersected by many ridges of such rugged regions as these before us are ge-mountains naturally divides its inhabitants into nerally distinguished. petty nations, which are made, by a thousand Mountainous countries commonly contain the causes, enemies to each other. Each will exalt original, at least the oldest, race of inhabitants, its own chiefs, each will boast the valour of its for they are not easily conquered, because they men, or the beauty of its women, and every must be entered by narrow ways, exposed to claim of superiority irritates competition; injuevery power of mischief from those that occupy ries will sometimes be done, and be more inthe heights; and every new ridge is a new for-juriously defended; retaliation will sometimes tress, where the defendants have again the same be attempted, and the debt exacted with too advantages. If the assailants either force the much interest. strait, or storm the summit, they gain only so much ground; their enemies are fled to take possession of the next rock, and the pursuers stand at gaze, knowing neither where the ways of escape wind among the steeps, nor where the bog has firmness to sustain them: besides that, mountaineers have an agility in climbing and descending, distinct from strength or courage, and attainable only by use.
In the Highlands it was a law, that if a robher was sheltered from justice, any man of the same clan might be taken in his place. This was a kind of irregular justice, which, though necessary in savage times, could hardly fail to end in a feud; and a feud once kindled among an idle people, with no variety of pursuits to divert their thoughts, burnt on for ages, either sullenly glowing in secret mischief, or openly blazing into public violence. Of the effects of this violent judicature, there are not wanting memorials. The cave is now to be seen, to which one of the Campbells, who had injured the Macdonalds, retired with a body of his own clan. The Macdonalds required the offender, and being refused, made a fire at the mouth of the cave, by which he and his adherents were
If the war be not soon concluded, the invaders are dislodged by hunger; for in those anxious and toilsome marches, provisions cannot easily be carried, and are never to be found. The wealth of mountains is cattle, which, while the men stand in the passes the women drive away. Such lands at last cannot repay the expense of conquest, and therefore, perhaps, have not been so often invaded by the mere ambition of domi-suffocated together. nion, as by resentment of robberies and insults, Mountaineers are warlike, because by their or the desire of enjoying in security the more feuds and competitions they consider themselves fruitful provinces. as surrounded with enemies, and are always prepared to repel incursions, or to make them. Like the Greeks in their unpolished state, described by Thucydides, the Highlanders, till lately, went always armed, and carried their weapons to visits, and to church.
As mountaineers are long before they are conquered, they are likewise long before they are civilized. Men are softened by intercourse mutually profitable, and instructed by comparing their own notions with those of others. Thus Cæsar found the maritime parts of Britain made less barbarous by their commerce with the Gauls. Into a barren and rough tract no stranger is brought either by the hope of gain or of pleasure. The inhabitants having neither commodities for sale, nor money for purchase, seldom visit more polished places; or if they do visit them, seldom
Mountaineers are thievish, because they are poor, and having neither manufactures nor commerce, can grow richer only by robbery. They regularly plunder their neighbours, for their neighbours are commonly their enemies; and having lost that reverence for property by which the order of civil life is preserved, soon consider all as enemies whom they do not reckon as
It sometimes happens that by conquest, inter-friends, and think themselves licensed to invade mixture or gradual refinement, the cultivated whatever they are not obliged to protect. parts of a country change their language. The mountaineers then become a distinct nation, cut off by dissimilitude of speech from conversation with their neighbours. Thus in Biscay, the original Cantabrian, and in Dalecarlia, the old Swedish, still subsists. Thus Wales and the Highlands speak the tongue of the first inhabitants of Britain, while the other parts have received first the Saxon, and in some degree afterwards the French, and then formed a third language between them.
By a strict administration of the laws, since the laws have been introduced into the Highlands, this disposition to thievery is very much repressed. Thirty years ago no herd had ever been conducted through the mountains without paying tribute in the night to some of the clans; but cattle are now driven, and passengers travel, without danger, fear, or molestation.
That the primitive manners are continued where the primitive language is spoken, no nation will desire me to suppose, for the manners of mountaineers are commonly savage, but they are rather produced by their situation than derived from their ancestors.
Among a warlike people, the quality of highest esteem is personal courage, and with the ostentatious display of courage are closely connected promptitude of offence, and quickness of resentment. The Highlanders, before they were disarmed, were so addicted to quarrels, that the boys used to follow any public procession or ceremony, however festive or however solemn, in expectation of the battle, which was sure to happen before the company dis
Such seems to be the disposition of man, that whatever makes a distinction produces rivalry.persed. England, before other causes of enmity were found, was disturbed for some centuries by the contests of the northern and southern counties; so that at Oxford the peace of study could for a long time be preserved only by choosing an-national justice. Law is nothing without power; nually one of the proctors from each side of the and the sentence of a distant court could not be
Mountainous regions are sometimes so remote from the seat of government, and so difficult of access, that they are very little under the influence of the sovereign, or within the reach of
easily executed, nor perhaps very safely promul- | will preserve local stories and hereditary preju gated, among men, ignorantly proud and habitu- dices. Thus every Highlander can talk of his ally violent, unconnected with the general system, ancestors, and recount the outrages which they and accustomed to reverence only their own lords. suffered from the wicked inhabitants of the next It has therefore been necessary to erect many valley. particular jurisdictions, and commit the punishment of crimes, and the decision of right, to the proprietors of the country who could enforce their own decrees. It immediately appears that such judges will be often ignorant, and often partial; but in the immaturity of political establishments no better expedicnt could be found. As government advances towards perfection, provincial judicature is perhaps in every empire gradually abolished.
Those who had thus the dispensation of law, were by consequence themselves lawless. Their vassals had no shelter from outrages and oppressions; but were condemned to endure without resistance, the caprices of wantonness and the rage of cruelty.
In the Highlands, some great lords had an hereditary jurisdiction over counties; and some chieftains over their own lands; till the final conquest of the Highlands afforded an opportunity of crushing all the local courts, and of extending the general benefits of equal law to the low and the high in the deepest recesses, and
While the chiefs had this resemblance of royalty, they had little inclination to appeal, on any question, to superior judicatures. A claim of lands between two powerful lairds was decided like a contest for dominion between sovereign powers. They drew their forces into the field, and right attended on the strongest. This was in ruder times the common practice, which the kings of Scotland could seldom control. Even so lately as in the last years of king William a battle was fought at Mull Roy, on a plain a few miles to the south of Inverness, between the clans of Mackintosh and Macdonald of Keppoch. Colonel Macdonald, the head of a small clan, refused to pay the dues demanded from him by Mackintosh, as his superior lord. They disdained the interposition of judges and laws, and calling each his followers to maintain the dignity of the clan, fought a formal battle, in which several considerable men fell on the side of Mackintosh, without a complete victory to either. This is said to have been the last open war made between the clans by their own authority.
The Highland lords made treaties, and formed alliances, of which some traces may still be found, and some consequences still remain as lasting evidences of petty legality. The terms of one of these confederacies, were, that each should support the other in the right, or in the wrong, except against the king.
The inhabitants of mountains form distinct races, and are careful to preserve their genealogies. Men in a small district necessarily mingled blood by intermarriages, and combine at last into one family, with a common interest in the honour and disgrace of every individual. Then begins that union of affections, and cooperation of endeavours, that constitute a clan. They who consider themselves as ennobled by their family, will think highly of their progenitors; and they who through successive generations live always together in the same place,
Such are the effects of habitation among mountains, and such were the qualities of the Highlanders, while their rocks secluded them from the rest of mankind, and kept them an unaltered and discriminated race. They are now losing their distinction, and hastening to mingle with the general community.
We left Auknasheals and the Macraes in the afternoon, and in the evening came to Ratiken, a high hill on which a road is cut, but so steep and narrow that it is very difficult. There is now a design of making another way round the bottom. Upon one of the precipices, my horse, weary with the steepness of the rise, staggered a little, and I called in haste to the Highlander to hold him. This was the only moment of my journey in which I thought myself endangered.
Having surmounted the hill at last, we were told, that at Glenelg, on the seaside, we should come to a house of lime and slate and glass. This image of magnificence raised our expectation. At last we came to our inn, weary and peevish, and began to inquire for meat and beds.
Of the provisions the negative catalogue was very copious. Here was no meat, no milk, no bread, no eggs, no wine. We did not express much satisfaction. Here, however, we were to stay. Whiskey we might have, and I believe at last they caught a fowl and killed it. We had some bread, and with that we prepared ourselves to be contented, when we had a very eminent proof of Highland hospitality. Along some miles of the way, in the evening, a gentleman's servant had kept us company on foot with very He left us little notice on our part. Glenelg, and we thought on him no more till he came to us again in about two hours, with a present from his master of rum and sugar. The man had mentioned his company, and the gentleman, whose name I think is Gordon, well knowing the penury of the place, had this attention to two men, whose names perhaps he had not heard, by whom his kindness was not likely to be ever repaid, and who could be recommended to him only by their necessities.
We were now to examine our lodging. Out of one of the beds on which we were to repose, started up, at our entrance, a man black as a Cyclops from the forge. Other circumstances of no elegant recital concurred to disgust us. We had been frighted by a lady at Edinburgh, with discouraging representations of Highland lodgings. Sleep, however, was necessary. Our Highlanders had at last found some hay, with which the inn could not supply them. I directed them to bring a bundle into the room, and slept upon it in my riding coat. Mr. Boswell being more delicate, laid himself sheets, with hay over and under him, and lay in linen like a gentle
In the morning, September the twentieth, we found ourselves on the edge of the sea. Having procured a boat, we dismissed our highlanders, whom I would recommend to the service of any